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My mother does not approve of my boyfriend.

Emotional Context

To provide context - my boyfriend worked with my Mother. She was the executive of the company. I referred my current boyfriend(back then he was my friend) to the company. They hired him. After he started working there we started dating each other. For various reasons, he was not able to perform well on the job. This was in the first 6 months of the job. And stupid me back then kept telling him that if he is not going to perform in his job then I would leave him. Lot of drama and stress happened for 1.5 years. We broke up twice.

He quit the company after 1.5 years and we broke up too. After 6 months, it was very hard for me to reconcile why I broke up with him. We have been steadily going strong.

Personality Context

My Mother is dominating determined woman. She keeps telling me that he is not the right person for me. He is not ambitious, he is not driven etc.

My boyfriend is more of the zen kinds. He does not believe in burning himself out on the job. He has worked for great companies. He is extremely smart and has got great grades throughout his childhood. The company he worked for above was his only down period.

My Father has been unwell for almost 18 years now and for most of my adolescent and adult life my mom has been very close to me. She has been my biggest support and I share everything with her. I am the only kid and I have no siblings. My mother in some ways is materialistic. She believes in the "brand" of things. Like which school did he graduate, where is he working, is he the director of xyz ... And my boyfriend is not that. He has done extremely well, but he is not the director and neither does he aspire to.

Current context Recently my boyfriend was visiting me and I had to tell my Mother(because she suddenly planned a trip to visit me). So, when I told her my boyfriend is visiting me for few weeks she completely flipped out. She started saying that I don't like him, I don't approve him etc. We spoke only for ten minutes but it was emotionally very exhausting.

I have been working with my Mother from the past 2 years on this. I have been trying to tell her that its my decision and my life. I will decide whom I date, when I want to get married and whom I want to get married to. She seems stuck and does not get past it.

What is the best way to handle a deadlock situation like this? I do not think she will change her mind about him. I have come to terms with that now. I think she keeps saying all those things(where she puts pressure) with me, because she feels that I will break up with my boyfriend - That is not going to happen!! I am committed to him and I don't think her disapproval is a reason for me to break up. I have tried in the past and it does not stick.

I want to add why I like my boyfriend. He is a great partner. I am inspired by him. I learn a lot from him. He is lovable, caring and honest. He is the person I want to be with. I have known him for the past 8 years and we have been together on-off for the past 5 years - with past 2 years being more stable. I have no reason to walk away from him.

My question:

As previously iterated how does one handle a situation of this kind? I feel extremely frustrated and helpless.

Any help would be appreciated. I understand that this is a common situation when parents don't approve of their children's partners but being the only child and my father being unwell puts a lot of emotional stress on me to be a good child. My Mother has done a lot for me and I feel have a lot of gratitude in my heart. She is the best Mother I can ever ask for. She has brought me up to be a strong, independent woman. And now I feel she is taking all this power away from me. She is not trusting me. I understand she comes from a place of concern but if there is one decision I want to make for my life - it would be this.

Thank you for your time and patience!

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    Welcome to Interpersonal Skills. Please take a moment to visit the help center and take the tour. Could edit your question to add some cultural tags? A lot of issues regarding family depend heavily upon cultural context. It would also be helpful if you could provide some information about specific goals you wish to achieve. Asking how to handle a situation is a rather broad question which makes it harder for people to provide quality answers. – sphennings May 4 '18 at 3:27
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Let's start by putting ourselves in the shoes of your mother and what she knows about your boyfriend.

From the time she worked with him on the job she knows for a fact that he was a lazy worker that didn't take the job seriously. He completely lacked ambition to grow and eventually (had to?) quit that job.

In her eyes you confirmed this as well by ending the relationship at that point. The fact that you didn't really have a stable relationship (except for the past 2 years) has shown that you didn't really fit together that well either.

When looking at it like that she has a solid ground to warn you that he's most likely not fit as a future husband for you.

So I'm assuming the most important question you're actually asking is how can you 2 have constructive conversations about your relationship with your boyfriend.


I suggest you initiate the conversation by telling your mom how fighting over breaking up with your boyfriend is hurting your relationship with your mother. Tell her how you miss being able to talk to her as your closest friend like you used to and that you want to have more constructive conversations again.

You can word it however you want but the most important thing here is that you remain calm no matter what she says. This will also go well with the following thing I would do:

Make it clear that you have 1 big rule when you 2 are going to talk about your boyfriend. That is that you will try your best to listen to your mothers advice but if she even suggests that you have to break up with him you will end the conversation at that point and walk away (or hang up the phone/skype, or if she's visiting you send her away).

If it happens you should actually do it as well. Walk away (/hang up/...) to prevent ending up fighting. At this point you should be able to still remain calm. Teach your mother that if she wants to have quality time with her daughter she should respect your feelings as well.

If your mother agrees with that rule (not that she has much choice since you'll just enforce it anyway) you can actually start talking about your boyfriend again.

An important point here is to never respond to one of her concerns by directly denying it. Instead try to understand why it concerns her and why she thinks it's so important.

Then explain that you might have different priorities. You think it's more important that he's happy with a "lower" possition where he doesn't have to worry constantly about all the people under him. So that when he comes home after work he still has time and energy left over to give attention to you rather than drop down on the couch exhausted. Maybe (most likely) he had different reasons for not really doing his best on that job he did together with your mother and he's actually doing a lot better at his current job. So that contrary to how she remembers him, he's now actually putting in a lot of effort at his job.

Make sure you actually do try to understand how she feels. There's a high chance that her strong feelings aren't actually against your boyfriend but more about missing you as well.

  • "he was a lazy worker" is something you made up. You should re-read what the OP wrote and change that line. – gnasher729 Jul 29 '18 at 20:44
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    That part of the answer is an exagerated example of what the mother might think. I thought it was clear enough that it was just a pessimistic guess of the mother's point of view. @gnasher729 you think I should explicitely mention it in the answer? – Imus Jul 30 '18 at 7:19
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My suggestions here might be quite general as am lacking of some more details (e.g. like what are you current status, are you working? ...and so on), so it will based on your context and some assumptions.

Anyhow, I assumed that you have thought it through and have a firm decision of going on with your boyfriend, whom probably later will become your SO.

Obviously, you mum wanted the best for you because she loves you. Her rejection to your boyfriend could come from her years of experiences where she has came across with all kinds of people, and he does not fit the bill of a good husband material.

So, first thing first... have you give a thought about the future with your boyfriend?

  • Once you got the answers, convey to your mum. Let her know that this is not just about loving your boyfriend, but you both do have plans for the future. You can also let her know that you don't need to live a luxury life (I am assuming this based on the context).
  • You have also mentioned that you learnt and inspired a lot from your boyfriend. Tell you mum as well, and how it has made you changed as a better person.
  • Acknowledge your mum's love to you, and you do understand her concerns, but let her know that you will feel devastated and heartbroken leaving your boyfriend.
  • Seek trust from your mum, and asked her to believe and give you time (probably 2~3 more years or longer) to show that both of you are working out the plans towards the future.
  • You may also your mum if there's anything to change her perspective of your boyfriend or anyways to accept him.

Despite you said that your mum could be quite materialistic, but I believe the major concerns from her would be "will my daughter be happy (and sustainable) for her life" (and not just at the current moment), which is probably why she would mind a lot of your boyfriend's background.

Hence, having answers to the future will at least show that you have thought it through and are serious about it. You know what both of you and your boyfriend want and are working on it. And hopefully, that will give her some trust and assurance.

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    Not so much about the meat of your answer (and maybe nitpicking), but it's my understanding that "boyfriend" is a subset of SO, or Significant Other. In other words, if he's a boyfriend, he's already an SO. – scohe001 May 4 '18 at 4:31

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