How Do I Keep My Boyfriend From Bolting After He Meets My Obnoxious Family?

Hi Evan, I’m in a great relationship with a great guy. The time has come for him to meet my family. I hate to admit it, but they’re a total embarrassment to me. My parents are a stone’s throw from being hillbillies, and two brothers are totally crude and obnoxious, telling tasteless jokes and displaying the worst manners. This is the reason why I haven’t introduced him to any of them yet. I don’t see them much, and have tried hard to distance myself from them because they are not a reflection of who I am.

I don’t want my boyfriend to run because of what he’s getting himself into. I had one guy do that already and am scared to death. I know I can’t hide my family. How do I handle this?


Dear LJ,

I saw this on The Bachelorette a couple of seasons ago and I have to admit, that’s a really tough thing to overcome. Some male contestant in the top 4 brings home the Bachelorette to meet his Dad and it’s white trash heaven. She takes a tour of the basement, which is filled with scores of dead animal heads, and all she can do is keep a frozen smile on her face. Hard to believe that this didn’t impact her perception of the guy.

But should it?

That all depends on one thing: how close you are to your family and how often you’re going to see each other.

I asked my wife for permission to tell our story because I think it’s relevant.

That all depends on one thing: how close you are to your family and how often you’re going to see each other.

Her Dad is certainly no hillbilly, but let’s just say that we would never choose each other as pals. He’s a retired Navy fighter pilot. He has Rush Limbaugh on in every room of his house. He drinks. He smokes. He drinks some more. He lacks certain social graces. He’s opinionated and stubborn and rarely sees the value in compromise. But he’s not a bad man, not at all; he’s bright, loves classical music and Shakespeare, spent his career defending our country, and truly enjoys spending time with his three children and their partners – mostly smoking, drinking, playing Trivial Pursuit and watching Jeopardy.

Now if I had to spend every weekend with my father-in-law, it might get strained because we’re such different people, and it’s hard for me to shut my mouth.

But I don’t have to spend every weekend with my father-in-law.

Once a year, we’ll visit – my wife goes a week; I go for 3 days. I smile and nod at the Obama the Evil Negro Socialist talk and enjoy the company of the rest of the family. And that’s all there is to it.

This is her family. And it’s not my place to judge her for something beyond her control, nor is it my place to come between them.

I’m married to my wife. This is her family. And it’s not my place to judge her for something beyond her control, nor is it my place to come between them. It’s my job to love my wife unconditionally and do everything in my power to make her happy.

Your boyfriend, if he’s as great as you say he is, will understand your embarrassment, support you through it, and not blame you for the sins of your brothers.

And as long as he only has to go through this a few times a year, it should be a small price to pay for him to be with such an amazing partner. Don’t you think?


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  1. 1

    Have you “warned” your bf what you family is like? You could do that in a light-hearted, joking way – explaining that you feel so different from them (like Marilyn Munster) you don’t visit often. Present the visit along the lines of an adventurous look at another culture.

  2. 2

    Many people as adults feel embarrassed by their parents, the way their parents treat them and by the way they act around their parents.   Yet to other people, their parents don’t look that bad and if they do, they don’t equate that with the person that they know.    If they do, then they aren’t right for the relationship.

  3. 3

    If you’re not putting on you Hee Haw garb, why should he be concerned?  Pre-warn in a light-hearted way, and hope your beau is mature.

  4. 4

    I have a similar concern. My BF’s family is downright rude and mean. We have been together almost two years and they only invite him and not me to holiday parties, stating “family only”. BF doesn’t go at all then and I feel both glad and sad at  the same time. I don’t understand this behavior at all.

  5. 5

    Disclosure: I chose to live my adult life 3000 miles away from my large, unusual family of origin. That said, I love them and miss them and feel if a guy is really interested in the whole me, he’ll accept them — within reasonable limits — and realize they’re part of who I am, but they don’t define me. For me, my feelings of embarrassment  about my family were a reflection of my own insecurities about myself and who I was outside of my family. Families are messy, complicated and a crap shoot. People who don’t have family or have lost family, long for family. Those of us who do have family, often wish they were different — more educated, refined, sober, thoughtful, tactful, rich etc. And then we feel guilty that we wish that.  I do think small doses is key, and a reasonable amount of protectiveness doesn’t hurt, either (example: don’t abandon your man with your deaf, anti-social father while you go shopping for 6 hrs with your sister).  But he’s a grownup and doesn’t need to be sheltered from them; in fact, you will probably learn a lot about HIM by observing how he interacts with your family.  Did I mention small doses? 

  6. 6

    I highly agree with the no abandonment clause from Zann above.

    A little time with the crazy family won’t kill a guy ;)  Totally reminds me of Meet the Parents movie, even though they weren’t hill billies :D

  7. 7

    I don’t think I could hack letting my man come home to meet my parents had they been like those described above. Instead, I think I’d rather die.
    In all seriousness, I’d persuade my parents to try and behave. I just couldn’t live with the embarrassment. Then again, I could just wait until the day we’re married then it wouldn’t really matter. ;)

  8. 8

    This post resonates with me. I have been seeing a wonderful guy for 6 weeks now. Taking it easy and following Evan’s advice in many ways (Thank you!). It’s going really well. I’m 36, he is 41.

    I was raised by a single parent (he knows this and admires my mother for raising me well). I don’t have ALOT of family and the few i do, well it’s not overly functional. My mother does random things every so often like say  “i might move interstate” (i’m in Sydney). Recently she decided to give almost ALL her furniture to charity “as i was thinking of moving”. I definitely couldn’t introduce my beau at her place now almost empty apartment now she’s staying and doesn’t want to replace her furniture! A cafe will do if we get to the meet and greet stage. I’m really embarrassed though.

    He comes from a wealthier family, they have retired on the coast. 
    I have recently felt worried he’ll bolt because of my family situation (or lack of).  The old “like mother like daughter” fear whereas really, i am my own person of course and look forward and hope to building my own life and a family in a completely different way. Do guys really “judge” a girl by her family these days or as we hit our 30’s and 40’s?

  9. 9

    P.S I do think charity is a generous and good way to do such things when you move just to add!

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