What Your Girlfriend Thinks About Your Mother
Bradley Cooper is taking his to the Oscars this year. So is Denzel Washington. Russell Brand rarely graces the red carpet without his and there’s even a film released next month, The Guilt Trip, that explores the unique relationship. Yes, the bond between mother and son is a sacred one.
Which makes it all the more nerve-wracking for a girlfriend to meet her. Over-protective, territorial and a master of manipulation and mind-games – and you think meeting her Dad is scary?
Take my ex-boyfriend. Dan was the youngest child of four and the only boy. Naturally, his mother guarded him with the same ferocity as an eagle would give her new-born egg. I first met her a month into the relationship when I joined the family at a steakhouse for dinner. Little did I know it would be me getting a grilling.
‘So, you’re an entertainment journalist,’ she quizzed, re-filling my glass (plying me with Prosecco was clearly an underhand tactic to be used against me later. ‘She did drink an awful lot, darling. Be careful of that one.’) Clearly the showbiz world was not one she saw fit for the suitor of her son. It continued. ‘And your father writes about music, too. How interesting. Where did your parents marry?’ she asked. ‘Oh, a registry office in Wood Green, then my Mum’s second marriage was on a gondola in Las Vegas,’ I replied, cheerily. Silence. Clearly not the ultra-Conservative answer she was hoping for.
Don’t get me wrong, she was a perfectly nice, polite woman. In her own way, she really made an effort. And what mother doesn’t want the best for her son? But where I bonded with the sisters over a mutual love of the Kardashians, and the father over a mutual love of wine, throughout our relationship Dan’s mum was always a tad icy. I would never be good enough for her little soldier. I could never admit this to Dan. It was his mother. They were close: daily phone chats, shopping trips. Hell, he even presented her with dirty laundry most weekends.
I had it easy, really. A friend, Clare, is forever scrutinised by her soon-to-be mother-in-law and it’s making her seriously question the engagement. Lunches are peppered with patronising comments such as, ‘Well, Clare, that’s not how I would have steamed the salmon.’ And, ‘Don’t worry, dear, I’m sure you could carry off a cheaper wedding dress if you need to.’ The most frustrating thing is that the fiancé sees his mother’s rude behaviour and says nothing.
The Freudian theory, of course, is that all men secretly want to shag their mothers. Whilst I feel this is somewhat far-fetched, I’m wary of a guy that’s super close to his mother. Close is ideal. Super-close – ie. constant communication and an inability to make any decisions without her approval – is not so great. Even worse if she still does his cooking, cleaning and ironing. How are we supposed to live up to that? I’m domesticated to an extent, sure, but any prospective boyfriend that expects me to starch his socks is in for a rude awakening. I know another girl who broke up with a guy because his mother still bought all his clothes for him.
Whilst no girl wants to replace the mother, surely a healthy relationship leaves room for both roles? Your mum might forever see you as her boy, but your girlfriend needs to see you as a man. Man enough to stand up to anyone – including his mother.