Are you a mummy boy? And is that still a turn off? Men who are close to their mothers have long been portrayed in popular culture as either scary, as Norman Bates in Psycho or comical, like Principal Skinner in The Simpsons . Men can – and many do – stay close to their mothers as adults. But do women respect a man who has a strong relationship with their mother, or does the mummy’s boy remain the stuff of horror movies?
TO survey of 1,000 men in 2013 found that nearly two-thirds of male CEOs, surgeons, senior officials and other high-flyers described themselves as mummy’s boys, compared with one-fifth from working-class occupations and two in five from semi-skilled or manual jobs. The survey from the adult education website Love to learn also found that two out of five women would never date a mummy boy.
Research has shown that it is important for males to have a good relationship with their mothers. For example, one study found that boys with insecure attachments to their mothers had significantly more behavior problems. But mama’s boys still don’t have a good reputation. On the one hand, we know it’s important for men to do this have good relationships with women in general, but there’s still a stigma among men who stay too close to their mothers.
Jackie Pilossoph, creator of the Breakup Blog Divorced girl smiles and ‘Love Essentials,’ a weekly column focusing on relationships in the Chicago Tribune Says a man who is close to his mother, a caring, warm, kind and gentle soul who appreciates a good woman. There is nothing more attractive to a woman than when a man treats his mother wonderfully and they have a great relationship, she says. But the difference is that a man who is very attached to his mother may be on her side and not on his partner, and this is when it comes to a disconnect.
It’s hard to have respect for someone who lets their mother walk all over them, who is submissive and who fears their mother, she says. No matter how independent women want to be, we love a strong man who puts his mother in her place, but still loves her and looks out for her.
Laura Jow spent two years in a relationship with a 27-year-old man who lived with his mother before his unemployment broke her up. He would do anything his mother said, including canceling important plans we had because his mother wanted him to do something that could have waited until later, she says.
He lived 45 minutes from me and didn’t drive, so he kept asking me to go to his just to give his mother a ride five minutes down the road. If I couldn’t pick his mother up from work, he would give her the bus fare to get home, or walk all the way to meet her and come back with her when it was dark, she says. And there were a few times when he was supposed to visit, but he told me he couldn’t because his mother wanted him to stay home. We were supposed to move in together, but his mother didn’t want him to move out. He rarely came to see me because his mother wanted him to stay home.
She says she didn’t see the full extent of this dysfunctional dynamic until she had already spent a good bit of time on the relationship.
Rick Belden, who specializes in life coaching for men, believes there is a very significant difference between closeness and dependency. A mummy’s boy is a man who continues to put his mother’s needs, desires, perceptions and beliefs before his own and is unable to exist as an independent person, he explains. And a man who has not yet developed a healthy distance from his mother will show this dependence in a variety of ways.
So how can a man determine whether he has a healthy or dependent relationship with his mother? Belden advises asking, “Do you feel that it is okay to tell your mother no when she wants something, including your time and attention? A man with a functioning relationship with his mother will respond confidently, while one in a dependent relationship with his mother will not, he says.
What are the consequences of being with the former? According to Belden, it’s complicated. A man will generally treat others only as well as he treats himself. That requires knowing his own needs and finding effective ways to meet them, he says. If a man’s closeness to his mother is characterized by an inability to stand apart from her as an independent adult, he will tend to prioritize her needs – and a woman’s needs – at his own expense.
According to Belden, a mummy’s boy will have difficulty having healthy boundaries with the women in his life, resist their needs, and find it difficult to say no to them. A man who regularly gives women’s needs a higher priority than his own becomes very lost and very angry.
And Belden believes that men who do this become angry and distant with their girlfriend when his own needs are not met. She may feel deceived or cheated if it turns out that the nice, accommodating man is moody, angry, and passive aggressive because he doesn’t know how to be honest with a woman about his own needs and desires.
For anyone in a relationship with a man who is very dependent on his mother, Belden recommends that this person first examine his own needs and how they can be met. Trying to change other people is a dubious prospect. Therefore, it’s usually best to start with ourselves first, he says.
Danielle, whose name has been changed, says her husband’s relationship with his mother is closer than most, since he served as his mother’s caregiver as a teenager after she became totally disabled. I’m glad they share that bond because I lost my mother at a young age. It’s an irreplaceable friendship, she says. But it has caused problems.
The only time it was problematic for me was when he told her I had gone to work. I had assumed it would be a secret until we announced the birth, and was furious when I found out that between contractions. It made a difficult labor even worse, knowing she was excited about a new arrival before I had a chance to do what I needed, Danielle says.
But ultimately, she defends men close to her mother. Men who are close to their mothers don’t deserve the stigma. Do ‘daddy’s girls’ get the same reaction? I doubt it. It’s good to have a close friend apart from a life partner .