When I was in junior high school, my mom asked me whether I wanted to live with her in New York or with my dad in Florida. At the time I was living with my grandparents—my parents are divorced—and it was time to make a choice. I told my mom that I liked being with Daddy because when I was with him, I felt like Will Smith’s character on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. When I was with her, I felt more like Carlton Banks. Dad was the laissez-faire parent. She was the dictator. My mom gave in, but the look on her face—of hurt and disappointment—stayed with me for a very long time. I eventually realized that she knew what I needed to succeed in life. So after college I moved to New York to live with her.

I seek advice from her on nearly every aspect of my life—my career (I own my own business, and I’m a senior consultant), my finances (I make six figures) and, of course, relationships. Back in college, I invited my then girlfriend, Loretta*, to a wedding my mom was also attending. We were all seated at the same dinner table, so my mom noticed when Loretta reached for dessert. Loretta was a good girlfriend and things were serious between us, but she weighed more than 200 pounds. That wasn’t going to work for Mom, who’s 5 feet 7 inches tall, 130 pounds and hits the gym every day. She pulled me aside and let me know she didn’t approve of Loretta’s physical health. I realized Mom was right and things ended with Loretta shortly after.

I’ve liked, and in some cases loved, girlfriends I introduced to Mom. But she pointed out flaws that I couldn’t see at the time. My ex-girlfriend Deborah, for example, is a very pretty girl who comes from money. But once she met my mom, it was pointed out that she couldn’t handle a household: couldn’t cook, couldn’t iron, and had a maid come in to clean house. My mom told me that Deborah would never be able to take care of a kid, and I would end up being a house dad. Another ex didn’t have a college degree. “You’re going to be supporting you, her and your kids—if you have any,” Mom made sure to note.

Like many mothers, mine wants me to bring home someone like herself: a successful businesswoman, a good homemaker, a woman who is health-conscious. And like many guys, I’m looking for a woman much like my mom. I’ve found that she’s been right about my exes and may have saved me time on some bad choices.

I’ll admit, putting my mom before significant others has created problems in my relationships. Once I was taking a weekend trip with Michelle, a girl I was seeing who hadn’t met my mom yet. My mother asked me to take her to Atlantic City that same weekend, so I told her I had to go on a business trip. It turned into an argument with Michelle because I lied. But there was no way my mother would like my choosing a woman she had never met over her. She would say, “I’m your mother. Who is this girl? Is she going to be your wife?”

I know my mom is overprotective, but I’m her only child and she doesn’t want me to get hurt. I appreciate that. I even got a tattoo of her name on my shoulder with a cross underneath it. I wanted it to represent something or someone very close to me, so the first one I got was my mom and the next was God.

I do think I’ll eventually bring home someone my mother loves. But for now, when it comes to girlfriends, I can’t say whether we’re going to stay together or break up in the long run. I do know, though, that my mom is always going to be my mom.

*Names of girlfriends have been changed.

Share your thoughts with Brian at onhismind@essence.com.

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