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The mom of my ex wants to get in touch... what now?
February 19, 2013 4:36 AM   Subscribe

Out of the blue, the mom of my ex-boyfriend (whom I thought I was just starting to get over with) wants to reconnect, but without his knowledge (we haven't been keeping in touch since Christmas). She wants to have "a little chat" -- when I pressed for details, she said only to keep in touch whenever I find myself in town. As well-intentioned as she may be, I feel this is quite manipulative of her due to the context of our breakup and I'm not sure how to respond, if I should, and if I should go ahead and meet up with her (I'm half-scared of being ambushed and reprimanded -- because she wants his sister to tag along on this chat, too -- plus I feel I'll be complicit in the mother's going behind my ex's back, whatever the outcome).

I recently broke up with my first boyfriend whom I thought was the love of my life because although we were talking openly about marriage, at some point he decided that he had a greater obligation to taking care of his parents and insisted on living with them indefinitely after marriage; for his parents, it's as if this has been the de facto arrangement all along. He told me that if he were in a life or death situation and he had to choose between myself and his parents, he'd choose the latter.

The parents obviously don't want to let him go, although they have been very accommodating to me (the mom introduced me as her future daughter-in-law to friends and relatives) , to the point where I feel that I have been the pursuer for the most part in the relationship after getting together... they come from a very conservative Christian background where he still has a 10pm curfew (at the age of 25), and because of us being in a long-distance relationship for three years. They preferred for me to head to his town to visit and stay in their house instead of the other way around.... they even preferred that I stay in their house instead of a hotel.

As the other half in the relationship I felt robbed of the opportunity to build a life with my significant other, who apparently had other plans that mostly involved his parents (he wasn't always like this -- his decision was triggered by his dad's major surgery, but thankfully he's well). As nice as they are, there's just no competing with his obligations to them. They take his time most of the weekend (his only free time, really) as he's the designated driver for their errands. He's basically always busy juggling family responsibilities and work. And the bottom line is, I really don't believe living with any set of in-laws is healthy -- I feel that's just entering a marriage that's doomed from the start. When we broke up and he told them, they were basically silent about the whole thing which he took to mean their agreement with our breakup. And because he told them, there's just no taking that back anymore.

I broke up with him but in a moment of weakness, I wanted to get back together, and argued and argued my case to the point of his getting fed up with me entirely. I still told him I loved him when we broke up, and he wanted to stay friends when I didn't at first... and then he just started getting disinterested entirely, not calling everyday or texting like he used to, saying he was too busy at work, etc. He just wasn't that into me anymore (the numbness and loss of spark he blames on my breaking up with him, the endless roller coaster ride of arguments after the breakup), and I decided to stop pursuing friendship with him... we just lost touch after I decided not to meet up with him before Christmas, which we had previously agreed upon. I just lost the desire with the lack of reciprocality. He says he's open to "great possibilities" of getting back together... maybe that's just something to make me feel better, I don't know.

So I don't know why the mother would get in touch all of a sudden. I have a couple of scenarios in my head (she wants us to get back together? he has a new girlfriend?) I'm open to reconciliation, if ever... but not like this (though aside from this I have no expectation of ever hearing from them again or bumping into them for that matter). And of course, being wary of overprotective parents, I had an inkling that they were the sly types... and now I feel like I have solid proof, though of course I could just be the paranoid crazy ex-girlfriend.

So... here are my questions after the tl;dr wall of text,:

1. Are his parents really being manipulative, or am I just overreacting? She told me not to tell her son that she was getting in touch with me to meet up. (Should I tell him?)
2. Do I go ahead and meet with the mom and "explain my side", or do I just let the issue go? I want reconciliation, but I'm relying on serendipity, not this. It feels forced.
3. If I do meet with her... what boundaries do I establish with regard to the information I disclose?
4. Nobody knows for sure why she wants to meet up with me, but are there any possible situations that I missed out on?

Ultimately... how do I deal with this situation in the most loving way possible?

Thanks all. In case you feel the need to email me... throwaway account is brothersonahotelbed.mefi@gmail.com.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (81 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Wipe your hands of this mess and walk away.
posted by empath at 4:39 AM on February 19, 2013 [92 favorites]


Why on earth would you respond to this message? You were in a relationship with her son, not her. Ignore it. Don't spend any more time thinking about it.
posted by caek at 4:40 AM on February 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


She told me not to tell her son that she was getting in touch with me to meet up. (Should I tell him?

There is exactly one situation where this isn't weird and manipulative and I sincerely do not think she wants you to help her plan a surprise party.
posted by griphus at 4:45 AM on February 19, 2013 [98 favorites]


Anon: "She told me not to tell her son that she was getting in touch with me to meet up."

No good will come of this. The Emily Post maxim applies here: "I'm afraid that won't be possible."
posted by mkultra at 4:46 AM on February 19, 2013 [15 favorites]


now I feel like I have solid proof, though of course I could just be the paranoid crazy ex-girlfriend.

You aren't crazy. Stop second guessing yourself. Don't respond to his mom or tell your ex via email that you're confused about the email from his mom and can't make it.

They're being weird. You aren't.
posted by discopolo at 4:46 AM on February 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


What would you hope to get out of this? Best response is "thanks but no thanks" imho.
posted by crocomancer at 4:46 AM on February 19, 2013


I read two sentences of your question and out of my lips came the words, "oh good grief."

Please stay away from this entire family, they are sick in the head.

(I did read the rest of the question.)
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:47 AM on February 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


run far, run fast. In six months you will look back and the sense of relief at what you barely missed will be IMMENSE.
posted by lemniskate at 4:51 AM on February 19, 2013 [10 favorites]


In your position, a large part of me would be inclined to email Mom, CCing ex-bf, to explain that I was not interested in meeting up with her, especially secretly, and that anything between me and ex-bf was a private matter in which I would not accept her interference.

But that might not be the most prudent thing to do. In the event that you did get back together with him, it would need to be his job to set boundaries with his own family, not yours to negotiate directly with them. It would be polite to tell his mother no rather than ignoring her. If you wanted to also let ex-bf know that she was contacting you secretly, there's maybe a 0.5% chance that that would be some kind of wake-up call for him to manage future relationships differently, so that could be a favor to him.

Considering you're ~25 and dated him for at least 3 years... have you, as an independent but young and unburdened adult, dated another independent and unburdened young adult? It's so much fun!
posted by ecsh at 4:53 AM on February 19, 2013 [12 favorites]


"I'm sorry, but I am just not comfortable with the idea of keeping in touch with you behind your son's back. I wish you the best."
posted by orange swan at 4:55 AM on February 19, 2013 [18 favorites]


Oh HELL no. You've come too far if you've finally gotten to the point where you don't have any contact with your ex anymore, and yet you still have a ways to go if you're still second-guessing yourself and toying with the idea of getting back together with him (your initial assessment of what life with him sounds 100% right to me, and I doubt that this would change if you got back together with him now).

And definitely do NOT tell the ex about any of this - not because you need to protect Mom, but because this would just be another entryway back into some seriously weird and unnecessary drama that really has nothing to do with you. My vote is for either no response or the "That won't be possible" response - and then no more contact with these folks, okay?
posted by DingoMutt at 4:58 AM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Nope nope nope. Explain nothing. You owe her nothing -- nothing.

Go Miss Manners style: "I'm sorry, that won't be possible." Tell her once. She'll as why. Ignore it.

Any explanations will just open the door for her to manipulate you, insult her son, and demean your old relationship. Just let it go.
posted by AmandaA at 4:59 AM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Out of the blue, the mom of my ex-boyfriend (whom I thought I was just starting to get over with) wants to reconnect, but without his knowledge (we haven't been keeping in touch since Christmas).

Even barring all the drama that follows it, this sentence alone makes the correct course of action ignoring the mother completely.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:10 AM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


WTF. they come from a very conservative Christian background where he still has a 10pm curfew That's not conservative Christianity, that's just plain controlling.

The idea that his primary obligation to his parents is unbiblical. The Bible clearly states that when you marry you leave the patrilocal residence and cleave to your spouse. He still has obligations to his parents but when you marry, the marriage becomes the primary relationship. If for whatever reason a married couple were living in one of their parents' home - at obvious risk of role clashes and conflict, hence the assumption that they move out - the marriage would still be the primary relationship.

There is no reason for your ex bf's mother and sister to want to have a "chat" with you. I dread the phrase "little chat". In employment situations, I was sometimes called in to temp as cover for someone who was about to get an "informal chat", meaning a firing or reprimand under the radar of company policy. As a child, I used to dread my best friend announcing "You and I are going to have a little chat", which meant that she was about to berate me for an hour or so about my many failings as a person. I have never heard of any situation where "a little chat" wasn't a portent of doom.

Unless you want to sit and endure a PowerPoint presentation about your many failings as a person/reasons why you should get back with the ex/whatthefuckever manipulative agenda these weirdoes actually have, just say "Thanks, but it's over and I am moving on, and I expect you will do the same. It was good to have known you."
posted by tel3path at 5:13 AM on February 19, 2013 [25 favorites]


And I just had the thought that maybe she's about to tell you you're pregnant. Who would you be to argue with that?
posted by tel3path at 5:14 AM on February 19, 2013 [16 favorites]


1. Are his parents really being manipulative, or am I just overreacting? She told me not to tell her son that she was getting in touch with me to meet up. (Should I tell him?)

Who the hell knows? Do you really want to find out? Even if it's not to manipulate you, it's manipulating him and the situation. You're not friends with her.

2. Do I go ahead and meet with the mom and "explain my side", or do I just let the issue go? I want reconciliation, but I'm relying on serendipity, not this. It feels forced.

Let it GO. You've broken up with him. He's done. You don't owe his mother an explanation of anything. You didn't break up with her, despite how it may feel.

3. If I do meet with her... what boundaries do I establish with regard to the information I disclose?

Just no. Under no circumstances do you meet with her. Send her a note or an email saying:

"Dear Mrs. Ex,

Thank you very much for your kind invitation to meet. I'm afraid it's not possible for me to meet with you, especially if it's a secret to keep from your son.

I wish you and your family the very best.

Regards,
anonymous"

4. Nobody knows for sure why she wants to meet up with me, but are there any possible situations that I missed out on?

It doesn't matter. She can't unbreak up for you or your boyfriend. She can't magically make him care more for you than he does for them. He's made his choice. You're better off. You have no idea just how big of a bullet you've dodged just yet.

Ultimately... how do I deal with this situation in the most loving way possible?

Be kind to yourself and move forward.
posted by inturnaround at 5:17 AM on February 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


If you feel like your life is lacking in pointless drama at this point, you should definitely meet up. Otherwise, no.

If she really wants to talk to you about something specific and not creepy (unlikely, given the circumstances), then after you turn her down she'll have another chance to ask again without all the mystery.

but are there any possible situations that I missed out on

Sure, but if it is anything truly relevant to you she can just email you with specifics and you can decide about meeting from there.
posted by mikepop at 5:20 AM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


No way.

A 25-year-old guy who lives with his parents and has a 10 pm curfew, and is okay with that?

I don't even know you, yet I want so bad for you to stay extricated from this situation, it hurts.

Send her inturnaround's note. Delete her, and his, contact details. Do not engage with them again.

Good grief. 'Bullet dodged', indeed.
posted by Salamander at 5:21 AM on February 19, 2013 [26 favorites]


Just say no.
posted by snorkmaiden at 5:24 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wipe your hands of this mess and walk away.

Didn't even need to read the More Inside to know that this is the right answer.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:47 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ultimately... how do I deal with this situation in the most loving way possible?

The most loving thing you can do is put yourself first. You need to get over your ex-boyfriend, who chose his familial obligations over you. Nothing that the mom could possibly tell you is going to help you get over him. You don't even need to write back to explain why, as that's just going to be an excuse for her to keep the dialog going.
posted by 23skidoo at 5:47 AM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


What a fascinating family. Run.
posted by Neekee at 5:48 AM on February 19, 2013 [40 favorites]


Yeah, why would you have to guess her reasons for wanting to meet with you? If it's something to do with a surprise party, she could say "It's to do with a surprise party and I realize this must seem like an odd request to you, but I need to pick your brains because of $REASONS."

I have never been in a situation where I was wondering "Why did X get in touch with me? Does X not know how creepy this seems? What does X want to talk about? This smells," and it turned out non-creepy.

Oh sure, I got the peanut gallery of "Maybe he knew you felt threatened, and he decided to reach out to you to reassure you," and maybe he did - but I'll never know, because hearing from him with no explanation made me feel threatened and I ran away. And if he knew I felt threatened, why didn't he anticipate that reaction and use his words, as in "I realize now you must have felt threatened, and I just want to reach out and reassure you..."

And I also got the peanut gallery of "Maybe he's having problems just like you did, wouldn't you want to offer a helping hand like you needed at the time?" Well yeah, I would if I knew that were actually the case. But then why couldn't he just say "Excuse me for contacting you like this, tel3path, but I'm having serious problems in this situation and I really need your help."

tl;dr If his mother had benign reasons for wanting to meet you, you'd know that already.
posted by tel3path at 5:50 AM on February 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


As someone who is still in touch with her ex-mother-not-quite-in-law following an 8-year relationship in which I was very close with my ex's entire family (I broke up entirely due to abusive ex, seriously don't know where his cruddy behavior came from as far as his family is concerned):

walk away. Nothing good for you can come from this.

As a point of comparison, my ex-MNQIL has never, ever asked me why I left her son, nor offered any opinion other than how she understood my decision. (Ex's behavior spoke for itself, in the eyes of sane, compassionate people anyhow.) Her focus in our communications is always on her own life, and how she still cares for me. When she first contacted me post-breakup, she made it ABUNDANTLY clear that it was because she wanted to know how I was doing, period, end of story. Furthermore, after eight years knowing her, I also knew I could trust her – this is someone who has always said what she means, always respected others' wishes even when she had different ideas, and always been an all-around neat person.

This is not the case here, in your situation.
posted by fraula at 5:58 AM on February 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


Please love yourself enough not to get roped back into this family's dysfunctional drama. Reply with a "No thanks" and leave it at that.
posted by jaguar at 5:58 AM on February 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


I can't think of one scenario where it would be a good idea for you to meet up with her - or even to continue to communicate with her. Tell her you're not comfortable with it and be firm on that. Seriously, don't meet up with her.

Move on. I think you're better off not really being in touch with your ex - you two have fundamentally different life views, and trying to be friends didn't work out so well (which is not super surprising to me, I think his family will probably consume as much time as he lets them and without a gf he's got more time!).

So go move on and make a good life for yourself. If serendipity is going to make things happen, you won't be able to tell beforehand, so move forward and leave him and his family in the past.

As an aside, I'm sorry - losing your first boyfriend sucks, especially when you were talking long term future. Sometimes when you initiate a breakup it feels like you did it in a moment of weakness, but it was actually a moment of strength. It's hard to do, especially when you see good things about a person, but I don't think you did it lightly.
posted by mrs. taters at 6:03 AM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Please don't meet with her, and it's best to refuse with a simple "No thanks." Do not offer reasons. Then turn your eyes forward and see all the possiblilties open to you when this very strange family is behind you.

Considering you're ~25 and dated him for at least 3 years... have you, as an independent but young and unburdened adult, dated another independent and unburdened young adult? It's so much fun!

Yes, yes yes!
posted by Dolley at 6:07 AM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


The only reason I can see where the mother of an ex could reasonably want to keep in touch would be if there was a child involved..... you mention no child or pregnancy, so I'm assuming that does not apply here.

Run, run for your life, and be glad you no longer have a connection to this woman. Not replying to her message at all would be your best plan; backup plan would be to repeat to her "no, that will not be possible."
posted by easily confused at 6:07 AM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I agree that moving on is a good idea. Someone that dependent is going to have a hard time not being dependent on someone, and you'll be new-mom when his parents shuffle off this mortal coil.

However, my curiosity would compel me to go to this meeting and find out what's going on. Their intentions seem weird, but maybe they aren't. Seems like the worst case is an uncomfortable lunch and a good story.
posted by gjc at 6:11 AM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Just thought I'd pile on too. No.

A quick email back, "That won't be possible."

And block her email and phone number and any other avenue for her to reach you.

Just when you were starting to feel good about things, and getting on with your life, she tries to pull you back in.

Run for the hills.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:12 AM on February 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Say no (obviously), and point out if necessary that you can't marry her son because he is already married to his parents. And since he's an ex, you really shouldn't be having contact with his family any more anyway.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:29 AM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Flee. FLEE!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:33 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Avoid. Avoid. Avoid. Avoid. Avoid.

I can not say this strongly enough that you need to avoid this situation.
posted by RolandOfEld at 6:33 AM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


This sounds like it could be a great topic for a cultural anthropology documentary. The subjects appear to have very little contact with the modern world, and what little contact they have had is clearly being interpreted in unorthodox ways. The only problem I can see is that documentary filmmakers typically don't have personal relationships with their subjects, at least as far as I'm aware.

Don't even reply.
posted by b1tr0t at 6:33 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


She wants to talk to you about a specific thing, this isn't a "catch up when you're in town" conversation.

Take the advice here. I would bet good money she contacts you again, but gives a more specific reason for wanting to talk to you.

Don't meet her.
posted by irishcoffee at 6:35 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


It sounds the absolute best-case scenario for you (judging by your comments on still loving him but being unable to be with someone controlled by their parents) would be this conversation has your MIL and sister admitting they were wrong to control your ex, they now recognise he is an adult, and encourage him to take agency in his life including deciding who he wants to date. But why would THEY be telling YOU that, and behind his back to boot? That is a conversation they need to have with him; if, based on the new-found adulthood he decides to be with you then he needs to reach out to you and show by his actions that the situation has changed.

I literally can't think of any positive (for you) reason for them to contact you but can come up with situations like your ex has finally grown a back-bone, has a new gf he is prioritising (or the gf is more assertive than you were) and his mummy wants you to get back into the picture to stir up trouble between them. I am sure you are dying of curiosity and if you were stronger (had moved on, were no longer even thinking about your ex) going to satisfy your curiosity might be okay. As things are now, it will just reset the "break-up" clock for you and be upsetting.
posted by saucysault at 6:40 AM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


He told me that if he were in a life or death situation and he had to choose between myself and his parents, he'd choose the latter.

"I'm sorry, Ex's Mom, but that won't be possible."

Then walk away. There are plenty of better relationships to be had with people who don't have this guy's weird neurotic issues.
posted by ellF at 6:56 AM on February 19, 2013


No no no no no no no.

Nope.. Nope nope nope.

Nothing good will come from this. Think about what you've said regarding your ex's relationship with his parents, about how they keep him close, reel him in, etc. and think about what they're doing here: Keeping you close, reeling you in.

Keep your response short and polite. If she presses you for a reason, remember, you don't owe her a reason. You don't owe her anything. A simple no is all she needs, and the reasons are completely your own and none of her business.

You are under NO obligation to these people. Make a clean break, keep no contact, move on, and when you feel weak and start wondering "How he is" or "What was that all about when she wanted to talk", find a friend to call instead. It doesn't seem like there's a chance at friendship here; he's made that clear.

Move on with your life; choose freedom :)
posted by absquatulate at 7:09 AM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


If there were some non-drama-related reason for her getting in touch with you, she would have picked up the phone or explained it to you over email. "Make a trip to my home town, meet me in person, but I can't tell you why and don't tell my son" is a bunch of huge red flags all wrapped together. "Thank you, I hope you are doing well. I'm sorry, but it won't be possible" is a perfectly fine response.
posted by deanc at 7:11 AM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Ultimately... how do I deal with this situation in the most loving way possible?

Loving for who? His mom, him or you? 'Cause that's a talk order to fill.

You don't have be loving, you just have to be concrete in setting boundaries.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:12 AM on February 19, 2013


I think you should go. Seriously. Because I think it will help you decide whether to really move on from this guy or else get back together with him in a more serious way. You broke up with the boyfriend, which considering your differences was probably smart, but now you seem intent on trying to reconcile and get back together. But the reality of the situation is that getting back together with him means also getting back together with his parents. He's not leaving the nest of his parent's home, he's burrowing deeper into it, so if you tie yourself to him that's where you'll end up too. This may be the first secretive chat that the mother wants to have, but it wouldn't be the last. The bottom-line is that marrying this man means marrying his parents, and that's not going to change.

So if I was in your situation here is what I would do: i would agree to meet, and when the day came I'd be very polite, but I'd keep some psychological distance and watch her closely, asking myself whether or not I want this person to have a major role in my life. I'd say to myself "would I enjoy having this person at the breakfast table every morning?' or 'could I handle raising children with this person?' In essence: 'could I marry this woman?' If the (unlikely) answer is 'yes, I can', then you know that it makes good sense to try to get back with your ex. But if the answer is 'hell, no!' then maybe you'll finally find the strength and resolve to really leave your ex in the past and move on to a better life.

However, my curiosity would compel me to go to this meeting and find out what's going on. Their intentions seem weird, but maybe they aren't. Seems like the worst case is an uncomfortable lunch and a good story.

This too.
posted by MrOlenCanter at 7:13 AM on February 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


You've already received a million responses that say what I am about to say but I simply cannot resist.

You've dodged a bullet here. Stay away. Block phone numbers, email addresses, social media accounts, whatever you have to in order to not hear from these people again. This is all sorts of wrong and has been for a long time.
posted by rocketpup at 7:20 AM on February 19, 2013


With regard to the people suggesting you go, I just want to add that your boyfriend's mother sounds like a master manipulator, possibly an iron hand in a velvet glove sort of matriarch. If you don't feel yourself her equal (you don't sound like you do) you could very well find yourself agreeing to things you really don't want to do. Going behind your ex's back and having lunch with his mother and sister for example. Geez, can you bring your own 'second'? I'd suggest an outlaw biker because I expect your ex's family to fight dirty. It's often better for everyone concerned to cut things off rather than try to navigate a situation you aren't up to.
posted by rocketpup at 7:27 AM on February 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


When I read the heading to your question, the thought that popped into my head was "maybe anon broke up with ex because of a substance abuse or anger problem and mom wants to organize an intervention" Besides griphus' surprise party conjecture, I see that as the only good reason to consider meeting with mom. Since the rest of your question doesn't make it seem like a possibility, I think this meeting had Bad Idea written all over it.

I'm pretty sure that ex has spoken to mom about your relationship angst, and mom probably wants you to get back together and this meeting is her way of trying to make it happen. Take this extra controlling activity as a reason to GTFO. You can do better.
posted by sparklemotion at 7:46 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Geez, can you bring your own 'second'?

Hey, wasn't the mom planning on bringing the sister too? That's even better, because that sister probably ain't going anywhere either, so marrying this guy means marrying her too. I think you should go, and feel what it's like to have the two of them gang up on you! And ask yourself "could I handle having this experience, over and over again, year after year?" If anything is going to help you get over this guy and start looking for greener pastures, it'll be this.
posted by MrOlenCanter at 7:46 AM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'd be sorely tempted to get in touch, just to congratulate this woman for having achieved her apparent goal of preventing her own child from becoming an adult. But that would not be The High Road.

But yeah... please stay well out of this dysfunctional mess.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 7:47 AM on February 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


I want to add that if you want to find out what she wants without actually getting yourself involved, your best bet is to do absolutely nothing (as in, do not reply). People who create weird secret scenarios aren't accustomed to being ignored. You can bet your ex's mom is counting on her vagueness to get you to respond. If you don't, not even to politely say it's not possible, she may feel she has no choice but to explain herself (something she should have done in the first place).

Whatever the reason for her email, even if it's her realizing the part she played in your break up, there is nothing she can say or do that will change anything. Her contact only underscores the problem you had with your ex in the first place. If she had at all thought about it (!) she might have realized receiving such an email could be painful for you. Instead she chose to insinuate herself in something that is none of her business at your expense (and, frankly, her son's). Don't bite.
posted by marimeko at 7:52 AM on February 19, 2013 [10 favorites]


Do I go ahead and meet with the mom and "explain my side", or do I just let the issue go? I want reconciliation, but I'm relying on serendipity, not this. It feels forced.

Um no. I wouldn't meet with her. Reconciliation with a 25-year-old who has to be home at 10 and is weirdly controlled by his parents? You are better than this. I would question a person's sanity who wanted to be involved with this family. It's bizarre. What do you really want for your life? A normal, healthy relationship? Go find that. It isn't with this guy.
posted by Fairchild at 7:54 AM on February 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


If I could smoke out her intentions before hand, I would go. I would tell her that while you are willing to keep this communication private and are willing to keep the fact that you are meeting private, you cannot agree to keep the content of the meeting from you ex until you hear what they say at the meeting. I would also tell her that since she does not appear to want to disclose the reason for meeting in advance, that you reserve the right to get up and leave if at any point you are uncomfortable (you always have that right, but it helps to go on record in advance in case you do get up and walk out on her).

While I can easily say from my point of view I would not want to be involved with this family, you have dated this man for a while, you know the situation and you still want to get back together although I suspect on your terms. This meeting might bring clarity one way or the other.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:58 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


You know what word we use for the parents of our exes?

We don't have such a word. There's a reason for that.
posted by 1adam12 at 8:05 AM on February 19, 2013 [16 favorites]


I would text your ex and tell him that his mom and sister are trying to secretly set up a meeting with you that you have absolutely no intention of attending.

I would tell his mom in no uncertain terms to back off because the relationship is over.

And after that I would cease all contact with this family because they are cray cray and you don't deserve to deal with their bullshit.
posted by phunniemee at 8:05 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


For goodness sake. Don't go. You have no reason to.

I don't say this to be rude, but the fact that you needed to ask this question speaks of 1) your very good sense of when you're being manipulated, which 2) isn't sophisticated enough yet for you to be able to hold your own in any discussion with her.

Like, for realz. Why would you bother going? Just don't. It's like watching a group of friends in a horror movie saying "I know, let's split up!"
posted by tel3path at 8:08 AM on February 19, 2013 [13 favorites]


What could you possibly gain from meeting with this woman? Don't get involved.
posted by mskyle at 8:17 AM on February 19, 2013


I would take this as further proof that this family has terrible boundary problems, and set course to ignore all of them from here on out.
posted by Squeak Attack at 8:18 AM on February 19, 2013


I'm a little put off by all the responders calling this family crazy and otherwise heaping scorn on them. I didn't pick up with any certainty where Anonymous is located (maybe I didn't read the question attentively enough). But couldn't this be a cultural difference? There are lots of places, in Europe, for instance, where adult children go on living with their parents, date, start families, where mothers insistently advocate for their adult sons, and so on. And even in the US, this could be a cultural expectation in some communities. There's really no need to speak of these people as if they were the Peacock family.

But even so, the Anonymous OP doesn't seem at all equipped to manage this kind of relationship. If she is unprepared to, basically, marry into her ex's family, then any further interaction with them is a really bad idea. When these sorts of expectations aren't clearly laid out and carefully managed by both parties, the only things that can result is pain and misery.

Basically, this is advice to date people who match your cultural expectations.
posted by Nomyte at 8:20 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


You wanted to marry this guy, and yet he chooses his family first. You deserve someone who cares about their family, but who will put your new family first. I want to highlight this:

2. Do I go ahead and meet with the mom and "explain my side", or do I just let the issue go? I want reconciliation, but I'm relying on serendipity, not this. It feels forced.

Why would you tell his mother your side? Why is she between you again/still? If you really want to reconcile with her son, then go. Listen. BUT!

Do not disclose ANY information about your relationship with her son. You owe her NO information about why you broke up. Feel free to use the template above about how you can't promise not to disclose to him later. Because if you and he are ever going to have a healthy relationship (as many have pointed out, you deserve better than someone who's promised to leave you in a burning building, but!) you need Much Better boundaries wherein his mother and parents are not controlling him, you, or your relationship.

Lastly, ask yourself what she can possibly tell you at this meeting that would make a renewed relationship with this guy a healthy, happy one. That once you marry she'll lift his curfew? That she realizes their relationship has harmed yours?

If you can get talk therapy, consider talking to a professional about how to put your own needs first and have a healthy primary relationship.
posted by ldthomps at 8:38 AM on February 19, 2013


I know you're curious, and I would be too. I would want to go, maybe with a friend, and maintain orange alert throughout.

But that would be a Bad Idea. Don't go.

But I know that doesn't satisfy your curiosity. Send out that "thank you, but it won't be possible" email. If it's not a ploy to get you back, and your ex is (heaven forbid) really dying and wants to see you one last time -- it'll be important enough for mother dearest to put in a followup email.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:52 AM on February 19, 2013


Nobody knows for sure why she wants to meet up with me, but are there any possible situations that I missed out on?

Is there any chance she wants to warn you that he has threatened you in some way? Yes, I know this is unlikely and it would be the wrong way for her to let you know, but weird controlling people can be weird and controlling about everything, including things that are important. If you think this is even a remote possibility, I would advise telling her that you absolutely need to know what the topic of the conversation is before you would consider meeting with her. Once you know whether this is trivial or important, you can proceed accordingly -- decline her invitation or go to the police.
posted by Wordwoman at 8:56 AM on February 19, 2013


If you really want to reconcile with the son (which, again, doesn't sound like a great idea but that's not your question here), what do you envision that looking like? Do you picture a situation where he is NOT being controlled by his family?

How could meeting with his mother behind his back possibly serve that goal?

Like others have said, you really dodged a bullet here. You were strong and smart to cut this group off when you did; be loving to yourself now by maintaining your borders. "Thank you for your invitation, but that won't be possible; I wish you and your family well in the future" is all you need to say. No reasons - that will only give her leverage for further wheedling - just "thanks, but no thanks," and be done.
posted by DingoMutt at 9:03 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


It sounds like you'd like to get back together with the son, possibly, in the future. I agree with everyone upthread that you shouldn't go to the meeting (both for the strange thing and also the keeping secrets from someone who might be a future partner), but also think you shouldn't alienate the Mom. Luckily, you live a ways away so you can easily dodge this bullet. I would respond as follows,

Dear X,

It was wonderful to hear from you - I have really missed you and DAUGHTER! Thank you for the kind invitation, but I don't have an plans to be in TOWN coming up. If that happens, I'll be sure to let you, DAUGHTER, and EX know.

Best wishes,

ANONYMOUS


Don't address the "keep this a secret from X!" thing, there is no profit from that. Ignore it and she is free to think you didn't notice that request, and you're free to pretend it never happened. If you do get back together, don't keep secrets from your partner unless there is a good reason (mostly: you're planning a surprise party!)
posted by arnicae at 9:17 AM on February 19, 2013


I'm a little put off by all the responders calling this family crazy and otherwise heaping scorn on them. I didn't pick up with any certainty where Anonymous is located (maybe I didn't read the question attentively enough). But couldn't this be a cultural difference? There are lots of places, in Europe, for instance, where adult children go on living with their parents, date, start families, where mothers insistently advocate for their adult sons, and so on. And even in the US, this could be a cultural expectation in some communities. There's really no need to speak of these people as if they were the Peacock family.

I am in my early 30s and have been married for almost three years. I am white and was born in Canada; my wife is Hindu and was born in Sri Lanka. We live with my wife's father who is a widower and also suffers from various health issues that would make it very difficult for him to live alone. And being Hindu, there is a strong cultural norm of inter-generational living. My wife was very up front before our wedding that she would want to live with her dad and that my refusal to accept this would have been a deal breaker. Because I love my wife very much, I was willing to accept this even though it was not necessarily my ideal living arrangement. Fortunately, my father-in-law is a really great guy who is not judgemental or overbearing; he had no problems with the fact that his daughter entered a "love marriage" rather than an arranged marriage, for example. He and I have a really good son-in-law/father-in-law relationship.

All of which is to say that I am sensitive to these sort of cultural differences. I don't think this family is crazy simply because a 25-year-old plans to live with his parents for the rest of the parents' life.

The 10pm curfew, however?! For a 25-year-old?! That is insane. My wife would never accept being treated like that from her father. But her father would never make such an insane and authoritarian demand like that in the first place. The curfew issue is, for me, the red flag that suggests that the parents are odd and that OP should decline the invitation to meet with them.
posted by obscure simpsons reference at 9:33 AM on February 19, 2013 [8 favorites]


I'm a little put off by all the responders calling this family crazy and otherwise heaping scorn on them. I didn't pick up with any certainty where Anonymous is located (maybe I didn't read the question attentively enough). But couldn't this be a cultural difference?
He told me that if he were in a life or death situation and he had to choose between myself and his parents, he'd choose the latter.

... they come from a very conservative Christian background where he still has a 10pm curfew (at the age of 25)
Yes, there clearly is a cultural difference and the respondents here (myself included) are clearly eschewing cultural relativism in favor of making value judgments. But I think the advice is sound.

But even so, the Anonymous OP doesn't seem at all equipped to manage this kind of relationship.

Who can really say they are equipped to manage a relationship with a person who says point blank they will be at best the third person they carry out of a burning building?
posted by rocketpup at 9:39 AM on February 19, 2013


Walk away. Someday you will realize that this was the emotional equivalent of nearly getting hit by a bus you didn't see coming.

Mom is trying to make you one of her loyal subjects.

I know you desire reconciliation, but as it stands this guy is emotionally unavailable to you. Please understand that - it's not that he's busy, or that he is afraid of commitment. He has made a commitment and you are not it. He has nothing left for you, it's all claimed by his parents.

Perhaps someday when he's grown as a person and severed the apron strings there could be a possibility, but that time is not now. He has to be free and clear of his own volition. Staying in contact and engaging with his batshit family will not accelerate or aid the process - it will only prolong your suffering. Please put reconciliation out of your mind, the thought of it is a dangerous trap in this case.

Now the particulars:
1. Are his parents really being manipulative, or am I just overreacting? She told me not to tell her son that she was getting in touch with me to meet up. (Should I tell him?)

Who knows if they intend to manipulate you? Who cares? You seem to feel as though you are being manipulated and that is enough. But yes, you are overreacting - look at how much you're overthinking this. The appropriate reaction is "Sorry Mrs. Ex'smom, that won't be possible." Do not explain, do not argue, do not apologize (except for the initial "Sorry," which is just a social lubricant - after that you should remove that word from your vocabulary with regard to these people). Do not get tricked into engaging or you will lose. And no, do not tell him - that would be engagement and that is to be avoided.

2. Do I go ahead and meet with the mom and "explain my side", or do I just let the issue go? I want reconciliation, but I'm relying on serendipity, not this. It feels forced.

Let it go. Close the book. Run, do not walk, away. Save yourself. Get out. Nip that shit right in the bud. Drop them all like a hot rock. DO NOT MEET.

3. If I do meet with her... what boundaries do I establish with regard to the information I disclose?

Doesn't matter because see #2 above. Your one and only boundary should be "Sorry Mrs Ex'smom, that won't be possible." And if she follows up, "Mrs. Ex'smom, I told you I was not interested and you have not respected my wishes. All future communications from you will go directly in the trash/be deleted without being read/listened to." Then do those things if she continues. No more contact! None!

4. Nobody knows for sure why she wants to meet up with me, but are there any possible situations that I missed out on?

Who cares, not your problem, thinking about it is robbing you of precious time you could be spending on positive things. Don't let your curiosity trap you into some bullshit drama. That's one way manipulators work. Disengage, cut off contact, run away!

Okay, look at what this woman (presumably both parents, but she's the one who reached out) has done to her son. It seems plain to me from your report that she is clearly used to being in charge and being able to manipulate people to get what she wants. Her bullshit air of mystery is MEANT to pique your curiosity. If you let it, she will have begun her process of molding you to fit whatever reality it is she's trying to create. Let me say it again - this is a trap just as surely as a rusty bear trap lying in the woods. Please please please recognize it as such and do not step in it. Do not even poke at it with a stick.

Ultimately... how do I deal with this situation in the most loving way possible?

You do it by realizing that the only person in this scenario you need to treat lovingly is yourself, and what that means is RUN AWAY!!!

NO explanations. NO meetings. NO apologies. NO engagement or you lose. Move on.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 10:12 AM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm a little put off by all the responders calling this family crazy and otherwise heaping scorn on them. I didn't pick up with any certainty where Anonymous is located (maybe I didn't read the question attentively enough). But couldn't this be a cultural difference? There are lots of places, in Europe, for instance, where adult children go on living with their parents, date, start families, where mothers insistently advocate for their adult sons, and so on. And even in the US, this could be a cultural expectation in some communities. There's really no need to speak of these people as if they were the Peacock family.

I come from such a culture, and my mum semi-had this marriage until my grandparents died. It made her utterly and entirely miserable, and was one of the things which led to my homelife growing up being unhappy and neglectful-abusive. All around me I see people in this kind of arrangement - tends to go better with the man moving into a family + daughter unit than when the woman is the "intruder". As OSR describes above, I've heard of really successful arrangements of this kind - heard of, but never truly witnessed one, they're a bit of a unicorn to me.

Anyway, my money is on - whilst you were dating her son, mother saw that you could be groomed to become the perfect new addition for this kind of arrangement, she knows you broke up from boyfriend because you fear it (and you are not willing to be the fifth wheel in their family), and wants to work on you so that you reconsider. Basically, she uses son who is quite willing, but requires a feminine/external/additional source of supply for some of the other needs which son, or other men, or her daughter cannot quite take care of. Maybe she just figures you as someone who could be broken in and "tamed", after all, you are still holding out for reconciliation even though your ex made it completely and unambigously clear that you are very low on his list of priorities (and as a general idea, most people would expect to be the number one priority for their partner, or, at least, for the new familial unit to be number one in terms of interpersonal relationships at least). She fears someone else might actually try, and succeed, to alienate your ex from his family enough to move him out of your ex-almost-MIL's sphere of influence.

I'd also be quite careful about reconciling - even if your ex claims to have had an epiphany with regard to his hyper-involvement in his family of origin and his strange priorities, I'd be quite vigilant for the first few months.

Cynical because burnt.
posted by miorita at 10:18 AM on February 19, 2013 [11 favorites]


I am in my early 30s and have been married for almost three years. I am white and was born in Canada; my wife is Hindu and was born in Sri Lanka. We live with my wife's father … The 10pm curfew, however?! For a 25-year-old?! That is insane. My wife would never accept being treated like that from her father. But her father would never make such an insane and authoritarian demand like that in the first place.

At the risk of appearing to argue in someone else's question, there could be lots of reasons for these things. Maybe they're all "early to rise and early to bed" types. Maybe they live in a small house or undersized apartment, and someone returning late can't help waking people up. Maybe they're all genuinely crazy. I don't know, and neither does it matter beyond the fact that these customs are incompatible with the asker's ideas about relationships, independence, and family.

For what it's worth, there was a relevant cross-cultural, cross-generational question about an "Americanized" adult child's relationship with specifically Indian parents not too long ago. The questions and the nature of MeFi's responses may help the asker think about through the differences in the things that she and her ex's family value.
posted by Nomyte at 10:22 AM on February 19, 2013


I want to add that if you want to find out what she wants without actually getting yourself involved, your best bet is to do absolutely nothing (as in, do not reply). People who create weird secret scenarios aren't accustomed to being ignored. You can bet your ex's mom is counting on her vagueness to get you to respond. If you don't, not even to politely say it's not possible, she may feel she has no choice but to explain herself (something she should have done in the first place).

Repeated for truth.



Coming to you in secret, even in the super unlikely "surprise party" possibility, isn't on the level as far as I am concerned. It is:
1) shifty as all get out
2) disrespectful to you
3) disrespectful to her son
4) inappropriate

You should take all of this, including his mother's shifty "meet in secret" plan, as a big Matrix style bullet dodging. His relationship with his parents is, from my perspective, pretty effed up. A 10pm curfew for a 25 year old is pretty bizzare. The fact that he even HAS a curfew is strange as hell. His insistence on living with his parents even after getting married would send me running in any situation (and I really like my fiance's parents), but his parents sound extremely controlling and the life you would have had living with them would almost definitely would have been an uhappy one. It never would be YOUR house, it would be his parents house and you were living in it. You would never feel free to run your house as you felt appropriate. What you wanted would always be denied unless it fell within his parents (and his) thoughts on the matter. He was crystal clear that YOUR needs and wants were never going to come first. He was clear on that, and of course his parents are going to treat you the same way. You'd always be a second class citizen in your own home, and heaven help you if you had children with him. I can only imagine how they would feel inclined to enforce their rules and beliefs of parenting on you. That is not a relationship I would want to be in.


As a bit of an aside, I'd like to describe my relationship. First off, it isn't perfect. It takes work and we have our issues. However, my partner and I value each other and our relationship above everything (the one exception being his son/my step-son). All decisions are made together, and when we want different things we either do what one wants and the next time the other gets what they want, OR we find a halfway point. (usually a halfway point is found.) Foot down, "I will never give on this" type things like your ex's need to live with his parents pretty much don't exist, and in the few circumstances where they do they are usually on small things like my hatred of ham or my fiance's need to sleep on the right side of the bed. My parents have ideas about how we should be doing things, as do his parents, but they don't voice them especially often, and when they do we listen but then my fiance and I discuss together what we want. We hear our parents, we respect our parents, but we also respect each other and our relationship, as well as our ability to make good decisions. We satisfy their wishes when we can, but only when we both agree it is something we want for ourselves. Basically, WE are the ones deciding what OUR life together is going to look like, and because of that we both like the direction our life is taking, and our future looks pretty fantastic.

Does ANY of this sound like what you had? No? Well, take this as you will, but the relationships of all of my married friends is pretty much the same as what my fiance and I have. In my circle, this is what a normal, healthy relationship is. Granted, there are sometimes going to be cultural differences, but to me these are core things that a healthy relationship should have. This guy was your FIRST BOYFRIEND. You have no idea what a healthy relationship is yet because I don't think you've been in one. If I were you I'd be getting really excited for the day when you get to experience a happy, healthy, mutually respectful relationship where you are made to feel valued. They are wonderful.


Anyway, I see NOTHING good that could come of this, and there is a whole pile of bad that is likely to come of it. Seriously, apart from satisfying your curiosity, what good could possibly come of this? Curiosity can be powerful, but this is a cat killer if ever I saw one.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 10:45 AM on February 19, 2013


And just one more point:

His family isn't necessarily awful, nor is his mother necessarily a scheming manipulator. He wants to live with his parents forever, and his parents maintain a pretty strict level of control over his life. Okay. The fact that they chose to have this dynamic and living arrangements is fine. They aren't harming others by choosing to live this way, and they should be able to live that way if they please.

however...

Just as their beliefs that living that was is correct should be allowed, your beliefs and feelings that their dynamic and living situation isn't something you want should also be respected. You're allowed to not want it. You're allowed to not want to live with your husband's parents in your home until they die. You're allowed to not want to live in a home where you have to follow everyone else's rules.

Knowing that you don't want to live that way isn't being disrespectful to them. You aren't telling them they are wrong. You're just clear that it is wrong for you, and that is 100000% okay. I feel like any meeting with her would be just her trying to convince you otherwise.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 10:58 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Another possible scenario:
The mother has made arrangements for her and the father to move in with her sister, freeing up the boyfriend to have his own life. She has recognized the sacrifices that boyfriend has been making (coming home early so as not to wake up the parents, driving them around all weekend, etc) and she has decided not to be a burden anymore since she now sees just how much this is affecting her son's happiness, so if OP is still interested in pursuing boyfriend, living conditions from this point forward might be a lot easier and OP should go for it. Why doesn't boyfriend tell all this to OP? He's afraid she has already moved on and doesn't want to bother her, so Mother took it in her own hands to pass the message along.

Likely? Probably not. But it's possible.
posted by CathyG at 11:04 AM on February 19, 2013


At the risk of appearing to argue in someone else's question, there could be lots of reasons for these things. Maybe they're all "early to rise and early to bed" types. Maybe they live in a small house or undersized apartment, and someone returning late can't help waking people up. Maybe they're all genuinely crazy. I don't know, and neither does it matter beyond the fact that these customs are incompatible with the asker's ideas about relationships, independence, and family.

OP specifically said "they come from a very conservative Christian background where he still has a 10pm curfew (at the age of 25)." The curfew is not mentioned in a stand alone sentence, so I made the obvious inference that there was a causal relationship between the very conservative Christian background and the curfew. If there was some mundane and more reasonable explanation for the curfew, I assume OP would have clarified this point, or not mentioned the curfew at all.

The whole essence of the question, however, is that OP wants advice on how to handle these customs because she is not sure whether they are, or should be, incompatible with her ideas about relationships, independence and family. Hence, she explicitly asks whether she is being manipulated or is overreacting. It's difficult to address the question without making value judgments about the family's behaviour.
posted by obscure simpsons reference at 11:22 AM on February 19, 2013


This is still fresh in your mind so I understand why you want to give him and his family another chance. But in a couple of years you'll be married to someone else, someone awesome, and you'll look back on these days and be thankful that you were given the chance to walk away.
posted by exhilaration at 11:31 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


The only good reason to meet with her is so you can report back here and let all us nosy people know what she wanted. If that's not enough for you, just politely and vaguely decline.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:38 PM on February 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


This whole thing sounds kind of crazy, however, if you're serious about reconciling with your ex, I would consider going. Set a time limit to you meeting, divulge nothing about your past relationship.

While they sound like they control his life, two things stands out to me.
I felt robbed of the opportunity to build a life with my significant other, who apparently had other plans that mostly involved his parents (he wasn't always like this -- his decision was triggered by his dad's major surgery, but thankfully he's well)

and

They take his time most of the weekend (his only free time, really) as he's the designated driver for their errands.

I think there is a big difference between parents who are manipulative and controlling, and parents who have had serious (life-threatening?) health issues and are depending on their adult son for care.

Cathy G's scenario is the only positive one I can think of.
posted by inertia at 12:45 PM on February 19, 2013


NO!
Just... no.
posted by BlueHorse at 12:50 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


no. just... no. no to the mother, no to getting back together with him and all the baggage attached to him, just no.

move on. i know you feel like this was maybe it, but i promise you, it's a great big world out there, and you will find something better, whether that's another person who fits great with you, or making yourself awesome on your own. but damn, you do not need this hot mess anymore.
posted by koroshiya at 1:14 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Another possible scenario:
The mother has made arrangements for her and the father to move in with her sister, freeing up the boyfriend to have his own life. She has recognized the sacrifices that boyfriend has been making (coming home early so as not to wake up the parents, driving them around all weekend, etc) and she has decided not to be a burden anymore since she now sees just how much this is affecting her son's happiness, so if OP is still interested in pursuing boyfriend, living conditions from this point forward might be a lot easier and OP should go for it. Why doesn't boyfriend tell all this to OP? He's afraid she has already moved on and doesn't want to bother her, so Mother took it in her own hands to pass the message along.

Likely? Probably not. But it's possible


Well, there are infinite possibilities for what could be going on behind the scenes. The only way for the OP to find out is to go and meet the mother, giving up control of the interaction to someone she thinks is manipulating her.

Yes, anything could be happening behind the scenes. And saying "they are conservative Christians who imposed a 10pm curfew" connotes that the curfew is an expression of the family's belief systems. But, maybe the implication wasn't intended, or maybe it was intended but doesn't reflect reality, such that all the statements the OP has made end up telling us virtually nothing unless we take them at face value.

Taking it at face value, it seems exceptionally controlling for a 25-year-old man to have a 10pm curfew imposed on him by his parents, "conservative Christianity" doesn't explain this in Anglo-Saxon culture at least, and whatever cultural standpoint the OP is speaking from, it's discomfiting to her too. So, presented with the question "is this weird/is it likely that I am being manipulated by these people considering that they're the kind of people who act like this?" the answer seems to be "yes".

By far the strongest argument for the son's increased involvement with his family, is his father's serious illness. However, that doesn't seem to be the whole story in that it doesn't explain other features like the curfew, for example, nor why the other family members can't do any driving or they can't take buses or even cabs when their son has other plans on the weekend. She's clearly described a controlling family who exert a greater level of control than the OP wants to be placed under.

I personally don't think that it's a good idea for the OP to put herself in the company of someone she thinks may be trying to manipulate her, on the off-chance that (say) a distant granduncle has passed away and was so taken with the OP, though they only met once, that he has willed her his entire personal fortune. Because that's possible, too, isn't it?

But the likeliest explanation is that the OP is going to have an unpleasant experience of emotional manipulation, possibly leading to more unpleasant experiences of emotional manipulation, which can be entirely avoided by trusting her instincts that going to the meeting is a bad idea. So I reiterate my vote: don't go.
posted by tel3path at 1:59 PM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wouldn't even answer the email- god only knows what the woman would do with it.

And this might just be my personal experience with a very similar-sounding family (my own, unfortunately), but if I were you I'd make sure that places like your apartment and work know not to give out any personal information about you, such as your work schedule, telephone number or other details. When you don't respond they may try to escalate to force contact.
posted by winna at 3:14 PM on February 19, 2013


You're an adult, right? You don't have to do anything she says unless you want to. If she's curfewing her 25-year old son, she's a nasty piece of work (and frankly I don't think too much of him for tolerating it, but that's beside the point.) Tell her you're done, and not to call again.
posted by Decani at 4:09 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Run awaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!!!!!!!
posted by michellenoel at 4:17 PM on February 19, 2013


[This is a followup from the asker.]
Thanks all for the responses.

The exchange actually happened via SMS and I did reply that I would let her know when I'm in town, and I just told her, "noted" regarding keeping things a secret. Later that day, his sister texted me that she wished me the best. (This was a week ago -- I already used up my AskMe quota).

So, I'll just pretend this entire thing never happened, so as to not reset the "breakup clock" and I can finally move on with my life. If they persist, I will decline. (I'm planning to move to their city -- better for my career -- and they know that because I was trying to close the gap when we were still together, but believe me when I say I hope to never bump into them again. It's a big city.)

The reason why I want reconciliation is because I feel like it's my personal failure for driving him over the edge by always arguing my case, for breaking up with him, when a marriage is not about leaving when it gets tough for me. I guess in my limerence I felt we were already married... I was so naive. I was thinking, I could have handled this better. I could have been more gentle because nagging never works. I could have waited it out like a good girlfriend and prayed for him to come around -- with joy, and love, you know? Be the counterpoint to what his parents are. But after reading the responses on MetaFilter, I don't feel like I ran out on a thing that I could have made better by sticking around -- I feel like I narrowly avoided getting hit by a bus. So thanks for that.

I've been oscillating from bitter to sad for him, from being certain that he will not get a happy marriage (he still believes he's called to marriage -- I told him, for the sake of his future wife, to not get married), to genuinely wishing him the best, even if it's not with me.

His dad went through a bypass... he's nearing retirement age, and while he is the controlling one (the mom's more gentle and "understanding" of the situation) -- my ex felt it was his responsibility to take care of his parents, especially his dad who was orphaned from a young age and had to fend for himself and put himself through school. I respect that about him -- but living in the same house (you know, I would've been okay with being neighbors, out of the city! But that's not enough!). But it's not like there's nobody else to take care of them. He has a sister, and they all live together. There are ways.

I argued the unbiblical thing plenty of times, and he would just combat with "honor your parents" and "it's about balance". Though they have been gracious about welcoming me into their home, their excessive moralism has made me feel like walking on eggshells whenever I'm around, always watching my back. The way they rationalize things for disallowing my ex to do things (though he never saw it as being manipulative), and how he maneuvered around situations to get them to say yes, makes me suspect this manipulative streak.

The ex feels like he can't disobey his parents anymore after disobeying his dad one time (about where to park the car) resulted in the spare tire getting stolen. The ten pm curfew -- it's a big metropolis -- parents are afraid something might happen to him. He's not allowed to be out that late with me, especially. When I had initial trouble finding a job to be closer to him, the dad commented that maybe I should stay where I am. When I spend time with him in his house, we basically don't do much. When we fight, he heads to his parents' room to cool off and basically avoid me.
I wouldn't go so far as to call them crazy -- perhaps a bit out of touch with the real world and hella stubborn about it, that's all. Excessively moral and legalist, probably.

Either way -- there's no joy in trying to redeem the situation. I will move forward with a new lease on life.
posted by cortex at 5:49 PM on February 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


So, I'll just pretend this entire thing never happened, so as to not reset the "breakup clock" and I can finally move on with my life. If they persist, I will decline. (I'm planning to move to their city -- better for my career -- and they know that because I was trying to close the gap when we were still together, but believe me when I say I hope to never bump into them again. It's a big city.)
...

Either way -- there's no joy in trying to redeem the situation. I will move forward with a new lease on life.

Good for you, OP. Nobody needs this kind of bullshit drama. Good luck in the big smoke!
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:34 PM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


So far, so good!
Now all you have to do is maintain a strict no-contact rule, and that includes no contact with/from Ex and his entire family. If and when you move to their current city, there's no reason whatsoever to let them know: not when you're moving, where you'll be living nor where you'll be working --- all of that comes under Not Their Business. (And if you haven't already, unfriend the entire bunch, plus delete all of their phone numbers and emails: a sharp and total cutoff will help you heal fastest.) Best of luck!
posted by easily confused at 1:34 PM on February 20, 2013


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