DEAR KELLY: My boyfriend lives with his dad and has nothing to do with his mom. He stopped talking to her a few years ago after they got into a fight. I never asked much but just knew he didn’t talk to her.
Recently, one of my mom’s friends invited me to coffee but didn’t tell me why. When I showed up, she was there with my boyfriend’s mom. I guess they are really good friends. She wanted to talk to me in hopes I would talk to my boyfriend about how much she misses him and wants to talk to him again. I love my mom’s friend, so I listened to everything and told her I would talk to my boyfriend and share what she told me.
When I told him, he freaked out and told me that I had no place talking to her. I didn’t know what I did wrong and it caused a huge fight between us. I told him his mom seemed sorry for what has happened and that he should forgive her and try and have a relationship with her because you only get one mom in life.
He told me flat out that it was not my business and that he would have nothing to do with me if I ever bring this up again. He got more angry than I have ever seen him and he told me to decide whose side I was on.
The problem is that my mom’s friend keeps texting to find out what he said and if he will meet with his mom. When I told her no, she got mad at me and said I needed to try harder, and I’m the only one who can change this terrible situation. I’m so stressed. I don’t know what to do. While I really like his mom (and my mom’s friend), I love my boyfriend more. How can I help him if he just gets angry at me?
DEAR OLIVIA: You were put in a terrible, no-win position by your mom’s friend and your boyfriend’s mom. What they did in using you as the middle man to try and communicate with him was completely unfair and wrong. They set you up by only sharing one side of the story and placing pressure on you. They are adults and they should know better.
Tell your boyfriend that you care about him and thought you were helping with a wound he might have from not talking to his mom. You did not take sides and by no means would you force him to do anything for which he wasn’t comfortable. You were simply the messenger.
You boyfriend sounds angry, which most likely means he hurts deeply over this. You hit a hot button when you brought it up, so there must be a few years of emotions stuffed inside of him. He needs a neutral party professional counselor to help with what has happened and is happening with his mom. He needs a safe place to work through the painful feelings he may have experienced and any relationship trauma’s that might have caused the split in the beginning. It is only after he has processed all of this can he determine how to move forward and whether or not he is ready to begin a new relationship with his mom. You are his girlfriend and there needs to be a boundary that keeps you as just that, not his family therapist.
Text your mom’s friend and tell her that you tried and you realized this is beyond what you can do as a girlfriend. You don’t want to feel pressured to fix their relationship. Remind her that you are a teenager and it is not your job to play psychotherapist to their family dynamics. If she continues to try and bring you in the middle, you may need to ask your mom to intervene and tell her friend to back off.
Honor how your boyfriend feels but suggest he talk to either his school counselor or a family therapist about his feelings. After that, stay out of their relationship. If he gets angry with you again over this, perhaps he needs to focus on himself and his painful or raging emotions before he can be in a healthy relationship. It is terrible that he has suffered, but you can’t undo the terrible. You got dragged into the middle and you need to speak up and remove yourself from this place. Be a teenager, not a counselor, and leave the family resolutions to a professional.