Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Boyfriend Treats His Mom Like Crap”

I recently moved in with my boyfriend of 8.5 years. We live in his home town and his mother lives just a few blocks away. We frequently stay for dinner at her house, along with his siblings. His mother is a stay-at-home mom who will literally do anything for her children, which I respect very much. Although I focus on my career, I can see the tremendous work she does around the house and the hours she puts in keeping the younger siblings of my boyfriend happy, fed and loved. However, my boyfriend and his brothers are indifferent to her hard work. They frequently make rude comments, stressing her out, and do not value what she does for them. It even goes as far as ignoring her requests to give her the laundry basket so she can wash their clothes, and they often refuse to eat what she’s cooked because they deem it “not good enough.”

My boyfriend and I share house work 50/50, which makes me happy because we both work very hard outside the home as well. However, the moment he walks in to his mother’s house, he starts acting like a spoiled little brat and I am appalled by his behavior. How can I talk to him about this? I do not wish to see his mother being ridiculed, but I know that this is not really my family, and I have no business discussing it. Any advice? — Appalled by his Behavior

I don’t know if I agree that it isn’t your business to voice your opinion about the way your boyfriend treats his mother. After all, the way a man behaves toward his mom says a lot about what kind of partner he’ll be in the long-term. I understand that you’ve already been together quite a while (over eight years) and so far he has shown you respect — or at least shares the housework with you 50/50, but I’d be very worried about potentially spending my life with a man who had so little regard for his own mother, let alone the value of raising children and running a household. If you two have children together, he’ll be modeling to them how to treat one’s mother. They’ll see how he acts toward his mom and think that that kind of behavior is okay. Worse yet, the idea that a woman’s role is at home and that that role is of little value may be so ingrained in him that he may expect you to fulfill that role and may have no intention of respecting you if you do.

Regardless of whether you have children with this man or not, though, you need to say something about the way you’re feeling. Rather than frame it in a way that speaks to his family dynamics — which very well may be none of your business (although, after 8.5 years with the man, I’d argue that it is at least a little bit your business) — try framing it as a discussion about the value of raising children, care-giving, and making a happy home. Frame it as a discussion about respecting women, even, or about manners. Frame it as a discussion about maturity and how the way you see him treat his mother gives you pause and makes you question whether or not he will eventually treat you the same way.

The point is, there are lots of ways you can introduce this topic, but the best thing to do is to highlight how his behavior affects YOU and your relationship. He’ll take you much more seriously when he sees that you’re invested in his behavior not as an outsider looking in but as someone directly affected and as someone imagining a future with him. So tell him the concerns his behavior gives you. And tell him that the reason you’re most affected by his behavior is because you love him and you hope to enjoy a very long future together, full of mutual respect and good times with each other’s families.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com and be sure to follow me on Twitter and ‘like’ me on Facebook.

133 comments… add one
  • avatar

    PFG-SCR May 25, 2012, 9:09 am

    Why the hell is his mother still doing his laundry?!?!

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      2_J May 25, 2012, 9:11 am

      Exactly…

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      Addie Pray May 25, 2012, 9:44 am

      Well, in the boyfriend’s defense, my mom does my laundry. When I visit, I usually bring some dirty clothes if they’ll fit in my bag. She loves to do my laundry, really. It brings her such joy, and I don’t want to deprive her of that. … But really, I say “here you go, ma” and then usually later that day it’s folded in a neat pile on my bed. It’s amazing how that works.

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        bethany May 25, 2012, 9:49 am

        My mom loves taking care of me when I’m home, too 🙂

        I don’t expect her to do anything for me, and I help her cook and clean up and stuff, but I swear, she just misses “mothering”!

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        Addie Pray May 25, 2012, 9:51 am

        Same here, except my mom has gotten used to us spoiling her. So when I come home, I know I need to fry up the bacon and set the table because Mama is ready for breakfast, lol. The laundry though? Eh, I’ll *let* her have that joy.

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        Lindsay May 25, 2012, 11:56 am

        My mom offers to do my laundry because I am rarely home and she doesn’t get to do much mothering these days. I don’t usually take her up on it for various reasons. But this guy’s mom doesn’t seem to be deprived of mother duties since she has still got children living at home, and it seems like it would be nice if he gave her a break.

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        Sunshine Brite May 26, 2012, 7:38 am

        Agreed, every couple-few months I load up the car when I see them and she hops right on it! That’s just one of the ways my mom’s chosen to care for me and save me like $10 in laundry money. She’s not the best communicator so she likes to show by doing the cooking, laundry, etc. while my dad grills, washes dishes, etc. and she goes nuts when people get on her turf.

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      lets_be_honest May 25, 2012, 9:58 am

      I think shaming is the way to go. Next time you’re there, say “dude, your mom’s still doing your laundry. Give the poor woman a break for god sake. She’s not a servant.” Or fawn over the next meal she cooks, “wow, I can’t believe you have the energy to cook such a great meal for all of us, you’re an amazing mom.”

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      PFG-SCR May 25, 2012, 10:48 am

      I’ve re-read the letter, and it sounds like at least some of his siblings are living at home. This is likely a situation where the mother has devoted her life to taking care of her children, and she’s bent over backwards to keep them happy. They treat her without respect because she allows them to – it probably started as preteen angst, but it was never corrected and has continued to be the way they treat her. I don’t automatically assume that the way he treats his mother is going to be the way he treats her or any other woman. The dynamic between a parent and child is unique. The LW states her boyfriend does half of the workload in their shared living arrangement, so he acts differently outside of his mother’s house.

      I do think she should talk to him, but not “in the moment”. He’ll be less defensive if it’s done at their home, not his mother’s. Because he is older and has younger siblings, she might take the angle of him setting a good example for his brothers. She should give him credit for what the work he does and how he treats her, but mention that his brothers might not be that way when they are older if they continue to take their mother for granted.

      While it’s commendable that the LW wants to improve the mother’s situation, she herself has benefited from this – meals prepared, laundry done, etc. She might try and change that – tell her boyfriend not to take his laundry over, have her boyfriend invite his mother and siblings to dinner, etc.

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    • avatar

      Suzanne May 25, 2012, 1:38 pm

      Seriously, with all due respect to Addie, letting your mom do your laundry after the age of 25 seems like you’re just taking advantage of her kindness.

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        lets_be_honest May 25, 2012, 1:42 pm

        Some parents actually enjoy doing favors for their kids. Weird, I know.

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        PFG-SCR May 25, 2012, 3:52 pm

        I’m a mother too, but isn’t part of our role to raise our children to be self-sufficient?

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark May 25, 2012, 3:57 pm

        The fact that a surprising number of twentysomethings still have their mom do their laundry isn’t really that, um, surprising sadly… 😉

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        lets_be_honest May 25, 2012, 4:07 pm

        Of course, I didnt mean so everythig for them. But I know my parents love helping out when they can. I make my daughter clean her room, but I’m happy to help if she’s overwhelmed. I know when my siblings are visiting my mom doesn’t mind giving them a break and doing laundry for them. Guess what I’m saying is there’s a difference between helping out and taking advantage.

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      • avatar

        Addie Pray May 25, 2012, 3:58 pm

        It seems like it for sure – but I’d argue it’s more like I “accept” her kindness. I don’t mind because you should see all the kind things I do for my mom that she accepts. Really, my siblings and I treat our parents like royalty. As it should be! Though, I did abuse her a lot in law school when I asked things like “pretty please can you make enough Persian food for 10 of my closest friends to have some *and* leftovers?” Only truth be told I probably didn’t say “pretty please.”

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    bethany May 25, 2012, 9:10 am

    I don’t think you need to make a big deal of it… Just call him out when he’s in the act. For example:

    Mom: “Can you bring this laundry basket upstairs?”
    Son: ignores her
    You: “Did you hear her? Don’t be a jerk, take the basket upstairs”

    You have to remember that his mother has ALLOWED this behavior to continue for years and years. The only way it’s going to stop is if someone calls him on it. Truthfully, it should be his mother. She needs to tell him that if he doesn’t start treating him with respect she’s going to stop doing things for him, but it sounds like she won’t be doing that any time soon, so if you want it to stop, then you need to call him out on it.

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    • Fabelle

      Fabelle May 25, 2012, 9:13 am

      I agree with the suggestion to call him out while in the act– I wonder if the LW has tried this at all?

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    • Lyra

      L May 25, 2012, 9:32 am

      I disagree that his mother is the one who is completely responsible for his behavior. Yes, she might allow it now by not talking to him about it, but at the same time, it IS possible that she has called him out in the past and nothing changed. Maybe she just got sick of it and just let it go.

      If the LW and this dude have been together for 8+ years I assume they’re a bit older — early to mid 20’s at the youngest. If that’s the case, the boyfriend needs to suck it up, GROW UP, and start treating his mother respectfully. HE’S the one who is to blame in this.

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      • avatar

        Lindsay May 25, 2012, 11:58 am

        I agree. But presumably this started at least a decade or longer ago, when he was at an age where it’s a bad idea to just let bad behavior slide.

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    • avatar

      Tax Geek May 25, 2012, 9:35 am

      >Mom: “Can you bring this laundry basket upstairs?”
      Son: ignores her
      You: “Did you hear her? Don’t be a jerk, take the basket upstairs”

      My guess is if you call him out like that in front of his family, he may not be your boyfriend for much longer. Which may or not be a bad thing.

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      • avatar

        Addie Pray May 25, 2012, 9:41 am

        Agreed. But I’ll add, if he can’t handle being called out on his shenanigans in front of family (just family – not like she would be doing this in front of his co-workers or something), then he is a BIG BABY, and this LW deserves better.

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      • Fabelle

        Fabelle May 25, 2012, 9:50 am

        Yeah, I thought calling out your S/O’s shenanigans in front of their family was sort of expected. I share eye rolls with my boyfriend’s mom all the time & lightly chide him for her if he’s being a dick. And likewise, if I’m acting particularly whiny or bratty if front of my parents, he’ll shake his head dramatically & be like “SUCH

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      • Fabelle

        Fabelle May 25, 2012, 9:50 am

        “SUCH a bad daughter!” (sorry, hit the wrong button & submitted too early!)

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      • avatar

        bethany May 25, 2012, 9:51 am

        In my family, we just tell it how it is. If someone said that in my house, no one would think twice about it.

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      • avatar

        amy May 25, 2012, 9:56 am

        It depends on the boyfriend, and how it is done. If it’s done in a teasing way, she can see how he reacts. It doesn’t have to be nasty or snarky, it can just be to tease him like “really? you can’t go get the laundry basket? omg”.

        If the tone is light, he might not get uptight about it

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      • avatar

        SweetPeaG May 25, 2012, 10:07 am

        Agreed. I think a light tone would be a good STARTING point. Maybe he has just been behaving like this since he was 13 and doesn’t recognize how immature he is being. If she teases him about being a “jerk” maybe it’ll at least set the wheels in motion.

        If none of that helps… the conversation that Wendy suggests is definitely the way to go.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest May 25, 2012, 9:59 am

        If she can’t say that, after 8 years, then I hope they break up.

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      • TaraMonster

        TaraMonster May 25, 2012, 10:44 am

        That’s my thought exactly. My boyfriend and I have been together 7 years. And you bet your ass I would call him out on some shit like that. Although my boyfriend would *never* and I mean NEVER talk to his mother like that. Did I say never? One more time for emphasis: NEVER.

        I disagree completely when the LW thinks it might not be her business. After 8.5 years, it’s her damn business; it’s good to know when to hold back and when to speak up, but this is undoubtedly a speak up situation.

        PS NEVER!!!!!!

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      lets_be_honest May 25, 2012, 9:59 am

      oh, I was trying to say that. You did a much better job.

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      • avatar

        Addie Pray May 25, 2012, 10:44 am

        yes she did. that’s what i was trying to say below too. this LW needs to directly call the BF out on his shit. such shitty shit.

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    • avatar

      Flake May 25, 2012, 10:19 am

      My guess would be that the mom is a single parent… There are a lot of reasons why she would do these things and accept that kind of treatment from her sons. She may still feel guilty that they have no father at home… She may feel that she hasn’t been a good mother, and that she deserves their treatment. None of this should apply if there is a father or a step-father in the picture.
      As for the LW’s question, I would definitely talk to him about it. I would say exactly what she said in the letter, and see what he replies to that. I am also curious to know how does he treat other women around him, especially the ones he sees on a regular basis. Is he just as rude and mean to them too? Moreover, when you have kids, particularly sons, what kind of a relationship do you want to have with them? Because kids are amazing imitators. And if that is what they will see as normal, that will be the way the act.

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        demoiselle May 25, 2012, 11:12 am

        It does say she’s a stay-at-home mom, which is pretty difficult to do as a single parent, I think, unless she also works from home.

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      • avatar

        Flake May 25, 2012, 11:23 am

        I just don’t get how the sons get away with that if there is a father. My father would slap my brothers if they ever thought something like that was appropriate.
        And she could have other sources of income.

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        lets_be_honest May 25, 2012, 11:37 am

        While offensive, its may not be that big of a thing even to the mother. Its certainly not unheard of for moms to do laundry for their kids, even older ones, or people to not like certain foods. If my mom served shrimp, I wouldn’t eat it either.

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      • avatar

        Something More May 25, 2012, 11:44 am

        Unless that’s where they learned this behavior in the first place.

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      • avatar

        Flake May 25, 2012, 12:04 pm

        Which is another reason the LW may not want to model that behavior to her own children…

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      • avatar

        cdjd0523 May 25, 2012, 1:47 pm

        I don’t think she is a single parent being a SAHM, however since the LW didn’t mention a father who is to say the boys didn’t learn the treatment of their mother from their dad. As a single parent myself I can say at the end of the day the last thing I want to deal with is a lippy disrespectful kid. Father or not there is no reason for a child to blatantly disrespectful to a parent and I would see it as a big red flag, especially since the LW’s bf would be at least in his mid 20’s.

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  • avatar

    DMR May 25, 2012, 9:13 am

    What a turnoff. My youngest brother is exactly the same way to our mother… I can’t fix it, and I’m his brother!

    As Wendy says, this is how mothers get treated in his family. When you become a mother, you’ll get exactly the same. This is your future.

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  • Kristina

    Kristina May 25, 2012, 9:17 am

    Maybe it’s because I haven’t slept but I don’t really understand this besides the fact that the mom is doing her kids’ laundry. My parents made me do it myself as a child so to see people that are fully capable of doing it themselves just pisses me off. His brothers are so spoiled if they think they can keep acting like that and refusing to eat what their mom cooks. This is a weird family and I’m surprised the boyfriend shares the house work 50/50. It’s also weird it took 8.5 years to move in together, unless you were really young at first. Honestly, I wouldn’t stand to see someone treat their family that way, especially their mother, so I would say something.

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    • avatar

      Temperance May 25, 2012, 10:56 am

      I honestly didn’t even blink at that. Then again, whenever we would go to Mr. Temperance’s family to visit, his grandmother would seriously go into the room we were staying in and would take and wash the laundry. We certainly didn’t want her to – we just didn’t want to have to pay the $4/load it costs to wash it at home, and since we were stuck visiting, we figured we would use their facilities.

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        Temperance May 25, 2012, 10:57 am

        OH, and to make things more interesting, I didn’t like this, but I forced it to stop after one memorable incident in which a pair of my period panties ended up in her hands …. and she pulled them out of the laundry, scrubbed them with “something” (so gross, WHO DOES THAT with someone else’s underwear), and then handed them to me in front of Mr. Temperance’s entire family, telling me that she was able to get most of the stain out. I wanted to die.

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        Kristen May 25, 2012, 11:25 am

        I would have absolutely died. That is so beyond awful.

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        Temperance May 25, 2012, 1:39 pm

        The worst part of it for me was that Mr. Temperance did not see the big deal at first! I was like, I’m glad you know that every woman occasionally has accidents, but MY UNDERWEAR! YOUR GRANDMOTHER! NOT NORMAL!

        He did eventually get it. I was way too squicked out to wear those panties for a good long time, though .. and they were my favorites! 🙁

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      • Kristina

        Kristina May 25, 2012, 11:44 am

        That’s horribly embarrassing. Who would do that in front of family anyways? Actually, my mom says the most embarrassing stories and things to my boyfriend all the time.

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        Temperance May 25, 2012, 1:36 pm

        My mom occasionally makes shameful comments in front of him, but she would cross the line at period stories or any other bodily function. THANK GOD!

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      • TaraMonster

        TaraMonster May 25, 2012, 11:13 am

        LOL. You poor thing!!! You raise a good point, though, about family dynamics. My friend and her fiance recently moved into the upstairs apartment of her aunt’s house (it’s big, they have a lot of privacy), and her aunt keeps letting herself in during the day cleaning up (and they’re pretty neat- idk what she’s doing, scrubbing the place w bleach?), doing their laundry, sticking ziti in their fridge, etc. It drives my friend bonkers, but she just sighs and lets her do it because “that’s just how Italian families are,” she says.

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      • TaraMonster

        TaraMonster May 25, 2012, 11:16 am

        To clarify: they have a lot of privacy when her aunt is not sneaking up there to clean. There’s a good deal of physical space between the apartments, but obviously not very much in the way of boundaries. haha.

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      • avatar

        Temperance May 25, 2012, 1:37 pm

        LOL that sounds truly terrible, but I get the dynamic! That’s really similar to how Mr. Temperance’s family operates. His mom and grandparents live on the same piece of property, and his grandparents are always in the house, criticizing how messy it is and sorting through things.

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    • TaraMonster

      TaraMonster May 25, 2012, 10:48 am

      My guess is they were young when they started dating. I was 20 when I met my boyfriend, and we didn’t move in until 5 years into our relationship. And it was the best thing for us, believe me. We both needed to experience having our own space before we shared one. I have so many awesome memories of *my* apartment in Yonkers, most of them in which I am drunk and/or blasting music and dancing with my girlfriends on our balcony. 🙂

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      • Kristina

        Kristina May 25, 2012, 11:37 am

        I mean it makes sense that it took over 8 years if they were like 14 or 15, but not 8 years if they were say 18. But if they were really that young, I feel like the LW would know his family well enough to know that they already acted this way. I definitely don’t plan on living with my boyfriend for awhile, but I already know pretty well how his family is.

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    • TaraMonster

      TaraMonster May 25, 2012, 10:52 am

      And also, I second you on the laundry thing. I never understand people who can’t do their own laundry, but then I’ve been doing mine since I was 8. When my HS boyfriend was getting ready to go to college he had to be taught how to do his own laundry. I remember doing his first independent load w him and he argued with me about when to add fabric softener and I just thought “I have ten years on you, buddy, put it in when I tell you to dammit!” Ahhh memories.

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      • Lyra

        L May 25, 2012, 11:59 am

        Hahahaaa. I have a good story on teaching guys to do laundry. I worked in a freshman dorm for res life in college. There were a few days where it was just the res life staff and the student athletes in the dorms because they got there early too. I was picking up my laundry after and there were two massive football players standing in front of the washer looking very lost. I acknowledged them and grabbed my own clothes. They appeared to be silently debating something until one finally asked me if I could help them. We started from the BASICS — I helped them sort lights from darks, showed them where to put the detergent, how to turn on the washer, etc. It was rather amusing, but they were very grateful for my help.

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        Eve Harrison May 26, 2012, 6:58 am

        I want to let you know I am in res life too. We can both agree that our job is shit-full of crazy stories.

        I feel you.

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      • avatar

        bethany May 25, 2012, 12:24 pm

        My mom made us start doing our own laundry when we got into middle school. Actually, when my brother got into middle school, so I was probably in 4th grade.
        Every now and then she’d do it for us, and she still washed our sheets and towels and stuff… But really, there’s no reason not to do it yourself- it’s so easy!

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  • avatar

    Amanda May 25, 2012, 9:18 am

    Does anyone else have the urge to slap the shit out of the LW’s boyfriend and his brothers?

    Wendy’s advice is fabulous as usual. LW, if you have been with your boyfriend for almost 9 years, then you must have known how he treats his mother for several years. Why are you writing this letter now? Did his behavior not bother you before? If it were me, I would think long and hard before I moved in/married/had children with someone who treated their mother so poorly. Unless there is a history of abuse or some trauma that you didn’t mention in your letter, your boyfriend is acting like a douche. Don’t tolerate it any longer. Take Wendy’s advice and tell him how his behavior affects you and your relationship. I hope that he is receptive to you. If not, I would recommend that you find a new place to live and move on from this relationship.

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      kerrycontrary May 25, 2012, 9:25 am

      I wouldn’t slap them. I just wouldn’t spend any time with them. Ever. Men like that gross me.

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      SweetPeaG May 25, 2012, 10:16 am

      I think the behavior is coming to light now because she recently moved in with him and close to his Mom. Maybe she just didn’t spend enough time with him around his family prior to that.
      ::Shrug:: I guess people can be really good at hiding crappy personality traits?

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    • avatar

      demoiselle May 25, 2012, 10:23 am

      I wonder if they didn’t start dating early in high school, when ignoring one’s parents is more of a “phase.” I’d still be very cautious and even reconsider the relationship. If they are recently moved in together, they are still both on their good behavior. That is likely to change as they grow more accustomed/go through more stress/marry and have kids (if that’s what they want).

      Always watch how children treat their parents to get an idea of what your future is going to be like. I don’t have the experience to know how this works for men watching their girlfriends, but it has been true for me. When I met my husband’s parents (they have 4 kids, three younger than hubby), I watched how they behaved. They worked as a perfect team, though she’s a stay at home mom: splitting driving duties to kid’s activities, planning spontaneously and together each night, picking things up for dinner on the way home no matter what the gender, the entire family jumping up to do the dishes after each meal. The only places where things slipped was laundry (which remained clean and unfolded in baskets most of the time) and general “neatening” and “deep cleaning” (which remained undone, or just done enough).

      Lo and behold, this is where we are: a well-working team who has trouble getting laundry folded and tends to have a slightly messy house and put off sweeping and vacuuming and scrubbing the bathroom (which I’d like to do more, but don’t want to take over more than 50%). Bonus for me, he’s the one who inherited his mom’s cooking and baking passion, while I hate that stuff (like my mom) and yet at the same time he’s got a breadwinner mentality (even though he’s zero on the “macho” scale).

      My ex boyfriend (abusive) was barely on speaking terms with his mom. His dad disappeared when he was a small child. The one time I talked to her on the phone, she told me (though I was 9 years younger) that I’d probably have to teach him how to be a man. No, thank you! Now, he and his wife are divorced and he’s been looking into careers that will take him out of state from his kid (just like his dad).

      Point of long, personally discursive message: Parents relationships with their kids can give you a really good idea of what you are getting into. ALWAYS pay attention to it, especially if it is dysfunctional, and if your partner doesn’t RECOGNIZE the parents’ problems, then they may lack the self-awareness to correct the problem in their own generation. It is much easier to fall into a pattern of “what one knows” (see: me and buying food rather than cooking).

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  • avatar

    Guy Friday May 25, 2012, 9:21 am

    I get where Wendy is coming from on this, because obviously there’s a truth to the notion that the way that a man treats his mother can often shed light on how he’ll treat other women. However, there’s also truth in the notion that things aren’t always what they seem to an outsider looking in on a family dynamic, and I think this is one time where the LW should just come out and ask, “Listen, I saw that there, and I was a little surprised, because it seems so unlike the great way you treat me. Why is that?” She may find out that there’s a reason his brothers and he act the way they do (which isn’t to say there’s ever really a good reason for treating other people poorly, but there may be a reason that makes sense to the LW.)

    This is pure speculation here, but perhaps he and his brothers are such frequent visitors with their mother because she’s guilted them into spending time there, and the laundry thing is them not wanting her to wash their clothes because they’re grown men who would prefer not to be treated like children and talked down to. Maybe they don’t like her doing them favors because they’ve learned there are always strings attached to them, so they openly rebel against the idea of her doing anything for them. Maybe the cooking has something to do with her deliberately cooking foods she knows they hate with little regard for them. I’m not trying to villify the mother by any means here; I’m just spitballing as to what might cause them to act in this fashion.

    One other thing to consider: it’s entirely possible that your boyfriend deliberately picked you, LW, because you’re not like his mother. I know that my family’s passive-aggressive, “make comments behind your back” style made me want to pull out my hair, so I’ve always dated women who were willing to be direct and open with me about concerns they’ve had. My family is terrible with money, so I focused on significant others who budgeted and understood the value of a dollar. Things like that.

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    • Will.i.am

      Will.i.am May 25, 2012, 9:48 am

      My Mom and Brother are really close. My Mom and myself are not very close. My Mom and I have a difference of opinion and views on things, so it hindered our relationship. From the outside looking in our relationship is off putting, but not everyone shows love for their parents in the same manner. I would always accept my Mom’s cooking and my Mom stopped doing my laundry a decade ago, but our relationship has never been that strong.

      For me, there were some issues with my Mother that I rather not get into, but it made me create boundaries within our relationship. Is it awkward at times that we aren’t as close? Yes, but at the same time, these boundaries had to be set for certain reasons. I love my Mom to death and would do as much as I can to help her, but we will never have the call you everyday and want to see you all the time relationship. Her and my Brother have that relationship, but we don’t, and we are both ok with it.

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    • avatar

      demoiselle May 25, 2012, 10:26 am

      Good points from the Devil’s Advocate point of view.

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    • katie

      Katie May 25, 2012, 10:30 am

      You might be on to something in saying that the boyfriend picked the LW because she is nothing like his mother.. That was one thing that I thought very odd about the letter- he treats his mom like crap in regards to “housewife” things but they share those same things 50/50. Either he is going to change his ways at some point (maybe after a marriage?) or there is something going on that we and the LW don’t understand.

      Ive been up since 3 am on my way to Oregon… They guy beside me had 2 (2!!!!) gin blood Mary’s on our 6 15 flight….

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      • TaraMonster

        TaraMonster May 25, 2012, 11:07 am

        Eww. Everyone knows Bloody Mary’s are better with vodka! 😉

        I too, think Guy Friday is onto something. My mother is mentally ill. If you based my entire character on how I interact with her, you wouldn’t get a very good read of who I am. I’m not always kind and nice when I’m being manipulated and berated. And even when she’s “good” she can be exceptionally difficult. Interactions that may seem innocuous to an outsider can be really loaded in my family. I’m not saying his mom is mentally ill, but there may be more here than meets the eye.

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      • Kristina

        Kristina May 25, 2012, 11:47 am

        I was thinking the same thing that there could be something else. My mom is mentally ill and I definitely interact with her differently than other people and I would hope others wouldn’t think that’s how I always am–because it is difficult to be nice to someone so outright mean.

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      • TaraMonster

        TaraMonster May 25, 2012, 2:04 pm

        Oy. If you ever want to talk about mentally ill parents, email me. I started going to a support group a couple of months ago and I can’t believe it took me so many years to do it (It was the stigma- I couldn’t get those Fight Club images out of my head!!). Just hearing other people repeat the things I think and feel is incredible. You know when you try to explain things to your friends with “normal” parents and they’re like “well why don’t you just tell her how you feel?” and you want to smack your head against something? In the support group everyone GETS it. IT’S AWESOME!! 🙂

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    • avatar

      AmyRenee May 25, 2012, 11:41 am

      To piggyback off the “he picked you because you are different from your mother …” – have you had a conversation at all about whether the two of you want children and whether either of you is going to be a stay at home parent? Does he imagine his life once you have kids to be exactly like his childhood, with a stay at home mom who does all the housework? Or does he want to be with you because you are an independent woman, and does he understand that that means helping with childrearing & housework someday? If you think the idea of a discussion about future children might spook him if you are still young, phrase it as a career discussion – talk about co-workers who quit to be stay-at-home moms and whether you could/would do that. Especially if he comes from a community where most of the women are stay at home moms, it may not have really consciously occurred to him that his life might not be that way if he stays with you.

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  • avatar

    kerrycontrary May 25, 2012, 9:24 am

    I think Wendy’s advice is great. She provides a mature and rational way to deal with this situation. It’s good I’m not the advice columnist because I would just tell the LW to call her boyfriend out. Say something like “stop treating your mother like crap you douchewad or I’m leaving.” I would also tell the LW not to date someone who has his mother do his laundry for him when he’s a full-grown adult. That’s a red flag for me. A huge red flag with a big ol’ RUN AWAY on it. But that’s just me.

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    • avatar

      demoiselle May 25, 2012, 10:29 am

      Well, the laundry thing could depend on how long they stay at family gatherings vs. how much stuff they can fit into a suitcase. Sometimes the family “homemaker” is quite possessive of the washer and dryer (and for good reason: my in-laws let me use their dryer, but insisted on Mom-in-Law turning on the washer, because it was on the fritz and if it wasn’t handled just right, it would flood the room).

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  • avatar

    jlyfsh May 25, 2012, 9:25 am

    I see this dynamic with my Grandmother and my Uncle. She’s from the era that women should do everything in the house, to the point that she still serves the men their plates, fetches them drinks, does their laundry, basically anything they want. And they also have a weird thing with the food she cooks too. It’s to the point that when she’s worried he won’t like it she’ll say after working for hours on something that it’s probably crap and no one will like it. And he often then critiques her and she agrees with him. I’m sorry but if I’m cooking for you, unless I’ve really made something awful that is unedible, just eat it and shut up!

    Anyway, the problem is just as much her as it is him. Which is hard to understand, I think we want to jump all over the brothers in this example but from what I’ve seen growing up, my Grandmother was never willing to stand up for herself when it came to men because she was taught otherwise growing up. It’s so hard to change people like that because both parties have to change how they act.

    Not that I think treating the mother that way is ok, but I think a lot of family dynamics like that are learned behaviors. At least from my experience at least….

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    • avatar

      SweetPeaG May 25, 2012, 10:39 am

      Very good observations.
      I agree… while I don’t want to let the LW’s boyfriend and his brothers totally off the hook, this stuff is learned behavior. I wonder if their Dad is/was in the picture and treated their Mom this way?

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      • avatar

        jlyfsh May 25, 2012, 3:59 pm

        i know in my grandmother’s case my grandfather was, but he expected the same things, because he had grown up the same way.

        saying all that though i will say that if i were the LW and knowing what I know from seeing the relationship between my uncle/grandmother i would think long and hard before staying. and i would definitely at the minimum have a talk with him about how his behavior affects me and my desire to stay in a relationship with him.

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  • avatar

    Addie Pray May 25, 2012, 9:32 am

    You know, for the first time ever — except for maybe that time Wendy didn’t like Under the Banner of Heaven and I was crushed because that’s, like, one of my favorite books — I disagree with Wendy, just a bit. I agree you should say something and I agree, after 8 years together, it is your business. But I wouldn’t frame it as a discussion about the value of raising children, care-giving, etc. I think it’ll be too easy for him to just agree and to ignore the specific issue: he is behaving like bratty kid and taking advantage of his sweet mom! I mean, I’d explain just why this is such a huge problem — not just because he is hurting his mother — but because of all the things Wendy mentioned about what it suggests the boyfriend will be like when they have kids, etc. I just think the problem with discussing things in general terms is it is very easy for him to say “I value women” etc. … So I’d be more direct to your boyfriend – tell him the way he treats his mother makes you want to throw up! … But then again, Wendy has successfully navigated a long term relationship, I have not. That’s always the little disclaimer I need to add when I give relationship advice, lol.

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    • avatar

      Nadine May 25, 2012, 9:48 am

      Dude, you’re still smart. Don’t give a caveat with your advice! Haven’t you seen “Julie and Julia”? “Never apologize!”

      Ok its sunny here for the first time and I’m day drunk.

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      • avatar

        Addie Pray May 25, 2012, 9:54 am

        Ats my girl Nadine!

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      • avatar

        Addie Pray May 25, 2012, 9:57 am

        Day drinking is one of my favorite pastimes. But the problem for me is I’m ready for bed at 5pm. I have never been able to achieve longevity in drinking. Those guys that woke up for Kegs & Eggs in college and were still drinking by 2 in the morning? I was in awe.

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      • avatar

        bethany May 25, 2012, 10:18 am

        The key is that you have to drink very light beer- Like Miller Lite, and that’s it! Also, drink water and eat food.

        I can drink all day maybe once a year, and that’s it. My tollerence isn’t even close to what it used to be!

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      • avatar

        Addie Pray May 25, 2012, 11:01 am

        yulch. i guess i’ll just stick to passing out at 5 pm. ha.

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      • Lianne

        Lianne May 25, 2012, 10:41 am

        Me too, me too! Day drinking just feels so illicit (and illicit activities are one of my three favorite things – the other two being rhyming and alliteration – and puns, too, so make it four favorite things).

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest May 25, 2012, 11:43 am

        wtf? I love you

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      • katie

        Katie May 25, 2012, 1:20 pm

        Did you see what I said above about the guy next to me downing 2 gin bloody Mary’s on a 6:15 am flight? Talk about day drinking… Lol

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      • Lianne

        Lianne May 25, 2012, 3:36 pm

        I don’t think I would like a gin bloody mary. I do love my vodka ones though!

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  • avatar

    Kristen May 25, 2012, 9:45 am

    I’m guessing the LW and her boyfriend are probably 24- or 25-year-old high school sweethearts, which would explain why they’re just now moving in together after 8 years. It also fits in with the family dynamic she describes, where they’re over at his parents’ house for dinner a lot and basically still part of his nuclear family. For that reason, I can understand if it’s easy for the boyfriend to fall back into his “role” there in terms of letting his mom cook for him, even do his laundry. His mom sounds a lot like mine, and my mom’s way of showing love is through acts of service. I’m getting married in two months, and ever since I got engaged, she’s gone back to doing my laundry for me because “it’s her last chance” (yes, crazy, I know).

    Anyway, that part doesn’t necessarily worry me. It’s the poor behavior and not seeming thankful toward his mom that’s concerning. LW, you’ve been with your boyfriend for a third of your life (I’m guessing). You should feel comfortable bringing this up in a straight-forward way. Just lay it out there the next time an example comes up. After you leave, and you’re driving home, just tell him it bothers you when he’s rude to his mom. Tell him it makes you worried that the pattern will repeat itself in your relationship, and you need to talk about it.

    Also, consider doing something nice for his mom yourself. Surprise her with some flowers with a note saying how much you appreciate everything she does for the both of you (cooking for you, welcoming you in her home, etc.) By now, she probably sees you as a daughter, so I’m sure that would make her day.

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    • avatar

      SweetPeaG May 25, 2012, 10:49 am

      Aww, love your last paragraph! Yes, LW, do that! That woman sounds like she deserves a nice treat!

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    • avatar

      AmyRenee May 25, 2012, 10:51 am

      First, I really hope that when LW is referring to the Mom doing her sons laundry, she is referring to teenage sons still living at home, not grown and out of the house sons.

      This sounds a lot like the dynamic at my husbands childhood home – his mom stayed at home until he was 6, and even once she went back to work she did all the cooking, cleaning, laundry etc. My FIL doesn’t do any household chores, and neither did her 2 sons. However, my husband lived on his own in college and learned quickly to do his own laundry and cook for himself, and before we married we discussed how I was going to be a career woman and that since he was a better cook than me we would be sharing household duties, with most of the cooking falling on him.

      When we went to his families house, his mom would wait on him, brother & father hand and foot, it drove me crazy, but my husband didn’t really notice it until I pointed it out. What has worked for us was for me to take some of the burden from her, and to guilt her sons into doing the same. For example, after she cooked dinner, she would start to clear the table, and I would say “No, you cooked supper, let B (my husband) and I do it. And I’d drag my husband to the kitchen and wed do the dishes. I’d remind him that his mother had worked hard to cook supper and dishes were the least we could do. Then after a few weeks, I’d say, “Come on (brother), help us clear the table” and slowly get the brother involved too. If the brothers are teenagers and they’ve never seen their dad step up and help, teach your BF to be that model. To this day I tease my BIL that his future wife will appreciate all the time I’ve put into training him to be self sufficient and we all laugh.

      Be the role model. Your BFs mom will appreciate it and your BFs brothers will learn from it.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest May 25, 2012, 11:44 am

        Yea, this is perfect. Its really not all that outrageous whats going on here and I think you perfectly summed up an easy solution.

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  • Lyra

    L May 25, 2012, 9:46 am

    I’m FUMING right now. This guy is acting like such a baby.

    By my math, you’re at the youngest in your early 20s. By now he needs to have learned a minimum of two things:

    1. How to treat his mother with respect.
    2. How to DO HIS OWN FLIPPIN’ LAUNDRY.

    You can tell a lot about a guy by how he treats his mother. In this case, he has zero respect for her. He’s brushing her off. He doesn’t appreciate what she does for him. He makes RUDE COMMENTS to her. Yuck. Yuck yuck yuck. That’s petty and blatantly disrespectful on his part. It should be a MAJOR concern for you. How he treats his own mother is how he will treat you if you have kids. Is that something you really want to happen??

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  • avatar

    Anna May 25, 2012, 9:46 am

    I can understand where you’re coming from. When I first met my ex over 9 years ago, we both lived with our parents and he had a very tumultuous relationship with his mother. They would get in screaming fights about her constantly meddling in his life and being overbearing and she would argue back that she just cares for him and wants to help him and he shouldn’t be so ungrateful. I did worry that the behavior was an indication that he might treat me the same way sometimes, but when we moved in together it was like he was a different person than he was at his parents’ house. We split the housework and bills evenly and had a wonderful relationship living together for 8 years. Aside from the occasional fight, we got along great and he always respected me for my accomplishments (graduating college, working full time, always putting great meals on the table). The only reason we broke up is that I wanted to get married and he didn’t.

    Well, it’s been two weeks since he moved out of our apartment and into his parents’ new house 1000 miles away. We’ve been texting occasionally, and it sounds like things have gone back to exactly the way they were when I met him. He complains to me that his mom is lazy, won’t unpack the boxes from the move and makes a big deal about having to make dinner for the family. He says he misses my dinners because I was always happy to cook up something awesome and excited to serve it. I must add here that I’m kinda of a domestic diva, to the point of being a domestic dork. I love cooking and nothing made me happier than making a nice homemade dinner for two and enjoying it together with some wine.

    My point is that maybe your boyfriend may be like mine was and view his mother and his partner differently, holding much more respect for his partner. While that’s kinda shitty and not fair to his mom, you may not need to worry about him disrespecting you in the future. In the best interest of his mother, though, maybe you could just gently encourage him to be nicer to her. Remind him that this is his mother, the woman he should respect most in the world, and he needs to treat her well. I’ve been doing that lately, despite the fact that my ex and I are no longer together. When we were together, I really grew to love his mother as my own, so I do care what happens to her. He still comes to me for advise and to talk about his problems, so I take that opportunity to tell him what I think is right just like I always did.

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    • avatar

      demoiselle May 25, 2012, 10:33 am

      But what happens when/if “partner” turns into “mom of my kids”?

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      • avatar

        Anna May 25, 2012, 12:38 pm

        Good question. We never had kids so I don’t know for sure. If he learned anything from his dad, he would treat the mother of his kids like a queen. His parents have the best marriage I’ve ever seen.

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    • avatar

      Denial Buster May 25, 2012, 10:56 am

      WHY WHY WHY are you still texting your ex-boyfriend after the way he treated you? I think you are still in DENIAL – major DENIAL – about how horrible he was to you. I commented in your recent thread. Please read. I hope you won’t get angry or defensive, I am trying to help!

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      • avatar

        Kristen May 25, 2012, 1:26 pm

        Please stop. It’s not your job to enlighten people or break them out of “denial.” And being harsh isn’t at all helpful.

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      • avatar

        Denial Buster May 25, 2012, 3:49 pm

        Fair enough, it’s not my job, but you don’t seem to disagree that Anna is in denial! (Anna, your friends’ radio silence when you say things like u r still texting your ex is a big sign they disagree, they just know you’ll be defensive if they say anything.) If any letter writer were to write that her boyfriend led her on for years but that they had a “wonderful relationship living together for 8 years” even though he appears to have been lying thru his teeth the whole time and that she still texts him, we’d be all over her (or his) shit. AND YOU KNOW IT, KRISTEN. Peace out.

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      • Lili

        Lili May 25, 2012, 4:03 pm

        You actually bring up a really valid point. I know one of the reasons we on DW are so objective at giving LW advice is because of the anonymity. We don’t worry so much about phrasing things nicely or being understanding of their feelings and emotions, because well we dont’ k now much other than whats in the letter. With DW friends, its more complex. Like real life friends who we don’t want to hurt even though we want to YELL at them that what they’re doing is stupid and only hurting their cause. But we don’t. We care about maintaining the friendship and their feelings first, and then just support them and deal with the repercussions. Is this the best way to be–probably not. But it is what it is.

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      • Will.i.am

        Will.i.am May 25, 2012, 4:09 pm

        Damn denial. You hit it with the radio silence. That is true. We are sparring your feelings Anna, but at the same time, can and will only support you going down this road for so long. In the end, I care what you do, but at the same time I don’t. Your actions don’t affect my life and vice versa, but I don’t want you to purposely seek harm by continuing communicating with a guy that deliberately gave you a FUCK YOU!!

        He may have loved you, but he clearly didn’t love you enough to stick it out with you. You are envisioning him for more than what he really is. The man you fell in love with no longer exist. He’s metamorphed himself into a new person and that person does not want you. So quit waiting on his beck and call and get out there and have fun. I know it’s hard but it’s not going to get any easier when you can’t find your own happiness in life. You lived your life through him for far too long! He had ALL THE POWER and now you see where it got you. Lonely and confused!

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      • avatar

        Something More May 25, 2012, 3:07 pm

        FWIW, I agree with you, Denial Buster. We PREACH how cutting off all communications is SO important after a break up.

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  • avatar

    amy May 25, 2012, 9:55 am

    That’s tough. That’s a huge turnoff to see him be so nasty to his mother.

    You can try speaking up when you see it happening, like if he refuses to bring his laundry basket down or whatever, tease him and be like… really?? what are you doing? Your mom loves you, she does what she can, the least you can do is grab your laundry basket! Tease him lightly, don’t make a big deal out of it and see what happens.

    One of the first things I noticed about my fiance’ is how much he loves his mother, from the stories he told me it was very obvious how much he respects and loves her. However, he can be very impatient with her sometimes. His mother has a pretty thick skin from raising him and having him be somewhat of a smartass sometimes but I’ve talked to him about it. One instance in particular, I was in the other room, and I heard him screaming in the kitchen. (We had recently become engaged, and I saw it as him yelling at my future mother in law and I got involved). I went into the kitchen where him, his mother, and his father were. And I asked him in front of both of them, “what in the world is going on? Why are you yelling??” He said “well, my mom started talking about something that I wasn’t talking about and we weren’t on the same page blah blah blah” and I said “…Chris… people misunderstand things all the time. Look at your mother! You really hurt her feelings, why did you get so angry over something simple? It’s not that she wasn’t listening to you (that’s one of his pet peeves), she just thought you were talking about something else. Good lord, now go give your mom a hug etc.”

    I’ve talked to him about it here and there, just saying that he should be more patient with her because he hurts her feelings, and things have actually changed with them. I’m very close with her mother and she’s mentioned that Chris has become more patient with her and has not been as snippy since he has met me. (It will be 3 years in November).

    Anyway, this worked for me, in a non serious tone (with the exception of stepping into the kitchen when I heard him screaming at his mother, which is totally out of the ordinary for him), just telling him to be a bit more patient.

    It probably depends on your boyfriend and his personality, but this worked for us.

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  • FireStar

    FireStar May 25, 2012, 10:00 am

    I would just ask – what is the deal with your mom? Ask him why he and his brothers mistreat the mother. Is there a reason for the passive-aggressive resentment? Is there some history of abuse you know nothing of? And if there isn’t some sort of reason to explain the behaviour, then tell him you are concerned about it because if that relationship could devolve into such disrespect – then what prevents yours from the same fate? Wendy is right – If you (plan to) have kids, this is not a lesson you want to teach them. What does he want to teach them about treating one’s mother? Ultimately, you are worried this speaks to character. If there is not some underlying abuse in his past, then you need to ask him what his plan for the future treatment of his mom is because you would hate to have this colour how you otherwise feel about him.

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  • avatar

    demoiselle May 25, 2012, 10:08 am

    Once you’re past the courting stage (ie, if you ever get married or have kids), his mom’s life could be YOUR life. I’d sit up and pay attention!

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  • avatar

    oldie May 25, 2012, 10:11 am

    I agree with Wendy. You and bf are still in the not-fully-committed courtship phase and he has to play nice to keep you. Expectations can change with marriage, especially if you have a couple kids and spend some time as a stay-at-home Mom. In that case, you should assume that he will treat you as he treats his Mom. He assigns no value to housework and mothering. You say he shares the housework 50-50, but if you eat at his Mom’s and she does his laundry, then there isn’t a heck of a lot of housework to be done, certainly not compared to when the two of you are married and have a kid.
    Definitely talk to him, but he really doesn’t sound like a keeper.

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  • avatar

    Leah May 25, 2012, 10:58 am

    I think you have every right to be upset by his behavior and to talk with him about it. Not only should it worry you as far as your own relationship and family goes, but the behavior itself is offensive. Think about how you’d feel if your boyfriend told a racist joke about a race other than yours. I know I’d be pissed off, even if it wasn’t about me! I’d also be pissed off and embarrassed if my boyfriend treated a service person badly, or cut someone off in traffic for no reason and flipped them off. Even if the bad behavior is never pointed at you directly, you’re still stuck being around it and that sort of behavior is toxic. Even if your boyfriend has never felt the need to be respectful of his mother for her sake, he should know how horrified it makes you and you should tell him sooner rather than later!

    As for how his behavior may predict the future of your own relationship, I would take that seriously, too. You may be on equal footing now but there are plenty of stories (including on DW!) about men who change immediately after getting married. Some people see marriage as a continuation of their earlier relationship while some people see it as signaling a major switch in relationship dynamics and behavior. The switch in your boyfriend’s mind may be marriage or it could be motherhood. Some people have assumptions that they never question or feel the need to share with their partner because they assume that’s just the way the world works. “People who are married act like x”, “women who have kids act like y”. Your boyfriend may think of all mothers as submissive servants, always willing and happy to be at their children’s beck and call and generally willing to be treated like dirt. You won’t know for sure if that’s what he thinks about all mothers, or just his own mother, unless you ask. And even if it’s only his own mom he thinks should be treated that way he really needs to take some time to consider why. He’s shown no interest in doing this on his own and it seems like his mom and brothers are happy to keep the status quo, so it’s up to you to bring it up.

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  • avatar

    Temperance May 25, 2012, 11:04 am

    I’m going to go against all of the other commenters and address the LW. LW, you may not know all there is to know about the family dynamic. For all we know, his mother could be the type who refused to work when the family really needed the money because she wanted to stay home. She could be using these frequent dinners and doing their laundry as methods of control.

    I’m saying this, and suggesting that you should talk to him and gently ask what’s going on, but NOT in front of his mother. I also think you should cut down on the family dinners, at least until you and he get more established as a couple; it’s hard to cut the apron strings when you’re still going to mom’s house a few times per week for dinner.

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    • avatar

      Kristen May 25, 2012, 11:15 am

      I personally think it’s a lot more likely that his mom genuinely likes to do those things for her family and doesn’t see it as a burden. Some people show love for others through actions like that (e.g. my mom ironing my dad’s shirts every morning). It’s hard to believe someone would use housekeeping as a manipulative tool. Most likely, that’s just the dynamic in their house and it’s always been that way. It doesn’t mean the LW’s boyfriend and his siblings shouldn’t help out or be grateful — it just means they’re used to it. I do agree that she should talk to him about it, though, and encourage him to be nicer to his mom. He’s an adult now and doesn’t need to fall back into his old patterns every time they’re over there.

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    • bittergaymark

      bittergaymark May 25, 2012, 12:21 pm

      Or maybe he knows that his mom is an evil alien from outer space hell bent on destroying earth?! I only say this because — you know what? We both have the same amount of evidence for our two very different theories here.

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      • avatar

        Temperance May 25, 2012, 1:31 pm

        Eh, I’ve seen it happen before.

        Also, how do I know that YOU are not an evil alien from outer space, hell bent on destroying Dear Wendy?

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark May 25, 2012, 2:40 pm

        People are constantly bringing bizarre outside stuff from their own lives into every other letter in ways that are hilariously narcissistic. I mean one could do that with any letter and radically change the meaning to the point that it makes sense. I mean, I could say: Guys Chill out. The mom is probably secretly digging it. How do we not know that she has a severe masochist complex which her husband refuses to partake in? And so her sons have kindly stepped up to fill the void… I’ve seen it before so I’m totally sure that’s what’s happening here, LW. Your husband is being the best son in the world by treating his mom like shit, so just leave things well enough alone.

        Seriously, it’s starting to border on the absurd. Especially with yesterday’s letter, where somebody who was absolutely reveling in kissing as many of her students as possible was suddenly portrayed by many as this curiously sympathetic and tragic victim who just didn’t dare say no because, I guess, many commentators have problems saying no in their lives… It’s just getting bizarre in here lately.

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      • Will.i.am

        Will.i.am May 25, 2012, 3:07 pm

        BGM. I’ll come out and say it. That’s a reason why I stopped posting so much.

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      • avatar

        Something More May 25, 2012, 3:10 pm

        I agree with all of this. It’s like people take their own experiences and somehow insert them into LWs’ letters and their comments start making NO sense.

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      • JK

        JK May 26, 2012, 12:33 pm

        So true. Lately it seems like there´s been examples of this very thing on ever. single. letter. And every. single. forum.
        It can be quite annoying.

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      • katie

        katie May 26, 2012, 12:55 pm

        I cant tell if this general thought is supposed to be sarcastic or not, but I hope it is… When I wrote in a while ago, Wendy answered me with a personal story about when the same thing happened to her. Isn’t that the point of giving advice? It’s the whole idea of, “this happened in my life and I handled it x way. It worked/didn’t work for me. This was how the situation played out. I recommend you do x/y/z because I did and it worked/I didn’t and I wish I had.”

        Of course we use our own lives to figure out problems. That’s our only frame of reference… If we didn’t do that, we would just all be robots spouting out the same thoughts for every situation and every LW who we read about.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark May 26, 2012, 1:07 pm

        Wendy’s personal stories ACTUALLY directly relate to the issue at hand. Nobody has a problem when anybody does this in that way. What everybody above is sick of is that so many are starting to do so in the most absurd fashion — see my above example about the masochistic mom… That’s what people are (rightfully) getting quite annoyed with…

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      • JK

        JK May 26, 2012, 1:08 pm

        Yeah, but I think it´s important that the personal experience actually has something to do with the letter/situation at hand.
        I know that sometimes we all go off topic, but I can understand that it must be must be annoying for LWs to have to read heaps of comments that have nothing to do with what they were asking.

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    lets_be_honest May 25, 2012, 11:53 am

    Theres a very good chance Mom likes doing these things. A very good chance. And while the boys (bear in mind we don’t know the younger kids ages and they really are none of the LW’s business anyway) should show her more thanks, its really not that uncommon for Mom to make dinner every night and do household laundry. I’m reading things like “if you don’t want this to be your life, you better MOA.” This really is a bit much guys. Maybe the boys just don’t like some of the meals she prepares, at which point they say thanks anyway and get themselves dinner. That’s ok.

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    • avatar

      Temperance May 25, 2012, 1:33 pm

      My mother is a great person, but an awful cook. We had a house rule where you had to eat whatever was made, so we would loudly complain about some of the things she made that we hated.

      I maintain that forcing a child to eat something referred to a Shit on a Shingle is abuse.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark May 25, 2012, 12:10 pm

    Run. Human beings that treat their own mom like shit will eventually treat everybody like shit. Now, LW, if you want to be treated like shit — and apparently, many people out there do want to be treated like shit. Hell, advice columns everywhere lately are seemingly nothing but letter after letter begging for permission to keep on living with their REALLY bad choices — well, then this IS the guy for you… But if not, I’d walk away. No, scratch that. I’d run away real fast…

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    • avatar

      Rachel May 25, 2012, 12:42 pm

      Yes. Seriously. SUCH a bad sign if he’s this rude to his mother. Also, the LW doesn’t mention that this behavior is at all out of character for him.

      I can understand a few of the commenters that have said maybe the family situation is more complicated, but I think if that were the case, they wouldn’t be hanging out there all the time!

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    • avatar

      jubietta May 25, 2012, 1:03 pm

      “Human beings that treat their own mom like shit will eventually treat everybody like shit.”

      That’s an over-generalization.

      Most people would say my husband treats his mom horribly: hasn’t spoken with her in years, doesn’t send Mother’s Day cards, doesn’t even call her “mom.” At the same time he spoils me rotten. I hear “I love you” at least 20 times a day, we share hugs and kisses regularly, and I have all of my needs and 90% of my wants met. He communicates, he’s considerate, and he makes his needs known so I can spoil him right back. The difference? His mother abandoned him at 4 and I am his partner for life: 25 years and still going strong.

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        lets_be_honest May 25, 2012, 1:08 pm

        I think he was speaking more to those who have a relationship with their mother, not about mother’s who abandoned, abused or otherwise were terrible moms.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark May 25, 2012, 2:27 pm

        Yeah, thanks, LBH. I can’t believe how often people can’t see the forest through the trees around here…

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      • Lili

        Lili May 25, 2012, 2:52 pm

        Just thought I’d chime in an say that I see your point here Mark. Actually I see it a lot, and I should comment and agree more. I may not always agree with your style, but your main message is usually just a no holds barred kinda deal. I think sometimes the most blunt snarky approach is best, especially when we’re all getting wrapped up in 50 shades of gray area (sorry couldn’t resist).

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        jubietta May 25, 2012, 9:22 pm

        Interesting that I disagree with something you said in a post as support for advice to end a relationship and you go to a disrespectful comment about me as a person — “how often people can’t see the forest through the trees.” I refute the statement because you don’t know me or how I look at large, leafy plant-type-growing-things.

        I understand exactly what LBH means about assuming what your underlying message is. I’m trying to shed light on the idea that the mother-child bond and mutual respect displayed in it is not a requirement for moral behavior in a human being. And a stereotype born of bad examples and bad movies ought not outweigh 8+ years of solid relationship.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark May 26, 2012, 1:10 pm

        That wasn’t a comment on you as a person, but on your analysis of my post… I mean, how could you really think I would apply my opening statement to somebody whose mother abandoned them? How can you treat somebody like shit who isn’t around to begin with?

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    Caris May 25, 2012, 12:39 pm

    So this one time I was at my bf’s house, and he was showing me something on the computer. The mom comes around with popsciles and a key lime pie and asks me which one I want. I choose the pie. Then she asks ym bf if he wants a popsicle. He doesnt answer. So I say to him: dude your mom is asking you something!!!!

    So next time you are over her house, and the mom says something to him and he ingnores her, say something to him.

    Also, I still live with my mom, and I HATE IT WHEN SHE DOES MY LAUNDRY -_- or when she comes into my room without asking me and starts vacuuming. UGH. She also loves to complain about ppl mistreating her but she does everything to allow it. It’s annoying. Example: she complains about my brothers not doing the dishes, but she never actually punished them for not doing them and ends up doing them herself. So what did my brothers learn? If you take your time and don’t wash immediately mom will wash, so why bother?
    She also complains about my brother not cooking for himself, but if he doesn’t cook himself something, instead of letting him starve until he gets hungry enough to do something she cooks for him.

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      kerrycontrary May 25, 2012, 12:52 pm

      I couldn’t deal with my mom doing my laundry. Like my mom touching my underwear? EW! Plus there were too many experiences in high school where someone through a piece of my clothing in the dryer only to ruin it. They know not to touch my clothes.

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      • caitie_didnt

        caitie_didnt May 25, 2012, 1:02 pm

        My dad is the laundry ruiner! He insists on doing it all himself because he claims my mom “has no system” and “doesn’t do it right”. Well, he doesn’t separate colours, regularly puts red towels and socks in with whites and grays, washed a pair of my dry-clean only dress slacks and put my lululemon pants in the dryer, managed to shrink a bunch of my shirts that shouldn’t have been in the dryer in the first place- yet somehow, loads that he puts in the dryer always end up damp and smelling musty because he leaves them there for days. I can’t count the number of articles of clothing that he’s ruined, but it’s got to be in the hundreds of dollars, and of course he never offers to replace it. So now if I’m home with anything that needs washing I hide it from him and sneak downstairs late at night to do it.

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      bethany May 25, 2012, 1:55 pm

      My grandmother is like this. She complains and complains about how no one helps her, but when you ask her what you can do she says “nothing” or “get out of my kitchen”, if you try to just be nice and do something without asking she yells at you for doing it wrong!

      However, we’re the kind of family that’s not easily offeneded, so we just let her complain and don’t pay too much attention to it, cause you just can’t win!

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      • avatar

        Temperance May 25, 2012, 5:49 pm

        Mr. Temperance’s grandmother is like this. She’s the WORST. You can’t help out or offer to help, or even to clean up, because she hovers, stares you down, and starts pushing you out because you’re “doing it wrong”.

        She’s also been known to, against all of our wishes, make a disgusting dinner that no one wants to eat, and then make a big show of how tired she is from doing it. She’ll actually lay on the couch and yell in to us about how TIRED she is, but how she wanted to make sure her family had a “good meal”.

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    jubietta May 25, 2012, 12:52 pm

    I would caution the boyfriend bashing and add my vote to the “just talk to him about it” camp — they’ve been toether 8 1/2 years! Family dynamics are never what they look like from the outside because they grow over such a long time. They also become invisible to the players inside unless something shines “light of a different angle” on them, like a new group member or a tragedy. I think it’s good to be curious about why the family behaves the way they do, but unless someone asks for LW’s help or the behavior invades her own relationship it needs to stay as a theortetical curiosity conversation.

    If boyfriend hasn’t perpetrated these bad acts in the home LW shares with him, I feel more positive that it isn’t an individual problem (boyfriend’s) asmuch as it’s an unhealthy group dynamic. My experience with changing group dynamics is that rolemodeling is the best method. Treat all members the way you’d like to be treated and see them treat each other. There’s no direct humiliation or shame, just a blatant and shocking disruption to the status quo that illuminates decisions the members make “by default” rather than “conscious choice.”

    My thought is that direct conversation that begins with an intention of curiosity is a great plan. Also, if LW sees some of those group/family dynamics showing up in her relationship with boyfriend at home, I would recommend firmly holding her ground about the way the two of them should treat each other…they way they have been treating each other successfully for years.

    And worrying about changes in the boyfriend’s future behavior is just borrowing trouble.

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    londonlin6 May 25, 2012, 1:01 pm

    I would talk to him about it, Wendy gave a pretty good example, and I think its very important to see how a man treats his family. My ex had a TERRIBLE relationship with his family, and he was so bitter about it, all the time. One of the questions I ask my dates is if they have a family, and a nice relationship with them. It a HUGE red flag for me if they are like “no my mom is insane”. It just shows a lack of maturity that frankly I dont have time to hold their hands through hoping they will grow up someday.

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    • TaraMonster

      TaraMonster May 25, 2012, 1:41 pm

      That reminds me of that line from Up In the Air. Vera Farmiga tells Anna Kendrick what she looks for in a man now that she’s in her mid 30s, and she adds at the end “someone who… comes from a good family. You don’t think about that when you’re younger.”

      If you’re gonna be saddled with these people for the rest of your life, you would hope they’re good people, right? Then again if I were held to this standard NO ONE would date me. My family makes Jerry Springer look like a Disney channel program.

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        Temperance May 25, 2012, 5:50 pm

        Seriously! My family is fairly white trash. They’re my family, but I’m nothing like my extended family! Mr. Temperance’s family is awful, but he’s awesome.

        They’re bad people, and then being bad people showed him that he should be a good person.

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    *HmC* May 25, 2012, 2:52 pm

    I’m kind of torn on this one. On the one hand, my two major relationships have been with guys that had a lot of respect for their mothers, so it’s hard for me to imagine being attracted to a guy who would be disrespectful of their mom. On the other hand, my mom kind of spoiled me growing up and wasn’t very good at setting boundaries, so my teenage angst sort of prolonged into my adult attitude towards her. I know that sounds like I’m blaming her, but I’m just saying that I recognize that the dynamics in a relationship, especially one as long and complicated as parent/child, can be the result of mistakes of both parties. I know I’ve been bratty towards my mom and I know it isn’t right and I work very very hard to be respectful. Sometimes I’m even disgusted with myself after a mean interaction. But I’m working on it, and I think I’m getting better.

    There’s just something about that particular relationship that can grind my nerves so quickly- the familiarity, the fact that she never asserts herself etc. To be clear again, I take full responsibility and I feel bad and I’m getting better. But in my experience, that ‘tude towards my mom has never translated into my other relationships. I love her to death, but honestly, if a friend did the things that my mom did that bother me, I would probably not continue a close friendship with them. So, I think it’s that love and forced relationship that keep me so enmeshed with someone that I didn’t choose. And there is so much that I really do love about her. But it’s just a complicated relationship. And so, I could probably understand if a guy was annoyed by his mom and didn’t always control his brattiness perfectly. I mean, it’s not an ideal trait, but nobody is perfect. And I really don’t think it’s 100% guaranteed that someone who has an occasional attitude with one or both of their parents or other family members is going to be shitty partner. You choose your partner, so I think that’s been the difference for me.

    All that rambling about myself notwithstanding, I really don’t know about this particular LW and her guy. He sounds pretty over the top. But after 8+ years, can’t you just talk to him, like Wendy said? My ex once told me that he was uncomfortable if I made snide remarks to my mom because she didn’t deserve that. I completely agreed with him and respected him for saying that, and I think it really helped me work on my attitude.

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    GertietheDino May 25, 2012, 3:56 pm

    A man who does not show respect to his mother will do the same to you. It’s a guarantee. Run fast – you are looking at your future. My man loves his mother, treats her with respect and love and she doesn’t even do his laundry.

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    Robert June 14, 2012, 9:04 pm

    My fiance’s youngest son treats his mom terribly. He has ADHD and ODD and uses the most profane language around her and yells at her. He is 16 and is doing very poorly at school. I have heard from other women “you can tell a lot about a guy from how he treats his mother”.
    I have a feeling her son is going to need therapy – if he can see the error of his ways.

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