Sunday, January 2, 2011

Meet the Parents...JK, you can't.

Q:  My boyfriend and I have been together, "officially," for a little over a year now. Although my parents know him pretty well, and the two of us go to dinner at my parent's house (which is about half an hour away) once every one or two weeks, I have only met his parents a few times, and never as his "girlfriend." I thought we were pretty serious; we've talked about living together, and I know I want to live with him, but although he seems sincere, I'm starting to have my doubts. I try to get him to take me with him to see his parents all the time. When he goes to church with them on Sundays (his parents also live half an hour away), I ask if I can go too, and he almost always says no. I've been with them a couple of times, and his parents seem to like me. They have invited me over for lunch after, and have invited me to come with them to church whenever I want. And because they don't know that we're dating, they have even told my boyfriend not to "lead me on."
     Okay, I understand that our parents' are different, my parents, although slightly conservative, are very accepting, and like him way more than they've liked any of my other boyfriends. (As they should, he's a genuinely great guy, and, all-around, a much better person than any of my exes were.) His parents, on the other hand, are very conservative. They don't like piercings or tattoos, both of which I have (though I take my lip rings out when I'm around them, and all of my tattoos are hidden), amongst other little things. Every time I ask him why I can't meet his parents, he says it's because he's always been the black sheep of the family, and he doesn't want to screw our relationship up by bringing his parents into it. He says that he wants us to last, but thinks that if his parents knew about us, they would convince either him or the both of us that we're not good for each other.
     So, basically, I want to meet his parents, as his girlfriend, so I can feel more secure in our future together. He doesn't want this to happen for the same reason. How can we come to peace over all this?


A: The way I see it, one (or both) of the following things are probably happening here:

1) There is a lot more to his relationship with his parents than he's told you. There may be some bad things that he has not told you about, partially in fear of scaring you away. It can be anything from him never feeling totally accepted by his family to some sort of abuse. I promise, I am NOT trying to scare you or jump to radical conclusions. I am only saying this because I know little of the situation and I am just trying to cover all bases. Bottom line: he is afraid of bringing his family into the mix because he is embarrassed of/ashamed of/afraid of THEM, and/or potentially afraid of them bringing you into their "drama".

2) The other scenario is that he does not want to integrate you into his closest circles because he does not want to think of you in a super-serious manner. I know it sounds harsh, and rather "odd" considering the fact that you've been together for a year, but it is possible. Consider this: was he a "ladies man" (lol) before you guys got serious? Do you ever have doubts about how committed he is to the relationship? Unfortunately, a lack of integration can be a classic sign of a guy who's afraid to fully have a girlfriend.

Honestly, I don't really feel like it's 2, at all. But again, I'm trying to cover all bases. Personally, my best guess would be that it's a very mild case of 1. After all, you said his parents seem like nice people who enjoy your company. I know that a few years ago I personally had trouble bringing significant others around my parents, why? Because they were just too damn conservative! Really, even far into a relationship it can be a huge source of insecurity, albeit a slightly dumb one. I bet that's probably what your boyfriend's going through.

In ANY case...the best next step for you is to TALK to him. Express your feelings in a calm way and ask if there is any particular reason why he thinks that it will "screw up the relationship" if you are brought into the mix. It's a little rude of him to saw that, anyway, so make him elaborate. You have the right to know as a girlfriend.

I wish you the best of luck. :)

--Dr. O.

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