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As we grow up, our conversations with our friends go from being about the latest toys to being about our latest crushes and significant others. Most importantly, as we begin sharing our relationship experiences, we begin talking about our significant other’s family and perhaps more specifically, their mother and either the good or bad relationships we have with them.

From my personal experience, I’ve had my fair share of bad moments with my boyfriend’s mom. After being in a relationship with my boyfriend for three years, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks to help deal with a possibly toxic “mother-in-law.”

Whether you’re currently in a relationship or if you’ve never dated before, these five tips can help create healthy boundaries and prevent a negative relationship with your significant other’s mother from ruining your relationship with your significant other.

1. TIME IS KEY 

Sometimes, missing an important birthday party or even something as small as a family dinner might seem like it will cause a disturbance in your relationship with your partner’s mother. However, spending time away from your significant other’s family can be refreshing and will establish standards and boundaries for the future.

2. Rely on your support system for venting and advice

I know that talking about the negative parts of a relationship with your friends can be difficult because you don’t want them to see the other person in a bad light or think that your relationship is toxic or unhealthy. However, we are all human and no relationship will ever be 100% perfect, so don’t be afraid to lean on your support system when you need it. This way, you can confirm your feelings and have another perspective regarding the situation.

3. Don’t lie to your partner about how THEIR mother makes you feel

Lying to your partner will only create a rift in your relationship. Even though it might be awkward to talk to your partner about how their mother makes you feel, it will help you both be on the same page and take further steps to improve your relationship with your partner’s mother.

4. Create a game plan with your partner on how to handle difficult comments

If you’ve talked to your partner about some unpleasant occurrences with their mom, then the next step you’ll want to take is to set up a game plan for handling different situations and comments. For example, if your partner’s mother makes an unnecessary comment downgrading your position as their significant other, then you can come up with a plan on how to handle it—for example, heading out for the night or having your significant other address the comment head-on.

5. Don’t be afraid to step away from your relationship to set necessary boundaries

At the end of the day, the most important part of any of your relationships is you. So if your partner’s mother is not respecting you as an individual and your partner is refusing to support you, the best thing is to take a step back and take care of yourself. You might feel like it is too extreme to walk away, but it shows your partner that you are serious about being respected and it will help you figure out what you want in a relationship.

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Chantal Chew

UC Berkeley '24

Hi everyone! I am a second year at UC Berkeley studying Public Health. On my free time I enjoy binge watching new shows on Netflix, FaceTiming family, and hanging out with friends.
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