How Do Overbearing Mothers Affect Men in Relationships?

Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

A man’s relationship with his mother is important in how he views himself and has strong effects on his interaction with others. An overbearing mother is intensive, overly-involved and undermines the man’s sense of autonomy. She may manipulate his will through anger, excessive neediness, high expectations, and inflexibility, affirms psychologist Terri Apter, who holds a doctorate in psychology. It is not easy for a man to sever the ties he has to his mother, even if she is difficult. Instead, he is more likely to make efforts to give in to her demands; which may be detrimental to his romantic relationship.

Tries to Please His Mother at all Costs

A man with a controlling mother will go out of his way to placate her. His mother can make it difficult for him not to bend to her will under the assumption that her way is the best way, says Apter. His romantic relationship may feel as if it is being steered by three people, instead of two. The more he gives in to his mother, the more likely it is that his partner will feel as if he constantly puts his mother first.

Hides His True Self

One coping mechanism of men with overbearing mothers is to lie. A man will tell his mother what he thinks she wants to hear, even if it is not true. He will do so to avoid the guilt, anger or disappointments she places on him. He can become so used to this practice, that he habitually disguises himself in all his interactions. He may also project this onto his partner by lying to prevent her from getting upset or being disappointed in him.

Coercion and Manipulation

A man with an overbearing mother is likely to find it difficult to balance his time between his mother and his romantic partner. He feels compelled to respond every time she calls. An overbearing mother may try to control different aspects of his relationship. She may try to exert control as to where they spend the holidays, how they raise the children, his choice of career, and even as to the type of person he dates. His mother may actually be able to get her own way, in many cases, as he has spent his life depending upon her judgments and giving in to her demands, states Holly Schriffin, who holds a doctorate in developmental psychology, in the research paper, “Helping or Hovering? The Effects of Helicopter Parenting on College Students’ Well-Being.” He is likely to lack autonomy.

Find the Balance

It is important to understand that an overbearing mother can only exercise the power that she is given. Her son can still be loyal and be there for her when she truly needs him, without having to sacrifice his romantic relationship. He must regain control and find a balance between his personal life and that of his mother's.