My entire family is against our relationship.

So here I am back yet again. Some months ago I submitted a blurb about my boyfriend and I, who were under scrutiny from my mom. She told me to break up with him or else. At that time I basically felt like I only had one choice, so I decided to lie to her and tell her I broke up with him. We have been seeing each other in secret for many months now. Well, our relationship has progressed very well since then and even though it may seem quick we have both decided we are ready to move in together. So I decided to stop being a coward and to tell my family about him. None of them are very pleased.

There are several reasons they are unhappy with my relationship but it basically all stems back to one thing alone; his age. He is 10 years older then me. (I am 20, he is 30) They have all expressed that is their biggest and main concern with the relationship. Although none of them have ever met him they have decided to judge him and make assumptions about him. They have said everything from him being a cheating dog, who is lying about his military career and about who his kids are, and why him and his wife divorced; to him being a manipulative and controlling man who only wants to get me pregnant, make me quit school and take care of him so he can sit at home all day and be taken care of. None of these things are true and he has never given me a reason to doubt him or to think of him as controlling.

A little background on him: he has two kids and has been divorced once. He got divorced because he found his ex-wife cheating on him with numerous men after she forced him to quit the military. He has tried a few times to move to the states that his children have lived in to be closer with them. However, finances have always ended up sending him back to the state we currently live in. Now his kids live in Minnesota and as much as he wants to be with them, he can’t financially just up and move to that state. He talks on the phone with his children everyday and keeps up a constant relationship with them. He is a very good father to his kids and has never given me reason to believe otherwise. His ex-wife acts…exactly like he describes and is generally unpleasent. She knows about us being in a relationship, he does not hide me from her at all. He is never secretive about her either and always lets me see texts and lets me know whats going on with his kids. He has a steady job here, and can afford to provide for us both, so money is not an issue for us. He has never once been controlling. He always tells me “Whatever you want to do, its your choice.” He has NEVER held me back from friends or my family. He willingly hangs out with any of my friends and all of them love him. He has a great relationship with his family and talks on the phone with his parents almost everyday. I have met his parents and love them! They are very happy for us and supportive of our relationship as well.

He supports me in getting my degree and has offered to help pay for school if it becomes a burden financially on me, and has also offered that if I wanted to, I could quit my job to focus on school if I wanted to. Currently, I pay for school by myself and receive no help financially from my parents. I do it with loans and savings from working so that is not an issue.

My parents and my brothers are all completely against this relationship. Although I try to tell them the actual facts about him when we have “discussions” they refuse to listen and will retort with things like “well you can’t tell me he isn’t this way, and if you are trying to, you’re lying!” I basically can never get any word in and just respond with “ok” any time they say anything which only makes them madder. As far as meeting him, none of them want to. They threaten that they will beat him up if I ever try to bring him around the house or move out with him, which I find completely ridiculous and childish to threaten on their part. I am trying to handle this in an adult manner and every one of them is acting quite the opposite.

I am pretty unhappy with my current living situation because I feel like I never get anytime to be myself living with them. I am constantly nagged and talked at about how I should be living my life to their expectations and how I should be acting a certain way and dressing a certain way. They are always mad that I’m simply not home enough to be around them. They are all extremely invasive and always want to know exactly what I’m doing or where I am to the point that I feel suffocated. They want to know everything about my school work, or paperwork I have to take care of, homework I have to do. Its everything from work and school to my period and my eating habits. They feel it all must be public information to them. My mom is always telling me things like “You’re exactly like me and when I was your age I always wanted this..*lists xyz*” which I absolutely hate hearing. I feel like they don’t want me to be independent in the way that I want to be.

For me, I know this relationship with my boyfriend will last. I love him with all my heart and I know he does as well. Although my family says very awful things about him, he is still going to stick by me. The issue is not that I am doubting us as a couple. There is honestly, not a doubt in my mind that moving in with him is the right decision. What I am having trouble with is how to progress from here with my parents while still keeping a relationship with them intact. I am almost beginning to think it’s impossible. There’s only so much I can take of them calling me dumb for going out with him, and belittling my relationship and my feelings in the situation and frankly, Ive had enough of it. I told them that my boyfriend was very willing to meet them, and that I was not doing this to intentionally cut off contact with them or abandon them. Yet they believe I am doing exactly that.

My mom specifically has now been telling me that I am making everyone in my family unhappy and that I need to break up with my boyfriend because I need to be considerate of them and their feelings in this. She has also threatened that if I do move out that it will probably cause too much stress for her and my dad and has said they will probably “keel over and die” if I do. She is basically trying to guilt trip me into staying. Yet, not once has she been considerate of my feelings or asked if I was happy with my boyfriend or anything like that. It drives me crazy!

So basically my questions come down to these: How do I proceed with my parents and family? Do I try and force them to meet my boyfriend before I move in with him or just move in and wait till they are ready to meet him? Is there anything I can ever do to make them see that my boyfriend is a good man or just accept the fact that they will never accept him? At this point, I just want to do what I know is best for me and will make me happy in the long run. Is that so wrong?

8 thoughts on “My entire family is against our relationship.

  1. Dennis Hong says:

    [You know, I do understand your family’s concerns, since your boyfriend clearly has a lot of baggage, and you’re putting a whole lot of pressure on yourself for someone who isn’t even old enough to drink yet.

    While I don’t doubt the strength of your feelings for your boyfriend, I do want to respond to one particular comment you made:

    “For me, I know this relationship with my boyfriend will last.”

    To be perfectly blunt… no, you don’t. That isn’t something that anyone in any relationship ever knows. And honestly, that comment alone throws up huge red flags that you are not looking at this situation objectively. I have no doubt that you love him, but everyone knows that love clouds people’s judgments. And to me, it’s pretty clear that your judgment is far past clouded at this point.

    Still, you’ve made it clear that you’re ready to move in with him, so I will not advise you to do so. All I’m hoping to do with all my above comments is plant the tiniest seed of precaution in your mind.

    Now, let’s move on to your actual questions:

    I honestly have no advice on how to deal with your family. If they have responded as you’ve described, then they’re being completely irrational, and it doesn’t sound like there’s anything you can do about the situation. Maybe the best you can do at this point is to sit down with them (or hell, write them a letter if you think talking to them will devolve into drama again) and explain why you want to move in with your boyfriend. Tell them why this is a good decision, and make sure you don’t attack or antagonize your family in any way. This should be about why you and your boyfriend are good for each other, not why your family is wrong or misguided (even if they are).

    Then again, it sounds like you have tried and failed miserably, so… well, only you can decide when to raise the surrender flag and cut your losses. Maybe moving out and leaving them with a letter is your best option.

    As for them meeting the boyfriend, can you make an objective call on how good your boyfriend’s social skills are? Has he met any of your friends? How did they respond?

    The reason I ask is that if you believe your boyfriend is charming enough to win them over (i.e., convince them not to beat him up when they meet him), then I think you should figure out a way to have him meet your family. I know that one of our advice givers here (I’ll drop her a line, because I don’t think she’s been around lately, and see if she wants to throw in her two cents) went through a similar situation, and when he finally met her family, they actually became much more accepting of him. Again, though, given how strong your family already feels about him, he’d better be a damned charismatic guy if this is going to work.

    So yeah, as far as meeting goes, that would be my first question: Do you think your boyfriend can win them over? Can he charm them without creating animosity and furthering the divide between you and your family? Can he convince them that he is good for you?

    If your answer is yes, then go for it. If not, then… definitely not.

  2. AKchic says:

    [I married an older guy. It didn’t last. At all.

    However, I have had some decent relationships with older men, and they were fun for what they were. You just never know.

    I don’t think the issue is your boyfriend. I think the issue is your family and their controlling behavior. Period. No ifs, ands, or buts. Even if your boyfriend weren’t in the picture, you have listed other issues in your life that they feel are public domain that they need to control that, as a 20 year old woman, should not be up for discussion anymore.

    So, let’s discuss THOSE issues a little bit first, shall we?

    Your bodily functions aren’t their business. End of story. Anyone asks, ask them how their irritable bowel syndrome/gas/menopause is going. Then tell them that as an adult, you have no desire to discuss such topics with them and refuse to.
    Your education – you’re paying for it, so you don’t have to discuss with them.
    Your mother and her “you’re just like me”. My mom tried doing this to me. We looked alike, in coloring, height, and for a while, in weight (we were both skinny as kids, but she gained weight after she had kids and I didn’t until after a car accident). She would constantly say “you’re just like me!” and insist on curling my hair (I had stick-straight hair), dolling me up and dressing me like her. I was the opposite of her tempermentally. The best defense to this is to say “but I’m NOT you, I am my own person with my own ideas and opinions and I prefer X” and then walk away. Your mother is trying to live vicariously through you. She is feeling her mortality and is scared of getting old(er). It’s common, and sad, and not something to necessarily be angry about. However, as much as you can be understanding of it, it doesn’t mean you should tolerate the controlling nature of it.

    Now, if you want to move out, that is your choice. In fact, it would help to set up healthy boundaries. Simply let your parents know that you are an adult, that you are planning on moving out. If they ask why, you can tell them that they have raised you to be an independent adult, and part of being an independent adult is to live on your own, away from the family unit. That you love them, but it’s time for you to spread your wings and fly.
    Do not tell them that you are moving because they are control-freak-asshats and that you want to move in with your boyfriend.

    When you move in with your boyfriend, make sure you have enough money to move again, just in case the relationship goes sour. Continue working, continue going to school, and good luck.

  3. BreckEffect says:

    [I think Dennis gave you some really good advice on the relationship part – I know it sucks to hear this, but I do think you’re awfully young to be making a decision that this is the man you’ll spend the rest of your life with. Re: moving in, I’d honestly suggest that if you can afford it, you move out and live on your own first before moving in with your boyfriend. You’ll have plenty of time to live together when you’re done with school and this could be the only time you have to live on your own and experience that independence. If your boyfriend is as supportive and understanding as you say, he should be able to see the wisdom in this as well. But…it does seem like you’re bound and determined to go from living with and relying on your family to living with and relying on your boyfriend, so anything I say on the subject might be a moot point.

    As for dealing with your family…I also agree that if you can somehow manage to get your family to meet your boyfriend, that would be ideal. Meeting him face to face might actually ease their concerns. Because, while they may be acting out in seemingly petty and hurtful ways right now, at the heart of the matter they really are concerned for you and want to help you avoid heartache and pain, whether this relationship is bound for that or not. On the other hand, maybe they’re a bunch of crazies who always act this unreasonably. I don’t know. What I _do_ know is that when I was 27 and dating a 42 year old who was divorced with two children, my parents had lots and lots of concerns and it caused a lot of strife between us. But, the difference was that I had already been living on my own for 5 or 6 years, had finished college and was in the middle of graduate school, and I lived in a completely different state. What I did with my life could only affect them so much because I was living my own life.

    I’m not sure if I’m being helpful here, but it seems to me that one of the problems here is that your parents still see you as a child, probably at least partly because they are still supporting you and you’re still living in their home, and let’s be honest, 20 is still very young. I’ve already suggested one way that you could help achieve some independence (move out on your own without boyfriend), but I think another way would be to cut out the “we’ll be together forever even though we’ve been dating in secret for less than a year” and _show_ them some maturity in how you talk about your relationship and how you are going to address the challenges that his having children in another state and a nasty-sounding ex-wife will pose to you and your relationship.

    Finally, just so I don’t seem like a complete negative nancy….relationships with age differences like this are certainly not doomed by any means. My ex and I did not break up because of anything to do with the age difference, or the kids, or even his piece-of-work ex-wife. We broke up because of some incompatible personality differences, essentially. But I strongly encourage you to give yourself some time and space to grow up, move out of your parents house, and experience a little bit of life before irrevocably tying yourself to your boyfriend. One of the things that may be triggering your family’s ire is the speed with which you have committed yourself to him – showing them that you’re not rushing into anything and taking the time to continue establishing your relationship with each other will only help matters for everyone in the long run. If your boyfriend really loves you like you say, he will not object to remaining your not-live-in boyfriend for a while longer to achieve this stability. And maybe once your parents see how maturely you are handling the situation they will follow your lead and stop freaking out.

    Alternatively, you could tell them all that this is what you want and if they want a relationship with you they better sit down, stop being crazy, and meet the man you love. Then see how it goes from there.

  4. MargieCharles says:

    [I’m glad to hear your relationship is going well, but sorry to hear about the trouble with your parents.

    Honestly, I know it seems like there’s always something you could be doing to make them understand. Like if you take the right approach or say the right thing, they’ll eventually come around. As depressing as it may be to hear, I just don’t think that’s the case in this situation. I don’t think anything you say will sway your family’s point of view until they’ve finally decided to be a little more trusting of your judgment and respectful of your decisions.

    I gave you advice last time, coming from my experience with someone 17 years older than me. My family eventually came around and was supportive, but if they hadn’t been I would have been screwed. My mom isn’t really the controlling, vindictive type, but if she had been she could have stopped supporting me doing school and I would have been out cold. The good part about your situation is that it sounds like you’re mostly independent. Your family doesn’t have any sort of financial burden that they can threaten you with if you don’t follow their chosen path.

    I guess I don’t really have much advice, I’m just telling you that you don’t need your family’s support. You may want it and it would make your relationship so much easier and it would make you happier, but will you be okay if you never receive their support? Even if moving in with your boyfriend fails and you break up, it doesn’t seem like you’ll be any worse off.

    Your family will probably still threaten and nag you, but what can they do? Hopefully, if they have a shred of decency, they won’t disown you because they approve of your relationship. I wouldn’t try to push any sort of meeting with your boyfriend and your family, but wait until your family brings up the idea first. When they see that their nagging isn’t swaying your decision, hopefully they’ll at least accept your relationship.

  5. Rosa says:

    [Just a little tale of caution – I have created an account here just to write this, as your story is almost identical to something a friend of mine went through a couple of years ago. So similar it’s spooky!

    She too, aged 20, had a boyfriend, ex military, 9 years her senior. He had also gone through a divorce, and told her that this was because when he got home from deployment, he found his wife to be cheating on him with two different guys.

    Her parents and friends were opposed to the relationship, because it was clear from the outside that he was not a good guy. He was very homophobic, racist, emotionally abusive towards her and he also had a record of racially aggravated GBH. She was in love with him and literally couldn’t see things from our point of view. He tried to isolate her from her friends and family, and encouraged her to quit her job. Luckily (for her sake), he lost interest in her and moved on. It was only after he left that it transpired the cheating wife story was a complete fabrication and that the reason his wife left was because he had been physically abusive.

    I’m sure your guy is nothing like this man, but my friend just couldn’t understand why we didn’t love him like she did!! She was totally blindly in love, and thought that we were all completely irrational. I don’t want to say that this is you, but these stories seemed so eerily similar I thought I better share my experience.

    I hope things work out for you. I agree that a letter is a good idea, that way you can communicate with your parents without it devolving into an argument!!!

  6. Savannah says:

    [I’m curious where things stand now as its been quite a few months since you asked this question. Nevertheless, I thought I’d offer my takeaway about your difficult situation.

    (1) You need to draw boundaries with your family and the best way to do this is move out. Preferably, on your own so you can experience a little of what it’s like to be an independent woman. Even if your family has legitimate concerns, they are going about sharing their worries with you in the absolute wrong way. In fact, the more they malign your ex, the more attractive he’ll seem to you. He becomes the “bad boy” who your parents don’t understand. It actually serves to pull you to him even more.

    (2) I always question guys who say they simply can’t afford to pack up and move closer to their kids. If this is really the case, how can he afford to pay your college tuition as he offered? It doesn’t take much to look for a job and make a move–truly, if he wanted to be close to his kids, he can make it happen. His reasons are just excuses. So ask yourself, what does that say about him as a father? Yes, he says he calls them every day but that is not the same as physically being there for them.

    I dated a guy once who’s kids lived in CT while he lives in VA and I remember wondering, “if I marry this guy and heaven forbid, we break up after having children, will he move and abandon them too? It just doesn’t reflect well on his priorities.

    The ten year age difference is nothing in the long run but right now I wonder if you simply are more naive than a 30 year old woman would be. That’s simply bc you still live at home and your age hasn’t put you in the path of too many divorcees who had kids. Move slowly making the first step getting your own apartment. On your own.

    • mbangs says:

      [Not sure if you’ll still be able to see this but i’d still give it a try. Have you had any solutions to how to handle your family yet? I’m in a similar situation right now and is looking for a solution.

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