Dear Carolyn: My mom basically despises my boyfriend “Tom” because he didn’t graduate college and works a blue-collar job. She is so rude to him we can’t even be around her. She defends this by saying that looking at us together makes her feel disgusted, she can’t help how she feels, and she’s being as nice as she can given the intensity of her feelings. Tom actually cried after our last dinner with my parents. Tom and I are 24, independently financially stable, and have lived together for six months – another source my mother’s angst, but I suspect if I were “shacking up” with a more “eligible” bachelor, she would deal just fine.
Although I am beyond furious at her treatment of Tom, I don’t want to lose her. Our relationship no longer resembles the mother-daughter bond we used to have. I love Tom and could see us getting engaged in a year or two. However, I’m actually thinking about breaking up with him over this.
But I feel like he’s on one side, and on the other side is my relationship with my mom AND the potential to have it all if I meet a college-educated suitor. (I feel like a horrible person saying this.) – Mom vs. boyfriend
Wow. You just made countless adult children grateful for their parents’ passive aggression and subterfuge. As for your bond with Mom, your family bonds hereafter will reflect what this situation has taught you, about yourselves and about each other. So don’t leave Tom to solve your family problems; leave only if it solves your Tom problems.
In that little throwaway line at the end, you admit you’ve toyed with the idea that you can do better than Tom. As difficult as it will be, you need to decide whether that’s your voice or your mother’s.
Principle won’t keep your conversations with Tom going 20 years from now; compatibility will, and commonality, and affection, respect and trust. Be patient, please, and see if that’s what you have in Tom.