(Closed) SO has a borderline mom-how do I set boundaries?

posted 4 years ago in Family
Post # 2
12251 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2015

imnotgettinmarried:  Yes, I’ve been there and I learned to stand by SO when he says something is off with his parents. it is a mistake to try to interfere and mend bridges without hearing your SO and believing that he/ she has a reason for their feelings. This goes for strangers and friends and family,too. 

It’s tough because the relationship starts off with you just seeing the great parts of Future In-Laws. 

read up on FOG techniques ( manipulation by fear obligation and guilt) with SO and discuss boundaries he can comfortably execute. Let him know you have his back. And if he hasn’t been, he might want to see a counselor to explore his own feelings about his mom’s state of mind. It can be really hard on kids — they think it’s all their fault and responsibility. 

Make sure you realize how hard this might be for him. Yes, he has anger towards her, but the guilt is bigger. He’s going to need support to protect his own boundaries. good luck!

Post # 4
57 posts
Worker bee

That’s a really challenging situation.  Generally speaking those impacted by Borderline Personality Disorder do well with a good combination of validation and clear boundaries (very concrete).  I.e. “I know it’s really hard for you when we can’t visit.  You miss your son a lot.  We can visit on_______ and we can stay until _______.  What would you like to do with that time?”  or “It sounds like you were really excited to buy this Ikea table.  We would really like to help you with it, but it’s not feasible for us.  Can we problem solve some different ways to resolve this?  In the future, please ask us first before making a decision that needs our help.


Borderline personality is central to a fear of abandonment and rejection.  If you can poise yourself in a way that supports and validates her emotions (doesn’t mean you agree, just that you can appreciate where she is coming from), and set very clear/concrete boundaries that help her to feel attached and that her relationshp with you isn’t threatened, you may have some more success.  You may also find it helpful to seek support in having a family member affected by borderline personality disorder.  The book “Stop Walking on Eggshells” may be a good start.


Good luck!

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