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DearSugar Needs Your Help: Family vs. Relationship — Who Wins?

DearSugar and Stuck in the Middle Matilda need your help. Her boyfriend doesn't get along with her family and she's feeling torn. Do you have any advice for her?

Dear Sugar,

I have been seeing my boyfriend for 18 months and it has been the most amazing time of my life. He is an unbelievable guy and he's really good to me; I feel very lucky. My problem is that he doesn't really like my family. He gets along with them when he has to, but he refuses to voluntarily spend time with them. We are quite a close bunch, but they recently moved to a different state for the family business. The catch here is that I work for my dad's company. I've resigned (because of the move) and my last day is Feb. 15.

I have to go train the new person for 10 days and I asked my boyfriend to come visit for the weekend in the middle so we could see each other. I was trying to make the best of a bad situation so we could at least still see each other, but he completely lost it and told me that I will never be able to say no to my family. As a 30-year-old woman, I don't consider myself abnormally attached to them, but apparently he thinks I'm a daddy's girl and he has no problem telling me so. I feel like I am being pulled in two different directions and I can't seem to make anyone happy. Do you think he is overreacting? Am I? I love my family and I love my boyfriend, so how can I make this work? — Stuck in the Middle Matilda


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Juanie Juanie 8 years
Hi I realise I didn't put in why he doesn't like my family. This makes it hard to give advice, but I really appreciate what you have already said. I think he just has issues with family and with being controlled by them. His mum was unfaithful to his dad, but they got back together after a year or so. This has affected him, even though he doesn't see how, but after that episode in his life he just went traveling for 3 years. He isn't distant from his family and we go there for dinner a lot and I really make an effort with them. I think he just doesn't like any semblance of control, whether it be school or family. He is an independent thinker and doesn't want my thinking to be influenced by my family all the time. Which is ironic because he influences my thinking too. It's hard as well because I am South African, and it is a very cultural thing for the man to be the head of the house (which I don't mind) but this has made it difficult for me to say no to my parents, however I thought it was pretty important that I said no to the move etc. I am 21, not 30, he is 30 which I think is where the issue has come up, because he is his own person and has 'found' himself, whereas I am just starting out, but I think it was a pretty big deal to not move with the business (I didn't just stay for him, I am studying) so it's not like my parents control everything I do. I love my parents, but I stand on my own 2 feet. xx
Crustylugholes Crustylugholes 8 years
This sends up red flags to me. You say he treats you well, However isolating you from your family is a classic maneuver of an abuser. It's a form of control. By getting you away from your family he removes your support network, which is often the only obstacle for a controlling mate.
dm8bri dm8bri 8 years
WHY does he dislike your family?? I need examples and reasons! Without that, I have two versions of advice. 1. Maybe you do give precedence to your family and you are oddly close. Maybe your boyfriend's family is the opposite. People have a hard time understanding families when they don't function like their own. Sit down and have a reasonable conversation with your boyfriend about exactly what makes him uncomfortable and what would make him feel more comfortable. Make sure you voice your own needs and concerns because the point here is to come to a workable compromise. 2. My boyfriend had issues with my close-to-the-point-of-detramental relationship to my parents, but he was never opposed to hanging out w/ them. When we moved a state away and I recognized how dysfunctional they are, things became a lot more peaceful. This is to say that once your job ends and you're done with the training, you may have a new perspective on your family. However, this doesn't excuse his behavior now. It's one thing to rationally talk about what irks you, quite another to blow up when your significant other asks you to visit her and the fam. This leads me to another question: Do you HAVE to see him during those 10 days? Honestly, that seems like over-kill.
starangel82 starangel82 8 years
Without knowing exactly why your boyfriend doesn't like your family, this is hard to answer. So I'll give you what I'd do in the situtation. My family and I are very close. We've been through some really tough things together and are stronger for it. If I brought someone home that my family didn't like, I would consider their opinions. It doesn't mean I'd follow them, but I'd listen. If my boyfriend didn't like my family, I'd listen to his reasons. If the problems were simple, then I'd try to see if we couldn't work things out and reach a compromise. But after trying, if my family and my boyfriend couldn't get along I would have to seriously consider if the guy was right for me. Even if he was the most amazing guy in the world, I don't think I could handle the fact that he and my family couldn't get along.
Gabriela14815884 Gabriela14815884 8 years
My husband and I had similar issues, except it was his family that hated me. We argued a lot about it but in the end we found the right balance and now things are great. It takes time but as long as both of you compromise a bit it will work itself out.
Kat-E Kat-E 8 years
God, I think this post is full of red flags. Without even knowing why he doesn't like them, his outburst is really uncalled for, and if he is trying to point something out to you that he thinks is a flaw constantly (notice I said "he thinks"), it makes him sound a bit controlling. It seems like there's a real possibility here that his frustration with your family stems from the fact that they hold influence on you, which is getting in the way of his ability to control you. Even if that's not the case - it sounds like you really, really, should take full inventory of this relationship and decide whether or not he is worth your time. His lack of understanding of the importance of family is a bad sign.
hilahat hilahat 8 years
He doen't have to love your family as much as you do, but he does need to love you enough to care about what you love.
vmruby vmruby 8 years
His attitude would definitely make me stop and think twice about taking this relationship any further. If this is how he's acting now, imagine what life with him will be like if you two should decide to get married.IMHO it doesn't seem like a very promising future. As much as I hate to say this if you both can't come up with a solution to all this soon, one day it's going to come down to you having to choose either him or your family.I hope for your sake that you make the right choice because at this point he certainly isn't sounding much like the "unbelievable" prize that you're making him out to be.
Random2 Random2 8 years
You quit your job to avoid a move and he refuses to come visit for a weekend? And then tells you you're too attached to your family? Please, remind him you just quit your job to be with him, and if he can't see past your closeness to your family (I'm close to mine, too, but thankfully my boyfriend understands that and makes efforts to see them regularly), it might be time to reconsider the relationship.
Fallen85 Fallen85 8 years
Blood is thicker then water and this guy seems to be as shallow as a tea saucer, think carefully before moving any further with a guy who apparently cant stand the most important people in your life.
sandy82 sandy82 8 years
It's a small sacrifice on his part to come see you for a weekend and deal with your parents. It's something he knows will make you feel better and knowing how close you and your family are, he should try his best efforts even if he doesn't like them. He's being stubborn and in any relationship, you have to compromise. It probably would help to know why he doesn't like them. And I also want to add that being called "Daddy's girl" is not an insult. I don't like that he's trying to make you feel bad for having a close relationship with your family. You shouldn't have to chose between your family and your boyfriend.
Anne26 Anne26 8 years
If a guy doe snot spend time with my family even if we are friends I still would not consider taking him seriously because family is really important.
liliblu liliblu 8 years
Why does he have a problem with your family? If you don't know then that's a conversation you need to have. I take no offense to the term Daddy's Girl. There is nothing wrong wtih having a solid relationship with your father.
oohsexypenguin oohsexypenguin 8 years
I think your boyfriend is being extremely unreasonable, considering you QUIT YOUR JOB in order to stay with him. It doesn't seem like you're asking too much for him to come visit you for one weekend while you're training your replacement, and for him to flip out on you over that is out of line. You need to sit down with your boyfriend and expressly tell him that, while you love him and respect his feelings, he needs to respect yours, and that you're not willing to completely sacrifice your bond with your family for a relationship with him.
Jude-C Jude-C 8 years
You don't mention why it is that they don't get along, which I think would be a very important consideration.
Bodhar Bodhar 8 years
I think you need to feel out what you're willing to do to accommodate your boyfriend versus accommodating your family. It depends on what is important for you and how you see things standing if this is to be long term. I mean, holidays happen, people are often to spend time with their family, and if he makes it difficult it may come down to making a choice between him and them. That said, I think that if he calls you Daddy's Little Girl in a mean way, that's disrespectful and cruel. If he thinks that you are being taken advantage of, that's one thing, but the way you describe him handling it does not speak well of his opinion of you.
bikinib7 bikinib7 8 years
This is tricky, because he is not downright disrespectful about your family (at least that's the impression I get from your post). I think that in a relationship, it's give and take. You do things you don't want to do and vice versa. I don't really like my boyfriend's mother, but I will go to his house occasionally, so I don't come off as rude. If your boyfriend plans on being you for good, he's going to have to get used to your family. Maybe try to talk to him about why he doesn't like your family... maybe he has a bad relationship with his parents, so he feels bitter/jealous? If he doesn't want to visit for the weekend, you can't really force him or it will be a disappointing visit anyways. If he has something to do, I can see.. but if he's just sitting around the whole weekend and blatantly refuses to come, you need to re-evaluate and see if this is worth it, like Tina said.
TinaDenali TinaDenali 8 years
I guess I am lucky that my husband loves my family and they love him just as much. BUT - I wouldn't have it any other way. My family is far too important to me to have the person I'm seeing not appreciate my family as much as I do. Your family will always be there for you, as guys will come and go. You might not be able to see this right now. Before I met my husband, I was dating a guy who didn't get a along well with my parents ( for over three years! ) and it really put a strain on my relationship with all of them. In the end, I knew that I could not live out the rest of my life being torn in two different directions. If I were in your position (my case was not as extreme) I would very closely evaluate your relationship with your boyfriend and see if he's worth this drama. Are you willing to have this be part of your life... for the rest of your life? I sure wasn't... Just my two cents.
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