Your teenage son is a loving, emotionally intelligent and fun kid with whom you have a great relationship. You and his dad separated a few years ago and have a pretty good relationship, co-parenting. His dad has remarried and your son gets on well with his step-mum.
But, the problem is that your son is very jealous of you dating anyone and he gets visibly angry at the thought of you having a boyfriend. You've made it clear that he’ll always be your number one and that you will always love him.
You know it's ridiculous to let your 15 year old son control who you can or cannot meet but you feel wary of upsetting or damaging your relationship with him. It’s starting to feel quite unhealthy and you don't know the best way to handle the situation.
So what should you do?
The first thing is not to panic. According to Professor Alessandra Lemma, a psychologist and psychoanalyst who often works with young people, this is quite a standard problem, where there’s been a divorce and an only child. It’s particularly common when it’s a mother and son.
This is also a time when your son is entering adolescence, a period of huge change for him, and he may be scared, not only of losing you, but also wondering who he is. “He may be overwhelmed by his own sexuality,” Lemma says. “Maybe he also doesn’t want to face growing up and doesn’t want anything to disrupt your relationship.” The situation is intensified because there’s just the two of you at home, and your son may feel he has to be everything to you, so you don’t need anyone else. However, it is developmentally vital to puncture that fantasy so that your son, in time, can take up his own relationships and you yours.
Although it is easier not to address the situation with your son, it really is essential that you talk to him and you should be prepared to be the object of hatred for a while. When you meet someone who you think has the potential to be a partner, it is important to be open with your son, and he is more likely to get used to the idea. By being honest with him, in the long term you will make your relationship with him even more secure.
In a relaxed situation, maybe out for a walk or in the car with your son, explain either that you’ve met someone or would like to. Acknowledge that you know he finds it difficult but tell him that the way he feels is normal and nothing to be frightened of. And that in time he will also want his own relationships. Be prepared for him to have a melt-down – this is to be expected but shouldn't last long. There may be another male friend or relative he could talk to, besides his father.
Be prepared to be unpopular for a while.
Reassure him, but come at this from a point of confidence – it will make your son more confident, too.
Remember that if you have met someone, you are no longer alone with this.