“My Boyfriend Has Fantasized About Killing His Mother”

I am in my late 30s, and I’ve been dating a man in his late 40s for about four months now, although I’ve known him socially for several years. We were close prior to dating, and we are pretty intense about one another, complete with the “I love you’s,” spending lots of time together, etc. We have not moved in together, and we won’t be able to do so for a minimum of another year or two due to a variety of logistical reasons. However, we spend every weekend together, as well as one evening during the week. I’ve met his parents and siblings, and vice versa. We socialize as a couple in each of our friend groups, and everyone is super-supportive of our relationship. He’s loving, affectionate, honest, doesn’t have a temper, and communicates very well.

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.”

You are:

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.


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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.


  1. TheRascal says:

    Oh my. Please, for your own safety, leave this man.

  2. It’s dump-worthy. Don’t date a hateful weirdo. You will never feel completely at ease.

  3. Please, LW, take Wendy’s advice to heart. Please. And when you break up with him, be careful.

    “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.”

    That statement would finish it for me. Right there. It’s way past creepy. It’s outright scary.

    He’s seriously disturbed. Dangerous? Maybe. You’ve only seen the happy side of him – you haven’t done anything to provoke him or stress him – yet.

  4. Holy hell. Run like demons are chasing you. This is not someone to keep in your life – I don’t care how special your love for each other might be.

  5. You’re right. Normal people do not fantasize about killing their parents when that parent has done nothing wrong. I would leave this man. He needs professional help, more than just therapy. There is something very wrong with him and only a trained professional is equipped to deal with it. You don’t have to issue an ultimatum (although if there was ever a need for one…), I don’t think he would pay any attention. He might just transfer his rage to you. Just tell him you cannot be with a man who has such disturbing thoughts towards his own mother. Then leave. Do not speak to him again. Ever.

  6. Where is the dad in all this? Is he just laughing nervously in the corner like “oh John what a comedian!”? There must be something else going on… I don’t really understand why he bothers seeing her if he hates her so much but I guess it’s because being cruel gets his rocks off.

    I don’t even know what to say as advice. I just really don’t understand why he would even see her if he hates her.

  7. Stillrunning says:

    “He’s loving, affectionate, honest, doesn’t have a temper, and communicates very well.”
    No, he’s cruel and threatening to his mother and controlling toward you. Unless this is what you want in your future, get away from him.

  8. A very troubling start to the week!

    WWS, but give some thought to what is sometimes euphemistically called your “exit strategy.”

    First, does he have a key to your place? If so, change the locks BEFORE you break up.

    Second, do you have any joint accounts, especially bank accounts and credit cards? If so, get what is yours out and sever your obligations.

    Third, does he know any of your passwords? If so, change them before you break up.

    Others to consider would be if he has a spare car key of yours, anything you greatly value of yours, etc.

  9. Laura Hope says:

    “Oh no, Officer. I had no idea there were bodies buried in the basement.” I’m not seriously suggesting he’s a serial killer but that’s a lot of rage. I’ll bet if you dig deep enough, you’ll find something disturbing in his past…..I’d run.

  10. It’s surprising to me that someone with that much anger hasn’t shown it in any other way. And maybe it’s that he just hadn’t had a chance. I think he does need to talk to someone about his anger issues. It’s not normal or healthy to feel that way.
    Are any of the other siblings in relationships? Do the other siblings still act this way towards their mother?
    I would personally run away and never look back.

    1. RedroverRedrover says:

      It sounds like the other siblings also hate her, given that they all banded together and told the dad they’d keep his secret if he killed her. I don’t know, I don’t think the LW has the full story here. The mother must have done SOMETHING horrible for ALL of her kids to want to see her dead. It sound like there definitely was at least some emotional abuse going on, probably by the mother directed at the father, with the kids getting secondary abuse by seeing it happen. Or maybe direct abuse that they aren’t talking about.

      Maybe he could get better with therapy, who knows. Personally I’d be scared to stick around to find out. Maybe a good ultimatum would be to tell him to get the therapy first, and if he makes any progress then reconsider whether he’s someone you’d want as a partner. I mean, my husband dislikes his mom. I don’t know if you’d call it hate, but his sister once told me that she thinks he does hate her. She failed to protect him from his brother’s bullying when he was young, and he was in constant fear until his brother grew out of it. So it really affected him and I don’t think he can forgive her. BUT, that being said, he certainly doesn’t wish harm on her. He’s perfectly cordial with her, hugs and kisses her when we see her, etc. He’d just prefer to see her as little as possible. But it would be totally another thing if he felt that violently toward her. It would mean he has the capacity for that kind of rage and violence, and the LW is right that it could turn on her eventually. Especially since the boyfriend can’t even seem to give a good reason for it.

      1. Cleopatra Jones says:

        The mother must have done SOMETHING horrible for ALL of her kids to want to see her dead

        See, I think that is all apart of the father’s cycle of abuse. It’s crazy but that’s how abuse works sometimes.

        My thoughts were that the father has been abusing the mother (physically, mentally, and emotionally) all of these years and the kids watched it while they were growing up. They are reflecting the hate that the father has been spewing on the mother because somewhere in their minds it’s been ingrained that their mother is a worthless human being who is deserving of this level of hate (that whole ‘martyring bitch’ thing is a huge clue).

        Also, the whole, “Dad, for the record, is very obviously in love with Mom, and vice versa” is a huge red flag to me because honestly, NO man who truly loves his wife would raise his children to have that much hate toward their mother. Parents model (consciously and subconsciously) appropriate behavior in relationships.

        Chances are, Dad behaves that way in public because he doesn’t want to tarnish his image but once they are in the privacy of their own home, it’s probably all rage filled abuse directed at the mother. If it was one kid that felt that way, I’d chalk it up to a mental health issue but ALL of the kids feel that way. That is definitely NOT a coincidence.

        I’d bet my shiniest new nickel that the father has been abusing the mother for.years!!!!

      2. Of all the theories on here, this makes the most sense to me. Otherwise, it isn’t really adding up…

      3. lindsaybob says:

        I agree that this sounds like a really plausible theory. There was a Criminal Minds episode with this sort of situation as the plot (the mother has killed the father and the team are asked to evaluate whether she was advised because her lawyer is claiming she liked him as a result of what is colloquially called ‘battered women syndrome’). The young adult children hate their mother and say their father was their only real parent, he was super patient with their mother even though she was totally stupid and useless. Essentially their father had conditioned them their whole lives to hate their mother by way of his emotional abuse of her.

      4. The idea that the dad is the abusive ring leader here did pop into my brain for all the reasons you mentioned, but I just couldn’t articulate the why of that theory. It just doesn’t make sense for them all to hate their mom without SOME reason. And I think the main reason the arrow starts to point to their father is LW’s bf’s behavior. Barring a personality disorder, the behavior he exhibits towards his mother is too specific and crazy to just manifest all on its own; it sounds like he’s (and his siblings are) modeling someone, and with the details we’ve got, it is probably his father.
        This situation is totally screwed up.

      5. tbrucemom says:

        I’m sorry but I didn’t get that AT ALL. Hating the mother because the father is abusive? I would think it would be the exact opposite, you would want to protect your mom! It just doesn’t make sense to me and honestly sounds like manhating. BF thinks Mother is a bitch so it has to be the father’s fault. And ALL the kids being affected the same way by the hypothetical “abuse”? I don’t know why the BF hates his mother, or the rest of the kids, but I think it’s something she did. The fact that he hates her that much is disturbing for sure. He probably doesn’t want the GF to know the true story.

      6. Abuse can do weird things. Obviously if the father was abusive to the kids, he could have used fear to make them this way. Doesn’t mean that is what happened. But, I think it’s entirely possible.

      7. Avatar photo barleystonks says:

        See, I’d agree with you, but my mother has received multiple death threats from her family because her mother decided that she was evil when she was born. And then god forbid she got out of the jail/poverty cycle to become a lawyer and send $3000 a month their way, that’s just too far, even for someone who was born evil.

      8. I second Cleopatra’s comment. Usually, in abuse situations, the kids show the most anger towards the non-abusive parent. That’s how my Dad and his brothers reacted to their childhood, and that’s how a couple of my siblings responded to ours. The abuse of the other parent is what’s been modeled to them. The fact that the kids in this family went to their Dad to say it was okay for him to kill their Mom indicates a couple of things: that they thought their Dad might kill their Mom (not something that would occur to most people unless the Dad has already shown a propensity for violence) and that they thought their Dad would approve of their sentiment.

      9. “The fact that the kids in this family went to their Dad to say it was okay for him to kill their Mom indicates a couple of things: that they thought their Dad might kill their Mom (not something that would occur to most people unless the Dad has already shown a propensity for violence) and that they thought their Dad would approve of their sentiment.”
        EXACTLY. And that is terrifying.

      10. Yep. Note, the kids didn’t say “we want to kill mom” (which would be horrifying in itself). They said “dad should kill mom”. I don’t believe this would happen if the dad isn’t abusing the mom.

  11. Bekahtravels says:

    Get out. This isn’t MOA. This is run for the hills and take cover.

    1. New acronym? RFTHATC? Or cmary’s RLTDACY (Run like demons are chasing you).
      Or GTFORN?

  12. findingtheearth says:

    If the husband and her have worked it out, why does it bother him so much? I mean, I really loathe an ex-girlfriend of my dad’s, but I don’t take it out on him and don’t want to hurt her. I think you need to get out of this while you can. It’s not a good environment. And it’s not good to be with someone who has that much hatred in them.

  13. Most murderers only kill one person, or at most, a few, so their behaviour when murdering is a complete 180 from all the rest of the time when they are not murdering. So, you know, i think you’re OK here. I would continue to gently discourage him from murdering his mother and come to her defense when he attacks her. Gradually, his attitude toward her will improve as he turns his attention to you. I won’t lie, it’s gonna sting the first time he hits you, but you’ll know it’s a complete 180 from his previous non-hitting-you behaviour. You know he’s not really like that, unless you drive him to it. Remember direct pressure for serious cuts and lacerations, lots of ice for bruises, and before you get in a car with him, always check that he doesn’t have a tarp and spade with him. Good luck!

    1. RedroverRedrover says:

      LOL @ “gently discourage him from murdering his mother”!

    2. In all seriousness, his attitude toward you is going to be exactly the same as toward his mother the second you dump him, so i would be very careful and change phone numbers and emails, maybe even consider moving top protect yourself. Your letter scared the hell out of me. Holding a grudge for decades is one of the hallmarks of dangerous stalkers and maniacs like Elliot Rodger. Please be careful and ffs open your eyes.

  14. Not a Princess says:

    Oh Yikes!
    People shouldn’t have two opposing warring sides. Anyone who dives this deep this fast in a relationship (4 MONTHS!?), that’s a warning flag that they’re an abuser. Be on the lookout for a rush to commitment (He may even propose), if he gets sulky or uses the silent treatment, or if he changes from happy to raging thunderstorm in a second.
    Also, Run. Scat. Scamper, head for hills, and brace yourself for Nutso McMonster.

  15. I couldn’t be with anyone who harbored that much intense hatred towards his own mother, for no apparent reason. It really speaks to his character, & that’s not something that love can overcome. Love & hate are separated by a very fine line, both very intense feelings….& you say your relationship is very “intense” after only 4 months? I am with those who feel its only a matter of time before that intensity could change from love to hate & you find his rage aimed at you. There are other men out there who are truly loving & caring people, why settle for this?

  16. Even if (assuming for the sake of the argument) the boyfriend were justified in his hatred for his mother, this would be a MOA situation because he’d still obviously be dealing with his emotions in a very unhealthy way and there would still be a danger for his anger to be taken out on LW. It doesn’t even matter what the mother did etc., you just don’t want to live with someone who has violent thoughts of this sort, whatever their cause.

  17. Bittergaymark says:

    The fact that supposedly ALL the siblings once felt (or still feel) this way suggests that there is much, much more to the story. Abuse is the obvious answer. Something truly horrific…

    That said — the guy is a loon. But then, so are you, LW, for even considering to stay with him at this point.

  18. Laura Hope says:

    LW–I hope you don’t look anything like his mother. Just saying.

    1. Stillrunning says:

      I hate myself for laughing at this comment.

      1. You’re not the only one. Honestly, one of my first thoughts was to hope his real name isn’t Norman. That on top of the mommy issues….let’s just say I wouldn’t shower at his place.

  19. Avatar photo Crochet.Ninja says:

    omg GET OUT OF THAT RELATIONSHIP. he even admits she’s done really nothing to him.

    it’s only a matter of time before that anger comes out of him at other times, and eventually you. MOA.

  20. Yeah, like BGM said, either there’s a lot more to the story and there was some horrific abuse that you don’ want to get involved in, or your boyfriend is lying about the other siblings feeling the same way, and he’s just deeply disturbed.
    I was SLIGHTLY abused as a child (face slapping for example), and I have dreams now and then where I’m screaming at my mom and telling her I hate her. But I don’t really hate her and I certainly never ever even think of harming her. I’m on the “get out now” train on this one. It’s extremely abnormal, and I think you’ll find you’re wrong in your initial assessment of “there’s NOTHING else in his personality that would indicate anything like this.”

  21. I would not be surprised if Wendy was contacted by the police in the murder case of the LW. Dear Wendy, you were the last person the victim emailed…

    This is meant to be tongue-in-cheek. I would seriously be horrified if that really happened.

  22. OMG. That’s all I’ve got. There are no words. I’m beyond creeped out right now.

  23. Wow….that is terrifying behavior. Seriously psychopathic. Please get out before you get hurt.

  24. Most everyone has this covered with the ‘doesn’t matter why he hates his mom; that level of vitriol clearly indicates that he is nuts, run away’ line of thinking. And I agree. Wholeheartedly.
    I can’t help but wondering though-and this is just me being nosy because I don’t think you should stick around to find out-why do all the siblings tow the party line about hating their mom, but claim she never did anything outright terrible? My theory is that she DID do something terrible- she raised a bunch of narcissistic assholes. I mean, absent abuse, why do all the kids hate her and want her dead? What a bunch of terrible human beings.
    So yeah, get away from this lunatic man and his crazy friggen family. You don’t want to a. wind up abused by this asshole or b. raise hypothetical kids around such toxicity.

  25. You have been given what Gavin De Becker called “The gift of fear.” In fact, go read his book by that title. You are experiencing those odd pangs of insight that tell you something is not quite right, but are having trouble reconciling the man’s personality. Half of what you have experienced says he is OK, and half tells you he is deadly. Some of what is happening is like a magician (illusionist) using misdirection, but the truth is the rational part of him is the illusion, and the wrath is his reality.

    Change your locks, watch your back, and run like the wind. Go. Safety first, but go!! If you don’t leave for yourself, leave for those who love you and would mourn you.

  26. Avatar photo sobriquet says:

    My ex had a lot of anger inside him. He didn’t fantasize about *killing his mother* (though he was emotionally abused as a child), but he used anger to get what he wanted. He was in a shark-like industry, so I didn’t think much of it at first. It was just a part of the job, right? As time went on, though, he directed his anger at me occasionally. Whenever we fought, for instance, he would yell and scream and I quickly learned to yell and scream back (something I never did before I met him). At first, he would apologize after a fight, but the apologies stopped after a couple years together. Fights got worse- he would get in my face and scream in an effort to intimidate me. He once shoved me into the ground which gave me a gigantic bruise on my leg (yet he claimed he was only trying to push me onto the couch). In the end, he gave me 5 stitches in my face.
    The crazy thing is that the other 90% of the time, when we weren’t fighting, he was kind and loving. He would buy me my favorite bottle of wine and a bouquet of flowers if he knew I’d had a bad day. We would spend hours in good conversation on any given night. He was constantly thinking about me and our future together. But that other 10% of the time? He was a monster.
    I’ve seen a trend lately where people assume that a violent abuser is a violent abuser MOST of the time, not SOME of the time. This is just so false. LW, this guy is showing you exactly who he is that 10% of the time. Follow your gut and MOVE ON.

  27. Completely dump worthy…

    Your boyfriend has expressed wanting to KILL HIS MOTHER…. I repeat, KILL his mother.

    Get away now.

  28. I haven’t read the comments yet. But… I went on one date with a guy. During said date, he called his teenage niece a cunt. He did not get a second date. And that’s for only calling someone a cunt.
    He seemed like a cool, nice guy up until that point.
    Umm, LW, if I were you, I would have run like yesterday.

  29. Hey thanks a lot everybody! I really appreciate it. I wasn’t feeling at all comfortable and my question was more “is it okay that I’m upset about this?” because I’ve often been told I’m over-reacting, being “ridiculous”, need to “calm down” etc. Minimizing my instincts. So sometimes now I need some reassurance it’s okay to be freaked out about something.

    Regarding Mom and Dad… Mom is actually a major celebrity rock star in her career.
    Dad has a pretty awesome career, but not anything resembling hers. Dad has never gotten a similar job offer to what he has here at another company. So he has always refused to leave, when Mom could be making 7 figures elsewhere (about twice what she makes here). So she really resented the shit out of him during those years when she was in her 30s-50s. She was really angry about it. Boyfriend gets his temperment from her. I’m not the only one who has pointed it out.

    I have found it odd they hate their mom for being such a Bitchy McBitcherson to Dad, when I would have been annoyed with Dad for making sure she knew he was upset at being Not The Star (basically he was so annoyed by her career being more fabulous than his that he refused to do anything to help her advance even more, ie: move, and she had to work three times as hard as she should have to get half as far as she could have). I totally get why she was a raging bitch, but… but… I also understand these kids were scared.

    Regardless, they’ve had time and years and appreciation and reflection to temper their issues. And I do believe they love one another. Dad is dying now actually, he’ll be gone within the year, and they cling to one another in this non-creepy way that I feel privileged to watch. The kids even say straight up that Mom and Dad love one another.

    I’ve never pushed to ask what she did to him/them (the siblings) but I suspect her rages were not in fact limited to Dad. The kids were all stealing her prescription pads and writing themselves scrips for hardcore opiates before they were even teenagers. That’s not someone just freaked out by Mom and Dad fighting. But, I figure if they want me to know, they will tell me.

    I did get through to him this weekend (we were out of town together on our first “out of town” adventure) that his behaviour about her really, truly scares me. And isn’t “normal.” He’s agreed to talk about it with some guys he’s close with who he trusts (and who have apparently told him before “this is not cool”, but at the time he basically told them to fuck off and mind their own business, but now he’s thinking maybe he should go discuss it) and are good guys who really get this kind of stuff, and women’s issues. (He’s just NOT the therapy type… his mom is a psychiatrist, which actually plays into this a lot).

    He was very open to listening to me that this SCARES ME, and did not argue with me about it (in previous relationships, when saying I had a problem with something, often the guy would try to convince me that my idea of a problem was the problem, and not the actually thing I was upset about itself!). He assured me he wouldn’t be like that (displaying that kind of temper and rage) with me, but I told him I don’t know that, and words are meaningless when I see the potential there. He actually accepted that and said that was completely legit for me to not trust mere words.

    He found ways to explain to me that a big part of his reaction is he still sees himself as a terrified six year old hiding under the coffee table from Dragon Mommy’s Rages. I explained to him that I am sure she was a Dragon back in the day (honestly, I am really sure she was, she’s even said as such!) but that today she’s a tiny, frail, elderly woman, and it looks HORRIBLE on him to be so vicious to her, even if she’s not in the room. I also pointed out his father does not like it (he adores his father, and is only in contact with Mom because it breaks Dad’s heart when he isn’t. His last girlfriend he only introduced to Dad, because he hates Mom and all. When he asked Dad to meet me, Dad said Mom was really hurt about not being allowed to meet the previous girlfriend, so he wouldn’t meet me unless Mom could come to. I had to assure him I was not scared of his mom, and seriously people, I’m not, even if she was at the height of Dragon Lady Mode. I’ve dealt with worse, I’m certain).

    He knows he wants to be more of a “grownup” in his interactions, so he is going to work on it because, well, a scary raging psycho is not who he feels he is, nor wants to present as. He also called his ex wife of 20 years (as in they were together over 20 years, and split up a few years ago, as amicably as one can split after such a relationship) and asked her if SHE ever had a problem regarding his issues about his mom (she had never said as such beforehand), and apparently she unloaded a dump truck of pent up fear, concern, and worry she never felt comfortable sharing before. She unloaded for over an hour he said. It really bothered him when he realized he’s scaring the fuck out of people he loves regarding this, and that it had played a small but not insignificant role in the end of his marriage (she didn’t tell him Important Stuff because seeing how he raged at Mom, she was scared just like I am of getting the same, so, he got mad and detached, and well, yeah, that’s the tl;dr version…). Hating Mom has become such an engrained part of his and his siblings’ lives and personalities they hadn’t really figured out how Fucked Up this comes off to the rest of the world.

    I even told him I gave her my number prior to him saying it was not okay (I had not told him I gave her the number, because I was afraid… and I did not like that I was afraid) and he realized that a) I was scared to tell him something and b) she had refused to use it without his consent… and there was a spark of “Oh. Maybe I’m the asshole here” in his brain. He really did not like the idea of both of us quaking in fear over something so dumb. (I have to say during all of these discussions, it was SO NICE to be with someone who did not argue with me about my perceptions, but instead immediately went to “oh shit, I created a bad perception/I did not convey the correct impression, clearly I’ve fucked up somehow!”)

    It’s only been a few days, and is clearly still a VERY sensitive subject, and I’m trying to be respectful of his space, and watching to see where else this goes. ***IF*** he really IS committed to checking his shit on this issue, that’s great. However, ****I want to be very, very clear I’m not content to be with someone prone to such rages*** on someone whom I perceive as a tiny frail old woman (save that for creeps and child molestors ya know?). And he says he doesn’t want to be the kind of man who does such things. And ***I want it very, very clear I am NOT staying if this continues.*** It’s okay to be mad and vent once in a while, but the violent images and desire for violent revenge need to stop.

    I am aware I don’t know if he’ll actually work through this. I hope he does. But I also know talk is fucking cheap. And if he does not work through it? ***I’m not willing to stay and listen to it.*** He doesn’t have to be BFFs with her; that’s not my business. But he needs to at least be respectful to his mom unless she does something to deserve otherwise, or he’s not the kind of guy I want to be with. I like how he treats wait staff and small animals. He’s never said one bad word about his ex wife (seriously. He always frames it as “I regret I wasn’t mature enough to handle the shit she was going through in a way she would have wanted”). But the mom thing is going to be a dealbreaker if he cannot learn to express his feelings about her in an sane, rational, adult manner. Or at least one not involving uncontrollable rage and violence.

    I hope I update positively in a few weeks, but we’ll see. I’m not married to either outcome. This is going to take some time, but I’m not willing to deal with this kind of shit anymore.

    1. It sounds like you may be moving in the right direction, LW – it’s good that he is not gaslighting you and you know to look out for that. And it’s good you’re prepared to walk if things don’t change.

      Did anyone else read “Mom is a major celebrity rock star in her career” and wonder if Mom is, like, Cyndi Lauper or Pat Benatar? I got really excited for a minute there…

      1. Yes! I ws even panning out my google search haha. Then I got to the part about the prescription pads, and didn´t understand anything. 😛

    2. Sue Jones says:

      The trouble with sticking around while a BF “works through” something without a therapist (I assume) is that you the girlfriend will get more invested in this relationship and start to make rationalizations for staying (he only hit me once, yelled at me once, etc etc and now we are married with a house and kids and a dog and a mortgage). Easier to get out now. I would actually say that without a therapist, there is no way that he can work through these issues cleanly. So if you plan to stick around, I would insist that he be in therapy, at the VERY least.

      1. Agree with Sue Jones. And, I don’t want to out you, but I think you’re a regular commenter, with a pattern of being attracted to men with some serious psychological issues. And I think you have kids. I’m feeling pretty nervous reading your update and how you seem to be downplaying how seriously fucked up this is.

      2. I was actually thinking the same thing. That and while reading the original letter I definitely thought they were both younger than they are. For a 40 something year old man to still be raging like this (potentially around children in the future) is scary.

      3. Haha I now see that I completely missed their ages in the first line of the original letter. Reading comprehension fail!

      4. Me, too. She says she’s been accused of over-dramatizing her feelings, but I think in this case she’s not freaked out enough.

      5. Cleopatra Jones says:

        in previous relationships, when saying I had a problem with something, often the guy would try to convince me that my idea of a problem was the problem, and not the actually thing I was upset about itself!

        And there it is, a history of her being in not-so-healthy relationships and probably abusive ones as well. That is probably why his behavior doesn’t seem abnormal to her. Why she’s so willing to be OK with this relationship.

        LW, please leave this relationship, if for no other reason than you need to work on your own issues from past relationships. FTR, an abusive relationship isn’t just one where’s there’s physical violence (that’s just the most obvious), abusive relationships can have emotional, psychological, and verbal violence.

    3. Cleopatra Jones says:

      Sorry LW, I’m not trying to dump on you but honestly, this whole diatribe sounds like the beginning of battered woman syndrome. It really does.

      In a normal healthy relationship, you wouldn’t need to make excuses for your SO’s behavior. You just wouldn’t.

      Also, his friends are never going to be an appropriate substitute for therapy. They won’t force him to dig deep to the root of his problem and face his issues. They are going to listen to him rage, drink another beer, and then eventually give him the fade-out. For real! You are going to be left picking up the pieces of his broken friendships and feeling more guilty because ‘no one understands him’. 🙁

      I’m glad you are setting some boundaries and I’d like to hope that it all works out for you BUT….at the very least you are going to be in a relationship with a man who’s father never ever supported his mother; a man who’s mother was a ‘raging Bitchy McBitcherson’. He does not have a great foundation in which you will be able to build a long successful relationship. He really doesn’t.
      If I were you, I would take a huge step back from this relationship and do some serious self exploration before you continue on in this madness.
      My best though, keep us updated on whatever you decide to do.

      1. AlwaysALurker says:

        Ok LW, I had, and still have (but I’ve separated myself), a very emotionally abusive father who not only raged but seriously held my siblings and I back many years developmentally and emotionally. We have all sought therapy and drugs at some point. The kicker is, he is also still married to my mother (who held us all together and was/is a wonderful mother and friend,) and is still abusing her emotionally (although she has much more control now than she used too). She cannot leave him at this moment, even though she wants to, for a variety of reasons I cannot go into. So you can imagine how much anger, even rage, I feel towards my Dad. However, I have very rarely expressed a desire to hurt him physically this way and that was even during the worst of times. even when I do I try to temper it with an explanation that this is just a release as opposed to an actual desire. The reason being that holding on to that level of rage and feeding it, even in a situation where he seemingly deserves it, would be extremely damaging to my psyche and I’ve seen the damage it has done to one of my brothers. This needs more than just talking to friends and I honestly cannot believe that he suddenly just realized how scary this is. Please be wary.

      2. AlwaysALurker says:

        Oops, this was meant to be a reply to the LW – and sorry for all the weird phrasing.

    4. I am on tread-lightly-without-serious-therapy bandwagon. I’m really glad he has supportive friends who can be an outlet for him, but they are not trained in dismantling years and years of rage and perception and hurt and anger in a constructive way. This is deep-rooted stuff, and it’s not going to go away with a few vent sessions – if it did, it would have been gone by now. Now I’m sure that people have transformed their lives many times over without therapy, but with abusive dynamics, I think it can be much harder to truly get free of it. There is probably so much that he doesn’t even see, and couldn’t ever see, without the help of someone trained. My best to you – please be safe and well.

    5. You should never be scared of your SO. Ever. It’s the brightest red flag there is. It sounds like you’re letting him explain your fear away (“he created a wrong expression”) but it’s not believable that you would mistakenly be afraid. Your gut is telling you something here.

      1. Also, he is in fact gaslighting you, just not in the way you expected. Instead of claiming that is behaviors are not scary, he admits they “look” scary, but insists he’s mistakenly scaring you & that it’s a misunderstanding of sorts. In reality he knows how scary it is. Calling his ex is also part of that “I’m taking responsibility, look at me I’m safe” gaslighting effort. Don’t believe for a second he did that because he’s concerned, it’s to project an image.

      2. This is a really good point, and something that didn’t occur to me at all. LW, you should listen to all of the folks who really know what they are talking about here!

    6. I’m confused by the comment about “stealing prescription pads to write themselves prescriptions”. That’s called youth, reckless abandon, etc. I grew up with a brother who got into drugs pretty young – but not to cope with a bad home life.

      Nothing about this family is healthy. Don’t get caught in the crossfire, because it sounds like all hell could break loose once the dad dies.

    7. LW, everyone here has made valid points – and you should definitely take a good look at their advice!

      I picked up on something a little bit different. It seems that all of this pent-up anger, hatred, rage, murderous thoughts, whatever, all stemmed from a financial standpoint. Mom could have made over a million dollars per year, but only got $500k (or more) because dad refused to move. Am I reading that right? In general, I feel that a financial issue like that (there’s never enough! we could have so much more! why are you doing this to me?) is also a huge red flag. It also might be something your boyfriend has picked up on too.

      He’s got anger issues, fine. Those can be worked through, but it’s not easy. But consider this: What will happen with the two of you when a financial hurdle comes along? What happens if no money is left to the children after mom and dad are gone? What about living on one income? What happens if one of you has to collect disability? These are all very real scenarios that could play out in your life. Will you end up in the same boat?

  30. I tend to think that one shouldn’t date people who have seriously contemplated committing a cold-blooded murder. But that’s just me. I think your meter might be off a bit here, LW. I know it’s hard to judge by just one letter, but your reaction to this seems to lack urgency. “I asked gingerly what she did to him…” Was this before or after he shared his violent murder fantasies? It should concern you that the only reason he might not kill his mother is so he won’t lose out on an inheritance. Maybe it hasn’t occurred to him that if he hates his mother, then he can just, you know, not see or talk to her.
    Bottom line: get away from this guy.

  31. Cleopatra Jones says:

    OK LW,
    I’ve gotta give you some real tough love here.
    You have to get out of this relationship, like yesterday. Do not wait, do not pass go, do not collect $200. Leave now, Seriously!
    Your boyfriend has some serious anger issues that are probably the direct result of physical, emotional, and verbal abuse that he saw growing up in that family. Him and his siblings were probably never physically abused because it was directed to the mother, so they just think she somehow deserved it. That idea makes sense to young kids because why else would their dad treat the woman he vowed to protect and love in such a horrendous manner? It was their only way of processing that craziness and staying sane in the family.

    You can not fix him, you can not help him, neither can you love him enough until he gets well. He can only fix himself and if he doesn’t realize the problem, then there’s probably not a solution for him in the near future.

    You can only protect yourself, so RUN. Run hard and fast away from him. Don’t even try to go back to friend status because he will suck you back into a relationship with sugary promises of change and ‘I-would-never-do-that-to-you’. Those are lies! All abusers say that because they’ve learned how to manipulate and abuse to get their way. You will be just another fatality in the war of his anger. Don’t do that to yourself. He will leave you a broken shell of your former self (look at his mother if you want to see your future).

    Go right now and pick up, ‘The Gift of Fear’ by Gavin de Becker and “Women who Love too Much’ by Robin Norwood. Read them both-don’t skip any pages!! Read them twice if you need too because honestly you have to understand why you think that he’s a ‘great guy’ except for the one small thing with his mother.

    tl;dr—Run, Forrest, Run!!!!

    1. I second this. Talk IS cheap and and in this case, his talk is dangerous, too. This guy scares the hell out of me. You can wish him well from a distance. I mean it. Break up with him right now and let him know that you do not feel safe and that is not okay. If he is serious about dealing with his issues, he needs to talk to a psychiatrist. (I don’t care if he’s not a therapy person. He needs help and a regular therapist may not be enough.) Maybe he is serious. Maybe his conversation with his ex-wife was an epiphany for him. Maybe in time he will get help and change. Maybe he won’t. Maybe he’s just saying that. Maybe he’s lying to you because that is what psychopaths do. You don’t know. I do not use the word psychopath lightly. They are fully capable of functioning in society, have families, jobs, and yet they do horrible, horrible, things and blame them on everyone else. They are also very good at doing or saying whatever they need to to keep people around to manipulate. (Read anything by John Douglas on this subject.) This is way too heavy for a four-month relationship. You don’t owe him anything. You cannot trust anything he says. Get out now.

  32. This reminded me of this obituary of the woman who tortured her children? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2419429/Patrick-Reddick-wrote-vicious-obituary-abusive-mother-unrepentant.html
    Anyways, this situation so clearly reeks of abuse. And I while I have empathy for people who can’t get past the intense anger towards an abuser by midlife, that does not make the situation okay. It’s not healthy for you to stay. You don’t know how he could act toward you in the future and he’s clearly not emotionally healthy. When I was still healing from the intense stages of abuse, I was the sweetest and nicest person to everyone, except my parents. They got the worst of it, all my bottled up anger. Lots of people have bad childhoods, but it says a lot about a person when they have nothing but hate towards someone. It’s not healthy for him, for you, and definitely not for a relationship. Just because he’s nice to you and others doesn’t make him not severely scarred. He needs help and you can’t fix him.

  33. Story time! So, my husband had a high pressure, lucrative job where one of the downsides was interacting with a bunch of evil narcissists on a regular basis. One day, he came home and told me that he’d spent that day’s (especially aggravating) meeting with those people deciding in what order he would like to kill all the people around the table. Now, I knew him quite well at this point, so I knew he wasn’t violent or crazy. But if I hadn’t already known him well, I would have found this extremely disturbing, possibly frightening. My point being, thoughts aren’t actions. People can entertain all kinds of violent thoughts and fantasies, and have exactly zero likelihood of acting them out.

    That being said – your boyfriend is an abuse survivor. He is sitting on a powder keg of rage, resentment, sadness, self-loathing, and a whole bunch of other really shitty stuff. He needs to be in therapy, and frankly, if I were you, I wouldn’t stay with him unless he agreed to therapy. Not because I think you personally are in danger, but because living with someone who refuses to unpack and deal with his shit is going to turn out badly.

  34. Am I the only person wondering if the “LW’s” name is Penny and she’s dating a guy named Leonard Hoffsteader who’s best friends are a bunch of extremely educated scientists/applied scientists with questionable social skills but well-meaning hearts? If so, if those are the guys that BF is going to for help…run, run fast!

  35. DreamWeaver says:

    I wanted to point out an alternative idea to the family situation other than what has been previously posted. I’m not trained at diagnosing personality disorders, but based on what you’ve mentioned about your boyfriend and his family, his mother may have Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). A lot of the family dynamics you’ve noted about his family are very similar to what I’ve experienced in mine and I’m pretty sure my mom has NPD. My dad does not, but he is very codependent with my mom – and they do definitely love each other – I think that’s why he never either noticed or did anything about her behavior towards their kids, me especially. I have felt some of the feelings your boyfriend has expressed regarding his mother, although mine aren’t nearly as extreme or violent.

    A few people have mentioned that it seems the father was abusive towards his family, which could totally be the case and I’m completely off the mark here, but his mother could have really been that horrible to her family. My mom never physically abused me or anything like that, but it was more of a lifetime of shitty treatment and feeling like a second class citizen that caused me to not have the normal mother/daughter relationship that most people have and I do have some resentment over that. It’s not something you can get over quickly or easily, but with therapy and a serious dedication to changing the way you think, it is possible. With your boyfriend, I don’t think a lifetime of those strong negative feelings are going to go away after talking it over with a few friends, especially at his age.

    My advice to you is to proceed very cautiously and see if he is really committed to regularly going to therapy to work on these issues. The amount of hate he has towards his mother and the violent actions talks about are alarming and do need to be addressed. I don’t have a particularly good opinion of my mother, but I still don’t speak about her in that way. Family dynamics like this are pretty complicated and do not get resolved easily, so no one will blame you for removing yourself for the sake of your own mental health or physical safety. Do whatever you need to do to keep yourself sane.

    Again, I could be completely wrong here, but there are a lot of similarities between his family and mine, so I just wanted to give you another perspective of the situation. While you may know him pretty well, there might be a lot more going on behind the scenes that you don’t know and will never know. Some families are all about appearing normal over everything else. His mother could really be manipulating you to be on her side over your boyfriend or he could potentially turn that violent side towards you, so just be careful.

    There’s a subreddit called ‘Raised by Narcissists’ that I have found to be helpful in that there are other that people that have been through what I’ve been through, so you might want to check that out to get an idea of how things are in families like this. From your earlier post, you are intelligent and have no disillusions about how you and your boyfriend should proceed. Keep all of what you posted in mind as things progress and I hope things work out for you guys.

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