4 Toxic Signs Of Adult Mother-Son Enmeshment

It is neither cute nor enduring when mother and son have always been best friends.

Mother and son pitted against his sister ESB Professional | Shutterstock, Creatas Images | Canva

You are involved with a guy and he's all that, yet you can't help but wonder if there is another woman in his life. Then you meet her and immediately know the other woman is his mother.

Here are 4 toxic signs of adult mother-son enmeshment, according to YourTango experts:

1. His mom makes a point of showing you have to live by her rules

Here's the thing that guys who are victims of enmeshment don't understand about a healthy relationship: in a normal one, you have boundaries with your parents. If she's butting in on your home planning, your intimate life, or even your holiday planning, you have a problem. She's trying to exert control where it doesn't belong, and your boy toy probably is going to expect you to live under her thumb, too.


Ossiana Tepfenhart, Author

@drcoreyemanuel #stitch with @Britts Clinique 1) When I ask “Does the mom have healthy relationships with other men (adult men)?” A secure attached man will challenge you in a constructive way to heal this abandonment/rejection wound and invite you to consider that there is a much healthier way to be in relationship with your son. In fact, the more time you spend with the secure attached man, you will start to notice your unhealthy patterns of behavior with your son and naturally start to shift your dynamic. And my final point (#3), be sure to take the attachment style quiz (refer to google). This will activate a healing journey for you that goes much deeper than you and your son but that will directly impact your relationship with him. As always, seek a licensed mental health professional, if needed, to navigate these waters. This will be uncomfortable work but I promise it’s worth it! #enmeshment #mothersonbond #askdrcorey #anxiousattachment ♬ original sound - Dr. Corey Emanuel

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2. There is extreme sibling rivalry

When a son views his sister as competition and actively works to prevent their mother from having a relationship with her daughter, it can be a sign of enmeshment and unhealthy family dynamics. This behavior often indicates an over-dependence on the mother and an attempt to maintain exclusive emotional control or influence over her, hindering other family relationships.

Erika Jordan, Dating Coach / NLP Practitioner

RELATED: How To Untangle Unhealthy Family Dynamics — Without Cutting Anyone Out

Judgmental mother chooses enmeshment for control Yakobchuk Viacheslav vis Shutterstock


3. They overshare intimate details

One sign of enmeshment between mother and adult son is when either party confides too many details of their intimate lives. From discussing their physical intimacy to confiding their relationship problems in depth, to meddling in each other's intimate lives and relationships, these unhealthy boundaries can be secret betrayals of the people with whom they are physically intimate.

Gloria Brame, Therapist and Sexologist

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4. His mother dictates his life

He can't do or say anything without "Mommy's approval," even if he's forty. Dare I say it? Run! Yes, this man will dote on you and spoil you. Yes, this man believes that women are essential and valued. All positives, no? Of course, they are. The problem becomes that there can only be one Queen Bee in his world, and that, my dear is not you. It's her.


This means any major decision he makes will be predicated on what his mother wants, and not about what you want as a couple. He is a loving and affectionate guy who is everyone's best friend. No one has a bad word to say about him. He is generous in spirit and loyal as a puppy, but ultimately his view of you will always be shaped by that seen or unseen force: Mommy dearest.

Laura Lifshitz, Author

Mother-son enmeshment can be a messy knot to untangle since it has threads connected to safety, care, nurturing, bonding, and love. These basic human needs can get wired into co-dependence, emotional control and manipulation, and a climate of insecurity outside the maternal bond with the adult son.


Boundaries, boundaries, and more boundaries will be needed and steadfastly maintained by everyone involved in the enmeshment. The mother and her enmeshed son have serious self-work to do to untangle. However, if you are involved with an enmeshed son, it does not mean you have that self-work to do, but your boundaries must be clear. Whether their boundaries are clear is up to them.

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Will Curtis is a writer and editor for YourTango. He's been featured on the Good Men Project and taught English abroad for ten years.