Girlfriend's Mom is a Problem
Q: I love my live-in girlfriend and want to stay with her, but I don't know if I can stand it anymore. The problem is that her mom, who doesn't like me much, comes over all the time. She's always implying that I'm not good enough for her daughter. The other day, she was telling us both about a family party, and she said I should wear nice pants. Then she said, "Do you even own a suit?" She made me feel like I was the stupidest guy on earth. When my girlfriend tries to take up for me, her mom just changes the subject.
The thing that really annoys me is she keeps bringing up a guy my girlfriend dated in high school. She tells her daughter when this guy is visiting in town. She tells us what new job he got and how much money he makes. Her mom talks on and on about how much he liked my girlfriend and how he always asks about her. She says right in front of me to my girlfriend that she should contact him and see if he wants to come to dinner at her mom's house. I don't want to say anything because her mom already thinks I'm a loser. How can I get my girlfriend to tell her mom to stop? — Marshall, 38
Dr. Susan: Financial success means the most to your girlfriend's mother, and she's trying to convince your girlfriend to act the way she would. But to put you down the way she constantly does is really rude and disrespectful of both you and her own daughter. I can't believe your girlfriend hasn't made her stop such unpleasant behavior by now. I wonder if your GF enjoys your discomfort and jealousy the tiniest bit?
Tell your GF that her mom is behaving disrespectfully and has to be told to stop. She should have this conversation with her mom when you're not around. Her mom is getting away with her cruel words because her daughter isn't being consistent. She needs to say, "Mom, that's it. Stop right there. No more putting my boyfriend down. I have no interest in my old boyfriend, and I don't want you bringing him up again." Until she says it and means it, you're stuck being treated like dirt.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.