#781: “The whole family agrees with me!” and other manipulative logic.

Hi Captain,

A bit of backstory: last spring, Fiancée and I (both US citizens) returned to the US from Europe, where I had been working and she was going to school. My parents offered to let me stay with them while I looked for a job, and Fiancée went to stay with her mom several states away.

My mother has decided that Fiancée is a directionless gold-digger with no career prospects (Fiancée is a former professional ballerina who is now working on a degree in rehabilitative physiotherapy), and has also accused her of giving me an STD (apropos of nothing). Obviously, this makes the topic of Fiancée somewhere I’d prefer not to go, since it turns into a stream of baseless accusations (and then veiled threats if I try to refute them).

Now that I’m employed again (yay!), I am moving into my own place again. Having gone to university Far Away and worked for five years somewhere Even Further Away, most of Team Me isn’t accessible to help with the move, so my parents are helping me out. The problem is that my mom feels that if Fiancée moves in with me, this proves that Fiancée is a leech for not helping with the move. I get my mom’s point– it’s obnoxious to have someone reap the benefits of your hard work. My extended family, who I’d thought of as Team Me, agrees with her (and helpfully relayed to her that we’d had a conversation! Because the concept of a private conversation is lost on them, and now).

After some silent treatment after hearing from my extended family, my mom decided to offer to talk. Given her past behavior, I do not believe this will be a productive conversation– she is the master of derailing, belittling, gaslighting (‘I never said/did that! You’re clearly delusional/making things up!’ or ‘you just have a skewed perception’). But now if I outright refuse to engage, I’m 100% the bad guy, not just with her but with my extended family (‘I tried to talk, and she just ignored me!’).

How on earth do I navigate this drama bomb minefield with a minimum of stress and family awfulness?

-Want to Quit Drama Llama Farming

Dear Llama Farmer,

Your mom has set up a false dilemma – helping (or not) with one particular move doesn’t “prove” shit. Since she is manipulative, I wouldn’t try to have a boundary-setting conversation, I would tune her and her chorus of family members out unless they say something directly to you at which point your script is “That proves exactly nothing. If you want to help me move, then help me move, and I will be grateful! If you don’t, then don’t, and I will be fine. You don’t like Fiancée – I hear you loud and clear, and while I would like it a lot if you accepted her, my relationship choices don’t hinge on your acceptance. ‘Fiancée’ is hereby a ‘If you have nothing nice to say, silence is golden’ topic where you and I are concerned.”

You follow that up with lots of “Lovely weather we’re having” and “How nice of you to ask about the mundane details of my job, let me tell you all of them” and “How is that thing you are doing going?” subject changes. Reasons are for reasonable people. People like your mom who deal in power plays only understand power. You can sometimes reset the relationship with a difficult parent by making your presence and attention contingent on their good behavior, i.e. “If you are cool, I will spend time with you. If you are not, I will not. What will not happen is you spinning me up about your completely invented ‘problems’ with my life.

I know not everyone can afford to hire professional movers, but if you can, it will be the best money you spend all year both in terms of making your move easy and in terms of cutting off ‘halp’ from your parents. Your mom’s issues, I suspect, are really homophobia* and control issues poorly masked as ridiculous ‘proven’ reasons your particular Fiancée is ‘objectively’ not right for you. It sounds like she would raise objections to literally any person you brought home. If you didn’t bring anyone home, she would raise issues about your singleness.

Can’t imagine why you’ve stayed away from home all these years, it sounds so fun and comforting there.[/sarcasm]

*”But we don’t know what gender the LW is!” derails will be deleted. Abusive family dynamics know no gender, but the parental dance of “I am fine with you being gay, it’s just a coincidence that I disapprove of all of your partners for completely coincidental reasons!” is a thing that queer kids have to carry and it is worth mentioning.

105 thoughts on “#781: “The whole family agrees with me!” and other manipulative logic.

  1. Definitely second the hire movers solution. Do not volunteer to participate in any conversation with mom that will simply be an opportunity to attack you, your life, your choices, your fiancee, etc. It doesn’t offer anything good for you. Take care of yourself. Congratulations on moving into your own space! It sounds like you and your fiancee are rocking your lives.

    Minimize your family’s contributions to your life, and admit individual family members into your rocking life only on your terms and when they have demonstrated that they can respect both you and your boundaries. Love, trust, respect–these build relationships way more than genetics. And, hey, therapy if that’s an option might help you develop and practice tools for dealing with gaslighting and other abusive tactics.

  2. “I get my mom’s point– it’s obnoxious to have someone reap the benefits of your hard work” – LW, I don’t follow this, or why you would see this as a ‘point’ your mom has correctly made. Your fiancee lives several states away. Presumably, that’s why she’s not helping you move; not because she’s smugly eating bonbons and lazing around secure in the knowledge that she can get away with not helping?

    I bring this up not just because you would be wise to tune out your mom completely on Fiancee-related subjects, but because it’s the one thing where you suggest your mom might be reasonable, which means that it resonates with something in you. You may want to consider why you perceive Fiancee as ‘reaping the benefits of your hard work’ in a situation where she’s not physically present to help, and why you agree that it’s ‘obnoxious’. If you’re feeling resentment or some kind of point-scoring that’s not coming out in your favor, that’s a whole separate issue.

    And not one that you in any way want your mom to leverage.

    1. That’s likely the case, but I suspect the LW is also grasping for something s/he can point to in Mom’s monologue that proves that Mom sincerely cares. If everything Mom says is a manufactured lie, Mom might not love him/her.

      1. Along those lines:

        LW! It’s often tempting to search for “but maybe Mom isn’t being completely unreasonable” moments in an argument, particularly when you’re arguing with a loved one but often for no other reason than general faith in humanity. But sometimes people actually just are being completely unreasonable and there’s nothing redeemable about what they’re saying (and it doesn’t mean they’re bad people in general, or in your mom’s case, that she doesn’t love you).

        There’s no reason there has to be a redeeming part of your mom’s argument, LW, no matter how many times she repeats it or how many other people in your family agree with her. Larger groups of people than your family have been completely and utterly wrong for no good reason before.

        1. Yes, Mom is being a complete Power play controller here, and the relatives are her minions because they are too shit scared to upset her, as it would only heap scorn upon their heads. Mom is trying to derail your relationship for whatever reason.
          Make your move out without buying onto the aspersions being cast upon your fiancé, I don’t think fiancé deserves the shade being cast.in that direction. A single move does not a relationship make or break. It’s the day to day living and loving that makes the relationship.

          After the move stay cordial but don’t be affected by the control freak dynamics. You are off to your own awesome life, not to be a puppet to your parent’s power play. They will get used to it eventually as you make your boundaries and STICK WITH THEM, once you are in your own place. In the mean time at home it’s like living in the gulag, never knowing what might set off the guard dogs.

          1. don’t be affected by the control freak dynamics

            Speaking as another golddigger, yeah – there is nothing you can do to get the in-laws who hate you to change their minds. Once they have decided you are a threat – because how can their child love someone else without taking love away from them? – there is no changing their mind. Instead, they will find more reasons not to like you.

            What finally gave me peace about my in-laws and made me stop trying was when my husband reported that they don’t like me because of the way I eat bacon. Yes, people, you read it here: I am a Bad Bacon Eater and hence not worthy of being liked.

          2. @the gold digger:
            I’m trying to imagine an objectionable way of eating bacon. Do you anthropomorphize it and put on little puppet shows about it not wanting to be eaten? Take a chocolate-sampler-with-no-map approach by taking a nibble of each piece until you find the one you want? Eat only the pieces that are already on someone else’s plate? Devour the entire package straight out of the refrigerator without cooking it or even taking it out of the plastic? Because otherwise, I’m really not finding a way to dislike a person based on how they eat bacon.

          3. @gold digger: HAHAHAHA! My in-laws also used the way I eat bacon as a reason to hate me! Because I eat it with a knife and fork, you see, which proves that I am a prissy spoiled princess brat who is “too good to just lift it up with her fingers.”

            Seriously, once people have decided that they WANT to hate you, they will create any ‘reason’ to use as justification.

    2. I had this same thought, I’m glad you saw it too. LW, not being available to help with something is not obnoxious, it’s just not being available. Now, if you had to carry Fiancee in on the couch because she was too busy playing a video game to move or help, that’s obnoxious. Or if Fiancee never intended to help pay bills or do chores, that’s also a concern.

      Not being there is out of her control. Living in a place is not reaping the benefits of hard work during the move. It’s the result of constantlt working towards bills and upkeep. The move is incidental.

      1. Having moved house around my city and between cities a LOT since I moved out of home, while moving is a PITA, I wouldn’t call it a big deal that would be “obnoxious” not to help with. My now-husband did not help me move into our first flat together – because he was working that day and moving himself the next. I did help with his move in though. Not a big deal.

    3. “Your fiancee lives several states away. Presumably, that’s why she’s not helping you move; not because she’s smugly eating bonbons and lazing around secure in the knowledge that she can get away with not helping?”

      Came here to say this!

      1. Me too. That, and also that she presumably has her own stuff to move in at some point, and that helping the LW move would likely involve a lot more interaction with LW’s parents than is healthy for

    4. “I get my Mom’s point” is delicious food that Mom has nutured in her greenhouse in your heart and is now coming with the scythe. The biggest element for me has been seeing where I contribute and reinforce the family junk.

      Based on my experience, your Fiancee’s career choice -change is brilliant. My PT’s were also former dancers and they were wonderful at their new job, and knew I was in need of their focused understanding. They had many certifications and Master’s degrees in a field they could take anywhere, and they were flat-out making bank at it. Took very nice vacations. Mom needs to think a little harder on choosing her actions.

    5. True story: I moved 5 states away (but still driving distance) to go to grad school. I had a house full of stuff.

      Roommate was moving from the opposite coast and was moving out of her parents house (we knew each other before hand and were conveniently going to grad school at the same place).

      I got to the new apartment first, with a truck. I recruited friends to help me unpack/etc. Roommate showed up 4 or 5 days later, with just what she could take on the plane. She showed up to a fully functional apartment without having done any of that work.

      This was totally fine and normal. Roommate was getting a benefit, that’s true. But we did various things through our roommate-hood that directly benefitted the other. Like reasonable friends, we took care of things for each other. I had done more leg work getting things set up, so she made sure to do (and pay for, including the zip car) the first few big few errand trips. She was appreciative, as I was when I got the flu, and she did an awesome job taking care of me.

      No one thought this was odd! We worked things out between ourselves, like the adults we were! So, LW, don’t agree with your mom about someone reaping the benefits of your hard work as being obnoxious. I suggest saying “This works for us, thanks.” I strongly suspect that if you were doing this *exact same thing* with a roommate, rather than an SO, no one would think it was odd. This is totally a red herring in the “I don’t approve of your fiancee” bullshit.

    6. This is also hit a nerve with me. This may not be the case with LW – it could just be her wanting desperately to see her mom’s view. But when I start feeling resentful about things my partner can’t help me with, it’s usually because I feel like they aren’t pulling their weight on things they can help with. Or I suspect, intuitively, that this is the dynamic of our relationship where I will always give more than I get. Which is very much I am and how I have chosen partners in the past (I give give give and they take take take). So on the off chance this is how the LW feels, it’s worth some reflection to see if this comment comes from trying to get along with mom – in which case: disregard it or if he/she does feel some resentment towards their partner and if so, talk to their partner about structuring a relationship that feels more equitable.

  3. LW, your mom is, to use an old timey term, borrowing trouble. You already know that, but maybe phrasing it that way will help her know that, too? “Mom, don’t borrow trouble.” It’s a way of saying, “Mom, this is none of your damn business and isn’t going to affect you, so stop picking at it.” Another way would be, “I am not interested in having my family manage my relationship for me.”

    As for it being obnoxious for one person to reap the benefits of another’s work, um, that happens in LTR’s all the time? People’s contributions are other-than-100%-equal most of the time, depending on tasks, earnings, chores, ability, health, and so forth. One person might set up house and another might pay the bills. One person might have utilities in their name, while another has the mortgage/lease. This is a thing that happens, and material division of labor or goods isn’t the only means by which to determine “work” or the value of that work inside of relationships.

    Is the current arrangement that you, LW, will set up house in a mutually agreed upon location where Fiancee will move in once she is done with her schooling? Or is your mom proposing that if at any time Fiancee moves in with you at your present future location, even though that’s not currently part of an agreement between you two, that means she is a leech? I guess I am confused about that part.

    1. Exactly. There are no 100% perfectly mutual relationships. Sometimes things are wildly disparate (like with me and my wife) but but it’s perception of inequity that seems to do the most damage. That is, as soon as someone feels the workload is unequal, that’s when things get sticky.

      Things (labour, finances, whatevs) can be 90/10 and involve no ill-feeling, or 49.5/50.5 with that half percent fumed over. Communication is always key to ensuring that “work” (of whatever kind) feels fairly balanced.

  4. Professional movers– The sort of professionals who advertise in the yellow pages and have big moving vans/trucks tend to be expensive, and it sounds like while you do have furniture, you don’t have that much stuff. Craig’s list, notices on supermarket bulletin boards or the local high school might be the right place to find some people who are glad to spend a weekend doing some heavy lifting for a few extra dollars. This can be valuable in building Team You also. There are many people who will do all sorts of odd jobs– pet sitting, moving, errand running, housekeeping help, gardening help– that will be there when you need them (pay them fairly) and can smooth things over with difficult relatives simply by being there. Mother decides not to help? That’s what your helpers are there for. Mother offers to help then starts a manipulative conversation/ makes a scene/ backs down while hoping to leave you in the lurch ? That’s what your helpers are there for. Mother offers to help and actually carries some boxes out to the car? Your helpers won’t mind the extra set of hands. This sort of thing comes up again when you need someone to pet sit or run errands? Your mother has one more venue for her manipulation removed because, surprise, you already have a team of people who are willing to/ glad to make a few extra dollars helping out.

    1. I’m guessing LW is rounding up larger furniture stored with family and donations, so downvoting this. Get real movers if this is the case. Some stranger getting injured could mean LW gets sued. Professional movers are blindingly fast, as well. It is a joy.

      1. “Real movers” don’t have to be a big company that advertises in the yellow pages and on billboards for a local move. If you have your BS meter tuned, you can find good local movers who are running legitimate businesses on Craigslist in many places. Several years ago, I found a small, local mover that way. I’ve used them for every local move since and recommended them to several friends. It wasn’t that much more expensive than renting and gassing up a u-haul and feeding friends pizza. It went faster too.

    2. So happy to also recommend professional movers. They ARE lightning fast which would help get you out of that situation quickly and a neutral presence to (hopefully) keep the drama down. Booking a move midweek and with a lot of advance notice helps to keep the cost down.

        1. Only they will pack literally everything, so be prepared to find, say, a bathroom trash can still full of trash lovingly wrapped in packing paper and secured in a box.

          1. I once unpacked a moving box to find a small wicker basket of COTTON BALLS carefully wrapped in tissue paper and bubble wrap. That said, if you can afford professional movers/packers, it does make the day go much more smoothly and efficiently than doing it yourself. I also agree that professional movers need not be MegaCorp Movers(tm) with a huge truck and a national profile. The most efficient movers I ever used turned out to be a guy with two helpers and a small truck. Had a 3 bedroom apartment loaded and unloaded at the new place (granted, it was a local move) in half a day. Why so fast? This guy used to book TWO MOVES A DAY. I can’t even imagine.

          2. @college career counsellor: Word of mouth is invaluable in finding local movers who are not of The Big (Billing) Three. I and most of my friends in my old town used the same moving service. They were inexpensive, reliable, friendly, and *fantastic*. I did my last move myself with my new roommate, her dad, my boyfriend, and a U-Haul, and NEVER AGAIN. I have been way too spoiled.

          3. The mover’s who packed up my (dead) grandfather’s apartment and brought it to me took the cake in the “pack everything” Olympics. Not only did they pack all the trash cans with the trash still inside, they carefully shrink-wrapped, bubble wrapped, and packed a coffee cup half full of moldy coffee. Literally everything that had been in his apartment at the moment he left. I shudder to think what we would have had in that moving van if he’d been using the bathroom at the end.

    3. Caveat about unfamiliar movers professional or otherwise: this works…if you’re white. If you’re Jewish, then you might just find that boxes of books and other items of the least monetary but the most sentimental value “accidentally” go missing. The movers will talk in Italian or some other language (assuming you can’t understand it) about how “these Jews” totally deserve worse because of what the movers have heard/read on the BBC, CNN, or The New York Times about the circumstances of Palestinians in the Middle East.

      Please note that this occurred in New York. One can only imagine what goes on in Middle America or, especially, in California where both antisemitism and support for the BDS movement are much more prominent.

      Similarly, if this happens to Jews, then no doubt it also happens to blacks, LGBTQ families, Sikhs, etcetera. As weird as it sounds in a country that’s supposed to be a tossed salad(the update on melting pot), when possible,I recommend seeking out movers of your own ethnicity, religion, LGBTQ standing, etc. They’re less likely to be intentionally careless with your cherished belongings.

  5. Chiming in to say that “reset[ting] the relationship with a difficult parent by making your presence and attention contingent on their good behavior” can work like magic with a difficult, manipulative parent. My mother sounds a lot like yours, and 4 years ago now I finally walked out the door when she was in full abusive tantrum mode rather than staying put and riding it out. To say she was shocked is putting it mildly. But the next time I saw her she apologized (sort of). Ever since our relationship has been incredibly superficial: how’s the weather, how are the pets, I’m going to see movie X tonight, etc. But the point is that we still *have* a relationship; the alternative for me at that point was cutting ties altogether, which I was reluctant to do for Reasons. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that we never have been and never will be emotionally close, but she has surprised me by stepping up to support me in non-emotional ways several times since. Good luck, I hope the reset (if you go that route) works similarly well for you.

    1. Also want to add that sometimes the superficial relationship doesn’t work. I tried that with my folks, and it just meant they learned to do the bare minimum changes to keep me there, and absolutely nothing else. And the haggling! I’d come in being like, “No, you have to call me by my chosen name, pronouns, accept my husband, and let him speak,” and they’d haggle me down to “name, and sometimes pronouns.” Some people just up their manipulation game in response to being held to standards.

      (Nothing against you, peregrinations, just wanted to bring up the possibility to LW.)

        1. Sadly, I didn’t manage it. I finally did manage to leave, but it was a very ugly protracted process. (I did not have as good a Team Me as I do now.) Still, so worth getting away to have my self-respect back.

      1. So sorry you had to deal with that. I notice you’ve got the haggling in past tense, so hopefully you are in a better (more parent-free?) place now.

        1. Yeah, I’ve ditched my folks, put their emails on auto-delete, and am now states away. My relationship with my hubby has never been better.

  6. My mother has decided that Fiancée is a directionless gold-digger with no career prospects (Fiancée is a former professional ballerina who is now working on a degree in rehabilitative physiotherapy)

    I feel like this is such a Thing with how people view dancers. “They’re just so shiftless and good-for-nothing! Instead of getting a career she just twirls the day away!” As if this weren’t “incredibly elite performance athlete with a follow-up career in the same field”. (Not a dancer personally, but disabled in a way that means I really benefit from physiotherapists who work with dancers)

    1. This! Which is…quite bizarre when coupled with how very hard and how very long professional dancers have to work to enter and remain in their field in the first place. I wonder if part of it stems from a sort of broader cultural resentment about people who get to have “creative” jobs with non-standard hours, rather than fulfilling the traditional 9-5, 40-hour-week model.

      1. I know, right? Ballet is BRUTAL on your body! There’s a reason people have to retire so early from it!

        Seriously, why would anyone think that professional ballet is an EASY job? You couldn’t get me to take it for all the money in the world! I’m sure it’s very rewarding, but DAMN.

        1. Honestly, when it comes to arts in general, and particularly something as demanding as dance, the kind of passion that motivates people into these professions, it can make the people in their lives feel like they’re the other woman, so to speak. At least, that’s been my experience, for what it’s worth. But, I don’t think that’s relevant to the LW’s problem as such.

        2. My cousin was a ballerina almost all her childhood and just… wow, it was not easy. At all. It took insane amounts of discipline, the kind I didn’t get until basic training. Also the no eating thing.

          I don’t really understand why your mom is angry about what is essentially “Fiancee excelled at competitive field in the past –> Fiancee is now leveraging her kinetic intelligence into a job.” I mean, I know why, because your mom is manipulative and would latch onto anything to control you. But, if you thought about Fiancee the way I wrote above, does it make you feel like your mom is being reasonable?

          I mean, if she wanted to be a gold-digger there are plenty of websites to help you do that. It’s not hard.

          1. Yeah, I read a little autobio comic from a woman who’d been a ballerina from childhood (an injury took her out in her late teens, I think), and it was so hardcore. Ballet is HARD!

    2. I know, right? I wonder if LW’s mother would feel differently if the fiancee was a professional athlete in what she considered a “real” sport. I’ve never aspired to professional dancing (just don’t have the right body and enough drive for my kind of dancing), but I’ve danced a LOT, enough to know that the professionals are working HARD to get where they are.

      1. I’m pretty sure that the OP’s mother could find something to object to whether the fiancee was a professional athelete, a Wall Street banker, or the President of the Universe. Someone who can turn ‘person lives several states away so cannot help with moving’ into ‘person is a shiftless gold digger’ is a fault-finder of Olympic medal-winning standards.

        1. Also, often the complaint about professions like dance is that they’re super underpaid, so even professionals make barely above the poverty line. An explanation given for this is that dancers often marry wealthy men who are able to support their “hobby”. So “gold-digger” could stem from “went into an underpaid profession, [supposedly] expecting a rich spouse to help them out.”

          In which case literally being an Olympic medal-winner wouldn’t be good enough, because a lot of those hardly make any money and require a lot of financial support to be able to do what they do.

          Mom’s gonna believe what she’s gonna believe, alas.

      2. I’ve a friend who decided her son’s girlfriend was a gold-digger – despite the fact they aren’t well off, and he was aiming for a career in the Arts. I did point out that there were many much richer students on campus (my daughter went to the same uni), and told her a story of one of my daughter’s dates who’d bought a newspaper because he thought it would be fun to play editor over the summer holidays. She didn’t hear that at all: she acted like I’d endorsed her opinion -“Yes! (son’s name) bought (girlfriend’s name) a newspaper last week!’

        It’s not a reasoned thing: it’s the brain creating a rationale for the emotion it’s feeling. (In her case she really liked the girlfriend till they became serious.) If the hypothetical professional athlete wasn’t a gold-digger, she’d be selfish and always putting herself first.

      3. I was just thinking this. I think the value that we assign to dancers, who no doubt train as intensely as, say, a football player, has a lot to do with the fact that we don’t value the arts as much as sports and that dancers are generally thought of as female.

    3. Yeah, this struck a chord with me too. “My fiancee already had an entire successful career and is pursuing a second one.” I really want LW to “gift” their mom with a few ballet lessons with a good/strict ballet teacher and see how derisive LWMom is after that. Probably just as derisive but at least LW will get some catharsis picturing their mom wheezing and sweating through 1/100th of what their partner does.

  7. LW – any comedian will tell you — don’t let someone in the audience get hold of the microphone from you. You will never get back control of the situation.

    Think of all the comments, questions, digs and bombs that you think she may lay on you. Write them down. Write down your responses to each one and practice saying them out loud. Over and over again until you are comfortable saying them and it feels good to say them (then shred the paper!). If you can’t do this at home, then take a walk in the park (who cares if you’re muttering!).

    Then you may be prepared for the dramatic play your Mom is planning. Go into it and own it. Don’t let her be the heckler trying to steal the mic from you and dominating the discussion. Let her say her piece, make her statements and ask her questions — because you’ll be prepared with your comebacks. You’ll have practiced.

    And when it gets to be overwhelmingly annoying, you can drop the mic and walk away — “thanks for the discussion Mom, I don’t think there’s anything else to say”. Goodnight everybody. And walk out knowing that there is thunderous applause from the folks on this thread.

    1. My concern with this advice is that if it were me, the “Think of all the comments, questions, digs and bombs” step would be opening the floodgates on an internalized mother-voice that is far more persistent, nasty, and consistently able to strike nerves than the real thing. I’d brood, and obsess, and just spend way too many cycles on it. I’d get so worked up and anxious practicing that I’d show up to the actual day with my shoulders already around my ears and my eyes primed for tears of frustration. So LW, if you go this route, Schumsy is right we’ll be cheering for you, but if you decide to protect yourself by not spending your precious energy on it ahead of time, hiring movers if you can, and doing your best to tune out the bullshit, know that we will be cheering just as hard.

  8. Ah, ‘gold-digger’. That is a wonderful accusation isn’t it?

    Short of absolute financial parity between both members of a couple, at every stage of their relationship, it is an accusation that can almost always be levelled at someone – and given the way the world works, that someone is frequently a woman. The more ‘traditional’ the gender roles the more the slur can be used but any one who clearly isn’t a gold-digger will probably be open to other slurs, such as ‘cougar’ or ‘hard-faced career woman’.

    Of course, the person really being insulted by the accusation is the ‘gold-diggee’. Either they are completely lacking in character judgement or so basically unlovable that this seems like the best they can get! I say embrace the accusation:

    “Yes, Mum, she is a gold-digger. But guess what, it is my money and if I choose to spend it on a cute and entertaining little pet who strokes my ego and other parts, that is my choice to make. If you give me a present and I choose to share it with the gold-digger, that is my choice too.”

    You don’t have to convince your family that your fiancée is worthy, you only have to show them that she is your choice.

    1. Oh, wow, no.

      If I heard my partner refer to me as “a cute and entertaining little pet who strokes my ego and other parts,” even in jest, I would leave them. Moreover, if that was their response to someone suggesting I was a gold digger, I wouldn’t even give them a chance to apologize as I left.

    2. Yeah, that is a really ugly thing to say about someone you love, even in jest. Would not recommend doing this.

      It also sets Mom up to go to the rest of Drama Family with “LW even admitted that Fiancee is a gold-digger…” Sarcasm doesn’t always convey.

    3. If I heard my partner say something like that about me to anyone, let along to his mom who hates me and has been calling me a gold digger, there would be a Light-shaped Hulkout happening.

    4. There’s a time and context for embracing accusation to completely defang the opposition.

      This ain’t it.

      1. I think that’s a thing you can say about yourself, not about another person. “You’re right, mom, I am X” is different than “you’re right, mom, partner is X.”

  9. Got a college nearby LW? There’s usually people looking for that sort of work for cash. Most colleges have a jobs board near the student life office, or one online.

    While pro movers would be expensive, once you pay their bill and tip them, their relationship with you is over. If your mom helps you move–even if things were perfectly packed in boxes weighing no more than 20 pounds and you paid them for gas–odds are good she’d hold it over your head for the rest of your life. (I’ve got a mom like this.)

    When I’ve moved, it’s been friends and/or movers for me. The cost of using my mom’s help is too damn high.

  10. Please do yourself a favor and save for the professional movers.

    I’m completely serious. It will be infinitely better.

    Also, please think about why your mother has a point about your fiancée with respect to the move. Your fiancée lives far away. How could she help?

    Meanwhile congrats to you both!

  11. For what it’s worth, if you get a U-haul, they have a partnership with local movers who will load, drive the truck, and unload…it’ll range $200-400 for 2-4 hours of their time and effort (different places will vary) and having recently used them for both ends of a cross-country move, it’s absolutely worth it. I packed, they loaded and drove, they unloaded and drove away. Easiest move ever and I’m fortunate to afford it. If the budget will allow it, can you have fiancee arrange this and point to that as evidence of helping?

    If not, I would probably stick with “yes, fiance wishes they were here to help. Now help me with this box.”

    1. This. My roommate and I aren’t exactly rolling in dough, but we both have physical impairments that make moving problematic — we searched around online, found a couple of guys running a “you bring the truck, we’ll bring the muscles” type of moving business, and ended up paying them about $600 to move us into a third-floor apartment with a long carry from the parking lot — including a very generous tip! And considering we had things like an 8-foot-long sofabed that weighs easily several hundred pounds… it was very worth it.

    2. Agreed! My partner and I found the best (fast, careful, courteous) movers this way. We’ve recommended the company to several other friends who have also loved them. The movers said UHaul will also offer the list of partners even if you don’t rent a truck, but YMMV on that!

  12. LW, if you have a university or similar in your area, and ONLY IF you feel safe doing this, the promise of a case of beer and a couple of pizzas can go a long way toward getting several energetic, strong young people to come out and help you schlep furniture. Friends of mine have had very good luck just going by local student/frat housing.

    The primary problem isn’t that you need your family to help move–depending on the dynamic and how much moving there is, you may be able to survive the day by burying awkwardness and hard feelings in heavy lifting. But if you do want to distance yourself from the manipulation as much as possible, you have more than one option for getting yourself moved.

  13. LW, it’s timely for you to be dealing with your mother’s behavior. I loved the captain’s advice “Reasons are for reasonable people. People like your mom who deal in power plays only understand power.”

    When she relates to you through power and control tactics, you don’t get to change how she behaves, but you get to chose how you deal with her. It sounds like other family members are subject to her control tactics, but perhaps your time away has shown you other choices.

    Your mother’s past behavior predicts her future behavior. As you and your fiancee plan your wedding, hold your wedding, and continue on with life’s various decisions, I imagine your mother will attempt to exert control over you in the same old ways.

    Best that you and your fiancee perfect the tactics recommended by the captain to divert the power plays. Wishing you clarity and strength!

  14. Yeesh. I never thought to be glad that my parents basically just tried to completely ignore my husband’s existence. (Except to plaintively ask why he hated them.) Man, it could’ve been SO MUCH WORSE.

  15. I’d like to paraphrase WOPR here: Family drama is a strange game. The only winning move is not to play.

    LW, I hope you and Fiancee put together a lovely household, welcoming of all the friends and family who choose to enjoy your invitation to visit it.

      1. The computer in the movie “WarGames.” It concluded that the only way to win at war is not to play.

        Yeah, I would respond with bland sweet reassurances. (Fiancee wishes she could be here too.)

        And on the “STD” (!??!!) issue, “You are so sweet to worry, but we are both healthy!” Even if I think she is actually being the screaming opposite of sweet.

  16. LW, if you’re considering reasonably priced movers, may I suggest Bellhops? They’re a service that works with university students, so it’s a bit more expensive than hiring college students outright, but considerably cheaper than “real” pro movers. I moved recently in a similar situation (trying to avoid family holding it over my head) and they generally always have Groupons.

    I wish you the best of luck in dealing with this, and I’m sorry your family have put you in this difficult situation in the first place.

  17. My husband and I have both used movers for our last two moves, and it was totally worth it. They’re insured, if they damage your stuff (as my husband and his friends damaged my heirloom table the move before those two did) they’ll have to pay for it, and they’re fast. Maybe you can’t afford that, but it’s worth thinking about, as so many others have said.

    Also, it may be time to employ the “if you get on that subject, I will leave” technique. This only works with people who enjoy your company, but it serves you well regardless. Namely, “If you say X, get on Y topic, or do Z, I will leave.” Give them fair warning, and then use it liberally. I used this on my fairly conservative family during one of the presidential elections. “Oh, you want to bring up politics/badmouth liberals/etc., I will leave.” And then, when it inevitably happened, I did just that. If they promise to change the subject, leave anyway, because that drives the point home that even the introduction will cause you to decamp in haste.

    In your mom’s case, maybe, “If you say a negative thing about fiancee, I will leave.” Leave the room, leave the house, leave the town. Go for a drive, for a walk, to the library, to the movies, whatever. Just leave. If your mom wants the pleasure of your company, she’ll find other topics. If she does not, you will not have to listen to negative things about your future spouse. It’s a win for you either way. Plus, it’s good practice for the time after you’re married if your mom doesn’t quit that sort of shenanigans. Someday, you may need to say, “If you do not stop, WE will leave.” My dad had to do that once and only once with his folks, and they got a whole lot nicer to my mom after that point.

  18. Oh lord, what is it with parents throwing shade at people for not helping in exactly the way they want for moves that don’t actually involve the parents’ stuff? My mom STILL brings up the time I moved and a friend of mine didn’t help move boxes up multiple flights of stairs. Nevermind that said friend had only ever originally volunteered to help me load up the moving van. Not also drive my car an hour to the new location and produce a new cat carrier for transport when my cat CHEWED THROUGH the carrier we had her in for the bulk of loading stuff. I mean, friend went amazingly above and beyond the call of best friendship in my opinion, and my mom acted/treated her like she was the shittiest friend ever. My mom, who I had not wanted involved in my move AT ALL, and who thereafter lost any and all access even to info about when/where I move forever after, because she was actively shitty and stressed me out beyond reason the entire time.

    I have so many weird crazy feelings about moving b/c of my mom and the sheer number of times I’ve moved and the varying circumstances. Professional movers are FUCKING AMAZING and worth every damn penny if you can afford them even if it’s just for the heavy stuff or a couple of hours. Also, never, ever just expect your friends to help you move in exchange for pizza. Ask politely with ZERO expectations, and if they say no, don’t be upset or mad at them. Moving is a bitch, and you never know who has a fucked up back or whatever. And if your friends do help you move, realize that even if all you can afford to give them is pizza (b/c that’s just how it is sometimes), you should let them know you are way more grateful than those few slices of pizza can convey.

    Anyways, LW, good luck dealing with your mom/family.

  19. Minus a few details, this could have been my mom. I am a woman married to a woman, and my mom seems to do the “It’s okay that you’re gay but i hate your partners!” dance. But, in my case, she accused my then-fiancee of domestic abuse and of lying about her age (because now-wife had been previously married and divorced really young and fast, at 20, but if someone had been married, divorced, and now engaged again, they must be older than the 25 she was when we married, right?)

    I then had to endure from all quarters “Does she hit you? (Not in anger; consensual light BDSM and never outside of that!) Does she read your texts/emails? (No, she doesn’t, it’s just that with the family awfulness your messages send me, I often show her because I am upset and need support and/or because I want a united front against you guys). Does she say where you can go and who you can see? (No, in fact sometimes she’ll make introvert me get out of the house and Do A Social Thing).

    It sucked. I got an awful email from my mom with “she’s an abusive, lying leech” and so on two days before the wedding. I was so upset that I told them not to contact me until after the wedding (read: don’t come), and then they crashed it! They weren’t even dressed right.

    Also, I think a big part of “gay is okay, but…” is about visibility. If you’re gay and single, then whatever, your parent may say that “yes, my kid is gay,” but not really have to deal with it in any way. When a long-term partner comes in, then the parent has to actually face what being gay means, admit it to extended family and friends, and show enough of a level of public support that they’re not deemed a homophobe.

    1. “Also, I think a big part of “gay is okay, but…” is about visibility. If you’re gay and single, then whatever, your parent may say that “yes, my kid is gay,” but not really have to deal with it in any way. When a long-term partner comes in, then the parent has to actually face what being gay means, admit it to extended family and friends, and show enough of a level of public support that they’re not deemed a homophobe.”

      Yeah. This, I think, is why my mother had the terrible judgment to respond to me coming out as asexual as “at least that’s better than homosexual!” Had to eat that not long after when I had to come out again – as biromantic demisexual and engaged to another woman.

      Weirdly, on my wife’s side of the family, I think being gay played the abuse dynamics in her favor for a while. Her emotionally abusive, probably-narcissistic mother had been doing the dance of not-approving of any guy she dated, while I was the cute little BFF that her mother actually approved of and thought she could control. Aaaand then we figured out we were both bi, got engaged, and came out (I know, I know, I tell this story on this site over and over). My family squirreled around a bit at first, while MIL made a big deal out of how she was so open and accepting and not-homophobic and totally better than my folks. (Also how glad she was that my wife was marrying a woman, “because then she wouldn’t have to worry anymore about her being physically abused”? Yeah.) It really delayed getting the “Spouse must be abusing you!” campaign off the ground and gave us time to get settled into this new aspect of our relationship.

      Not offering this story to disprove the Captain’s wise point about the “coincidental” disapproval that queer kids’ carry. (And boy oh boy did that “coincidental” disapproval come out with my MIL when it came to the issue of whether I had any business parenting “her” grandchild.) It’s just another way that the same crap can play out, in this case rather luckily for us.

    2. You know, I never thought this might have anything to do with my marriage… but it does add another layer to the way my parents interacted with my husband. (I’m still not sure my parents accepted me enough to truly see me as gay.) Yech!

  20. LW this is a bit meta to your question but if your mum is manipulative and/or emotionally abusive it can be really hard to disentangle while also believing you can somehow fix it. She’s trying to turn you against your fiancé with a string of manipulative statements and expecting your fiancé to have helped with the move is just one more of those. People like this are great at getting the whole family to line up and act as their chorus. It doesn’t make it true. I mean…those other family members don’t actually know your fiancé and probably get most of their information about her through your mum, so it’s no surprise they agree with her.

    LW you can’t trust your mum’s opinion full stop, and anything you can do to get her to stop whispering in your ear like Grima Wormtongue is a good thing – be it telling her to stop talking about it, or hiring movers, or changing the subject whenever she raises it.

    Sometimes in life it’s necessary for one person to do all the work while the other person is somewhere else doing other stuff. It’s not necessarily them taking advantage – it’s a kind and generous and sometimes practical thing. My mother also hates generosity to non family – she’ll explicitly tell me I can’t give any gifts she gives me to anyone else, and once got super cross that I shared some fancy chocolates she gave me with a fellow chocolate-snob friend. I don’t know if your mum is like this but something about the way you describe her talking about the move made me think she might be. People like that do this weird thing where it’s OK to be super generous to family (uh, her, or other people she thinks of as extensions of herself) but is weirdly miserly about helping others outside that circle. I don’t even know what that is or how to explain it, just, it can be infectious and it tends to isolate you from outside social connections (maybe that’s the cause right there).

    LW, the words don’t exist that will convince your mum to be reasonable and to understand your life choices. I know that’s sort of obvious, but it’s really hard to internalise. We all grow up wanting our parents approval, and we tend to keep fighting for it even if we understand as adults that it will never be forthcoming. Right now your goal is to get her and the rest of the family to shut the hell up about your fiancé. At least when talking to you, because you can’t actually stop them from talking to each other about her, alas.

  21. I’m sorry but pro ballerina is the opposite of “directionless” and studying physio is the antithesis of “no career prospects”. Your partner sounds like an amazing, dedicated, driven person with a lot to answer to the sport and performing arts community.

    You mum on the other hand…

    PS: it’s 100% normal for a working partner to support a studying partner. Happens all the time in het and other relationships. You mum is being judgey and mean for the sake of it.

    1. Yeah, I would hate to see LW’s mothers judgement of me – I’ve been on-and-off contracting since 6 months before our wedding, got made redundant and didn’t find work in the 6 months before I got pregnant, and then went back to uni to try and get in to the IT field.
      If I can get lucky, I have good career prospects. If not (and the market is tough), it will be back to contracting.
      Meanwhile, husband has been sole earner in our household. Some days *I* judge myself as a gold digger.

  22. I don’t think the issue here is whether the LW should employ some flavour of professional movers or not. Like the Captain says, whether they do or don’t the mother’s opinion will be the same and that’s what’s causing the problem. And for that, the Captain’s advice is golden. Noting down “reasons are for reasonable people” for my own use.

    1. That’s technically true, but on a practical level it can help to spend less time listening to stuff that makes you mad during a house move. It’s especially terrible because it’s hard to assertively set boundaries with someone who’s help you need, or whose help you’re at least in the middle of accepting. You feel like you owe them, and thus you feel more beholden to listen politely to all the terrible stuff you say. – Moving is such hard work! Mum is carrying all those boxes! How can I just walk away when she talks about Fiancé? You get the drift. Separating the move and the parents makes boundary setting easier or at least reduces the amount of time you have to spend dealing with the problem.

      1. yeah I think Anisoptera has a point on this – obviously this goes beyond the move (it’s been going on for a while and will continue to do so) but this is the big event of the now. Aside from the extra stress and obligatory “listening to someone being ‘nice'”, it also give the mother (if she’s so inclined) the opportunity to cause problems and possibly sabotage the move – like ‘not being well’ on the day, taking offence to LW’s irritation and ducking out of promises at the last minute etc.

        From my POV I’m something- ing the if you can afford it professionals thing (or hire undergrads or whatever you can do). It gives you more control, negates some of the social obligations which can come with parents helping you, and has the potential to make the move much easier and less stressful for you.

        I’m guessing LW, that the relationship you have with your mother isn’t as bad as mine was the last time I moved house (from a living situation she had some say in to one she didn’t – tantrums abounded), and I had the very good luck of having Team Me help with the move, but it was so important for me to be able to be able to have that space and be able to say “you know what, I don’t care about your opinion, I’m not in a position to be manipulated by you” even if it was only in the form of “nah, I’ve got that” every time she offered to help. Also (again not necessarily like your situation) it meant that while she knew the area I was moving to she didn’t know my address for about 6 months which was great – she was suddenly on her best behaviour while it was super obvious that I had the power to cut her off and deny her access to me. It was great for me too.

  23. It occurs to me this morning that the way to resolve the move is to get other people involved instead of family. The new home will be simply that: your new home, rather than a place where parents have brought stress and further unpleasantness. Why give mother further ammunition on home, location, where furniture goes, how much stuff you have, how it’s packed… ew.

    LW, I wish you both all the best for your future.

  24. LW, now that you’re employed, do you have the budget to get a nice gift for your parents which you can give them with a card that says thank you for letting you stay with them while you were looking for a job (and helping you move if you accept their help rather than hiring movers)? This might help reframe this recent period as ‘Kind thing parents did, for which you have given them something in return and shown due appreciation’ rather than ‘proof that you’re still our baby’ or ‘favour that we can hold over you (and fiancee) forever’. This might help with some of the background stuff (i.e. your mom’s attitude towards you) that could be feeding into all this meanness about your fiancee.

    There was a great post a while back about the power of gift/card giving in turning interactions with family into interactions between adults rather than ones where you’re still the child.

    1. I personally would not WANT to give a gift to people who have treated me badly. It just encourages them to keep doing it. Trust me, assholes will ALWAYS find a reason to hold something over your head.

      1. But how do you then disentangle good behaviour from bad behaviour? Writing off a whole person and everything they’ve done for you because one aspect of them is mean doesn’t sound helpful if you want to sustain a relationship with them. It also makes it easier for them to get all butt-hurt that you’re upset with them after EVERYTHING THEY’VE EVER DONE FOR YOU. In my experience, marking off and showing appreciation for big favours (like letting you live with them rent free) makes it easier to disagree and draw boundaries around specific bad behaviours like this bs about the fiance.

          1. Er… thanks for the patronising ‘welcome’ but I’ve actually been living that reality for several decades now. I’m not saying it’s the right course for everyone, but just trying to make some helpful suggestions for those people who, like me, have shitty parents but don’t necessarily want to write off the relationship entirely.

          2. I think you have to ask yourself what’s possible with the parent that you have, and work from there, which is what worked for me. If you want to keep some kind of relationship, that’s fine–you get to have relationships with whoever you want–but I don’t think it’s necessary to pretzel your way into pretending they’re nice people who did nice things for you if they aren’t and they didn’t.

  25. In case it helps, LW: I’ve used movinghelp.com for three moves now, and had great experiences. It’s a site that lets you choose what kind of help you need (packing, loading a truck, unloading a truck, etc.), and interested parties offer competitive bids based on the activity, number of people you request, day, and length of time. Reviews are available so that you can use them to inform your choice of contractor. They can be relatively cheap (two years ago, I paid $10 per person per hour, so three people for three hours cost $90 plus a tip and water/soda and delivery pizza for lunch), professional, and customizable to your needs. They often have their own moving equipment–dollies and such.

    I’ve had to deal with moves in the past that involved grudging family help, and/or have been pressured to “go to Home Depot and pick up random men as day labor” and “just go ask some guys passing by on the street!” Movinghelp.com gave me some affordable, much desired independence from stressful family reliance.

    Best wishes to you in addressing the larger issues with your family, and all good luck and everything wonderful to you and your fiancé as you anticipate and build your future!

  26. I have some suspicion that this is not about any real fear of “gold-digging”. Maybe it’s a class issue? Are LW’s parents the kind of people to whom only lawyer or doctor are real jobs, and everything to do with art is just a hobby? Maybe a lowly ex-ballerina physiotherapist is not “good enough”?

    To worry that a person who apparently was jobless until recently could be pursued by a gold digger is rather … weird. And I woulid be pretty insulted if my parents believed me to be so talented that I am sure to get a job and succeed to the point of being a target for gold diggers … but so unattractive that no one would want me for who I am.

    1. I am pretty sure that the “problem” with Fiancee is that she is a source of love, support, validation and family which Mom doesn’t have a way to control. This means that Mom can no longer metre LW’s flow of these things to suit her own purposes.

      The ‘gold-digger’ accusation is, I suspect, actually aimed at LW – ‘nobody REALLY loves you but me (and I only love you when you do as I say)’.

      This doesn’t make it not hurtful to Fiancee, mind. Protecting Fiancee from Mom is nearly as important as protecting LW from Mom, here: by virtue of not growing up with Mom, Fiancee is less vulnerable but also less experienced.

      But it’s worth remembering, Dear LW, that you will never find anyone your Mom approves of – unless they’re willing to become a toxicity vector for her power plays. In which case I hope that YOU will not approve of them.

      You moved back home, she thought she had you back in her clutches, and now you’re getting away, is the long and the short of it.

      Do whatever you have to do to get into your new place, with Fiancee back in your arms and house, and then deal with Mom in whatever way seems good to you.

      I hope you fnd Fiancee have all good things ahead.

  27. For my own two cents, unless the help is ‘giving money for you to hire professional movers’ DO NOT let toxic family ‘help’ you move. I might be projecting too hard, but if stuff is at all the sort of thing you have emotional attachment to (as it is for many people) this is a prime opportunity for control and/or sabotage to occur.

    I still have memories of growing up, having to check what I’d packed multiple times to make sure my mother hadn’t gone in and ‘helped’ by either removing key items to gaslight me for what a failure I was, or add in things I didn’t want to tease me about how bad I was at overpacking, or just swap clothing for stuff she approved of more, like taking out my sturdy racerback one piece swimsuits and replacing them with flimsy bikinis so I’d be forced to be more ‘ladylike’. I still have anxiety about packing for trips and trouble packing anything ahead of time. If I’m not shoving it into the suitcase moments before we go out the door I worry, even if it’s needless now.

    I just forsee a perfect opportunity for a powerplay, especially at a time you’ll be tired and stressed and wanting it over and maybe more inclined to say yes to things at the moment and try to argue later.

  28. Mom sounds like a narcissist threatened that the fiance is competing now for LW’s attention. Lots of classic narcissist manipulation techniques. I suggest she research narcissism and arm herself with that knowledge. And see a therapist because having to deal with that shit from a parent digs its way into your psyche is ways you don’t even realize… A knowledgeable therapist can also be invaluable in helping with what I am sure will be ongoing boundary-setting issues.

  29. One other thing about professional movers, at least in the UK: they will store your things for much less money than you would have to pay in self-storage. The one I used had medium-sized wooden containers they’d load or drop off and let you load, and then take away to be stored in their warehouse. This can be a wonderful solution if you’re having a gap between ‘get things out’ and ‘have them delivered’ or ‘need to get my possessions to a secure place’ and ‘find place to stay that isn’t somebody’s couch’. A couple of years ago I paid ca. £10/week for a room-sized container. (That is, a container that contained the contents of a room. Much of my furniture is flat-pack, but boy, do I have books.)

  30. Meathead movers. Great company and I’d totally support them out of one simple fact – they will help people move out of abusive situations for FREE. If I move and have the money to I’d totally hire them.

    I’d say if it’s at all possible to NOT let your mother and her minions help – avoid it! Their ‘help’ comes with so many strings attached it’d give a spider a headache. Your fiancee sounds like a great person. Your mother is trying to do everything she can to potentially turn you against your fiancee, and using any method she can to do so. She is being unreasonable and obviously can’t be talked to in any way that will make her understand or change her mind, you’re better off cutting her out of the equation.

    1. 94 Business awards!? I will tell everyone about this company. So bookmarked, thanks and thanks.

      1. I think just the premise of their business alone is awesome – it’s a way for school athletes to use their strength to help people out, earn money and gain experience in different aspects of jobs, like organization and prioritizing.

  31. The problem is that my mom feels that if Fiancée moves in with me, this proves that Fiancée is a leech for not helping with the move. I get my mom’s point– it’s obnoxious to have someone reap the benefits of your hard work.
    WRONG ALL THE TIME just it sounds like she is… you are moving from one place, fiancee is moving from another place, who is doing extra work? Are you going to help fiancee move, but they are not helping you move, physically or financially?

    Not a big deal, just maybe don’t try to hard to find reasonableness nuggets in mom’s unreasonable behavior; from your letter it doesn’t sound like there are any to be had. My guess is when it comes to your fiancee, due to mom’s irrational behavior it has to all be about managing her rather than working with her.

    1. Seriously. Even if the Fiancee were helping the LW move, Mom would find some evidence of her being a leech – maybe she’s breathing up too much of the apartment’s air!

  32. Sorry if this has been said already, but where in life and who you are adds a sticky societal layer of disapproval that parents can conveniently borrow from when they decide to be asshats. Unfortunately you’re marinating in the same crap so when they echo the disapproval (homophobe, she’s a dancer=leech on you and presumably society) it feels so familiar. It’s easy to mistake familiar for right.

    Hugs to you as you move through some stressful life transitions (moving sucks and is horribly stressful) and try to get to the still point in you where you know what you want and need from people around you, and can find the map to communicate, set the boundaries and get what you need and want. From all of them.

  33. “I get my mom’s point– it’s obnoxious to have someone reap the benefits of your hard work.”

    No, your mom is awful. If she didn’t want to help, she could have told you to hire some movers (the Captain, I, and dozens of commenters all had this thought independently – it’s not some obscure mystery of which it’s unfair to expect your mom to be aware). If you’re too broke, your friends may not be close enough to help in person, but they’re almost certainly close enough to a computer to wire you a little cash to help with moving costs. Shared genetics and shared history are not good reasons to tolerate abusive bullshit; cut toxic people out of your life.

    Apologies if this comes across as overly harsh, but I watched my mom try to make apologies or excuses for her abusive piece of shit of a mother for decades, and I long ago lost all patience for trying to soft-pedel the observation that some people are just shitty humans who treat others badly. You don’t owe your parents a single thing – they decided to procreate, so all the responsibility for managing the results of that decision is on them, as you didn’t even have the possibility of input. Free yourself – you deserve a chance to be happy.

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