Ask Demetria: “My Mother is Ruining My Relationship”


Joan Crawford in “Mommie Dearest”

Dear Demetria:

I’m 29 and live at home. I’m trying to move this year. I spend each weekend at my boyfriend’s apartment. Recently he asked me to stay an extra night because he was sick. I told my mother, and she said ‘Come home,’ adding that if he was sick, he could call 911 if needed. My boyfriend was mad and said she is controlling (she is) and maybe I am not serious/wife potential. How do I deal with both people? —Anonymous

Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about this situation while you’re living at home. I’m sure you have your reasons for being there, since most people would not want to live with their parents at your age. Maybe you’re in school or you returned home to save money to buy a place, or you live in a very expensive city and your budget doesn’t allow for you to rent a place of your own. Whatever the reason, you’re (back?) in the nest. And when you’re in the nest, you have to abide by the rules of the owner: your mom.

You, your man and I all agree: Your mother is controlling. She gets to be because, whether you’re paying bills or not, you live in her house and she gets to pull the “Not in this house you won’t” or “My house, my rules” cards at her leisure. And clearly she does, at will. As long as you’re in her house, you have to play by her rules. Period.

There’s only one queen per castle. You want to do what you want when you want and not have to hear your mother’s mouth about it? You need your own place so you can go about as you please, without your mother knowing, worrying or commenting. That includes going to your boyfriend’s house and staying as long as you want, or at least as long as he wants you there.

Until you’re able to move, you can try talking to your mother about loosening the reins a bit, but given that she’s still bossing you around at 29 because she can, unfortunately, I don’t see that conversation going so well. You need to move sooner rather than later.

About your boyfriend: I would have preferred he worded his sentiments about you and your mother less bluntly, but perhaps he said it the way he did to get through to you quickly. You should read between the lines of what he’s saying: “I’m beginning to rethink this relationship.”

It’s not so much living at home that’s an issue as it is you, at 29, being unable to call the shots on your own life. He asks you to stay another night, you agree, then you call your mother and suddenly you’re packing your bags and headed home. Your mother is dictating the terms of this relationship, not the two people actually in it. That’s a problem.


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