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Should I leave my boyfriend because he can't tell his family about me... for now...?


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Me and my boyfriend have been together for 2 years. We both come. from very different cultures. For us this has not been an issue. We have been able to work it out and embrace each others identities equally.  He has met my family. We are planning a future together and we are in love. However because of his culture, his family have no idea who I am and that I exist.. He says that he wants to be with me but we have to wait until we are ready to get married. I have always been fine about this because I love him, but now it is starting to sting a little. I don't  know if I can be part of a family like his, a family that might not accept and love me because of my upbringing and culture. He tells me that I am worth it and he will always stand by my side when the time comes and fight but ... I don't know. The painful thing is that I love him. Leaving would not be easy.. He treats me well, invests in me, and we have so many plans.  He doesn't hide me from friends or even siblings. He has said that because of his traditional background I wouldn't be able to be introduced until we marry. I do not want to marry any time soon.  I do not know... The thing is I do not want to meet his family if I would be rejected or judged.. As I said I wouldn't feel comfortable. I have expressed my fears and they upset him. He always reassures me that his family are not enough to stop him from being with me, he just cant introduce me as a girlfriend... I am not sure. He says that my family will not accept him if we ever take our relationship to the next because distant relatives I do not care about or are present in my life have made comments. I said my family (the active members in my life) are really mindful of his upbringing and invite him to stuff. I do not come from a culture where family members would refuse to accept someone I CHOSE to love.  I know I am not the only person going through this. I could really use some advice.. 

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Well this is the the thing tho...You can't change that they have cultural high expectations. You need to have some control in this relationship tho because he's being unfair and insensitive to your feelings about it...he needs to man up. Either he lets you meet his parents or this can't work out. 

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He is a package deal. Meaning assume his family will not accept you. So this means you may not be able to attend family functions and it means if you have kids they might be included if he brings them. His parents won’t meet your parents for example. Decide now if that’s ok with you. 

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49 minutes ago, GreystripesR said:

a family that might not accept and love me because of my upbringing and culture... I do not want to marry any time soon... I do not want to meet his family if I would be rejected or judged...

This must hurt a lot, Greystripes.  I wonder... if you cannot be presented/accepted as a girlfriend before marriage, would it even be possible that you can be presented/accepted as a wife at the altar?

You used the word "traditional," which brings to mind arranged marriages in some cultures.  Is it possible they already have someone lined up for him and if he presented you the proverbial sh-t would hit the fan?

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If he isn't willing to go against the grain with his parents, and you (understandably) can't accept this, this will not last. It can't. 

I would also be very concerned about what would happen if he introduced you as his wife-to-be, and they still didn't accept you. I am not convinced he would then be willing to proceed with the marriage. 

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2 minutes ago, MissCanuck said:

I am not convinced he would then be willing to proceed with the marriage. 

Hmmm... that brings to mind - who/what is he protecting here?  His parents?  You?  Himself?  What does he gain by keeping you hidden from his parents?  Also, if siblings know, the parents may already.

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44 minutes ago, Andrina said:

so they can have some fun intimacy before they finally marry the person who their parents will accept.

Andrina has a point - because everything he SAID was (paraphrase) how 'he would be by your side no matter what, he would stand with you against his parents, they are not enough to keep him from you' - so why wait?  Why not now if his words are true?  Why still hiding?  Something not adding up here.  And if they do know about you, perhaps they are turning a blind eye.  Greystripes, have you ever wished he would shout out his love for you from the mountaintop?

My first husband and I eloped.  I met his parents afterward.  They constantly chastised him with tidbits such as "Your father almost had a heart attack," "Her relatives probably killed ours in the Holocaust," etc.  They made mean comments about my appearance, my cooking, my level of education, on and on (if I had met them before I probably wouldn't have married him, they were that unpleasant).  I knew it was over pretty soon afterward, but I beat that dead horse for a few more years before I gave up and divorced him.  I took everything I learned into my next marriage.

When I knew I was serious about my second husband, I asked to go to his country and meet his parents (given my previous experience).  I found my future in-laws to be lovely people and we connected on a lot of levels.  As Batya said ^^^, you marry the family not just the husband.  Not to say hubs and I haven't had our ups and downs, we come from different countries/cultures (his was not an arranged marriage one though) and different planets (Mars and Venus, haha).  But he was proud to present me to his parents and I think that would make all the difference to you, Greystripes... and his parents have never once caused an ounce of trouble in our relationship in 25+ years.

Hugs to you my dear and hope it works out to YOUR best and most loving scenario ❤️

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2 hours ago, GreystripesR said:

I do not come from a culture where family members would refuse to accept someone I CHOSE to love. 

Ah, "in that bush lies the rabbit". So, are you from a different religion or he is arranged to marry somebody else? Or a little bith of both?

People who are strong religious or any other culture zealots, would not accept somebody outside of their culture. If he is raised in such values, he would not change that for you. That is why he is refusing to introduce you. Because even he knows they will NEVER accept you as a family member. Sorry, but unless you know that he wouldnt have a problem introducing you, I would suggest to just leave. You are "transitional girlfriend". Until he finds somebody of his own culture who he would have no problem introducing to his parents.

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15 hours ago, GreystripesR said:

 his family have no idea who I am and that I exist.. . He tells me  he will always stand by my side when the time comes and fight but .

Unfortunately he's not standing by your side now. He's keeping you a secret. Reconsider if someone who keeps you in the shadows is worth your time. Perhaps it's cultural and he is scheduled for an arranged marriage, but in the meantime he treats you like a dark secret and is stringing you along with empty talk.

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I have a separate issue with this situation.  I actually think it's fine for people only to marry within their own culture or religion whether it's based on their own beliefs or keeping the peace with family but it was completely unfair of him to date you knowing the situation  - casual dating or a vacation fling -fine - just be up front that it cannot go further and two adults can choose what to do.  But with rare exception no one is going to sign up for being hidden/secret long term. 

You don't need his parents blessing/gushing all over you but this is extreme and he knew this was the situation.  It's thoughtless and uncaring on his part. 

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You are seeing what life is like with this guy.  He is choosing his parents over you.  Plain and simple.  And because he is doing this now, you can see this is how he will be in the future.  

Does he have every right to choose to adhere to his parents' wishes and customs?  Of course, but you have every right to decide this is not good enough for you.

The fact that he is hiding you also says a lot about his character.  He can't adhere to his parents' wishes, but he does not have the strength to be his own person and stand up to his parents.  He is lying by omission.  So that also is an indicator that should he feel like his behavior would disappoint you, then he will choose to lie rather than stand up for what he believes.  

As the old age goes-- if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen.  

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One question I can't shake here is where are you two currently living (Same or different country than his family), and where would you plan on living in future?

If you are living in your country of origin, and his family is far removed, then I think that causes fewer issues with going forward. However if they are just around the corner relatively speaking, then this could be a massive headache that will undoubtedly frustrate you no end. Also the question of citizenship comes to mind, but that's neither here nor there.

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Has he ever explained what would happened if he introduced you as his girlfriend, and not as a fiancée?  Would it cause a rip in time that trigger the end of civilization as well know it?  If he hasn't, tell him to tell you what would happened if he did.

In some families, not as a blanket in cultures, because I don't know too many cultures that do not permit having a girlfriend.  Touching or dating outsides their religion yes; but BF or GF, or Friend, nope.  I think it's a case of this family telling their kids, "unless you're getting married, I don't want to meet them.  He honestly could just introduce you as a friend, which I had a buddy did a decades ago.  She pretended her boyfriend was a friend, and she had a female roommate, and he would come to all their family gatherings, and they fell in love with him as person, and over time, he became her boyfriend to their parents, and they are married for at least 20 years now, and happy.

And you have met his family; his siblings are family.

But you have needs to meet his folks, and they aren't being met, so really it's just a mismatch.  Try not to make this about yourself, cuz it's not an issue of if you were cooler, greater, smarter, richer, hotter, come from a different background.  It's just a dude who does not want to introduce you to his folks, and gives you zero timeline when you will marry.  Either you want to give it some more time, or you don't.  Either way, no ones fault.  He's not ready.

Do you feel you don't know him without meeting his folks?  Would you consider being introduced as friend?  So what if they judge or reject you.  I haven't seen or spoken to my MIL in almost 12 years, and I don't feel bad about it one bit. 

You don't have to stay for every man that says, "I love you."

Stick to you priorities and needs, and go from there.

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Just a bit of an update. I appreciate everyone’s advice even as harsh as some of them are. They were honest and true.  I totally understand everyone’s point. I just wanted to clarify that. I don’t actually have a need or desire to meet his parents any time soon. To be honest if he used the term flight to get them accept me, they sound like a nightmare and if I were to stay with him, and if we were to progress, I wouldn’t want to be in their lives a lot anyways. It sad because I do have the idea of being accepted by my partner’s family, I never really had much of a strong family unit but trust me it’s something I am use to. I am hurting by some of the comments saying I could be a temporary substitute until he finds. It made me feel gross and angry at myself.  I think I know what I have to do. I just have no idea how I am going to go about it. Thanks again everyone!

 

I also wanted to add I am not in a rush to get married, I am not in a rush to even move in with this bf. Of course I love him, we do a lot of things together and he does a lot of things for me. I am still young. I am a traditional girl and yes while I still date for the long term - I don’t want to rush. We both live in the same country and my bf is from a neighbouring country but obvs the family are from elsewhere.

 

He has not mentioned what would happen if I am introduced. Just that his family are not interested in gF. His sibling has a partner (not married) and they know of this partner but don’t have an interest of meeting her yet, it’s just not what they do. So I don’t think he would be disowned or anything, he is a man at the end of the day. But they probably wouldn’t be interested or to they would be slightly disappointed. Despite what everyone thinks I do believe he is trying to protect me in a weird twisted way. He knows it would upset me probably and also he doesn’t want his parents to be overshadowing him. But I just need to work out if it is something I am into and I hate to admit I might not be.

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Why do you "hate to admit" that you might not be into being hidden, being second to his parents and having an extremely unclear vision of this relationship? It means you have a sense of self, and that is something of which you should be proud. 

Also, I know you said you don't want to move in or get married now -- fair enough. But time is not eternally flexible, throwing away YEARS on a person and then realizing it is going nowhere is not a great way to spend your time. Then when you feel like you need to find someone and have a permanent relationship you will have to break up, spend time healing, and then go looking--which could also take years. For your own good, it would be better to end it now, work through your feelings and set higher standards so in the future you have a healthier, better relationship when you want it and when you have met someone worthwhile. Also, this work will better help you identify that better, more worthwhile person. 

 

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I agree with this - it's fine not to be in a rush to get married but if you know long term and/or marriage is  your goal then don't waste time where there is an obvious dealbreaker for you- then that's not "taking it slow" because nothing will change in the future -it's simply a waste of time.

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On 1/24/2023 at 5:03 PM, Andrina said:

You are taking a huge risk, investing more time into something with an extremely unstable foundation.

I was going to say the same thing. Cultural issues aside, committing two years of your life (and planning to commit even more of your time) to someone who won't introduce you to your family is a big gamble.

I think Andrina makes a good point, though: he could be having fun before he has to marry the woman his family wants him to marry. I went to a college with a girl like that. All through college she was in a serious relationship. But when she graduated, she broke up with her American boyfriend, went back to Bangladesh, and married the guy she'd been betrothed to the entire time.

Whatever the issue is, if he can't introduce you as his girlfriend, he definitely won't be able to introduce you as his wife. 

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On 1/24/2023 at 2:53 PM, GreystripesR said:

He tells me that I am worth it and he will always stand by my side when the time comes and fight

This is a bit vague. Can you get clarity what this means? Does it mean he would present his case but would abide by their decision, meaning if they are not okay with an intercultural marriage, it would mean a breakup? Or would he marry you regardless of their opinion and accept that they bar him and you from their lives as the worst scenario?

You shouldn't make assumptions on what he meant by that, and get a concrete, detailed answer.

On 1/24/2023 at 2:53 PM, GreystripesR said:

He says that my family will not accept him if we ever take our relationship to the next because distant relatives I do not care about or are present in my life have made comments.

Isn't this a lame excuse? Sounds like he has a lot of them. And if he truly cares what distant relatives of yours, ones he will likely never meet think of you two, isn't that telling in that what relatives think do matter, so what will happen if his parents don't approve?

Have you ever done any research on the norms of his culture, as in dating and marriage, to see if what he and his brother do fit in with their cultural norms?

It's good you're giving all this a lot of thought. I wish you the best.

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