From His Mother to You: How Men Learn to Treat Women

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Hey,

I’m new to reading your site but I love the posts so I would like your input on something that I’ve yet to understand. I’ve always heard that the way a man treats his mother is a good indication of how he will treat you. I always assumed that to be true, but men who’ve had dysfunctional and/or nonexistent relationships with their mothers seem like an altogether different breed. Some of these men will treat women completely different than their mothers, ranging from much better to much much worse. How does a man’s relationship (or lack thereof) with his mother really effect his relationships with women?

Does a man’s relationship with his mother reveal how he will treat women?

When I read this question, I thought the answer would be easy. I’m usually hesitant before giving an opinion because I want to consider all the factors before responding. I’ve heard many opinions on this topic throughout the years. I don’t think the answer is as clear-cut as it would seem. As you state above, there are exceptions to the rule. There are many different scenarios where the correlation between a man’s relationship with his mother and  his relationship with his love interest aren’t analogous. I believe that examining a man’s relationship with his mother can give you a benchmark for how he will treat others, but it isn’t the end all be all of his behavioural patterns.

Observing the relationship between mother and son will show you how a man will treat a woman who holds importance in his life. My relationship with my mother is strong. She helped to shape and mold the man I am today. I respect her, listen to her, accept any and all slander she deals me, and I know when to pick and choose my battles. As the family matriarch, her input on life issues is greatly appreciated. When I think I know it all, she will drop simple yet effective knowledge that opens my eyes and shows me where I need to go. At the same time, she is my mom, and she can press when pressing isn’t required. She can reiterate things to me that I’m clear about a zillion times over, because she wants to make sure she can hit me upside the head with an “I told you so” if I eff up. I love her as a mom, a person, and as family. When I think to my relationships with women, I carry a lot of these acquired principles into them. Ask any man whose ever had a serious relationship with a woman, and he will confirm that the core principles I described above are very important in their dealings with significant others.

My mom would always tell me that a woman would judge HER and me if certain aspects of my life weren’t tight. If I couldn’t make a bed, keep proper hygiene, was disrespectful to women, etc. a woman would side eye my upbringing. I see these bad ass kids who curse out their mothers and treat them like sh*t, and the first thought in my head is “If I had a daughter, I wouldn’t want her dating no parts of THAT dude!”

I kept these lessons close to heart and made sure that when I dealt with women, that I tried my best to be respectful, because my mom raised me right. At the same time, I’m not one of those freaks that wants a mother figure as my wife. In other words, I don’t want to date my mom! A man’s relationship with his mother will differ from a significant other relationship / casual dating situation. Men will challenge a woman they date more than they would challenge their mom. Men will compromise in different ways with a mom as opposed to another woman. Dating a woman is a partnership. Interactions with your mom can be a partnership, dictatorship, totalitarian, authoritative, or other adjective that illustrates one of Bill Cosby’s famous quotes to Theo Huxtable:

I brought you into this world, and I can take you OUT!

There’s a flip side to this debate as well. I know of dudes who treat their mother like gold and women like dirt. I know of men who had no mother figure in their life who treat women with the utmost respect. That mother-son relationship isn’t the only measurement for how a man will treat a woman, and there are exceptions. Knowledge of a mother and son’s relationship can give you additional insight into how he treats women but will never divulge the entire truth. I wouldn’t use that information as the ultimate factor in how you evaluate a man’s capacity for dealing with women he dates. We are human. We will pick and choose how we treat people. Some people will hold more importance than others. A man may respect you as a woman, but not hold your relationship as lovers in high regard.

I’m thankful for the life lessons my parents taught me. I also know that their lessons weren’t the only lessons I learned. I learned from family, friends, coworkers, and every relationship I’ve had in my life. A man’s relationship with his mother will give you some insight but not all. See how he treats people in general, from the waiters at a restaurant to the person he respects the most. The more information you have the better. If he shows you who he is, believe him, and act accordingly.

- Streetz

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  • Naija

    Indeed. Take some time to observe, and make your decisions accordingly. On average, it is true that men who love and respect their mothers have a higher likelihood of treating their partners with respect. But there are a lot of men who place their mothers on a pedestal while simultaneously treating all other women like scum.

    When it comes to finding a partner, I would ultimately like someone who has a great relationship with one, if not both of his parents. Even if he doesn't, it says a lot if he berates or acts acrimoniously towards either of them. In my culture, you treat your parents with respect, whether or not you like them.

    • krystllyght

      Well said Streets and Naij. And thank you Naij for using that word, acrimoniously.

      • Naija

        lol You're most welcome! And thanks. =D

  • krystllyght

    "See how he treats people in general, from the waiters at a restaurant to the person he respects the most."
    That's pretty much how I feel about it. I think personality has a lot to do with it too. My husband was very close with his mother when he was coming up and he has the utmost respect for her. I think that the example she set for him and her expectations of him has set the tone for the way he treats most people and I hope that it can carry on through the next generation. Plus the relationship between his mother and father probably has a lot to do with it too. While I have my own opinions about his father, my hubs says his dad has never badmouthed her to him and if they ever argued, they didn't do it in front of the kids. I think the way mom acted, how she expected him to act and the way she expected my hub's dad to treat her all came together and created a bigger picture for him and that's how he came to treat me (and most other people) so well.

  • Stephen

    I think it is more safe to assume that a man who saw his father treat his wife with respect will treat the women in his life with respect. Many, if not most, mothers get treated with respect by their sons because they are their mothers, not because they are women. If a woman wants a man who will treat them respectfully then I think the best bet is to find a man that grew up with both parents (very uncommon).

    • amaris79

      "I think it is more safe to assume that a man who saw his father treat his wife with respect will treat the women in his life with respect. Many, if not most, mothers get treated with respect by their sons because they are their mothers, not because they are women."

      This, this, THIS!!!!!

      • cynicaloptmst81

        THIS indeed!!!!

    • Streetz

      Gospel Stephen! Would you also theorize that men who grow up without fathers learn how men interact with women from toher sources? Where would that interaction arise?
      My recent post #30in30 Day 23: #BeTheBetter Fitness – Phase II

      • Stephen

        I think they definitely end up learning from other sources but I don’t think how a man interacts with his mother translates into how he treats another woman. In my opinion, parents are more like archetypes, so a mother is seen as something more than a woman to the subconscious.

        My theory is that, nowadays, most mothers teach their sons to treat women as equals but, since men can only relate to the world as men, men can end up treating women as “softer” versions of men. Because there is so little emotional nurturing in that paradigm, it doesn’t seem to work in relationships. I think fatherless boys get little to no instruction on how to temper that behavior with compassion or empathy. In a nutshell, that’s my 2 cents on that.

        I personally think that society needs to be asking fatherless boys and men how they see themselves and their relationship to women and to their communities. Even more-so, I think we need to ask why we are afraid to ask them this.

        • cynicaloptmst81

          Brotha, you are giving me LIFE today with these comments!!!!!

          Those first two paragraphs?!?! JESUSSSSSSSSSS!!!

          YES and AMEN!

        • Streetz

          Appreciate this man. Great thoughts
          My recent post #30in30 Day 23: #BeTheBetter Fitness – Phase II

        • http://www.writehiswrongs.com WHW

          Absolutely on point!!!!

  • http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jermaine-spradley/a-millennial-manifesto-jobs_b_956053.html Most

    Great answer Streetz! There's no real way to predict how a man treated poorly by his mother will turn out. You should look to other points of reference to determine his character…
    My recent post Can You Love God and Gays – The Black Church and ‘Stay At Home’ Theology In the 2012 Election

  • cynicaloptmst81

    Great response, Streetz!!!

  • nayonowen

    i have seen many females become jealous of the relationship between their husband/motherinlaw. When does the relationship end and begins with the wife. When momma calls he gets up from the bed and runs over to her (couldnt he wait til morning) or he gives her money from the household account before electric bill is paid. (LOL)

    I love my mom and trust when she calls i am there but how does one explain to a wife who feels second to the motherinlaw?

  • http://twitter.com/mclyric01 @mclyric01

    I think it is more than the way a man treats just his mother (and I totally agree with the how he sees his mother being treated by his father). I think you should also include any other significant maternal figures in his life (a man may have a close relationship with an aunt or his grandmother, which will influence him more significantly).
    Secondly, I think we respond to what we are exposed to in 2 distinct ways – aligning ourselves with the behavior; and rejecting the behavior and doing the opposite. I'm over-simplifying here but I think some people (me included, in some situations) make a decision to NOT be like what they have seen growing up and this molds them just as much as repeating the behaviors of the previous generation.

  • Peter Parker

    Good response. I definitely agree that a mother-son relationship is not the “tell-tell” sign of how a man will treat women. Always observe a man’s interactions with others and this will give you an indication of how he treats people in general.

  • adamdoglesby

    Good question.

    Is there a direct correlation between how a boy is treated by his mother and how he will treat women later?

    It may be easy to point the finger at a kid’s maternal upbringing as the catalyst for all manner of adult behaviors—good or bad.

    But let’s delve a bit deeper:

    Today, families are often more complex than the traditional nuclear family of old. Primary caregivers might be mother/father united together or either of the two completely solo. In an even more modern twist, that parental unit might be two parents of the same gender.

    Anything that a child witnesses—or experiences–can have some impact on who he later becomes.

    A boy that watches his father physically abuse a mother that he loves could very well grow up to be an abuser himself—even though he deeply loves and empathizes with his mother as a victim.

    It would seem counterintuitive but often seems to work that way with all kind of witnessed behaviors—whether it be sexual abuse, substance abuse, or criminality.

    Perhaps the best answer to the question posed by your post is that the way a child is raised and how he’s treated is absolutely germane to his overall emotional and social development. If a child is treated decently, inculcated with socially acceptable values than he’s more likely to exhibit those same values as an adult.

    Take that same kid and mistreat him–irrespective of which caregiver does the mistreating—and we vastly increase the likelihood of him displaying reprehensible behavior in his adult romantic interactions.

    My recent post Insane Bad Move: Reuniting With Your Ex!

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  • Paul B.

    It sounds great and all, but one thing is overlooked here: The man's ability to compartmentalize. This ability allows men to draw lines with behavior from situation to situation. A man's relationship with his mother or grandmother is a vertical relationship, as is the one with his daughter, while the relationships he has with the women he's romantically/sexually involved with are horizontal relationships. North/south relationships have nothing to do with east/west relationships in his mind, and therefore deals with them differently. I know some women won't see the correlation but then again, a man deals with the world through his own eyes, not through the eyes of anybody else. A man can love his mother and treat you like dirt and be perfectly fine with it. There are several mama's boys that are also womanizers and players at the same time. Two different categories at play here; he reveres his mother and disrespects or demeans the women in the street. To men, mothers/grandmothers/ sisters are in classes by themselves, so how he treats them may not carry over to how he treats you to a degree. If you see him treat them dirty, then I would advise you to keep it moving, but if he treats them well, he can still treat you dirty.

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