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Troubles with family accepting boyfriend

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  • Troubles with family accepting boyfriend

    Hi there, this is my first post. I came across this site trying to research this topic about my boyfriend and family and felt that you guys could give me the best advice.

    I'm not really sure to begin, so I'm sorry if this is sort of rambly. I am 19. This is my first year of my first choice college, and so far I am quite satisfied with my overall experience. My only problem is a lingering issue with my family not being able to accept my boyfriend. He and I first met through a group of mutual friends in high school, and we hit it off quite well. We have now been in a relationship for a year. My immediate family has been very slow in coming to accept him while, as far as I know, my extended family remains oblivious, and it has been an almost constant source of worry for me.

    Perhaps a good chunk of this worry of mine stems from the fact that my dad's parents, my grandparents, who are the main authority in my aunts' and dad's families, have always held us all to high standards. A lot of the time I feel like it turns into a competition to see which grandchild is the best of the pack and earns the privilege of being fawned over by my grandmother- probably due to how my dad and his sisters have never gotten along as well as they could have and are constantly on the brink of some disastrous fight. My oldest cousin graduated with a BA from an ivy league a year ago after being put through expensive private schools all her life and lives in an apartment a few blocks away from Central Square. She's abroad in Europe with her job more than she's home. My second oldest cousin is in his second year of ROTC, earning him almost automatic approval from my grandfather, who served as a lieutenant-colonel in the US army and is fiercely patriotic. My youngest cousin developed his first blackberry app in his free time in high school and got accepted to a high-ranking tech school. So that leaves me: the youngest and possibly black sheep college student in the family. My dad's family has always been the financially poorest of the extended family, and I get the feeling that this has been a source of embarrassment for my dad with his sisters as well as his parents. On top of that, I scraped by with a 3.4 GPA (I know a lot of you will scoff when I say that, but in my family a 3.7 would have been more acceptable) because high school was horrible. I was bullied extensively and the sensory overload of an overcrowded school was too much for someone as introverted as me. Now I'm in the school of Environmental Design and currently doing everything I can to switch to the engineering school. I am doing this because I know that I would be happier with more math-based content, but I'm very aware that I'm also doing it partially as an attempt to gain some kind of acceptance from my grandparents and the rest of my family. I value their acceptance and support very much- they're the only family I have and I am thankful for them and love them very much. I would never do something I hated just to get their attention. I see it as this: if I were to compile a list of all my favourite things that could be done as a living, I would choose from that list something that also looked impressive to them (IE math or science-based careers).

    Anyway, intro over, my parents have been skeptical of my boyfriend since day one. I wanted to ensure that this was a good relationship with nothing hidden from my parents. I tend to be a very private person and sometimes hide things without any intention of actually keeping something from my parents- it happens if I don't pay attention to how I'm communicating and acting. I introduced him to my parents the day we started dating. My parents freaked out over their little girl having a relationship (perfectly understandable and natural, regardless of how alarming and annoying this was to me) and took it the wrong way, thinking that this introduction was because I was diving headlong into a "serious" relationship. In reality, I was just trying to keep things open with them so they wouldn't have to worry. My intentions going into this relationship were to just have fun with it and take things day by day. It took a matter of weeks to convince them of this. After they calmed down, they showed quite a bit of animosity towards him and my relationship with him, refusing to respond to me if he came up in a conversation, and I believe that they acted like this for a few reasons: He comes from a lower-middle class family while my family is average- to upper-middle class, he was in one of the statistically worst schools in one of the worst school districts in the state and ended up barely graduating, he wants to continue his father's line of work in wildland firefighting, which doesn't require a college degree, but he tells me that once he is on his own that he wants to start over at a community college and build up to a formal college degree in forestry or history. He has long hair, which was a huge hurdle for my parents for quite a while. His father has apparently had very bad luck with wives, or is simply not a husband-type personality, as he has gone through quite a few. As a result, my boyfriend has never had a strong mother figure.

    From my perspective, whatever it is worth, he is still very hard-working and an honorable, good person. He is working at a restaurant right now as he waits for spring and the start of recruitment season for the firefighting teams. He feels confident that he will get a job on a team. He talks about how he regrets his bad grades in high school and how he wants to work hard at his jobs and become independent of his father's care and financial support. He doesn't do drugs or drink and he is not interested in any delinquent activities. His father wants to see him succeed and is helping as much as he can, but paying child support for the child of an ex-wife has been hard on him.

    I don't feel that I am "rebelling" or have low self-esteem by being with this guy. I enjoy our relationship and his genuine company and personality. When I'm not worrying about this problem and I actually have a clear head, I take pride in how hard he works to overcome financial and emotional obstacles and how he can work long hours with very little complaint. We get along very well and our only major differences which could possibly cause concern are our political views, which we aren't very interested in discussing anyway. Our relationship isn't perfect and we have our disagreements, but we are quick to apologise and forgive. I want to be able to tell my parents somehow that I know what I'm doing and that I want them to feel like they can trust my decision to date him, especially since it's been a year now with no notable, unusual problems between the two of us.

    I am wondering how much of my worrying is an illusion caused by my desperate need for acknowledgement from my family and how much of this is a genuine issue. The facts of the matter are that even today, while my parents have since told me that they acknowledge that I am in a relationship with my boyfriend and don't directly oppose it, I feel that they still don't completely accept it. I still don't feel comfortable talking to them openly about how things are going with him and always feel as if they are silently judging me, but the last thing I want is to start acting like I'm trying to hide things that I'm not actually trying to hide. My parents advised me against telling my grandparents, as they feel my grandparents wouldn't react well to the long hair and lack of college education. I agree with them on this, but at the same time I wish I could tell my grandparents anyway and just come clean with my family about what I'm really like. It's not like I'm wanting to marry my boyfriend or anything (marriage sounds horrible to me right now!), I just want to feel like I'm doing something right for once and be completely open and not so formal and stiff around them with this completely bogus facade of their definition of success in all aspects of my life. I want them to be able to honestly tell me I'm doing ok, because right now I can't tell what they're thinking, and I tend to feel like a complete embarrassment to my family because of my inability to get awesome grades in high school and get accepted to an ivy league or prestigious tech school, and the fact that my boyfriend isn't one of these guys who doesn't have to study for his bio chem exams and still manages to set the class averages- because I value him as a person and not as a status symbol.

    I refuse to say that I'm "in love" with him because it's only been a year, we're only 19, and it's a trite little phrase that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I will, however, acknowledge that at this point my emotional attachment to my boyfriend is strong and meaningful, and I would like to be able to come up with a solution, or at least a compromise, so that I can continue the excellent relationship that is a source of happiness and comfort and gain a good standing with my family. Like trying to explain the whole situation, I just have no idea where to start.

    If there's anything you need me to clarify, please do let me know! I'm eager to hear everyone's honest opinion about this.

  • I think we live our lives once and guess what it is our choose no one elses.

    Too much is put on you over your goals, and that of the man you marry, guess what? I tend to think it's the parents and family and grandparents either wanting better for you or what they never had.

    Love... You won't hold that strongly the word because you are 19. But, that is all it is.. end of the day..

    Family can guide you but the do not own you.

    This is your life, right or wrong in your choices that is about learning and we all do that.

    Do not allow them to control your life... Tell them what you told us, you are 19, you are not using the love word but you are happy and they need to be happy for you.

    If you allow them to control you, then they control a relationship and the relationship will cease as the guy sees he is not accepted. Stand tall this is your life.


    • If your family is looking down on him, it's for the wrong reasons. He sounds like a fine young man, assuming he's respectful of you and kind. You didn't mention much about his personality, just his qualifications.

      He knows what he wants to do in life. It's something he seems to enjoy. So what if it doesn't require a college degree? Everybody can't go to college and get an awesome 6-figure job. If they did, the world will collapse. Somebody has to go out and fight fires - wherever they occur. Somebody has to work in restaurants (an industry which I assume the members of your extended family frequent - they'd be up a creek with no paddle if all those "unworthy" people quit one day.)

      Maybe you should point-blank ask your parents why they are so RUDE to your boyfriend. It's downright childish to stop talking to you if you bring him up. All their money and social standing don't mean much in my eyes if they act nasty to young adults who haven't had a chance to make their own money and social standing yet. If you're right about why they are rude to him, they're judging him based on things that he has no control over. Would you still allow them to be so disrespectful if they objected to him over his race or his family's religious background? Then again, they might have another reason completely. Give them the benefit of the doubt until you're sure.

      If they confirm your thoughts, the best thing you can do is learn from their mistakes. Their desire to impress your grandparents have made them act like children, unacceptably rude to people they view as inferior. Don't make your parents so important to your self-esteem that you have to be cruel to others as well. Seek other methods of societal approval. Seek out new mentors. You can continue to respect and love your parents even while you disagree with their behavior, even while you seek the approval they should be giving you from someone else.
      <center><i>Nature gives us shapeless shapes,<br>Clouds and waves and flame,<br>But human expectation is that love remains the same,<br>And when it doesn’t, we point our fingers and blame.</i><br><a href="http://www.womens-health.com/boards/register.php">Register</a>|<a href="http://www.womens-health.com/boards/members/little.html">Contact Admin</a>|<a href="mailto:support*womens-health.com?subject=Forum Contact">Email Admin</a></center>


      • Originally posted by Little View Post
        If your family is looking down on him, it's for the wrong reasons. He sounds like a fine young man, assuming he's respectful of you and kind. You didn't mention much about his personality, just his qualifications.
        Yes, he is very respectful and kind. I'm extremely happy with him. We have our arguments like any couple, but he has never put me down or made me feel unworthy or hurt on some deep emotional level. He's really good about respecting my choices and will give his honest opinion and advice when I need it.


        • Coming from a guy who has been in many relationships in the past, where my then girlfriends parents / grandparents did not approve of me, I understand how hard things can be. Without bordering on obsessive I tried to impress their parents and the more I tried the more they resisted. I figured out at the time it was my life they did not approve of, I was young not in college working in retail with no prospects. I never did drugs, smoked, and only drank socially but its clear they felt I lacked direction and did not deserve their respective daughters.

          It wasn't until they saw how happy I made my girlfriends, how I treated them with respect, took care of them in the bad times, got my butt into a classroom and eventually a job where I could support them, that I earned their respect. I do not try to impress anyone anymore its not my style and I was never good at it.

          Your boyfriend seems a lot like me when I was younger, and first impressions are deceiving. He seems like a nice well rounded guy despite his past who has direction, goals and aspirations. Unfortunately you will both have to ride it out until your parents realize it, and believe me they will realize it.



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