“My boyfriend’s mum is needy and controlling”

I need help with my boyfriend’s mum. She’s a lovely lady and I do like her but after meeting her less than a dozen times she seems to expect us to be best friends, she puts expectations on me that my own mother does and is very needy and likes to guilt trip my bf and I when we don’t give her enough attention or visit her what she deems enough.
Today my boyfriend’s dad called him saying his mum was upset and thinks I don’t like her.
She got upset because I personally didn’t text her on her birthday – my boyfriend sent a cheesy snap pic of us and text from the both of us saying happy bday. We also saw her the next day, where we exchanged presents at a family gathering. I asked my bf if this was enough and he said yes. This was the first bday of hers since we have been together. I know for next year to text her personally but didn’t see this as warranting a call from his dad, even if in hindsight it was a little slack. Also his brother’s wife didn’t personally message her either but nothing was said to her.

His dad also brought up that when I moved to my bfs city about 2 months ago, that I didn’t wait around for them and instead went and made another trip to get my stuff. Story: I moved about 90 mins away from home into a place with my bf. His parents live about 30 minutes away from our place together. During this time I was working back at home (my transfer was still in the works) AND studying. I had limited time to get sorted for the move and I had ONE free full day to get as much as I needed to do done. Even so, my bfs parents STILL wanted to come see the place we were moving into. I thought this was weird at the time because it was a hectic time (it was moving day) and that we would just have them over for dinner once settled, but they insisted on coming over on the day we got the keys, which happened to be the same day I was traveling back and forth moving my stuff. I didn’t think anything of it until his dad mentioned it today.  His mother apparently took this as me not wanting to be around her because I don’t like her, when in reality I was trying to get as much moved as I could before peak hour traffic and an extra hour would be added to my trip back. His dad went on about how they make extra effort with me and how much his mum tries to make me like her. Trying to paint me as the bad guy basically, for something I didn’t even know I did or had been doing. Did I do something wrong? If anything I felt like I was civil allowing them over when I felt like they were imposing…

So my problem is what his mother expects of us and me and her neediness. She calls and texts my bf several times a day and if he doesn’t reply straight away she will call me and ask where he is. If he’s with me she acts like I’m keeping him from her, when more than half the times he’s ignoring her calls/texts and not telling me she’s trying to reach him. I have never discouraged him from seeing his mum or family.

I am always friendly towards her and respond to all her messages but I already have an extremely needy mother of my own and don’t want another. I can see her and I having a good relationship but not overnight. It took until my early twenties for my own mum and I to get close and enjoy spending time together. I’ve met this woman less than a dozen times and I feel like she expects me to treat her like someone I’ve known for years and closely bonded with and because I can’t instantly slip into that role she thinks it means I dislike her and is creating drama because of it.

My bfs family have a LOT of family events also. Usually at least one a week but lately up to 3 and even so she still wants us over for dinner all the time. I work, study and am in the process of launching my own businesses, so time is scarce and I’d rather spend what little time I have with boyfriend or making friends. I know nobody here and am yet to have the time to socialise. When we can’t make dinner or an event for what ever reason she lays on the guilt. Here’s an example…

My bf and I were hiking 3 hours out a week back (our first day off together in 2 weeks), we were out of phone reception at most points and my bfs mother, texted and called and called both of us until my phone picked up reception and I answered, she then proceeded to guilt me and my bf because we wouldn’t have been home in time to have dinner at her place…. we had 3 other family events on that week with her. I can’t see why she needs to see us so much?

Is is wrong that I don’t want some forced close-knit relationship with this woman? If it happens naturally that’s fine, but I’m not ok with 3-4 visits a week, having expectations put on me as if she’s my own mother and being guilted into giving this woman a whole heap of attention and time . I’d be ok with dinner once a week or maybe every 2 and seeing her at special occasions but it’s getting too much and the fact she has my bfs dad calling him in a really passive aggressive manner seems like meddling to me.

How can I make her understand I like her but don’t feel the need to interact with her constantly. I’m building a relationship and future with her son, that she will be apart of, but she’s not the center of attention in our lives and just because I’m dating her son doesn’t mean we are instantly besties. I honestly don’t even want to be her friend at this point, she’s exhausting and MY clingy mother would lose it if we developed such relationship.

I just want to date my bf in peace without the drama. I don’t want these stupid games to continue, games where she uses her husband to bag me out to my bf and guilt him into making out I don’t like her. How can I go about setting some boundaries?  What boundaries should I set?
How I can have a good relationship with my bfs mother but one where she steps back and isn’t so involved or needy towards me and my bf?

2 thoughts on ““My boyfriend’s mum is needy and controlling”

  1. Anonymous says:

    You BOTH sit down and talk to BOTH of them like adults. Use words like I need and I feel instead of pointing blame to anything and say you understand that you care and you want them to understand that you care about them, but this is too much and over reaching. However you are going to have to get your boyfriend in on this. Then put up boundaries and stick to them kindly. When guilt tripped kill with kindness, but don’t do what they want. Ex: I’m sorry you felt neglected when I didn’t go to the fourth dinner this week. Then DO NOT do or say anything else. Do not make up for it. Do not appologise for not coming. That way they feel heard, but your boundaries stay in place. Say no kindly to things you don’t want to do and don’t explain why.

    Ex: Are you coming to fourth dinner. No. We have plans (don’t explain plans).
    Do you need us to help you move. No. I’ve got it taken care of, but thank you for offering.
    Why didn’t you come to fourth dinner. I’m so hurt! “We had plans that night. I’m sorry you felt hurt.”
    My wife feels like you don’t like us! “I’m sorry she feels that way. I like her very much.”

    You have to prove that you are both adults and not children now. It’s going to take a while, but everyone gets there in the end.

  2. Char says:

    Him and his mother have an enmeshed relationship. I’m going through the same thing and my partner won’t stand up to her or say no to her cos he puts her feelings first – before his own and before mine. There’s a brilliant book called ‘Married to mom’ you should read it.

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