Single and Caffeinated Episode 015: When your family hates your significant other.

by Megan Harris

So I was texting with one hand and writing the title with another. I looked up. Instead of “family” it said “fanukt.” It sounds like a German or Slavic word.

Anyway, yes it is Tuesday and I know I didn’t post on Monday. I have been a very busy student.

So tonight I have something very near and dear to my heart to talk to you all about. I say near and dear because it is something that in the past I have experienced, it is something my friends have experienced, and it is something where I play part of  “family” as a current role.

This is never a really good spot to be in. Depending on your feelings in the situation and depending on the circumstances it can be very confusing. That being said, I realize that no reasons for this are all the same. There is no “cover-all” bandaid for this situation.

So here are some real life situations and how I advise you or “family” handles it.

Significant other is a jerk to your family, you love them both, family hates Significant Other’s guts. 

Let me just begin this with: While you may have “fallen in love” with said person prior to them meeting or interacting with your family please keep an open mind if they meet your family after this.

Any person who is rude or puts down your family prior to meeting them (perhaps only hearing stories from you) is probably a jerkbag you shouldn’t date.
Any person who is out rightly rude to your family without them being rude first is probably a jerkbag you shouldn’t date.
Any person who is still an out right asshole even if your family is kind of being rude is probably an asshole, because he isn’t respecting your position and how that would make you feel.

I realize that some times this situations can work themselves out. An outright apology can probably fix it.

Here is a real life story & why it didn’t work out

Boyfriend only hears stories of Girlfriend’s family. Judges them based on neutral stories or stories about both good and bad things. Begins meeting them situation with some pre-meeting bad mouthing. Girlfriend corrects him with, “I know that they are strange/we have had some rocky times but they are my family and I love and respect them. I would appreciate it if you would tolerate them and keep your assumptions to yourself.”

Boyfriend continues to be a rude dickface. When meeting them he is still rude. He yells at your Mom and your Sister when they try to help him/calm a situation where boyfriend is unprovokingly losing his fucking mind, because Boyfriend is unstable. Mom and Sister say, “What a dick, Girlfriend you should send him home and stay with us.” Girlfriend feels guilty and would feel bad for leaving Boyfriend stranded but has half a mind to. So Girlfriend arranges another place for Boyfriend to stay with her until they can leave said situation. While there Boyfriend calms down. Girlfriend brings up that she is deeply offended and really shocked at the way he treated and verbally abused her family. Boyfriend puts down family and puts down Girlfriend by saying that Girlfriend was treating her family no better. Girlfriend said, “Families speak in different languages. When I say what might seem to you as offensive my family does not take it that way. I can call my sister or mother all kinds of foul names. Because I don’t mean them. They know that. It is okay. But you are not of my family and cannot disrespect them because you mean it.”

Girlfriend asks Boyfriend to apologize to her mother. Boyfriend puts up a fight about it which becomes a confusing fight. Boyfriend tries to make Girlfriend feel guilty for having a family that speaks to each other horribly for fun. Boyfriend tells Girlfriend that she doesn’t need the approval of her family and should cut them out of her life. Girlfriend says Boyfriend is ridiculous and should just apologize. This argument goes on for the duration of their dating. Boyfriend never apologizes and makes Girlfriend feel like shit about asking whenever possible.

One of the many, many, many reasons Boyfriend become Ex-Boyfriend. Only far too late than he should have.

[If you can’t tell by the last sentence…if this happens or is happening to you…break up with Significant Other. NOW.]

Something is “wrong” with Significant Other and Family does not approve

By wrong I mean something that your family does not like. Age, religion, creed, background, occupation, anything really. Families can be judgmental and prejudice assholes too.

Here is a real life story and how I advise you handle it.

Boyfriend is 8-10 years older than 20 year old Girlfriend. Parents or parent personally know Boyfriend from before Girlfriend began dating him. They find him unsavory or do not trust him. Girlfriend uses Boyfriend immaturely to show parents how “mature she is, because age doesn’t matter.” Family is really disturbed by situation. Girlfriend sees a future with Boyfriend, Boyfriend is commitment-phobe who has other intentions. Girlfriend is still really young and has a lot to learn about men. Family grins-and-bears but does not ban Boyfriend from participating in family activities that Girlfriend invites him to.

Advice: If this were a case of family just judging solely based on age/religion/creed/background/occupation I would say you should confront parents and say, “Parents, I am [insert age] I realize that you feel like I am still very young and you must protect me. But Significant Other’s age/religion/creed/background/occupation etc is irrelevant to my relationship with them. I know that you probably won’t accept this, at least for a long time, but I wish you would respect my decision to date Significant Other. I would like you to meet them and get to know them with a blank slate. We can do that when you are more comfortable. But until then I will keep seeing Significant Other but just not bring him around you until then.

In some cases parents might be rightly bothered lets say Significant Other was a drug dealer or a pimp. Then perhaps you should take your parent’s advice.

But because the real life story involves Girlfriend being immature here is my advice: Girlfriend needs to sit down and think about if this is really what she wants. To stress out her parents and know that she is doing so. She also needs to blatantly hear from her family, “Hey, we do not like this guy. Please do not bring him around or invite him anywhere around us. If you want to hang out with him after this activity, okay but we do not want him there. We are sorry but he bothers us.

Girlfriend also needs to talk to Boyfriend about what he is there for. If he is only there to date a 20 year old or if he is really there to date and build a relationship with her. If he is totally opposed to the idea of some sort of long term future, perhaps Girlfriend should cut her losses and ditch him. If he says he would like something more with Girlfriend (he may be lying) then he should take Parents aside/write them a personal letter/call them personally and say, “Hey I know that you guys think I am a dickbag but I do really like your daughter. I am sorry that you don’t want me around and I will respect your boundaries. But I am willing to prove to you that I am serious about being with your daughter. I hope that one day you will have me around so I can enjoy family activities with you as well.

You and Significant Other have very toxic relationship and family would really appreciate it if you would just break up already

Real life story:

Boyfriend and Girlfriend have been dating for 6-8 years now. They break up and get back together on a very consistent and predictable basis. It has gotten to the point that no one, not even the relationshipees can tell who is the victim and who is the abuser or user now. When together they are happy for a few days or weeks but then it very quickly disintegrates into a fuck-storm of anger and depression. They break up. They date other people and use other people to make other upset or depressed. They also get other people involved in bad mouthing the other on social media.

They eventually break up with other people, hurting other people’s feelings, and get back together.

Girlfriend has mentioned that Boyfriend tries to hurt her, Girlfriend has tried to kill herself, Girlfriend has hurt family members who tell her that Boyfriend is not good enough for her. Girlfriend is addicted.

Boyfriend has mentioned that Girlfriend also beats him up. Uses suicide as a manipulation tactic to keep him from breaking up with her. Guilts him into staying.

Family and friends have watched this happen numerous times.
They actually really couldn’t care less anymore.
They just want Girlfriend to wise up and be like, “Dude, you know what…I can do better than this.”
Or Boyfriend can figure that out too.
Then cut on or the other out of their lives. And never talk again.

[Those last three sentences are exactly what I recommend if this is your situation.]