My boyfriend’s mum made him break up with me because she thinks I’m too shy

Ask Ammanda boyfriend mum

I have recently split up from my boyfriend who I know is the one! We were perfect! We were together for 2 years. We had problems but always seemed to sort them and carry on. After two years his mother suddenly decided that she doesn’t like me and forced us to split up. She doesn’t like me just because I’m a little shy. I want the opportunity to explain why I’m shy which is because of bullying. I’ve now gained confidence but I’m not being allowed the opportunity. I feel like I’m dying inside because he’s the one but he doesn’t want to upset his mother so has ended it. I’m struggling to cope and don’t know what to do! Please help!

Ammanda says…

This is really tough. You feel like you’ve found ‘The One’, but things have gone wrong and now you’re left with the certain knowledge that if only you could explain yourself, it would all come right and you and your ex would be together again. Of course, it’s not for me to say whether getting this chance would bring you what you most want, but I’d like to invite you to step back and have a ‘bigger picture’ look at what might be going on here.

I don’t how old you are, but to a degree this might have a bearing on what’s happened. Let’s take his mum. You say she’s keeping you two apart and not listening to your explanations. You mention you’ve been bullied in the past, and I can imagine that her – and perhaps your ex-boyfriend’s – behaviour might feel similar to this. It may be reminding you of other painful experiences where it may have felt like other people were in charge of your happiness.

But if you are a very young couple (although what’s ‘young’ these days? Who knows really?) it could be that she believes she’s helping him to see this relationship isn’t right for him. As his mum, it may be her belief is that this is what mums ‘do’. Rightly or wrongly, she may think she has a wider experience of life generally and that there’s something about your relationship with her son that may not be to his advantage. I’m not saying that’s right in any way, but if we think about mums and their efforts to protect us (which they don’t always get right), this kind of thing can often be the case. Even so, it is curious that it seems she’s picked on ‘shyness’ as the reason for her concern, as I can’t see why having a partner in who is shy, for whatever reason, is necessarily something to avoided.

It all gets much more complicated if you’re of an age where he can be reasonably expected to have sufficient ‘clout’ to make up his own mind and be clear about what he wants.

I’m curious about the problems you say you’ve had as a couple. I wonder if these have been around similar issues – where you’ve felt you’ve been in competition with his mum or any other family members and you’ve argued together about who’s side he’s going to take. In some families, there are very strict ‘rules’ about who is top of the pecking order when it comes to decisions about how things should be done. Sometimes, these rules are very clear and discussed amongst family members openly, so everyone know the ropes, even if they don’t agree with them. And sometimes, they’re just lurking in the background.

Therapists often see relationships where, for example, a partner from outside the family and mum are essentially fighting over the affections of a son or daughter. This is often because of ‘unfinished’ business from way back in the past, where certain members of the family felt, for whatever reason, they weren’t properly affirmed or even loved by others. As a result, they may end up feeling like affection is in short supply – and therefore as if they’re in competition for who is getting the most. But of course, I can’t say for sure whether that’s what’s happening here.

What I do want to say is that I’m struck by the language you use in your letter, which is all about being ‘allowed’ and being ‘forced’. These are words that we might sometimes use when we feel we have no chance to decide what’s going to happen. And while it’s true that sometimes, our choices in this kind of situation are very limited (and, on occasions, not present at all), I’m not sure this is the case here.

This might be a little challenging, but I think the choice may actually be yours to let your partner know you expect more from him than this. It’s commendable you’ve gained confidence and now feel able to explain why you might have appeared shy. But, as I say, there’s nothing wrong with this and I don’t think you should feel you have to justify it. Instead, you might want to consider using your newfound confidence to make clear to your ex that you expected support from him when his mother decided you didn’t meet her requirements – not just to go along with what she had to say. You can tell him you deserve better than him simply giving up on things because she told him to.

And if he doesn’t understand, that may tell you all you need to know. I know you say he’s the ‘one’, but trust me: if he can’t see that you deserved better treatment than this, he really isn’t. You’re better off knowing this now rather than further down the line when you’ve had many more years of being treated as second best.

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)