Dear Wayne and Wanda,
I've been dating my girlfriend since the start of summer. Everything is great. We're talking about moving in together. We just went on our first trip, and it was awesome. I really have no complaints. The one thing we fight about is when she will meet my family. Hers lives in the Lower 48. When they visited Anchorage this summer, I met them. It made sense, because things with us are good, and who knows when they would visit again. They were really nice people and we got along great.
As soon as that meeting was behind us, and probably because it went so well, she started pushing to meet my parents. The truth is, I'm afraid of how that will go. I love my parents. But there are some things about my household that might be different for her and hard to adjust to. First off, they are really, really religious. We grew up going to church several days a week and for them the holiday is all about God and Jesus and religion. While I went along with this as a kid, and still do believe in God, it is way less a center point of my life than it was when I was a kid. I found a more chill church I go to a couple times a month. My girlfriend isn't really religious at all. We've talked about it, and it just isn't something that's important to her. Fine by me, but I'm afraid my parents will judge her, or maybe she will judge them.
My parents are also set in their political views and suffice to say they're pretty conservative. My girl is the total opposite — as am I — and on the liberal side of things. I take my parents' views with a grain of salt, but am trying to imagine how the dynamic would be with them and my girlfriend. I don't think it would be good, I can say that.
Maybe I'm delaying the inevitable but I don't think the holiday is the time to introduce my parents to her, and to potentially have fallout, tension and awkwardness. I haven't told her why I'm reluctant. But she can tell something is up and feels very strongly that the holidays are a great time for a first introduction. I don't know what to do here. Advice?
Merging different compartments of our lives can be scary and nerve-wracking, but while keeping things tidily separated is simple, it's not sustainable, and it certainly won't work in the long run, especially as you and your girlfriend grow more serious. Building a life together means merging — combining households and assets, connecting your partner to your friends and coworkers, and inevitably, introducing her to your parents.
So your parents are super religious conservatives? That could sound scary on paper, but let's think about this positively; this means they likely have deep convictions, long-held values, well thought-out opinions and passion for how they live life. These are great traits! Your girl, meanwhile, isn't really into church, and leans left — so one might deduce there's a degree of independence, of a woman unafraid to go against tradition, and of someone who has equal energy for her beliefs. I see commonalities there.
And even if their political views are wildly different, even if their religious doctrines are unaligned, guess what: everyone loves you! As long as you are with your lady-friend, you can only postpone but you cannot avoid introducing her to your family. Holidays are an awesome time for this – people are feeling full-grade affectionate and sentimental. So I say go for it, bite the bullet and make the introduction. Not only will it make your girlfriend happy, but I'm betting your parents would love to meet the woman who's making their son so happy.
Oh modern politics – if you talk about them, you're sure to land in an argument; if you don't talk about them, you're part of the problem, man!
Oh parents – if you introduce your friends to them, they'll totally embarrass you; if you don't introduce your friends to them, you're a jerk, man!
Look bud, this situation is like most things we know we should do; the longer we put it off the more difficult it's gonna be. So stop putting it off. You've been dating since summer and snow has fallen – your parents probably don't even believe you have a girlfriend!
And don't wait until the holidays. While Wanda is right that everyone is feeling festive, it's also a time of stress, pressure and, um, worship for certain individuals like your parents. It's also a time of when the proverbial rails go off the proverbial sleigh, which increases the fun and the odds of meltdowns.
I'm not saying don't bring your girlfriend around the folks during the holidays; I'm just saying don't make the holidays her introduction. Since everyone is nearby, and this meeting is long overdue, just treat everyone to a very mellow dinner at a folksy, well-lit, non-alcoholic place. Plenty of those around Anchorage. Trust me – the conversation will center on where she works and grew up, and probably how she ended up with a procrastinator like you, not about her religious and political beliefs. I bet you they even ask what she's doing for the holidays and encourage her to accompany you to their place.
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