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Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Boyfriend Still Hasn’t Introduced Me to His Parents and I Don’t Know Why”

I have been dating my boyfriend for seven months now and things are going well. I am 24 and he is 28. However, I have not yet met his parents and I’m starting to wonder why. First, they do not live in the same state. Mine do, and we have gotten together with them a few times. During the few times he has seen his parents while we have been dating, he has told me that they have told him that they want to meet me and to bring me to their house for a weekend some time. He seems excited in the moment, but it never comes to fruition. He makes other plans with me for months in the future but can’t seem to make that one. This most recent time he even suggested a potential actual date and when I said that would work for me, he then said he would have to check his schedule to make sure and that it may be hard due to other trips he has, and I feel like he kinda got weird (over text). Another note – he has also never brought a girl home or had a serious relationship and neither have either of his siblings (26 and 30). Should I be concerned? — Wanting to Meet the Parents

It depends on what you think you should be concerned *about.* I don’t think the hesitancy to introduce you to his parents is a reflection of his feelings for you, so I wouldn’t be concerned about that. He’s making plans with you months in advance, which shows an interest in a longer-term commitment to you. He acts excited by the *idea* of you meeting his parents. But the reality of your meeting them seems to provoke something in him that, yeah, maybe is worth exploring. Combine his hesitancy with his history of never bringing a woman home to meet his parents, his never having a serious relationship, and his siblings’ lack of relationship history, and you could infer that there might be a shared reason for all of this – a reason tied to his parents, his family, or the way he was raised.

Perhaps there have been other clues in your seven months together that might give you an idea of why your boyfriend is hesitant to introduce you to his parents or why he’s never had a serious relationship (although, to be fair, it’s not unheard of for a 28-year-old to have never had a serious relationship). Whether there have been clues or not, you know what would be a good way of finding out what’s going on? Ask him! Tell him you would love to meet his parents, but you’ve noticed that he seems to have been avoiding making an introduction and you’re wondering why. It’s important not to act defensive here or like you’re taking this personally. You want to express support, open-mindedness, and patience. Here’s a script you could follow:

“Hey, we’ve been dating for seven months now and things are getting more serious. You’ve met my parents and I’d really love the opportunity to meet yours, but there always seems to be an excuse to avoid this and I’m beginning to wonder what that’s about. I hope you know it’s ok to talk to me – that I care about you, I want to support you, and I’m not going anywhere. If there’s something I should know about your parents or your family before I meet them, please tell me. If there’s a reason you don’t want me to meet them, I want to know. And if there isn’t, let’s nail down a date that I can meet them because it’s important to me.”

He may not give you any solid answers, but at least the conversation has been opened and you can revisit it regularly until your boyfriend can give you the info you need to satisfy you. Just be careful not to push and not to take this personally. If there’s a secret he isn’t sharing with you, it’s safe to assume it’s something that causes him some discomfort or grief or pain or embarrassment, and it’s important to remain compassionate about that and to give him time to trust you with what he hasn’t been able to share yet.

 

(This one below was briefly published on the forums last week but inadvertently deleted due to some tech issues I was having. Some of you may recognize the letter).

I have met what most of your readers would call the perfect man. Absolutely smart, highly educated and gorgeous. He’s very passionate about his job, which pays very well. He is masculine but also has a very sensitive side, which is great. He is very romantic, and we’ve had a wonderful relationship for the last three years. He’s madly in love with me. He showers me with kisses, his family welcomes me, and he’s made it clear he wants to be with me for the rest of his life. He constantly tells me that he loves me. What bothers me is this: He’s not as charismatic as I would prefer.

He communicates well and listens attentively, but we don’t have the verbal chemistry that I find so attractive. We do have fun, but I find sometimes I meet people whom I “click with” verbally. I’m still young, so do you think I should keep looking for someone who perhaps lacks his many qualities but that can make me laugh more? Or after many years of being together, am I being unrealistic as conversations just get a little less interesting and duller? — Wanting More Chemistry

I would never, ever advise someone, especially someone young, to commit for life to someone she finds dull and uninteresting. I don’t care how madly in love with you he is, how gorgeous he is, or how much money his job pays. If the guy bores you, why on earth would you want to settle down to a lifetime of that? There are so many fish in the sea that this really isn’t a matter of your guy or someone who “lacks his many qualities, but that can make [you] laugh more.” I promise, there are men who can make you laugh AND have other good qualities to boot! Maybe you won’t find someone who has all the good qualities your boyfriend does, but who has the qualities that matter the most to you, you know? Obviously, the qualities your boyfriend has aren’t THEEE most important to you or you wouldn’t be writing in for advice. Keep looking for someone who doesn’t make you question whether what he offers, or what you share together, is enough. When it’s right, you know it.

***************
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.

9 comments… add one
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    Prognosti-gator January 5, 2022, 10:27 am

    LW1 reminds me of a scene from the 1985 movie “Real Genius” – when Jordan and Mitch finally become a “couple.”

    Jordan: Are you going to take me home to meet your parents?
    Mitch: No.
    Jordan: Why? Are you ashamed of me?
    Mitch: No. Them!

    He may not be hesitant for them to meet you, he may be hesitant for you to meet them.

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    • LisforLeslie January 5, 2022, 12:51 pm

      This was exactly my thinking too. If none of the siblings have introduced partners I suspect it’s not the partners who are are issue.

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    • A Simple Narwhal January 5, 2022, 3:01 pm

      This totally! I don’t think I met my husband’s parents until we had been together for over a year and already lived together. They’re divorced and live in a different state so logistics were a factor, but another big factor is that my husband doesn’t like being around his parents too much, and they don’t really fill the parental role in his life. They divorced horribly when he was young and pretty much both became abusive alcoholics, so while they’ve both since recovered and made serious changes in their lives, his relationship with them is definitely (and understandably) at an arms length.

      So I understood why meeting them wasn’t a big priority. I did however meet the people in his life that were important to him, so it never felt like he was hiding me or holding things back. For OP1 – has he introduced you to other meaningful people in his life? Because if you feel like a welcome and important fixture in his life, I wouldn’t be too worried about not meeting his parents yet. (But definitely do ask him if there’s a reason like Wendy suggested.)

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    • Avatar photo

      Copa January 6, 2022, 2:35 pm

      Yep. I also relate to this.

      I have a difficult relationship with my parents. I’m close to my mom in certain ways, but never volunteered much about dating/relationships. I’m not at all close to my dad. I feel embarrassed by their relationship with each other. I probably introduced my boyfriend to them around the 8-9 month mark of dating and even then it was mostly because he gave me a ride to my hometown in a different state and dropped me off at their house. I could’ve put it off for a looong while. It was never a reflection on him. On the flip side, a lot of his family is local and I was introduced sooner in a way that felt lower stakes. Anyway, just ask him about it!

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  • anonymousse January 5, 2022, 11:04 am

    Some guys I dated would introduce anyone to their parents, and it meant nothing to them and their parents were used to it and found nothing objectionable to him having a lot of female friends. Others would never unless it was really serious. I did date a guy incredibly embarrassed of his parents and his situation because his mom cared for their elderly disabled grandfather and I guess people maybe were put off by that before? Don’t read into it. Ask him about it. You had a date sort of set up, it’s not weird to ask why it keeps not happening. It will strengthen your relationship to talk to him about it calmly and listen to what he says without assigning any judgement or jumping to conclusions.

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  • anonymousse January 5, 2022, 8:15 pm

    I would also like to add, when my husband and I met, got serious, got pregnant, and got married we were living very far away from both of our families. I had only met a few of his relatives and he had met none of mine before we got married in a tiny civil ceremony. And I have a different/strange relationship with my parents than some but I don’t think it’s that uncommon for parents not to be all that involved in relationships at this age/stage in this day and age unless you are very close and live close, etc.

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    • anonymousse January 5, 2022, 8:16 pm

      *Very close meaning you tell them things about your life/they are sometimes involved in it.

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  • Allornone January 6, 2022, 4:02 pm

    I had been dating my boyfriend for three years and was in the process of moving in with him before I met his mom and stepdad (bio dad not in the picture). He had indicated early on that a prior girlfriend had forced the issue of meeting the parents, and if not meeting them made me uncomfortable, he would arrange it, but he’d rather not. It was really apparent it was more of “them” issue than a “me” one. Plus, there’s a language barrier at play. I can be ridiculously self-conscious, so sparing myself the stress of trying to impress someone I can barely communicate with for the time being seemed pretty all right by me. I did ask him occasionally about it. He believably assured me it wasn’t me. He just has a strange relationship with his family. In contrast, he met my family, my entire family, including my sister’s in-laws, about 3 WEEKS into dating. So this alone is no reason to be really concerned.

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  • allathian January 7, 2022, 7:07 am

    I’ve only had two relationships that advanced to the “meet the parents” stage. My first boyfriend met my parents when we’d been dating about two months, I was 23 and he was 30 when we met. At the time, this felt like a long time, because while I and my parents lived in separate apartments, we lived in the same building, and I used their washing machine to do my laundry. His parents lived a 2-hour drive away, and at the time he didn’t have a car, and I didn’t even have a license. I finally met his parents about two years into the relationship. They were nice people, but they’d just reconciled after a separation that could’ve led to divorce, and when I met them, I realized that they shared a spark of mutual love and respect that was lacking in our relationship. A couple weeks later I broke up with him. He didn’t have a particularly close relationship with his parents and only saw them about once or twice a year, so not meeting them earlier wasn’t really a red flag for me. But that relationship was pretty doomed from the start, and only lasted as long as it did because I was too inexperienced to know any better (more in love with the idea of having a boyfriend than with my boyfriend), and he was extremely conflict avoidant to the point that he would refuse to argue, and I’d try my damnedest to provoke him, and in a vicious circle we’d go. He didn’t protest when I ended it, and at least this way I didn’t wallow in misery for months trying to figure out why he’d break up with me, so I guess it was all good in the end. But if I’d been more experienced, the relationship would’ve ended at 3 months, instead of lasting 2 years and a bit.

    After that breakup I was single for about 8 years, with a couple FWBs but not much luck dating. When I met my husband, we were in an LDR for a long time, and when he was visiting my city, we mostly spent the time together. But most of his friends lived here, and both my and his parents lived here, and I still lived in the same apartment building as my parents. So he met my parents when we’d been together for about a month, essentially our 4th date was coffee with my parents and sister, and I met his mom and sister about a month after that, at a time when I only saw him on weekends (and later on vacation). His relationship with his father’s always been fairly distant, and when his parents divorced, he was 16 and lucky to see his dad on his birthday and at Christmas, so I only met his dad when we’d been dating for about 6 months. Both of us were certain we were in it for the long haul very early on, he basically moved in with me for visits to his old hometown on our second date/weekend together. The alternative was to spend the night in his mom’s spare room…

    There really are no rules for when you “should” meet the parents of the person you’re dating.

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