Am I wrong for choosing my boyfriend over my toxic family?

·5 min read

Question: "My boyfriend and I have been together for two years and we have great relationship with each other’s families. My problem is with my family. My mom and stepdad separated about a year ago and everything has fallen apart since. Four months ago, my mom totaled her car and started using mine, which left me unemployed and broke while trying to attend college. Two weeks later, she wrecked my car. I was speechless.

My stepdad and I bought my car and my mom never once spent a dime on it. This happened at the beginning of this year, and she hasn’t fixed it and expects my dad to fix it instead. She also has not gotten a new car. I’ve told her about me struggling with my mental health and she told me to go on a run and that she didn’t care about what I was going through because “she’s had it more rough.” My mom has always been toxic to me so I’ve gotten used to it, but it gets worse.

My mother-in-law is toxic: Am I wrong for cutting her out of my life?

My boyfriend’s family bought him a house so he can be on his own and they also help him with school. He asked me to move in with him and I did. My boyfriend pays for everything: rent, utilities, food, and anything I need while I’m in school. After moving in with my boyfriend, my mom got a letter from her apartment saying there will be a $150 increase in her rent. She was already struggling to afford it so this pushed her past her breaking point.

My boyfriend suggested my mom move in with us for a bit to help her get back on her feet. Considering the rocky relationship I’ve always had with my mom and the fact that I had wanted to move out since the age of 15, this wasn’t something I was interested in. My boyfriend’s mom also didn’t like the idea much.

As a kind gesture, his mom suggested we could create a lease contract for a couple months and my mom would pay half of what she was paying at her apartment. Upon offering this option to my mom, she refused to sign the contract and wasn’t interested in paying rent. She told me she could manage to pay $150 less than what we asked. This upset my boyfriend’s mom as she felt my mom was trying to take advantage of us.

AM I WRONG? I won't let my sister-in-law and her four kids stay with us for a few days

My mom has now gotten a majority of my family involved and they won’t even speak to me, including my biological dad. She also told her friend, who I work for, everything but only her side of the story and left out key details. Her friend suggested I choose my family over my boyfriend but why would I when they haven’t really been there for me? Am I in the wrong for choosing my boyfriend over my toxic family?"

Answer: I'm sorry you're dealing with so much toxicity from your own family. I understand that if you're experiencing feelings of guilt or responsibility for your mom you may be compelled to help her despite the abuse you've endured. However, just know that as long as you make a decision that is the healthiest for you, you are not in the wrong.

Based on your description it sounds like you've suffered some emotional, mental, and financial abuse from your mom or at the very least had a lack of parental love and support. It's OK to tap out, and if your family is going to support her, then that's their loss and burden to bear.

After she forcefully borrowed your car and wrecked it, I'm in awe that you had the compassion and kindness to then offer her a place to stay. I recognize that so many people are struggling with the housing crisis and finding safe places to live right now, but the offer you presented seemed more than fair. Despite you trying to open up and tell your mom your feelings, she has not shown any gratitude and invalidates you because she believes that she’s had it worse. I'm not trying to say she didn’t have it worse or she didn't have a reason to despair, but she cannot allow her past to negatively impact her present ability to be a parent.

WHAT TO DO? My partner's family won't stop gossiping about my weight. Should I tell him?

I am all for helping people and being there for family, but when that help is exploited and thankless then as your boyfriend's mom pointed out, you are just being used. You can only compromise your mental health and well-being so much to accommodate someone else. Her true colors were shown as she subsequently took to the rest of the family to turn against you when you were simply trying to help her. This is something that is typically called "flying monkeys," an ode to "The Wizard of Oz" where the witch had others do her bidding. I have a feeling they are harping on you as they are fearful they will have to open up their own doors if you do not accept. I don't usually take such strong opinions on these write-ins, but I hope you know that you deserve better.

Morgan Absher is an occupational therapist in Los Angeles who hosts the podcast, "Two Hot Takes" where she and her co-hosts dish out advice. She writes a weekly column, sharing her advice with USA TODAY's readers. Find her on TikTok @twohottakes and YouTube here. You can reach her by email at or you can click here to share your story with her.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: My mom is toxic. Am I wrong for choosing my boyfriend over her?