I’ve been dating my boyfriend for almost a year, and I’m ready for him to meet my family. The problem is, my boyfriend works in construction, and I’m in a family of lawyers and doctors. I worry they’ll look down on him, or worse, won’t think we should even be together. How should I handle this so everyone gets along and respects each other? – Kathleen in Northbrook, IL
Kathleen, when we open our hearts and minds, it is much easier to respect others. This is true on so many levels, including our attitudes around a person’s worth based on their occupation. A career never exclusively defines an individual. Shared values such as integrity, honesty, and caring are far more important.
After reading your question, and reviewing a second time, I need to ask if you are possibly projecting your feelings onto your family members. While this may not be the case, it is an aspect that you should fully consider and explore. You may have an unconscious bias around his career choice. In no way does that imply you don’t truly love and respect your boyfriend.
Sometimes there are things that are deep in our unconscious psyche that we need to bring out. When we project our feelings and thoughts of how people will respond in any given situation, these unconscious thoughts manifest themselves. Take some time for introspection and sort through your own feelings. Don’t rationalize them away; instead, try to understand what they are, where they’re coming from, and with what basis. A long walk to ponder and identify why you feel this way will move you forward.
How Much Does Your Family Know?
Thinking about your question and considering the best approach to take with your family brings forth a number of questions. Have you shared your relationship with your family? Unless you have been secretive, they should already know you are in a wonderful, loving relationship.
If you have been open with your family and sharing news about your life, most likely you have been telling them about your boyfriend. They have had the opportunity to get to know him through you and your stories shared. Your family may have had a broader experience so that they recognize a career doesn’t define who you are as a person. They are probably excited to meet him and looking forward to getting to know him better.
If you have never shared any information regarding your relationship or boyfriend, now is the time to start. This is an important aspect of your life, and part of the underlying base of your happiness. Be open and honest with your family when sharing your exciting news. Talk about how he makes you feel, the special ways he shows his love, and how he is a source of strength and support.
These are the important things you share with your family before they’ve met him. It will give your family the opportunity to understand how important he is to you, and they will be able to look forward to meeting this special person. At the end of the day, the things that matter deeply to your family are how he makes you feel and that he fills your life with joy and purpose.
Share stories with your family about all the little things he does which make a difference in your day or week: the thoughtful ways your boyfriend makes you happy. Through these stories, your family gets to know more about who he is before they meet him.
Reprogramming a Judgmental Family
If you have a previous experience regarding your family’s judgmental beliefs, you need a deeper conversation with them prior to introducing your boyfriend. Talk with your family about his career, and express your concerns about their possible feelings. Ask them to go down that same path to open their hearts and to consider how their own bias could negatively influence their impression of your boyfriend’s worth.
It doesn’t matter what type of career your boyfriend has. His work does not define him, his integrity, or the value he contributes. This is an important growing process, for you personally, for your family, and for you as a couple. If you follow this approach, you will all be able to celebrate and share your relationship.
Lynn Whitbeck is the co-founder and President of Petite2Queen. She is focused on identifying and evaluating opportunities for women at work, helping them define their personal roadmap. She dedicates herself to delivering tools and insights, embracing visualization of the big picture, and identifying and implementing the minutiae of detail. Lynn aims to share lessons learned along her journey and enable positive uplift for women.