Parents hate my boyfriend...How should I talk to them?
February 24, 2014 10:56 AM   Subscribe

I have dated someone on and off for over a year, we have learned a lot about each other and have unfortunatly been through some ups and downs. We see each other coming out stronger than ever and working through everything but it is taking some time...I am fighting for this because I know what we have is special and what he provides me is what I have been looking for.

There's a little problem. I over shared with my family during the hard times (the dramatic break-ups) the times he may not have said the most appropriate things, or stuff that should have been kept between us and in our relationship and now they (rightfully so) have a very bad image of him. They loved him for me in the beginning, they were so happy for me, and then we broke up a couple times and I was left in tears, and of course my mom was there to wipe them and pick up the pieces. I realize now that I should have just kept certain details to myself or to my friends, and I could have been a little less dramatic and more confident.

I'm putting faith into this man and hoping he is everything he claims to be and that he wants everything he is saying he wants (putting faith in someone is scary, and when you dont have the support of your family it's even scarier)- we both needed some time to ourselves to figure out what we wanted, and with that time a lot of growing and realizations came from it. I'm scared that I could be making the wrong decision in letting him back in, but at the same time I feel I need to do it for me. But, my parents have made it very clear they want nothing to do with me or him if he is in the picture again. I have been very short with them in telling them what is going on, they didn't even fully know that I allowed him back into my life. The way I saw it was they told me they wanted nothing to do with it, so unless they asked, I wasn't going to share. They never asked until my mom saw something he posted on a social media site saying he felt home sick and missed me greatly. (she isa passive aggressive woman) and sent me a picture of the post saying "Look what I saw....", didn't respond to my response, has been cold with me, and is ignoring me. She was "devestated" that I was speaking to him again, and is now giving me the cold shoulder saying that I have been lying to her and withholding things. BTW, I am 30- this sounds like something a teenager would be writing, but believe me its not, and I have been dealing with this most of my life. Situations where my mom hasn't agreed with a decision I am making and goes "cold" on me, almost to guilt me or punish me into it.

Here is my question... I respect and understand their concern, their concerns aren't based on unsound judgements- I get it, my problem is that I just want them to be my parents and support whatever decision I make because this is stressing me and this relationship out to the point where I cant focus enough to even determine if this is the right choice for ME. I don't want to argue and plead a case about him, or force them to like him, or force him on them, I just want them to let me and him back into their lives so they can SEE for themselves that he is the man he is claiming to be. But I don't know how to go about doing this, I am absolutly terrified to speak to them because it turns into an argument or emotionally charged disagreement. I am very close with my parents so this is very important to me. How would you go about talking to them about this without seeming like I am trying to convince them he is a good guy or they need to like him. I just want them to treat me like a daughter, support me, and not punish me because they don't agree with me. I understand their concern but I need to tell them basically that it is my life and at the end of the day I have to make decisions based on my happiness, they just need to be there for me. Maybe I have just answered my own question! Has anyone had a situation like this, does it work to talk, or should I wait until they are ready to speak to me?
posted by BrandNewMe to Human Relations (25 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I don't think this will go well without clarification on the "Is this the same guy as in your previous posts?" issue. Because that guy sounds like a dirtball. However:

I need to tell them basically that it is my life and at the end of the day I have to make decisions based on my happiness, they just need to be there for me

is not compatible with

BTW, I am 30- this sounds like something a teenager would be writing, but believe me its not

You are not entitled to unconditional support for bad ideas as an adult, even if they are Mom and Dad. Your parents sound reasonable. You sound overwrought, about a person who sounds like a jerk.

If this guy is not a jerk you have nothing to worry about; you say 'I totally understand your concerns here given the past and I have taken them to heart and thought hard. I am going forward, with caution and with your thoughts in mind,' and your parents will come around after he has proven himself to not be a jerk. But if he is a jerk, well... Try your best to not burn down the entirety of the bridge, because you will want it when it fizzles out again.
posted by kmennie at 11:03 AM on February 24, 2014 [27 favorites]

I think the best thing to do is figure out your relationship with this man first. You said yourself you're not sure if you're ready to be with him again. If you and him work things out and are happy, in the long run, your parents will come around. It's too soon to tell either way. Understand your parents will always love you as their daughter even if they aren't so great at showing it all the time or in ways you want them to.

You can't be begging for your parents' approval for the rest of your life. There has to come a time when you live your life for yourself. This guy sounds like bad news and I wouldn't warm up immediately to someone who hurt my family. So take it gently with them, but also with him. Focus on the relationship and find out if it's right for you. At the end of the day, your parents want you to be happy. You just have to find out if you'll find that with him.
posted by lunastellasol at 11:09 AM on February 24, 2014

I mean, look, tell your parents what you want. "Mom and Dad, I love you and I want you in my life. I want you to accept the decision that I have made, and I don't want to discuss it with you. I will not be discussing my relationship with you."

That's actually a little different from what you want, but you can't make them support your decision, and you especially can't make them do so while talking over all your relationship problems with them.

But, okay, there's another issue here. Your parents are almost certainly right. This man is not a good man. This relationship is not a healthy one; it is not good for you. This actually reinforces the point I'm making above, which that you can absolutely ask your parents to support you in your life and accept the decision you are making, but that is incompatible with simultaneously discussing with them whether this guy sucks and whether your relationship sucks.
posted by J. Wilson at 11:11 AM on February 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

You are an adult and can do whatever you want. You don't need your parent's permission to date this man, or any man.

Your parents are adults and will do whatever they want. They may like him or they may not, and you can't do anything about that either.

That said, relationships rise and fall not on their best aspects (or, dear heavens, what is claimed to be the best aspects) but on their worst. If you're having dramatic breakups with lots of awful stuff that needs to be spilled, probably for the best to let it go anyway.
posted by Sublimity at 11:12 AM on February 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

I am 30

You've asked previously about your tendency to over-share with your parents and about how to set boundaries, and you need to reread the advice you got in those questions.

One of the consequences of over-sharing details of your love life, of asking your mom to "wipe your tears and pick up the pieces" after a breakup is that your parents are going to be over-involved in issues that really shouldn't be their business. Because you invited them to be involved, by involving them.
posted by ook at 11:16 AM on February 24, 2014 [16 favorites]

I generally don't think your parents have to unilaterally like your partner, and would normally not suggest that someone should be ditched just because parents don't approve.


I was in an abusive relationship when I was very young. One thing that really sent home the point that I needed to GTFO was the time I brought this guy home to meet my family over the holidays and he was a complete ass both towards my family and also to me in front of my family.

Two things happened:

- People who weren't me, but who care a lot about me and don't want to see me hurt, saw our dynamic and pointed out to me how bad he was treating me and that it wasn't OK.

- I was able to see him behave terribly toward people I care about and generally shit all over my background, culture, home, family, etc.

I'm not sure if this is remotely comparable to your situation. I don't know if your parents have met this guy and witnessed this stuff, or if they bear a grudge because one day you're like "he told me he could never love me!" and the next day you're like, "no really he's the best!"

If the former, I would say that you should listen to your family and seriously think whether this is someone you want to be with.

If the latter, you need to have a sit-down with a relative you're close to (mom? sister?) and have a heart to heart. Explain all the ways your relationship has grown. Explain how he is a good person who treats you with respect. Sell them on the idea that this is 100% water under the bridge. If that's impossible, I would go back to my "if the former" suggestion above. Because if your close family isn't hearing "we've done a lot of work and our relationship is much healthier now," you really have to ask yourself why* they're not hearing that.

If your family has never met him, maybe they'd understand if they saw you guys together and realized he's a good guy? If all they know about him is that he cheated on you or called you a c*** or gave you an STI, why would they suddenly start liking him?

*If this is a bigotry thing, all bets are off. I don't even know what to tell you, there.
posted by Sara C. at 11:19 AM on February 24, 2014 [5 favorites]

Asking them to be pleasant and polite to you is reasonable.

Asking them to accept this man, and try to see how good he is, is NOT reasonable.

Try to work out a Don't Ask, Don't Tell kind of thing where you won't mention him, and they won't ask. It's the best you will do, I'm afraid.

Tell them that not being able to talk to them drives you into his arms, and perhaps they'll agree to avoid the topic. Then you do the same.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:21 AM on February 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

It sounds like they might be taking a “Tough Love” type of stance, not wanting to support you when you’re doing something which, in their eyes, is obviously bad for you.

Maybe you should think of the specific things you want from your parents that they aren’t giving now. “Be loving and supportive” isn’t very specific, and you’re old enough so you shouldn’t need them to be expressing this on a daily basis. If you want to be able to visit them (without the boyfriend… they should not be subjected to someone they dislike in their home) once a month and hear updates about their lives once a week, ask them if they can provide those specific things to you.
posted by metasarah at 11:27 AM on February 24, 2014

I just want them to treat me like a daughter

If you keep breaking up and getting back together with a guy who had a kid he didn't tell you about and your parents are strongly disapproving, they ARE treating you like a daughter

You can tell them frankly that this is your decision to make, and you would like it if they were more supportive, but it is unlikely they will change their attitude in this particular situation.
posted by BabeTheBlueOX at 11:38 AM on February 24, 2014 [13 favorites]

It's possible to be very close to your parents without being enmeshed to the degree that you are. Solving this current issue will be of no use if you don't solve the boundary problems first. It sounds like you've been treating your decisions and your life somewhat like a group project with your parents. You've overshared repeatedly and they've become invested in your relationship to a degree that's inappropriate. Frankly, if I were your boyfriend, I'd consider ending the relationship because of this because I'm in a relationship with you, not you and your parents.

Right now, I'd stop sharing about this relationship, ask your boyfriend to protect his social media from your mother's eyes, protect your own social media, and don't expect them to welcome him with open arms. Why should they welcome him after you've repeatedly made sure that they see the worst aspects of your relationship with him?

Your parents will probably resist your attempt to create boundaries. It sounds like your mother is already quite invested in knowing everything about your life and freezes you out when you attempt some independence. That should not discourage you, keep reenforcing boundaries and they will grow to accept them.
posted by quince at 11:42 AM on February 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

People need time to settle into new information. Be patient... give them some time to react and reassess how they feel about the things that you tell them. Embrace the philosophy that most people simply want validation. Validate their concerns by listening, and then respond in a balanced way. If you're patient with them, they may be patient with you. Script: "I see what you're saying. I just feel strongly about wanting to see what happens with XYZ."

On the other hand, you don't have to tell them everything about your life. Being human and having a mind of your own means that you have the luxury/agency of keeping your thoughts and actions in your own purview and control. And saying too much can come back to haunt you: If you talk about a decision and then change your mind, it's hard for people to catch up with you to get back on your wavelength. People tend to penalize you for talking about decisions before they're fully baked.
posted by mochapickle at 11:48 AM on February 24, 2014

I remember the previous questions.

Look, you can't control how your parents react to you and your decisions.

What you're asking is "how can I make my parents like something they don't like" and the answer is "you can't." You want to have your cake & eat it too; you want their support about something they do not approve of. Not gonna happen.

Put on your big girl panties and accept that they don't approve. When your mother gives you the cold shoulder, just tough it out. She is absolutely trying to manipulate and control you (and stir up drama) and guess what? Tough titties ma, I'm doing it anyway. Don't want to talk to me? Your loss.

Furthermore, accept that you actually don't need their approval to survive. Let that one sink in. You're 30. You've lived 3 decades. You don't need their approval to go on breathing.

Then and only then, when you've internalized your own compass, can you deal with their BS in a healthy way. You will know this because your mom will pull away and ice you out, and instead of instilling terror in you, it will only make you laugh. Oh ma. There you go again trying to make me do what you want... and maybe some compassion oh my she is upset and how terrorized she must be to communicate that way.

Then, and only then, can you make decisions for yourself. I imagine right now a lot of your decisions are reactionary. Why did the teenager cross the road? Because his parents told him not to. That kind of thing.

(about the guy himself, well, uh, probably another post...)
posted by St. Peepsburg at 11:58 AM on February 24, 2014 [4 favorites]

I know you wish that your parents would approve and support every choice you made, but that just isn't how the world works. You are asking them to knowingly lie to you and encourage you to do things that they strongly feel are damaging to you. That isn't the job of a parent. They aren't being bad parents by refusing to lie to you and by refusing to support your going down a path they feel to be unhealthy for you. I would argue that being bad parents would be doing what you're asking them to do. They care too much about you than to watch you make what they (and apparently everyone here) feel to be a bad decision. They may not be perfect parents and sometimes cross a line, but they get a +1 in my book for expressing their disapproval and concern in this matter.

If you know they don't approve of this choice to be with this super sketchy guy who sounds like bad news, then you have two choices. Either you stop talking to them about your relationship, or you continue to talk to them about it knowing full well that it is only going to cause more strife and upset between you.

Or option 3, end the unhealthy relationship with the sketchy guy you're dating and find someone else who is more honest and treats you better and who doesn't come with a camper van full of baggage. Seriously. Healthy relationships do not sound the way yours sounds. I really think you can do better and that you should maybe listen a little harder to your parents concerns. Hell, listen to your OWN concerns! You said yourself that you are concerned you are making a mistake by letting him back in your life. Listen to the voice telling you that. It is a very wise voice.

I just want them to be my parents and support whatever decision I make because this is stressing me and this relationship out to the point where I cant focus enough to even determine if this is the right choice for ME.

If you have so much stress and upset over deciding whether or not this is even a relationship you want to be in, then I can tell you here and now it ISN'T a relationship you want to be in. Also, if your relationship is so stressing and upsetting that you need your parents to lie to you and tell you that they support your choice to be with him.... man, I just can't tell you how messed up that is.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 11:59 AM on February 24, 2014 [13 favorites]

The supportive role of a parent isn't to unquestioningly support "whatever decision [you] make," because that would make them some seriously shitty parents. If you, at a grown-adult 30 years old, were to tell them that you're about to give away your life savings and go live on the compound of this really, really awesome cult leader you just met, no parent in their right mind would say "well, we disapprove with your decision, but we'll support you." Rather, the reaction of a parent would be closer to "we can't stop you but that is a terrible idea and you are going to ruin your life." Because that's what you would be doing by making that decision, and by supporting it, your parents would be doing you a serious disservice by not at least trying to talk you out of your bad decision.

Now you're not giving up your life savings to go live on a compound with a cult. But you are making some serious decisions about your life that your parents are convinced would be somehow bad for you. It doesn't sound like they're about to trade in their concern for your well-being.

There's no rule saying that concerned parents are good parents (or even good people), of course, or that they're necessarily doing the right thing. No one here can tell you whether they're Right or Wrong in the way they're acting. But whether or not their assessment of the situation is correct, or whether or not they're doing the right thing by treating you this way, the fact remains that they're doing it out of concern for you. So if you want them on your side, you'll have to show them that you will be okay and safe and not in danger after making this decision (which you're going to have some trouble doing considering all the times this decision has shown them the exact opposite of that.)

Otherwise, you risk seriously damaging your relationship with your parents and alienating them from your life, for better or worse. Sometimes a situation calls for that and it's the best course of action. Sometimes it doesn't and you pile one bad decision on another. But the way you've played your cards, this is where you are and if you intend to stay with this guy you're not getting out of this without either proving to them you're in a good situation, or picking your boyfriend over your parents.
posted by griphus at 12:21 PM on February 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

Girl, you've got to slow your roll.

1. Date casually. Stop thinking that everyone you like is your potential life mate. You don't go from dating to RELATIONSHIP in one fell swoop. You've got to know what the dude's middle name is and how many children he has. Even then, best to keep him at arms length for awhile.

2. Your parents are on a need-to-know basis. Why on EARTH would they ever want you to be with someone who isn't forthcoming about his children, has hurt you to the point that you've broken up repeatedly and basically who is more trouble than fun. They love you too much to be okay with that shit. If they didn't know any of that about your boyfriend, they wouldn't care so much. But rational people, when they see it on paper, think, "This is a bad thing."

3. Stop needing them to give their stamp of approval to your friends. Again, keep your mouth shut about your friends. If someone is an asshole to you, even once, your family will hate that person forever.

I know what we have is special and what he provides me is what I have been looking for.

I don't think so. Your previous relationships must have been completely shitty for you to be investing so much into someone with so many strikes against him. How about you step back from dating for 12 months. Put all the hurt and need and desperation on the back burner and invest some time in yourself.

Concentrate on your career, take some night classes, meet new people in a completely date-free zone.

If you are 'meant to be' then he'll be doing the same thing and when you come out on the other side of the year, you can reconnect and see if you still want to be together.

I suspect he'll move onto someone else, so quickly it will make your head spin, thus proving that it's not you in particular that's so special to him, but just a woman in general who will put up with his bullshit.

Sweetie, why would your parents, who want nothing for you but the best, want you to be with someone who has hurt you so much? Why don't you trust their judgement for a change?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:30 PM on February 24, 2014 [13 favorites]

How would you go about talking to them about this without seeming like I am trying to convince them he is a good guy or they need to like him.

But it seems like you do want to convince them that he's a good guy and they should like him. You want them to support your decision by agreeing with you that it's the right one to make. That's a totally reasonable impulse, especially when you're on the rocky ground of deciding to put your trust in someone who's let you down before - but it's really not something you can ask of them, not even in the name of being supportive.

It does sound like your parents are a little overinvolved in your personal life, and think they can get you to make life decisions they want you to make by guilting and cold-shouldering you if you do otherwise. This is not okay for them to do, regardless of whether they're doing it to control you or doing it to stop you getting hurt or a bit of both. Still, your only way to tackle that is to own your own decisions. You have decided to give this relationship another try, because it's your relationship and your life, regardless of what your parents think or say or do in response.

They don't like him. They have reasons not to like him. They're trying to control you into breaking up with him through methods that are kind of shitty but have, presumably, worked for them before. You can't cut this cycle off by getting them to like him again overnight, because that's outside your power to do; the only thing you can control is how you accept and respond to their disapproval. "I know you don't trust Bob based on past performance, but I really think he's changed, so I'm giving this relationship another try. I'm sorry if you feel like you can't talk to me right now - you know you can call me whenever you want, though." It might cause more passive-aggressive moves and coldness in the short term until your parents realise those moves aren't working, but in the longer term it will serve you way, way better than "no, please don't freeze me out, you have to believe me that Bob's changed!"

Also, though... you might want to think about just how much responsibility you're taking on when you say things like this:

"I over shared with my family during the hard times (the dramatic break-ups) the times he may not have said the most appropriate things, or stuff that should have been kept between us and in our relationship..."

"I realize now that I should have just kept certain details to myself or to my friends, and I could have been a little less dramatic and more confident..."

This is not how it works. Your parents disapprove of your boyfriend because of what your boyfriend did/said. That is on him, not on you. Superficially, yes, you could have kept them liking him by hiding all the unpleasant stuff from them, but that would not actually fix the underlying problem - this is on him, not on you.

Likewise, it is not your responsibility to present him in the best possible light to your parents to make them like him again. He needs to prove himself (and mostly to you, but if he's a decent partner who is serious about wanting a future with you, he'll also want to show the people who love you that they can trust him). If you feel like you need to take on all the blame and do all the work yourself, then you're setting yourself up for a lot of future unhappiness.
posted by Catseye at 12:34 PM on February 24, 2014 [9 favorites]

They ARE being good parents; at least you have the luxury of knowing how they feel about him to YOUR FACE. My parents suffered in silence during a particularly bad relationship that I had. I didn't find out their feelings about her until AFTER the breakup. I wish they had told me sooner how they felt as I am sure it would have accelerated the scales falling from my eyes.

I think you truly have already seen that this is going to end poorly, it's just that you have so much time and effort invested in it that you want to go through until the bitter end.

Look up something called diminishing returns.

The amount of drama in this relationship is TOO DAMN HIGH. Personally, I would TRUST MY LOVING PARENTS and DTMF and find someone who treats me how they want me to be treated.

Oh, and keep your mouth shut for the first six months with the new person.
posted by John Kennedy Toole Box at 12:36 PM on February 24, 2014 [6 favorites]

I think people are being a little harsh. Yes, it's best not to overshare, but if you were good at that you wouldn't be asking this question. And based on your previous question, your mom is definitely over the top with her reactions. I think that the best thing to do is stop trying to convince them you are "right" and focus on behaviors. I would have one last conversation where you listen respectfully to their concerns. If you aren't convinced say, "I value your opinion, but this is something you I have to do. I love you, but I'm not willing to fight about this. Let's agree to disagree."

If they say things that are disrespectful to you and/or your relationship, tell them firmly that those comments are hurtful and will not be tolerated. And then stick to it. "Mom, that was hurtful and I'm not going to listen to it. Mom, I asked you to stop. Sorry mom, gotta go."

Right now, they are treating you like a child, and using their approval as a lever to change your behavior. Stop letting them do it.
posted by snickerdoodle at 1:09 PM on February 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

You said that you're 30+ years old and not a teenager but not telling my parents bad things about a partner when partner and I were having a hard time is a lesson I learned as a teenager. I also learned that while I prefer that they're in contact regardless of who I'm dating, I'll survive if they're not. If this guy was right for you, you wouldn't have to beg your parents to give him another shot. They would, either because he's good people or because they know he makes you happy, or they wouldn't and you would be okay with it because to hell with them. A woman in her 30s should be comfortable knowing that her parents won't be enamored with all of her choices all the time.

When I was maybe 19, my then-boyfriend did something stupid and my parents froze him out. We ended up splitting up but not because of them. I continued seeing him because, at 19, I thought, if they don't like him, to hell with them. You're 30+ years old and you can't do that? I didn't tell my parents, this is my life and I need to make the choices that are best for me - I showed them by making the choices that were best for me without asking for permission.

I don't mean to come across as harsh but I think that if you want to be treated like an adult, you need to act like one. Having your mother dry your tears and begging for parental approval are not adult behaviors.
posted by kat518 at 1:27 PM on February 24, 2014 [7 favorites]

I got in a similar sort of problem by way of my big mouth -- concerning friends, not a partner, but still. So I get that while it's certainly true that an adult is often advised to be circumspect with their parents... sometimes one doesn't live up to the ideal. It happens.

Way I dealt with it was basically to go on with what I was doing -- that is to say, continuing the friendship, continuing to discuss the friendship -- and working on fixing the boundaries in a firm, undramatic way. Cold shoulder pouting when I mentioned that I talked to friend A? Don't care. Ice when I mention that friend B and I went out for a beer? Don't care. Remarks about how friend A stole my boyfriend? "That's not how I see it, and I'm not interested in debating the matter." Speculation about how friend B made me gay? "That's rude, and also untrue. Please do not make comments like that again." It's hard when you're looking at it from the end of being habitually engaged in the dramarama, but it gets easier as you work on it and it makes your life so much better.

That said, one of the things that does come up when applying this solution is -- well, hey, if there's lots of drama occurring around me, what's the common element...? Yeah. Which doesn't mean anything bad about a person who gets involved in such a thing, it's just that we all adapt to our environment, and often in ways that cause us to go with the flow of problems that we have. So, the most immediate problem is your folks, but don't be so surprised if you find that you're involved too, and if this guy is also not making it any easier.

And don't, don't, don't bring your relationship problems to your folks again like this. Believe me, I know it's tempting when you're mad and frustrated and you want to vent to someone. Do not. Get a stuffed duck. Vent to the duck. You will not pay later for things you say to the duck.
posted by sparktinker at 1:50 PM on February 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

Parents may give you unconditional love, but this is not the same thing as always giving you unconditional support. They may love you to the ends of the earth, but they are not obligated to agree with every decision you make. Learning how to live with this -- to make your own decisions, even if your parents may disapprove -- is a vital task in becoming an independent adult who has a healthy identity as an individual and not simply as someone's child. It's hard, I know. But that's the real task before you.
posted by scody at 2:07 PM on February 24, 2014 [6 favorites]

I may be off base here, but I think you're fixating on getting your parent's approval because that's a distraction and you don't have to think about how you feel or what you think while you are distracted by their disapproval.

All you want is some magic argument you can say to them to make them change their minds about him because if you could convince them he's a good guy and this is all going to work out, well then you might just be able to convince yourself of that too. Do you even believe the story you're trying to sell them? Because I think you are hoping these things are true about him, but I'm not convinced you really believe it either.

Sometimes I don't want to tell my close friends about things that are going on in my life because I know they will judge, if not me, the situation and tell me things I don't want to hear because I have some good friends, who care about me, and support me, but they don't pull any punches and I know they aren't just going to tell me what I want to hear.

And so I don't tell them. Not because I don't want to be judged, I don't tell them because I know they will be right. And I know they will be right because they will have come to the exact same conclusion that I've already come to, but it's a truth I can't yet deal with. Sometimes I need time to accept and process the hard and painful decisions I know I have to make before I can make them. So when I'm ready to deal with the truth and do the things I know I need to do, then I can tell them and then I can move on.

You've already told your parents and now you are dealing with what may be a truth you aren't yet in a place to accept and process. I don't know, I'm not you. I don't know your boyfriend. I don't know how this is all going to work out for you. I may be totally wrong, but I think you need to consider that maybe you are upset about a lot more than just your parent's disapproval.
posted by whoaali at 8:37 PM on February 24, 2014 [9 favorites]

It really does sound like your parents are treating you like a daughter. You can't expect them to approve of every decision that you make, and you really do need to learn to set up appropriate boundaries with them (like your previous question indicates).

Here's the other thing: your parents might not want to see you back with this guy, not only because they think he's a shithead, but because they don't want to deal with the cycle of drama again. My best friend dated a really shitty guy, and there was a good two years of endless fights and breakups and eventually, even though I couldn't stand to see her with him because he wasn't good to her, a part of me just couldn't deal with constantly trying to support her and wipe her tears and pick up the pieces when they would break up. Selfish? Maybe. But I just didn't have the energy to be her support system while watching her choose to repeat the cycle over and over again.

I love my friend, and watching her go through that was really awful. I had to create boundaries I really did not want to create, because I was getting so involved in her relationship drama and trying to be supportive that it was seriously taking over my life. I can only imagine how much more difficult it must be for a parent to watch a child in that cycle.

Your parents aren't going to support this decision, and as parents, being supportive of you doesn't mean they're going to support every decision you make.
posted by inertia at 11:45 AM on February 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

Parents have also been around the block often enough that they recognize the long-term dangers of their daughter getting involved with an emotionally abusive man/partner. Once the daughter's self-esteem and confidence in herself have been broken, which is inevitable if the daughter stays with a disparaging, demeaning partner long enough, she may be locked into a pattern of seeking out other partners who treat her the same way. So much damage can be done to a person by one controlling, impossible-to-please, verbally or emotionally abusive person that the hurt one may never regain the ability to see herself and her place in the world clearly ever again. From that point on, your parents know, their daughter will be a victim of her own poor judgement, her own conviction that she's nothing on her own without someone to keep her in line.

That, after all the years of trying to build the self-confidence and independence in your daughter, is a nightmare.

No, your parents do not need to support your poor choices - they need to be honest and frank with you always - because they love you.

They too have made some poor choices along the way and paid the penalties. It's not a matter of "do as I say, not as I do," but more often "do as I suggest because I don't want you to go through what I went through when I made a similar mistake" - in other words, teaching their children from their own life's experiences. It's what parents do. Be thankful you have parents who care so much, even though there will always be rough spots.

And honey, know this: There is a man out there who is right for you and who will respect you enough to love you dearly just the way you are, who won't want to keep you under his thumb or control you - he'll want to be your partner, not your owner. It always takes more time than we want to find that person, but it will happen - don't give away your strength to this man.
posted by aryma at 1:45 PM on February 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Let me see. You have a man that you have told your parents at some point is a dirt bag. Now you want them to respect your opinion that he is not a dirt bag. Which opinion should they adopt? You have asked your parents to always agree with you. Is that their obligation to you as a parent? I doubt it. Let them be parents. You are still the adult. You can still choose. But really if I were your mother I might want to lock you in your room for your own good. This guy sounds dangerous.
posted by OhSusannah at 9:51 PM on February 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

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