[POLL] Are You Mothering Your Man?

If you’re wondering why your man is behaving more like a little boy than like the real man you dream of, you might consider taking a look at how you’re treating him.

Often our very first and most important role model for being a woman is a mother. And whether or not your mom was like this, most mothers take care of other people incredibly well. And that’s good, assuming the mother in question also takes care of herself, rather than sacrificing her own needs for everyone else’s.

However, the only people who should have full-time mothers are full-time children.

When you’re the sexy girlfriend or amazing wife, you should NOT be mothering your man, or else you might find yourself living with a little boy, rather than the grown, competent man you love…

“Hi Claire. I am in the early stages of a relationship with a man who has been a friend for many years. He is working through some issues he’s aware of and has asked me to love him for who he is (easy!), but not to mother him. How does one differentiate between nurturing and mothering? I didn’t grow up with a nurturing mother myself, but one who is very practical, disconnected, etc. We have wonderful communication, but I just felt I would rather have a handle on this myself as much as I can first. Thank you for your insights. I’ve got a lot out of your work and look forward to your guidance here.”     – LeighAnn

This is such a great question, LeighAnn, and at the bottom of this post I’m going to invite the community of women I know to help me answer it. But having accidentally mothered my own man for quite a few of the early years of our relationship before finally figuring out what I was doing wrong, I can tell you at least four ways I screwed it up…

Here are four ways women put the stop on their girlfriend potential…

1. The Guessing Game Contestant

Do you find yourself frequently playing a guessing game with your man, saying things like “Are you hungry? Are you in the mood for a chicken sandwich, hm? No? Maybe tomato soup instead? I can make some from scratch if you prefer that to the canned version. Or maybe you’re in the mood for spaghetti?”

Believe me, a man’s not gonna starve. If they need food, they know how to get it.

2. The Super Helper

Are you constantly picking up after him? Do you frequently think of, find and set out things you know he’ll need? Do you regularly go and get him things he could easily get himself?

I know, you want to feel indispensable, or like he needs you. But you’re only allowing him to get lazy and behave as if he weren’t actually capable of doing these things for himself.

3. The Scold

Do you find yourself scolding him for failing to wear a jacket when it’s cold out, or missing a meal? Do you constantly remind him to turn off the TV when he leaves the room, or chastise him for staying out too late?

4. The Manners Corrector

Do you remind him how to behave in public, telling him to put his napkin in his lap, reminding him to say Thank You, or telling him how much of a tip to leave?

Is there a difference between being nurturing and “mothering”?

In an adult relationship, I think this is primarily a matter of scale.

It’s great to do nice things for your man! Of course you care about him and want him to be comfortable and happy. The trick is to remember that he wants that for you, too. So if your relationship feels relatively equal — meaning, he does things that make you feel loved and cared for about as much as you do the same — then you’re probably fine!

LeighAnn, since you didn’t grow up with a nurturing mother, you’ll have to experiment with this one, and your very best bet is to have regular conversations with him about this exact subject to find out how you’re doing.

Take the poll

Okay, ladies, gimme the dirt. I’ve told you MY worst ones, now take the poll and tell me how YOU have mistakenly “mothered” a man…

xoxo Claire

9 comments on “[POLL] Are You Mothering Your Man?

  1. I’ve been married twice and both times ended up keeping house while also working full time, now a single parent of 1 I still have to do all the work, I’d love to have someone to take care of me occasionally!

    • Claire Casey

      That’s SO frustrating, isn’t it, Jo? It’s amazingly easy to get the balance wrong, and amazingly hard to get it right. Sigh. :\

  2. Being an active person, sometimes I ‘do’ too much as I tend to anticipate what needs doing and do it before it’s needed. I’m also the eldest child, so tend to do the ‘responsibility’ things. My partner is the youngest in the family, so quite the opposite mindset.
    The feminine energy is soft and receptive. Sometimes I find it a challenge to sit in that softness and Be, gently radiating. I can see how the ‘doing’ energy is masculine in essence.
    It’s all about finding that balance!
    It’s very true that the more a woman does, the less a man does.

    • Claire Casey

      Loved that last line, Maria: “The more a woman does, the less a man does.”

      I never thought of “doing” as masculine energy at ALL; as the oldest child (like you) in a traditional household, that was what I’d been trained to do all my life. Do, do, do. What I found really difficult, when I first began shifting gears, was letting things go undone.

      But STOPPING all that doing was tough too! It was active work for me. Wish I’d had those lovely words of yours — “gently radiating” — in my spirit at the time. I think I mostly fumed and steamed, lol.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. xoxo CC

  3. In my one and only marriage. I tried to believe that love was enough… this simple truth, wasn’t true. I stayed with him unsuccessfully for 7 years and lost my perspective on loving anyone. Now, that I’m divorced I have great guy friends and fewer women friends. I realize how very queer I am. Now, what? How do I go about dating?

    By the way- by the above equation, though I was the man and he the wife. Go figure.

    • Claire Casey

      “How do I go about dating?” — It’s a good question, Marie. And it’s easy to say, harder to do.

      1. Know what you want out of a relationship (specifically! Know what your top 3-5 needs are).
      2. Figure out where you went wrong before (why you didn’t get your needs met).
      3. Try again with fresh insight and tactics.

      Don’t put too much emphasis on the early stages. Allow your dating partners to go through some tough times with you; that will be where the real work comes in and where you learn the most.

      Most of all, don’t give up. You deserve love. You deserve to give it and receive it in great measures.

      xoxo CC

  4. I am in my mid 40’s and divorced for the 3rd time! I have been dating a man for nearly two years who has been divorced for 17 years. I am his only “serious” girlfriend since his divorce. From the very beginning he wanted to take it slow. He seems committed to me but has yet to introduce me to ANYONE in his life.
    He is a stark contrast from the men of my past who were mostly abusive. He is kind, gentle-natured, generous and hard-working.
    Is this one worth the wait or am I being a fool yet again? Thanks for your insight!

    • Claire Casey

      Hi, Melissa! Sounds like you might have something good going this time. And if you feel ready to meet some of the important people in his life, why not ask him about it?

      Invite him to tell you about his best friends, his family, or others important to him.

      But be aware, he might be kind of a loner — my own guy is, too — that doesn’t make him “bad,” it just means he’s more of an introvert. He probably has a much smaller social network than you have.

      So ask some good questions, listen openly and intently to his answers, then think about comfortable situations in which you might meet some of his people… Good luck, darling. And enjoy yourself. A good man is a great gift.

      xoxo CC

  5. I’d love to see you do something on setting boundaries and good healthy consequences. There are so many women I talk to that are so confused when it comes to this therefore find themselves being walked on and struggling in their relationship!

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