- 7 years ago
Hello Hive! I’m new around here, but I’ve already been incredibly encouraged by some of your stories, opinions and insights!
I’m an American girl living in England and dating a British boy. We’ve been together for about 2 years. About half of that time was spent “long distance”, and then I moved to London to attend his university. It was a move that both enhances my career and allows us to be in the same city. We’re both currently finishing school and the topic of marriage has come up a number of times.
I have some questions regarding the influence of my boyfriend’s family on our relationship. Basically, his family is very, very tightly-knit. So much so that he talks about them constantly even when they’re not around. He’s especially close with his siblings, and he brings them up frequently in conversation. I’ve spent several vacations with his family now that I’m here, and I’ve witnessed firsthand just how close they are, how many inside jokes they share, etc. While some of this is sweet to see, I also have noticed that he treats me poorly and a bit coldly around his family. This has been when I’ve been staying with them for 7+ days, which, YES, seems incredibly long. I realize that he feels awkward with me there because I am the first girl he has ever brought home, and he is especially sensitive to his single younger sister, who felt a bit “left out” when he first started dating me b/c he no longer has as much time for her. I understand the fact that he doesn’t want to be mushy-gushy in front of everyone. However, the personality change and coldness are what I don’t understand (e.g., rolling his eyes when family members offer to take our picture together, not opening doors for me or helping me carry things as he normally would, absolutely no physical affection around them, including no hand holding, calling me “pampered” and rolling his eyes in front of his sister). I was hurt and shocked by his coldness, but I also tried to chalk it all up to his getting used to having me around his family, and felt that it was somewhat smoothed over by the few private moments we shared where we could be affectionate.
When he is around his family, he absolutely LOVES it, which again makes him seem like a great guy, right? But the problem is that he seems so identified with his family unit that I kinda wonder if he will be able to form his *own* family unit with me, and really make decisions for *us* that are independent of what his parents and siblings think when necessary. He is in his late 20s and still asks his dad for advice in major decisions. Parents can be a great source of advice, sure, but again, this does worry me as it seems that his dad is *very* influential in his life.
I’m honestly really glad that he and I are living in the same city now because all of this was not completely apparent to me when we were on separate continents. If anyone has experience or feedback regarding closely-knit family influences and relationships, that would be great. He is a great guy in many respects and I want to give him room to grow with me — he’s often really responsive to talking things out and hearing my concerns. But at the same time . .. I don’t want to ignore red flags.