Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“Why Haven’t I Met His Family?”

I’m 25 and my boyfriend is 31 and we’ve been together for eight months. He’s close with his mom and his sister, and spends a lot of time with them (he goes over to his mom’s once or twice a week to cut her grass and fix things around the house, etc.). I know that he’s told them all about me and that they keep asking to meet me, but so far he has not introduced us to each other. He’s shared some of my baking with his mom and she loved it, so several times I’ve baked cookies or cakes for him to bring her when I know he’s going to see her. And he comes back saying how much she loved what I sent and that she wants to thank me in person. At Christmas, she even sent me a present. I finally told him outright that I’d love to meet his mom soon. He asked if I wanted him to plan a get-together or if I just wanted him to bring me over to say hi sometime. I told him to do whatever he was most comfortable with. It’s now a month later and we still haven’t met! Is he just being lazy? Or do you think he actually doesn’t want to bring me home? — Dying to Meet His Mom

It sounds to me like this is a combination of laziness and anxiety. Then again, a lot of times, laziness, like procrastination, is a result of anxiety, so I guess this is really a combination of anxiety and anxiety. Maybe your boyfriend hasn’t brought a girlfriend home in a really long time — or ever. Maybe there are some issues at home he hasn’t opened up about that he’s nervous about sharing with you. Maybe there’s even something about you or your relationship that he’s nervous to share with his family for fear of how they will react (Are you a different race, perhaps? A different religion? Does he simply have a hard time keeping his hands off you around other people?).

He definitely seems into you and into fostering a relationship between you and his family, so it’s worth bringing up again how much you want to meet them and how you’re frustrated that he hasn’t made it happen yet after all this time. Ask him if there’s some reason he doesn’t want you to meet. And if he says “no,” which he hopefully will, you can respond with: “Good, then how about we go out for dinner together next Friday?” Don’t give him the option of dropping the ball — pick out the restaurant and make a reservation if you have to. And then once you meet his mom and sister in person, exchange phone numbers with them so you can arrange get-togethers without having to rely on your boyfriend, who may be flaky with that kind of thing.

If your boyfriend, however, answers “yes,” that there is some reason he’s anxious about introducing you to his family, try to keep calm and find out what the root of that anxiety is. And remember — he’s into you. Whatever anxiety he may or may not have is probably about something that’s out of his control, as well as yours. So, use this opportunity to be empathetic, offer support, and learn more about your boyfriend and where he comes from. With some gentle understanding and patience on your part, he’ll hopefully open up and you’ll soon have the chance to share your baked goods with his family in person.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at [email protected].

38 comments… add one
  • avatar

    sarolabelle February 15, 2011, 4:11 pm

    Are girlfriend’s really supposed to exchange phone numbers with their boyfriend’s family? Is that acceptable? I’d feel like I was leaving him out if I went and contacted his family for get-togethers….or maybe I don’t know the proper ways.

    Reply Link
    • Kristina

      Kristina February 15, 2011, 5:58 pm

      It depends. I have a friend who occasionally contacts her boyfriend’s mom through texts/calls and they are Facebook friends as well. All 3 of them get along well, so it makes sense in that respect.

      Reply Link
    • avatar

      maynard February 16, 2011, 10:11 am

      I had my ex’s parents numbers (but that was long after a year of being together) but had their email address before that and they would send dinner invites for my ex and I directly to me since I had an iphone and they knew I’d get it instead of calling their son and waiting on him to make plans. But yeah, that was after having known them for a while, we didn’t exchange anything like that the first time we met.

      Reply Link
    • avatar

      Wolvie_girl February 16, 2011, 12:04 pm

      I don’t think there is any hard and fast rule, I think you just have to make a case-by-case decision based on impressions you get, and bonds you feel with his family, and vice versa.

      Reply Link
  • avatar

    vizslalvr February 15, 2011, 4:18 pm

    With all due respect, I think Wendy’s advice comes across as overly pushy. It’s HIS family and it should be HIS decision when to introduce HIS girlfriend to HIS mother and sister. It just seems like a big mistake to foist a meeting upon him (and them) just because he’s dragging his feet in the LW’s estimation.

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      elisabeth February 15, 2011, 4:28 pm

      On the other hand, 8 months is long enough for the relationship to be considered serious, and if it’s serious, shouldn’t family be brought into the equation?

      Perhaps taking the initiative to arrange a meeting is a bold move, but I’d say it’s better than nagging him until he arranges it. Failing that, though, I think asking if there’s an issue the LW is unaware of and discussing that issue is sound advice. More communication can’t hurt, in this case.

      Reply Link
      • avatar

        vizslalvr February 15, 2011, 5:06 pm

        I agree that the communication in itself is not a bad idea. However, assuming a “no” to the proffered question is an open invitation to arrange a meeting time and place herself seems absolutely ridiculous. A “no” could mean “No (that I want to talk with you about, anyway),” “No (but I still don’t see the rush in introducing you all), “No (but I had forgotten I mentioned it and will get right on it).” Assuming it means, “No (I just secretly want YOU to take control over the scenario but haven’t said anything)” is REALLY going out on a limb.

        Link
      • avatar

        sarolabelle February 15, 2011, 5:16 pm

        well Wendy didn’t say to tell him “Good, then we are going to dinner next friday”….she said “Good, then HOW ABOUT we go to dinner next friday?” It’s a question. He then has that question to respond yes or no to.

        Link
      • avatar

        vizslalvr February 15, 2011, 5:19 pm

        She also said the LW shouldn’t give her boyfriend the “option of dropping the ball” and should make reservations if necessary.

        The whole tone, to me anyway, goes beyond openly, firmly, and kindly asking why the meeting has not taken place and crosses the line to bossily asserting that the meeting needs to take place within the time frame the LW is comfortable with, rather than the time frame her boyfriend is comfortable with.

        Link
      • avatar

        sarolabelle February 15, 2011, 5:25 pm

        well to me that’s if he says “okay”. I think Wendy assumes him to be the kind of person to just say “okay” and then not do anything about it. If he says “no, I don’t think that is a good idea” well then it’s not like the LW will say “oh, well, were going” At least, that’s not how I think Wendy meant it.

        Link
      • avatar

        vizslalvr February 15, 2011, 5:10 pm

        I also disagree completely that the fact that they’ve been together eight months alone is enough to assume that they both consider the relationship serious.

        Link
      • avatar

        elisabeth February 15, 2011, 7:08 pm

        Maybe we can’t assume 8 months in a relationship secures sincerity, but I’d say if you’ve been dating someone for 8 months and it’s not serious, it’s time to MOA. Wanting to meet the parents seems to imply the relationship is being taken seriously, at least by the LW, though perhaps this is a sign that her SO isn’t taking it as seriously as she is?

        Link
      • avatar

        jena February 17, 2011, 10:52 am

        who says a relationship HAS to be serious in order to be fulfilling? i’ve dated guys for 8 months before that were not serious relationships. I’m not in a place in my life where i’m looking to get married anytime soon, so why would i MOA if i’m content with the situation as is?

        that said, it seems like her boyfriend is not introducing her to the fam for a conscious reason — anxiety, not thinking the relationship is serious, etc.

        Link
    • avatar

      Wolvie_girl February 16, 2011, 12:08 pm

      To be fair to Wendy, the LW did respond positively to her fist request to meet his family, he just never followed through. He didn’t say no, I don’t want you to meet them yet, he just hasn’t made a plan. All Wendy advised was to ask WITH a plan in place this time. Not to plan it without him.

      Reply Link
  • avatar

    cmarie February 15, 2011, 4:52 pm

    I have to question whether or not he really told his family about her. It seems to me that he’s not given her any definitive proof that they even know he’s dating. Getting a gift from someone doesn’t mean they acually bought it. Who hasn’t bought something and added someone else’s name? Maybe he ate your cookies and or he gave them to his family and said he baked them. From what I read, and I’m ony going on that, there’s no proof that he even told his family about her. If she’s this eager to meet them and they really want to meet her I can’t help but feel it would have happened after 8 months together. If that’s the case I have to tell her to watch out. Even if he’s just being avoidant I would tell her to proceed with caution. It usually doesn’t get better. My ex didn’t tell her family about me until we were a year into the relationship and after 3 years together I never met them, never spoke to them, I don’t even know what they looked like. That’s not healthy for a relationship. If it’s a serious as it sounds meeting his family is extremely important because she’s going to need to have a good relationship with the other women in his life.

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      sarolabelle February 15, 2011, 4:56 pm

      for that matter – there is no proof he has a family!

      Reply Link
      • avatar

        cmarie February 15, 2011, 4:59 pm

        Maybe his “mother and sister” are actually a wife and child? Maybe when she pushes the issue he breaks up with her?

        Link
      • avatar

        rosalee February 16, 2011, 12:35 pm

        I agree. I don’t want to alarm the LW, but this is a huge red flag. Not meeting “the family” after 8 months, when they seem to live nearby, is super sketchy. I dated a guy for almost 2 years, and all my friends agreed he was super sweet and into me. I never met his family, which wasn’t necessarily that weird because they lived out of state. But here’s where the red flag comes in… he told me his mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, and so after that, of course he started visiting her on a regular basis. Except… I found out later from acquaintances that during a few of the “visits to his sick mom out of state,” he was actually spotted in town with other women!! Yes, he lied about visiting his mom with breast cancer as a pretense to account for time he was spending cheating on me! To this day, I still don’t know if she was even sick. He lied about tons of other things, too, but I naively believed him until it all unraveled. It’s scary, but there is a small percentage of the population out there that have no conscience and can lie convincingly at the drop of a hat. “Family” is always the perfect excuse to cover up cheating because it’s a perfectly legit reason to be out of touch… and you wouldn’t be pushy about getting him to talk to you on the phone when he’s visiting “family” after all. You can’t say, “why are you spending all this time with your family instead of me?” It would be completely unreasonable. “Family” lets people get away with anything.

        Obviously my take is colored by this awful experience, but the fact that the LW has gone so far out of her way that she is sending baked goods to this family and she STILL hasn’t met them? That is sketchy! If his mom is a halfway decent person, and actually has been receiving cakes and whatnot, at some point she would insist to her son that she meet the LW to thank her in person, wouldn’t she? It’s this complete lack of direct communication between the LW and the family that is so troubling. There is no hard evidence the family actually exists – all the messages are filtered through the boyfriend. HUGE red flag.

        Link
      • becboo84

        BecBoo84 February 16, 2011, 1:08 pm

        I had the exact same thought! I hope I’m just being cynical, and he’s not really sharing her baking with his other family.

        Link
      • avatar

        rosalee February 16, 2011, 2:58 pm

        I hope we’re being cynical too. He could also be hiding something other than cheating – a gambling problem, or the like. Maybe he doesn’t see his mom much and spends that time doing something sketchy, and worries that if he introduces LW to his family, they’ll compare notes and the truth will come out.

        Has the LW met other important people in his life, such as his friends and coworkers? If not, I would be more worried he is hiding something. If she has met them, maybe the situation is not so sketchy as it sounds. Fingers crossed.

        Link
  • avatar

    thefierycrash February 15, 2011, 5:14 pm

    i was in this same sort of situation with my boyfriend. we had been dating almost a year before he introduced me to his family whom he saw at least once a week. i bugged him and bugged him– family is a big deal to me and he met my family members very early on. he resisted for awhile partially because it was a big thing to him and he hadn’t really brought girls home in awhile, and also because his family was very different from mine. while we’ll hang out for hours and hours and talk and have dinner and play games, his family meets for about 30 minutes, “good to see you, see you next week” kind of thing. also, his parents are divorced where as mine are still together. so i think the difference made it a little more uneasy for him. finally on my birthday he decided to invite his parents to dinner– questionable timing but i was grateful to finally meet them none the less. we still rarely see them while we see my family 10x more often, but that’s attributed partly to the fact that i live at home still as well as the difference in family dynamics. i really wouldn’t sweat it, but i WOULD let him decide and don’t turn the issue into an argument. just reiterate how important family is to you and how excited you are to meet them and leave the ball in his court– it IS his family after all.

    Reply Link
  • eelavocado

    eel avocado February 15, 2011, 5:29 pm

    I agree with Wendy–it’s anxiety and he’s putting the meeting off. Sometimes, I think guys (and girls) drag their feet because they think meeting The Parents is a HUGE deal. Like Wendy said, I would ask him if there’s a reason you haven’t met yet. I would go ahead and make plans if he agrees.

    The one thing I DON’T agree with (sorry, Wendy!) is exchanging numbers with his mom and sister. If he’s already anxious about them meeting, he’s going to be REALLY anxious about the LW making plans with them and speaking to each other with him not around. I would exchange numbers after you’ve had a few positive experiences with them–and when it seems like the boyfriend is warming up to the idea of you having a relationship with them.

    Reply Link
  • bittergaymark

    bitter gay mark February 15, 2011, 5:30 pm

    I don’t quite know what to make of this letter. It does seem like something is going on here, but I can’t quite tell what… Maybe Wendy is right and he is just nervous for some reason…bringing home a significant other IS a big step… I pretty much agree with Wendy’s advice here… Though I think I would wait a until the second or third meetings before exchanging contact numbers with the family. It seems a bit rushed and all that on the very first meeting…

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    RMM0278 February 15, 2011, 5:37 pm

    Wendy usually gives great advice, but I do take issue with this statement, “He definitely seems into you and into fostering a relationship between you and his family…” I don’t think that’s entirely clear here at all. He SAYS he’s interested in fostering a relationship, but he hasn’t DONE that. Those are two very different things. And if he keeps saying no and pushing back, well no I don’t think he’s interested in fostering any relationship between the women in his life. I don’t think the “why” here really matters, but rather it’s just not happening. Period.

    Plus, he “seems” into her, but that doesn’t mean that he is. (Wendy has gotten enough letters of the years to know that.) I’d be curious to see what else he has done for her in terms of being a good boyfriend.

    Maybe I’m paranoid, but the whole thing just stinks. I don’t know if there’s anything sinister going on, but my gut tells me something is off. Way off. I do think she should take Wendy’s advice and meet the family once and for all. Pushing that sort of thing into action will tell her a lot of what she needs to know, I think.

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      Wolvie_girl February 16, 2011, 12:56 pm

      RMM: he hasn’t said “No” to her meeting his family, he just hasn’t made it happen yet. He could have anxiety about her meeting them, and so he’s putting it off, but he could just be really flaky. I’m suprised that no one has mentioned the possibility that he just hasn’t gotten around to making a plan. There could be more “sinister” things going on, but I think we’re too quick on this site to read too much into a letter and assume the worst (I say “we” because I do it too)

      Reply Link
  • fast eddie

    fast eddie February 15, 2011, 9:30 pm

    My SO didn’t have so much as a phone conversation with my mother for about 7 years at my design. My mom was a nut case and I didn’t want anything to do with her let alone set the stage for drama between her and my lady love. Alas, time passed and we all got over it but for my own sanity I couldn’t handle them meeting for a really long time.

    This has nothing to do with the LW. I just had to get it off my mind.

    Reply Link
    • LK7889

      LK7889 February 16, 2011, 4:02 pm

      I can understand that entirely. My mother is a paranoid schizophrenic and I didn’t want to introduce my SO to her either. Eventually though, he told me that he would rather come with me to visit her than not meet her at all because I suspected that she’d be better behaved if he was there (which ended up being the truth). Now she loves him to death and asks about him all the time. I still haven’t told her that I bought a house over a year ago though….

      On that note, I told my SO from the beginning about my mother’s illness and that she lives in a group home. I really can’t see dating for 8 months and failing to mention that someone in your family is crazy even if you don’t want to talk about it.

      Reply Link
  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom February 16, 2011, 9:13 am

    He may be embarassed by his family or their home and not want the LW to meet them or see the house.

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      Wolvie_girl February 16, 2011, 1:04 pm

      I thought of this too!
      My BF wanted to keep me as far away from his family as he could since he grew up in a much different “home-life” than me. He was worried I would be scared-off by his disfunctional family (I came from a very stable, loving, middle-class home, he had a parade of step-parents and was shuffled between his parents and older sisters…he wasn’t eager to let me into that world), so he avoided having them meet me for over two years. It wasn’t ideal, but I didn’t take it personally. I knew that the issues of past wounds from his family were still haunting him, and I gave him the space to work that out before adding me into the mix.

      Reply Link
  • avatar

    PFG-SCR February 16, 2011, 11:51 am

    I think this is another situation where she needs to talk to her boyfriend and find out what his reasons are since his mother seems to want a relationship with her as evidenced by his mother buying her a Christmas present. It might be something with him, or it might be something to do with his mom, and only he can answer that. I think once she knows his reason(s), she can go from there to decide the next step.

    I think the first meeting is a bit early to start exchanging phone numbers and email addresses with his mom and sister, though. If her boyfriend has been hesitant to introduce them to each other, I can’t imagine he’s going to want them to become bffs so quickly.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    AKchic February 16, 2011, 12:57 pm

    Ah, the boyfriend’s family dilema. I have had mixed results with this. Both of my former MILs (mother-in-laws) were great. They were loving women and welcomed me with open arms. Even though both marriages have ended, I still talk to both women. Before anyone jumps up screaming “interference”, please note that there are grandkids involved here. If we don’t talk, they wouldn’t be able to talk to their grandsons, since I have custody of the kids and they live out of state (I’m in Alaska).

    With my current boyfriend – we have lived together for 3 years, been dating almost four years. We have a 2 year old son together. He was excited to have me meet his mother. He thought we would get along great since we had a lot in common. Both divorced twice with three sons. Oh how he could not have been more wrong. To this day she will not look me in the eye and will not spend more than 10 minutes in my presence, in my own home, once a year. I’m not even allowed at her home. Don’t get me started on all of the crap she has pulled in the last 3 years to try to get him to move back home with her.

    There may be reasons why he hasn’t introduced you yet. You’ve been together 8 months. Perhaps his family gets attached easily, and he worries that if there is a break-up, it will be hard on his mother. Maybe his family has idiosyncracies that he wants to wait a bit longer before he opens that box and shows them to you. Maybe he’s waiting for a bigger occasion (say a one-year anniversary?) to introduce you all.
    Ask him. Playing mental Clue to puzzle it all out on your own won’t get you anywhere.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    bostonpupgal February 16, 2011, 1:38 pm

    I have been in this EXACT, and I mean exact situation. Down to the sending baked goods to his mom and exchanging Christmas gifts through my boyfriend with his parents. After MONTHS of asking, I finally met them and his mom absolutely adored me, but eventually I realized her son “just wasn’t that into me”, as they say, and the reason I hadn’t met his family was because he liked me enough to keep the relationship going, but did not see himself with me in the future and didn’t want to take any steps that would lead us into more serious territory. Needless to say, he was dumped.

    So, for this reason, I disagree with Wendy’s advice that he’s definitely into you. Is he? Do you notice he procrastinates other things too, like you meeting his friends? Is he attentive? Does he make the effort to spend time with you? Does he promptly respond to your emails and texts, call you, etc? If the answer to these other questions is also “no”, then you’re not meeting his parents because he doesn’t see himself with you in the long term, and therefore sees no need to introduce you to them.

    If, however, he is attentive, committed, and loving in every other aspect of the relationship, a conversation and some firm prodding are in order

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    bostonpupgal February 16, 2011, 1:43 pm

    Also, I asked him point blank if there were issues with me meeting his family, and he always said no. He gave vague answers like “oh yeah we’ll have to do that soon” or ”Yeah I’ll set that up”, and just never made it happen. I realized it was similar to his attitude about the relationship in general, not defiant or unhappy, just vaguely unwilling to put in much effort.

    When I met my fiance, he couldn’t wait to introduce me to his family and friends. If his family is important to him, and he’s serious about you, he’ll make it happen, not put it off.

    Reply Link
  • sobriquet

    sobriquet February 16, 2011, 2:22 pm

    When a 31 year old man has met someone who he potentially wants to marry, he should be ecstatic about introducing her to his mother. Especially since they live close by! Something’s fishy. The mother bought her a present without meeting her? This is very strange. Hopefully he’s just nervous. If he doesn’t fess up soon I would have cause for concern.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    IdaTarbell February 16, 2011, 4:26 pm

    As a woman, I know I’m super nervous about my SO meeting my family at 5 months in. (Granted, my parents live 2 hours away.) I’m nervous because my SO comes from a different socio-economic group than my family, and also my dad in his older age and medications can act a little goofy. I’m sure it will be fine when it happens, but my nervousness comes from really liking my SO, so maybe that’s the same case for the LW. At least, I hope.

    Reply Link
    • sobriquet

      sobriquet February 16, 2011, 5:08 pm

      I think it’s little different for women. Parents are typically more overprotective of their daughters when it comes to dating. I feel like a man has to prove to his girlfriend’s parents that he is worthy of dating their daughter whereas a woman is welcomed into the boyfriend’s family until she proves that she is unworthy.

      Reply Link
  • avatar

    Fairhaired Child February 16, 2011, 11:06 pm

    I see a lot of responses that are along the same lines that I’m posting. This is a very touchy subject. Because as people have pointed out 1) he may be embarrassed by his family on some level either because of behavior or living conditions etc 2) the whole he hasnt brought anyone home before in a long time or 3) he may not feel like its that important of a factor.

    However, a good sign of him being truthful about his current relationship to his family is that his mother got her a gift for xmas. My one friend was in a relationship for 2 years before she met the parents, and we all (except her of course) felt that she was the mistress for those 2 years because of many reasons – she actually had met his parents on several occasions but as his “friend from college who just happened to be in the same theater etc as them” and he was very flaky about hanging out and calling her etc. But I dont think the LW has anything like that to worry about.

    I’ve been dating my bf for about a year, and while he’s met my mother and several of my extended family members, he has not yet met my brother who is a father figure to me. This is personally because of me worrying of what my brother with think of him. I haven’t introduced a boyfriend to my brother in over 8 years. But this is because my brother is in the military and he is very intimidating as well as unwelcoming to new people.

    On the discussion of sharing her phone number or email address. I’m on the fence with this one, because it really depends on how well the meeting goes with the family, if they become great friends right away then sure exchange numbers. But for the most part with me and family members of friends or S.O.s I think the LW should ask her bf if that would make him uncomfortable if she talked with his family members without him starting the conversation, and maybe wait till more “family hang outs” occur before asking for a number.

    Of course, if she wants to she could def. offer her own email or phone number up if she feels that they are all comfortable enough with each other, but I would never ask for it outright. She could phrase it like “oh and if you cant get ahold of -insert bf name here- you can always try to reach me if he doesnt answer because we are usually always together anyway” – thats pretty much the only reason I talk to my bf’s mom on the phone is if my bf doesnt have his phone or isnt picking it up.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    brown eyed girl March 19, 2017, 1:11 am

    To be honest, my current relationship of 8 months is from my others. I was getting necklaces and nice hoodies from my one ex, then he heard rumours about me and the trust was gone and another ex was a high school sweet heart and he put effort in as well but not as much and it just didnt work out…just seen him actually..we dont talk but dont hate him.
    This current bf lives an hour away and hes very respectful, complete gentleman but very guarded. He was heartbroken prolly 5 years ago and that was the last girl he took home. His family knows of me and our relationship (met thr parents, not the brother) .he didnt ever refuse to not meet the family, he just said “maybe one day” …we ended up going to an event and he had too much alcohol so i drove him home….little did i know his family was there…. Anf bam, i met the parents. I was disappointed that he was drunk and felt like thats the only way he could feel comfortable introducing me. They were extatic! He hasnt said when ill see them again but they do like me…hes met my brother and soon will meet my mom… Hes not clingy nor do we talk every day…but hes not that type of person. Thats what he likes…im not annoying or needy. I think at the end of the day, us girls are use to watching chick flicks and the “perfect” guy when every guy is different.
    I think just give it time…dont be pushy. Once it hits a year and nothin, then id bring it up again. If he treats you good, is respectful and both fancy and simple dates, i wouldmt wanna loose that by being impatient..if hes not cheating on u, 8 months is still a while to be with u cuz obviouslt mean enough to him…

    Reply Link

Leave a Comment