Woman's BF of Three Years Refuses To Meet Her Parents, Wonders If He's Gaslighting Her

A natural next step in a relationship is involving blood family. Even if they can be a source of stress, it really has stuck itself in our society as a rite of passage. So what do you do when it's looking like your boyfriend of 3 years doesn't want to take that step?

u/spammymonkey laid out the situation for us:

My (26F) boyfriend (28M) refuses to meet my parents. We have been dating for three years.

So I've been dating this guy for three years and you'd think we would already make the step to meeting each other's families. I will also add that we have been living long distance for about two years but I see him for extended periods of time about six times a year.

I haven't met his family yet. He hasn't met mine. Everytime I bring up the topic he gets defensive and refuses to do so. He's normally a pretty private person.

His reasoning is that he likes to spend time with me as an escape from all the other people he has to talk to in his job. And meeting my parents is disturbing the status quo. Is this normal? I'm thinking of ending it but I'm having a really hard time. I would like to be mature about the whole situation, and have tried to talk to him but he doesn't want to.

TL;DR boyfriend of three years doesn't want to meet my parents and he refuses to talk about it.

Here was some of the advice she got.



There are 2 scenarios here:

  1. His family is abusive or something along those lines and isn't really big on the whole meeting the family ordeal
  2. He's keeping you secret and doesn't want people to know about you (not saying he's cheating or something but I have seen those instances)

Either way he needs to give you a proper reason. Relationships are about compromise. He should be willing to meet your family for you but you don't have to see his family if he doesn't want.

So communicate with him basically.



Hmm. This is tough not knowing more about the situation. My gut reaction is something is up. I have a friend where this happened- his girlfriend just never brought him around her family and they were together for years. She had a medical emergency and when he called her parents to tell her, they had no idea who he was. Turns out she had another boyfriend and that's why she never told her parents about him.

I think his reason is bs- this is life and you gotta talk to people. "Disturbing the status quo" is some crap too. There is something fishy going on here, and I would tell him that he needs to explain himself or you're done.



he likes to spend time with me as an escape from all the other people he has to talk to

That's not what a relationship is meant to be. A relationship isn't an escape from real life, it is a part of your life. A partner is someone that joins you for family events, for social events, maybe even work functions. Your boyfriend doesn't see you like this. Maybe he has another girlfriend, maybe he doesn't, but either way, he sees you as something separate to his life. And that's not fair. You are more than just a hobby to provide him with stress relief. You are someone who wants to comingle your lives together, which is 100% normal after 3 years!

Time to be done with this relationship. It's not going anywhere.



So everyone's jumping to the idea that you're his side piece or at best someone he sees as a casual fling which, yeah, does sound very possible.

But even if that's not true, this is a really reasonable dealbreaker! I couldn't deal with it, and I'd absolutely dump him if I were you. My boyfriend is a bit resistant about family stuff (his family history is...complicated), and even that gets tiring for me to deal with sometimes, although I understand and respect where he's coming from and he does come with me when it's important.

I hope he'll eventually become more open to joining me for family stuff, but I'm 100% okay if he doesn't because he's still there for the big stuff. I could never build a life with someone who refused to even meet my family, and after 3 years that's what you're doing. So who even cares if he has a secret wife or whatever? If your parents are important to you, and he refuses to even discuss meeting him, cut him loose.




Umm. I would recommend reading your post and your answers as another person and think about what advice you would give your friend if she came to you with this issue.

It seems that he doesn't see a future with you, which is why he refuses to answer your question about the future. If he says no future since you are only a temporary thing for him, then you will break up with him, but if he gives no answer and strings you along, then he can get laid in the meantime and then dump you when he is ready to find the person he wants to settle down with.

Thats why he hasn't introduced you to family. No point in going through all that for someone that will be a free agent soon.



It's fine if he sees you as an escape and doesn't want to disturb the status quo, but unless that's the way you want your relationship to remain then I think it's time to bail. He's basically telling you that he likes to date you but doesn't ever see the need to go further or do more... which is fine for some people and doesn't make him a bad person, but it may mean you're incompatible if you want more than that. And if you do want more than that, then go find that because you're not going to get it from him.



I suspect he's hiding you for some reason, or he has a poor relationship with his family and isn't really big on the whole family thing in general. No matter the reason, if you want a partner who is family-oriented then this might not be the guy for you. After three years in a relationship, things are usually getting pretty long term serious and not communicating his thoughts about this to you is quite frankly unacceptable. Imagine potentially attending family holiday gatherings on your own forever while he does his own thing.

I dated someone about five years who was the ladder. He met my parents maybe 2-3 times, and would make excuses for why he needed to go home early and to not attend family events with me. He also avoided spending time with his own family on holidays. It just wasn't important to him, even though it was extremely important to me.



I am very sympathetic to someone not wanting you to meet their parents, as long as they explain why. People have different relationships with their parents. My partner only met my parents a week before we moved in together.

However, if you want them to meet your parents, and you express that it is important to you, it is really not normal or ok for your partner to refuse (barring extremely unusual circumstances).



For all you wrote, I still don't have any sense of who he is. He works, included you in work functions, and you see each other now and then. What kind of person is he, what does he hope for, what are his friends like, do you imagine future things together?

He sees you as an escape: What, like a relief valve for his real life, instead of someone he wants to bring into that life? Can you find out what he's "escaping" from? Family expectations, his main girlfriend, or having to grow up?

He is very private, doesn't share much: Maybe his family's intrusive, maybe he doesn't have a lot of thoughts to share, maybe he doesn't want deeper connections?

Not wanting you to meet his family: Could be they don't have a good relationship. Or they'll assume it means he's serious about you, but he isn't and wants to put off telling you.

It might ease his mind to tell him that meeting them is off the agenda for now. What's more important is if he'll tolerate talking about your future, what his family's like, etc. Normal things.




Yes, it's weird as hell and a red flag for a number of reasons. It's not normal to want to keep everyone in their own place separate from anyone else in your life. This speaks to, at best, emotional or psychological issues that he should be addressing in therapy. At worst it means he's doing things that he feels he needs to hide from a variety of people, so he keeps everyone compartmented away so no one will compare notes or trip up his careful narratives.

And even if it's not anything sinister like another woman or the fact he has something big to hide from you and lots of people, even if it's that he doesn't see you as anything but Ms. Right Now instead of Ms. Right until she comes along, the fact is you cannot have a full relationship with someone who sees you only as an "escape." You should not be placed in the same category as a bottle of booze or an entertainment center or a fun night out to get away from things, which is kind of what his description and insistence of your role has placed you.

It's also really kind of controlling in a very disturbing way. I mean, if he didn't want you to meet his parents due to some trauma I can understand that. But you still have a partner who at three years feels comfortable enough to tell you at least, "hey, my parents are abusive POS that I want nothing to do with, so we are not meeting them. Ever." BUT he also does not want to meet your parents and by the sounds of it also avoids meeting anyone else in your life and vice versa.

There is something wrong here. You're the secret he feels he doesn't have to share and he never will by the sounds of it. It's time to go unless you enjoy the relationship equivalent of being hidden in the attic.



Sooooo how is your relationship supposed to move forward? Have you talked about the future? Marriage? And it's been 3 whole years? "He doesn't want to talk cuz he talks at work" he's just not gonna talk about anything at all???

He's not communicating. And totally pushing it off. Sounds like he likes the box he put you in in his life. If this is a relationship you want, go for it. But if you want to be more involved with your partner's life/family, this may not be the right partner.



I once dated someone who was extremely private about his family. His parents didn't know about me, and he only talked to his dad. He bashed his family to me and said he would never go back to visit with them.

I found his dad's Facebook page after the fact. There was a photo of my former significant other with a girl he'd brought to meet his family recent to that time.




Late to the party here but to second a lot of other commenters, this does ring some alarm bells for me. As many here point out, he may have justifiable reasons for not introducing you to his family, however what really strikes me is that he has not met your family (I get the impression this is something you have tried to facilitate). Regardless of his issues with his own family, he should have made the effort to meet your family at your request before now, and this shows a lack of consideration that concerns me.



He could be extremely shy and anxious/insecure?? No doubt I think a 28 year old in a 3 year committed relationship should have enough courage to have met them at least a few times, but it is a pressure situation for some if he feels like he needs to impress them especially because procrastinating this long could add more tension. Just trying to provide a logical counter argument here because I see a lot of people getting carried away I think with out a strong feel/ base of knowledge regarding this relationship that has gone on for over 1000 days. I too am greatly removed from the situation, but felt the need to say something because I have been mistaken as toxic in my relationship before when really I was unable to show vulnerability due to my insecurities.



Whether or not anything "fishy" is going on, if he's refusing to meet your family after three years, he's just not that into you. By that, I mean, he's not looking for anything more serious with you and if you want something serious you should look elsewhere.


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