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Boyfriend's mother a huge source of anxiety and discomfort

Community Member


I've been trying to get my life back together after a severe breakdown three years a​go with two hospitalisations. Currently have a diagnosis of PTSD, but ypu wouldn't guess it to look at me! I manage quite well and am so happy with my life right now.

A lot of that happiness stems from my wonderfully stable and suppoetive relationship with my boyfriend, but his mother threaten a lot of that.

I have always been a charmer with friends' parents and even though this woman adores me I can't stand her . She is very intense and by no fault of her own her personality disorder makes her VERY uncomfortable to be with.

Firstly she talks a lot about an abortion of a deformed foetus 21 years ago. It is heart breaking to watch a mother hurt her own sons by talking about this foetus as equal to them. It hurts my partner so and no one knows how to react when it comes up. It becomes an attention seeking thing. A recent visible tattoo with her 'three' childrens names, the jewlery with the foetus's name so she can talk about 'oh I lost a girl'. My partner knows his mum and it is for the attention.

I'm at a loss how to act around her when it comes up because it is so very very uncomfortable. She is very unlikely to change.

Secondly she says very inappropriote things to my partner and me. 'I don't have a girl, you gave to share her!' to my partner, calling us 'children' and unsolicited relationship advice. Trying to curb any of this has been a losing battle as her conflict resolution skills are near zero. She doesn't back down and just gets angry for a looong time. Never an apology or compromise.

At the moment I am successfully avoiding her at all cost. She does have good elements, but I come home crying to my parenrs sometimes after being thoughtlessly insulted and overwhelmed by her intesity so it is hard for them to stand out. I wish I never had to see hef again. Maybe as my PTSD fades I will be able to tolerate ger at a distance.

Any thoughts and advice are most welcome! My partner is so very much worth it despite his mother. He has his own problems with her...

5 Replies 5

Community Member
Dear Q.R.

Welcome to Beyond Blue and thank you for coming here and providing your post.

Oh boy, the mother-in-law or that kind of parental kind of relationship – it is often a source of great concern and stress for couples. I’m sure you’ll be receiving a few other responses about this.

The unfortunate thing in these scenarios is it’s a bit like trying to argue with a cricket umpire or a footy referee. You can discuss, argue till you’re blue in the face, but in the end, nothing will change the decision – or in this case, her mind.

The fact that she’s got a tattoo displaying ‘the girl she lost’ is testament to how strong she feels about this and how this will give her, the opportunity to keep bringing that up.

The inappropriate comments are also just in her make-up and her nature – an older leopard will never change their spots and more often than not, they don’t recognise awkwardness or the hurt feelings that they produce.

I guess what I’m saying is that what you’re doing now – the avoidance method – is clearly the best option that you’ve got. I know it’s probably not what you were hoping to hear – that there might be some kind of way for dealing with people like this, but in my experience, these people cannot change.

I’m gathering that you both live with your own parents? So the one thing that you’re possibly doing at the moment is to be spending large amounts of time either at your own parent’s home, or at other places. I know this isn’t always convenient, so I do hope that there’s others who will come along and post with their own advice on this.

I really do feel for you.

I guess the other thing I’ve thought about here is: is there any opportunity that you and your boyfriend could move in together, possibly a long way away from her.


Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi QuantumRed and welcome to BB.

Unfortunately, I totally agree with Neil. Your BF's mother's attitude shows clearly that she is not capable of moving on. A change of attitude is beyond her.

In the face of the unchangeable, retreat is the bravest, wisest option. You don't want her invasive negativity impacting on your relationship. You understand this and keep your distance. I feel that the issue here will be being able to maintain the distance. This woman doesn't let go easily. She may come to resent being left out, could end up blaming you and possibly try to slide an insidious wedge between you and her son.

I have seen this pattern repeat itself within several families. You're doing a terrific balancing act. I hope you have full support from your partner. Please be mindful and alert to future signs. Raising HER future grandchildren could complicate the equation.

Moving far away would be ideal, although not always possible. Also, if she doesn't have strong ties to keep her where she lives now, she may be tempted to follow...

Thanks for sharing your story. There's no doubt many of us will relate to it. Navigating these forums may provide more insight into similar situations and offer useful suggestions.

Thank you very much Neil and Starwolf for your kind replies.

Because I am the one being anxious, telling my boyfriend I am not ready to see his mother yet, it sometimes feels that i am the one who has created the problem. I wish I could somehow not allow these comments and behaviour from me not affect me as some people have advised but it's like asking the rain to fall upwards; you can't turn emotions off. Reading your comments send waves of calmness through me as I am not to blame for the situation.

I hope when my boyfreind and I move out together things will ease up, maybe I will be seen as the full adult I am! I have already decided that no parents will show up to our house unannounced and there will be no such thing as grandparents rights; just privileges granted by the parents. And yes, these rules will be in place with one person in mind. I loathe the idea of her being a grandmother to my children but I will deal with that in five or six years. I will be a stronger person then. And there will be three other wonderful grandparents.

My cousin tells me our grandmother has set us up for failure; she is the most loved mother-in-law by all her children-in-law I have ever seen. We grew up thinking that was what mother-in-laws were like, that any issue can just be solved by talking it through and being mindful and respectful. Even if I can't do anything to change my boyfriend's mother I can change myself and I aim to be like grandma when my turn comes.

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hey QuantumRed,

Thanks for the feedback. Good to know you are taking steps to take good care of yourself and your relationship.

Moving to your own place will make it easier to set up rules and boundaries. You're quite right, living under the same roof as parents makes you vulnerable to asphyxiating attention.

Your grandmother's values and attitude have set high standards. I believe this to be an advantage and a terrific example. The whole family is lucky to have her as inspiration.

Community Member
Hi there Q.R.

Great to receive your latest response.

Absolutely awesome to have a grandmother like that – and yes, you should really aim to take the positives from her, which is what you’ve mentioned in your last part – a brilliant role model. But as you also mentioned, it does really highlight the lesser lights that are twinkling out there and this potential m-i-l for you is someone who could possibly do with a learning session from your grandmother. Though as I think I already said, no matter what anyone says to these kinds of people, they are never wrong and their opinions will never change. They only get more determined in their set ways as time goes on.

Awesome to read about what you’re aiming to plan to do for the future as well – and if you can, as much as you can, try to put this person to the back of your mind (ie: with regard to the prospect of your own family and the meetings, etc that your children will have with her). Plenty plenty time for that way down the track.

For now, it’s the dealing with her and I believe you’re doing a great job and minimising the contact you have with her. And it’s all very well for others to make comments about not letting her behaviour affect you – it’s not them that these barbs are being fired at.

I hope that your boyfriend continues to be 100% supportive of you and that as things progress, that bond between the two of you grows stronger and that your future is going to be a very bright and happy one. Awesome to read also, how the other parents that are involved are really lovely. That’s definitely something to be very grateful for.