“Hang on, Mom. Are you crying?!”

A ruffling noise was followed by my dad’s voice as he grabbed the phone, “Ootzie, do your old man a favor. Don’t tell your mom about anyone until you’re engaged.”


The Cute Guy

Several years ago I spent a month being fairly obsessed with a guy who lived in my condo complex. From the moment I met him at the downstairs cafe, I referred to him as Cute Guy. After bonding over our shared interests in writing, gun shooting and Dairy Queen ice cream cakes he seemed to be solid boyfriend material. My mission was to find out if the feelings were mutual.

It was during this delusional excitement that I made the mistake of emailing my mom a video clip of Cute Guy so she could put a face to a nickname. Dressed in a suit jacket and glasses, I thought he looked adorable while joking about dating topics as part of a Man Panel who would later be auctioned off for charity. At the time I was jealous of the cougar with the highest bid who won a date with him.

… Until I scored a few of my own dates for free. Actually, they weren’t free which, coupled with a few other incompatibilities, led to the demise of my crush. A week after he confessed his feelings, I was forced to give a poignant, well-prepared Just Friends talk.


The Aftermath

When I shared the news with my mom no one could anticipate the aftermath. According to my dad she slept in a separate room that night because she couldn’t stop crying. When he came home at lunch the next day to check on her, she was found sitting in front of her laptop: “Just watch the video, Richard…”

“I’m not watching the damn video.”


Her Side of the Story

In all fairness, let me give you the back story. Annie told me about this guy she was dating, and I could tell in her voice that there was something going on here. In fact, she thought enough of him to send me a video of him – an interview he had done on a local Phoenix news station. I watched the video, and I thought, Wow…

  • Tall, dark and handsome – check
  • Well-spoken – check
  • Interesting with a cute smile – check
  • Midwest boy – check (I married a Midwest boy – good solid guys!)

I fell for him too! I guess pretty hard because I’m embarrassed to say I watched the video at least 2 dozen times! He told Annie it was getting a lot of hits – little did they both know they were from me. So, when she told me they were not seeing each other any longer, I did cry – I was devastated!


3 Things Not to Tell Your Mom About Your Relationship

1. They’re the one.

Or anything relatively close until you’re sure. They get too attached.

My Mom: It’s true that I never met Cute Guy in person. So, you can imagine what happened when my son and his girlfriend who I had met half a dozen times broke up. I had fallen for her, too! She was perfect. I really missed her! And I still do!

Me: More important than missing an extra person at family dinners, mom’s have no closure. It’s like when a guy doesn’t text you after an amazing date or your DVR cut off just before The Bachelor’s final rose. Therefore, describing rough waters needs to be handled delicately – as if you have no more control over it than a natural disaster.


2. They suck.

They’ll never forget bad times.

My Mom: I remember one time Annie told me her and a guy had broken up because he had basically treated her badly. I was holding a big grudge and having bad thoughts against him, and lo and behold, they were already back together and everything was dandy.

Me: Last week in a company meeting, we evaluated customer feedback provided by an outside firm. As I sat through slides featuring the lovers’ and haters’ opinions, our Data Center Operations Manager complained, “We’ve met with customers who have said ‘Yeah, things are great right now, but let me tell you about everything bad that has happened…’”


The survey conductor explained, “People naturally hold onto negative memories despite the positive.” Clifford Nass, a professor of communication at Stanford University explains this in a NYTimes article stating, “Negative emotions generally involve more thinking, and the information is processed more thoroughly than positive ones. Thus, we tend to ruminate more about unpleasant events — and use stronger words to describe them — than happy ones.”

Therefore, treat your mother like a customer.


3. Too many details.

Keep it high-level.

My Mom: Things you should not tell me…

  • He’s in a different political party
  • He quit the Church
  • He doesn’t like animals
  • He didn’t pay his taxes
  • He always drives over the speed limit
  • He forgot your birthday
  • He has a tattoo somewhere I can’t see

Me: Of course you want to tell your parents why your vacation wasn’t 100% bliss, but that doesn’t mean you have to tell them that your boyfriend accidentally blacked out and fell into the hotel bushes. Save it for the girlfriends.

Those details should only be provided once it’s over, over and/or finally laughable. Like how I just shared with my mom the real reason why Cute Guy seemed so happy in that video: He was high as a kite.