New readers, welcome to Dear Wendy, a relationship advice blog. If you don’t find the info you need in this column, please visit the Dear Wendy archives or the forums (you can even start your own thread), or submit a question for advice.
Fast forward another year. We moved to a different state and decided to all live together to save money. She was upset with me when I moved up because she says I never gave her time to settle into her new home first. Mind you, I finally got a job offer and couldn’t pass it up, which is why I moved up a week after she did. And on top of that, from the very beginning, we had planned to live together. But then, right before we moved, she tried to convince me that I should experiment with living on my own before I moved in with her and my boyfriend. This was after all the plans had been made and we were already apartment hunting.
Anyway, since moving up here it’s been just horrible. Everything I do is wrong. She questions everything: “Why are you doing this like this?” “Why are you cooking that?” “Why do you clean like this?” She drinks herself drunk and then spends hours insulting me. She says I’m not woman enough for her son and that I threw myself on him. She throws tantrums for the smallest things, and she gets nastier when she sees that I get emotional. Once in a restaurant she threw water all over the place, and when I stopped her and got down to clean it, she told me I was an idiot and to leave it alone, telling the waitress that it was a mistake. A woman stood up for me and told her to stop being so nasty.
My boyfriend and I have been having money issues lately because we are covering all the bills; she literally doesn’t pay anything here. She used to cover all the food but says that now it’s our responsibility so that we can learn. She blames me for the money issues, saying I don’t do anything for her son and that he is not happy. She constantly compares our relationship to her life with my boyfriend’s dad (they’re not together); she criticizes how all we do is work and we don’t ever go out. My boyfriend’s schedule is very hectic and it’s hard for us to go out and, when we do, it’s ALWAYS with her. My boyfriend can’t go to school yet because he owes money and can’t go back in until he pays it. Of course, he doesn’t tell her that because he does whatever it takes to avoid one of her explosions. But in her eyes, it’s because I am not pushing him to go.
I can’t catch a break. She tells me that I am disrespectful and unkind, yet all I ever do is bend to her. I listen to her, I do things her way, everything is “yes, ma’am” and “no ma’am,” and I am so kind to her, even after she spends an entire day insulting me. I take care of her when she’s drunk and always try my best to make conversation with her. I don’t know what to do.
I moved here hoping for a new start and trusting that she and I were in a good place. But it’s just gotten to the point where I seriously avoid her. I lock myself in my room and pretend to sleep. My boyfriend comforts me and tells me that nothing she says has any truth and that he needs me to be strong, but I don’t know how much more I can take. She was upset with me because I am going home to spend the holidays with my family and “leaving her son all alone.” I can never do anything right in her eyes, and, when she compliments me on something, it’s a MIRACLE.
I love my boyfriend and I do everything to help him out and I hate to tell him I want to leave, but sometimes I feel like I am getting closer and closer to packing my bags and not coming back. Then I take a step back, and I love him so much I’ll put up with whatever. But I honestly don’t know what else to do. His mother really gets to me and makes me feel like less of a woman. I just feel so stupid when I speak to her. I am DYING to get our own place and she keeps talking about getting another apartment and buying a house together, and I just want to run for the hills screaming. I told my boyfriend that when we move it’s just us and that’s it, and if that doesn’t happen, I’m going back home because I won’t take another year of this. Please help. — Running for the Hills
Oh, honey. Your boyfriend and his mother are co-dependent and probably won’t ever manage to get away from each other as long as their co-dependency is enabled by each other and those closest to them (you). If you don’t want to lose your mind, you have two choices and NEITHER of them include staying put for another year, or even another week. One: when you go home for the holidays, don’t come back. Pack everything you can manage to carry with you and either send for the rest later (i.e. give your boyfriend money to mail your belongings to you), or cut your losses. Two: if you do come back, move out immediately and get a place of your own (with a roommate — not your boyfriend — if you can’t afford to live alone).
Do NOT continue living with either of these people. Your boyfriend has zero backbone and his mother is a raving lunatic. Frankly, I think you’re probably pretty nuts too to have stayed in this situation for as long as you have AND for bending over backwards to accommodate a woman who not only treats you like shit, but doesn’t even contribute to your household expenses. The house you live in is a ticking time bomb about to explode any moment. If you stay there, one of the three of you — and my bet is on YOU — will go completely postal and the love you say you have for your boyfriend simply won’t be enough to fix it.
And speaking of love, where’s his love for you? How could he ask you to live with such an abusive woman if he truly loved you? How could he continue asking you to “be strong” when his mother is screaming at you night and day? Why isn’t he defending you? Why is he letting his crazy ass mother freeload off you? And, why, WHY are you putting up with all this?
If you have a family who loves you and friends back home and people who will be a support system, I really hope you will consider just staying home. What you have described in your letter is madness. It’s not healthy. It’s no way to live. It’s certainly no way to have a relationship. Not when you’re young; not ever. You’re not married to this guy (thank God). You don’t have kids. Just… run for the hills like you’re tempted to do. Run, run, run! Run and don’t look back. Tell your boyfriend where you’re going so he knows where to find you if he’s ever strong enough to leave his mother, but don’t you go back. Stay away from her. And stay away from your boyfriend as long as he’s tight in her grasp. Make 2014 the year of finding your independence again. You will be so much happier and healthier for it.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.