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Kristin
Kristin, Mental Health Professional
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 454
Experience:  Licensed Mental Health Counselor. 11+ years specialist in mental health. Expertise and insight!
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My girlfriend and I have been dating for about 5 months. To

Customer Question

My girlfriend and I have been dating for about 5 months. To date, I have never met her family. Her mom does not approve of her seeing me because I'm 36 and she is 23. Our relationship between us is really perfect, no arguements, games or drama, just her controlling mom. Her mom has told her that if she chooses me, she will be kicked out of the house, car taken away etc.. She even resorts to sleeping in bed with my girlfriend so she can monitor who she is talking to. I treat her like she is the best ever, and she is. She is crazy in love with me too. We have talked about marriage, kids and our future together. I own my own business, don't smoke, drugs and drink occasionaly. I make enough money that finances are not an issue. I try to tell her that she is an adult and her mom nor anyone else can determine who she is going to be friends with or have a relationship with. When her mom disapproves and is so controlling, what can I do? I have suggested going there and talking to her, calling her, going to dinner, but my girlfriend thinks that will make it worse on her since she has to live with her. Her parents are currently going through divorce and still live together, which I know firsthand how difficult that is because I went through that as well. I do not want to give up on our relationship because I really feel that we would be together forever. To me and her, our age difference was never even discussed as neither of us care. We are the only two whose feelings should matter when it comes to this. I just don't know what to do because her mother is crazy controlling.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Kristin replied 5 years ago.

Thank you for your question.

 

Has her mother always been this controlling of her daughter, for example with other boyfriends etc? Is her only concern about you the age difference?

It's amazing that she actually sleeps in the same bed so she can monitor her daughter!

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
She was actually in physical abusive relationships in the past that her mother knows nothing about. Her mom tries to get her back together with ex boyfriends who have either cheated on her, or ones that abused her. In the past week, she invited the cheater over to their house for dinner and had him meet them out for lunch once and dinner again. She has told her mom that she is not interested in getting back together with him. Since her mom never met me or even knows what I look like, I would say that her problem only has to do with age. She tells her daugther that she will find someone closer to her age that she will fall in love with. Everytime she tries to talk to her mom, she only gets responded to as "It's not going to happen, so give it up". I tell her all the time that if her mom met me, maybe she would see that I am good for her and how happy we make each other. I am financially secure, own a business with my brother, own my own home, am respectful to everyone and most importantly, I love this girl like no other.
Expert:  Kristin replied 5 years ago.

Okay thanks for the additional information. This mother obviously has some severe control issues going on, and due to this is acting not in her daughter's best interest. Obviously it's not in good judgment to invite abusive exes over to their house. Her mother is really invading her boundaries as well.

Rather than trying to influence the mother by meeting her, etc. I would advise you to encourage your girlfriend to gain more independence from her parents/mother. Also, with the divorce going on, it's likely her mom is going to become even more controlling. Your girlfriend needs to move out on her own and start to be more financially independent as soon as she can. In the meantime, she simply needs to set boundaries with her mom and tell her to not set her up anymore, etc. That if she continues to do such, that she will not be there for the dinner etc. meaning there will be a consequence to the behavior. I would stop trying to meet her mom and again focus more on your relationship with this young woman and be supportive about how difficult this is for her.

I would really suggest that your girlfriend get some counseling about how to maintain boundaries with her mother, as this could be a lifelong struggle otherwise. This issue runs deep and obviously did not begin with her dating you.

Again, trying to control the mother will backfire, so stating a boundary and then following through with a consequence if/when that boundary is violated is the best approach. She needs to show her mother rather than tell her. Please click ACCEPT button so I'm credited for my help today. Feel free to continue the discussion with me even after accepting. Thank you!

Kristin and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
The biggest issue is that her mom has threatened to kick her out and she has no financial means to support herself. I offered to help in any way possible. She desperately wants to be accepted by her mom and have a good relationship. I never try to push her to do anything, but I have told her my opinion. I've told her that the chances of her having any kind of good relationship with her mom depends on her mom giving up control. If her mom continues to control her, how could the relationship be good? I know her relationship with her mom is important, so it's important to me too. I just don't know how to handle all this. I feel like I've done everything the right way. I'm convinced that I want to be with her forever. I've always viewed our age difference as a positive and not a negative. We are both into fitness and like doing physical things. That is hard to find in an older woman sometimes. My age and my experiences in life give her assurance of a stable relationship where some young guy isn't just playing games with her. It's so frustrating to have such a perfect relationship where both of us just want to be together and because of outside people having control over the situation, it has made our lives and the time we have together really hard. I suggested to her what you told me about setting boundaries, but she said there are no boundaries. It's her moms way and that's it. Again, she is scared that she will lose her mom and the financial support if she doesn't follow what she says. Im scared because the woman I want to spend my life with may leave me and allow herself to be controlled forever. Really, if she gives into her mom about who she sees, where does it stop?
Expert:  Kristin replied 5 years ago.

As she is still living at home and also dependent on her mom for financial resources, etc, it does make it more difficult to enforce the boundaries. Especially if her mom has threatened to kick her out. She should really strive to become independent financially and/or move out of the house. It does sound like you have done really well handling this situation as far as encouraging her and being more than willing to do what it takes to make her mom feel comfortable with you.

If she feels like she has to do what her mom says, or lose that support then that is the price she is going to pay. She is going to be controlled for the financial support. You can let her know that she would have a better relationship with her mom, if she could get out from under her control. She should get a job, or apply for financial aid (if she is in school) or do what is necessary to move out. She could move in with a friend or a roommate. The problem here is much bigger than just about her mom not liking the age gap. It's about her total control.

It could be really helpful for you and your gf to attend couples counseling around this issue. That would help her feel supported and become aware of her options.

 

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I am actually going to see a therapist over this because my head is constantly spinning. I would suggest for her to come but her mom won't let her out of her sight. If she goes out, her mom has made her take photos of her and her friends or requests to talk to them. Anytime she tries to talk to mom, she is interrupted and told she will fall in love 100 more times with someone her age. What her mom doesn't get or accept is that I'm what she wants! She is do e with school at the end of April. I have a friend that can probably get her a job immediately where she will make decent money. She is excited about it, but her mom wants her to rake an internship, which doesn't pay. Just another way for her to continue to control her due to financial reasons. I told her that if she doesn't want the job, it's up to her because unlike her mom, I want her to be able to make her own choices. The sooner she gets a job she can get away. The problem is, I don't know if her mom would allow her to move out or if she would have the courage to just stand her ground and move out.
Expert:  Kristin replied 5 years ago.

From what you are describing her mom is being emotionally abusive. All you can do is what you are already doing.

Once your gf is financially independent, then her mother will have no say in whether she moves out or not. It will be up to your girlfriend at that point to be emotionally capable of standing her ground, after being so controlled.

 

I think it's very wise that you see a therapist. And I would advise that you do suggest for her to come as well. If she chooses not to (and at some point she also has to take accountability that on some level it's a choice. She is 23 years old now), then I really encourage to of course see the therapist and get much needed ongoing support around this issue. Again encourage her to be more independent. Maybe her mother is suffering from mental illness.

 

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Since yesterday, things get worse for her. Her mom bought her the new IPad and she told her that she didn't want it. Her mom tells her that she is ungrateful for all the nice things she does for her. These nice things are always gifts because she obviously tries to make up for her shortcomings buy getting gifts to make her think she loves her. Her mom took off work today and tomorrow so she could be with her (monitor everything she does). It is now to the point where her mom is taking her to school and picking her up, so she knows exactly where she is all the time. She told me today that she has no freedom at all. I told her that she needs to break away from the cycle because it is not going to get better. She openly admits that she is happiest when the two of us are together and there is no distractions. She wants to be with me, but it seems as if she pushes me away somewhat, which confuses me because I am the only one that sticks up for her best interest. I am the only constant positive thing in her life and each day I become more confused. I told her over and over that I will do anything for her except leave her. I can't run away from what I know is what I want and what makes us both happy.

Expert:  Kristin replied 5 years ago.

It sounds like she is simply feeling very torn between you and what her mother wants for her. Does she have any siblings by the way, or is she an only child?

 

Also, what is her father's role in this situation? He must see how controlling the mother is... Please click ACCEPT, and we can continue the discussion. Thank you!

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

She has a younger brother that is going to college in the fall. Her dad probably knows exactly how controlling her mom is and that is probably a reason they are getting divorced. I suggested that she talk to her dad, but she said that her and her dad don't have that type of relationship. It really seems to me as if they are a very unsupportive family, but I would never say that to her. I did tell her today that with the divorce going on and her mom's lack of control over that situation and with her brother going away to school (about 2 hours away), that she is getting all the control issues placed on her. I said that by staying in the situation, it is going to only get worse because all of the control her mom has on her brother will cease when he leaves the house for school.

 

I suggested that she stay at a hotel or even my neighbor's house whom she knows and just get out for a day or two. At least this way her mom will know that she is pissed off and not happy with how she is held as a prisoner. She declined immediately and said, "I cant just leave home".

 

Again, it just keeps getting worse for her.

 

Expert:  Kristin replied 5 years ago.
I'm happy to continue this discussion and support for you, etc. Please do click on ACCEPT so I'm credited for my time up to this point, and then we can continue. Thanks!
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
She told me last night that we cannot talk. Really? We texted each other early this morning around 430am and I told her that I don't see how that will help. I also sent her an email this morning, telling her how I feel about her and asking her if she can just do me the courtesy of letting me know if her feelings have changed due to pressure from her mom or if she still feels the same. I have yet to get any response and I do not plan on calling, texting or emailing. She said that her and her mom are going to try to work things out and her mom said she would be more understanding. Is it me or how does that equate to a better relationship. You cannot just pick and choose what you are going to be understanding about. It is still a control thing in my mind. If her mom is understanding that she wants to go somewhere, but isnt understanding about her wanting to be with me, how does anything change? Is it best if I just let her go a few days and see what happens? I just feel that if we don't talk, it is damaging the only communciation we have had lately.

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