Men with mommy issues can be as frustrating as traffic when you’re already late.
They siphon your energy and lead you to the brink of sanity while refusing to acknowledge their behavioral deficiencies.
To help you wrap your head around the dynamic, we’re breaking down signs that your man has mommy issues and what to do about it.
So before you rip out your hair over the mania he’s causing, pull up a screen, and let’s dissect the issue together.
What Are Mommy Issues?
What constitutes “mommy issues?” Hallmarks of the condition include:
- An inability to form and maintain healthy relationships
- An awkwardly strained relationship with one’s mother can manifest as clinginess or detachment
- Difficulty establishing a proper adult life
- Extreme immaturity
So-called “mommy issues” are widespread — especially in our social media age, which has stalled psychological maturation on a mass scale.
Think about it: Maintaining contact — even if it’s just through a “silent follow” — with people from our childhoods and “terrible twenties” keeps us subconsciously bound to emotions, traumas, and growing pains from the past.
It can be difficult to acknowledge or admit, but constant exposure to others’ idealized lives, as seen through timelines and posts, can lead to increased anxiety, peer pressure, and social competition — which ultimately slows personal growth and can keep us in juvenile emotional states.
What Causes Mommy Issues in a Man?
Mommy issues come in a variety of “emotional models.” Sometimes they’re caused by neglect and traumatic events; other times, they result from hyper-attachment.
Let’s explore a few things that can lead to unhealthy mother-son dynamics.
In the most basic terms, human babies depend on their mothers to survive. Historically and biologically, infants need their mother’s food, attention, and protection to feel safe.
Recent studies suggest that mothers and newborns release certain hormones early on that contribute to proper psychological development. Unfortunately, a lack can lead to social and emotional obstacles down the line.
As such, problems arise when mothers neglect, abandon, or ignore their young children. Men with mother abandonment issues can be emotionally volatile and have misogynistic views.
We’re not suggesting that all women who give birth must be stay-at-moms. Nor are we saying people shouldn’t choose adoption. But raising an emotionally healthy child requires consistent love, care, and affection.
Helicoptering and Stage Mothering
A helicopter mom is always hovering around their child. They’re the parents who have their kids in every activity and are always around — the “tiger” and “stage” mothers. These types of parents don’t give their children any space or allow them to hone a sense of self.
This behavior prevents kids from developing a sense of independence and personhood. Their mothers’ wants, needs, and desires are all they know. Resultantly, the children struggle to adjust when they’re pushed into the “real world.”
Maternal Trauma, Generational Trauma, or Addiction
Trauma is a psychological beast. It claws at self-esteem, skews outlooks, and blinds people to their poor behavior. So a mother lugging around unaddressed personal or generational trauma can make poor parenting choices that profoundly impact their children and lead to mommy issues.
Kids and mothers who share a traumatic experience — like a death, ugly divorce, accident, or social ostracization — may form a strong bond that exceeds what’s healthy. Addiction is another type of trauma that manifests mommy issues.
No rule says emotionally damaged, arrogant, narcissistic, or self-involved people can’t have kids. And when folks with said issues do reproduce, they may view their children as subjects who should prioritize their parents, work for approval, and adhere to a parents-before-kids mindset.
In these situations, parents can have unfair expectations of their children. They may get angry if they’re not at the top of their class or excel at certain sports, which triggers approval-seeking behavior that can mushroom into full-blown mommy issues.
Peer, Cultural, and Social Pressures
People don’t automatically become psychologically mature at a certain age. Nor does it happen the second someone gives birth.
Developing a healthy balance between humility and confidence takes experience and work, and everyone is on a different journey, traveling at varied paces.
As such, community, cultural, and social pressures can wreak havoc on parents of all ages.
In these situations, afflicted mothers may create an environment where other peoples’ expectations mold the parameters and tenor of the parent-child bond.
13 Signs of Mommy Issues in Men
We’ve defined mommy issues and reviewed a few common causes. Now, let’s unpack some signs that the man in your life struggles with mother-son bonding obstacles.
1. He Needs a Full-Time Coddler
As the term suggests, mommy-issue men require and expect loads of mothering. If you weren’t there to clean, cook, do the laundry, calm them down, handle their finances, et cetera, they’re lost and frazzled.
In extreme cases, they believe women are “built” to handle certain things and may even see caretaking as a natural female instinct.
Please don’t read us wrong. Supporting and caring for a significant other is wonderful — but only if it’s reciprocated and neither party takes more than they give.
2. He’s Jealous
If a man’s mommy issues are rooted in high parental expectations, his default mode may be jealousy. His envy is a symptom of his feelings of inadequacy — and he may even be fearful that his parents won’t love him if he isn’t “the best” at everything he does.
3. He Can’t Handle Criticism
Mentally healthy people understand nobody is perfect, and they can accept criticism, acknowledge their mistakes, and make behavioral improvements.
Men with mommy issues, however, often see themselves as darling Prince Charmings — God’s gift to humanity. When someone dares to suggest that they did something wrong, they’re defensive and even rage-filled.
They also may push back at the mere suggestion of approaching a situation or task differently than they intended.
4. He’s Recklessly Impulsive
Males raised by overly accommodating or hovering mothers can be recklessly impulsive. Since their moms always cleaned up behind their mistakes, they never learned accountability.
Resultantly, they take unnecessary risks that can negatively impact other people’s lives.
For example, a guy with mommy issues may buy things they can’t afford or tell massive lies to get out of trouble without thought or concern for how their dishonesty will play out.
5. He’s Entitled
When you’re raised to believe you can’t put a foot wrong, entitlement settles in. When things don’t go their way, they complain about being mistreated and scoff at the idea that they may be to blame.
To be fair, people go through an arrogant period starting in their teens and extending into their twenties. It’s the time of life when we learn how to be adults and figure out our way in the world.
But if the guy in question is well into middle age and still a self-involved numskull, you may be working with an entrenched case of mommy issues.
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6. He Constantly Compares You to His Mom
You make a meal, and all he can talk about is how his mom does it better. You fold his laundry, and he waxes poetic about how his mom made origami animals out of his socks and towels.
No matter the task, as far as he’s concerned, his mom kicks your butt when it comes to execution!
When the mother in question feeds his issues, she may even try to start competitions with you to assert her dominance. And don’t expect your man to take your side. In his eyes, his mom is the moon, stars, and everything in between.
7. He’s Disrespectful to Other Women
Beware of the man who puts his mother, partner, and sisters on a pedestal but treats all other women like barnacles on a rotting pier. Guys with mommy issues often fall into this category.
If his mother-son dynamics result from neglect or maternal absenteeism, he may have a chunk on his shoulder and take it out on other women.
Have you ever checked out podcasts or vlog-casts coming out of the so-called “manosphere?” The misogynistic views they spew are swaddles in mommy issues.
8. He Has Double Standards
He expects you to be friendly and polite to his friends and family but doesn’t extend the same grace. When things don’t go his way, someone else is at fault. But he chastises you for not trying hard enough when you suffer a setback.
Ultimately, your relationship is a toxic vat of double standards — that he refuses to acknowledge.
9. He Has Money Issues
Men with mommy issues may be used to their parents’ bailing them out financially. A quick phone call rectifies the matter. As such, he may have an unhealthy relationship with finances and make poor choices.
When enabling parents decide to grow backbones and refuse to keep saving their children from fiscal ruin, mommy-issue men may unravel quickly and make reckless decisions.
10. He Has Intimacy Issues
Sure, you may have regular sex. But when it comes to genuine commitment, he may be less willing. In these instances, a damaged relationship with his mother or father may be to blame.
Perhaps his mother doesn’t like you, and he doesn’t want to disappoint her by settling down with you. Or maybe you’re not exactly like his mom, so he’s hesitant.
In these cases, cut your losses. It’s impossible to have a satisfying union with someone who doesn’t see you as “good enough.”
11. He Has Trouble Being Decisive
No matter the choice at hand, he can’t decide until he checks in with his mama.
While getting advice from loved ones about significant decisions is great, healthy adults can weigh the circumstances and advice and ultimately choose what’s best for themselves.
12. He Has Trust Issues
People reared in families with skewed and unhealthy dynamics often have trust issues. It may result from parental suspicion of everyone who enters their children’s lives.
Other times, an inability to open up to others may be rooted in abuse executed by people who are supposed to love and protect — like a mother or father.
13. You (And Everyone He’s Dated) Look Like His Mom
Don’t laugh! His attraction to his mother’s doppelgangers is a blatant sign of manly mommy issues. So take note. Could people confuse you for being related to his mother?
Is this the case for nearly every woman from his past? If so, you could have a mommy-issue man on your hands.
How Do Mommy Issues Affect Relationships?
We’ve explored a few mommy-issue red flags. But how do they affect romantic relationships? Let’s review five ways.
Triggers the Clingy-Cold Feet Dichotomy
Men with mommy issues typically come in two flavors: clingy and distant. And sometimes, they wear each trait at different times. One minute they need you chained to their hip, and the next, they push you away and shut down emotionally.
Riding this roller coaster can lead to depression, anxiety, emotional imbalance, and other mental health obstacles. The situation can lead to explosive fights and practical instabilities when it reaches critical mass.
You’re ready to start your adult life. Conversely, he is perfectly content with planting himself in childhood.
Relationships in which the two parties have disparate goals and values are almost always fraught with drama, discord, and resentment. Notably, according to experts, bitterness and indignation rank among the couriers of relationship doom.
So if you want a given partnership to blossom and grow, you may have difficulty making that happen with a man beset with mommy issues.
Leads to a Relationship Imbalance
Guys with unhealthy mother-son bonds often have outsized expectations of their partners. These men have strict and narrow expectations of their partners’ behaviors. At the same time, they don’t believe they need to compromise an inch.
The skewed dynamics create relationship imbalances. Sometimes they’re small and manageable; other times, it hinders opportunities and leads to mental health challenges.
Triggers Low Self-Esteem in Targeted Partner
Individuals who’ve yet to unpack and heal from problematic parental dynamics can be hypocritical and mean. They lack self-awareness and can’t recognize their own personality flaws and behavioral missteps.
As a result, their partners may develop self-esteem issues due to a dearth of unconditional acceptance.
Leads to Family Dysfunction
Marrying someone with unaddressed mommy issues can lead to severe family dysfunction because the afflicted party expects everyone to kowtow to them.
One man’s mother-son relationship can spread its proverbial wings and negatively impact their spouse and children.
What To Do if You Are With a Man With Mommy Issues
You’ve read through the mommy issue indicators and are positive your man is struggling with the issue. So now what?
How should you approach the problem to regain sanity and balance? Let’s take a look.
- Set Boundaries: Boundary setting is integral to maintaining good mental health and framing healthy relationships. When you’re clear about what you will and won’t accept and don’t give in, your strength may give him the push needed to change his ways.
- Try To Be Compassionate, Sympathetic, or Empathetic: Compassion is concern and grace extended to other people when they’re grappling with issues; sympathy is a feeling of sorrow for something you haven’t experienced; empathy is the ability to understand what someone is going through because you’ve weathered similar hardships. All are virtues and can apply when dealing with a partner who has mommy issues.
- Go To Couples Therapy: Counseling and therapy can do a couple a world of good. It gives both of you space to speak your peace, identify destructive patterns, and learn tools to help you overcome obstacles.
- Don’t Be an Enabler: We all want to love and support our loved ones. But support and enabling aren’t synonyms. Yes, show compassion. But don’t always give in to their childish behavior and unreasonable demands.
A guy freighted with mommy issues is exhausting, and his behavior has the power to erode relationships. But before throwing in the towel, understand that overcoming familial dynamics is possible. People do it daily.
So, if the relationship is worth saving, test out some of the tools mentioned above. Lead with compassion, set boundaries, and support your significant other as they navigate their way out of the muck.
If you’ve had enough, and the man in question shows no signs of improvement, it may be time to exit stage left. You deserve a healthy, emotionally mature relationship, and if he doesn’t want to change, you can’t force him — so don’t waste your time trying!