Most people use manipulation to get their way because they learned that pushing emotional buttons works. The key to breaking this pattern in a relationship is to set proper boundaries and not cave into those demands.
Cari Asks Nancy:
My boyfriend and I have been together a year and a half and rarely fight. There is only one problem in our relationship — his mother.
She has lupus and uses it to manipulate him. When we plan dates, she’ll tell him she feels sick and make him stay home to take care of her. When the date is canceled, she’s miraculously better. She complains that he doesn’t spend enough time with her and lays guilt on him because she “could die any day,” but says these things only when I’m around.
He does not deserve the stress she puts on us, but I’m not sure what to do about it.
One of the areas many couples do not consider in long term relationships is their respective families. If this commitment leads to marriage, you are guaranteed that this mother/son dynamic will play a role in your life.
The key is to set proper boundaries as a couple with his mother. The lead must come from your boyfriend because he needs to reestablish the boundaries he has with her now as an adult.
Many individuals revert to their roles as children in the presence of their parents, and that does not need to be the case. His mother has used her disease to get her way because that method has worked in the past. If your boyfriend does not take a firm stand with his mother, you will then need to decide if you are prepared to live with this part of his life.