Boyfriend Won’t Let Me Meet His Son After 15 Months

Reader’s Question

I just read the question and answer about a mother enmeshed man. I was interested in your response here because I have been dating a man for almost 15 months that also lives with his mother. He has been divorced for almost three years. His mother is in fairly good health and does not require caretaking assistance form him.

His mother sold her home right around the time of his divorce, and they purchased a home together. The reason he gave for doing this was that he wanted to stay in the neighborhood near his son’s school and would be unable to afford to do so otherwise. Also, he said that his mother would have missed out on a great offer on her previous home if she had not sold at that time. She had placed a down payment on a retirement community and was waiting for construction to be completed. The plan was for he and his mother to live together until construction was completed, about 1-2 years, and then she would move out. Well, about six months into dating he told me that she canceled her down payment on the retirement home, so she will not be leaving any time soon.

He complains a lot about his mother living with him and that she dominates the space in the home and does not allow him privacy with his young 9-year-old son when he is there. He feels stuck in the situation, but does not have the financial resources to move out. He told me that for her to move anywhere else now, she would need half of her investment in the home. They currently split living expenses. While he seems frustrated living with his mother, he worries about repercussions from her if he does not do certain things like go to church.

Also, this guy has been let go or laid off from three jobs in the past 4-5 years. He also has not allowed me to meet his son yet. He says this is because his ex has not introduced the son to anyone she is dating. He is concerned that if I meet the son it will give his ex license to do the same and he does not trust the character of the men she may date.

Anyway, you get the picture. Am I dealing with a dependent or antisocial personality here?

Psychologist’s Reply

From your description, you are in a “restrictive relationship”. This type of relationship has various limitations, restrictions, and social arrangements that favor one person — your boyfriend. While I don’t think he’s a dependent or antisocial personality, he shows signs of being a controlling personality. He controls your participation in his life and probably still tries to control the behavior of his ex-wife. You’ll notice that he assures you he is trying to control his wife’s dating behavior by restricting your contact and even introduction to his son. The boyfriend has many areas of his personal life where you are “not allowed” — and that’s a bad sign.

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In a restricted relationship, you have been placed on a dating schedule. There are places you can and cannot go, people you are not allowed to meet, topics you are not allowed to bring up in conversation, and arrangements you are not allowed to question. This is not a romantic relationship — it’s a dating arrangement under his control.

This relationship is likely to stay at this level for years — always with a promise that Mom will move out, he’ll get a better job, you’ll meet his son with the time is right, etc. In such cases, I often recommend placing the relationship on a type of probation. Discuss normal adult dating issues such as meeting his son, participating in his lifestyle, and lowering his restrictions. If nothing happens after three months, I’d move on. Otherwise you’ll still have these same concerns five years from now…and his mother will still be there and you won’t be allowed to attend his son’s school events due to his fear of losing control of his ex-wife (or some other excuse). By the way, don’t lend him money to obtain his mother’s share of the house investment. He and Mom would use it to put in a pool.

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