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New book claims “mama’s boys” are actually better in relationships

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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.