How to Deal with a Toxic Girlfriend

Updated on January 29, 2019
C.M. asks from Harlingen, TX
17 answers

My son is 20, his girlfriend 19. They are rude and insult my family behind our backs. The girlfriend is nice to our face yet insults us behind our back. Unfortunately my son agrees with everything she says and then some. She says she hates my other son, both say they hate him, yet can’t articulate why. They have said horrible things about my younger daughter who is 16 and suffers from bipolar spectrum. My son says he hates people with mental illnesses. Does he think she wants to be bipolar? They talk about me behind my back as well texting each other insulting me while sittting next to me.
I have asked my son to let me know if he has a guest in my home. No go. She does not say hello or goodby. Yet, she will eat at my table, have sex with my son like a hotel while my daughter is nearby. Spend the night without my knowledge.
They go to the same college. They take every class together, my son has no friends other than hers and when not together spend every minute day and night texting every activity. I eat, I shower, I’m going to the bathroom.... his phone just dings constantly every second within an update.
I have been told I am rude for getting upset about being insulted behind my back. My son repeats whatever she says like a puppet. He has no opinion of his own. His family with which we have never had issues prior.
I have asked nicely to please speak to her about laying on my sofa upstairs naked in a blanket in front of my daughter. Leaving her dirty undergarments on the bathroom floor as my sons (twins) share a jack & jill. Let me know if he is having company and on it goes. I feel like I run a whorehouse. She will cook at my house & leave all the dirty pots, pans and dishes for me to clean. Upstairs, she has never lifted a finger along with my son to pick up anything.
Nothing I say matters. The final event was asking my son to look up a class online for his brother which he did not want to do. I took the computer and while using it hit the red MAC button by accident, the screen closed opening their texting about all of us live while my son sat next to me. I was very upset. During the ongoing conversation I typed in you know what “f” you both. She responds what???? My son says oh it’s my mom. She’s mad. I scroll up to ding pages of insults and nude photos. I admit I was past furious. I took the computer to her house, met in private with her parents. Told them my son is equally to blame, but I can’t continue to let this behavior to go on in my house. The girlfriend tried at physically attack me. She cursed, screamed and ultimately went in the living room where my other kids were waiting for me. My son, the boyfriend, hid in the car. I gave the computer to her parents and said. This is what I have been living with. Nothing I say makes a difference. I’m tired. Can you help me with this situation. The girlfriend continued screaming at my other son inside the house with her hatred of him. Again why, who knows. When asked she said he does not always turn off the lights? I apologized to her parents and said I felt I had no where else to turn. No matter the lies she spewed black & white and photos are the truth. They said they would speak with her.
I took my son to his dads 3 hours away who gave him an ultimatum that if he wants to continue living in our home the girlfriend is no longer welcome here.
Its like his mind is twisted. He repeats her word for word like a puppet. I pay for literally everything. He has a bmw, credit card for incidentals, spending money, nice clothes. He does not work so he can concentrate if school. Yet, he insinuated he lives in a horrible house. Mind you no one is home much of the time. My husband & I work out of town. His brother is in school and my daughter does online high school due to her bipolar condition and travels with me. As a last resort I have scheduled him with a therapist I have used before to try to get to the root cause of the issue.
I am so very hurt and angry. I really don’t know what do else I can do. Perhaps he has issues which are undiagnosed? If he is just well I don’t even have words. If anyone has some sound advice I would be grateful.

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So What Happened?

Thanks to everyone for the tough love. I agree this is about my son. He has chosen to go astray for what ever reason. I did not mention he is an identical twin which does not change the behavior, but just makes it more unbelievable to me. All my kids have been great kids. I’ve never had major issues with any. Sure, I have made mistakes, we are all human. It is just so shocking in a 6-8 month span the person we have known for 30 try’s is gone.
I had already taken his cell phone, credit cards, etc., from him as well as banned and trespassed the girlfriend. I failed to mention that. His father gave him an ultimatum, however, he lies and manipulates. His father does not have another house but works in the oil fields and lives out of a hotel far 6.5 hours from his school. His work location changes as the job moves forward. So, this is not a solution.
I agree he can’t live here. Campus housing is more than tuition and must be paid up front in its entirety. He has no friends do roommates are out. I actually considered a homeless shelter. Perhaps a hostel as a solution.
With that said I have installed cameras, etc turning my home into a SMART house to keep an eye on things when I am away which is 3 days per week.
I have considered dis-enrolling him from school and telling him if and when he gets it together we can discuss returning.
I have scheduled myself separately from my son with my daughters therapist. My daughters bi-polar manifested very quickly and many of the things he is doing are very similar to her prior to treatment. If and it’s a big if he does have a undiagnosed issue I feel my final piece of accountability as a mom is to ensure he is mentally ok. If not, I will help him. If he is fine and has just become a down right ugly perdón inside that is a different story. I do believe I owe him this much as his mother. Had I not lived through this with my daughter I may have. It even considered it a possibility.
In any event, he needs some sort of help and tough love I agree. We are a very close family and the whole situation is just outright shocking.
I would agree I was working far too much while the twins were growing up. Therefore, their dad left his job to stay home with them and provided a great role model. They have never been left to their own devices until recently upon starting college. They lived in the dorms last year. I made the change because the difference in debt due to the dorm in 4 years would be 100,000 vs 32,000.
He still gets good grades, attends class and studies. They have slipped a bit from a 3.2 to a 3.0, but are still acceptable.
I heard all of you believe me tough love and responsibility. My husband said he is weak minded. IDK and ties it really matter?
Our initial agreement is no girlfriend anywhere near our house. 2nd therapy is required. Otherwise he must leave. Perhaps I should have a firmer fist. I just can’t help but feel there is something else mentally manifesting. Throwing a kid...I know he’s 20 out on the streets and at least not attempting to determine if this is the case I just can’t to.
If it turns out he is just disrespectful and being ugly for no more than that is who he has become he has to leave. We all deserve our lives back to some normalcy.
Again, thank for the tough love and wish me luck.

More Answers


answers from Boston on

Part of being a grown up is having the responsibility to live with your choices. He chooses to hang out with someone who is toxic to your family. So since its your house the first rule is this young woman isn't allowed on the property ever again. When she shows up call the police.

Next is to take back the credit cards (call the company and have new cards issued just to you with a new number so his don't work anymore) and tell him that the gravy train stops as of February 1. If he wants something he can get a job and earn the money to pay for it.

I'd take back that BMW and let him figure out transportation to where ever he needs to go. Since he'll have zero money he won't be able to put gas in it or pay insurance. He's 20 so he can buy something on his own and pay the insurance or use Uber or the bus to get around.

Remember most people work while going to school so picking up a part time job shouldn't impact anything in his life other than giving him less time to spend with his girlfriend. He feels he can do or say anything he wants so obviously he feels he's grown up. Start treating him like one instead of coddling him like a toddler.

Your job is to support your younger children and give them a safe place where they can relax. Their own home shouldn't be a war zone created by their older sibling. Put a stop to it now. He'll hate you but seriously he does already. This will give him an actual problem to complain about.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

He is 20.. an adult.

Personally I would cut off all financial support, give him a very short period of time to move out. Something is very wrong if your own child does this. I blame your son for allowing this to happen. Lock him out and force him to grow up and live with his decisions.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

So, your answer to all of these issues is to blame the girlfriend? Whooooffffda . . .

Put the blame squarely where it belong - your son, and ultimately yourselves for even allowing things to spiral this far out of control and letting it touch your other children. If I were to hazard a guess, you have been an extremely absent parent during your son's critical teen years and his plea for attention has escalated to this. Now, it is so far out of control that you are risking police intervention.

While I believe that much if this is on you, your son IS an adult and needs to start accepting consequences for treating people like he is and for his actions. Have the car picked up (assuming it is in your name - if not, then just stop making the payments). Stop paying the cell, have the credit card turned off - just stop supplying this man child the ability to not have to lift a finger in order to get what he wants. Change the locks on the house and advise your son that since he is an adult, with an adult girlfriend, that he needs to man up and put his big boy pants on. If he believes he has lived in such a terrible house for so long, you are going to save him the continuing misery of living there and taking care of his needs. It sounds like he has plenty of back up options (his dad's house, his girlfriend's house, etc.) so he will land on his feet.

Seek counseling immediately - you need to own what your role is in this and figure out a way to get help for your other children who have been exposed to this terrible nightmare.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Welcome to mamapedia.

Your son is a legal adult. Change the locks on the doors and keep the windows closed and locked.

Stop paying for ANYTHING of his - education, cell phone, food, etc. Tell him since he can't respect the family and obviously don't like his family? He can find another place to live. Tell him when he wakes up from his stupor and can treat the family with respect and kindness? he will be allowed back in. Otherwise? He's cut off.

Don't make this about the girlfriend. Make this about HIS behavior. You make it about her? It will only drive him towards her. I hope you screen printed the texts you read.

This is tough love. Tell you son you love him but it's obvious he doesn't love and respect you so no more. Ensure everyone in the house is on the same page - he's NOT ALLOWED in. If he breaks in? Call the police and have him arrested for breaking and entering.

Stand tall and stand firm mama. You and your family deserve better.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

He needs to move out, that's the advice. At 20, if he wants to entertain his girlfriend for overnights and sex, he needs to NOT be living in your house.

Your responsibility is to your younger children, not to mention your own safety and sanity.

You need to let go of concerning yourself with all the details of his unhealthy attachment to her, taking all the same classes, not having his own friends etc. If he chooses to be unkind to his siblings, that's a huge loss for him. You cannot control that he makes these choices, he's going to follow his own path in regards to his relationships with others.

Why are you paying for everything? I honestly think this is the root of the problem. If he is so lucky to have you paying for his college tuition, he can WORK for nice clothes, gas for basic transportation, and any other extras. I would call the housing department at his school to find out what the cost of on-campus room/board would be per month. Give him that amount each month while he is enrolled in school. If he wants to move on campus, fine. If he wants to take that housing money and go out and find his own apartment to share with the girlfriend or whomever, fine. Once he's not in school, stop the financial support.

My guess is once he's out in the real world, not living in your home, he's going to be in for a culture shock. He'll be forced to grow up. It's highly unlikely his relationship will survive all that stress long-term. So I think you say nothing about that and let the chips fall where they may.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

ETA: you have changed your post and added a LOT more information to it than when I read it before. Going to her parents with your other children was NOT a good thing. They should NEVER have been subjected to that. EVER. You need to kick him out. Period. End of story.

with that much blatant disrespect? I would toss him out on his own and let him get a taste of the real world and see how much this girlfriend will stick around once she isn't getting a free ride anymore either.

Kick him out. Change the locks. Tell him good luck with life, you love him, but cannot tolerate the disrespect and hate that he has for his family.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

This “kid” is out. And change the locks.
And not a dime unless he goes for help if that’s what you think he needs. And not a bad idea for yourself.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Indianapolis on

You need to put your son out. He is an adult and if he and his girlfriend can't respect your and your house then they need to leave. Change the locks, pack up his things and put them on the porch. They have no right to disrespect you or your household. He will soon learn that he is with a nut case but you don't have to allow either one of them in your home. If you have to get the police involved in removing them do so. They are causing harm to your other children and they shouldn't have to live that way. Good luck!!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

not sure what to tell you. for this situation to have even begun to spiral this far out of control, you have zero boundaries or consequences. i'm astounded that you have raised these kids to the ages they are and don't have even more issues.

start by kicking her out and not letting her back in, period. if your son doesn't like it, no one's making him stay there and have all his expenses paid, right?

btw, my kids both started working before they were 16 and had jobs while they were in college. any kid who wants an education can figure out how to 'concentrate on school' even if <gasp> they have other responsibilities in life.

sounds like the entire family is in crisis. not sure why you think counseling for your son is the only counseling needed- his mind didn't just suddenly get 'twisted' by this nasty little chick. sounds like he was raised to be a follower.

get help for everyone, sooner rather than later.


4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on


I don't really follow your SWH. You say it's too expensive to live outside the home - but he has a BMW and credit cards. I lived in very modest, low rent apartment (you can have roomies that are not friends) and didn't have credit cards when I started college. I did not have a car.

I have a close relative who is bi-polar. None of what you describe here reminds me of my relative - at all. If he's getting good grades - doesn't sound like it to me (if not being treated).


She can do whatever she wants - if she is rude and insults you, there's nothing you can do about that. If your son is into her - that's his choice.

What you can do is focus on the issue - which is that you don't want this going on in your home - so she doesn't come over. How do you make that happen? Then I'd say it's time for him to move out.

You can't control who he dates, but you can have him live elsewhere. That's my suggestion.

As for what you expect from your son - here's just what is possible - I have a son a few years younger than yours - he's not yet in college, but he's in high school. He works two part jobs, gets good grades, walks dogs and shovels for people as well, plays a team sport, and has a life. He contributes towards his car insurance, he pays all his spending money, and he puts half his salary towards his future education costs. He does chores at home.

Recently, we had a kid over who did not respect our house rules. He is not invited back. He was asked to leave our home. We have younger kids here, and we were not going to have them around that kind of thing.

You're the parent. You don't react to this stuff. You have to stay calm and not respond like you do. When you get upset, you have to take a moment and let it go.

That would be my suggestion. Sounds pretty awful and I'd be upset too. I just wouldn't want to deal with it but the problem isn't the girlfriend, it's that your son has made a poor choice and isn't being respectful in your home. It happens (with the choices) and he'll learn, but as far as your whole family having to deal with this drama - no. It doesn't have to go down in your house. Have him live elsewhere.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

It is your home, you set the rules in your home and if he can not follow them then he needs to find a new living arrangement, that is part of being an adult. Since she doesn't respect you, your home, or your rules, I would simply ban her from the house unless all those things change, but you have to be ready to follow through and tell him to move out if he continues to disrespect you and your home/rules or nothing will ever change. Time for some tough love.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Your son doesn't take you seriously. He knows you and his dad are not on the same page and knows how to work the situation.

The only way your son is going to grow up is by showing him tough love.

This means kicking him out. Changing the locks. If he enters again? call the police and have him arrested. If girlfriend is there too? Have her arrested and use your cameras as proof of breaking and entering.

Cut off all financial aide to him. ALL OF IT. Let him find his own way in life. You can't keep drawing a line in the sand and then moving it. That's EXACTLY what you are doing.

Tell him you're done. Tell him he has 24 hours to leave the premises. Then get a locksmith in and change ALL the locks. Ensure EVERYONE knows that he is NOT ALLOWED in the house and to NOT let him in if he knocks on the door. He NEEDS to know you are serious.

Enough is enough. Stand your ground and stop allowing him to take advantage of you.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

He's an adult who needs to learn how to take care of himself. Stop trying to fix him. Stop reading their texts. Let go of the drama.

Your son has shown you who he is. You've asked him to do several things while living with you. Not has he not done them, he disrespects you. Tell him he has until the end of the quarter/semester he has to be out. He has to grow up! He's 20. The time to help him is passed.

Let go of being his mother and relate to him as an adult. Stop feeling guilty for who he is. In writing make a list of what he has to do. Have him sign it. Stop putting up with his behaviour. List immediate consequences when he doesn't follow the rules. I suspect you"ve allowed him to break the rules when he was growing up. He needs you to set boundaries and to be held accountable.

He is an adult. He should be paying his own expenses. If you pay for his phone, don't give it back. Stop paying for anything except his college expenses. You know he manipulates. Stop listening to him. It's your house. You make the rules. Stand firm, don't argue. You deserve respect and to feel comfortable in your home.

I urge you to get your own counselor to help you.

I also suggest you to learn about codependency. There is a great site on the Internet.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Wow. What a mess. I honestly think the only thing you and your husband can do is tell your son that he is no longer welcome in your home and go find a job and different place to live. If you continue to pay his tuition, you are nice people.

He is extremely immature and has growing up to do that will only take place with the school of hard knocks. He’s not going to learn it being around you.

Tell his father what you are going to do. And do it. Box up all his stuff and put it outside for him. You might also have a policeman at the house when you tell him.

It may tank your relationship for a long time, but do you really want a relationship with a person who does this to your family?

It’s time for tough love. If you can’t do it, nothing will change.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I'm not sure that going to the parents of a 19 year old was a good move. She's an adult. However, if anyone physically attacked me, I'd have called the police, filed a report, and applied for a restraining order to keep her away from your house and you and your other kids. You can still do that. But don't talk to the police about her texting - they don't care unless there are pictures of naked kids. They don't handle family discipline and drama. Focus - it's on the physical attack and the fact that your minor daughter is home alone.

You are responsible for your son's upbringing, but sometimes kids take a bad turn and we can't do anything about it once they are adults. We can, however, stop enabling them. I think you have to prioritize. What they do behind your back is annoying but you have to ignore it. If you didn't snoop at the messages, you wouldn't know about it. Kids who text constantly are annoying but it's not the end of the world. Same with dirty underwear on the floor of the bathroom - shut the door and let the kids work it out. You're not home so you can't micromanage everything.

Lying naked in your home when your daughter is there is another thin, but if she's in his room, your daughter can shut the door. So is leaving dirty stuff around. And stop asking her why she is yelling at your other son. Who cares? Just kick her out. There are precious few valid reasons for being a guest in someone's house and yelling at them.

But your son is allowing this when you are not home. And apparently he expects to be spoiled with a fancy car, an unlimited food budget and an expense account. So he's your problem. Stop paying for everything.Give him an ultimatum - he needs a job in 2 weeks or you're not paying his cell phone and spending money. If you and his dad want to pay for his college, that's up to you, but none of this "don't work and just concentrate on your studies" nonsense. If he has time for all this stuff with her, he has time to work. A job at the college might cover part of his tuition too instead of gas for his BMW. Give him a set time limit to move out too - a dorm, a rooming house, anything near the college. If they go to the same school, they can live together and pay for it themselves. But he's out. He thinks he's an adult and can do what he wants? He's right. But not in your house.

I agree you can (and should) change the locks once he's out. But if you let him in the home and then travel with your daughter, he'll let her in.

Time for tough love, Mama. You've either taught him life skills, or you haven't. He can learn the hard way, but at least he'll learn. But you have to stop all the talking, all the asking for explanations, and all the snooping. You have to take concrete action that he will understand. It's time to be strong and be in the driver's seat. We had to do this with one of my husband's daughters to keep her and her criminal boyfriend away from our son. If she wanted to see us, we met in a very public place like a restaurant that would call the cops if he showed up without our knowledge. We told her we would see her, and only her.

Good luck.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

At 20 I was told that I had to find my own job, my own place to live and make it work of I didn t want to follow my parents rules.
At 18 my husband a parents said the same thing to him.
So i think if the 20 year old cannot abide by your rules he can get a job to pay for his own place to stay. I would also cancel the credit card till he can show respect for the woman that gave birth to him and raised him

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

I would not do things like go over to her parent's house, etc. Instead you and your husband should tell your son he is a grown adult and it is time to move out. Come up with a plan...such as you agree to give him x amount a month for him to share an apartment with a group of other students. Research where students at his university live and look up rent prices, or look at on campus housing. (Or he can pay for it himself...student loans and summer jobs. I did this and always worked a part time job in college between classes). Tell him in x years when he is done with college then he is on his own for paying rent so he will need to find a job even if it is simply sacking groceries while he looks for a better job. Harden your feelings...he and his girlfriend will say all kinds of bad things about you. Model good behavior back to him. Stay calm and rational. Say the job of a parent is to raise independent adults who can take care of themselves. Tell him you love him and will help him find a place to live if he wants. Then breathe a sigh of relief that you do not have to be around his nasty girlfriend anymore. I never lived at home after age 18. I had to take out loans in college which I worked to slowly pay back in my 20s. I had to live super frugally...eating beans and rice...getting clothes from salvation army. Lots of young people do's fine. It teaches you the value of things, that working hard pays off, and to be very careful how you spend money. Your son is being very disrespectful to you and you are right to not allow his girlfriend over anymore. Tell him if she ever decides to start being kind and respectful you will consider letting her over to your house again one day, but you will have a list of rules on how to behave in someone else's house. Stay calm.

1 mom found this helpful
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