Coming Out / Dating / Relationship Advice / The Problem Guests

The Problem Guests: Not Meeting the Parents

An anonymous blog submission

There wasn’t anything wrong with the romance that I had gotten myself into. Every customary thing: opening doors, creative date spots, flowers… you name it. I was relieved to be in the presence of somebody who not only got along with me very well, but made me feel secure. That I was his focal point, and there weren’t figures lingering in the periphery to break his gaze on me.

What a score! Without even trying, I had run into the guy I didn’t even dare wish for anymore. After living in LA for a year and a half, my expectations for dating had been dulled. You take what you can get– right? But this guy put me right back on track with my old standards. I couldn’t have been more pleased.

So, in the early stages of getting to know him, I tried to enjoy the bliss of something new, without looking for a fatal flaw. “I’m gonna love you like I’ve never been hurt before,” I thought.

The issue that eventually appeared wasn’t even his fault, really. Well, not entirely.

It was the middle of summer, and he jokingly mentioned how glad he was to have a ride to the airport during the holidays. I laughed and wondered what he meant specifically. “I spend a few weeks with my family for Thanksgiving, and then again for Christmas,” he said. That’s normal, I thought. By that point, we would still be under a year together, and that can be too early to bring someone home for the holidays– right?

Depends on the perspective, I found out after asking the opinions of a few friends and colleagues. What made me slightly more worried was the rationale behind this.  Here’s where it hit the fan: I may have met someone who had a different story than mine; one that didn’t make it so easy for him to bring a guy around. Personally, I had a pretty easy time coming out to my family ten years prior. It wasn’t a big deal to chat with my mom about whomever I was dating, and I had definitely informally introduced my parents to the guy I was seeing on several occasions. 

My boyfriend had a different background than me. His family was from another country originally, and while they certainly sounded pretty modern in every sense of the word, there still seemed to be a bit of a disconnect with his “out” status with his social circle and his family. “They know,” he’d say, “but if you met my family three years from now, you’d be ahead of schedule.” He said with a laugh.

I never forgot those words.

I couldn’t necessarily blame him for his circumstance, and any time I sought clarity about his openness with his family, especially his parents, he got defensive. “Look, if you’re questioning whether or not my family and I are close, or whether or not they love me…” He’d say, before I smoothed things over and quickly changed the subject.

I get it. It’s a touchy topic, and nobody wants to feel like they or their family are being judged because of their views. I believe that it’s not really my business how out you are with your family, until it involves me. At this point, it involved me.

I found myself at a crossroads: can I look past this and expect to spend the holidays alone? Should I wait it out to see if things change in time? Or do I cut my losses and part ways, hopefully to find that my next boyfriend’s family was eager to meet me, to accept me and to ultimately welcome me as a part of the family? 

I don’t think that I’m so un-presentable as to be kept hidden. Sure, I grew up with more of a “Roseanne” family than the “Brady Bunch,” but I’ve still always related to the ever-circulating dating profile quote: “Moms love me.”

You can’t blame somebody for their family’s knowledge or acceptance of their sexuality, but you don’t have to be happy about it, and you should never be made to feel like a secret. Ultimately it’s up to you to decide what value you place on having a relationship with your lover’s home unit. Even if they aren’t always around, missing the special moments that they choose to gather can hurt. If this isn’t hugely important to you, hunker down and bare it. If you can’t imagine dealing with this unwavering circumstance, be honest with yourself about it and deal accordingly.

One thought on “The Problem Guests: Not Meeting the Parents

  1. I guess where I start having trouble
    with this perspective is that you’re talking about someone who, I hope, you care about more than most people/things in this world. Yet, this article seems to be coming from a very “woe is me” I’m not included attitude.

    I get it if the traditional family structure is important to you and you want to be involved in your partner’s life as much as possible. Even I relate to that mentality.

    But, shouldn’t the question be.. “How can I learn more about my partner’s upbringing?” So you can understand the circumstances surrounding the situation and better empathize with him and with a family dynamic that may be different than your own.

    Rather than letting self-consciousness get the better of you and make you doubt his commitment level based on him not inviting you home for Thanksgiving.

    You’re right to say you don’t have to be happy about it, especially if it’s being kept a secret. That’s a whole different topic and should probably be a sit-down-conversation between you and your partner about openness.

    But if it comes down to “The time’s not right yet.” Then I think you owe it yourself and to your partner to have the patience and understanding to wait.

    Feeling and perspectives shift with time and he may just be waiting for the perfect moment to create the warmest and most comfortable environment for you and his family for a inevitable “meet the parents” moment.

    I’m dealing with this situation now. In my own relationship. And it was hard to take myself out of the equation at first. And I had a hard time negotiating my feelings of self-doubt and openness. But when I finally decided my relationship with him was more important that my feelings surrounding a traditional family dynamic…It came down to two non-negotiables for me.

    1. He must always remain open with his parents about our relationship. If he starts hiding things about our time together, then I have difficultly believing that he feels proud about who he is and what we have together. I could care less if they approve or not, but it’s not right for him to have to hide who he is or his relationship, because they don’t approve. It’s not a healthy way to live your life in general.

    2. If his character or person was ever attacked, based off of me being with him. I want him to tell me. At the end of the day, I would fight for him. And I have to stand up for myself. I would, of course, respect his wishes and stay away if that’s what he wanted but I would do everything in my power to make sure they knew they don’t scare me and that I love their son.

    If that meant spending an uncomfortable day with people who may have differences in opinion to my own to have a conversation with them about my commitment to my partner. Fine.

    If that means writing a letter to them that never gets read. Fine.

    If that means I have to wait a bit longer because it’s what my partner wants. Great.

    Like you said, it’s about where the line draws for you and your unique set of circumstances. Thanks for the read. I’m really glad I’m not the only one dealing with this situation.


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