I have near-daily phone calls with my mom, and odds are strong that somewhere between “How’s the weather?” and “What’s for dinner?” she’ll check in on my relationship status…as if that’s the kind of thing that magically changes overnight. And something tells me I’m hardly alone in my efforts to field and squelch relationship questions from well-intentioned but sometimes overbearing (sorry, Mom!) parents.
I know my mom wants the best for me, but I’ve been into flying solo as of late; sleeping diagonally on the bed, not worrying about a complicated strategy for my DM game, and having all the time for gal-pal cauliflower pizza parties and Netflix has been super fulfilling for me lately. Apparently, it’s not so fulfilling for my mom—but experts say the underlying reason for her nosy Qs isn’t necessarily because she doesn’t approve of the single life.
Encouraging us to date, or even going as far as trying to set us up, is often just an effort to end what parents perceive as our sadness for not having a partner locked down. In fact, says psychotherapist Aimee Barr, LCSW, this common plight may be just be the result of a simple generational divide. “Most of our parents grew up in a time when the cultural expectations were different around dating and marriage,” she says. Especially if your parents are still married, they might not realize how much the conversation around relationships has changed.
“If you feel pressured, uncomfortable, or annoyed when your mom is asking you why you are not in a relationship, it’s because a boundary has been crossed.” —Rebecca Hendrix, LMFT, integrative holistic psychotherapist
Whatever the reason behind your rents’ inability to be get behind your N/A love life, setting boundaries is a key solution to promote your own health and happiness. “If you feel pressured, uncomfortable, or annoyed when your mom is asking you why you are not in a relationship, it’s because a boundary has been crossed,” says says Rebecca Hendrix, LMFT, an integrative holistic psychotherapist. To set those tricky-to-cultivate boundaries, Hendrix recommends starting with a simple conversation, during which you firmly communicate that you’re happy with your romantic life and relationship status, and that the constant prodding doesn’t make you feel good.
This part is so crucial because, as Barr explains, many parents don’t realize how painful their perceived disapproval can be for their children. So if the inquiries make you feel inadequate, sad, or unsupported, sharing that can help your parents understand the effects of their line of questioning that they may well have believed to be innocuous.
Then, be very clear on what your ask is regarding their behavior. “If you never want your mom to bring it up again, tell her. You might offer to tell her if there is news worth sharing, but otherwise it’s off-limits,” says Hendrix. You can ask for any arrangement that feels good for you. Maybe it’s that your mom can ask once a month, or when you see her in person because that environment feels more relaxed to you, or only after she’s asked about a certain other number of things going on in your life to drive home the message that it’s not just your relationship status she thinks about. Think about what works for you, then communicate it.
Once you’ve made it very clear to your rents how their nudging you toward coupledom makes you feel, be forgiving if they slip up, but only to a point. “It’s okay to enforce a consequences or set up an ultimatum,” says Hendrix. Maybe it sounds harsh, but if their nagging is interfering with your Queen vibes, or—worse—making you feel down, it’s not just a fair course of action, but one that appeals to your nonnegotiable sense of self-preservation.
Here, learn the fascinating truth about how your parents’ relationship can affect your own. And find out how one writer’s style changed for the better as a single gal.
Loading More Posts...