My mom never gave me much rule-based dating advice, except for this one piece: never date a guy who doesn't have a good relationship with his mother. I've dated Jewish, Latino, and Nice Guys ever since, a.k.a., Mama's Boys. And while these guys weren't all perfect, they have had a few distinguishing qualities. None of them were jerks, and all of them could communicate and treated me with respect. 

A new book out by author Kate Lombardi says my experience is no coincidence. The Mama's Boy Myth uses research by Lombardi and psychologists to argue that men who have close relationships with their mothers are more emotionally healthy. Because they're more emotionally supported, Lombardi says Mama's Boys are less likely to be needlessly aggressive, and more likely to know how to communicate with other women. They also tend to be less angry. Lombardi studied middle school boys and found Mama's Boys tend to have more open views of what masculinity means.

"Boys who were closer to their mothers ... didn't think, for instance, that every time you got challenged you had to fight," Lombardi told NPR. "Or that being a guy means acting tough or going it alone."

Still, Mama's Boys have a historically bad rap in pop culture. Oedipus, for his part, totally wanted to hit that. Norman in Psycho was a total creeper and even said "A boy's best friend is his mother." But Lombardi says mother-son relationships are unfairly stigmatized. "I'm very close to my daughter, and it doesn't raise any eyebrows," Lombardi said. "But mothers and sons — that relationship is always looked at with a little skepticism and a little fear."

While I'm doing my part to endorse the potential sexiness of the Mama's Boy, I will say everything is culturally relative. The guy I dated when I lived in Cuba would probably have been too close to his mother by American standards. He shared a house with her (normal there before you're married), she cooked all his meals and did his laundry, and he would occasionally punctuate teasing her by slapping her on the ass. Here, that might be a little weird for a guy in his twenties. There, I observed it to be pretty standard, ass-slapping included. 

To me, the only real potential problem with Mama's Boys is that they occasionally want the women they date to mother them. I've also noticed that often the closer a guy is to his mom, the less likely he is to ever stand up to me, even when I'm wrong. Which can be a big problem. Mothers have to have the ability to teach their boys how to love like real men. And that also means teaching them how to disagree like men. 

Still there are many perks — Mama's Boys can be incredibly sweet and affectionate. According to my data, Mama's Boys are at least 68% more likely to serve you breakfast in bed the morning after. Because a Mama's Boy is nothing if not well-mannered. 

Commentarium (5 Comments)

Apr 09 12 - 2:38pm
JB

Not exactly selling me on mama's boys

Apr 09 12 - 3:18pm
l

I wouldn't say that my personal experience means this is wrong so totally wrong (no that's retarded). Unfortunately, my ex was a huge mama/grandma's boy and was emotionally distant, explosive, manipulative, aggressive and displayed terrible alpha male syndrome. I suppose his mama didn't teach him manners.

Apr 09 12 - 8:35pm
L

Haha..well I am currently with the classic mama's boy. Lives with her, she cooks for him, probably does all his laundry. He defers to her for major decisions..etc etc. But he's also the sweetest, most thoughtful, caring silly guy I've ever dated. I gotta read this.

Apr 10 12 - 1:30am
H

There's nothing wrong with a Mama's boy. Unless he's too much of a mama's boy. If a man is always taking his mother's side over yours, telling you that she is better at making Jello than you, and wants to buy a house down the street from Mommy Dearest, then Mama's Boyism becomes a big problem.

Aug 11 12 - 1:38pm
S

Mama's boy is OK to have as a boy toy, he is not "designed" for any kind of relationship.
He will always expect you to be his "surrogate" mother (or mom number 2) and he will never be able to see you as a woman to respect and to love you the way you deserve it.
Just out of long term relationship with 50 year old Mama's Boy who lives with his Mom most of his life!!!
Bitter, but happy to gain my freedom back.
For those who are still wondering or need self-support and healing:
can recommend a great book "Manipulative Men" by Dorothy McCoy.
There is a chapter there about Mama's Boys - so true and written with a great sense of humor.
Good luck!