I once dated a guy who had a very odd relationship with his mother. For a while, I thought it was very sweet. After a few months, I kept telling friends “my boyfriend’s Mom hates me” but I didn’t fully believe it. Soon, it became “I hate my boyfriend’s Mom.”
The parents of my friends always loved me, as did the parents of everyone I had dated. I was always kind and respectful. I didn’t understand why I was feeling this way.
Looking back, I was having an allergic reaction to an inappropriate relationship that I felt too guilty at the time to label as inappropriate.
Inappropriate relationships are easy to recognize. Eventually, it gets to a point where the creep factor and the alarm that your gut sounds off become too loud to ignore.
Although a weird relationship with a family member is as easy to identify as a pink elephant in a room, it’s tough to acknowledge – especially when everything else is going so well.
You try to convince yourself it’s a good thing; that he’s either “such a family man,” because of how close he is to his mom, dad, sister, etc. Or, if he has a hateful/dysfunctional relationship with a family member, you tell yourself how great it is that he’s able to have “boundaries,” despite a familial connection.
The bs eventually becomes too hard to ignore. You find yourself more and more creeped out, frustrated, and in a state of perpetual competition with the one thing you’ll never be able to compete with – FAMILY.
I’ve been in relationships where I’ve been extremely happy. But eventually, I had to acknowledge…
“My boyfriend and his Mother are too close. Why is he telling her personal details about me/our relationship? His mother shouldn’t know that I’m on my period. Why does he have to run everything by her? How come he’s capable of emotional intimacy with her and not with me? Why do I feel threatened?”
“My boyfriend and his sister are too close. Why does she always get in our business? Why does she seem jealous, sabotaging, and spiteful/competitive? Does SHE want to sleep with her brother? What the f*ck is this?”
“My boyfriend hates his Mother and subsequently doesn’t have a relationship with her. Why? How?”
“My boyfriend doesn’t speak with or have a relationship with his Father. Why?”
Here’s what to do if you’ve realized, “my boyfriend has a weird relationship with a family member”…
If he’s got a relationship with ANY family member that makes your stomach crawl, creeps you out, or at best, seems “off,” listen to your instinct and RUN. Seriously.
Save yourself the time that you’ll never get back, the tears, the confusion, and the anger. There’s nothing confusing about an iron-clad, emotionally-incestual-Teflon relationship that was established way before you ever came into the picture.
Sprint and don’t look back. You will never, I repeat never be able to compete with dysfunctional, emotionally ancestral relationships (nor should you ever want or have to). If you do, you’ll just end up getting vilified and be made to feel crazy.
This is all, obviously, easier said than done. So, let’s break it down…
If he’s too close for comfort with his mother, sister, etc., you have to understand that just like dating an addict. You will never be in a mutual, one-on-one relationship with this man. You will ALWAYS be in a threesome: you, him, and the family member.
Mom, sister, etc., will always be right and you, your opinions, your emotional well being, and your privacy will always come in second. And if you’re okay with coming in second (not including children), you have no business dating. If someone makes you feel like you are asking too much by not wanting to be with an emotionally incestual swinger, you need to work on YOUR boundaries and self-esteem – instead of getting a Ph.D. in his family dynamic.
If you’re in a relationship where loving him means that you can’t love yourself… and as far as he’s concerned, loving him means that you have to accept that he’s having emotional sex with mom/sister/both, that’s called a toxic relationship that you need to exit.
The ultimate liberation in life is when you get to a point where you don’t need to be “right,” you don’t need to be “chosen,” you don’t need to be “heard,” or in “control.” You don’t need to “win.” You just let the chips fall where they may and most importantly, you know when to fold. You’re kinder to yourself and you stop feeling guilty for putting one foot in front of the other. You know who you are, you know what you’re worth, you know what you want, and honestly… that’s all that matters. It’s none of your business what other people think of you. What IS your business is having your own back so that you’re able to exit toxic dynamics with dignity on your white horse.
Years ago, I overheard my boyfriend listening to his Mother criticize my looks, my family, and the fact that I was broke. He did nothing but listen and his silence translated as this kind of passive agreement that broke my heart and shattered my confidence.
My boyfriend had never cut the cord with mom. Why? Mom always forgave him, made excuses for him (she still referred to him being out of shape as “baby fat;” he was 31), and mom put him on a pedestal. So, when I didn’t put him on a pedestal and didn’t continue to excuse and forgive him for his consistent lies, cheating, and disrespect, he wrote me off. My boyfriend was unable to have a relationship that was independent of the one he had with his Mother. This sabotaged every relationship he tried to have.
Can there be exceptions where the guy will recognize that he wants a future with you and that will motivate him to deal with his dysfunction? Yes of course, but that takes time and you need to see the want and willingness in both his actions and his words.
Talk is cheap. And talk only works on people who cheapen themselves by believing those words without any action backing them up.
There are AMAZING mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters out there who will support, love, and will enrich the relationship that you have with the RIGHT man.
If you’re in the “my boyfriend is too close with his mom/sister/has a weird relationship with a family member,” dynamic, don’t waste your time trying to get him to see what you see and don’t embarrass anyone or do anything to highlight the inappropriateness of what you feel. It’s not your job. Stay kind and be kind to yourself by making a dignified exit – not by trying to “win” a casino game in which the house ALWAYS wins.
If he hates his Mom… This is another huge red flag. If you’re involved with a man who hates his Mother (he may not even be aware that he hates her), you probably interpret people needing you with them wanting you. Unless it’s a pet, a senior citizen, or a child, no one should ever need you.
As I’ve said before – going for people who need us basically, taking an insurance policy out on our own abandonment issues. Even if he leaves, he won’t ever entirely exit because he still needs something from you. Men who have a hateful, negative, angry, or nonexistent relationship with their mothers tend to need the women that they date. They are trying to fill a void that is un-fillable.
Are there great guys out there who have a nonexistent relationship with their mother? Of course. But when they have hatred and/or anger toward mom, they will forever be incapable of a fully connected and mutual relationship. Because of the un-dealt with anger, they won’t be able to be consistent. Many times, they end up resenting you for the very reasons they fell for you.
Hate is not the opposite of love” – Elie Wiesel. When you hate, there are still very strong feelings there. The only place that love cannot reside is in a state of indifference. If he hates his Mom, he won’t be able to stop “value/devalue,” cycle (that he puts everyone through who’s unlucky enough to date him).
Men who hate their mothers tend to be hot and cold, have major jealousy issues, and are control freaks. Because they have such a painful lack of a positive relationship with a female mother figure, they will indirectly (or directly), try to make you feel crazy, guilty, and anything but sexy or confident. This is because their confidence was obliterated by mom’s emotional and/or physical absence. Clear communication with him will also be impossible, as will extracting any empathy or understanding.
Can these issues be worked on if your man has them? Yes, they most definitely can. Just make sure that you’re being met halfway and that you’re not betraying yourself. Listen to your intuition and make sure that you’re not wasting your time, handing over the pen for others to write YOUR story while you sit in the passenger’s seat of YOUR car.
+ If you need further and more personalized help with your relationship, please look into working with me here.
He did had that. His parents sister and brother are always together and do everything together like always its annoying lol in his case he has this relationship with his dad that he would tell him everything even About me and he would listen to his dad no mattee what. I don’t know if its the same just in his case its his dad and well entire family ?
It’s the same with Dad too! xoxo
You know Natasha, it’s interesting because the characteristics of a man who hates his mother that you described what his relationship would be like with his SO is the same characteristics that my ex had towards me except my ex didn’t hate the mother. My ex carried the mom like a queen, but showed me the hot and cold traits, displayed jealousy, carrived out force and control, made me feel guilty, and made me seem crazy, twisting our issues by making it seem as though it was my fault. The relationship my ex had with the mom was not hateful it was weird and the way that my ex treated the mom with love, care, showing empathy, treating her like a queen, constantly putting the mom first. All of which my ex showed me those nice gestures only part of the time. There’s no winning when it comes to family especially when mothers are just the centerpiece of the relationship. Great post sis!
Thanks sister! Love you!!!
Every time I read your blog, I can’t believe how many clearly defined characteristics there are of an emotionally unavailable man. I never thought anything of how close my ex was to his mother because she was so supportive of me and always welcomed me into her home. When crap hit the fan though, it became very clear to me she was an enabler and excused a lot of her sons behavior, she had to be the bandaid and take care of her son whenever he resorted back to some unhealthy habit. He could never make any of his own decisions and his family (especially his brother) had so much sway on his connection with me. When he finally did try to put me first, it didn’t last because his undeniable comittment issues were just encouraged by his family as me not “being the one”. It is true, this will never change unless your partner wants it to but you can’t compete with years of dependency.
This could not have come at a better time. You are wise beyond your years Natasha ??
The EUM I was with told me a month in that nobody loved him, did I love him and he doesn’t trust women because he doesn’t trust his mother.
I should have gotten up and run far away.
First of all THANK YOU. Thank you for this blog and all of PMS. This is spot on! My bf of 4 years, recent ex, (classic EUM) has a weird AF relationship with his sister! On Valentine’s Day this past year I was sicker than I had been in years but mustered up the energy to go out to dinner with my “man” (emotionally unavailable 40 year old frat boy with the compassion of a stone who had no problem living w/me rent free and never told me he loved me etc., etc. could go on and on) He talked me in to going for a drink after dinner and his sis showed up. I wanted to leave b/c I felt like awful, burning up with fever, and he decided he wanted to stay and hang out w/HER. On Valentine’s Day. His sister. I was crushed. That is only one example. They talked, hung out, texted on the daily. He’d excuse himself from dinner on date nights to take 30 min phone calls from her and leave me sitting at the table, when I could not get him to return a text on some days. I’m best friends w/my sisters and both my parents so I appreciate tight knit fam but him and his sisters relationship was creepy and unsettling. And of course I am simply CRAZY and jealous according to him and was always “concocting” (his words) things in my head to be mad at him for. What? I’m doing my best to stay on the white horse. It’s been over 30 days since I’ve seen him and I cut him off. Toughest thing I’ve done in my 39 years. My heart is broken and I’m walking through life more uncomfortable than I’ve ever been. I have to believe it’s temporary.Thanks again for writing this. I visit your blog for strength pretty much every day. ?
The sister thing is beyond weird. Thank YOU Julia for your love and support! It means everything to me. I’m so glad that it helped!! 🙂 xo
Wow! Thank you for this blog! I just got out of a 7 month relationship with a “man” who had a very unhealthy attachment to his mother. He was perfect in the beginning & then slowly got too comfortable. I saw the red flags & they progressively got worse. My ex was 34 years old & had never lived away from his mother. On many occasions he told me that his mother would always be number one & that was non-negotiable. Whenever I had invited him to stay over at my place, he felt uncomfortable and kept making excuses. The weirdest excuse was he really enjoyed his morning routing having coffee every morning with his mother so he could not stay over. I had asked him if we could start our own routine…silence. He had also on several occasions told me he felt like his mother’s husband! Like WTF??? He finally agreed to start staying over once a week & after seeing him that one night (WITH NO SEX) he would ignore me for the rest of the week until his next sleepover.
I told him I want a lover, not a friend & flat out asked him where I fit in to his relationship with his mother. I also told him that he could only have one woman in his life. Well, guess who he chose? Mama of course. So after being ignored, no sex, and finding out that he secretly made an online profile for casual sex with 18 year olds, I had had enough and kicked this asshole to the curb. What a freakin’ waste of my time. I’m glad I didn’t waste more of my life on this moron. He was so dysfunctional in every way and definitely emotionally unavailable to everyone except his mother. When Natasha says RUN, you better believe it!
Thank you SO much for sharing Cate! You dodged a bullet! 🙂 xoxo
Yess thank you so much I’m going through the exact same thing literally ❤️
Recently ended a 4 yr relationship with a man who extremely inappropriate family dynamic…especially with his adult daughter. She wears low cut provocative type dresses, has never dated/no desire, and is excessively possessive and jealous of any other woman in his life…even her own mother.
EXHAUSTING AND CREEPY!
Wow this was a beautifully constructed read! Such words of wisdom. I am currently in a relationship where my boyfriend spends our entire dates texting his sister. If I even mention it or make a face he will just pretend to do homework and text her from his computer. It’s like they have an emotional relationship where I am the awkward third wheel. She consumes so much of his time I’m afraid he would never give his full heart to me if I ever married him so I hope I can find true love one day.
So happy it helped!! Thanks Ashley 🙂 x
Thank you. This was helpful, though difficult to read. I’ve been with my boyfriend for six years now. We were engaged several years ago, but I returned the ring and moved out because I began getting phone calls from an ex-girlfriend who informed me that she was his first call in the morning and last every night. The minute I found out it was true I left. I have obviously made the mistake of going back, and the infidelity has since been replaced with his sister. They take several vacations together every year (that I’m not invited on and usually not even aware of until he’s gone)…we’re talking romantic getaways. Creepy. I was finally invited to go with them three years ago. The day we returned she showed up at his place in tears, begging him to move in with her. He is still living there. She has been in pure bliss ever since and acts as if they’re a married couple. She is extremely venomous toward me. I spent years apologizing to her for what I believed was hurting her feelings for breaking off the engagement. Last year I came close to losing my life in a serious accident, so the dynamic in the relationship with my boyfriend has changed. He has been more attentive and made an effort….so I thought. I just found out that he lied about another trip they took last year (his friend mistakenly blew it. It was a guy’s trip I didn’t know about that she was included in…as is always the case). He has been talking about marriage again, and there’s a part of me that wonders if I’m simply a cover for whatever they have going on behind closed doors? She has not dated anyone in the time that I’ve known him, which is actually eight years. She is completely enamored with her brother. Some of the comments out of her mouth are truly unbelievable. I feel insane at times, although I know I’m not. I realize he’s not innocent in this, but he’s a good actor and I obviously buy into his b.s. because I love him. I know I should leave, but it’s so hard not to believe his lies. It’s exhausting to live with this absolute hatred in my heart for her. It’s not who I am, but it consumes me at times. Your article spelled it out in black and white, and that’s what I need to hear. Thank you.
Hi Marissa, I hear you and I feel your pain. I’m happy that the post helped. Just keep coming back here to the blog. You are understood, empathized with, loved, supported, backed, believed in and never, ever alone. All my love to you soul sister. XO
Hi Natasha.I am a frustrated girlfriend.My boyfriend co-sleeps with his 7 year old niece.She acts cold towards me and does not greet me when I am video calling him.She acts like a jealous girlfriend and takes all his attention when I see him in person.He does not do anything wrong but I fear that she will become too attached to him as she grows up.They cuddle and act like lovers.Again from his side nothing wrong is happening.His whole family is ohk with this sleeping arrangement.While I am talking to him on the phone she will throw a tantrum after a short period of time that she wants to go sleep now.Then he tells me that he must say goodnight.
It feels like they have emotional intimacy.I hate it.If I talk to him about it I fear that he wont understand and might leave me.
I am so frustrated.
I am so sorry that you’re in this very uncomfortable situation. I would have to know more details but it sounds inappropriate from what you are describing. Remember to ALWAYS have your back and do what is best for your mental health. Listen to your instinct. It exists to protect you.
All my love to you. Thank you for being you and for being a part of this tribe. You are not alone. xx
My husband is the same but with his whole family mother sister specialy is like i dont wanna make me sick more that i am but im telling that with me is always fighting lately always cover them up always wants perfection from me and never look to me like to a human more like an object ,so the problem is i have kids and is kinda scary to i would divorce him long time ago but the kids keep me down i dont love him at all anymore ,i told him and he always but always lies and never tell a truth so to me is over these marriage,,?sadto
say these after 10 years
I want to THANK YOU for this article. I just broke up with a man that I have been dating for 4 years and I have fought for 4 years against the weird relationship he has with both his Mom and his Sister. I feel as if you read my mind when writing this. His relationship with them has a major ick factor. Like prolonged hugs, hand holding in cabs, texting each other allll day, and even sleeping in his Mom’s bed sometimes. BTW, he’s 42. They were constantly trying to sabotage our relationship and get rid of me so they could have him all to themselves. I realized that I will never win and will always be the villain. This article helped solidfy that for me and gave me the confidence that walking away was the right call. So thank you.
Hi SM! Ahhh thank YOU so much for taking the time to share. I literally thought I was the only one for so long who had experienced this. Thank you x a million. All my love to you. XOX
Yes, run – I wish I had almost 28 years ago… instead I did NOT trust my gut as young woman and I was pregnant to boot w/our child. My hair went up on the back of my neck when I met his mom and brother given their treatment of me. I was expected to support and attend all my future SIL’s craft fairs and events she planned because so was my husband-to-be – her brother. I was appendage right from the start; they only wanted time with him…. he is the oldest of 3 siblings now all in their early 60s. My husband, I realized, is co dependent with both his siblings and his mom. Even 30 years later, his siblings are now ready to take the parents place in placing unreasonable demands on my spouse’s time and therefore me and our kids. There are so many examples it would take me pages to list them. For ex, the most recent one – his brother (with MH issues and estranged from his own teen daughter himself due to his demanding nature) … arrives for visit recently during our son’s b-day weekend and expects his brother (my spouse/my son’s father) to go out to a brother’s only night the same evening we are throwing a party for our son and his other teen friends…. yes!! So I’m just supposed to either be 1. OK with that and let him go w/no complaints 2. fight w/my husband and tell him what a douche bag he is for dumping this on me so he can hang w/his brother (who, by the way, napped through their original time they were supposed to get together in afternoon before the party like a toddler!) or 3. point out that my husband is only screwing himself by not standing up to his brother’s whims and demands – and that he’ll miss his own son’s party – did he want to miss those memories? This BIL of mine is the same BIL who 21 years ago ditched our wedding because his brother (my spouse) wouldn’t spend the day and evening before our wedding – yes, going to movies and having yes, a guy’s day together! So when my husband told his brother we had tons of wedding things to do – (it was a DIY wedding) his brother left and didn’t attend the wedding! I should have taken that second warning too… bad on me! His sister – my SIL – don’t even get me started – she’s her mommy-in-training to be a horror show as she ages to replace my MIL as #1problem. And it gets “better”… two summer’s ago – three days before my SIL’s first wedding at age almost 60- yes! – I found out my husband (her brother) had been cheating on me and our marriage for almost two years (while we have disabled son and a young adult daughter fighting cancer- not making this up!) – and the SIL wrote a email to my husband right after she got married – that I basically deserved being cheated on. At her wedding, where her mom and aunt (my MIL and AIL) knew the you-know-what had hit the fan in our marriage with affair coming out – both screamed at me and psychically attacked me for a minor infraction I made while helping to clean up at the reception. Now I have NOT been perfect DIL or SIL for 30 years but I knew in my gut in late 1980s/early 1990s that this family had some werid, codependent dynamics…. but being an ACOA myself I didn’t have the self esteem or confidence to say I wanted no part of them. My husband is still whipped by them and under their thumb but NOT ME. Not anymore That same week I found out about his affair (now over) and his sister/aunt/mom were so awful to me, I released myself from caring about them anymore. The phrase “Rejection is God’s protection” could not be more true… they truly showed their worst selves and were horror shows to me when I was at my lowest point emotionally as a wife, mom and human. Did they show compassion? No. Were they kind and caring and reach out? No. Did they not only now showing caring but used my vulnerability as the “perfect opportunity to go on the hunt and attack me? Yes. Are they like this w/each other – actually – yes, over decades I’ve noticed it – their rage-a-holism (my husband hid it the longest but his rage came out in his angry/mean affair) that they have directed at each other and me. I have not confronted them, written to them about this, discussed or let them know how I feel – I just disappeared from their lives; except for our daughter’s wedding this past fall, I do not spend time w/my husband’s parents or siblings or their horror show aunt. I’m not actively mean or cruel… I just can’t be around them. My priority is my own mental health post finding out about the affair and trying to save a marriage – not my relationship with them. Whether the marriage will continue is very much up in the air too – given my husband’s affair and his inability to stand up to his family of origin and chose loyalty to me and our family we created. He doesn’t know how to be loyal even to himself… their needs and well… their demands always came first. And he confronts them or gets angry at them – only me… and his affair was one angry event. So I just spent barely any time w/them – since that happened- almost two years ago. I told my husband that I want nothing to do with them as my best self doesn’t come out either around them , and that in fact, in order for our marriage to work and go on… the less time I spend around their toxicity the better. I don’t care if my husband or my children spend time with them. I would never forbid them from seeing one another; I just can’t be around them. I have given myself permission to take a pass on trying on anymore with them. His affair freed me from caring what they think of me or caring to try anymore. any thoughts anyone might have – including the author of this piece – would be welcome. I wish I had read it 30 or even 28 years ago… I would have run for the hills. We women don’t often trust our guts; if we did… and didn’t care so much about loyalty to others (over loyalty to ourselves) and being nice – we’d listen to ourselves more and choose our well being with ease and self-care and tenderness. I’m just learning how to do this at age 55 – don’t wait that long to put yourself first. Great article. Trust your heart, trust your mind and trust the evidence in front of you! I’m working to be my best self and heal through therapy and Al Anon – not just from his affair but from living with a mean, rejecting in-law family for almost 30 years. And I hope to be a much kinder, better MIL than my own was. Here’s hoping. Peace.
Thank you so much for sharing Molly. I’m happy that the post served you 🙂
I am so twisted up inside. Need some advice from an impartial source, please help. Here is my story……. I met a man two years ago. We became very close very fast. He was so good to me, treated me like I have never been treated before. Brought me flowers. Cooked for me. Cared about how I felt, listened to What I had to say. He would compliment me on how strong and intelligent that I am. He is very intelligent and educated, he moved back to England about four months later. We kept the relationship going even with the distance, for nearly 18 months. I would work extra hours and save my money. I flew over to visit twice during our time apart. We were totally happy. Hated being apart. Spoke everyday several times a day about who we are , what we wanted out of life. Decided that we wanted to get married. This past December I have up my nursing job, liquidated everything I had, and moved over to England to be together. I had met his family on my previous visits did not find anything out of the ordinary. I loved all of them. Especially his sister. He is 55 and she is 46 . I am 45. She and I got along great. She was excited to have another sister in me someone To Talk To, She Said Many Times. Anyway, A Few things Caught my Attention . Not right away. But within the first three weeks I was there. First, her and her husband and their two children came over for a Friday night to play games and visit. Everyone was drinking but I don’t drink much. I did drink some. At one point his sister was talking to me on the stairs of our house. She told me her husband had gotten offended at some point in the previous months because when my boyfriend would spend Friday night’s at their house watching movies he would sit in the floor by the couch where she sits and would rub her inner thigh and she demonstrated it as she spoke. I was shocked at first. And in my ignorance just tried to rationalise that maybe it was a different culture thing. I couldn’t imagine he would be inappropriate. She is by personality very dominate and set in her opinions. She explained that she told her husband to get over it that was her brother and it didn’t bother her. The next day knowing my boyfriend had been concerned that his sister and her husband had been having issues. I confided in him what she had told me.I stated it they were having issues it might not be a good idea to add to them. He didn’t deny it only stated he wondered why his sister hadn’t told him. I said I do not know. I wasn’t sure why she even told me. Weeks went by she wouldn’t respond much to my text messages but would text him to ask if I wanted to go for a walk or coffee or whatever but only twice. I felt like she was avoiding me but I wasn’t all that bothered by it. He and I had lists of catching up on spending time together to do. We enjoyed each other’s company more than being around everyone else. He commented to me several times for different reasons about how big his sister’s breasts are, but not really ever saying a trying inappropriate. But no doubt that he likes the big breasts, mine aren’t as large but not anywhere near small i really wasn’t offended much by that. We went over to his sister’s on a few occasions all of which me and her husband would be left sitting in the living room staring at the tv or each other, while the two of them hung out in the kitchen. Her husband pointed it out requesting they return multiple times but she does what she wants , trust me. That guy doesn’t have a chance .. Anyway on one occasion my boyfriend and I were sitting next to each other in the floor watching TV with the two of them on the couch. My boyfriend stated to me he had a hang nail on on of his toes and it was bothering him , I took a look and told him we would need to get the clippers and take care of it. All of a sudden his sister jumped in the floor and bent down and bit the nail off with her teeth. I was offended by that I admit. Not only the hygienic aspect of it but. I just thought it weird. At that time my boyfriend did nothing but later said it made him uncomfortable as well. Her husband said her name in distress when she did it. My boyfriend and I left a bit later got into an argument about whether or Not some things in the relationship with his sister is it is not inappropriate.. .. He now believes that it’s just me being insecure. And if I try to talk to him about it be ends up making me feel like there is something wrong with me for being uncomfortable with the situation. Says I am accusing them of incest. But I never said they were ever having sex. I did get angry with him in the end when I was intoxicated once and said i f she was what he wanted to ahead . I was sick of it and done with it. Not the right thing to do and no excuse. … What do you think.
Hi Rachel! Thank you so much for sharing. I have too much to say to type it all out and not enough hands to type or hours in the day (I know you understand and I thank you so much for your love, sisterhood, support, and for being a part of this tribe).
Bottom line: In my opinion, this is beyond a red flag. This behavior is extremely inappropriate.
I do offer one-on-one coaching if you are interested. The link to it is on the homepage. All my love to you sister. You are not alone.
You are not alone xxx
I have a problem. I’m freaking out. I have been dating this guy for over a year now, and I truly love him. Lately he has talked a lot about marriage and it excites me so much. But tonight, things took a turn for the worst. I’m an extreme worry-wart. I get it from my dad. I’m just so paranoid about things and when a thought comes up in my mind, it’s hard to make it go away instead of fester.
He used to cheat on me a lot. Like constantly with many different girls. Then he changed and I believe he really did, I think he just needed to grow up and get over his commitment issues. Now he’s all in and there’s nothing that he seems to ever try to hide. It may be hard to believe, and sometimes it’s still hard for me to believe he’s truly changed his ways. And when I think of scenarios that he would cheat on me again, I can’t get them to go away. And this particular one is pretty messed up.
He’s visiting his family 26 hours away from where I am, and it’s the longest time we’ve spent apart since we got back together, so I’m already kind of on edge.
He told me he’s going to stay at his aunts house because she’s lonely because her husband is away. He has told me before that he thinks she is pretty, which I thought was fairly normal. Well, I hate that it has already crossed my mind at this point but it has. So then everything is fine, he’s texting and snap chatting me while he’s there. Then it stops. For 30 minutes+, he just won’t respond. So I end up calling. He answers. He sounds out of breath. He responds to my snap and his top-layered shirt buttons are buttoned a little lower. At this point I’m worried it’s all in my head so I can’t say anything. If I said something I would sound crazy, he would hate me if I was wrong… I start looking up articles about this happening and my fear gets worse. I start looking at his aunts Facebook to find the times he has been there before. I find pictures from before her wedding, of them at the beach, and she had taken a lotttttt of pictures of him. Just him. No one else. And there was one, where she was sitting beside him in her bikini, and he looked like he was staring at her boobs. I scrolled and found a post where she had said she needed new boobs, and he liked it. He liked all her pictures of herself. She is gorgeous. So am I still crazy for thinking something is weird? Idk. But he can tell something is up with me. He starts trying to pull it out of me. I cave and I tell him. He told me that’s disgusting and fucked up, and that he doesn’t want to talk to me. He said he needs to sleep on it and he will tell me how he feels in the morning. I feel awful, I feel crazy. While I want to be wrong, if I am, I feel like we won’t be able to come back from this. I’m so scared he hates me and that this is going to make him rethink us entirely. I’m worrying so much again. Please help. I’m sure by the time I get a response there will be more that has occurred, but I just really want to know, was I crazy? Should I not have said anything?
I guess there’s more of this going around than I thought. At the end of 2006, I met a man in his 50’s who had 4 siblings. 3 females and 1 male. 2 of the females were twins and my age which at the time was early 40’s. He had a 3 family house and the twins had 1 apartment, his parents had 1 apartment, and he occupied his own apartment. The other female sibling lived in her own house with her boyfriend in New Jersey and his only brother lived with his wife in Hawaii. I don’t think his parents paid rent but his sisters did. Still probably less than market value.
He had basically helped support his family his whole life because and to quote him, his father was a “degenerate gambler”.
To move on with the story, he and I didn’t live far from each other in Queens, NY and met at a Christmas party one of my friends invited me to. It seemed he took to me right away and I thought I found Mr. Right. Wrong.
Before long I noticed that his sisters and mother always needed him for something and on one occasion, he had to pay off a $2,000 gambling debt for his father who I was told had schizophrenia. He mentioned that he felt like he had taken a paternal role with his family early on. No sh!t.
He had a full-time job but would have to take his mother places and God, would she waste his time. He once took her to 3 stores to buy an air conditioner because she couldn’t find what she wanted. I found that to be ludicrous, but hey, that was his mother. That’s what I told myself.
Then it became apparent how reliant his sisters were on him and just how obliging he was. On one particular occasion, one of his sisters got a nail stuck in one of the tires of her car and he ended up looking for a mechanic’s shop with her after a full day of work mind you. She was obviously very picky as well because he said they went to THREE places, ended up not having the tire repaired, and he ended up taking the car in for her the next morning before work. This is a man who was a foreman in a cemetery and worked steadily.
Well before long, I realized that they were his life. Through the grapevine, I’d heard that the reason he never married was probably the fault of his family and I could understand why.
I think he liked the fact that I was self-employed and had my own money because God knows, he had to utilize his finances and energy to take care of them. Over time though, and it didn’t really take that long, I became realistic and therefore annoyed. This was not going to work. After the incident with his sister and her car, I told him that it was ridiculous that he had to cater to her after a hard day of work. He had complained about it. He didn’t take the truth well and noted that I helped my teenaged children and my children in their early 20’s. Well, they were still young. He was enabling what should have been independent women. He was acting like he had kids to take care of.
We broke up and then got back together. It was a waste of my time. A friend of mine told me that his relationship with his sisters was creepy. I initially thought it to be too co-dependent in just a general way but she was right. It was creepy and abnormal. Some close friends even mentioned incest and I was just like no… But did I know what the heck went on behind closed doors when I wasn’t with him at his home?
Well his father died a few years after our so called relationship was over. I saw him a few times after that and needless to say, being around him was unbearable.
As far as their living situation now, I guess it’s very telling. He sold his 3 family house and bought a large single family house in Westchester with 5 bedrooms. They no longer even have separate apartments! He has no girlfriend as far as I know and is doing what he did in the past… Going out to restaurants and events with his sisters. I found this out through photos on Facebook.
I really don’t know why people like this seek out relationships unless they do it just to appear normal. There were other incidents aside from the ones I mentioned but there’s no need to even waste time writing about them. He was never going to give up his life with them and that meant he had no time for a normal life as a full time husband. Our physical relationship had left a lot to be desired as well.
In closing, I had no problem extricating myself from the situation because they were always going to come first. Anyone who meets a man with family dynamics like this need to just walk away from the start.
Thank you endlessly for taking the time to share. I agree with you – sometimes people seek out others who can be a “relational beard” for them. By association, they’re viewed as functional by being in (and able to maintain) a relationship with a partner who gives them “emotional functionality/street cred,” by being with them. So much more to say. I will try to write about this again soon.
Thank you for your love, support, for being a part of this tribe and for being the light that you are. All my love to you. xx
My ex has 3 older children from a previous marriage and a sister who is 47 and going thru a divorce as we speak and doesnt have money to get her own place. He is also extremely close to his parents. We areboth 45. His dad was over all of the time and would get very annoyed that i would come around. I tried to do nice things for them and his children throwing parties for their bdays, anniversary ect picking up his son at his ex home and she wasnt very kind to me, buying and giving them things just to accept me. His kids, all but one had a very hard time dealing with me being around after their parents divorced. After arguing constantly for his kids being upset for him dating me for 2 years, we broke up. He then contacted me a month and a half later and we got back together and i moved in for 10 months. His dad quit coming around telling his sister that he didnt feel comfortable with me there. I even spoke to my exs mother and apologized for them not feeling welcome. She was fine, it was his dad . That was never my intent. I talked to my boyfriend all of the time and he recognized that they were jealous or felt i was trying to take him away from thwm but he would never defend me or even tell them to try and accept me because he loved me. I never wanted him to choose me over his family, just find a healthy balance of different relationships. His sister started coming around more since she is going thru a divorce asking my mother to help get me and their dad taken care of. By the way my mom is going thru cancer and that was the day she lost her hair and his sister asked her to do this. My mother doesnt even know her that well. I feel like she was trying to push me out so she could move into the house I started to feel resentment and my boyfriend was very upset with his family stating he was going to talk to them. He was supposed to during the weekend and he never did. He was the ine to mention it as well, i did not ask him to. It hurt my feelings so bad and i blew up and said horrible things about his family, which im very regretful about, which in turn caused him to break up with me. We talked about marriage and he was never going to let anyone influence him in our relationship again and thats exactly what ended up happening. I know it isnt right but i just have a strange feeling we arent over or it shouldnt be because we were so in love and never argued about anything other than his family. I could understand if i was mean to their dad or son or them, but I wasnt. I never said one thing to any of them, I just voiced it to my boyfriend. Im so lost without him and ended up moving out last weekend and staying with my mother until she gets better. My family was always so respectful to him and his family and he was always welcome and treated very well. He is a very kind person but he never supports me with how I feel. He processes things very slowly and then realizes the situations more clearly. I dont know if im just having false hope we will work this out again simce it happeepned before, or if he is really done. Im just devistated about all of this. I cant get him off of my mind! Please give me advice if you have time.
I wish that I had the time to write a response but I do not have enough hours in the day or hands to type. I would also need more details. This is why I cannot advise in the comments (I appreciate you, your kindness, and understanding), but do offer one-on-one coaching if you are interested. I am so sorry that you are going through this. Keep coming back here to the blog – You are never alone. Sending you big love. xoxo
This is such a great article, thank you. I’m in love with a man who I feel has been wearing a mask. He always said he was really close to his sister, which I admired. But when I met her I realised that all the red flags I’d been ignoring were RED FLAGS! Without going in to details, she only spoke about herself and her “special” relationship with her brother, and more about herself (how she had to leave the city because it’s a superficial place, how some guy broke her heart 20 years ago etc.). She’s was talking how much he’s disappointed her and let himself down, even though he’s so smart. She wanted him to join her abroad when she herself left, but he didn’t in the end.. They even shared dishes at the restaurant…
I told him about it all and how it’s fuelling his lack of self-worth and his anxiety / depression / addiction problems… to hardly any avail. It’s hard to watch someone being punished like that – he has never known anything else (she’s older). They Skype every other day and message each other every night…
When I slowly realised what was going on I had to say something and point out that its the root of his problems, and he is refusing to acknowledge this might be the case.. feeling like I’ve “lost”, I feel lost. Not a position I want to be in… It seems he has chosen her, but still wants me around. I told him I don’t want him to stop contact, but it needs to be evaluated and they need healthy boundaries. He likes that there are no boundaries… He thinks it’s something “rare”. Never mind the fact that I’m not the first woman to point this out.. nor that his sister is literally getting in the way of his romantic / sex life. Weird, not to see how weird this all is… sigh…
So happy that the post helped and yes this is a definite red flag. This is very common – more than I could have ever imagined before I wrote this. All my love to you – You are not alone. xo
Hi Natasha, I actually discovered this post about 6-8 months ago. I just packed my belongings for the second time in two years. My boyfriend and I have had our challenges, but we have had a lot of fun and love as well. He came on very strong in the beginning. He told me he loved me after one month. He also told me early on that his sister said we ‘wouldn’t last’ when he told her about me and how fond he was of me. His father left when he was 6 years old, abruptly and his mother moved them back to the Midwest from Phoenix where they had moved to support his father’s career. He told me how afraid he was when his father left; how abandoned he felt. He also told me how his mother left him at a store when he was about 6 years old because he cried about a toy she told him they could not afford. His sister told him that I flirted with men at her holiday party after we were together for about a year and she claimed women called and reported/complained about me post party. I was wearing a $20 TJ Maxx dress; her friends were all dripping with diamonds and wearing $1K outfits. We got back together and he admitted to me that his sister kept telling him that there were numerous complaints that I was flirting with men….one month after the fact.
She lived in another state so I didn’t see her much but I saw her once,, unexpectedly when I met him at his mother’s house (who lives in the same town as his sister). She told me ‘our break up wasn’t her fault; she didn’t do anything’ I just kept apologizing and said I was ‘mortified’ and hoped we could get past it. She kept saying ‘it wasn’t me!’…well then WHO told her brother of all of these erroneous complaints??
The first time I met her. The three of us met for lunch (we were dating long distance for about 6 mos and he had mentioned me quite a bit to her). She was in from out of town. She asked me how old I was, before she said ‘hello’ and proceeded to ask me where I grew up, what my father did for a living, where I went to school, etc. etc. etc…and then, the piece de resistance, she said “why do you visit my brother all of the time? It’s SO STRANGE/WEIRD!’ I had played along with her ‘interview/socio-economic’ sizing me up questions and had finally had it. I said very calmly but effectively “Because your brother is HOT! “…paused a few minutes and then said “And we actually enjoy each other’s company’…she turned up her nose and rolled her eyes…I mentioned to him as we pulled away “did you notice how your sister tried to size me up socio-economically”…he of course down-played it and said she was just trying to get to know me and probably nervous. She is older than me and not the least bit shy..very beautiful and confident/intrusive by my standards.
She mentioned she hated children during our second meeting (never had kids), she mentioned a stripper who rented an apartment from her and her husband (seemed like she wanted her brother to ask more about the stripper), I changed the subject and asked about her husband’s upcoming neck/spinal surgery, she shrugged and said she ‘didn’t know’ what it was for….I went for a run and she prodded me about ‘WHY? do I exercise??”
I started to see red flags and started to realize I could not ask direct questions about her incessant calls, texts, and line of questioning when she did call him when I was visiting. I visited on the weekends because I lived in another city. Once I was getting a colonoscopy. He was taking me. She called and texted like a fiend trying to get free concert tickets. This was one of the first times I noticed that she was sort of ‘obsessed’ with her brother!
So many red flags, so many gut instincts. Meanwhile, he slowly is losing sexual interest in me (I moved in after we got back together and were together just over one year)…stopped kissing, no more snuggling, no more ‘I love you’….just sex without kissing, not much foreplay and I also noticed all along, if things were going well he would speak with her and suddenly he would become distant and aloof……there was a definite pattern.
I know enough about sexual abuse/incest to know that if someone experiences it as a child they have difficulty showing affection, emotion, and intimacy. All the signs were there…however, I wasn’t suspicious of his mother or step mom or aunt…I was suspicious of his overbearing sister who already broke us up once!
I decided to ask him after getting verbally attacked because I tried to get romantic with him…forget affection or kissing anymore and no more ‘I love you’s’….naturally he would not admit it. I made it as safe to admit ‘something out of the ordinary happened to him in his childhood’…..fast forward (because I am typing too much)….we meet with his sister and her husband and father and step mom out of town and she is very nice…he told me the issues are in the past….two months later we meet at a family wedding also out of town and she tells me she needs to speak with me…I told her she looked beautiful and hugged her and acted ‘normal’ rather than cautious and walking on eggshells. She waited until after the guests were leaving and took me aside and insulted me. Using words that she would not be privy to because we had only met maybe five times in two years…insulted me and told me she did not like me and would NOT bother with me…but since he SEEMS to like me she would try to get to know me…because he SEEMS to like me….I had tears running down my face and she told me since my mouth was shut, maybe she could get to like me because I might be capable of listening to her….mind you, I have barely spoken to her in the two years I have been with him….so her statements are unwarranted..unless it is information he has provided to her….we all left the event…he and I went back to the hotel and I told him what she said to me and he just kept saying “I don’t know what happened, I wasn’t there…and I started to speak louder and he told me to ‘SHUT UP or I will take you to the airport!” He also told me over and over that he didn’t know what was said because he wasn’t there….and SHUT UP or I will take you to the airport…I finally left and we got together a few days later and we broke up…he finally admitted after we split up that what she did was wrong……
Thank you so much for taking the time to share <3 This is an issue that I clearly need to write more about because many experience it. Thank you for affirming that I am/was never alone in my experience with this and thank you for being a part of this tribe.
You're not alone and from what you wrote, very lucky to get out of this dynamic. All my love to you. XOX
Thank you, Natasha! I was blaming myself, like I could have handled her character assasination/attack differently and maybe we would still be together. However, I have to accept and realize he never would have admitted her wrongdoing. It was all always my fault and I was believing it and jumping through hoops to make it work! His whole family was in denial, but I’m telling you, my gut knew all along! Ladies! Run! Don’t walk to the nearest exit if you ever sense something like this! Don’t let them tear you down and twist the truth and make you think uou’re crazy! They will lie and manipulate to protect themselves and hang you out to dry! I left the hotel wheee we weee staying and he didn’t even try to contact me until the next day! I had enough! Thanks again!
So proud of and happy for you sister 🙂 Thank you for helping so many through sharing your story. Love you xox
O God help. My boyfriend of 20 years and I live above his sister in her house. When we first had sex 20:years ago u asked if he had sex with any one else and I thought no but he said, “my sister “. Well at the time I didn’t care cause he was just a casual friend up til then and I didn’t think it would go on between us anyway. Well it did go on and his sister moved in below us and she is very controlling of him and there unaccounted for time lapses in what and where he says he’s going and doing. There are many creepy other things but he denies it all now. What the fucking hell should I do?
Same goes for a man and his kids. If he isn’t the adult parent with boundaries, then he will fold like a chair to them and just get silent like Natasha’s ex did when his Mom bashed her. The kids in turn will act out and be disrespectful.
wow ! i dated a guy for a year who shared everything with his mom AND his ex wife (who lived next door)
he and the ex would enter each others homes without knocking and attended all the kids functions together as if
they were still a family. He plowed her snow, did home repairs etc.
I brought my concerns up many times. The last time he told me he was going to cut wood for her b/c she hadn’t gotten a paycheck for 2 weeks (her mother lives with her and is wealthy) I broke if off, explaining why. He went into a tailspin saying I have emotional problems, and am insecure.
I never did figure out why he was still so attached to her. He divorced her 7 years ago !
the kids are 17 & 19.
it just felt wrong in my gut.
Thanks for the article ?
So happy that the post helped and that you listened to your gut <3 xo
Oh boy ! When they say that “hindsight is 20/20 vision” they are sooooo right !
My ex-husband had an odd relationship with his family – never wanted to visit his parents when we were dating.
When his sister got married he didn’t want to go to the wedding. (this was before we were married) – said it was his shift work and he couldn’t get the time off.
I accepted that (although I thought it was odd) and carried on seeing him. I should have walked away then.
I hope your readers will listen to your wise words and don’t make the mistake I did as I married a guy who was emotionally shut-down.
I would say to anyone LISTEN TO YOUR GUT!
(Capitals for emphasis – not shouting)
Thank you *so much* for sharing. I’m happy that the post helped 🙂
All my love to you soul sister. xo
I am very curious as well because I’ve gone through the mom relationship which ended with my SO mom cursing me out and he stood up to her and she didn’t speak to him for 6 months. She never Apologized to me just went on with their relationship like nothing happened. Like she didn’t ignore his calls for 6 months. Now I am dealing with his sister relationship which feels like he is her father. She is deaf But works as a coach at a fitness center and received payment for her disability. She is 34 and throws fits like a teen and everyone accepts it. She threw her phone during the last one and my SO ran and added a phone on to his plan for her. She blew up her car because she doesn’t do anything for herself and he has to go fix it. She has a key to our home and every time she comes she leaves with food from our home or eats all my kids chips or something. I feel guilty for being irritated by her but he invites her on everything we do and I feel bad saying no. The 3 of them are close because dad left his mom they depend on him and I can’t be a priority because they are his #1. It is going on 4 years I handle all his company’s billing and I was downloading some forms and realized he often screen shots and saves his sisters selfies and it creeps me out like why does this bother me?
I believe this is off-topic, but I had been looking for articles related to my situation to make me feel better. I’ve been in an on again off again relationship with a very intelligent man for the past four years. After we started dating it was apparent that his 30-year-old daughter was extremely possessive and jealous and in his words “ hysterical“ when she realized that we had started dating. She never once would have a conversation or even try get to know me, even though I and my boyfriend tried many times to do just that; she also didn’t want her mother around when they were married. There were numerous texts and phone calls from her and her brother about their father being out with me or thinking that we were texting too much, etc. Keeping in mind that these kids are highly educated adults in their 30s and seems their only goal was to make sure their father was still focused only on them. Very inappropriate family dynamics taking place, especially how the daughter dresses and behaves in front of her father. Low cut provocative dresses (like she’s trying to entice him ) and actions that indicate things that weren’t appropriate. Additionally my boyfriend at the time told me that it doesn’t appear that she has any desire to date and in fact has never been on a date with anybody. The daughter manipulated my boyfriend to the extent that she wouldn’t talk to him nor she or her brother have any holidays together as long as he and I were still together. So basically they pretty much cut him off because we were dating. I tried to get to know both of them on many occasions and they would not even consider a conversation. My boyfriend’s other relatives on the other hand were very fond of me and felt we were a good couple. They also added that it didn’t matter who I was the daughter would not want another woman to be around her father. . . I know it’s probably too much for this posting but I wasted a lot of time that I should’ve gotten out a long time ago and I’m still struggling with the whole inappropriate situation over there. How was such a highly intelligent people, can behave in such a way. And how would they recognize inappropriate family dynamics when there’s a part of this themselves. I feel that he is completely to blame for how they turned out this way, but the kids are also to blame because they are educated adults who should know better at this point. At the end of the day he’s allowed them to interfere with our relationship and has contributed to manipulating our time together because of their jealous possessive behavior. Still working through this.
Froma guys perspective, my girlfriend’s brother’s approval of our relationship was required and she didnt want to ask him. He was ok with her dating his friends but not going to be ok with me because im successful and could take her away. The brother had a weird sexual history, had slut shamed her in her past and spread gossip and dirty pictures of her. He recently had consecutive girlfriends who turned to lesbianism after dating him. She refuses to talk to him about us and requested freedom to hang out with him and his friends (not the ex supposedly). She also told me he degrades her body in front of friends and constantly asks about her dating life, pushing his friends on her. I was weak and allowed this situation for a few months but then became irritated and broke up with her. She swore she would take care of it at the “right time” but I never felt that she would. They also slept in the same bed when they were together. Otherwise, we had a perfect relationship :). Seriously, that was the only issue but she wouldnt budge, never accepted my feelings and stated my brother sint even that important to me. I called her out on that but it didnt help.
My last boyfriend couldn’t understand why his attractive sister walking around the house in her panties bothered me… yes, even when we would be hanging out in his room, she would enter without permission and just hang around. My ex would just politely avert his eyes and seemed to accept this, but it bothered his brother and youngest sister immensely… which even his mother pointed out once. My ex loathed his mom, claimed she was a compulsive liar. But I never once caught her in a lie. She really liked me and was a lonely, broken woman. (My ex’s father cheated on her with someone half her age, left her and the kids, then married the new woman after he knocked her up. My ex idolized his father in many ways, showing no sympathy to his mother.) Lots of red flags. The irony is he accused my cousin and I of incest.
My cousin and I are aware that we have odd boundary issues but we keep it in check whenever we are in a relationship. We have never so much as kissed, but when we were younger we did have a crush on each other. Pretty innocent adolescent stuff in hindsight, same as one might experience with a new friend. Nevertheless, he is a licensed therapist and we have both had very open and direct conversations addressing our dynamic. We both expressed gratitude for having never acted upon our feelings as kids, and compassion for those who have unfortunately not addressed their own codependent dynamics with family. It is painful and embarrassing to address, but it must be done to lead a good life with a healthy romantic relationship.
The amount of people I’ve known who have actually had consensual sex with a blood-related relative is ASTOUNDING. And very very sad, as it points to serious psychological and emotional issues. It isn’t okay. It has to be addressed.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience and shedding light on this in such a kind, inclusive, and non-judgemental way as I tried to do). I appreciate you, T!
Oh Natasha! Where should I start? I’ve even gone in for therapy and worked with a coach for many many years to become free…and when I finally did leave him…I had the opportunity to leave him for good but I took him back when he knocked at my door begging to be taken back and promising never to hurt me again. Well 6 years later, I now have two kids and his inappropriate family dynamics continue…its so heartbreaking at times when they treat me like garbage and he says absolutely nothing to them. I have completely stopped talking to them but today after several years he mentioned to me his sister created some group where she labeled it best bro…he sends them expensive gifts too but when I want something for myself or the kids there’s just such drama and i hate to feel like an entitled wife but his sisters are so mean and they get away with so much nonsense it just breaks my heart…i want to avoid the victim mentality though since my therapist diagnosed me with trauma and im scared it’ll happen again. I’m creating a lot of art at the moment as an outlet. Thanks for your article, it helps to know I’m not alone.
I’m so happy that this post helped; I live to give everything that I wish I would have had. You are not alone.
All my love to you, sister. xo
Thanks Natasha. I have suspicions with my fiancée right now. When his sister was pregnant he texted these messages like these “ I can’t wait to see u back and my new baby on the way. I want at least one rummy rub.” These are his text messages to his pregnant sister. And he also has an odd relationship with his mom. I don’t know what to feel but my gut is telling me that something is going creepy between them.
What should I do?
I would need to know more details and it is impossible for me to advise here in the comments (thank you so much for your kindness and understanding). But I would listen to your gut always. Honor what it’s telling you <3 All my love to you, soul sister. Xox