You have problems, I have advice. This advice isn't sugar-coated - in fact, it's sugar-free, and may even be a little bitter. Welcome to Tough Love.
This week we have a guy who isn't sure how to approach introducing his new girlfriend to his mother.
Keep in mind, I'm not a therapist or any other kind of health professional - just a guy who's willing to tell it like it is. I simply want to give you the tools you need to enrich your damn lives. If for whatever reason you don't like my advice, feel free to file a formal complaint here. Now then, let's get on with it.
So, I recently entered a relationship with a new girl who I really like. We are compatible in so many ways and she is starting to become someone very special to me. I would like to introduce her to my mother; however, she is trans and Jewish, two things my African American, Christian mother may not be OK with.
Homophobia is so rampant in the African American community and I don't want my girlfriend to be responsible for being an educator to my family and community. However, I don't have a negative relationship with my family, and I want my girlfriend to be a bigger part of my life. What should I do?
Looking for Answers
Hey Looking for Answers:
You're right on the money. Your girlfriend shouldn't be the educator in this scenario - you should. Before you introduce your partner, you need to talk to your mother about all of this. Be upfront and honest - tell her how much you care about this person and how special they are to you - but be prepared for her to be upset at first. Don't get defensive or angry. Take a step back and grant her the opportunity to be surprised and confused. She needs to get it out of her system, and she needs to register that her disapproving scowls won't change how you feel.
Then, give her some time to get over the shock, if there is any (it's possible she's more open-minded than you give her credit for). After a little while, set up a dinner at your place to make the introduction. Your place will make everyone feel more comfortable than a public location; it will show that you mean business (you're the host); and tasty food on the table will give everyone a good distraction if they need it. This will probably be an awkward and difficult meal, but it's necessary. Suck it up. Your job will be to facilitate and educate your mum, protect and comfort your girlfriend when needed, and keep things positive as best you can. You should be doing all of the heavy lifting.
Now, after the meal, here's what you do next: Give your mother more time. Time to accept how things are, time to ask questions (let her ask questions!), and time to get to know your girlfriend. In fact, the more time you can get your mother to spend with your girlfriend, and vice versa, the better. Give her the chance to see past the labels and get to know the wonderful person you deeply care for. It's possible for your mum to be more understanding, but only if you give her time to open her eyes and decide to change. It won't happen overnight.
If, after you give her some time (and I'm talking maybe up to a year), she still doesn't accept your partner, you lay your cards out on the table. You tell your mother that you love her very much, but that you won't be a part of family functions any more if she can't get over it. Basically, you tell your family, "If you want to see me, then you need to accept her." No ifs, ands or buts. They need to know how important this person is to you, and how serious you are about being above the typical ideals held by certain communities. This is your life and your love - you need to be the one to cultivate understanding and acceptance here.
That's it for this week. I probably didn't make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but sometimes what you need is some tough love. 'Til next time, figure things out for yourself.