Motherer

parenting in romantic relationships

Motherer (a personal experience on how parenting your romantic partner can kill intimacy)

written by guest blogger Melanie Coles

My name is Melanie, and I’m a motherer.

This is something I’ve recently come to realize and admit about myself. Yep, I’m just a big, smothering, overbearing mother when it comes to romantic relationships.

You’re hungry-let me make you something to eat. You don’t feel well-let me get you a blanket and stroke your head. You had a bad day-let me hold you and make it better. When does being a caring partner turn into becoming someone’s mom? If this is something you find yourself contemplating, this may be a warning sign that you’re parenting your romantic partner.

A motherer is someone who only feels significant when they have someone to take care of, someone who needs them, someone who can’t possibly make it on their own without their guidance and careful supervision. Unwittingly, a motherer seeks to bind a partner to herself by making them dependent on her for food, for shelter, for advice, for approval, for every decision in their life. At first, this can be seen as being supportive, but eventually it becomes cloying and detrimental to both parties involved.

Do you really want to see your partner as a child that needs to be coddled? Do they really want to see their partner as a mother whose expectations they’re trying to live up to?

“How did I become a motherer?” one might ask. Well, I believe I learned this trait from my own mother, who is the quintessential caregiver. Always putting everyone else’s needs before her own to make sure everyone is content. How we behave in life often mirrors what we learn from our parents, which is what they’ve learned from their parents, etc, etc. I feel most significant when I’m taking care of other people.

However, a partner doesn’t always need someone to take care of them, they need someone to be an equal to them. As I’ve heartbreakingly come to realize, a child will eventually rebel and leave their parent once they’ve become “grown”, just as a “needy” partner in this type of relationship will eventually become self-sufficient and yearn to set off on their own and explore, leaving their lover behind. It’s important for me to be aware of this trait in myself so I can learn to recognize when I’m stepping over the line between caring partner and smothering mother. Remember, no one wants to date his or her parent (and if they do, then you’ve got bigger problems).

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