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Addressing emotional incest

onthefence2's picture

I'm so thankful for the help you all provided in directing me to keywords to research. I have figured out a LOT about my issues with my boyfriend and what is causing ALL of our problems. Not only is he still enmeshed with his mother, he is doing the same thing to his son. His mom confides in him things she should not be sharing with a son, and he has put his own son in an equal role with him (spouse like) rather than a father/son relationship. This leaves no space for a girlfriend OR spouse. So...he and I are "talking" on Friday (we currently are not speaking at all, on my doing, and will be sitting down to have a "reallllllly loooooooooooong talk"). I am not good AT ALL with verbal discussions. I am much better at putting my thoughts on paper. I am trying to figure out words that are less harsh than "emotional incest". How do I explain to him what I think is happening, without using words that sound derogatory or inflammatory? My plan is to first ask him how the relationship is going for him and ask him for his opinion on why things might not be going well for me. I want to hear what he's been thinking and how he feels about everything. In the past, he has been receptive, took full responsibility for the things I pointed out that I was not going to put up with anymore, but this time, it is more about the cause rather than the symptoms. So instead of saying, "change these things," it is more of, "you need therapy!" LOL I don't want to say the wrong thing. I don't know how to go from "what do you think?" to, "here's what's going on..." I tend to be too blunt and just blurt out my thought with absolutely no tact. Please...tell me how to do it!

Tomorrow I am getting the book "When he's married to mom..." from the library and I'm hoping it will have some good insight.

Meh's picture

The first thing that came to mind is "emotional enmeshment" and did a google search on it. Yep, sounds similar to "emotional incest", could be used interchangeably I think? Have a look and see what you think Smile It seems like a much softer term for the same thing IMO.

onthefence2's picture

That's a good one. I did some more reading after googling that and found a few more articles. Thanks!

oncechoosetosmile's picture

why even wasting your time with that guy? To change someone like that is nearly impossible, no matter what terms you would use to describe his weird behaviour. I had a similar experience with now ex SO and his mini-wife- daughter who left also no emotional space for me as a girlfriend.It costed me loads of energy and many, many talks to see some change.Sadly in the end it still didn't work out anyway.
My lesson was not to waste so much precious time or energy trying to change someone who doesn't want to change.Sorry, but this was my story.Maybe yours is different.Good luck.x

onthefence2's picture

LOL at the "Mama's boy" comment. Good one. Thankfully, I'm at the point where I'm not too emotionally invested in the relationship anymore. So I feel that I'm coming at this from a practical viewpoint rather than an emotional, "OMG if I don't convince him he needs to change this I'm going to die," standpoint. I was at the point where one foot was already out the door when some things happened this past week that pretty much did me in. I think that is why I am finally able to be objective about what's going on. I do feel stupid for not figuring it out much earlier, but better late than never. I have a full life and don't need the pain from a stupid man.

I do have two children, a boy and a girl, so he can't pull the "you don't understand card." The only reason I'm even bothering with him is because we are compatible on SO many levels and have fun when we're together. I think everyone has a certain level of dysfunction we need to or have had to work through and if he doesn't see it or doesn't want things to change, then he will go back to his life without me.

onthefence2's picture

I think we all have a certain level of dysfunction. Just because my dysfunction is a different color from his, doesn't mean I should run away and give up. It very well may come to that, and I'm prepared either way. If we did try to proceed I would see it as starting over, and I may or may not get those feelings back. I broke up with him at one point and when we worked things out, I couldn't imagine him ever redeeming himself. I went into it very doubtful, but he did it. But now I realize he can't maintain it and why. If he is receptive and I choose to work things out, I would probably not see him until the new year. That would give him time to figure out stuff with me not around. Plus, I'm not taking a chance that my Christmas is ruined. I might be naive, but his level of "enmeshment" is not extreme and might be fixable if he wants it to be. That's what I don't know. We shall see...

onthefence2's picture

Exactly! I think we read into posts based on our own experiences and sometimes our own experiences were much worse. I hate reading advice to leave a spouse but understand sometimes there's no choice.

onthefence2's picture

I don't want to change HIM. I love him, everything about his personality, work ethic, sense of humor, looks, affections, etc. He can choose to keep doing what he's doing, and I'm out. Or he can choose to look at why he's doing it, try therapy, etc. and become a man who can commit fully. If he chooses not to, he won't make it work with anyone he would want. I've been reading the book "When He's Married to Mom..." and it has SO much insight. It's been very helpful to me and there are lots of examples showing I'm not "off" in trying to help him/us. But I have a line, and I'm not willing to sacrifice me or my happiness, especially if he's not willing to work on the problem.

Orange County Ca's picture

I've often wondered why women put so much effort into changing a guy that isn't going to change. At his age he feels quite comfortable with his relationship with his Mom so why change it? In fact its such a comfortable feeling he feels its appropriate with his pal - I mean son.

"He married her assuming she would never change and of course she did.
She married him assuming he would change and of course he didn't".

I don't know who said it but it sure sums it up.

Write off this experience as learning time and get out ASAP to find the right guy. This one isn't.

onthefence2's picture

Men do change when they realize it will benefit them. His mom will be gone some day, and so will his son. He probably doesn't want to end up alone. If you do research on the psychology of this, you will find that most of these men aren't actually happy. If we all go around dumping anyone who has issues, nobody would ever marry or stay together. Seriously, I don't know ANY guys who don't have issues. And this one happens to be the most likable one I've ever known. If he's happy with his issues, then I'm happy to move on.