I’m a man in my 20s. I’m single.
Long story short: For many years, my personality has long clashed with that of my mother’s. I have long found her to be a controlling or overbearing person. My father rarely stood up to her, usually simply unable to or unwilling to push back against her rigid personality. I often harbored a lot of resentment against her but didn’t have the courage to stand up for myself. (That’s another problem of mine - I tend to be afraid of confrontation; something else I am trying to work on.)
(As for my current life situation: I happen to have a separate apartment, a job, live many hundreds of miles away from my parents, etc. And this has been the case for several years now.)
Now, on to the point of the thread:
For a long time, I have been firmly determined that I would never marry a woman who was like my mother. I realized recently that I often subconsciously scrutinized single women of my age to see if they had overbearing or controlling tendencies in common with my mother. In fact, oftentimes when I meet women for the first time, the first thing that comes to mind is, “Is this woman like my mother? If she is, then I can’t and won’t date her.” I was determined **not **to end up in a relationship or marriage like my parents’, in which my mother constantly was overbearing and negative to my father, who could not or did not stand up for himself.
I realize that this mentality isn’t good and doesn’t solve problems. It hampers my friendships with people and it doesn’t address the underlying reasons for conflict with my mother. And it projects my own resentment onto other people who remind me of my mother’s personality.
I recognize that “I will steer clear of people whose personality reminds me of my mother’s personality” isn’t a good mindset, but I’m having a hard time getting out of this mindset. Does anyone have similar experience or can offer advice?
No hard and fast rules here, but consider the possibility that you may well do better to adapt rather than avoid. For all her faults, and for all the flaws it put into you, your model for receiving love is shaped by how your mother trained you to be loved.
I won’t bore you with my own childhood story with all the David Copperfield crap, but suffice it to say that I made two errors in my relationships:
I’d meet a nice, sweet woman totaly unlike my mother, and her method of loving me would just bounce off. For me, love is like revenge: a dish best served cold.
Not wanting to be the underdog in a relationship, I’d assume the only alternative was to be the mean one. This was even worse that 1 above, because the first type of women would soon move on. Women in situation 2 often are there out of a need for abuse, and these relationships are source of my greater regrets. So I’m warning you of the possibility.
But this may not apply to you. So, as practical advise, try to meet and observe the parents of any woman you date as soon as possible. If her mom reminds you of yours, bail.
I don’t think there is anything at all wrong with your mentality in regards to romantic relationships or any other types of relationships. Some personalities click and others clash. It is foolish and naive to deny that reality. I don’t know what your issues are with your mother but it really doesn’t matter. You know you don’t want to be involved with people like her so don’t. Some people are self-destructive because they consciously or subconsciously use the opposite tactic. They consistently end up with people that they don’t really get along with just because the traits are familiar to them and they mistakenly believe that they can ‘fix them’.
Personalities, dating and even friendships don’t work that way. Everyone has a certain type or types that can result in successful relationships and others that never will. You are ahead of the game in realizing that about yourself. You could become even more ahead if you phrased it in positive terms. Your romantic relationships shouldn’t have anything to do with your relationship with your mother so there is no need to even bring it up. You know that you don’t want to be involved with somebody similar to her. That is perfectly fine. However, you never said what you do want in a mate. You may be too young to know that right now and that is fine too but it is better to try for someone that makes you happy rather than just assuming that you will become happy by avoiding people that you don’t.
I love my mother and we are very close but I would never consider even going on a single date with someone like her (luckily, she is a very rare type). You don’t even need to have parent-child relationship issues to realize that you prefer certain traits in some types of relationships and others in different ones. I want nothing to do with overbearing people, male or female, in any relationship in any context. Lots of people feel that way but there is supposedly a lid for every pot.
Whether or not someone I’ve dated reminded me of my mother/sister/family member, etc has never once entered my thoughts. I either enjoyed their company or I didn’t. Now sure, I’ve thought and analyzed as to why I’ve had the types of relationships I’ve had with the women that I’ve been with but any similarity to my mother just was not anywhere in my universe of thought. And looking back in hindsight, none of these women were really similar to my mother in any significant way but they also weren’t radically different in any meaningful way either. It just wasn’t a factor.
If you are actively comparing to your Mother and making decisions based upon the result, then in a backward sort of way your Mother is still controlling your decisions. What you are craving, and failing to find, is a life free of her influence. And yes, in order to achieve that, you will have to remove her from the equation entirely.
Make a promise to yourself that before you buy an engagement ring, or make any proposal, you will sit down and analyze whether your intended has any controlling tendencies. Make this the safety brake, and then start working on other points of compatibility.
What kinds of entertainment do you enjoy? What are your religious/spiritual beliefs? What are your lifestyle preferences, and are those of your date compatible?
You have to think in advance about what alternate subjects you are going to think about, then purposefully turn your thoughts away from Mother and Comparisons when you are with a lady.
I’ve always heard that you should look for someone just like you in personality for romantic success.
But god I HATE people like me in personality, I couldn’t imagine dating someone who was the female version of me. So I didn’t, I married the exact opposite of my personality type. And aside from ultimately silly quarrels I have not had an issue.
Seriously I would not be interested in a female version of me, turns out I do better with a female opposite of me that balances out my extreme traits.
Rather than think about what you don’t want, think about what you do. What you look for in a partner isn’t that they aren’t X, it’s that they are Y. If you heard someone describe a loved one with solely a list of what they aren’t, you’d wonder what they are.
What they said. You do not want someone who will run all over you, but I imagine you also don’t want someone who can’t decide which panties to wear until you decide for her; perhaps you want someone who can make her own decisions on her own, other decisions with you, who lets you make your own decisions, and whose idea of which is which happens to match yours. I’m certainly no marriage expert, being pretty much the proverbial spinster, but I think looking for a mate is kind of like looking for a flat: you gotta know what you need, what you want, what you’re no way willing to accept, and the list keeps changing as you go through possibles.
It’s probably helpful to just be aware of this. Once you realise it is happening, it has less hold over you. For actual advice, try to stay focussed on the person you are dealing with and what they actually say or do, not who they remind you of, or what someone did to someone else some time in the past.
You might always be more alert to girlfriends being controlling, and that can be an advantage in some ways. Just keep your reaction in proportion to what is actually happening in the situation you are in and be mindful of reading things into it from your past that aren’t actually present.
It might also help to realise that your mother can’t control you any more, and let go some of the resentment that you have towards her. Anger is a cheap way to set boundaries.
You might be jumping the gun just a bit, confusing simple dating with serious relationships. I think we should all date all sorts of types of people. But we should be very selective with whom we develop lasting relationships. If you are shying away from even dating anyone you perceive to have similarities to your mother, you are probably unnecessarily elminating women much too quickly. Go out with all sorts of women to see what you LIKE, rather than to measure them all against what you want to avoid.
How often are you seeing this trait in women? Is it, like, half the women you meet that you quickly decide are controlling and reject? Are you possibly seeing “controlling” in women who are actually just willing to have strong opinions? What about male friends? Do they have a different standard of behavior?
OK, so number four there is a serious concern. That’s emotional abuse. To “dump” someone without serious consideration, and being certain that you mean it is at best hurtful and self-defeating, and at worst controlling and manipulative. I think you may be using some of Mom’s tactics there yourself. It also seems to indicate that you are using escalations of emotion (getting angrier) when you might be better served by continued calm discussion and reasoning.
We can’t just come up with these things out of thin air. If our role models have been poor, then we have to learn new ways of responding and decide in advance how we want to interact. Otherwise, when the situation comes up, we have no alternative except to do what we know.
So the danger there is that you’ll be constantly whipping between controlling and capitulating, and never really learn to cooperate and compromise. I would suggest finding a good therapy group, where you can talk through better communication techniques and work on building better boundaries and expectations.