Dating Mom Pulled in Two Directions
Q: For the first time in five years, I've got a boyfriend. He's not the problem; he's great. The problem is my 27-year-old son who broke up with his girlfriend last month. He's been coming by more lately without calling. He seems to expect me to drop everything and cook him dinner and hang out with him when he gets bored or lonely. He's asked me why my boyfriend is always around. I think he's jealous! My boyfriend has said I need to tell my son to wait until he's invited over. I know I deserve some fun with my new boyfriend, and my son is a grown man. But I don't want to seem like a bad mom. I'm starting to think my son doesn't want me to be happy. How can I handle being pulled in both directions? - Celeste, 53
Dr. Susan: Oh wow, welcome to the world of motherhood. It's amazing how our kids can make us feel pulled every which way. Let go of the idea that you're in any way a bad mom for wanting some happiness of your own. Tell your son that you need him to call before coming over, or wait to be invited, because sometimes you have other plans. That's your right! It's not too late to teach your son to think of others, beginning with his own mother. Do not drop everything, cook for him, and ignore your boyfriend every time your son decides he needs you. You're enabling him to lean on you and not get out there and find a peer friend or two. And remind your boyfriend that it's only been a month since your son broke up, and you feel for him, and you are planning to be less available starting now. This is a process requiring patience on everyone's part, but don't let either of them push your guilt buttons.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.