Huffpost Healthy Living
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Juliet Linley Headshot

Of Breasts and Men

Posted: Updated:

I know a number of women here in Italy who complain they are married to Mammoni - Mama's Boys. Some are foreign, others are Italian. The fact is that they all find themselves having to share their lives with: a man living under his mothers' thumb and a mother-in-law (M-I-L) that treats her son like a baby and a boyfriend, simultaneously.

What lies behind the Mama's Boy phenomenon? How does an adult male become excessively dependent on his mommy? I'm neither a sociologist, nor a psychologist, nor a mammologist ... but I have observed quite a number of mamme and mammoni.

The emerging picture is one of mothers who want their sons to treat them like girlfriends (cuddling them, caring for them, telephoning them often, taking them out to dinner/movies/shows and smothering them with attention) and who, in return, would like to cuddle their sons, buy them clothes (a friend furiously tells me her M-I-L still buys him underwear) ... and basically behave as if they were the princess of said sons.

Ironically, it transpires that often such mothers never allowed themselves to fully enjoy their sons when they were small. They didn't cuddle them enough (better to err on the emotionally arid side, than to risk giving the child too much affection), they didn't breastfeed them enough (a pity, given that nursing creates a deep bond between mother and son at an age in which it is not only necessary and useful - but above all healthy and instinctively desired by both parties) and didn't respond to their needs enough at night (again, for fear of spoiling them)...

But now that their boys are grown up, these mums are loathe to sever the umbilical cord. That same cord they were so anxious to snip when their little ones were so much in need of skin-to-skin contact with the most important person in their (young) life.

For the sons, the fact that they were not nursed enough, I believe, is reflected by how many of the men in our circle of acquaintances are incessantly seeking feminine affection (often tripping up in the 'serial lover' trap, and subsequently in the 'infidelity' one) and basically seeking that security they were denied during infancy.

According to a friend in Turin, the phenomenon of these moms who want to have a girlfriend/boyfriend relationship with their sons, is also due to an inadequate (or even non-existent) relationship with their husbands.

Given that Italy is a country famous for its 'relaxed' attitudes to marital faithfulness (especially when it comes to husbands) that theory may not be all that far-fetched after all...

From Our Partners