I’ve been cheated on before, so I’m plenty familiar with the concept of “the other woman.” She looms like an elephant in the room, the physical embodiment of all that is wrong in a relationship—but what happens when she turns out to be his mom?
A guy who loves his mom is a good thing, right? When I heard him talk about his mom, I thought it was too good to be true to find a man who truly loves and respects his mother and values her opinion. Everyone says how he treats his mom is how he’ll treat you and if the way he talks about her is any indication, I figured I’d be set for life.
I could immediately tell she wasn’t sure about me. Competition among women is a widely published phenomenon. I felt that competitive undercurrent when I met his mother. She sized me up and I instantly felt inadequate. She didn’t say it outright, of course—she treated me kindly, but my own doubts and insecurities made me not trust the kindness she showed. What mistress is going to state her true intentions? Who’s going to come out and say they want your guy for their own? No one.
I like a challenge, so I worked to get on her good side. I wanted to have a happy, healthy relationship with her. She raised the man I loved. She molded all of the traits I find so charming and the manners and values that make me feel loved and protected. She deserved my thanks, respect, and friendship for no other reason than that. I looked hard to find a way on her good side.
It started driving me a little crazy. Looking back, his mom was right to be suspicious of my intentions since I was so resistant to her without provocation. I felt constant pressure to get her to like me. Even when she wasn’t there, she was in every conversation or memory. I felt like my grasp on him was slipping away, though that may or may not have just been in my head. I couldn’t fight like I had in previous relationships. Lingerie and sex wouldn’t make him forget her. This Other Woman didn’t want his body—she had his heart and his DNA, a much trickier combination. I was jealous and on edge constantly.
I tried my hardest to impress her, which was probably unnecessary. I invited her to lunch. I texted her more. I asked for advice and opinions. I gave thoughtful gifts. I tried hard to mold myself into the image I thought she wanted me to be for her son, not realizing that maybe I already was just by loving him wholly. I put as much effort into pleasing her and growing our relationship as I did with her son—maybe more.
My boyfriend was caught in the middle. Without realizing it, my apprehension towards his mom made it difficult for my man to enjoy his relationship with either one of us. He loves us both and had no desire to be in the middle. It wasn’t fair. He was miserable, which was upsetting the balance of our relationship. I was going to lose him.
I started to realize that I was the one with the problem, not her. Slowly, I came to the realization it wasn’t about her. I didn’t want to waste any more time feeling like I was doing something wrong when she’d never conveyed that to me. I was projecting all my own fears onto my relationship with her and ruining any chance I had at a true friendship with her. I owed it to both of stop holding her at arm’s length and embrace her as part of my life.
The tide started turning. Maybe it was that I slowly started to let my guard down and dropped my attitude, but things slowly started to improve. My jealousy and doubt started to ease. When she saw my intentions were pure and I wouldn’t leave her son in a broken, sniveling ball, we both started opening up and communicating with each more effectively. I had given him confidence and purpose. I brought him happiness and love, which she had said repeatedly was all she wanted for him.
I had to decide if this was the life for me. When I got engaged, I went into it with my eyes wide open. I knew the person I was marrying and I was hesitant but eager to form closer bonds with his mother. I have tried since that day to open my heart to her as much as I can. It’s not easy. I still have a tendency towards self-preservation, thanks to experiences in the past that left me feeling vulnerable. I continue to work on my own feelings about our relationship and in my marriage. I’m a work in progress.
Ultimately, I accepted the Other Woman. It’s been a few years now and it’s easier. We talk, laugh, and joke more. I’m more open. She’s considerate in ways I couldn’t see before. I respect her and I appreciate her and she knows I love her son—that’s the thread that ties us together. We love the same man but we love him differently. I see now, where I couldn’t before, that there’s room enough for both of us in this relationship.
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