“My Boyfriend’s Mother Is Interfering in Our Relationship”

“Vince” and I (26, F) have been together for seven years now, and we have known each other for 13 years. We have a solid relationship for the most part, except for one thing: his mother, “Marianne.” (Because we’re both trying to get jobs, we each live at our parents’ houses; welcome to a crappy economy.) Marianne treats me different from other girlfriends Vince has had in the past. His other girlfriends were invited to different family functions, whereas I’m not invited to anything, or I have to leave early for no reason other than if Marianne demands so. I wasn’t even invited to Vince’s birthday for the full day.

Ever since my aunt posted a picture of me and my family doing rifle target practice from last Thanksgiving, Marianne gives me a hard time for anything that isn’t perfect, politically correct behavior. For no reason, I had to leave an event I WAS invited to early.

She’s been extremely petty and rude for anything. Example: Marianne will gossip about me in front of my face in Spanish, assuming that I’m not going to understand what she’s saying about me and stare at me like a hawk. I’m white, but I learned the entire Spanish language at the age of five. I know what she’s saying about me, and I’m going to know if it’s negative.

When she treats me the way she does, Vince goes straight to being Marianne’s defense attorney. When he does defend me, Marianne will freak out and say some of the most offensive thingsWhen she gives her reasons for why I’m not invited to anything, she’ll say, “I don’t want any of the white man’s diseases.” Vince’s middle sister, “Stephanie”, will say that her behavior is outrageous.

When Vince and I have our time with just each other, Marianne will call over and over again until she gets her way. Her way is getting him to call back. We also can’t even have a private phone conversation without Marianne coming up with a bogus reason to interrupt and keep him busy for 20 minutes.

It’s frustrating dealing with Marianne’s BS constantly. This insanity is really interfering with our relationship because it feels like everything has to be built around appeasing Marianne. Our relationship doesn’t even feel exclusive anymore.

We really want to have a place together. But this insanity is making me question whether that will be possible without fearing that Marianne will show up randomly without saying anything and/or asking. Help! — Frustrated With His Mom

You don’t have so much of a mother problem as you have a boyfriend problem. Vince isn’t setting strong enough boundaries with his mother. Not only does he still live with her at 26 years old, but also it sounds like his life is very enmeshed with his family and he’s either happy for it to be this way or he lacks the interest or skills to separate himself a little more than he has. You can blame the economy all you want, but even a full-time retail or food service job would pay a twenty-something with no dependents to support enough money to rent a small place with a roommate (or significant other).

So, what’s really behind your and your boyfriend’s living arrangements? And why would a 26-year-old man in a committed relationship spend his entire birthday with his family instead of some of it with his partner? Why, when his mother demanded you leave his birthday party early, did he not leave with you? Why didn’t he defend you? This just does not sound like a man who is ready for a real, grown-up relationship, let alone living with a partner. He’s not ready to leave his mommy’s side. You can blame Marianne for this, but Vince is a grown man who is enabling this behavior.

You need to have a serious hash-it-out with Vince. Ask him where he sees this relationship going. If he shares your desire to live together eventually, discuss the steps you need to take before that happens. This may include his spending more time with you one-on-one without the presence or interference of his family.

Has either of you ever lived outside your families’ homes before? I would advise you each live independently – either alone or with roommates – before you consider living together. In your own places, you can get a better idea of whether Vince’s family is still omni-present in his life. You can also work on establishing true independence so that the risk of co-dependence is greatly reduced. After all, you don’t want Vince to go from being co-dependent with his mother to being co-dependent with you. (Really, you don’t want that).


  1. She is 26, she doesn’t say how old Vince is, which is an unusual choice, so sounds like he’s either a lot older or younger and she doesn’t want to reveal that. Vince’s mother is racist.

    “(Because we’re both trying to get jobs, we each live at our parents’ houses; welcome to a crappy economy.)”

    Try harder! This isn’t a crap economy — unemployment is lower than it has ever been any many businesses are posting ‘help wanted’ signs in their windows. If neither of you can get a job, then you are being too picky, or there is something seriously wrong with your employability. You casually give a false justification from the pandemic era for why you are both unemployed. That doesn’t fly today. Maybe Vince’s mom is afraid she is going to have to support you as well as Vince.

    The relationship between you and Vince is going nowhere. If he won’t stand up for you, then you need to MOA. This whole situation sounds awful.

    If you are both living at home and merely ‘looking’ for jobs, how do the two of you spend your time.

    If you can’t get a job, how do you expect to move in together?

  2. Anonymous says:

    I give them a pass on the availability of inexpensive housing. Some areas really don’t have a lot of options and you’re stuck between nice but too expensive and “oh hell no” options in unsafe areas or just really crap apartments.

    That said – I will agree wholeheartedly that this is not about Marianne. This is about your boyfriend. If he can’t stand up for you now, this is what you should expect for the rest of your life together. Snide comments, interference, the whole thing. If you do get a place, she’ll tell you that you’re not cleaning enough, not cooking right, not taking care of him better than her. If you have a child, she’ll tell you that she knows better, you’re not doing it right. blah blah blah. So either HE draws the line or you learn to live with this.

    Personally, this would be a deal breaker for me.

  3. Just move on. After 7 years of a romantic relationship, you are treated like this? This boyfriend is a very poor quality partner and if you are the same age, it is a first relationship which ran its course. Leave him and find someone who respects you. And find a job for yourself. Marianne is a distraction from your own issues: a manchild as a boyfriend and unemployment. Focus on your career.

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