We've all dated "totally inappropriate" people who Mom was convinced were just "not good enough" for us. And while we, of course, will always love Mom and respect her views on our relationships, sometimes she can be wildly unfair. Mom will always see us as a baby – her baby – and it may take a lot to get her to feel enthusiastic about the people we date.
In short, Mom is picky about who we date and loves to tell us when she thinks something is wrong.
But just because Mom cries wolf about your love live a little too often doesn't mean you should never listen to her. Because there are a few occasions in particular where you listen, and listen hard – because Mom may be trying to tell you something important.
1. She claims your partner shows signs of controlling behavior. General Mom complaints are things like "he has no future," or "she's not good enough for you." But when Mom spots signs of troublesome – and worrying – behavior about your partner, you should listen. Sure, she may be wrong…but it's also possible that she sees something you don't. Ask her for examples of this kind of behavior, and why she interprets them as she does. Then listen hard to your instincts…is she right, or is she just looking for reasons to dislike your date?
2. She sees your partner as unstable. I think this is especially true of women: mothers can often tell when another woman is unstable. So if you're dating a girl who seems perfectly normal to you, and your mother believes she's an unstable person, you might want to listen. Ask her why she thinks so, then watch for warning signs on your own. Sure, Mom loves to nitpick…but if her instincts are good, you may want to keep an eye out for strange behavior in your partner.
3. She worries your partner is divisive. If Mom complains that your boyfriend or girlfriend creates problems and isolates you from the family, you ought to pay attention. Controlling personalities work to cut off their partners from the support of their friends and family, isolating them in order to control them more fully.
4. She thinks you're going too fast. Sometimes Mom is the voice of nagging negativity. Other times, she's the voice of reason. If Mom thinks the relationship is moving way too fast, she may be right. Try to look at the relationship objectively, and evaluate whether or not you've been as wise as you could have been.
5. She feels you've changed for the worse. Some people bring out the worst in you…or simply make you unhappy. When this happens, mothers are usually the first ones to notice. If Mom thinks you seem less happy, or angrier, or less ambitious (or whatever!) because of your relationship, you may want to evaluate the effect your relationship has had on your personality or state of mind.
No, you don't want to give Mom a blank check when it comes to your relationship – it's important to make your own decisions and allow yourself to come to your own conclusions. But it's also true that Mom has your best interests at heart, and may just see things you don't. So take Mom with a grain of salt, but…listen to her sometimes, too. Especially when the stakes are highest.