Carolyn Hax / Life Advice

Playing Second Fiddle with Boyfriend's Parents

Dear Carolyn:

My boyfriend of over a year and I are going to be graduating with an associate's in a couple of weeks. Yeah, we're still not done yet, but halfway through a bachelor's!

I want to celebrate with both of our families. My boyfriend thinks this is a good idea, but his parents (well, more like his mom) not so much. They plan to exclude me and my family from their plans, even though I've told them how much I would like to celebrate this event together. They are inviting other people to their celebration who are not so close to my boyfriend. My boyfriend doesn't want to make his mom unhappy.

This is causing a bit of a rift because I feel like he shouldn't just do whatever makes his mom happy; he should do what makes him and me happy, especially since this is our graduation. We've had issues like this before, where his mom wants something, I want something different, and he won't tell his mother to suck it up. How can I deal with this?

-- Second Fiddle

An associate's tells me you're somewhere around 20. Unless you left the nest and lived on your own before going to college, this graduation is a rite of passage for both parent and child. So "Suck it up, Ma" isn't the tone you want to take.

I vote with your boyfriend on appeasing his mom, at least on the graduation. It would have been swell if Mama were a more-the-merrier type, but I can also see not wanting to share this rite with a girlfriend who history says will be an ex-girlfriend sooner rather than later. I'm sorry, fact of life. Most relationships end.

Your best move now is to be gracious. Say, "Go, enjoy this moment with your parents, I'll do the same with mine, and we'll meet up later."

As for future instances where you and his mom get in each other's way, yes, the apron strings might be knotted tightly. But I suggest you give each issue an overreach test before asserting girlfriend privilege: "If I were in the mom's place, would I agree with her?" When you miss something once, it's wise to look for it next time.

Plus, the more judicious you are in demanding your boyfriend's loyalty, the more likely you are to get it.

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Copyright 2012 Washington Post Writers Group



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