THE BLOG

Do 'Mad Men' Marry Their Mothers?

11/23/2010 02:50 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011
  • Natalie Bencivenga On track for medical school in 2006, Natalie Bencivenga was deterred when she met Joe Vienis

As many of you know, the latest season of "Mad Men" recently wrapped with Don shocking us all by proposing to the lovely Megan as his relationship with Betty comes crashing down around him. Sure, he is a philanderer, but Betty isn't exactly the easiest woman to be with, given the personality disorders and deep depression that she suffers from.

In fact, if you look deeper into their relationship, it mimics that of his difficult relationship with his own stepmother. Abigail Whitman often referred to Don as "a whore's child" because his birth mother was a 22-year-old prostitute who died during childbirth. In a sense, he is constantly chasing the phantom of the mother he never knew, only to be rejected by the stepmother he had.

Don's stepmother was cold, distant and difficult to please. She had lived a hard, harsh life and seemingly dealt with an abusive husband who eventually died, leaving her a widow to raise Don and his much younger half brother with a man Don referred to as "Uncle Mac." I don't blame her for her bitterness or anger, but she did place it onto an innocent child who desperately needed to be loved. As he grew, he would seek that love in various places with many women, always trying to get back into the beginning, the womb he never knew, the home he never felt. In a sense, Don is always trying to be reborn through the women in his life, a big reason why he cannot be faithful to the woman he married, Betty.

Now, since Betty came with her own set of issues and problems, including deep depression, it is no wonder that their relationship could not withstand the test of time. Betty is not a maternal woman, just like Don's own stepmother. Initially gravitating towards what he knows, he quickly becomes dissatisfied with their relationship and begins looking for love in other places.

In walks Megan, his (to be) blushing bride, who is everything Betty isn't. She is maternal and warm, a woman who perhaps Don may think he wants (and maybe what he really needs), but considering his narcissistic tendencies and underlying insecurities about never being good enough for Betty, Megan may find her man straying once more.

Why? Perhaps "mad men" marry their mothers. Don was raised by a cold, emotionally unavailable woman. His first wife mimicked that. There is no way that a warm, maternal female will satisfy him at all. He is chasing the relationship dragon as many men in our real world do.

Take Tiger Woods or Jesse James, for instance. Both men cheated on their wives repeatedly with women who were nothing like them. Perhaps they, too, never felt worthy of the relationship that they had with their wives, Elin and Sandra, respectively, and set out to self-sabotage their marriages because maybe their own relationship with their mothers was broken.

Is this a warning to women? Not really, but the next time you step out with a new lover who wants you to meet his mother, look closely. If he has a dysfunctional relationship, he may try to use you to fill the void he experienced at home. Yes, I believe some men marry their mothers -- but only when they are trying to redo that very important relationship that may not have been as picturesque as one may hope.