Image by Ada Barbee

LC daters beware: the mother zone is out there

In the wake of the term “daddy issues” being overused to describe those who are attracted to the maturity and independence that they can only find in older men, sociologists and therapists have come together in an unprecedented effort to define a concept plaguing a generation (indeed, perhaps generations) of emotionally competent young women: the “mother zone.” Similar to the friend zone, the mother zone is a concept in which one person in a relationship takes on both romantic and parenting duties of their less mature and capable counterpart. 

The mother zone can be applied to someone regardless of gender as it entirely depends on the opposite party treating the “mother” as though they are intrinsically responsible for maintaining the emotional stability of the less mature party. If you or someone you know is experiencing the symptoms below, you might be part of a mother zoned relationship. Below are common indicators that someone will put their partners in the mother zone.

Failure to reciprocate emotional labor/lack of reciprocation in general. The mother may have to constantly look after the other’s emotional state. “What is wrong? Are you sad? Mad? Just hungry? Oh, okay.”

Has to be scolded in order to learn, instead of using emotional intelligence and intuition: this can also be turned around on the mother for constant “nagging.” 

The sole emotional responses in this person’s emotional repertoire are anger or pouting. Much like a child, this person might have difficulties articulating and managing their emotions. 

Lacking basic knowledge of cleanliness or generic appliances, paired with a refusal to learn. Their actual mothers find it “endearing” when they come home with laundry. 

Does not ask you to do things for them but definitely expects you to because it is long overdue, creating a game of “who will cave first.” The towering garbage in the corner bothers you more than it bothers them, and they know it. 

Says “you are amazing” after you accomplish simple tasks like making coffee or taking out their trash. What they lack in expertise, they try to make up for in compliments. Sometimes it works. 

Apologizes profusely for small offenses but never tries to change the behavior in question.

Asks you to remind them to do things but banks on you just doing it for fear of confrontation. You may end up taking the trash out for them after you had already reminded them to do so like they asked. 

Has no idea how much things like dish soap cost. In fact, they might not have noticed that you replaced their dish soap multiple times. 

It can be very difficult to deal with someone once you realize you have been mother zoned. Often, the mother zones come from home environments in which they were loved unconditionally and insist that their partner loves them similarly, despite all of their flaws. This issue can come out of the woodwork deep into a relationship, and can often be masked by an appreciation for Greta Gerwig and listening to Lauren Hill. Beware the mother zone, for at the end of it leads to complete and total emotional dependence.

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