He's sensitive, sincere and really listens when she speaks. The problem? "She" is not you, his girlfriend, but instead his mother. Sure she's the woman who has loved and nurtured him his whole life, but dating a mama's boy can be exhausting.

I once dated a guy who, at 26, still had his mother do his laundry for him. I quickly learned he wasn't looking for a girlfriend, but a woman to cook, clean and look after him and that woman wasn't going to be me.

Joseph and Sarah Elizabeth Malinak, a husband and wife team of life coaches and authors of Getting Back To Love: When Pushing And Pulling Threaten To Tear You Apart, say the definition of a mama's boy goes beyond just a strong attachment to his mother.


"A man pushing or pulling against a woman in order to feel safe is a mama's boy. It's someone who is not established … and needs women to feel good about himself," says Joseph.

A sure sign you're dating a mama's boy? He is unwilling to take charge of a situation. "One example that comes to mind is when a man doesn't know where he wants to take a woman out to eat," says Sarah Elizabeth, adding he leaves all the decisions up to the woman.

The trick is knowing when he is being sensitive and chivalrous versus his innate need to please.

But recent research suggests that some of the mama's boy characteristics can be beneficial to a relationship. A study out of Ferrum College in Virginia found men who are close with their mothers tend to have partners who feel satisfied and happy with their relationship.

The Malinaks suggest that women who are confident in themselves and know who they are within their relationship will have more success dating a mama's boy.

"In the case of the mama's boy, we think of the over-shelving mother being in competition with the girlfriend," says Joseph. "But if the girlfriend is so secure in her place, then she can allow certain things (such as that closeness between mother and son) without being threatened."

And although there may come a time when a woman needs to ask her man to set better boundaries with his mother, Sarah Elizabeth advises waiting a few months into the relationship before making that request.

"That conflict can be too much for such an early relationship," she explains.


Kasia Iglinski is a journalist who enjoys her work and her dating life. Armed with a notepad and a curious mind, she’s always on the prowl for a good story and a good date.

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