When your mother begins dating someone new, it can appear strange and disgusting. The fact is, however, that your mother is a human being who craves love and affection in the same way that most other people do. To deal with your mother’s dating, you must first deal with your own emotions by reflecting on how your mother’s dating makes you feel. Communicate with your mother to avoid misunderstandings and take steps to preserve your relationship.
Part 1: Dealing with Your Emotions About Your Mother’s Dating
1. Accept your parents’ divorce. Perhaps your parents divorced, were never married and decided to go their separate ways, or your other parent died. There are numerous reasons why parents are unable to continue living together, and as their child, it can be difficult to accept this reality. When your mother begins dating, it can be a harsh reminder that your parents aren’t and will never be together again.
Try to understand that whether your parents are together or not is out of your hands. If your parents are no longer together, that is how things will be, and all you can do is try to make the best of a bad situation.
2. Consider how you’re feeling. You may be experiencing a range of emotions in response to your mother’s decision to begin dating. You might feel betrayed, angry, sad, afraid, or even happy for her. Try to identify all of the different emotions that are present. Determine what aspect of her dating is causing each emotion. Thinking deeply about your emotions can assist you in untangling them. You’ll be able to express yourself more clearly when you talk to your mother about what’s bothering you.
It can be beneficial to write down all of the different emotions you are experiencing in order to keep track of them all.
Follow that thought, for example, if you write down that you are feeling “betrayed.” What about your mother’s dating makes you feel betrayed? Do you feel betrayed because you believe she is attempting to replace your father and start a new family?
3. Consider various outcomes. What do you expect to happen now that your mother has begun dating? Consider imagining and working through various scenarios. Perhaps she will meet someone and marry, or perhaps she will meet someone and have her heart broken. In each of those scenarios, what role do you play?
Thinking through various scenarios can help you feel like you have some control over the situation. In the end, you don’t, but it can be comforting to know what role you’ll play in a variety of scenarios.
4. Speak with someone you trust. Dealing with this new situation can be extremely difficult, especially if you feel you can’t talk to your mother about it. Instead, discuss the situation with a trusted friend or family member. Tell them why you’re bothered by it. They may be able to point out things you hadn’t considered or provide advice.
It may be very beneficial in this situation to seek the assistance of a professional counsellor, who can assist you in understanding what you’re feeling.
Avoid discussing your mother’s dating with your other parent. Even if they are aware of it, it is unlikely that they will be able to approach the subject without bringing their own emotions into the mix.
5. Recognize that you are not to blame for your mother’s decisions. When your mother is dating, she may make decisions that you believe are poor. She may go on dates with a variety of people, she may stay out late, or she may date people who are clearly inappropriate for her. However, it is critical to recognise and remember that she is an adult capable of making her own decisions. She may not always make the best decisions, but it is her fault, not yours.
If your mother hasn’t dated in a long time, keep in mind that it’s probably a very scary and difficult time for her. Dating can be difficult and emotionally taxing. Remember this and try to be understanding of the situation.
Even if it doesn’t feel like it at times, you are the child in this relationship. It is not your responsibility to prevent your mother from making bad decisions or making mistakes.
Part 2: Discussing Your Emotions with Your Mother
1. Discuss your feelings with your mother. It is critical that you do not accuse your mother of neglecting you or of not caring about you when you do this. Instead, concentrate on telling her how you feel. Are you worried that you’ll lose her to someone else? Maybe you’re afraid she’ll get hurt? Are you concerned that she is attempting to replace your father? Determine exactly what you’re feeling.
Try to do this when you aren’t arguing with your mother or upset about something. Otherwise, you run the risk of saying things you don’t mean, which could hurt her feelings.
2. Take care of your concerns. When you’re talking with your mom, this is the time to address any concerns you have about her dating decisions or the person she’s dating. Do so with courtesy. It might be useful to say something like, “I know it’s not my place to tell you what to do, but I’ve noticed that…” This should help her see that you are only trying to look out for her (even though it isn’t your job).
For example, if you notice that she is frequently depressed after her dates, inform her of this. “Mom, I’m doing my best to understand this new chapter in your life, but every time you come home from a date, you seem less happy than when you left.” I just want to make sure you’re doing things that make you happy.”
Mention any changes you’d like to see in your relationship with her. For example, if you feel she isn’t spending enough time with you, tell her, “I understand that going on dates means you won’t be home as much, which is fine, but I also want to spend time with you.” Can we set aside some time for just you and me to do something fun?”
Leave it alone once you’ve discussed your concerns about her dating. It’s fine to do this once just to get it out there. After that, you should acknowledge that your mother is an adult.
3. Pay attention to what she has to say. It is equally important to allow your mother to express her own emotions. Try to find out what’s going on in your mother’s life and why she wants to start dating. For example, you may discover that your mother has been feeling very lonely for a long time and that dating has made her feel happy and cared for.
If you can listen, your mother will see that you aren’t just trying to complicate things. Listening to your mother’s feelings will also help her feel as if you care, bringing you closer together.
4. Send her a letter. If you believe that talking to your mother will only result in a fight or that she will not listen to you, try writing everything down in a letter. Try to be respectful and avoid accusing her of anything, just as you would when speaking to her. Simply explain how you’re feeling.
The benefit here is that it will give her plenty of time to read and re-read your thoughts, as well as give her time to consider the best way to respond to your feelings.
Part 3: Keeping Your Relationship With Your Mother
1. Request that you spend time with her. If you believe your mother is spending too much time with her new love interest, ask her if you can spend some time together alone. She may simply be unaware that you want to spend time with her as well; she may have assumed you wanted your alone time. Inquire if you and your date can go see a movie or cook dinner together.
If she says it’s a great idea and that she’ll bring the new boyfriend, tell her you’d really like to spend some time with just her.
If she asks why you want to spend time together in the first place, simply tell her that you love her and want to be close to her.
2. Avoid making comparisons between your mother’s new love interest and your other parent. It’s easy to see how her new partner isn’t as good as your other parent. Keep in mind, however, that they are not there to replace your other parent, so it makes no difference whether they are the same or different.
Instead, try to focus on the aspects of your mother’s new partner that you adore. Perhaps they enjoy going outside and playing catch with you, or perhaps they treat your mother very well and it is obvious how happy they make her. It’s always a good idea to look for other people’s strengths rather than their flaws.
3. Be encouraging. This is a difficult one, but if you are constantly arguing with your mother about her dating and telling her she should not do it, your relationship will be strained. If you can, try to remind her that you love her and want her to be happy, but that you also want to spend time with her on your own.
Tell her if you like someone she’s dating! If you don’t like them, try to be polite. It is not necessary for you to be best friends.
4. Allow yourself to be open to the person she is dating. Keep in mind that this person is not there to replace your father. They’re there because they care about your mother as well. You don’t have to treat this person like a parent, but you should treat them like any other adult you have no reason to disrespect. Greet them whenever you see them and remember to say “please” and “thank you” as needed.
If you give them a chance, you might discover that you like them more than you expected.
This can be frightening, and you may feel angry or resentful if you meet this person. If you need to, go to your room for a few minutes to process your interaction with the new person, but try not to be rude.
5. Avoid disparaging the person your mother is dating in front of your other parent. This can be tempting, but resist the urge. It’s not fair to your mother or the person she’s dating, and it could be upsetting for your other parent to learn about it. It may increase tension between your parents because your father may question your mother’s ability to make her own decisions.
If you need to vent about the person your mother is dating, try writing it all down in a journal or talking to someone who is not involved in the situation, such as a friend.
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