Boyfriend doesn’t stand up to parents
First, let me congratulate you on the good work you do in helping others.
I read your column almost every day but I never thought I’d be writing to you for advice.
I’m in my mid-30s and have been dating a man who is a year older than I. Our relationship is relatively okay, but what’s bothering me is, he’s somewhat of a “mama’s boy” – one who cannot speak up to his parents.
His family does not have many friends, and those they have [avoid] them. I’m not sure if this insularity is the reason for his senseof obligation towards his family. Mentally, it’s them against the world. They are immigrants but the children were born here.
Whatever his parents need him to do, he does, regardless of whether he/we made plans. He doesn’t know how to say, “I don’t mind helping out, but can I do it another time as I’ve already made plans”?
On more than one occasion, I was dressed and waiting to go on a date with him, only to be informed that his father asked him to help with something.
I keep telling him it’s about compromise, that I shouldn’t be the one to have to reorganize my schedule to suit them all the time.
His father drives but doesn’t like to, so he has to take his mother, who does not take public transport wherever she wants to go, whether it’s to the supermarket or her parents’ house.
Twice weekly he rushes home from work to take home his grandparent even though his father finishes work early. If he has a Saturday off, can’t his parents ask him to rest and his father take the mother to complete her Saturday chores? Although he’s tired, he refuses to speak with his parents to reach a compromise.
I know I may sound selfish, but who wants to be in a relationship where you hardly ever come first in that person’s life? Since his job is physically demanding, we’ve decided that Saturday is our “date night”. We hardly see each other during the week. Why should I have to work every date night around his parents’ schedule?
Many Saturdays I’ve cancelled our time together because I could hear the fatigue in his voice. Can’t they also have some compassion and reason that he’s tired and needs a break? He has admitted to almost falling asleep at the wheel more than once while taking home his grandparent.
I spoke to him about this situation and he replied, “I try to make everyone happy. I can have many girlfriends but only one mother; she carried me for nine months.”
That spoke volumes to me. He’s loving and compassionate but he needs to have a backbone and his parents need to let him be a man.
What is your advice, Christine? Should I stay or go?
Thank you.– Frustrated Girlfriend
Dear Frustrated Girlfriend,
I came up in a society where I kept hearing “blood is thicker than water”. In order words, immediate family ties are stronger than any other ties.
It is clear to me that this young man has a special bond, commitment and obligation to his family and that he is not willing to break this three-cord bond for you or anyone else.
He is not in this bond by force, but by choice. He can speak up if he wants to. I don’t think he wants to.
If he is an only child or the only child living at home, his obligation will be stronger.
I don’t think this bond is an indication that he does not love and care for you, but he has not reached the stage of leaving and cleaving. He still lives at home. Why should e act as if he has?
As it is right now, you are the girlfriend, not the wife. He has no legal obligations to you – at least not right now.
I would not advise you to leave him, but you will have to be patient and understanding if you love him enough to stay with him. In my book, he has done nothing wrong – nothing but love, care for nd respect his “immigrant” family.