Boyfriend is running to mommy after every fight
Dear Annie: My boyfriend, “Mike,” and I are in our late 20s and have been together for five years. Our issues stem from his calling his mom during every argument we have — whether it’s small or large. It adds strain and stress to everything, but he doesn’t see it. I have asked him several times to stop, but he either gets defensive and accuses me of not liking his mom or just ignores me. I actually really like his mom, but when she only hears the bad stuff, it makes it harder to keep a good relationship with her. Don’t get me wrong; I value her opinion, and I think she’s a very smart woman. But I can’t take this any longer! I love him, and I really want us all to get along, but I feel that they team against me during arguments. I don’t know what else to do. — Michigan
Dear Michigan: It’s time for this mama’s boy to become his own man. By calling his mother every time you fight, your boyfriend is not only being unfair to you but also doing himself a disservice, because it’s in his best interest for his mom to like his girlfriend. Seeing as he seems inclined to get an outside authority figure’s opinion on each of your fights, perhaps he would be open to the idea of seeing a couples therapist. Though your issues might not seem so serious, couples can always benefit from having more tools in their shared communication toolbox. A counselor could also help him see the way his mother-son venting sessions are holding back his relationship and personal development.
Dear Annie: I am writing in response to the letter from “One-Upped,” whose friend tends to one-up her stories. I am trained as a counselor, and during my schooling, I learned to empathize with clients by sharing in the form of “I experienced x, and I found y.” I have also been told by friends that I reply to their stories with my own similar stories, and I can assure you I never intend it to be a one-up. It is a matter of difference in communication styles. So I agree with your suggestion to kindly mention that it bothers her but also to have mercy with her new friend because old habits die hard and intentions are usually good.
Also, regarding the friend’s repeating stories, I wonder what age her friend is. I ask because my mom has repeated the same stories every night for a while now. It frustrates me, too, and I am ashamed to admit I do cut her off and tell her she already said that. But I try to have mercy because it could be dementia, stress or a combination of the two. And aging is scary. We all will most likely be in that place one day if we are lucky enough to live a long life, and I hope I am treated with mercy when I am the one doing it.
Just wanted to give some more food for thought. As I’ve aged, I’ve found that good friends are few and far between, and none of us is perfect, so if we are lucky enough to find a friend who is interesting, is kind and shares our interests, we should overlook minor flaws. This world could use a lot more kindness, more than ever right now. — Been There and Will Be
Dear Been There and Will Be: You make a great point about your training as a counselor. Perhaps the perceived one-upmanship is just an attempt at empathizing. It’s at least worth considering. I second your call for kindness, and I wish you and your mother the best.
Dear Annie is written by Annie Lane, a young, married mother of two. Send questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.