Social Question

Bart19's avatar

WTF moment. Does anybody else know a person that does this?

Asked by Bart19 (1020points) July 29th, 2011

My mother has a very annoying character trait and I was wondering if anybody else encountered something like this before.

For example: She cheerfully congratulates me for getting engaged, then secretly whispers to my future mother in law (who I am living with and she only met my mother twice without any other contact) “He is young. He will change his mind.”

And another one: She says that she is proud of me making life changing decisions and that her son is growing up, then whispers to me that I am acting too adult like and that I am making fatal mistakes.

I can see that it could be a radical mood change but she smiles when she makes those comments and doesn’t change her tone. All she does is whisper it to me and others that are close to me. Which makes them all wonder whether she was joking, was being serious or if they misheard. Basically a massive wtf moment.

Does anybody else know a person that does this? Say one positive thing and then make a snide remark that seems to come out of nowhere without any visible mood change?

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25 Answers

tom_g's avatar

Not everyone is honest when they speak. It can be painful – especially when it’s your mom.

Congrats on getting engaged (seriously). <whispers in your ear>Your mom is probably dealing with a ton of emotions and control issues right now. Her baby’s growing up. She is probably in the habit of speaking untruths, etc. Be happy. Now. You are not responsible for your mom’s happiness.</whisper>

JLeslie's avatar

Sure. I think she wants to give you positive reinforcement, but also wants you to be realistic, and I guess at times she fears you aren’t. It isn’t nice what she does, but I think it comes from being worried, or that she wants people to know she was right about something, or she tends to have high anxiety, or a combination of the three. I don’t think it has anything to do with mood or a Dr. Jekyll Mr. Hide thing.

wundayatta's avatar

That is strange and dysfunctional, it seems to me. Is your mother only doing this now, or has she done it all your life? I’ve never heard of this kind of behavior in real life, before, although I have read things like this in various places, mostly, I think, in novels about Chinese mothers.

It could be a cultural thing. A mother trying to manipulate the situation to keep you living with her instead of moving out. But it is a highly dysfunctional way of dealing with things. What kind of person wants to undermine the confidence of their child? Maybe she feels like she is losing her role in life. Maybe she feels she has no power except if she manipulates.

I don’t know what it is, and I’ve never met anyone like this. I don’t like it one bit. It’s a very manipulative thing to do, and you might want to consider telling your mother you want her to stop it. You may even want to get rude and tell her to shut up, but I wouldn’t do that unless it is still driving you crazy and all your other efforts have not worked.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Sorry, but in that situation, public humiliation is often the quickest cure. Even though my mother, whispering these things to me and to others in my presence would deserve a slap in the face accompanied by a loud public proclamation “SHUT UP MOTHER! NO ONE WANTS YOUR SELFISH OPINION”

Yes I know that’s harsh, and perhaps the slap in the face could be restrained. A firm hand on her shoulder would get the message across. If that were my father or brother they’d get punched in the nose in front of everyone. I’d lay em’ out quicker than shit. Either way, it is public humiliation that solves this issue quickly, and once and for all, never to be repeated again. The sooner that takes place, then sooner the healing can begin and everyone get to respecting one another as they should. If you don’t nip this in the bud, it will grow like a weed and take over everything beautiful your’e growing your life towards.

Public humiliation. Do it and get it over with. Make it sting.

JLeslie's avatar

I am starting to see a pattern. I think men are more confused by this behavior than women. I also think some of it is cultural as @wundayatta said in his answer. I had a couple of friends who were engaged, and to their faces I was all happy, and asking when’s the date. When she said they were having trouble choosing a date and where to have the wedding, blah, blah, I said to her, “all the ideas sound good, I know planning these things is difficult.” Later that night I told my husband I don’t believe they will get married. I think what you describe is similar behavior.

Although, @wundayatta also mentioned that it is a manipulating behavior also, which I think is very possible also.

Aethelflaed's avatar

Yes. My mother does that kind of thing. It’s very passive-aggressive, and you should talk to her about how inappropriate it is, and that if she has something to say, to do it. Explain to her that when she’s constantly saying things and then taking them back later, you can’t trust her word. Sit down and have a heart-to-heart with her about what’s going on, why she’s doing this, just the two of you in a safe environment for both of you to talk freely.

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies I can say from personal experience that that doesn’t always work. It can also backfire; make the person be even more passive-aggressive. And even if the person doing the passive-aggression stops that particular tactic, it tends to create a lot of other relationship problems, so that it becomes a “out of the fire, into the frying pan” thing.

john65pennington's avatar

Sorry to say the world is full of people like this.

They are called “back stabbers”.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

What do you mean “out of the fire, into the frying pan” @Aethelflaed. I’m not a piece of meat to be roasted by anyone who would sabotage my future, and neither is the OP. We’re not in their frying pan unless we jump into it. There is no frying pan. There is a manipulative selfish shortsighted adult acting like an immature insecure scared little backstabbing evil child. They need to be bent over a knee and spanked in front of the classroom. Problem solved.

If they want to be part of the future life, then that’s up to them. But there is no frying pan to worry about other than what is created in the imagination of those who fear them. Bullshit needs to be address immediately.

tom_g's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies – Do you feel that adults who act like this can be humiliated into changing?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I don’t care if they change or not. That’s not the goal. The goal is to affirm to everything and everyone in my future that nothing, not anything or anyone will stand in the way of the plans we make together. I can’t change people. No one can. We would all do well to get over that presumption. People change themselves. And one change we would all do well in making is to show absolutely no patience or empathy towards those who would attempt to manipulate and sabotage our lives.

Let them get over it on their own if they will. I’ve got a life to live and people who respect me and are counting on me to be a well balanced healthy adult. Too much disingenuous fake politeness in this world. A good public humiliation goes along way to setting the rules straight.

Paint your wagon and go. Anybody who sabotages the wagon gets shot in the public square.

JLeslie's avatar

@john65pennington I don’t find this to be back stabbing behavior at all.

BeccaBoo's avatar

Oh your mother and mine would get on famously!!! My little brother got married last weekend (he is 31) and “queen of the acid tongue” (my pet name for her) spent the entire afternoon bitching about the bride and how she was far too young to be settling down (she is 24). My mother is renowned for her abilities to leave a room full of people open-mouthed with her comments and attitude. Do what I do, smile sweetly, play dumb to a lot of it and most important, do not give them cause to make a scene, they will leave you in a very embarrassing state. No matter how many times you have a quiet word, pull them up or tell them outright…best thing is just accept it. Been there done it and bought the t-shirt. She is your mum and although its not great to have this behaviour going on and makes you mad, she wont change, well unless your prepared to lay down some very strong threats yourself and go through with them. Good luck suga, wish you all the best.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Sure. Your mother is paying you lip service. She probably feels this is what she’s supposed to be saying in order to be a good mother, a supportive mother. Too bad she’s telling others what she really feels and you find out because now you’re not getting the benefit she intended. I doubt she’s being malicious, more a little careless.

christine215's avatar

I wish I had @RealEyesRealizeRealLies as a life coach when I was young. What @tom_g experiences is something that I lived with for so much of my life until I grew a set and stood up for myself and turned to the people in my life who were being so manipulative and damaging and said “Stop it”
It took my finally removing myself from the presence of these people in my family for it to sink in that I was no longer going to tolerate being treated like that.
@tom_g , I feel for you… stick up for yourself!

tom_g's avatar

@christine215 – I think you used @tom_g in your answer instead of someone else.

christine215's avatar

oops, meant that towards @Bart19
(my apologies!!!)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

We all know people like that, yes.

Bart19's avatar

Thank you for all your answers.

@BeccaBoo:“My mother is renowned for her abilities to leave a room full of people open-mouthed with her comments and attitude.”

It’s a bit different with my mother. Everybody adores her and will defend her if I ever changelled her capabilities as a parent. A public humiliation like @RealEyesRealizeRealLies suggested would be disasterous for me. When I told a close friend of mine she wouldn’t believe me. My mother seemed to be nicer than her own and our family seemed to be so perfect. It really isn’t.

My mother can be very nice and sociable until someone doesn’t follow her plans (whatever those plans may be). The snide remarks started when I became a teenager and intensified when I got into a relationship. My partner gets them more than me.(Example: She cheerfully congratulates my girlfriend with her engagement then whispers to her that she is stealing me and that she will never be good enough).

It mosty happens when nobody (including me) is listening or is doing something else. I overheard her doing it to my partner on numerous occasions though. And now she is doing it to my future mother in law too which she doesn’t have any relationship with.

It’s a bit like saying “Oh it’s her birthday today. It’s such a beautiful girl now.” very proud and loudly and then whisper to the same person “I hope the ugly bitch dies.” It completely baffles you and all you can do is stare and wonder if you misheard. It is not a pinch of realism at all. Like I said it’s a real wtf moment.

JLeslie's avatar

@Bart19 With the further description you have given she sounds very controlling, and a little bit like the southern women who are nice to your face and then turn around and role their eyes (not just southern women do this actually, but they are kind of known for it). Her need to control is probably out of her own nervous anxieties. Maybe ask her what specifically she is worried about, and tell her why you think it will all be ok. Try to understand her, rather than getting caught up in your feelings, and hopefully she can do the same for you. Talk to her calmly, not during a time she is doing it, and explain to her how it makes you feel, and that you prefer tp be more upfront with each other and honest.

Just a thought.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

You’re setting yourself up for a big fat fall @Bart19. This wedge will grow deeper as time goes by and eventually it will become so deep that your SO will be separated from you.

I don’t mind if you learn this lesson the hard way, on your own, or the easy way with guidance from someone who’s been there and done that. Too many stories about couples splitting apart after years of anguish wrestling over a manipulative parent. You’ll either take care of it now with one fell swoop, and deal with the fallout for a little while, or you’ll drag it out over years and years of making excuses and hiding and claiming “Oh what she really meant was…” and then one day you’ll turn around and not recognize anything left of yourself because you will have become nothing more than a puppet strung along for the sole purpose of feeding someone else’s fragile ego.

Your SO will slowly begin to see you as weak. And that will be so unattractive. You’ll try to make it up with bandaids and promises and worry yourself old and gray before your time only to find you’ve been left in the dust.

I give you fair warning friend. Don’t go there. Best to break off the relationship right now and forget about the whole thing rather than set yourself up for a decade of hide and go seek with your spirit.

Knock your mother off her high horse now, or at the very least refuse all contact until she becomes an adult. Please please please do it now before children are born and she begins manipulating them against the both of you. You can take care of it all right now. Others that you care for, some that haven’t even been born yet are counting on you to step up to the plate and do what it takes.

tom_g's avatar

I agree with @RealEyesRealizeRealLies. Address it completely now. Find an honest way to do this that works for you.
I probably completely disagree with @RealEyesRealizeRealLies about the way to handle it, but I agree that this is unacceptable behavior from an “adult”.

Zaku's avatar

Sounds like someone who’s brain is derailed, to me. I have known people like that, and I think they should be put in intensive psychotherapy and not be taken seriously by their children.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies It’s a common phrase meaning exchanging one bad situation for another equally bad (or worse) situation.

Hibernate's avatar

I wouldn’t call her a back stabber. I think that she has to do or say something just to get some notice. Just think what will happen to her if she disappears from your life. If you already live with your mother in law she might just be jealous or she wants some attention or something.

linguaphile's avatar

@Bart19 I feel for you. My mom does this too and it’s really bizarre when everyone else doesn’t see something but you do. I never really stood up to her, to be honest, and she still does it when she gets into one of her moods where she just has to dig into something. It’s hurtful, unnecessary and really undermines any confidence. I won’t mince words- it’s draining and destructive.

She will either stop because you won’t accept it, or she will continue for the rest of your life. If you want to commit to a lifetime of dealing with it, then that’s something you have to decide but without a question, your future kids will get pulled into it.

I have not really been capable of standing up to my mom in a brash or blunt way. She is very set in her ways and is not going to change, so the way I made her stop was to reply to the underhanded jabs with factual or questioning emotionless comebacks. Using your example- “Oh it’s her birthday today. It’s such a beautiful girl now.” then “I hope the ugly bitch dies.” I would answer, “Then why are you here?” She never has an answer for my questions other than a scoff. Eventually, she did stop for the most part.

Do deal with it soon, get your fiancee on the same page (show her this post), make a plan, decide what you will tolerate and what you won’t and stick to it. Do it now before tolerating it becomes a habit. I speak from experience- don’t be me. :)

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