I’ve had the misfortune of dating a number of guys who had families from hell, and it’s almost always led to the destruction of our relationship. Though I’ve dated several men who all basically let their families tear us apart, it all happened the same way, soI’ll talk about it as if it was just one person. Here’s how my ex’s family caused the ultimate demise of my relationships with him and why it’s not going to happen again:
The longer we were together, the more overbearing and controlling his relatives became. Usually, it was his mom that was the worst, and it was never something that happened overnight. It’d start showing slowly at first, with just a careful nudge about how I did my hair. Within a matter of months, his mom would usually try to dictate how I dressed, what I did for a living and how I ate.
I kept trying to put up boundaries. While at times I’d do something for my boyfriend’s parents just to be nice, I still tried to stay firm on my boundaries. I’d still refuse to change for them and tried to explain to them that I was fine without their “help.”
The boundaries were met with tantrums or guilt trips. Usually, this would be the point where my soon-to-be ex would either approach me and beg me to just appease his parents, or where he’d lie to his family about me to appease them himself.
They tried to get involved in everything I did. The pressure to let them get involved in every little detail of my life was immense. Prying questions would happen all the time. “Suggestions” would happen all the time. One ex’s relative even went so far as to snoop on my laptop to try to figure out where me and my boyfriend went and what we did.
I made up excuses to get out of spending time with them. When I tried to do this, they would often just “busy up” my then-boyfriend so that he would have to choose between me and them. That always went over well.
I realized that what they were doing was abuse. I also began to notice that my then-boyfriend never would actually stand up to his parents on my behalf. He would just either nod, beg me to just deal with it or sheepishly apologize afterwards.
I began to wonder why my boyfriend wasn’t standing up for me. I realized I was being bullied and borderline abused. Why wasn’t the guy I loved standing up for me? Every time that I asked him exactly that, he always had some lame explanation that was more like an excuse.
I realized then that I didn’t have an in-law problem — I had a boyfriend problem. My boyfriend was allowing this all to happen, and he was allowing me to be abused by his relatives despite me asking him to stand up for me. By enabling his overbearing parents, he was passively contributing to the abuse.
I then realized I wasn’t going to have the healthy, normal relationship I wanted with this guy. Nothing I would ever do would convince my boyfriend to establish healthy boundaries with his parents. He put his parents on a pedestal and couldn’t stand the idea of displeasing them, no matter the cost. In the tug of war between me and his parents, his parents won by default. That was never going to change, no matter what I tried.
I also realized that I deserved better. And that’s when I walked away.
Looking back, I realized I shouldn’t have bothered with these kinds of mama’s boys, anyway. Simply put, there’s no way a guy can have a healthy relationship if he can’t establish healthy boundaries and stick to them, and that includes boundaries with his family.
I vowed to be a “one and done” girl. There were red flags I overlooked in each relationship, and now that I know what those red flags are, I’ll never date a guy who exhibits them. In my next relationship, the moment I notice my boyfriend refusing to stand up for me, I’ll walk away. I deserve better than that.
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