Teenage Problems/My boyfriend's meeting my parents soon.. how to handle this?
I'm 23. I told my parents about my new boyfriend who I've been dating for 6 months now. He's 27, I'm 23.
I'm Indian, my parents aren't religious despite what some stereotypes are of Indian people, we drink alcohol, we're not Muslim, my boyfriend's white, he's of English and American descent, his mum's a New Yorker, his dad's from Warrington, Cheshire.
However, they want to meet him next weekend but on two conditions - the first, they told me, is, they think he's boring [he isn't, he's got a personality but not one that people will hate], and the second, which is a bit odd, is he has to be in his undies when he meets them. I don't strip to my undies in the house, they accept that, but they insist all guests do, and it's caused friction, neighbors have stopped coming over.
My parents behavior has changed a fair bit over the years; they've gone from keeping up with the Joneses to being in the house in their underwear 24-7, boozing and cooking.
I don't live at home with them, I rent a small flat, am a young professional, so as much as I love them, I don't have to be around them in their underwear; what if I had guests back and was living at home, how would I explain that to them? If they want to be that way, the fine, but not in my house.
My main problem is why they think he's boring, and why they insist on him wearing only his undies in the house, I mean isn't that a weird way of meeting-the-parents ?
I told him about this on Thursday, and he felt wholly uncomfortable about being in his underpants around them. He said to me about that if they thought he was boring, then fine, it's their opinion, but neither of us can understand why they want to see him in just his underwear.
I'm wondering, how should we handle this? Get them to meet him at somewhere like a pub or restaurant, or at my flat. I'm running out of ideas on how to handle this situation... what do I do?
Thank you for taking the time to write to me and I apologize for the delay in getting back to you. My offline job has been a bit manic over the last week and it has been difficult to get some time to respond, so I apologize for not responding as soon as I would have liked.
I understand how difficult things must be for you at the moment because you want your partner to meet your parents and vice versa but you don't want him to get the wrong impression of him (ie, being boring) and you don't want him to meet your parents and think that they are strange. It is about trying to make the meeting as positive and comfortable as possible with minimal chance of anyone getting offended or angry. It is a positive step forward for your parents to meet your boyfriend and him to meet them because you want all of them in your lives so I think a meeting has to occur at some point and it is about managing the situation as best you can without you feeling like you have to take sides.
I would advise you that sometimes, no matter how nice a person is, it can be difficult for them to get on with their partner's parents for a number of reasons and in some circumstances, it is an accepted part of a relationship that contact with them will be minimal so that the relationship can survive. If your parents think your boyfriend is boring and has no personality, that is their opinion and they maybe unlikely to change it, even after a meeting, because they have already formed their opinion and will spend every interaction trying to prove themselves right opposed to meeting him and then forming an opinion. Similarly, if you boyfriend already has a preconceived idea about your parents, it is unlikely that his opinion of them will change. Your parents and your boyfriend do not have to like each other or spend a lot of time together, but all involved should at least try to keep things civil because they all love you.
In terms of your parents actual request to have all guests in their underwear, this does appear a little odd. I can understand a request to remove shoes when entering someone's property out of respect but I have never heard of this as a custom or tradition before. It could be something to do with keeping dirt out of the house but other than that, I cannot understand why they would request it. However, it is your parents' house and it is their decision so that has to be respected. That said, if you and your partner feel uncomfortable going to your parents' house because of this request then that is your decision and that also has to be respected.
The only way of getting around this issue would be to arrange meetings or visits outside of their property as you have suggested. You can meet them for lunch or a coffee and the advantage of meeting them outside of their own property is that if the atmosphere becomes stale or strained you and your boyfriend can have a pre-arranged excuse for needing to leave which means your parents will not get offended and your boyfriend can leave the situation if ever he feels uncomfortable without him appearing to be rude.
Meeting your parents at your flat is a good idea because you can set the rules but the only issue with this is that if the situation deteriorates then you will have to ask them to leave which will strain your relationship.
I think that any future interactions with your parents, especially those involving your boyfriend should be outside of their property and although this is not the most convenient or family friendly thing to do, it removes the awkwardness of the situation. Over time they may ask why it is that you do not go around and then is the time to have an open and honest conversation about their behaviour. If this conversation does occur and they reflect upon the impact that is has had on stopping their friends coming around and potentially yourself and your boyfriend, they may decide to change which can only make things easier.
I hope this helps.