dear sharideth: Fight fire with fire?

Dear Sharideth

This is going to be a strange question, because it doesn’t have so much to do with my relationship with a girl as her mother… Her mother is a control freak and likes to micromanage everyone’s lives because she has almost no social circle. That’s no overstatement mind you – she’ll throw a fit and give a lecture if my girlfriend doesn’t respond to one of her texts within two minutes. Big Brother is probably taking pointers from her, I think. My girlfriend bears the brunt of it, and it’s hard to watch.

Now she’s trying to extend that control to me. Knowing I needed gas before heading home in a number of hours, she told me I needed to go get gas at her favorite gas station, which was five miles in the wrong direction, and that I needed to go get it now. I said I’d get gas when I left and get it en route. Now I’m not stubborn – I’ve been accused of being too flexible – but I put my foot down. Her idea was downright illogical and I didn’t want to add time to my trip.

Five minutes of me explaining that I’m fine without going out of my way to a gas station that’s no cheaper (but that she likes) and her still insisting, she finally went for the lowest blow I’ve ever seen. She pretended to give up, but proceeded to secretly order her daughter (my girlfriend) to “make me” go get gas there. My girlfriend explained the situation, I smiled politely, and I did not go get gas. I was not about to cave.

How should I deal with this woman? Is fighting fire with fire, sticking to my guns, and being dead set against her ideas (at least the illogical ones) the way to go? How can I communicate respectfully that I’m capable of making my own decisions to a controlling person whilst keeping my girlfriend out of the middle of this?

Thanks for any advice,

Fighting Fire With Fire

dear FFWF,

your first mistake is thinking this isn’t a problem with your girl, because it is.  and you can’t keep her from the middle of it, because she’s already there.

get your head around those two things immediately or you’re going to have a rough go of it.

in order to deal with her mother, you’re going to have to deal with your girl first.

if she is unwilling to stand up to her mother, you’ve got a problem.  she may feel like she is incapable of saying no to her mom, but that’s total crap.  it’s fear of hurting/disappointing her mother, not inability.  you’re going to have to find out if she is willing to toughen up.  if she is, you’ll have to be ready to be her strength, her defender and her comfort, because it won’t be pleasant for either of you.

if i had to guess, i’d say her mom has racked up a ton of frequent flier miles because of all the guilt trips she send your girl on.

obviously i can’t know why her mom is control crazed, but it usually comes from fear (of what is anybody’s guess) or from selfishness that borders on sociopathy.

either way, your girl needs to be out from under it.  you can help her by continuing to be a man.  you’re definitely on the right track.  your ability to say no and not bend to her mother will probably rip the mask off your girlfriend.  for better or worse.

she will either be relieved to have someone who can stand up to her mother, or she will freak out and resent you for the stress it causes her.

if she freaks out, you’re going to have to decide what you are willing to live with to be with her, because it won’t get any better, and it will surely only get worse.  then you will end up with some resentment of you’re own.



but the reality of this situation is harsh and i would be doing you no favors by being nice about it.

talk to your girl, gently but directly, and let her know that you have no intention of allowing her mother to in any way control you, her or your relationship.  tell her you would love to have a healthy relationship with her mom if that’s possible, but that her mom won’t be allowed to micromanage either of you.  make sure she understands that you are more than willing and fully capable of being strong enough for both of you until she finds her courage, but that you are not going to be another controlling factor in her life.  her decisions will be her own.

if she’s on board, no matter how hesitantly, awesome.  you’ve got a keeper.

if she’s not, you’ve got a decision to make about moving forward with the relationship.  and that does nothing but suck.

sorry you asked me?

i would be.

as to how to communicate to her mother that you are fully capable of determining how to get you own gas as well as everything else under the sun?  just by simply doing it.  say, “thanks! but i’ve got it handled.”  then walk away and handle it.  if she does make a suggestion that makes sense, feel free to concede and thank her for thinking of it/you.  this will let her know you do hear her and could put her more at ease about your new role in her life.  unless she’s a selfish hag, then nothing you do will really matter and you’re totally off the hook when it comes to trying to please her at all.

keep me posted.  i’d like to know what happens.

oh so sincerely,


ever been on either side of a situation like this?

anything else you would suggest to our white knight?


7 comments on “dear sharideth: Fight fire with fire?

  1. On the topic of interacting with the mother, I would add that choosing your tone is one of the biggest things. Don’t yell, and don’t talk down to her, but do stick to firm and respectful as you seem to be trying to do. Your ability to keep your cool and respect your elder while not bowing to her wishes will tell any girl worth having that you’re a quality guy and will be able to treat HER with respect when she has unreasonable days too.

  2. asoulwalker says:

    Every situation is different… but not in an infinite number of ways. When it comes to mothers being a problem in a relationship… I whole-heartedly agree that the child has to stand up to the mother. If that doesn’t happen, you should probably rethink the relationship. It can get really really ugly if you marry someone who won’t separate from their mother in some way…

  3. Sis says:

    You could always move far, far away.

  4. Lauren says:

    Bless your heart for being so patient! I would just go ahead and rip her face off. (Not literally)

  5. Jennwith2ns says:

    This stuff is gold, Sharideth. I haven’t been in this situation myself, but I’ve known people who have–some people very close to me. In dating, it might seem like an annoyance, but if the relationship’s going to go any further, it’s going to take some serious work or there will be lots of misery later.

  6. […] today’s dear sharideth is a follow up to “dear sharideth: Fighting Fire with Fire”. […]

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