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The reason I am writing you is because of his mother. No, she is not a problem. I am rather fond of her actually. He, however, is not. He pretty much hates her. In fact, I’ve never seen so much hatred from one human toward another. He says he’s hated her since he was a child, and I believe him. He says he has mellowed over the years but used to have violent fantasies about what he would do to her once his father was gone and she was incapacitated. He would no longer be violent toward her he says, but he has no intention of ever speaking to her again once his father is gone. I have pointed out to him this would not be in his best financial interest (hey, I’m just being honest!) and he agrees and says that’s the only thing that makes him even slightly reconsider and he’s not sure that’s enough.
I asked gingerly what she did to him to make him hate her so very much. He says she wasn’t particularly horrid to him, no more so than many other parents of kids his age, but she was a martyring bitch to his father apparently, to the extent he and his siblings once told his dad they wouldn’t rat him out if he killed her. Dad was appalled, to his credit, and assumed they were kidding. They all confirm they, in fact, were not. Dad, for the record, is very obviously in love with Mom, and vice versa. These incidents happened 20-30 years ago. I have pointed out she would have been in menopause then, and I’ve mentioned a lot goes on in a marriage others don’t understand and it’s not his battle to fight. And that, regardless, they’re happy together now. Boyfriend is having none of it. He. Hates. Her.
He is cruel and mean to her in public. She asked for my phone number at a family dinner and he blew up and said absolutely not (he says she’ll call me constantly and he’s protecting me from her getting her claws into me. For goodness sakes, I know how to not answer a phone!). I pointed out once that she’s scared of him, and he practically spat “good, she should know her place and be grateful I don’t beat her for looking at me.”
His personality regarding his mother is in complete, total, 180 degree opposite contrast to everything else about him. I knew nothing of nor about his mother prior to the beginning of our dating relationship. I’ve contemplated ending things because it occurs to me he could one day have that kind of vitrol toward me and it scares me. I’ve told him straight up it makes him unattractive to me to see him be so cruel to her, even when she’s not there, and, in fact, backfires as it inspires me to want to reach out to her. To his credit, he has tempered his words regarding her in my presence and is respectful that I find it distasteful. I’ve contemplated insisting he get therapy about it (with what sort of ultimatum? I don’t really want to go there). It has created an uncomfortable dynamic where, when I DID give her my phone number, she refused to use it because he did not give it to her, and she was afraid he would explode upon her if he found she was using it. (Apparently, he has on several occasions in years gone by exploded on her publicly for various trespasses although that hasn’t happened in about 10 years or so).
There is absolutely nothing else in his personality that would indicate this kind of severe hate and loathing. I find it psychologically scary and creepy. I just don’t think normal people loathe their parents that much in absence of direct abuse or toxicity. Should I just deal that he loathes his mother? I tell him repeatedly that he is free to loathe her as he wishes, and he is!, but to please not speak so cruelly of her in front of me, nor dictate how she and I interact. In fact, he once told me anything I want all I have to do is ask, so I called in that promise and said I was asking him to please give her my number and simply say I said it was okay, rather than what he was going to tell her, which was that if she ever used it for any reason other than to tell us about an emergency, we’d change the number and she would never hear from either of us again. I told him I felt that made me look terrible and would put her and me in a horrible position to get along.
What do you think? Is this just a weird thing that is annoying that we should keep talking through? Or is this dump-worthy? Or what? — Mommy Issues’ Girlfriend
Let’s see, your boyfriend:
1. Hates (with a capital H) his mother who, as far as you can tell — and he confirms, did nothing to him or his siblings to warrant such hate.
2. He has fantasized about killing her.
3. He plans to never speak to her again after his father dies unless he thinks the amount of money he stands to inherit might be worth keeping the lines of communication somewhat open.
4. He is cruel to his mother in public.
5. He’s glad she’s scared of him and has insinuated that she should be grateful he doesn’t “beat her for looking at him.”
1. Scared of him.
2. Turned off and confused by his behavior toward his mother.
3. Afraid that “he could one day have that kind of vitrol toward you.”
Honey, you better thank your lucky stars your maniac madman total loon of a boyfriend has shown you his true colors before you have invested too much of your time in him and before he has given you any reason to believe that this behavior ISN’T a “complete, total, 180-degree opposite contrast to everything else about him.” Because I highly, highly doubt it is.
There is a rage that lurks in your boyfriend, and just because you’ve only seen it focused on his mother so far does not mean it hasn’t been or won’t be focused elsewhere at some point. And even if it hasn’t been and even if it won’t be, I’m sorry — the things he has said and the way he has behaved are fucking gross. It says something about this character. You can tell a lot about a man by the way he treats wait staff, animals, and his mother. (In addition, pay attention to how a man discusses his exes. If he uses the kind of language your boyfriend is using to describe his mom, beware). And the way your boyfriend has treated his mother is INSANE.
If nothing else, you know your boyfriend has some serious issues. I hope even if you won’t break up with him immediately, you will consider his treatment of his mother as a huge red flag and will continue to be on alert for other potential red flags. Frankly, I think a man saying he would beat a woman, especially the woman who raised him, should be an immediate deal-breaker. But if you do stick along for the ride, be careful and consider yourself warned. This guy is bad news and who knows what he might do if his irrational rage is ever directed at you.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.