How Can I Indirectly Get My Adult Son and His Loser Girlfriend to Break Up?

Updated on June 14, 2018
J.R. asks from Phoenix, AZ
28 answers

My son has been seeing a woman who is lazy, sloppy, doesn't work, and rarely bathes. She is a parasite that just uses him for the money he spends on her. She has attached herself to everything he does, and he now believes they have so much "in common". Our entire family and extended family can't stand her. I know talking to him about it won't help and may push him closer to her. So, I need some brainstorming for ideas, no matter how unethical, to get one or both of them to want to break up. Again, no ethical barriers here, just nothing illegal.

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So What Happened?

I don't want to come off as a horrible person. I've been a straight arrow my whole life, and my son has no idea how I or the rest of the family feels about this woman. We've included her in all family events and have been very generous with her on her birthday and Christmas. There have been a couple of times he has said he wanted to break up with her, but the feeling passes. He's spent thousands of dollars on her, and only makes a little above minimum wage. She would ruin his life, and he can't see it because she's only his 3rd girlfriend. The disregard of ethics is the extreme I'm willing to go to protect him. He is an adult, but I can't just sit here with the attitude that he'll make his bed and he'll sleep in it. I was hoping for ideas rather than judgement.

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answers from Bellingham on

The only thing I can suggest is you tell him. I dated someone for 2 years my family hated and they never said a word. I wasn't truly happy but convinced myself I was and if they had been truthful with me, even if I would have initally been defensive I may have been saved a lot of pain! If you are concerned he won't hear you out or that you'll say something you don't mean, write him a letter. Pen to paper and give it to him.

And if after that he still doesn't listen trust him. Know that you raised a great man and that he'll ultimately do what's right! Whatever you don't be honest and loving and you'll be a person he can respect and love!

Good luck!

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answers from San Francisco on

We don't have much background about how old or mature he is, or what is your relationship with her. It may seem strange but here is my advice: Be her best friend. Shower her with love and attention (but not money). Talk to her. Remember what she likes and dislikes, her birthday...
Possible outcomes:
1) your son, as someone suggested, dates her to test you or as a late teen rebellion: he will break up because you are friends.
2) if your son doesn't feel any bad feelings anymore will not feel the need to overprotect her, be less defensive and may see her as she is, and break up
3) you may discover why he loves her and begin to really appreciate her and understand why she behaves the way she does.

It's also good to talk to your son (not being judgmental, but open, positive, caring) about what he likes in her, why he loves her, the (hidden) qualities she has...

But, as the other posts say, lying or being unethical will sure backfire.

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answers from Phoenix on

Here are 2 suggestions:

(1) Don't say anything. Criticism will only drive your son further into her arms. Seriously. People cling tighter to partners their parents criticize.

(2) Be nice to her. Once your son feels that his girlfriend is accepted, he'll be more likely to think for himself and end the relationship.


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answers from Minneapolis on

If your son is an adult it really isn't any of your business who he dates. Therefore it isn't your job to break them up. If she really is as terrible as you say she is maybe he eventually see it for himself and dump her.

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answers from Phoenix on

Dawn B. makes a great point, in trying to drive her away at what cost to your relationship to your son. Also, what about asking questions: watch your tone when you ask too, ask with interest like you really do want to know and care:
What do you like most about her?
What does she do that makes you feel special?
What do you feel you are getting out of the relationship?
Is this a person you feel you could spend your life with? If so why?
What do you enjoy doing together? What do you have in common?
Some things we do to our kids is point out the direction the person is going and ask if this is what they want for their future. Do you want to be able to do this? Do you think you will be able to have the same lifestyle you are used to with this person? If not, are you willing/happy to accept that change? We also say we like so and so, because we do, but we want to know if you are able to handle the differences in beliefs/attitudes/morals/behaviors or whatever it is that they differ in. Your situation is different in that your son is already old enough to make his own decisions. The best thing you can do is also the hardest thing have faith that he will eventually see the situation for what it is and that he is smart enough to make the right choice for his life, and accept his decisions.
Often, as parents I realize the biggest mistake I make is not trusting my kids enough as they are sorting through things. They are still learning and maturing daily and with that comes better decision making. I can't believe how much a year makes a difference in how much better their decisions become.

Take care and please don't do anything you'll regret. Life is too short to worry about other people's problems, that is what has caused so many heartaches in my life, worrying about what others are doing and /or what I think they should be doing, Who am I to say and judge. I have enough of my own things/issues I can worry about. I know taking things one day at a time is really helping me.

I will be praying for you, I am sorry you are going through this. It is hard to watch our kids make what we feel our bad decisions, but if we let them fall they will most likely learn a good lesson from the situations. The hard part is letting go enough to let them make their own mistakes.
Take care and God Bless,

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answers from Phoenix on

I understand that you want to protect him as his mother, but he is 20! Let him make his own mistakes and figure things out on his own. My brother, sister, and I have all gone through boy/girl friends our parents didn't like, but it HELPED that they RESPECTED us enough to let us make our own decisions. When I got married at 19 to a guy my parents didn't exactly think "worked" for me, they discussed their issues, but ultimately said I had to make my own life and own decisions. After 4 years of marriage, they are very surprised at how my husband has matured and grown into a good husband and father. I think what you are suggesting is a HUGE lack of respect for the fact that your son is an adult. Please treat him as one. You are the one that may need to change the way you feel about the girl friend in case it does end up long-term. Harboring negative feelings about her won't do you, your son, or your family any good.

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answers from Phoenix on

Just give her the link to this question. She'll surely go running for the hills when she sees what kind of a Mother-in-Law she's going to end up with.

If that doesn't work, you could try checking with local law enforcement to see if she has any outstanding warrants (you'd be surprised at how many people do). If she does, simply provide the police with her current wherabouts and things might take care of themselves. Then again, your son might just end up bailing her out with some of his hard-earned cash....

Honestly, I don't think there are really any options available to you that wouldn't end up in a major backfire. So I would just back off, if I were you. Talk to him (as one adult to another) if you wish, sharing your concerns WITHOUT sounding petty (i.e. insulting her hygiene)...but don't make any ultimatums. Because if you force your son to pick between his girlfriend and his mother, you might not be happy with his decision.



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answers from Charlotte on


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answers from Norfolk on

There's not much you can do. What ever you do, resist the temptation to bad mouth her or your son will jump to her defense. You CAN mention how well other couples your son's age are doing. Things like they had a wonderful vacation/cruise/trip to where ever (that they could afford since they both work), but don't be too obvious about it. If the girlfriend is truly the parasite you say she is, the only thing that would make her want to move on voluntarily would be to introduce her to a better meal ticket than your son is. Gold diggers will drop an old beau like a hot potato when they find a better host to clamp onto but you might have a hard time finding someone to take her on. I know you are willing to bend over backwards to save your son, but doing anything unethical could backfire badly on you.

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answers from Albuquerque on

I absolutely sympathize with your situation. My 25 yr old son married his girlfriend of less than a year who we really didn't know - and obviously he didn't know either. The daughter-in-law said that she was raised to believe that the husband was supposed to provide for the household including the cooking, cleaning and wager earner. She used every dime they made on junk she had to have but didn't need ie books, nick nacks, clothes for when she 'lost those next 10 lbs' etc. She wouldn't pay the bills or buy groceries saying that she didn't want to cook anymore and it was easier to just eat out. Her mother and brothers bad-mouthed her husband (my son) on myspace and in person and this daughter-in-law joined in! She wouldn't even defend her husband! She said she was just playing along and that was how her family showed their affection.

After several calls from her mother about how bad my son was, I sent her mother pictures of their apartment and the filthy refrigerator and overflowing trash cans and kitty litter boxes. Her mother responded by sending her daughter $200 to go on a family "vacation" from which she only returned to get her belongings a month after the "vacation". (Thank goodness!) Her mother said that my son needed to clean up the apartment better and take care of her "precious" daughter so she didn't have to work! My son was working 3 jobs while the daughter-in-law barely worked one! She had been fired from the 2 jobs that she had held before they got married because she either wouldn't get to work on time or called in sick too much. One job she picked a fist fight with another worker who said she was fat and she was fired. She walked off her last job before her vacation because the company was "mean" to her.

Suffice to say the longer she was around, the more we disliked what she turned into - not that she was that great when we first met her. We tried to be supportive as you were and tried to involve her in our family but she wasn't interested in us - she was a golddigger and just thought that our family was rich and tried to take advantage of anything and everything. We all work hard for what we have. We share with those we love and care about but don't just give everything away willy-nilly. She expected far more than she got which is where their problems began.

They are getting divorced if she will ever get off her behind and sign the papers she prepared and filed. It is a painful and expensive lesson for my son. I have talked to him throughout everything and told him that if there is a next time, we all won't be so polite about whether we like his choices or not. We love him and supported him, and unfortunately, he learned the hard way.

Love him and support him and tell him what you like and don't like and tell him WHY you don't like those things about her. Sometimes they are waiting to hear from you even when you don't think they will listen. In my son's case, he thought he was lonely but it turned out when we helped him get involved in things that she wouldn't let him do (athletics and volunteering) again, he had something to take his mind off HER.

Good luck - I try to be a good listener - all ears if you need them.

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answers from Tucson on

Hi J.,

I feel for you. I know you want the best for your son and do not think what he is doing will bring him happiness... the only thing I can offer you is to point you to the "Love and Logic" way of thinking. You say your son is an adult. However, you still want to direct his life for him--in the direction that YOU think is best... Sometimes, it is better for you to step back and let your son make his own decision, and then reap whatever consequences that those decisions may bring. By your interfering, he may never learn this lesson that God has given him. This may be a stepping stone to his understanding to what type of person he is truly looking for, or what type of person he does NOT want...
Watching him make his own mistakes is challenging, but that is how he will grow.
You don't want to do nothing... So, think about sitting him down, and speaking honestly and clearly with him, drawing up a list of pros and cons for the decision to stay with this girl, or for separating from her. Let HIM make the final decision. He may not like your interfering, but then again, (He may not appreciate it right away--perhaps later down the road of life he will-- and at least he will know you care enough to be honest with him).
Don't forget to pray for God's guidance in this matter, and how to approach your son. Good luck!

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answers from Minneapolis on

I can maybe understand you feeling bad that your son's girlfriend is no good. As a mom , you want the best for your son.
But how is it ok to do something unethical to split them up? If you do something illegal , you will be punished by law of course. But how are you going to face yourself or your son (if he finds out) by doing something unethical?
Try talking to him and maybe he will trust you and start seeing things clearly. If you are so sure that you talking to him / interfering in any way will push him closer to her , then I guess you need to handle it carefully.If you know your son already doesn't care much for your opinions , he will definitely hate you for doing anything unethical.

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answers from Detroit on

Unlike some of the other posters here, I CAN sympathize. My little brother is 30 and dating a woman myself or my sister (and some of the other family) can't stand. She is a loser who doesn't even have custody of her own daughter (you HAVE to be a really sh*tty mom to lose your kid). All she is worried about is how my brother can help her try to pay to get her daughter back/make sure she and her daughter have a roof over their heads/etc. This woman doesn't work, refuses to work, is trailer trash to the extreme and then has the nerve to tell my brother to get a 2nd job because they (SHE) can't afford cable or internet.

They broke up recently and my sis and I took the opportunity to express our feelings rather openly about her to our brother. He seemed to be listening.....right up until the minute he took her back! And then she convinced him that WE don't care about him enough to want him to be happy, which has further strained the relationship. We're at a loss but realize now that there's no way we can make him see what he chooses to be too blind to see.

I don't think this is just an issue of a mom who can't let her baby go and live his life......Its someone who loves a family member so much she's willing to do what it takes to try to steer him in the right direction. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any way to do it. I wish I DID have some advice for you, but I don't. Just wanted you to know you're not alone.......

Laura - good to see I'm not the only one who can sympathize with this loving mom. AND I LOVED your p.s.......if only it could work! LOL

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answers from Chicago on

I agree with Melinda. We cannot say anything to our sons/daughters, etc. because it is their lives and they must learn from it. Hopefully before they get married. I have been in the same position for awhile now and cringe, but do not want to drive my son away. He needs to come to it himself and boy is it painful watching. Just keep letting him know how much you love him. And hope she finds a cockroach somewhere that she can crawl off with.



answers from Minneapolis on

Other than telling him directly what you think and feel, I'm not sure that there's anything you can do. I highly recommend telling him what you see. It sounds like you haven't tried that, and I think that's the best option, more so than any underhanded, indirect method.



answers from Phoenix on

If she really is milking him like you say, maybe you should pay for him to visit with whatever financial counselor/agent you use or have. He now needs to think about 401K, disability, health care, roths etc etc. Maybe then he can see how he is throwing his money out the window, and get him convinced to put a chunk into all of the above first, and then whatever is left he can spend on her. Sadly most young adult women (I was one myself as well as you I am sure) expect men to pay and be pampered, so you did your job of teaching your adult son to treat a woman well and with respect. So now it's what do you do? I wonder what your reaction would be if she was totally level headed, secure and educated, but he was still blowing his money on her.


answers from Spokane on

I feel you sister!

I do not think there is anything wrong with introducing him/them to other girls, maybe ones you know he will find attractive, and have real things in common with? Just try not to be too obvious...

My kids are still little so I can only imagine what it might feel like to see one of my beautiful baby boys with such a looser....logic says stay out of it, you will only bring them closer together BUT heart would defiantly be saying something different!

So, In closing I say..."Get on with your bad self"!
....time for mommy to make some young girlfriends and have lots of activities planned that involve your son and his "bad choice" of a never know? Maybe the "bad choice" will get tired of him being so social with other girls...if she is as bad as you say she is, she will defiantly be jealous of his time being spent with you and who ever else happens to be with you:)



answers from Fort Walton Beach on

Honey I'm having the same problem cept my daughter thinks she is all this loser needs to turn his life around. UGH! I know you want ethical. But, if you bring the plastic .. I'll bring the shovel. Better yet..we could introduce the losers.



answers from Tucson on

Oh, how I WISH I had great ideas. I had a brother who married a crazy lady and now we have to deal with her forever. The only thing I can think of is to have him "accidently" meet other girls who actually do have stuff in common with him. I believe the movie "Because I Said So" Offers great inspiration. :-) I know I should say that you should just let your son do what he wants, he's an adult, but the other part of me is cheering you on. I hope that whatever you decide, it all works out for you and your family. Good Luck!



answers from Phoenix on

Well speaking from experience in being the person in your son's shoes....
Nothing you could say or do could break the two up.
This unfortunately is something he has to figure out and take care of himself.

I had every important person in my life trying to tell me and show me how bad the person I was with was for me. I would not listen and in a few cases (slow learner I guess) I had to really hit rock bottom with the person before I realized that the person was not who I wanted to be with for the rest of my life.

Being a parent now... I see just how gut wrenching it was for those that loved me the most to see me go through all that I did...

Prayers sent your family's way in hopes that he realizes something soon.
Always here if you need an ear! Just holler.



answers from Louisville on

You cannot directly or indirectly manipulate your son's life. Perhaps there is something in this woman that he sees but you don't. Perhaps he just needs to feel loved (and, Mom, no matter what you do, your love is not enough!!!!) About the most you can do is talk to him calmly, adult to adult about his relationship with her and your feelings about her specifically and the relationship in general. If he respects your opinion, talk to him, CALMLY about the pitfalls you see in the relationship. Ask him what he is looking for in a short of long term partner and ask him what, if any, of those qualities he finds in his pressnt girlfriend. Ask him how he would feel if you introduced him to a few new girls. But remember, the more you try to force the issue, the more he will, like a ten year old, resist your pressure.


answers from Scranton on

I am going thru the exact same thing.. She is pushing him away from us .she has no motivation in life.he has a good job with my other son and she is messing that all up because she wants him with her all the time! Please can somebody help us?



answers from Phoenix on

If you are willing to go to any extreme, however unethical, consider judging yourself before you cast judgment on another person. Examining your own choices may be time better spent. Your own fear, contempt and unethical behavior may contaminate, either now or later, your relationship with your son.

If you raised your son properly, he should be able to make the right decision. Consider trusting him in his own judgment because this is the time to enjoy the fruits of all your efforts. Allowing adult children to make choices and mistakes is a part of life. Again, if you raised him right, allowing him and trusting him to make the right choices should be the fruits of your years of 18 years of effort. Allowing your son to be 'wrong' is just as important as allowing him to be right.

At this point, you could be seen as nothing more as a meddlesome mother who possibly can't stand the idea of another woman in his life.

I teach my children that, no matter what, it is wrong to behave unethically, even if one feels 'justified'. Words mean nothing when not consistently backed up with demonstration. Any justification of unethical behavior is just a copout for losing control in my opinion.

Lastly, no matter how thin a pancake is, there are always two sides. Demonstrating to your son, especially now during difficult times, is the real mark of a quality and strong woman. Your efforts in maintaining your dignity, and being a virtuous and kind woman, won't be lost on your son.



answers from Atlanta on

Hello, I am in the same kind of pickle too. So what finally happened? What did you learn that I might be able to learn from?



answers from Flagstaff on

There is nothing you can do to make your son break up with his girlfriend. No matter how horrible you say she is, he either doesn't see it or he doesn't care. If she really is the way you say she is he will have to find out on his own when it becomes a problem for him. Right now he is in love or infatuated and has his blinders on and can only see his girlfriend in good light. You trying to do things behind his back or other unethical things to get them to break up will just make your son become closer to her and further away from you and his family. Maybe she hasn't had good role models in her life and needs somebody to show her how to do things. You could take some time and go teach her how to clean, cook, groom herself, and other things you say she needs to fix. Your son will probably never be with your idea of a perfect mate, but that is ok and you just need to be happy that he is happy.



answers from Phoenix on

apparantley she must have SOME good qualities or your son wouldn't like her. Let him make his own decisions, it is HIS life!



answers from Dallas on

WOW, at first I thought this was a posting by my Mom about my brother. heehee We only tolerate my brother's WIFE. She is an abusive, lazy, horrible mother and a liar. But for some reason my brother is with her and he loves her. It may only be because they have children together or he doesn't think he can do anything better. My mom tried to get him to wake up but he had his mind made up that she was for him. So even if you don't like her and you feel that she is horrible for you son, he will ultimately be the one to make the decision and you just have to be there when he falls and needs a hand. We tried everything to break them up. We caught her in lies after lies and then some more lies, but she knew how to play on my brother emotions. blah blah blah that she had a horrible upbringing and no one has cared for her more than him blah blah blah She knows that our family doesn't care for her because I'm not quiet about how I feel about her, but that doesn't phase her because she is also not smart enough to get it. (in my opinion and that may just be I wanted more for my brother)

I have a son, granted he is only 7, but I feel for the little girl that he brings home the first time to met Momma.

So good luck, we now just accept the fact that she is going to grace us with her presence at every family function. It just involves more alcohol and smoking to keep the stress calm. ;)

If you need to bounce ideals just send me a message.


answers from Milwaukee on

I would talk to him. My husband's best friend was dating and engaged to a horrible person, she had good work ethic but she was a slut and had this friend wrapped around her figure so tight he did not notice that she was sleeping around and even dating another guy while they were engaged. It finally took us sitting him down one on one, otherwise it is unfair to have two against one. I know my hubby really just pointed out all the bad but I talked more as concern so it would not feel so much like an attack. Finally he broke off the engagement, a few months before the wedding because he actually caught her cheating.

If a son really respects what mom says he will reallly think about the relationship, but if he does not know why you are concerned then he won't back away. I know in the above case the parents were trying to be supportive, did not like this girl too much but did not say much but after the wedding was called off our friend still feels hurt that his parents did not say something. He may or may not have listened to them at the time but as a parent you can at least express your concerns out of care as well as still be nice to the girlfriend.

Unfortunately I have another friend, who is not a really close friend but close enough that I spoke up with concerns about who he was dating. She sounds a lot a like who your son is dating... very lazy, is even at work hanging out (I also work with him), has had more jobs then you count on your hands in the past 4 years but has not kept them for more then a week, she is friendly and talkative but tells you her whole life story so you feel sorry for her (she even asks if you can help her out and if you have ever gone through job hunting and so on)... anyway this friend pretty much did not think twice about what I said he even said well my parents are ok with her and even her parents like me (of course her parents like you because she can not live on her own and you get her out of the house). Now they are struggling and they were living at his' parent's house till they kicked them out and now he asks why... well it ends up his parents think this girl is no good for their son but kept their mouth shut, he said that they told him that BEFORE they got married he would have back off. Once again he said he would have back off, who knows what really would have happened.

You should express your concerns, but also let him know that if does continue in the relationship you will be there for him no matter what. He sounds like a good guy and besides his girlfriend choice has a good head on his shoulders so hopefully he can see that you only want what is best for him.

Oh I just remembered something from my dating years... I was going out with a guy for 6 months and we were celebrating my birthday at his parent's, they got me socks for my birthday, I was shocked but smiled and said thanks. After we left my boyfriend apologized for the gift, he then said his parents were not huge fans of me. I asked why and he said they said I was not "good looking" enough to run in their circles... I laughed, I was teenager, had some acne (still do to this day) and at the time wore glasses (I now wear contacts most of the time) but other then that I am ease on the eyes, a size 0 (which now I am nowhere near now), friendly, smart, nice, the list goes on. This was a rich family, I knew that from the start, but never thought looks would play so much into their thoughts as to liking a girlfriend. After two more weeks we finally broke up, his mother's words just meant more (granted we had only gone out for a little over half a year)... and all of that was brought on by socks, even if they came from whatever high end place they shopped, for a gift. So give socks as gits!

Does the girlfriend talk about the gifts or money a lot when around you and the family. If so mention to your son that she talks about that a lot and she seems to care a lot about those... if he engages in that conversation maybe suggest he spend less on her for a few months and see if their relationship is still as happy/strong.

In the family or extended family is there someone he is really close to, like a cousin or uncle, brother or sister, or maybe a close friend. See if one of them will talk to him (of course make sure they don't say it was initiated by you), sometimes coming from someone besides the parents might help him see that others think this way about his girlfriend. If he really values what you and others close to him says he will access his current relationship.

Sorry for it being so long... I am just thankful that my brothers chose wonderful girls otherwise they would have gotten an earful from me. Hope that the outcome of your son's relationship is happy, maybe she will change (long shot but possible) or maybe he will see what others see and end it. I guess in the end it will be your son's choice so countuine to be supportive but there is no need to be super nice if it is a person you do not like, you also have the right to not like someone but still have to be respectiful of that person.

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