It’s always sad when people become estranged from their families.
It’s also confusing for those who remain close with their families, as they begin to wonder why exactly they became estranged.
Often further complicating matters is when we unexpectedly meet estranged family members of friends or loved ones, and aren’t able to find anything about them which would explain why no one wants to be around them.
The boyfriend of Redditor aita_talkedtomother was not close with his family, and never gave any indication as to why with the original poster (OP).
A chance encounter with her boyfriend’s mother didn’t help at all in offering an explanation to the OP, and only ended up causing a rift in their relationship.
Wondering if she was responsible for things escalating, the OP took to the subReddit “Am I The A**hole”, where she asked fellow Redditors:
“AITA for talking to my BF’s estranged mother without his permission?”
The OP explained how her boyfriend’s estrangement from his family was always a mystery, and she only became further confused by it after meeting his mother.
“I’m (26 F[emale]) a PhD student and I have been dating Sam (29 M[ale]) for the last 3 years.”
“Early on into the relationship he told me that he’s not close (NC) with his family.”
“I’ve asked him why, but he said that it’s not something that he wants to discuss.”
“I haven’t brought it up since then, and he hasn’t dropped any hints as to why.”
“I was at a conference this past weekend where one of the keynote speakers had Sam’s rather uncommon last name.”
“I texted him a picture of the flyer and asked ‘Lmao is this your long-lost aunt or something?'”
“He texted me back saying ‘No, that’s my mom’.”
“I talked briefly with Sam’s mom during the Q and A session that followed her presentation.”
“She was so nice and patient when answering my questions that I started to wonder why Sam was NC with her.”
“After I came home from the conference, I told Sam that I talked to his mom and that she seemed really nice.”
“He dropped his fork on the floor and completely blew up at me.”
“He accused me of ‘betraying’ him even though I told him that she had no idea who I was and that I talked to her to ask questions about her research.”
“He also said that him being NC with his family automatically meant that I was forbidden from talking to them without his permission.”
‘I was so scared because I’ve NEVER seen him get angry or raise his voice at ANYTHING. I booked an Uber to a friend’s place and told him that I’m staying with said friend until he gives me a genuine apology and an explanation as to why he’s NC with his family.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
While the Reddit community was somewhite divided on the issue, everyone generally agreed that the OP was ultimately the a**hole for how she handled the situation.
While some felt that the OP’s boyfriend overreacted, and the OP did nothing wrong by speaking to her in the manner she did and she was valid in feeling that he should be open with her as to why he’s not close with his family, nearly everyone agreed that the OP was wrong to make assumptions about his mother based on one chance meeting, and shouldn’t have pestered him about it.
“After one brief work-related conversation with a stranger, you no longer trust the judgement of your boyfriend of three years to determine if he should have contact with his mother.”- SoSleepySue
“I think you were okay until you came back and told him she seemed really nice.”
“You don’t know what went on between the two of them, and it really isn’t your business.”
“Talking to her professionally is one thing, but that was on her professionally.”
“It was a comment on her personality / personally.”
“How someone is in a professional setting doesn’t mean that’s how they are in their private life.”
“You likely just came home and told your boyfriend that his abuser seemed really nice.”
“Which is a horrible betrayal.”
“Although I personally feel like he should be disclosing why he’s NC as you have been together so long, you need to respect his boundary regardless.”- Graves_Digger
“ESH / YTA.”
“After 3 years of dating someone, you would think, hope, that they would open up enough to tell you why they are NC with their family.”
“This isn’t 6 months, or a year, at 3 years you are imagining your life with someone.”
“You both wouldn’t be together if you didn’t see a future together, and a part of your future includes his past.”
“At some point that has to get addressed, or your relationship doesn’t have a chance at survival.”
“You didn’t searching for his mom, as you explain this was happenstance.”
“Unless you introduced yourself as his girlfriend, you didn’t directly do any harm.”
“Where you messed up IMO is by telling him ‘I met your mom, and she seems nice!’.”
“Depending on what happened to make him NC, hearing his girlfriend who he trusts saying that someone he has cut out of his life forever seems ‘nice’ had to be a knife to his heart.”
“THEN, rather than trying to talk to him, you ran away, and demanded an apology.”
“Without knowing any of the past history that made him NC.”
“What if his family abandoned him at some point?”
“What if his mother did?”
“Without knowing his past trauma, you just did something that could be reopening all his wounds, while expecting him to apologize to you and open up a part of his life he never has before.”-makethatnoise
“She was so nice and patient with you while doing her job that you questioned his reason for NC?”
“That’s super naive and so disrespectful to your BF.”
“The fact that you then went home and told him ‘she’s really nice’ blows my mind.”
“It is a massive betrayal to him and what he went through to get to the point of going NC.”
“People don’t stumble upon NC.”
“It’s a huge decision For three years you never pressed the reason why and respected his boundaries.”
“Now because you had one interaction with her and thinks she’s nice you feel your owed an explanation”
“I think knowing he is NC with his Mom that you went and talked to her anyway would seem like a betrayal to him.”
“I personally would not have done it out of respect for my BF boundaries.”- Nigglesscripts
“If she was a horrible child abuser she would naturally be a horrible abuser toward audience members at an academic conference.”
“Since she wasn’t, Sam is obviously just making it all up.”
“YTA for leading with this.”
“He told you he was NC with her.”
“There is obviously some heavy reason behind this.”
“But you lean into her being ‘really nice’, as if you can tell better than he can what his childhood experience was.”
“Because you met his mother at a conference for a few minutes.”
“Then you act all shocked and surprised that he found this upsetting.”
“You’re either being willfully dumb, intentionally hurtful, or both.”
“I suggest calling the relationship off entirely, b/c you’re not going to be able to handle whatever went on between Sam and his mom.”
“You’ll just end up minimizing it because ‘that lady was so nice to me’.”
“You simply lack the experience and perspective to understand that abusers get away with it for so long because of victim-blamers, who see the abusers in other settings, and say ‘oh please, they would never hurt a child’.”
“They’re just so nice’.” stdnormaldeviant
“YTA if what you said here is accurate.”
“You don’t give away who you were or say anything personal about your bf.”
“But the research talk seems safe.”
“Your boyfriend told you it was his mom who you know he’s NC with.”
“You absolutely shouldn’t have made any comment about how she was nice.”
“You have no idea what the difference between he professional face and her private face is.”
“I am on good terms with my kids, and even I have a much nicer ‘professional’ face than what my kids get.”
“I have a different professional face than what my husband gets, and I love him dearly.”
“But the person I am professionally is not WHO I AM.”
“It’s who I am to get a paycheck.”
“You have any idea how many times I smile and say ‘sure!’ to a colleague or boss while I’m cursing them out inside my head?”
“But my family gets me unfiltered.”
“Now, imagine that scenario, but you’re talking about someone abusive.”
“Your boyfriend wasn’t there.”
“He’s obviously anxious about his non-relationship with his parents, and then you just dismissively tell him you thought she was nice?”
“Maybe she is.”
“And maybe she’s an abusive asshole with a good public face.”
“You don’t KNOW the difference.”
“But you sure were dismissive of your boyfriend’s feelings about it.”
“You know, I started this off as no a**holes but then talked myself out of it.”-Jade_Echo
It’s understandable why the OP might. have been confused by her boyfriend’s difficult relationship with his mother after their chance meeting.
But that was one brief meeting, and first impressions can be famously misleading.
If the relationship between her boyfriend and his family isn’t really the OP’s business at the moment, it will eventually be if they’re in this for the long term.
Leaving one to hope that the OP’s boyfriend might shed some clarity on why they’re not close with his family, and possibly lead the OP to watch her steps a bit more carefully going forward.