My mate’s family won’t let me travel with them for holidays and vacations. Help!

Question:

Hey, everyone. I have a question about something that has been bothering me with my current relationship. I’ve been dating my boyfriend for 9 months now, and things have gotten pretty serious — we’re going to be moving in with each other next month!

Now, as for the problem: I don’t think his family approves of our relationship. His mom’s side is from the south, so they’re pretty conservative. His family likes to travel for holidays, either taking a road trip or flying out. However, his family disallows me from joining them during any of these trips. This really upsets me, because something that's important to me is being able to spend holidays/big events together with my partner. I'm not expecting to go for free — I’ve offered to pay if that's the problem — but that doesn't change anything.

I don't know what to do for a number of reasons :/ In my head, his family is being grossly homophobic and personally that's just not something I deal with regardless of who it's coming from. My thoughts are that we're in a relationship, it's expected that we'd go on vacation together and be included in each other's family's events. If his family is not letting us be together we just shouldn't travel with them in general.

I think we both have valid points, but it hurts me to see him/us treated that way by his family, and I can't stand the fact that he lets them walk over him like that just because they're family. I just don't know if my expectations for wanting to spend holidays together or asking him to choose between his family and me is reasonable. Help!

Received via Telegram (name withheld)

Answer

Hey there! Thanks much for this question; unfortunately, it remains fairly common for there to be conflict between one’s family and one’s significant other, particularly when that significant other is LGBT or when there is something non-traditional about the relationship.

First off, it’s totally reasonable for you to want to go on holiday with your mate; as you say, spending holidays and other joyous, meaningful days together in celebration is an important component of most primary romantic relationships.

However, despite the fact that justice is certainly on your side, it might not be in your best interest to issue an ultimatum to your mate, forcing him to choose between holidays spent with you and holidays spent with his family.

The problem with ultimatums is that they tend to create pain and resentment no matter what happens. If you make someone choose between you and something or someone, there are only two likely outcomes.

First, it’s possible that your mate chooses against you, in which case you’ve lost everything. Now, instead of you getting holidays with your mate, you don’t get to have your mate at all. Rather counterproductive.

Second, even if your mate does choose you, he is likely to resent you for a very long time for depriving him of time with his family, especially since that wasn’t a choice he got to make freely.

Instead of resorting to an ultimatum straight away, I’d advocate for you to be a little more patient. Express your feelings to your partner non-violently; tell him how important vacations and holidays are to you, and explain to him how hurt and sad you will feel if you are constantly excluded and deprived of having celebrations with him. When you communicate non-violently in this way, you invite your mate to empathize with you, and he is far more likely to try to accommodate you.

One short-term accommodation you and your mate might try would be to alternate holidays. You and your mate’s family would compromise, allowing your mate to spend time with you on some holidays and them on others. Unfortunately, with this solution, nobody gets everything they want, but the advantage is that it may allow you to keep the peace indefinitely.

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Fortunately, over the long term, this problem may in fact work itself out. Keep in mind, your mate’s family is likely to grow more accepting of you over time. Right now, you and your mate don’t even live together. His family might see you as too transient to bother investing in, much in the same way parents used to refuse to name their infants until they survived their first winter. Once you and your mate are living together for a period of time and have more of the appearance of a “serious” relationship, it’s likely that your mate’s family will take you more seriously and soften their approach, perhaps allowing you to attend family gatherings after all.

Even if your mates' family does not soften towards you over time, it's still likely that you will be spending more holidays together with your mate over the years, and that is because your mate probably won't tolerate alternating forever. His family might have excuses to exclude you right now, but fast forward a decade to when you're married and own property together. There may come a point when your mate decides his family is being absurd and informs them he's only coming to family occasions if you are welcome also. However, if you wait for this to come from him, rather than issue an ultimatum now, he'll be able to do so without resenting you for forcing his paw.

Hope that helps! If you have any follow-up questions or additional comments, feel free to use the comment box below or to make use of the feedback form available via our contact page.

Viro the Science Collie

Viro Science Collie is a PhD virologist and medical writer, experienced in teaching, technical communication, and writing for the public. He has been active in the furry community since 2012 and has been happily and ethically non-monogamous for much of that time. His interests include non-traditional relationship structures, technology, biological science, and tennis.