Today is the big day. You’ve gotten all polished up and ready for this meeting. Conservative hairdo? Check! A dress with just enough pop to make you look pretty but not slutty? Check! Breath mints? Check! You’re all ready. You’ve practiced what you were going to say over and over in the mirror.
You’ve had to make mental note of several things before you get there. The handshake; gentle but firm. Eye contact but no staring. Smiling but don’t laugh at everything. Don’t ask dumb questions or say anything stupid. And whatever you do, don’t display physical affection by holding hands or kissing.
You feel like you’re ready. Today is the day you meet… Her. His mom.
“You’re worrying too much. It’s not even that serious. She’ll like you. Just relax and be yourself,” your boyfriend tells you. But you know better. One false move and you’ll be bending over backwards for months just trying to erase the negative first impression. It’s like a job interview. You only get one time to nail it.
One hour later you arrive at her house. Right from the beginning you can tell she hates your guts. She watches your every move like a hungry cat who’s cornered a mouse. She can sense the closeness between the two of you and she does everything subliminally to transmit her disapproval.
She sits beside her son on the love seat, forcing you to move to another empty chair. She compliments your lipstick and then throws some shade about how she’s a natural beauty and how her mom always told her “good girls don’t have to fake it”.
Nevertheless, you try to make a positive situation better. When dinner is finished you offer to help with the dishes, to which she responds,
“With those nice nails it looks like you haven’t done a day of dishwashing without the dishwashing machine. But the apron is on the counter. Do your best and I’ll stay in here and catch up with my son for a bit.”
She left you alone to clean the whole kitchen!
When it’s time to go home you wipe the sweaty hair from your brow and give her a warm goodbye. You go in for the hug but she rejects you by saying,
“Oh dear, you’re soaking wet. I’ll give you a hug when I see you next time.”
Does this event sound like something you’ve experienced?
When his mother doesn’t like you, it can be a very cold and heartless situation. Many people find it difficult to navigate. You want her to like who you are and respect you as a person. But in order for that to happen she has to be receptive to two things:
1. Her son has the capacity to make intelligent decisions for himself.
2. You are not trying to replace her.
I hate to break the news to you.
Most mothers and fathers can’t get past number one on this list. Parents always see themselves as all knowing when it comes to their children. They never relinquish those reins. No matter what he’s doing, most parents want to be that voice in his head, directing the movie.
So, what should you do if she doesn’t like you? How can you convince a motherly heart that your intentions are honorable? Here are 5 things you can do when his mother doesn’t like you:
1. Give it time: Before being a protective mother, she’s a normal human being. Most people who encounter a change often react coldly to something new entering their space. Believe me, she’s thinking about that first encounter like a computer. She is analyzing her behavior. Now whether she’ll analyze that data correctly in an acceptable amount of time is another story. But giving up your baby to the jaws of adulthood is pretty scary. She’s protected him all his life. Give her some time. It might just be that she doesn’t know how to react in the beginning.
2. Be gentle: Honey gets the most bees. Soften your stance for a brief period. Don’t go in with your battle ax out. Send out softness through your interactions. When she calls him, tell him “Say hello to your mom for me”.
Don’t be all up in her face and pushy about things. Gently let her know that you care about having a decent relationship with her. Use your boyfriend as a conduit for a small amount of time. Minimize your direct contact. Hopefully she starts telegraphing messages through him to you that are genuine. When that happens, you can move on to the next phase of developing a relationship with her.
3. Bend the son/parent relationship to your advantage: His mom may have raised him all of his life so you’re at a clear disadvantage. But you give him cookie every night. And last time I checked, no item on earth is more powerful than love and cookie. Heck, nations have gone to war over cookie. Lol! Have in depth conversations with him. Tell him how important it is to you for his mother to like you.
Subliminal suggestions are powerful. Before long, he’s intensely aware of the way his mother treats you. Soon he’s leaning on her a bit to be nicer to you. But please be careful with this. If you push too hard and he sees it, you’re liable to create a US Versus YOU situation. And in that situation, you will always lose.
4. Invite her out with you and your boyfriend sometimes: Do this sparingly or else your true annoyance with her may show. But hey, if the two of you are going to try out a new restaurant or maybe taking a trip to the mall for some shopping, it wouldn’t hurt to make his mom feel included. But here’s the important part: When you invite her make sure your boyfriend sticks to the “We” script. It may play out something like this:
“Hey mom. Jennifer and I are going to check out this new restaurant. We would really be happy if you would come with us.”
Doing this a few times every couple of months or so is sure to soften her up a bit.
5. Go it alone…sometimes: Do you have nerves of steel? Set up a lunch date with her. Let her know that you’re not afraid to engage her in a little one on one. Sometimes parents just want to know that their child has someone that can handle the job and protect their lifelong investment. Have your boyfriend pick up the phone and tell her,
“Hey mom, I think Jen’s going to call you today. Can you be sure to answer that phone call? Thanks.” More than likely his mom will ask why this woman wants to speak to her. Tell your boyfriend to say that he doesn’t know (I know it’s a lie, but an honorable one). No matter how much she asks, tell your boyfriend not to reveal the reason for the call. In fact, if you can avoid even telling him, don’t. Just have him set up the call. Moms tend to notice little things like when their children are lying or have ulterior motives. The less your boyfriend knows about your intentions, the better.
Call and invite her to lunch. When you go out, let her choose the place. Be as passive as you can without relinquishing an ounce of your dignity. Listen, listen, listen. Don’t do all of the talking. Laugh and be light-hearted. Look for moments to showcase your intelligence without seeming arrogant. Stand up for yourself in that lunch conversation. Don’t let her push you around. Be firm in whatever position you choose as it relates to self-respect.
You can’t force anyone to like you but what you can do is force them to deal with the reality of the situation. This is your man and you’re not going anywhere. Parents don’t really hate anyone. They only want to remain in their comfort zones. And the sooner you realize how to make your presence less of an invasion and more of an asset to the family, the more they’ll respect you. You may never earn their love but sometimes earning their respect is what’s important.