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ASK THE EXPERTS 'Dear Maura, my mum is controlling my whole life, what do I do?'

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Dear Maura,

I'm a 43-year-old woman living with a very controlling mother. I'm getting the house after she passes so there is that sense of duty to stay living here.

My last relationship ended when I was 35 and my weekends have been with my mam sharing ready-made meals and take-out split between Friday and Saturday.

But recently I met a lovely man (he's 50), who has brought some much-needed happiness into my life. The problem is my mam is unable to accept him and this is ruining everything.

I don't sleep over in his because she'd go ballistic. She's 79 and healthy. My sisters offer to stay with her but she only wants me. It's all so controlling and manipulating. I've no savings so I'm tied to her in the worst way. I love her, of course, and we get on. It's just the way she is, now that I've met someone, is so hard to deal with. I stay with her on the weekend nights.

My partner would love to come over but she's just not comfortable with him. I don't want to let this man go while taking care of my mother as I want to do right by her no matter what.

Maura says: Your mother is afraid of losing you and is unable to talk to you about her feelings. That is why she is coming across as manipulating. It's her way of holding on to you and what you share at home. She only wants you because I feel at this point in her life, she is so familiar and comfortable in the routine you have created together.

Try to talk to her about what is going on. She needs reassurance, more than anything, that you will be there for her always. See if you could organise your boyfriend to come over for dinner. Let her get to know him and that could also put her mind at ease.

Maybe she also needs a shake up of her routine and easing your boyfriend into her life could give her a new focus.

Dear Maura,

How can you trust that someone has changed after they treated you badly not once but twice? The horrible thing is that me and my boyfriend of eight months were good friends before we started a relationship. I thought I knew him really well and that was a great advantage. But it didn't help at all. Now he's trying to get back with me, said he was sorry and all of that, but I just don't know.

I care about him and we were so close but I still have mixed feelings about all of this. He told me that he didn't realise how happy he was with me until I was gone out of his life. I'm still not convinced.

Maura says: The vital question is has your ex-boyfriend changed enough for you to totally restore your trust in him and your confidence in your relationship?

The only way you will be able to find that out is by talking through everything that happened in the past when he hurt you. If you can successfully dissect those episodes and he takes responsibility for his behaviour, then you could move on from those experiences enough to start again. You need a full discussion, not just 'I'm sorry'.

People can change, you just need to see he really means it.

  • Want to get in touch? Email maura.oneill@sundayworld.com