How Do I Get My Boyfriend To Stand Up for Me?

BY: - 24 Oct '17 | Relationships

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Dear Dr. Buckingham,

I have been dealing with an issue for quite some time now and find myself in need of some advice. My boyfriend and I have been in a long distance relationship for 2 1/2 years now. He is a Marine. Since the beginning of the relationship, his mother has been jealous, possessive and rude toward me.

She was not excited that her son was spending time with me. I tried reaching out to her to see how she was doing while he was away at boot camp. I went to her home with flowers and gifts for birthdays, and other special days. Unfortunately, she never paid any attention to me and brushed me off quickly. She thanked me and shut the door in my face. I was angry because I traveled all the way to her house in order to bond with her. After trying to bond, but being shut down, I stopped. It has gotten to a point where she continues to disrespect me and makes snide comments even in front of my boyfriend.

In order for man to stand up for you, he must be able to stand up for himself.

He does not do or say anything to his mother. Many of the people I know who have had similar relationship and family dynamics found that the easiest way is to cut off their family and keep them at a distance; and they found themselves very happy and at peace with their lives. I tried telling my boyfriend about how I feel, but he does not listen and keeps putting his family first.

I understand that they have been there for him, but how are we supposed to have a healthy relationship when he does not listen and makes excuses for everything his mother does? How do I convince him that she is destroying our relationship and we need to distance ourselves from them? He proposed to me and I declined because this matter negatively impacts our relationship. How can I get him to tell his mother to stop, and that if she doesn’t then she must be kept at a distance because as a partner our relationship comes first or else we cannot grow? How Do I Get My Boyfriend Stand Up For Me?


Girlfriend of a Marine

Ask Dr. Buckingham

Dear Girlfriend if a Marine,

I am sorry to hear about the challenges with your boyfriend’s mother. I will begin by saying that cutting off in-laws and/or family members typically does not work if only one partner wants this. Based on your report, your boyfriend has not expressed a desire to cut anyone off. According to you, he does not “do or say” anything to his mother. With this in mind, your idea of cutting his family off is not realistic.

Unfortunately, I believe that your expectations at this phase of the relationship are unrealistic. You speak of your boyfriend as if he is your husband. You want him to put you before his mother and family. A large percentage of people would argue that this status is typically reserved for a wife. While you may think highly of him because he proposed to you, please keep in mind that he is not willing to place you above his mother or family at this time. This situation will not likely change even if he decides to marry you.

You cannot make or persuade your boyfriend to do something that he does not want to do. However, even if you could persuade him, he would probably resent you at some point in the future. In my work as a psychotherapist, I have learned that change is a personal phenomenon and people have to want to change for themselves in order for it to be healthy and sustainable.

In order for man to stand up for you, he must be able to stand up for himself. If your boyfriend does not defend himself, he will definitely not defend you. The dynamic between him and his mother is not about you. You are just a casualty. Let me explain.

A man who is ready for marriage understands that he will become one flesh with his wife. This understanding positions him to help his loved ones accept his decision to become one flesh. He will assertively ask everyone to respect his decision to marry whom he desires. He will demand that they respect his fiancé, but do not demand that they have to like her.

If a man does not do this, I do not believe that he is ready for marriage. Also, you have to decide what you want from your boyfriend’s mother. Do you want respect or do you want to be liked? Understanding what you desire and can tolerate is very important. Unfortunately, based on your report, it appears that your boyfriend’s mother does not respect or like you.

Overcoming in-law or family conflict can be challenging, especially if you do not have a relationship that is built on unwavering commitment in the beginning. I typically do not advise people to move on, but you might need to keep it moving if your boyfriend is not willing to meet you where he feels comfortable. Mind you, I did not say where you feel comfortable. I did not mention your comfort level because he has to be okay with what you are requesting of him or it will never work.

I highly recommend that you seek professional counseling so that you can gain insight about how to move forward or move on. Also, ask your boyfriend to attend counseling with you. He might need help with addressing his mother’s inappropriate behavior towards you.

Best regards,

Dr. Buckingham

If you have questions for Dr. Dwayne Buckingham regarding relationships (married, single, etc), parenting, or personal growth and development, please send an email to

Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post.

About the author

Dwayne Buckingham wrote 212 articles on this blog.

Dr. Dwayne L. Buckingham, author of Qualified, yet Single: Why Good Men Remain Single and Unconditional Love: What Every Woman and Man Desires in a Relationship, is a highly acclaimed international clinical psychotherapist, life coach, relationship and resiliency expert, motivational speaker and corporate consultant. He is also the President and Chief Executive Officer of R.E.A.L. Horizons Consulting Service, located in Silver Spring, Maryland. To learn more about Dr. Dwayne L. Buckingham visit his website at


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Blinded by Love? Ladies, Pay Attention to These 5 Signals Before Tying the Knot

BY: - 25 Oct '17 | Relationships

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Have you ever had one of your girlfriends come and tell you something about your man that you just refused to believe? He made a pass at them. He shoved somebody in the parking lot. He quit his job, again. Even though you saw him holding his “cousin’s” hand last week, and he barely missed your fingers when he slammed the door shut yesterday, and he just called to ask you to help with his car payment – again, there’s no way she is right. Right? Even though experience tells you these things are plausible, you  decide to ignore them because you believe you’re in love.

And what’s so wrong with that? Nobody’s perfect. I suppose that’s all well and good when you’re in a dating relationship heading to nowhere. But what happens when you decide that you want this thing you’re in to become your journey of a lifetime? It’s been said that flaws before you get married are magnified 100 times greater once you’ve tied the knot. That’s a heck of an increase. If it’s true, then what, and how much of it, are you willing to put up with for the rest of your life?

Not every flaw is a cause for alarm. But there are a few that deserve a second look before tying the knot.

Maybe you’re in a relationship right now and everything’s coming up roses. The emotional unrest caused by his occasional public tantrums are placated by a kiss here and a gift there. Or, his laying on the couch all day is made easier by his laying the pipe all night. Whatever the fault, it’s easy to dismiss because, well, love. But the truth is, whether you hear it from me or your girlfriend, that kind of love won’t last. The signs pointing to a lifetime of bad husband are there. Wake up and pay attention.

To be fair, not every flaw should be a cause for alarm. But there are a few that deserve a second look before nuptials are exchanged and life becomes a hot mess. These are the ones women often discuss when talking about the things they wish they had known before they got married. So, ladies, don’t go to sleep on these 5 relationship signals all for the sake of love.

When Faced With Challenges, He…

Everyone has their way of dealing with life’s difficulties. Things don’t always turn out the way we hoped they would so we may be disheartened, disappointed, or upset. How does he handle those moments? The promotion he just knew was his has been given to a junior colleague and it’s a tough pill to swallow. Is he open about his struggles or does he stay out late drinking? Does he talk to you about his pain or is he calling up his ex? Take note of his pattern for dealing with the tough stuff and decide if you can handle it for the long haul.

When I Talk About God, He…

Granted, spiritual leadership isn’t important to every woman. But, if it’s important to you, don’t give your boyfriend a pass. Your relationship with God is important as a single woman. Once married, the idea is that you, your husband, and God become a chord of three strands not meant to be broken. So, if he has little to no interest in spiritual matters now, walk away. You won’t be able to change him unless or until he desires to do so. Oh, I know, I know. You will pray him into a relationship with God. Fine. Just do it before you get married. If you can’t, then choose to love God more and walk away.

When He Has to Take Responsibility, He…

This character trait looms large and can cover a lot of areas such as finances, work, relationships, and so much more. So what you’re looking for is his overall response when something has gone wrong and he was responsible for taking care of it. Does he point the finger to avoid any blame? Does he make excuses? Does he pass the buck on to someone else? Does he ignore it in hopes that it will go away? Does he man up and try to make things right? Whatever the attitude now will most likely be the attitude for a long, long time. If you plan to build a family and a life with him, make sure you’re with a man who’s got this on straight.

When He Gets Mad, He…

This one cannot be overstated. People express anger in different ways. Some display all out external fits of rage while others seethe internally. Either way, someone becomes their target. Is it you? And, if it is, how does he talk to you? Does he talk things out, walk things out, or fight things out? Does he ever get physically or verbally abusive? Does he seek guidance from a capable third party? As the counter to love, anger is as strong an emotion. Make sure you notice where and how he vents his fury.

When the Topic of Kids Comes Up, He…

If you want children, or don’t, make sure he feels the same way. No, I mean it. No further advice is necessary so I will just leave it at that.

Is it possible to have a happy marriage if you don’t get these right beforehand? Possibly. I can’t with all certainty say it isn’t. I just know that marriage is challenging enough without these battles to deal with. So if there’s a way to cut them off at the pass before you walk down the aisle, then do so. Don’t dismiss them only to complain later about “things you wished you’d known.” You don’t date to marry. You date to determine if he’s the one you should marry. So take the time to clear this things up now so you can truly enjoy your journey of a lifetime.

BMWK, what other signals should you be on the lookout for before jumping the broom?

About the author

Joann Fisher wrote 151 articles on this blog.

Joann Fisher has been a writer and editor for both print and online newpapers and magazines for the last 10 years. She now serves as a Writer/Editor at BMWK and lead Editor for The Joy Network.


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