My partner’s mother is late middle aged but not yet elderly. I only met her a few weeks ago, but she keeps coming over to visit. He thinks maybe she is getting lonely so she is visiting him more often. I am not so sure. She looks at me and tells me how pretty I look all the time. Sometimes when she is speaking to me alone she looks at my breasts while talking to me. It is really starting to make me feel uncomfortable do I say something or hope it just stops?
You definitely should not have to accept behavior that makes you feel uncomfortable, particularly in your own space. You need to talk to your partner about this some more. If the breast staring is normal behavior for her, he will be able to tell you what is most effective in making it stop. She may just not be comfortable making eye contact with anyone (or only with a very few family members and close friends.) I found a question on another site from the other side, a woman talks about how she believes her anxiety and difficulty keeping eye contact are related and asks for help because she keeps accidentally looking at sexualized areas of the body.If your partner’s mother has difficulty with eye contact, he should know what helps her. For instance, you may be able to just turn and continue the conversation. She may also just tell people they are pretty when she isn’t sure what to say. If you are comfortable once you know this (or you have gotten a useful strategy from your partner), you are good to go.
If she needs to be addressed directly, you can certainly expect your partner to be the one to talk to her, not leave it to you. But if you feel comfortable doing so yourself, or need to remind her, tell her that you don’t like it when people look at your breasts when talking to you. You can remind her that you would be more comfortable if she stares somewhere else (particular or general.) Tell her that you are uncomfortable with how often she tells you you are pretty and don’t need to hear it again. You may need to repeat these things over and over, and hopefully your partner will help you with this. “Mom, I agree Swarna looks lovely, but she’d prefer that we focus on things other than her looks.”
If she is suddenly not behaving normally that could be a sign of problems of some sort. He and the rest of his family need to be honest with her and themselves and make sure she is getting the support and possibly health care she needs. If things have changed in her life and she is suddenly lonely, her family needs to take care of that as well.
You have only just met this woman. It is not your responsibility to entertain her at this frequency. If she is dropping by at inconvenient times, he should talk to her about it. If your partner feels like there is no inappropriate time then the two of you need to have a conversation about making sure you do have couples time, because that is important for any relationship. If she’s lonely, then inviting her to dinner or his taking her out while you have a girls night is appropriate. Dropping by your house a lot and making you uncomfortable is not.
Image Attribution: FrankWinkler