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  1. Kids & Family

Tell Me About It: Boyfriend inherited mom's control issues

Carolyn Hax is away. In her absence, we are offering columns from her archive.

Q: This year I will be spending all of my vacation time on traveling for or with my boyfriend's family. I understand that I do this voluntarily, but in a very real sense it is also somewhat compulsory because his mother says, "You will be joining us for Christmas, right?" So my boyfriend and I talked about taking a brief, private trip for New Year's after being with his family for a week.

Well, after meeting his mother for dinner last night, he came home and said, "My mother said 'no' to our New Year's trip." His mother lives 15 minutes away, and we see her frequently. I don't understand why I'm being horrible in saying that it's not her place to say no.

He claimed that though I have great parents, they raised me badly, and that I feel I have the right to do whatever I want. I think he needs to cut the strings.

What do you think? Annoyed

A: Maybe I lack imagination, but I can think of only two things someone would do upon deciding his mate was ill-bred: break up with the damaged goods, or try to fix them.

You do assert your side, that you think he's the one who needs fixing. However, the facts of your question suggest the willingness to adjust/improve/please is running strictly one-way.

That's telling you something screamingly important about your boyfriend. He's not just fine with having his mom control his travel plans; he thinks you're wrong to want to control your own. He doesn't just have a controlling and presumptuous mother, he has a controlling and presumptuous value system.

Please get help — competent counseling, stat — and learn not just how to get out from under this guy's thumb, but also how to flick away anyone else's. Stat.

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