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18 Signs a Partner Was Raised by a Toxic Mom 

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Have you spotted certain behaviors in your partner that make you question their upbringing? Growing up with a toxic parent, especially a mother, can have significant effects on how someone deals with relationships. 

The damage from a tough upbringing isn’t always visible. But you can pick up on clues that your partner had a toxic mom. Maybe they’re super insecure or find it hard to trust people. Or possibly they just can’t handle criticism without feeling attacked.

Let’s shed some light on these signs and help you handle a relationship with someone who’s had to deal with maternal toxicity. Knowing these signs is the first step towards healing and strengthening your bond with your partner. So here are 18 signs that might suggest a toxic mother raised your partner.

1. They Lack Self-assurance

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Growing up with a toxic mom can damage one’s self-confidence and sense of worth, leaving deep emotional scars. If your partner’s been through this, they might be stuck in this negative cycle, making them feel like they are not good enough. This makes it challenging to build healthy relationships and chase after personal goals. 

Without the proper support and help, the effects of a toxic upbringing can remain way into adulthood, messing with every aspect of life.

2. Seeking Codependency in the Relationship

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Does your partner need your guidance and validation all the time? If your answer is yes, it’s a sign that a toxic mom has raised them. 

While having parents’ support is essential, toxic parents usually overdo it and get too involved in their kids’ lives, making them feel like they can’t do anything without help. This could be why your partner seems to depend on you for validation and support.

You need to support your partner, helping them recognize their worth.

3. They Get Nervous Around Her

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As a child, your partner might have felt anxious or on edge around their mom because they never knew how she would react. So, if you notice them becoming nervous or behaving differently around their mother, it could indicate that she’s toxic and they fear her reaction. 

Pay close attention to their body language when she’s present or they speak with her on the phone.

Such mothers usually have a history of saying hurtful things or making their kids feel bad about themselves. So, your partner might have had to tiptoe around her moods or opinions to avoid confrontation or criticism. 

4. They Live to Make Her Happy

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It’s adorable when someone goes out of their way to make their mom smile, right? But if they do it out of fear, that’s not so great. Pay attention if your partner always tries to keep their mom happy, no matter what it costs them. 

Their toxic mother might have manipulated them emotionally or guilt-tripped them, making them feel responsible for her emotions. As a result, they think their value depends on making their mom happy, and they feel stressed if they don’t live up to her expectations. 

If your partner always puts their mom’s happiness above everything else, even your relationship, that signifies a pretty unhealthy relationship dynamic.

5. Difficulty Showing Affection

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Some people have an easier time expressing themselves emotionally than others in general. But if they’re omitting their love to make you feel bad, like not getting intimate with you or giving you a silent treatment, then this is something you should take notice of.

They might’ve picked this habit from their mum if she was emotionally distant or used affection as a tool to manipulate, showing love only when it benefited her. It made your partner hesitant to express their love freely and believe affection comes with conditions and strings attached. 

6. They Overly Criticize Their Mom

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Indeed, parents aren’t perfect, and it’s not uncommon to have some issues with them while growing up. However, it’s unusual for someone to speak negatively and criticize them constantly. 

If you observe that your partner frequently talks about their mom, often in a negative light, it could mean unresolved trauma of the things she has made them go through. 

Your partner might blame her for all the bad things that happened to them in the past or present, and even in moments of calm, your partner finds reasons to criticize her because they just can’t move on.

7. Passive Aggressiveness

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As kids, we learn how to react to stress, anger, and sadness by observing our parents’ reactions to such emotions. If your partner shuts down entirely during an argument, it means that their parents used to do the same. 

They might avoid expressing their feelings because they saw their mother use certain tactics, like sarcasm or backhanded compliments, to show anger and avoid confrontation.

It’s crucial to help them understand that expressing their feelings is essential. Communication is key to resolving conflicts and improving your relationship. You can’t read minds, so talking openly is the best way to address issues.

8. Overwhelmed by Criticism

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Our mothers are our first cheerleaders whose support brings us confidence. But toxic mothers constantly criticize, downplay, or belittle their kids’ experiences and feelings, making them feel like their emotions don’t matter.

People who were raised in such environments become oversensitive to criticism and get upset easily over petty things. They start seeing everything negatively, even if people don’t mean it that way.

If you see your partner acting like this, it might be because they had a toxic mom. This behavior can lead to many fights, so you need to acknowledge your partner’s emotions and make them feel heard and understood so they can find their way out of this negativity.

9. They Avoid Having You Meet Their Mom

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Partners usually want their significant other to meet their family, especially their moms, before getting married. But if your partner avoids this, it doesn’t mean they’re hiding something. It could just tell their mom isn’t someone they want to spend time with.

Your partner might skip meeting her because she makes them uncomfortable, as if they’re walking on eggshells around her. Also, if their mom was too controlling before, they might still feel overwhelmed or suffocated by her, which makes it hard for them to be around her without feeling stressed or anxious.

This avoidance behavior can be a coping mechanism for dealing with the trauma of their upbringing. They’re trying to create space between them and anything that reminds them of the bad times so that they can feel safer and happier.

10. People Pleasing Behaviors

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Having a partner who always prioritizes others is admirable. But if your partner goes overboard to ensure others’ happiness, even if it means sacrificing their happiness, their upbringing might be the reason.

Toxic moms usually want their kids to be super loyal to them and never question anything they do or say. They can’t take ‘no’ as an answer. This makes the kids feel they must make their mom happy to avoid trouble. So, they might try to please everyone, including you, just to get approval, even from people who don’t care about them because they can’t know how to say ‘no.’

11. Lacking Boundaries

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If your partner shares personal stuff with others or has difficulty saying no, it could mean they don’t understand boundaries. They might not even realize they’re doing something wrong, primarily if they were raised that way.

This often comes from growing up in a place where if you spoke up or disagreed, it ended poorly. They might put other people’s needs before their own to keep the peace. Fortunately, it’s something that can be fixed. As a couple, you can work together to ensure this doesn’t cause problems later in your relationship.

12. Insecurities in Relationships

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If your partner has a toxic mom, you might sense they’re a bit insecure in their relationship with you. They might not feel worthy of love because of past criticism and worry about being left alone. 

This insecurity can make them always look for reassurance and fear that you might leave them. 

Not having a healthy relationship with their mom can even make them doubt your loyalty. However, open, honest communication and constant reassurance can help overcome these insecurities and strengthen the relationship.

13. Hyper Vigilance

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Do you feel like your partner is always on high alert? People who grew up with maternal toxicity might be hyper-vigilant in emotional situations.

It’s because they had to always be on edge, trying to figure out their mom’s mood to avoid drama. This makes them good at noticing small things others do, but it can also mean they worry too much about what those things mean. 

In relationships, they might think a lot about their partner’s actions and words, worried they’ve messed up or that a fight’s about to start. This kind of vigilance was a way to protect themselves when they were kids, but it can cause unnecessary stress and misunderstandings as adults.

As a partner, you should encourage them to express their feelings safely by emphasizing that it’s normal to experience a range of emotions. 

14. Chronic Guilt or Shame

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If your partner feels guilty or ashamed without any particular reason, it’s a sign that they were raised by a toxic mom. They might have been made to feel responsible for their mom’s feelings and actions, which can lead them to blame themselves a lot.

In relationships, it means too much apologizing or finding it hard to take a compliment. While It’s not easy to shrug off these behaviors, with patience and understanding, you can make a big difference. 

A bit of consolation and being told they are amazing can help reduce that unnecessary guilt and shame. 

15. Excessive Need for Control

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Your partner might crave control because they felt powerless as a child. People raised in strict environments with toxic moms often end up feeling like they need to control everything around them, whether it’s in their personal lives or at work. 

This is usually because they had to deal with their mom’s inconsistent moods growing up. Trying to find some sense of security and predictability, they start controlling everything, sticking to strict routines, or setting high standards for themselves and others.

While this behavior might make them feel safe, it can also cause stress and affect your relationship. Be empathetic and make them realize that they can’t control people and certain things. 

16. Quick to Take Blame

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Does your partner often take the blame for everything, even when it’s not their fault? Another sign of maternal toxicity. It all started in childhood when they were always held responsible whenever their mom was unhappy or upset. 

This habit of always taking the blame affects their whole life. They apologize for things that are not their fault and think they’re always to blame, which spoils their self-esteem. They fear making choices or speaking up, worrying they’ll upset someone or cause trouble.

17. Self Isolation

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If your partner prefers to spend time alone, it might not just be their choice. It could be a sign of having a toxic mom. This can make someone careful about getting close to people, thinking it’s safer to be alone than deal with relationships’ ups and downs. 

This habit of pulling away can come from constant criticism, manipulation, or neglect, where being alone feels like a haven from all the drama. Understanding this can help you see where they’re coming from and support them in overcoming these patterns for a healthier relationship. 

18. Excessive Independence

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If your partner grew up with a toxic mom, they might be hyper-independent, which seems like a good quality at first. But this independence means that as kids, they learned they can only count on themselves. They might have faced disappointment, manipulation, or even abuse when they needed help, so they decided it was safer to just rely on themselves.

While being independent is usually cool, in cases like this, it can get in the way of making close, trusting relationships. They might struggle to ask for help, hate feeling vulnerable, and have difficulty accepting support.

This behavior might have helped them as kids, but as adults, it can lead to isolation and make it tough to form meaningful connections.

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