My girlfriend's mom is upset with me over girlfriend's decision on a car.

Her position

  • A car that's around 5 or 6 years old with more than 80k miles will just break down (~80k is high milage)
  • Such a car will break down at night and GF will get assaulted
  • By suggesting otherwise I'm "interfering" and also disregarding GF's safety
  • I advised the less thrifty option (but I think this is just of secondary importance to her)

I was advising that GF just gets a used car to save money. Her mom thinks I disrespected her authority by doing so (GF did follow my advice) and she sent me a lengthy text expressing her disapproval. This happened early February. I haven't had contact with her mom since.

I think it's important to note that the mom is a Taiwanese immigrant (English is a second language), and middle-aged.

What's been tried

Nothing. Her dad advised me to just say nothing, as she just gets mad like this sometimes and that she'll get over it.

However, she is apparently still mad about it. So I'm not sure how to go about apologizing.

My Ideas

  1. I could just send a text reply back
  2. I could sent a gift with a note (she seems to value gifts)
  3. Both

Having read Dale Carnegie I know I've got to just accept I'm in the wrong to her. And I have a vague idea of what to say exactly, if I reply with a text. But I don't know if it's better to just be brief and to the point, or more wordy and "flowery"? Is there anything I should avoid saying at all costs?

  • 1
    Questions asking 'what should I do' or variants thereof (which includes asking the site to pick an option for you) are off-topic. I've edited this to focus solely on help with the text message. On that note, it would be helpful to edit the post and include a.) what it is that you vaguely think of saying, b.) examples of how you would say that, which illustrate your concepts of 'brief' and 'flowery'.
    – Tinkeringbell
    Apr 6, 2022 at 6:16
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    I'm not an expert about chinese/tawainese culture, but I'd say she is mad about your GF decision, not you. It's probably easier for her to argue with an outsider than with her daughter. She acts like the dragoon protecting the princess in the tales. What you can do best is supporting your GF emancipating from her, and show your step family how seriously you take your GF's security without overprotecting her.
    – ArwynFr
    Apr 12, 2022 at 9:59
  • 1
    Just saying: I good quality car will do 200,000 miles over 12 years easily. So her complaint about safety is not rational. Don't tell her that.
    – gnasher729
    Apr 18, 2022 at 17:46

1 Answer 1


Sending a text message could be a solution, but there are a few things to factor in first before drafting it.

1. Your girlfriend is autonomous and responsible for her safety and decisions.

Respecting your girlfriend's autonomy, the first action should be to discuss this situation with her and ask for her advice. It's possible that she'd rather handle this diplomacy with her mother directly herself since it's more about her relationship with her mother than it is about you and her mother. It might be stressful knowing that her mom is angry with you, but this is ultimately her family and about her relationships.

Her mother is implying that your girlfriend can't be trusted with her own safety. Any further discussion between you and her mother without your girlfriend involved is legitimizing the perspective that your girlfriend's safety and decisions are your and her mother's responsibility instead of her own. Apologizing to her mother might inadvertently undermine your girlfriend's efforts towards a more trusting/respectful/adult relationship with her mother.

2. There might be ways to demonstrate care for your girlfriend and respect for her mother without compromising your girlfriend's autonomy

After you've checked in with your girlfriend about how she'd like you to engage with her mother and if she wants you to do something about it, there are a few points that could be good to get across.

  • Reminding her mother that the two of you are united in your priorities and motivations and care can diffuse conflict. Saying something simple like "I care deeply about your daughter's safety."
  • Gently reminding her mother that your daughter is responsible for her safety could be a good way to short circuit this in the future. "I know she had a lot to consider in her final decision and I trust she based it on a lot of factors in a way that best suited her needs."

3. There might be an ongoing expectation that you are in control of your girlfriend

Generationally and culturally, many women face the expectation of being influenced by their parents or partners. If this mom deeply believes that her daughter can't be in charge of herself, that expectation may not change and might be a feature of the relationship for a long time. Brainstorming how to deal with this dynamic long term with your girlfriend will be crucial.

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