He's A Momma's Boy!
Q: How can I get my boyfriend of almost two years to open up to me and stop listening to his mother? We're in our early 30s. -- Rose
Dr. Susan: This is fascinating, Rose. You want your lover to open up to you but you've opened up to me very little in your question. Does your boyfriend takes his mother's side against you, or isn't he emotionally intimate enough with you? Let's assume both are true. They might be related.
The best way to get a man to open up emotionally is to make it utterly safe to do so. That means no matter what he shares with you, you need to be ready to hear it without critical judgment. If you complain about his relationship with his mother, he may pick up his marbles and play elsewhere. If you tell him he's a momma's boy for listening to her, of course he's going to feel insulted. Even if he is a bit immature, you've been with him for a couple of years already and I assume you love him anyway.
Unconditional love feels great, and your boyfriend might be getting more of that from Mom than from you. So you could make an effort to share more of your positive feelings for him. Now, when you say he should stop listening to his mother, do you mean she's steering him wrong? Away from you perhaps? Maybe she's simply interfering where it's none of her business. If so, tell your boyfriend that three in a bedroom is too many. If he wants to be with you, he needs to discuss important issues with you first. I wouldn't give him an ultimatum, necessarily, but you might give yourself one. That is, if he doesn't start working with you to create a genuinely intimate and adult one-on-one relationship soon, consider moving on.
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Advice for Her
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.