Has your male romantic partner ever shown unhealthy patterns of behaviour with women, especially his mother? It could be because of mommy issues. Maybe he has fixed opinions about the opposite sex. Or, perhaps he struggles with intimacy with women.
This article will help you understand what mommy issues are and how to recognise them in men. It will also briefly touch upon the psychology involved in dealing with guys with mommy issues.
What are Mommy Issues?
Mommy issues are relatively permanent and pervasive patterns of behaviour caused by dysfunctional relationships between men and their mothers. These patterns of behaviour tend to impact the guy’s interpersonal relationships, worldview, and self-image.
Generally, these issues can become so problematic that the guy struggles with work, social relations, and mental well-being. Usually, these issues are generated very early in childhood. Essentially, they are influenced by the mother’s ability to care for the child in his formative years. However, the issues can exacerbate throughout the course of the guy’s life if not intervened.
What is ‘Mommy Issues Psychology’?
In this section, let us explore what psychology has to say about men with mommy issues. These are three psychological phenomena that generally come up when investigating mommy issues psychology.
Probably the most commonly discussed theory related to guys with mommy issues psychology is the Oedipus Complex. Originally, this term came from the psychoanalytic school of psychology. According to Sigmund Freud, dysfunction in the psychosexual development of a boy can lead to this complex.
Oedipus was a character in Greek mythology, and this psychological concept is inspired by the challenges this man faced. The mommy issues in this phenomenon manifest as an unusual, inappropriate, and possibly incestuous attachment to the mother .
Secondly, in guys with mommy issues, psychology often refers to adult sons of emotionally neglecting mothers. The term “mother wound” is used to label a set of characteristics, including codependency, dysfunctional attachment, low self-esteem, low impulse control, and mental health complications .
Typically, the mother wound occurs when there is attachment trauma in a child’s relationship with his mother. This can be due to neglect, abuse, or even well-meaning but uninformed parenting.
Madonna- Mistress Complex
Finally, a third way psychology attempts to explain mommy issues is the Madonna-Mistress Complex . Interestingly, this phenomenon occurs if a man is unable to see women outside the binary of a virgin or a prostitute.
He either sees women as chaste and virtuous, whom he can admire but not feel sexually aroused by. Or he sees them as objects for sexual pleasure unworthy of respect and warmth. Psychologically, this is explained by deep-seated attachment issues between the man and his mother.
Symptoms of Guys with Mommy Issues
Now that we have described the mommy issues and the psychology involved, let’s talk about the warning signs that a guy might have mommy issues. Remember, these need to be observed recurringly and not in a single instance to qualify as mommy issues. You can also read this article to learn more.
Excessive Dependence on Maternal Figures
The guy is unable to look after his basic needs and is constantly dependent on others. These needs can include maintaining a kitchen, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, and other household chores.
Instead of learning how to do these for himself, let alone for someone else, the guy constantly depends on maternal figures. He has a fixed idea that women are only meant for nurturance and only women must fulfil these roles. He needs a female caregiver, be it the mother or the wife, to wake him up on time, remind him to eat, and look after him when sick.
Difficulty with Self-Control
Guys with mommy issues tend to be very self-indulgent and struggle with discipline. Basically, this can be because of two reasons. If they had an overly-indulgent mother who didn’t say no much, they may be entitled.
Alternatively, if their mother was excessively strict and harsh, they may have internal conflicts and low self-worth. They may find it hard to function consistently without an authoritative figure supervising them. Either way, these men are often impulsive and dealing with addictions.
Poor or Unhealthy Boundaries
Mostly, guys with mommy issues have no idea what healthy boundaries look like. They oscillate between having rigid, impermeable walls in relationships to completely porous, practically non-existent boundaries.
Naturally, since they cannot establish their own boundaries, they do not respect those of others. Consequently, they may end up violating others without even realising.
Intimacy Issues & Interpersonal Conflicts
If the aforementioned symptoms weren’t enough to cause conflicts, mommy issues make it hard for guys to be intimate, too. These men struggle to be in touch with their emotions and avoid vulnerability.
Understandably, this can hinder healthy bonding between two individuals. They might come off as cold, casual, uninterested, or too sarcastic. Think Chandler from Friends. They’re either too clingy, or they run from intimacy.
Struggles with Accountability & Responsibility
Mommy issues tend to make a guy develop a distorted sense of reality and inconsiderate behaviour. Normally, patriarchal systems of society further reinforce these patterns. As a result, he may refuse to take accountability.
Obviously, a guy with mommy issues is incapable of sufficiently looking after himself, let alone others. So, he may also struggle with taking up responsibilities and following through consistently.
Controlling Behaviour & Anger Outbursts
A lot of guys with mommy issues have very low opinions of women and femininity. Because of this, they may develop oppressive and controlling tendencies, especially with their romantic partners.
Sometimes, they may even show disproportionate, ill-timed, or aggressive anger. Their outbursts and visible signs of annoyance or frustration may be the only negative emotions they feel comfortable showing.
Jealousy, Envy, and Insecurity
Lastly, a guy with mommy issues is inclined to have low self-worth and self-esteem. This can manifest in displays of jealousy, envy, or insecurity. He might have difficulty trusting others and may think that the people he cares about will abandon him.
Moreover, he constantly compares himself to others, either feeling inadequate or prideful for being a step ahead.
Important Tips to Deal with Guys with Mommy Issues Psychology
Now, let’s discuss some important tips based on psychology to deal with guys with mommy issues.
Practice Compassion & Patience
Firstly, you need to bear in mind that mommy issues took a long time to establish. So, they will take a long time to resolve as well. Therefore, patience will go a long way in preserving your relationship with a guy with mommy issues.
The more compassion you offer, the better the results. Try to remember that there is a lot of shame and low self-worth deep down, causing these patterns.
Improve Your Communication
You will have to work on building better communication between each other. You need to be able to openly and honestly share your thoughts and feelings, and so does he.
As you keep working on the mommy issues, more will be revealed about the guy’s psychology and attachment trauma. Without solid communication, it will be hard to navigate these tricky situations.
Create Networks of Support
Most importantly, you need to understand that you can’t handle this alone. It’s imperative for you and the guy to have networks of support that you can rely on. He needs to have a set of warm, trustworthy people he can turn to, and so do you.
This will allow both parties to get their personal space, varying perspectives, a feeling of community, and resilience.
Professional Help & Therapy
Clearly, this is a complex issue that could really use professional intervention. There are several kinds of help you can seek. For example, individual therapy for each of you, couples therapy, family therapy, and maybe even a therapist for his mother.
Getting all these kinds of professional help can ensure that the problem does not exacerbate and that you have proper guidance throughout.
Furthermore, if it happens that you have tried everything and still it isn’t working, there is the option of leaving. Sometimes, despite your best intentions, it’s impossible to make it work.
Maybe he isn’t ready for the change required, or he continues to stay in denial of the mommy issues. Once you start feeling like you have done your best to make it work, but you just can’t deal with it, you can always walk away and choose yourself.
A guy can develop mommy issues due to deep-seated psychological issues such as attachment trauma, abusive parenting, or childhood emotional neglect. If the relationship between the guy and his mother was damaging in any way, the guy may develop these issues.
The impact of mommy issues can be long-term, pervasive, and dysfunctional. The psychology of a guy with mommy issues makes it hard for him to develop and sustain relationships. If you’re dealing with such a guy, head over to United We Care for expert guidance and support in dealing with this problem.
 R. W. Quackenbush, “Oedipus complex,” in Springer eBooks, 2020, pp. 1641–1643. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-24348-7_473.
 M. Carey, “Chapter 5: Healing the Mother Wound,” Routledge, pp. 85–90, Feb. 2018, doi: 10.4324/9780429493461-5.
 O. Bareket, R. Kahalon, N. Schnabel, and P. Glick, “The Madonna-Whore dichotomy: men who perceive women’s nurturance and sexuality as mutually exclusive endorse patriarchy and show lower relationship satisfaction,” Sex Roles, vol. 79, no. 9–10, pp. 519–532, Feb. 2018, doi: 10.1007/s11199-018-0895-7.
 S. C. Hertler, M. Perñaherrera-Aguirre, and A. J. Figueredo, “An evolutionary explanation of the Madonna-Whore complex,” Evolutionary Psychological Science, vol. 9, no. 3, pp. 372–384, May 2023, doi: 10.1007/s40806-023-00364-1.