How to Spot Mommy Issues in Men

How do you deal with a man with mommy issues?
on November 07, 2023
Read time: 10 mins
by Moraya Seeger DeGeare

No one wants to be referred to as a mommy’s boy in adulthood. 

Mommy issues in men can cause significant issues in adult relationships, as their lack of secure attachment style leads to strained relationships with all romantic partners. While there is no problem with having a good relationship with your mother, there should be healthy boundaries in place to ensure this doesn’t affect your love life down the line. 

If you’re worried you’re dating a man with mommy issues, or that you’re dealing with them yourself, don’t panic. We have rounded up all the key signs and solutions when it comes to mommy issues in men. 

What are mommy issues in men? 

Studies show that relationships between mothers and children are typically the strongest ties within families, so it makes sense that they have such a lasting impact. 

If a guy has mommy issues, it means that he struggles with mother-child attachment issues from his childhood. These struggles go on to affect all of his adult relationships, where the guy may try and recreate his idealized dynamic with his mother. 

“When our primary attachment figures are not available to us, we often will seek out relationships throughout our lives to get those needs met,” says Moraya Seeger DeGeare, a licensed marriage and family therapist and In-House Expert at Paired.

“Some of those relationships might be healthy, others might be motivated by those unmet needs in unhealthy and unsustainable ways.” 

Similar to daddy issues, mommy issues may arise from varying mother-child relationships. For example, if a mother has a complicated relationship with her son in early childhood, it can lead to an insecure attachment style in her ‘mommy’s boy’ down the line. 

These unresolved issues corrupt future relationships with his romantic partner with clinginess, low self-esteem, and other symptoms of childhood trauma coming back to haunt your relationship. So, if you find yourself dating a mama’s boy, it’s pretty tough to sustain a healthy relationship. 

What causes mommy issues in men? 

Mother issues are rooted in early childhood whereby an unhealthy relationship with one’s mother affects all relationships going forward. While some people cite Sigmund Freud’s controversial Oedipus Complex theory, mommy issues are more often connected with attachment theory. 

According to attachment theory, our earliest relationships have the greatest impact on our lives, affecting our personalities, our ability to trust, and most importantly, our ability to form long-lasting relationships. 

Therefore, if your relationship with your mother figure was warped in childhood, this will naturally transition into your adult life. For example, your mom tried her absolute best for you, but due to her overprotective parenting style, resulted in an anxious attachment style. Or, if your mother failed to provide you with the kind of emotional support you needed, this could lead to an avoidant attachment style

These insecure attachment styles can cause havoc in your personal relationships, as men struggle with a lack of trust and low self-worth. This over-reliance on their mother in adulthood makes it difficult for other women to get a look in and can make romantic relationships very strained.

How do you know if a guy has mommy issues?

If you’re dating someone with mommy issues, it usually won’t be long before some signs start to show. 

While most people only spot mommy issues in men who are super close with their mothers, these long-lasting issues can also appear in guys who are estranged from their moms. At both ends of the spectrum, toxic relationships with their mother can make it very difficult to date them without being exposed to the tricky side effects. 

Brace yourself, we’ve rounded up some of the most common signs of mommy issues in men for everyone to be aware of. 

10 signs of mommy issues in men

Dependency: When you’re dating a man with mommy issues, you may notice that they’re overly dependent on their mom. Or, in many cases, there may be a transference of this tendency to their love life, with your man becoming overly dependent and clingy for you!
Sense of entitlement: Due to the constant praise they received from their mom, they really do believe that they’re the bee's knees! This belief can give them a major sense of entitlement and a total lack of self-awareness. Beware of the narcissist lurking behind these red flags!
Advice from mother: No matter the issues facing them, they will always turn to their mother for advice first. This usually means that they tell their mother everything, undermining the trust you share in your relationship. No matter what you say, it feels like their mother’s opinion is always the one they go with in the end.
Comparison with mom: From the way you dress to the way you make his dinner, it can feel like his mom is used as the yardstick for everything. If you hear your man saying ‘Well my mother’s is much better’, or ‘My mom said you should do it like this’ — it doesn’t bode well for your future together. After all, you’re certainly not his mother!
Insecure: Men who struggle with mommy issues usually have a low-self esteem, trust issues, and an inbuilt fear of abandonment. These are symptoms of an anxious attachment style which needs to be combated by constant reassurance and praise. (Which can get pretty draining!)
Lack of respect for women: In an ironic twist, some men who struggle with mommy issues don’t believe in mutual respect in a relationship. For example, they may be overly critical of women who don’t correspond to a certain stereotype, which can easily transfer to your own relationship! This lack of respect can escalate to more abusive tendencies in your relationship, so it’s important to set boundaries and stop these behaviors early on.
Insecure attachment style: If your partner is displaying signs of an insecure attachment style, this could link back to residual mommy issues. For example, if they’re trying for a codependency dynamic, this could indicate their fear of abandonment or trust issues.
Overly critical: No matter what you do or how you do it, they’re constantly picking on you. This constant critique can have a huge impact on your mental health. This kind of behavior can also easily escalate during the conflict, making their underlying anger issues more apparent.
Lack of life skills: Without healthy boundaries in childhood, their mothers may have stepped in and done all the heavy lifting. Even though this may have come from a good place at the time, it can leave them without any proper life skills. If they’ve never done their own washing before, or worse, are unwilling to start now — this is a huge sign of mommy issues!
Need for validation: Similar to their need for reassurance, they may also require constant validation. While it’s normal to be your partner’s biggest supporter and best friend, it can be exhausting to constantly have to build them up — especially if you don’t get the same treatment in return.

How do mommy issues affect romantic relationships?

As these signs show, mommy issues can have a huge impact on relationships. If you’re dating a self-identified mommy’s boy, or are struggling to cope with your partner’s relationship with his mother — it can be very taxing on a relationship. 

After all, you’re not this guy’s mother, and this behavior usually only serves to push people away. At the end of the day, you can never compete with the ideal his mother has set forth. 

Not only that, but mommy issues lead to a range of side effects such as excessive critique, anger issues, betrayal of trust, and more. As if learning how to deal with your in-laws wasn’t difficult enough! 

“Intimacy in relationships depends on trust, mutual respect, and a desire to be together. When one partner defaults to someone else for comfort and advice as a priority over their partner, it can leave the other partner questioning their purpose and meaning in their love life,” says Seeger DeGeare. 

“It can block a relationship from evolving with one person reaching outside of the relationship. Keep in mind that there is deep value in getting support from the community around you and people outside of the relationship. So often, relationships feel like they should depend only on themselves to figure out their relationship. So finding this balance can call on you to have healthy boundaries and good communication between all parties.”

How to deal with a man with mommy issues 

Even though some people like to make jokes about mommy issues, they should be dealt with compassion and patience. 

Just like those who struggle with insecure attachment styles, they may need additional support from their partner — and if healthy boundaries are in place, this is okay!

In order to deal with mommy issues effectively, we’d recommend seeking help from a mental health professional or licensed therapist. Individual or couples therapy can help you get to the root of the problem and give you the tools you need to deal with these issues effectively.  

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the red flags for men with mommy issues?

    Mommy issues can be viewed as a red flag in itself, but there are also some silent red flags that can creep up on you! For example, your partner may idolize their mom, making it impossible for you to compare. Or they may have a very high opinion of themselves due to the constant praise they received since birth.
  • Can a man have mommy and daddy issues?

    According to attachment theory, early childhood experiences have a huge impact on your development. If a child had only negative interactions with both parental figures, then it’s entirely possible for them to have both mommy and daddy issues. “Even if you found supportive and safe environments and have done beautiful work in therapy or other healing spaces,” says Seeger DeGeare. “A preverbal wound of feeling unsupported or insignificant by a primary attachment figure can often pop up in intimate relationships because you are becoming deeply attached to a new person, which can trigger a lot of fear of abandonment.”
+50k reviews
Discover new ways to resolve conflict!
Download the #1 app for couples to guide you in the process!
our app
petal decoration

Enjoying this article?

A happier relationship starts here.

Question with locked answer