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Dr. Rossi
Dr. Rossi, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  PsyD, LPC, CHt
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My girlfriend has a grown adult son who is living with her.

Resolved Question:

My girlfriend has a grown adult son who is living with her. He sits, walks, stands, and lies around the house in his boxer shorts only...and wears them and only them a good part of the time, unless someone else comes over. She works late, and at night after she gets home, they often sit on the couch and watch TV, often in her nightgown.

Is it healthy for a grown male son (in his 30s) to be wearing boxer shorts only a good portion of the time they spend together? Should I be concerned?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Rossi replied 1 year ago.
Hi,

It seems that the situation you're concerned about has to do with the level of appropriateness. The behavior you've described that her son engages in may be encountered in individuals who are depressed/apathetic. Why isn't this young man working, dating, etc?
Wearing his boxers around may be mainly from lack of energy/not caring (being apathetic and or lazy to put on some clothes)

As far as his mother allowing this (not saying anything) and also sitting around in her sleepwear, that could be because of her own level of comfort or aloofness. The situation is perhaps one of appropriateness rather than unresolved Oedipus Complex on the part of her son. The main concern here is what is the mental state of this young man. He could be depressed and not even realizing it having developed anhedonia.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you, doctor.


 


Here are two additional pieces of information and my additional questions:


 


1) This young man has been married, has a teenage daughter, and is divorced. This pattern of wearing boxer shorts instead of a robe around the home started in his home in his early teen years. His mother says it was never explicitly discussed; it just happened, and she sees nothing wrong with it continuing.


 


2) Your thoughts on the young man are spot on. He is a veteran of the Iraq war, and suffers from depression and PTSD. He was a full time student until his last deployment, and now can not focus, face groups of people, etc.He is certainly clinically depressed, and is receiving counseling and medications from the VA. He would be homeless unless his mom has acquired an air mattress and allowed him to stay in what had been her very small study.


 


The question is one, as you said, of appropriateness. Is it healthy and appropriate for her to continue to allow her adult male son who is sharing a very small 900 SF two bedroom apartment with her to wear nothing but boxer shorts while walking, standing, sitting and lying down in the areas outside of his own room while she is present in the apartment? And to join him on the couch in her own sleepwear?


 


As part of your answer, do you believe it would risk his mental state being impacted if she were just to ask him to begin wearing pants when she is present?


 


I have no desire to be unreasonable, or to create additional trauma for the young man or his mother who has so generously taken him in. Should I drop my objection to her allowing him to continue to wear just this attire when his mom is present (or when he is alone)? Is it or is it not inappropriate behavior at this point in their lives?


 


Thank you.

Expert:  Dr. Rossi replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for the additional info Bill. It is not healthy for him to show lack of self care and it her sitting in her nightgown only enables him to continue to do so himself. It should not impact his mental state if she is to ask him to wear something more appropriate (it would depend on how she states her request) Perhaps she herself should put on a robe or something more decent while the two of them are watching TV. That way she can set an example and the expectation for him to follow.
The issue is that he's been doing this for such a long time that neither of them see a problem. It may be healthier for him to care for himself more. She could purchase him a man's robe and ask him to use it when she's there.
It is her level of comfort and enabling that would affect what he does.
Dr. Rossi, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 4627
Experience: PsyD, LPC, CHt
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