Mamma Mia!

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Dear Dharma,

I have been reading your column for quite a while now and have always enjoyed it! Now I have a question for you, I need advice!

My girlfriend and I (I’ll call her Siri) have been dating for about six months and things are going really well. I have met her parents, (they are from out of town so it was a road trip) and she has met mine (who live in town, so we see them regularly). I got along ok with her folks, and my parents LOVE her. Especially my mom, who seems to think that Siri is “the one” I have been waiting for. We are only mid 20’s, so it’s not like my time was running out, but I had never had a serious girlfriend like this before.

The problem is that when we argue (not that often, but on occasion) she is texting and calling my mom with all of the details! Then my mom is on my case about how I need to treat Siri better, and if I’m not careful I’ll lose her, and that would be a disaster, and on and on…

I want to tell my mom to stay out of it, but should I tell my girlfriend to stop going to my mom in the first place? What should I do?

Mother’s Little Helper

Dear Little Helper,

Having your family like your partner, and vice versa, is an awesome thing – so much better than the alternative, right? If you’ve ever been there, you know what I’m talking about.

However, you can definitely have too much of good thing (ugh, ever eat just one too many doughnuts?), and this is certainly proof of that.

Cause and effect – an important distinction in what is going on here, and one you need to pay attention to.

Sure, it would be easy to tell your mom to stay out of your relationship, but all you are really doing is addressing the effect. Even if you were successful and your mom backed off, the bigger picture still exists.

Which brings us to the cause – your girlfriend. Siri seems not all that far removed from the high school way of life, where enlisting others in your battles is strategy move #1. The fact that your mom is engaging sure doesn’t help, but again, not the cause.

This is a total crossing of boundaries and would not work at all for me. Like, not even a little tiny bit. It’s obviously bothering you enough that you wrote into Dharma, but I don’t know if it’s a deal breaker.

Either way, you definitely need to address your girlfriend and the best time for that is when you are not having an argument, with the hope that calmer voices will prevail. Straight up, you need to tell her that every time she does this, it gives you concern for what a future with her would look like. It’s upsetting enough to argue with your partner at any given time, but to know that all the details will ultimately be shared with your mom, who will ultimately use them against you – that’s just too much. It’s creating camps, and that is never going to bring about anything positive.

If Siri wants to bitch about you to her girlfriends, fine. That’s a much more appropriate venue, and one that doesn’t have an impact on your relationship with your family.

Once you have this conversation, hopefully Siri is mature and respectful enough to honour your request – and better yet, evaluate her own behaviours and realize how childish these tactics are.

If not, well… yeah, you already know…

Dharma

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