Dear Caitlin: My boyfriend doesn’t want me to meet his family

Dear Caitlin: My boyfriend doesn’t want me to meet his family

My cat, Potato

My cat, Potato

Dear Caitlin,

I have been dating Brad for over a year, and I still have not met his family.  He says he is not close to his family and doesn’t want much to do with them.  But he goes home for Christmas Eve, and for a few other holidays and for the birthdays of his niece and nephew.  He says it is all for his niece and nephew, but he does not want me to go with him.

Brad says he wants to spend his life with me.  Do you think this will work out?  Is he for real?

Doubtful in Denver

 

Dear Double D,

A couple things come to mind, so I’m just going to throw all of them out there in the hope that something resonates with you.

1. It seems like you think (or wonder) that if you don’t meet someone’s family, they aren’t serious about you. That’s an attachment you made to the act of meeting your boyfriend’s family: meet family = level of seriousness in a relationship. That belief may come from your past relationships, or it may be because your family means more to you, and you would want someone you’re serious with to meet them. This may be completely different for Brad. To him, having you meet his family may have nothing to do with his future plans with you. He may not like spending time with his family, and he may dread bringing you, someone he loves, into that world. The reasons that Brad may not want you to meet his family are endless, but the point is, there could be many more reasons than just that he isn’t serious. He may not attach the same meaning to the act of meeting his family, that you do.

2. Do you believe Brad when he says his family isn’t important to him other than his nephew and niece? If something in you senses something is off, that is not to be ignored. Too often we ignore our gut feelings. We don’t trust them. And too often (as in usually), they are right. So, if your gut is telling you something is off with Brad, you can communicate with him in ways that may encourage him to talk to you about it. For example, saying things like, “when you go see your family and don’t take me with you, it makes me feel worried,” as opposed to “why don’t you ever take me to see your family?” Perhaps, Brad will be able to give you an answer that you find more comforting. However, the truth may be just what he says: he doesn’t want much to do with his family, and goes home out of obligation. If so, you have to decide whether you can accept that or not.

3. Is being close with your partner’s family important to you? If so, that is something you need to consider. If you love Brad, you may decide to grieve the loss of whatever idea you had about your partner’s family. Or, you may decide you want someone who has a closer relationship with his family.

I’d have to know more to be able to be more clear and specific. There is no right answer to what you should do. I can’t tell you if he is for real, or if this will work out. However, the first suggestion I made above can help ease your anxiety because you can separate what you believe meeting one’s family means to you, from what it means to your partner. This skill of what I call, “meaning-separation,” is valuable in every relationship. The second suggestion will help you practice communication that enhances closeness, rather than distance, by connecting on emotion. And the third will help you make decisions. You have to give yourself permission to want what you want, not settle for less, or decide what you want doesn’t come with everything else you hoped for. That’s usually the case. No one is perfect, of course.

Hope this helps Double D!

My best,

Caitlin

 

The information contained on Caitlin’s Couch, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and any other material thereon, is for entertainment and informational purposes only. It is not intended to (and does not), provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to the reader or to any other individual.  The sole purpose of Caitlin’s Couch is to promote discussion, dialogue and awareness of various topics relating to lifestyle and mental health. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment, and before undertaking a new health care regimen.  Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on Caitlin’s Couch.

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