I am a 24 year old Hispanic woman from Texas. I met and fell in love with my boyfriend, Tom, two years ago when we were in grad school. We currently live in separate apartments in San Francisco. He has been offered a fantastic job in New York, where he is from, and wants to take it. We have decided to relocate and move in together.
The problem is he that is from a very conservative family. I’ve not met them yet, but he has told me a couple of stories. It sounds like his parents might be narrow minded and I fear that they will be prejudiced against me because my family is from El Salvador and I definitely I look Hispanic.
Tom says they won’t have any problem with my race, but I am very scared they will not accept me. I’m not even sure they will like that we plan on living together. If they don’t like me, does that mean I would break up with Tom? Both of us are committed to each other, we are soulmates and partners. We have talked about marriage, but we have so much we want to do before then. Right now we just want to be together and build our careers.
My parents haven’t met Tom either but I have told them about him. They are happy I am with someone nice. I haven’t told them that we are moving in together and I don’t think they are going to be very happy about that as we are Catholic. But I would rather take one thing at a time.
. . . . . .
The great thing about the problems you just described is that they don’t exist. Thus far they have played out only in your head. None of this has come to fruition and there’s no reason to believe that it will.
Let’s review what has played out: You and Tom have established a solid, loving relationship and you have decided to move across the country together. Your parents are happy that you are in a relationship with someone nice. Tom believes that his parents will not have a problem with your race.
This all sounds promising.
What you’re doing by worrying about things that haven’t happened and then worrying what will happen if they do is called catastrophizing. Essentially, your imagination takes a walk down the Negative Brick Road and envisions every awful outcome despite the fact that those outcomes have little basis in reality.
“What if his parents don’t like me? What if his parents like me at first but then blame me if we live together? Do I have to break up with him?”
Don’t stress yourself out unnecessarily. Slow down. Be present. When your mind starts to wonder down the road of “What if this happens and then this and then catastrophe?!” try to stop it. Take a deep breath and concern yourself only with things that have happened and that are happening.
It’s natural to be nervous to meet your boyfriend’s parents. I recommend sticking with general nervousness rather than playing out the worst case scenario. You say that you and Tom are soulmates and partners. Trust then that you will work through problems together as they arise.
The one issue on the table that can be dealt with in the near future is you telling your parents you are moving in with Tom. Tom should focus on telling his parents the same. Both sets of parents will react as they’re going to and you’ll deal with that reaction when you know what it is.
Every day, all over this country, parents disapprove of their adult children moving in with a significant other before getting married. In pretty much ever case I’ve heard of (my own included), parents express verbal disapproval and then accept the situation. Some parents (even super-Catholic ones) don’t even bother to express disapproval. They recognize that their children are adults and leave it at that. I suspect you and Tom will find this to be true.
Once your parents and his parents know what’s going on, focus on the move itself. Start packing and planning. Let the story unfold in its own time. Congratulations on this next exciting chapter in your life!
You can ask Samara and Caroline questions for the Love & Life Advice Column here at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* The ideas and advice presented here are not a substitute for professional advice. Talk to your psychologist, counselor, physician or health care professional for situations that warrant further analysis.