Introducing Your Partner to Your Parents


Introducing Your Partner

to Your Parents

by Renee Zalles

I’m dating the coolest girl ever and I want her to meet my family! The problem is that they don’t know I’m gay. I don’t want to just introduce her as my “friend,” but I want my family to meet her because she is really important to me. My main concern is my mom. I know it’ll break her heart because she has a life planned out for me in her head and I know it doesn’t involve me being with a girl. Any suggestions on how to tell her without her crying forever?
— Anonymous

Renee Says:

First of all, it’s really awesome that you are dating somebody you feel is important enough to meet your family. That’s a big step! However, it sounds like you have a few additional steps to climb before introducing your date to the fam.

I applaud your desire to be honest with your family, rather than introduce your date as a “friend.” I think that’s a bold and admiral first step toward a proud life. But based on how you’ve described your mom, breaking the news to her isn’t going to be easy. One word you used above really resonated with me: forever. Like many highly emotional situations, this is going to be a bit of a journey that at times may feel like it really is taking forever, rather than just the length of one conversation. While the emotion won’t literally last forever, it could take some time for your mom to be in a place where she’s comfortable having your date over to dinner.

Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to prevent your mom from crying. The best you can do is tell her about yourself in a calm way, listen to her, and, if need be, give her space or time to process the news. Part of that process may require putting the idea of having this girl over for dinner on the backburner for a while. It may be hard to accept your mom’s initial negative reaction, but if you allow her to sit in that space for a while, she may very well come around. However, I think that putting the extra pressure of a dinner on her may slow the process. Tackle one thing at a time. Come out, get comfortable, and then make the introductions.

Despite advocating for mutual respect in this situation, I do want to be clear that it is not your responsibility to sugar-coat this for her. The best you can do is to try to understand that at first, she may have some very negative feelings about it and these feelings might take time to evolve (hopefully) to a more positive place.

It’s also crucial that you distance yourself from language like “break her heart,” because this type of language directly implicates you as a wrongdoer. And if you take one thing away from this, it’s that by being yourself, you are doing something good, not bad, and you are breaking no hearts. Those who react negatively to others’ happiness have work to do on themselves—don’t ever let them put that responsibility on you.

Renee Zalles has a BA in English Lit, a MFA in Advertising, and a PhD in being gay.

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