For all the ways mother-daughter relationships are absolutely wonderful, they often come with their fair share of problems and dramas. Both sides certainly contribute to these issues, but it's also not uncommon for mothers to be narcissistic and self-centered, absent and cold, or even completely jealous of their daughters.
While that last one may sound strange (I mean, how can a mom be jealous of her very own daughter?), it actually makes a lot of sense when you think about it. "It can be difficult to cope with providing your children with opportunities you didn’t get to experience while growing up," relationship expert Weena Cullins, LMFT, tells Bustle. "Some moms find it hard to be cheerful givers. They allow feelings of jealousy to linger instead of focusing on ways to improve their current life or be content in the developmental life stage they are in."
When you look at it that way, a jealous mom sounds a lot less strange, and much more deserving of compassion. That's why, if you think your mom has jealousy issues, it's important to be as understanding as possible. "Learn to see your mom as a person with flaws and feelings," Cullins says. "This is usually a more difficult task until we become older. However, exploring how your mom might be impacted by your growth and development as a woman can foster a level of compassion and empathy that can help you stay connected to her." Read on for some signs that jealousy may be at the root of your mother-daughter issues.
1. Your Mom Always Tries To Steal The Spotlight
If your mom has been feeling jealous, you might catch her one-upping whenever you share some kind of success. "You can’t mention that you are embarking on a new endeavor, taking a new class, updating your wardrobe, or signing up for a marathon without your mom following close behind," Cullins says. "Even if your motive isn’t attention-seeking, a mom with jealousy issues will find it hard to allow you to grow or gain ground without trying to stay on your level or one step ahead of you."
2. She Acts Bored When You Share Big News
Jealousy is a pretty painful emotion, so your mom may try to tamp hers down by feigning disinterest whenever you share good news. "This can knock the wind out of your sails, which is the intention," Cullins says. "Jealous moms have a difficult time responding to their children’s accomplishments with genuine joy and happiness, so they just might try to steal yours."
3. She Talks Behind Your Back
Ever get jealous of someone, and then struggle not to knock them down a few pegs? Well, your mom is likely doing the same thing. "It’s unfortunate but true that when a mom feels jealous or threatened by your success, popularity, or beauty she may resort to putting you down," Cullins explains. "This can be hurtful and confusing, especially if you aren’t quite sure of the cause of her jealousy."
4. Your Mom Has Started Wearing A Lot Of Makeup
Take note if your mom has suddenly been doing it up in the makeup and fashion department, as it may be a sign of her insecurity. "Moms who are jealous of their daughters may try to keep up in ways that aren’t reflective of their current age or developmental stage by emulating their daughter’s look, 'borrowing' clothes from their closet, or even inviting themselves to hang out or talk on the phone with their daughter’s friends," Cullins says. While it may seem cute (or even kind of odd), remember it's coming from a place of hurt.
5. She's Been Known To Overreact
Any number of issues — like stress, depression, or anxiety — can cause a person to overreact. But it may also be a sign of jealousy. "She may be sarcastic, angry, give the silent treatment, or resort to personal attacks," says psychologist Dr. Nikki Martinez. "These are very impulsive reactions, and often your mother is not even aware of why she is behaving the way. It just comes out." (Sound familiar?)
6. She's Weird About Your Relationship With Your Dad
While it may sound totally strange, it is relatively common for mothers to become jealous of father/daughter relationships. If this is true of your mom, she may get upset whenever you laugh it up with your dad, or have a good time without her. This is all thanks to your mom's self-esteem issues, Martintez tells me, which can be triggered by the happy relationship you have with your dad — especially if the two of them are having marital issues.
7. She Isn't Proud Of Your Success
If your mom can't handle it when you have good luck or success, it might be because she wishes she had the same. "Mothers can get jealous when their daughter is popular, successful, and self-confident, especially when this is contrary to how the mother feels about herself," Martinez says. "Instead of feeling pride and happiness for such a strong and successful child, she resents the child for achieving what she was not able to." And that's not cool.
8. Your Mom Always Finds A Way To Criticize
Constant criticism, or bullying, may be your mom's way of taking out her own insecurity. "If your mom criticizes the choices you make, such as your partner, or career, or says nasty things about you in front of family or friends, this may be a sign she is jealous," says NYC-based therapist Kimberly Hershenson. It's definitely not something you have to put up with, but it can help to finally figure out why she's been acting that way.
9. She Never Ever Asks About Your Life
If your mom never asks about your life, she could just be busy or a little bit self-absorbed. But it could also mean she just doesn't want to hear about your friends or your cool job, all due to her own jealousy issues. "If everything is about her and what is going on in her life, or she never asks how you are or what you're up to, this may be a sign of jealousy," Hershenson says. We've all been there, and it doesn't feel good.
10. She Constantly Tells You You're Wrong
Another way your mom might try not knock you down? By constantly telling you you're wrong. "If your mom is constantly correcting you or showing you how to 'properly' do things, this may be a sign of jealousy," Hershenson says. It's her way of remaining "the best," which, again, just goes back to her own problems with self-esteem.
11. She Picks Fights In Your Family
Again, if your mom feels threatened by your relationship with other family members, like your dad, she may try to pick fights in order to break things up. "When daughters become the apple of their dad’s eye or get the affection that was once reserved for mom, it can cause feelings of insecurity and jealousy that unfortunately gets directed toward the child," Cullins says. "A jealous mom may start to disagree with her daughter’s dad’s decisions or any allowances he makes for his daughter." And it can lead to some pretty messy family conflict.
If this sound familiar, it may mean your mom is experiencing jealousy. The best thing you can do is support her, point out her accomplishments, and not take her comments to heart. After all, this is about her feelings and issues; not anything you did wrong.
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