Rejecting mom’s boyfriend is a no-win situation
Q: I’m 27 and my parents separated when I was 14.
Both had affairs. Dad remarried and I don’t see him.
My mom is on her third boyfriend. Every time she gets a new boyfriend, she still expects me to love him. Her previous boyfriends were all abusive. I don’t think I should have to love, let alone like, someone just because she calls him her boyfriend. Am I right?
A: In the beginning of her journey with men, there is a likelihood that you took to them hoping to be liked and loved as well. As your mother’s relationships with these men ended, you eventually learned they were fleeting and so investing in them yourself only created disappointment.
The backstories to situations like these often involve a mother who, while growing up, didn’t receive the kind of parenting that left her feeling secure in herself or able to discern decent men from abusive ones.
It’s likely she is quite emotionally needy as a result and unable to meet your emotional needs.
It’s as if she needs you to love and accept her choices over concentrating on your needs. She is unable to see the impact of her decisions on you.
If you withdraw from her or her choices, she probably experiences this as rejection and gets angry.
Your decision not to accept her boyfriend is also felt as a rejection.
As she gets angry, you fear losing your relationship with her, hoping to still receive her love and attention. Hence you get frustrated, not able to connect to her boyfriends yet not wanting to lose your connection with her.
The real challenge for you is to come to terms with your mother’s emotional unavailability and find a way to separate emotionally from her yet still feel secure in yourself. We call this setting boundaries. It can be quite a challenge when our emotional needs haven’t been well met and we are still caught up in relationships with those who are emotionally insecure.
Situations such as the one you describe here can also make you vulnerable to nonfulfilling and even abusive intimate relationships.
That emotional neediness can get in the way of assessing people’s qualities and issues.
So, no, you don’t have to like or love your mother’s boyfriend, but that doesn’t mean she will be capable of accepting or understanding your decision.
To gain more perspective, I suggest you seek counselling so you can unpack the situation, examine your upbringing more fully and work on taking care of your own emotional needs without feeling beholden to your mother.