Life

Ask Fiona: I'm annoyed my parents are refusing to meet my boyfriend

Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine offers guidance to a young woman whose parents are unwilling to meet her new boyfriend

You need to sit down with your parents and brother to find out what the issues are
Fiona Caine
SS

I'M 17 and unlike a lot of my friends, I've always got on well with my parents. They've never minded that I've never really conformed, either in the way I dress, do my hair or in my opinions about things – they've seemed happy for me to make up my own mind. Which is why I'm so confused about their attitude to my new boyfriend. He is really kind, loving and caring and he's the first guy I've been out with who thinks and acts like me. Yes, he's a non-conformist – he colours his hair, he plays in a band and goes on demonstrations about things he cares for, like Brexit and the environment.

They didn't mind when I told them about him, or when I showed them his photo. They were due to meet him but then my elder brother saw him at a concert and things fell apart. My brother spoke to my parents and now they've said they don't want me to see him anymore. I have suggested they let me bring him home so they can judge for themselves, but they won't even talk about it.

My boyfriend and I have managed to talk a few times on the phone, and he's said he is willing to do whatever it takes, but my parents just won't listen. I am so miserable and think the only thing I can do now is leave home as soon as I'm 18 to be with him.

Fiona Says

At almost 18, you are old enough to know your own feelings and you clearly think a lot of this young man. At 18, you'll be legally an adult and able to do what you want, regardless of how your parents feel. However, although they won't be able to stop you, they will still care about you (as they obviously do now), so it's worth trying to find out what's gone wrong. It would be shame if the good relationship you've had with your parents over the years breaks down because of this – especially as you're not being told what the problem is. If your parents have always been so supportive, their reaction is surprising. That seems to suggest that perhaps your brother saw something serious that worried him, and this has worried your parents too. Have you tried talking to your brother to try and find out what he saw? After all, it's his word that is the cause of the present stalemate between you, your parents and your boyfriend.

I hope I'm wrong, but I rather suspect your brother maybe thought he saw something serious, like drug-taking, for example, which would explain your parent's opposition. However, your brother could have completely misunderstood what he was seeing and as your parents clearly listen to him, it would be good to know what he told them.

If you could get your brother to understand how you feel then perhaps he'd be willing to meet your boyfriend and get to the bottom of what happened at the concert. Let's hope it was a complete misunderstanding and your boyfriend wasn't doing anything that should cause concern. In which case, your brother might be willing to modify his opposition a bit and at least tell your parents that he was mistaken – if he was. If he won't or can't tell you and won't help, do you have another relative or family-friend that could intercede for you? If nothing you do will make them listen, perhaps you could try writing them a long, reasonable letter, just like the one you sent to me. This might bring matters to a head, but I am sure the last thing they want is for you to leave home when you're still so young. If, though, your brother gives you a very good reason why he's opposed to your relationship, then do please listen to what he has to say. It may be he hasn't wanted to tell you because he's afraid it will hurt you, but it would seem it's hurting you far more not knowing. If your boyfriend has been doing something serious, that you can understand your parents' and brother's opposition to, it might be worth rethinking how you feel about him.

LA

I'M TOO SCARED TO LET MY FIANCE SEE ME WITHOUT MAKE-UP

I'VE SO little confidence about the way I look, unless I'm wearing make-up and have done my hair, that my fiance of three years has never seen me without it. He's really good-looking and he's always telling me how good I look, but I'm sure he wouldn't think so if he saw the real me.

We plan to get married next year but I feel he would lose interest in me if he saw what I really looked like. I've had one lot of cosmetic surgery (on my nose) and I plan to get my teeth done shortly, but what if he goes off me before I've had it done? I don't understand why I worry like this and I've no one I can talk to about it. Please help.

Fiona Says

Your lack of self-confidence and a low self-image are, I suspect, far more in need of fixing than your teeth or your nose. You have a fiance who loves you as you are, and I'm sure he realises that you're wearing make-up and will look different without it.

 

I'm quite sure he hasn't based his decision to marry you on the fact that you will always be wearing make-up and, indeed, he may welcome seeing the 'real' you for a change.

 

Overcoming this crippling lack of self-confidence won't be easy but you need to like yourself for who you are, not for the image you've created for others. I'd really like to encourage you to talk to your fiance about your feelings - perhaps, gradually, start wearing less and less make-up when you're together? If you really can't talk to him though, talk to your GP, who could refer you for counselling help – something you'd possibly have to pay for but at considerably less cost than cosmetic surgery.

NC

WILL HE HAVE AN ARRANGED MARRIAGE?

THERE'S a guy I work with that I've really fallen for and I would love things to develop further into marriage, and I think he does too. However, as he is Indian, I am worried that I will lose him to an arranged marriage unless I move quickly. He never talks about his culture or his religion – so am I worrying unnecessarily?

Fiona Says

I think you are most definitely getting way ahead of yourself here. You don't seem to really know how this man feels about you and it doesn't sound as if you've spent much time together, outside of work.

Do you know for a fact that he's interested in a more serious relationship with you? You say you 'think' you know what he wants – but can you be certain?

He may not talk about his culture or his religion and that could mean anything from his having rejected it at one end of the scale, to having a deep respect for it at the other.

It sounds to me as if he is just a good friend for now so any talk about marriage is very premature. This may sound harsh, but I think you need to get to know this young man a lot more before worrying about marriage – arranged or otherwise.

PL

HAVEN'T SEEN MY FRIEND SINCE SHE REVEALED FEELING FOR ME

MY marriage went through a bad patch last summer and I relied quite heavily on a friend for support and advice about my feelings for my husband. She gave her time freely, and I am sure if I'd not had her to talk to, my marriage would be over. My husband and I are getting along well again now – so when my friend confessed to me that she had developed feelings for me and that she wanted me to be with her, it was a shock.

I'm afraid I didn't handle it very well, I told her I'm not gay and have never been interested in anyone that way, and so a relationship wasn't possible. She left and I haven't seen her since.

A mutual friend told me that she still feels badly hurt, which makes me feel so guilty, but honestly, I don't think I ever gave her any indication I was interested. All I wanted was someone to talk things through with to help me save my marriage. Is there any chance I could rescue this friendship?

Fiona Says

Sadly, I can't see things between you and your friend returning to the way they were. Once a declaration like that has been made, it is hard to go back to a simple friendship – certainly for the immediate future.

Your friend is feeling hurt and rejected and may well feel the same for a while, so any approach from you at the moment is only likely to give her hope. It was a difficult situation for you to handle and I don't think you should feel too badly about being honest with her.

However harsh it seems, I think you are better off maintaining your distance for now. In time, she may want to rekindle a friendship with you but please don't give her any false hopes.

Try not to feel guilty; you were talking to her about your relationship with your husband so she was always fully aware of the nature of your friendship. So, whilst you are sorry for the way she's feeling, there really very little you can do to make things better.

If you have a problem you need help with, email Fiona by writing to help@askfiona.net for advice. All letters are treated in complete confidence and, to protect this privacy, Fiona is unable to pass on your messages to other readers. Fiona regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence.

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