Family dynamics are a complicated thing. Some people spend tons of time with their family and/or are emotionally close. Others are so distant that those family members may as well not exist. Navigating that relationship with your own family is hard enough, but navigating your partner and their relationship with their family can seem almost impossible. Things that are casual no-brainers for your family might be a huge deal for their or vice versa. For example; introducing a partner. Some families want to meet everyone and others would rather never see your partners face until you're walking down the aisle.
One Reddit user has been with her man for two years and he's pretty much refusing to introduce her to his family. She's introduced him to hers, but he won't bring her around his even though they live very close by and he is closer with them than she is with hers.
Here's her initial post to Reddit:
Things have been especially great lately. But I can't seem to let this one thing go.
For context, I come from a big, very close-knit family, but I currently live 1,000 miles away from them. I introduced my boyfriend to my parents last year, as well as my sister on a separate occasion. My boyfriend definitely seemed a bit shy around them, which was weird and unexpected (even his job entails making small talk with strangers all day, and he's great at it!) I had many more opportunities to have my BF hang out with my parents and other relatives, but I now feel awkward doing so when I haven't met his.
My BF's family is just his parents and a much older half-sister who is married with kids, but they still vacation together twice a year and my BF has a cute relationship with his brother-in-law and nieces from what he's told me. The kicker is that his parents live 30 minutes away, and the sister is a 1 hour drive. I've even been to his parents house with him, but only while they were away (they're snowbirds).
I've expressed several times over the past year that I want to meet them, and that I was hurt by the fact that it seemed like he was hiding me from them (it turned out, he hadn't told his parents about me until a few months ago, but even now they have no idea what I look like or anything). Although he definitely isn't as close to his family as I am with mine, they seem like sweet people. I've seen the funny birthday cards they send him and the adorable family photos and I've been in the room while he talks to his mom on the phone.
It's not an issue of cultural or religious differences either. His answer is always that his parents get excited about meeting his girlfriends and then they get really disappointed when he eventually ruins the relationship and they break up. I don't even know what that means? My BF has never once said that his parents were overbearing or like to guilt-trip him or anything like that.
Lately he keeps saying that he really wants me to meet his family, that his mom will love me, that we should meet up with his sister for lunch, etc. etc. But it never happens. I feel like he's saying things to appease me with no real intention of following through.
I know he loves me. We're talking about moving out of state together. But is it unreasonable that I don't want to move further in our relationship until I meet these people? I honestly can't tell if I'm blowing this out of proportion or if I'm justified in being hurt.
tl;dr: My boyfriend's family lives close to us and I've never met them, but he doesn't give a real reason why
We grabbed some of the most honest responses to share with you - some have been edited for clarity or language.
He Was Married
I dated a guy for nearly 2 years who had family living within blocks of my parents. At first I just assumed he was shy, or not close to his family and that's why he didn't want to do the meet the parents thing.
As time wore on, that red flag waved stronger...
Until, finally, by spying on his sister's FB, I realized the reason he didn't want to introduce me was it would have been awkward... he was married.
Get The Real Reason
After 2 years together, I would also be upset that my partner hadn't introduced me to his family, and honestly i think most people would be giving the side eye in your situation.
I think you need to talk to him, calmly, and ask for the real reason you haven't met his family yet. That they might be a bit miffed if you break up is not acceptable.
Explain that his decision is hurting you, and state that it is affecting your relationship.
Hey, so your situation is kind of similar to mine. I've been dating my bf for over two years, we're the same age and in college still. The friends that I've told about this do think it's weird, but I talked to him about it. Basically he's not as close to his family as I am, his parents are divorced and working, and basically have their own lives and new partners.
It used to bother me a lot since he would be at my house all the time, I introduced him to my family within the first month of dating. I've just come to the fact that this is how his relationship is with his family, where they all keep their lives separate. The thing is they text each other random stuff, but don't really spend time together. It's strange to me and all my friends because we come from nuclear families, but I've had to look at it from a different point of view.
Hope this helps and hope everything works out for you. Hopefully you and I will meet the in-laws before marriage happens! lol
Relationship Isn't In His Future
"...his parents get excited about meeting his girlfriends and then they get really disappointed when he eventually ruins the relationship and they break up."
Let me offer you my experience. I have anxiety around my parents meeting my partners because, to me, it felt like failure when those first few relationships broke up and my parents were disappointed. So, eventually, I didn't tell my parents about relationships I was 90% sure were going to end. They knew I was dating someone, but I would never introduce them, never talk about them, never even consider bringing a boyfriend around. It wasn't worth the stress to me.
Now, I have a boyfriend I'm happy to bring to my parents, or weekend with with sisters, and make future plans with. Because I see a future with him, and him with me. This might not be your experience, but if I were in your boyfriend's position, the only reason after 2 years to not introduce you would be because this relationship wasn't in my future.
Future Wife Isn't You
It sounds to me like at this point, the next girlfriend that your boyfriend wants to introduce to the family is his future wife. And that he doesn't see you as that person. Not sure if he will come to in time or not, not sure if that's what you want. But that's my take, and I think it's worthwhile asking him those questions.
Soap Opera Family
To be honest, none of my girlfriends ever met my parents, except for the first. Because I am ashamed of my soap opera family. I still attend their family gatherings and visit them, because I like my mum.
The first time I introduced a girlfriend to my family at Christmas Eve dinner, my step dad and uncle, after two glasses of wine, proceeded to call her a fat cow, making jokes about her weight (she wasn't even overweight in anyway.)
She stayed with us for a couple of days because we were long-distance at the time. When she went to take a shower, my stepdad went around the house to "check" whether she had opened the bathroom window to prevent the room from steaming up. Fking creep.
After that, never again.
If that's the case, he needs to just tell you the truth.
"Before We Die"
You mentioned in some responses that his parents were on the older side, like Dad was over 70. Honestly, his parents might also be putting a lot of pressure on him to "get married and have babies before we die" and having them meet you might only fan those flames and he doesn't want to put you or himself or your relationship through that. . .
Age And Experience
This might actually be a sign of your ages/experience. I've been through a few serious relationships at this point, and I now wait to introduce my boyfriends to parents because I don't want them to get attached in the event we breakup. I also don't want them to have any fantasies that I've found "the one" or that I'm getting married soon unless I've gotten to a point when I think that is a possibility. I'm also less eager to meet my SO's parents now, because I absolutely adored some of my exes' parents and was crushed when I realized I would never be a part of their families.
I think you should let him know how this makes you feel about your overall relationship, and tell him that you don't feel comfortable moving out of state with someone whose family you haven't met yet. If this is important to you and he doesn't step up, then you may want to hold off moving out of state together.
You're Not The One
It's simple, he's not sure you're the one. Doesn't want to introduce to his family until he is sure- but you said you don't even want to marry him. So I wouldn't place too much importance on this.
Mom Ruins Everything
My father's mother had a habit of ruining relationships for him. Example: he brought home a nice girl, but with a bit of a longish face.
His mother: "Do you have hobbies?"
Girl: "Horse riding."
Mother: "You can tell. You start looking like the animals that you are with."
The poor girl left crying and they broke up. When my father met my mother, he kept her away from his parents as much as he could.
What I'm trying to get across here is: he may have a valid reason to not introduce you. Some families are not tightly knit for a reason.