Ask Dave-When To Meet The Family…
One woman has been dating someone special for 8 months—isn’t it time for introductions?
I am getting impatient with the woman I’ve been seeing for eight months. She’s a great girl (I am 32, she’s 29), we’re committed, and we’ve been very happy together. We do normal stuff like go to movies, see friends, and spend a lot of time alone together, which has suited me fine. But it bugs me
that she won’t introduce me to her family. I know they are aware I exist but I have no idea if they are supportive of us or not. Her dad turned 60 just last week and there was a big party, which she attended without me. There was a recent birthday dinner and I found out her siblings brought significant others, but again I wasn’t invited. She went to see her parents again last week and didn’t even tell me (they live 40 minutes away).
|I am not sure if she’s skittish or her family doesn’t want her to invite me.|
I am not sure if she’s skittish or her family doesn’t want her to invite me, but either way, I am not happy about it. Meanwhile, I have introduced her to my mother when she was in town two months ago, and taken her to a family reunion two weeks ago, where she was heartily welcomed. But she doesn’t reciprocate… How real is the commitment if she can cut me out of her life like that?
– Feeling Left Out
Dear Left Out,
The great news is that your family sounds very welcoming to a new love interest and that says a lot about you and them. The not-so-great news is that you have some investigating to do before you discover whether your exclusion is a timing issue or something more serious.
Maybe she’s not ready or feels her family is not ready. Or maybe this signals a bigger issue, like not taking your relationship as seriously as you. In either case, I can see why you’ve grown impatient with the waiting game after eight months of what you’ve assumed is a real relationship.
If you are serious about coupling, it’s important to make a public statement with family at an appropriate time. Unfortunately, the two huge issues here rarely seem to go hand in hand. The first issue is “public statement” to the family, making it clear you are a couple. The second is appropriate timing. It’s possible that you are on different timetables.
Take timing into account
She might have an idea of when timing will be right to introduce you to her family. But the other evidence (i.e., they live so close, you weren’t invited to important events, she neglected to mention her last visit when she tells you everything else) suggests that it’s more than that. How you fit into the world as a couple has a lot to do with how you socially interact together and how you meld all the parts of your lives. At this point, after eight months, it sounds like she is still torn between having an intimate relationship and keeping you at arm’s length to pacify what she perceives could be family backlash. She’s integrated just enough to keep you around and hopeful.
Who knows the real reasons for keeping you at a distance? What you know for sure is that she’s ignoring your request for a
real melding of lives. So take action and consider these three steps:
|You and your relationship deserve an answer to this question about family.|
Don’t get mad
Start the conversation instead. Clearly, you're letting this fester and occasionally getting mad isn’t working. Instead, talk with her honestly about the integrated life you want and expect, and outline clearly what that looks like to you. In your case, it might be her inviting you to the next family event sometime in the next few months. Or it might be a smaller, less formal setting, such as inviting them to dinner with just the two of you, since they live so close. Be as specific as possible. Don’t settle for lip service. Quantify when you can. At this point, you want to avoid a purely theoretical talk.
Do the “red flag” check
Ask her what she wants out of your relationship and if she sees any relationship “red flags” with you. You’ve had a fun start, but now it’s time for what the experts call “relationship work” to occur. You have to dig deeper and see if there are reasons under the surface that might be preventing family integration. From my research with gay couples who waited for various reasons to merge lives, resoundingly they wished they’d integrated sooner and shortened the lulling, initial honeymoon phase when it’s easy to overlook the kind of true obstacles to longer-term love that you now face.
Set a reasonable deadline for ending the status quo
You know what you want. You don’t want to waste more time if you can’t find solid, integrated middle ground. If she agrees to work through the issues that keep her from sharing her life more fully with you, make it clear that actions speak louder than words. I know this sounds like something out of business school rather than a page of wisdom ripped from the book of romance, but make an agreement to review progress in three months.
Finally, if things are going well in other areas of your relationship, please consider that it’s harder sometimes for gay couples to merge lives since we face more potential prejudice from family members, friends and work. This shouldn’t stop you from following through with your plan. You and your relationship deserve an answer to this question about family. But you’ll get further, and be happier at the end, if you approach this issue with compassion and empathy.
Dave Singleton, an award-winning writer and columnist for Match.com since 2003, is the author of two books on dating and relationships. Visit Dave’s website and send your dating questions and comments to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.