I Hate My Mother’s Boyfriend

Here’s the situation: you’re the daughter or son of a mother whose marriage to your father has ended (separation or divorce). She has now begun dating another man. You hate him. 

In this post I will offer some ideas you can use to begin understanding your feelings and perhaps doing something about them. Hate is a very strong emotion. You can’t walk around with the feeling of hate inside of you without some kind of negative consequence. So it’s important to do something about it at least on the inside of you.

What I’m going to describe in this post is stronger if you are younger and still living with your mother. Less so if you’ve already grown up and in the house, and even less so if you’ve already moved out and living on your own.

My Family Broke Up

The first and most obvious place to look for an understanding of your ‘hate’ is in the fact that your family has broken up. This is never easy and the feeling of wanting or needing the family to get back together lingers for a long time. It’s totally understandable that anything or anyone who threatens that wish will be rejected even hated. Your mother’s boyfriend, just by his presence in her life, threatens your wish to have your original family back.

In fact, it is very common for unresolved feelings of loss and sadness to be transformed into anger and hate. It almost feels better to hate someone when we’ve lost someone or something. It can feel better than the feeling that you’ve lost something important and you can’t do anything about it. This hurts a lot.

Of course, this is made worse by the tendency for people going through a separation or divorce to overlook what the children are feeling and needing. They’re hurt and focused pretty much just on that. In fact, I know that sometimes ‘the kids’ can feel like they’re about to lose everything including their relationships to both parents when the marriage breaks up.

I Protect My Father

Wanting to ‘protect’ your father is understandable in this situation. It might seem like he’s the one getting the short end of the stick. That no one is there to stand up for him. I know that it is common to feel like someone has to represent your father’s interests especially when your mother’s boyfriend is involved. The hard part about this is the emotional burden it creates on you. You have to be free to do your own thing. You can’t get this far into your mother’s marital issues and have the peace of mind to do and enjoy your own life.

I Still Need My Mother

By far the most sensitive emotion involved is the deeper feeling of still needing your mother’s love and attention. This is perfectly human and expected, especially if you’re still living with her and not fully grown. Feelings of jealousy and frustration can be pretty painful. A lot depends on how your mother handles your need and on the personality of her boyfriend. If she realizes that she still has a ‘job’ to do raising you, she’ll divide up her time and energy in a way that makes sense. If she is trying to get away from her failed marriage and its aftereffects, she will put too much time and energy into her new love-life and neglect her parenting responsibilities.

Her Boyfriend’s Personality

If her boyfriend is fair minded and realizes that she has unfinished business to take care of, he’ll try to fit into the ongoing relationships and responsibilities in your mother’s life. His efforts to get along with you are understandable and not a bad thing. Whether and how you respond is up to you of course. My point is that, his personality accounts for a lot in this type of situation. If he’s possessive and insecure. he’ll compete with you for your mother’s attention and affections. When this is the case it never really turns out well. Of course, you might know pretty clearly that he is no good for your mother. Not because of your own needs but just because of who he is. Unfortunately, no matter how many complaints you make, your mother has to see the light and do something about it.

Daughter’s View

Whatever mistakes your mother has made in her love-life do not necessarily have to become yours. Daughters have a tendency to secretly follow their mother’s footsteps. The only way this can work is if you consciously choose what you’ll follow and what you won’t. Being your own person is a very important step in a daughter’s emotional development.

Son’s View

Sons commonly take the role of protector. How they express this objective differs of course depending on the age and personality of the son. Trouble comes in the form of suspending your own life in order to fight with your mother’s boyfriend. The biggest casualty with the most to lose in this kind of warfare is usually the son. Ultimately, the best way to fight and win is to take good care of yourself.

Bad Complications

Just a note about the weird shit. If her boyfriend is trying to ‘separate’ your mother from her ‘kids,’ the potential for volatility goes up. Unfortunately, this can get worse if her boyfriend is aggressive or seductive/sexual towards you. Remember, in a situation like this, a short-term crisis involving the authorities is far more healthy and produces better changes than letting things go on and on indefinitely. The objective is to curtail the negative consequences.

Can This Be Fixed?

Seeing your mother as a ‘single’ woman can be strange, scary, weird, or confusing to most people in your situation. Most people would like to see their parents adjust to a separation or divorce by living alone in exile for a time, while they prepare themselves to get back together in the future. Unfortunately, it usually doesn’t work that way. People go on with their lives. Look at it this way, your mother is showing you more to her personality than you knew when she was just your mother.

You know, the ultimate ‘cure’ for this situation is, to respect the sadness (grief) you feel about losing your ‘intact’ family, help yourself grow up, and go live the best life you can. Making sure that you don’t blindly repeat the errors of your parents. Otherwise, you’ll be relating to your mother as though she is a dysfunctional person in her love-life. You of course get to play the role of the ‘codependent offspring’ self-sacrificing in order to change your mother’s love interests and behavior.

The only way your mother’s love-life changes is if she decides to change. You have to think about how much sacrificing of yourself you’re willing to do to try to change her. You have your own life to lead. Footnote: I’ve noticed that people in my life usually change when I stop trying to change them and change myself instead. Comments? Dr. T. Jordan





Dr. Jordan

Dr. Thomas Jordan is a clinical psychologist, certified interpersonal psychoanalyst, author, professor, and love life researcher.

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