When I finally worked out that my dad was going to meet my boyfriend, I had immediate flashbacks to being at Disney during spring break. Most of the shirts I saw were bad, but I saw one flashing the acronym of “DADD” which stood for Dads Against Daughters Dating. I knew this wasn’t going to be the case — thankfully my dad isn’t overprotective — but I still worried about the initial meeting. I also vowed to never let anyone I love buy that shirt.
I was nervous for both of them — I knew that they were going to get along at some point, but the initial meeting played out in my mind like an old Western standoff. In reality, the meeting was both cordial and civil, and afterwards my dad sent me an “I like Kyle” text with two thumbs up emojis. Deep down I knew he was going to, but my nervousness still lingered. What would I have done if my dad didn’t like my boyfriend? What happens if your friends don’t like your significant other? Where do other people fit into your relationship? This is where things get complicated.
After the dinner was over, I told my boyfriend that my dad liked him and said he was a nice guy. He looked at me and asked “what would have happened if he didn’t?” — which made me think about the things we take into consideration when we begin relationships. I did not have an answer for him.
Culturally and socially, the way in which our families think about our partners has some significance. When we want our family members to like our significant others or our friends, we want them to see the qualities in them that we see every day. Sometimes I think we see our partners as extensions of ourselves — qualities that we look for in others are ones that we carry as well. A judgement cast upon our partners or our friends are judgements cast upon ourselves sometimes. We are all different people inherently, but the association still stands.
Sometimes it can be hard to separate the way our friends and family feel about our partners from the way that we feel about them. We want them to be liked as much as we like them, but sometimes that is not always the case. I have had many friends who have dated people I didn’t care for — maybe they saw something that I didn’t. Alternatively, I know that I’ve dated people they didn’t care for, usually emphasized and noted by the “lol he sucks” messages I receive after a dinner or other interaction. Sometimes it feels like we want better for our friends than they do. Sometimes unless we are the ones in the relationship itself, we cannot understand it.
Relationships are personal, yet universal at the same time. In this digital age of Facebook and Instagram, it can feel like every relationship is put on display for all to see and comment upon. Add in the familial meetings and friend circle collisions, and it seems like everyone in the world is a part of your relationship. And this is all to say: Keep your relationship at a level that you’re comfortable with, and listen to your friends and family sometimes.
At the end of the day, you’re going to be the one that makes the decisions, feels the feelings for the other person and continues to be in a relationship with them. Take your friends’ advice and knowledge with a grain of salt, and try to take off the rose-colored glasses from your relationship. Friends and family can be wrong, but sometimes they can be right. As with everything, understand the balance, and keep a level head.