They don’t want us to be together

In today’s world, following our heart’s desires is pretty much a standard path to long term relationships and marriage. But there are still countries and cultures in which family and society have a great influence on how their members choose romantic partners.

Every now and then, I get a question on this topic, mainly from people who are reluctant to follow the old rules, or have already gotten in trouble because of them.

More and more people enjoy greater personal freedom and choice than ever before. Compared to our grandparents and even parents, we can more easily choose our education and career paths, places and conditions we want to live in, and lifestyle in general.

And we often don’t feel we need to follow any specific rules when choosing our life partners, other than the rules of our heart.

We also have greater access to a diverse pool of potential partners – because of online dating and our more and more culturally and ethnically diverse societies.

So for many, especially younger generations, dating or marrying outside their religion or social class isn’t even an issue they think about.

After all, if we truly love each other, what else matters?

Unfortunately, we often underestimate the importance of family and traditional values. It’s easy to overlook that when you are in the dating or courting phase – when you don’t yet share a home, last name, or children – you don’t have to make many compromises.

Same goes for long distance dating. You can date someone whose life and lifestyle is completely different from your own – and everything will be fine as long as you feel the emotional connection.

But love and emotional connection is unfortunately sometimes not enough.

If your family is very traditional or religious, or if they look down on people who don’t belong to their social circle or class – and you’re dating someone who doesn’t fit the approved profile, you might be faced with a very hard choice: your family or your partner.

And it’s not an easy choice. We all want to be able to freely follow our hearts. But our hearts love our parents too.

Many people will choose family and tradition for that reason – because they fear they will lose the love and support of their parents.

If you are at the receiving end of this drama – the one who isn’t accepted by your partner’s family, you might be very hurt and confused when you see your love rejecting you because their family tells them so. Try to understand your partner’s decision – there is only one mum and dad. You are, sadly – more easily replaceable.

Some people will go against family because they can’t stand the thought of losing their partner. And they don’t want to be told how to live their lives.

Sometimes it will all end well, and the parents will accept their choice in the end. Sometimes it won’t.

I don’t think either choice is wrong. For some it’s easier to conform than go against the tide, for some it’s the opposite.

Whichever option you choose, there is a risk and potential loss involved.

Life is complicated, and we can’t always predict which decisions will bring us the most good.

But, there is definitely a lesson to be learned here. If you consider dating someone from a different background, religion, upbringing, tradition – think about these things.

Think about how much these things matter to you personally, and how much they matter to your close family or community.

Can you live with your choices? Can you accept the fact that maybe your children will be raised in a culture different than your own?

Can you see yourself living in a country your partner is from? Can you see yourself following their tradition and renouncing your own?

What do you value more – your freedom and independence, or not having to fight and argue with people you love?

I am not saying you should always date just people who are approved by your family, or that you’ll have to compromise a lot – but be prepared that it might be an issue.

Even if your family is fine with your decision, it might become a problem for you personally – once real life decisions and choices kick in. Then it will be a challenge your relationship will have to face and overcome, or it will break.

So do think about these things before – not after the fact. Not when you are already head over heals in love, or you’ve been dating for years. And suddenly – they are breaking up with you because of differences you knew about all along.

Our hearts and minds don’t have to be conflict when it comes to love, it’s just that we often do not coordinate them enough. And when we do – it’s so much easier to find the right partner.


Have you been in this situation? What did you do?
Are you happy with your choice?

Thank you for sharing!

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6 Responses

  1. Ms Jones says:

    Interesting article Petra.

    I date whomever I please and I do take these things (traditions, religion, relocation) into consideration for myself. My family is not my primary consideration because I am generally not too close to them. There are also several divorces amongst them, so I would not consider them experts on selecting partners.

    I do, however, listen to what their concerns about what my welfare would be, if they voice them. I do not want to find myself in a difficult economic or personal situation, and if that type of concern is voiced I generally listen with an open mind. Then I make my own decision.

    I have seen my beautiful step niece marry a man of a a different race. They are a happy couple. I am happy for both if them. Her grandmother, however, has disowned her and disinherited her. I do not know about the man’s family.

    To me, the girl seems very happy. Why put your life on hold just so you can get some money when your grandmother drops dead (if she even has any left by then).

    The grandmother is clearly a racist and having her grandchild marry the “right race” is more important to her than having her marry the “right person”. The man is American, Christian and hardworking. He clearly adores my niece and they are happy together. They have made an independent choice. Fortunately the younger members of the family are more color blind than the elders.

    I do not think this is disrespectful to the closed minded grandparents, who have each been divorced once before themselves.

    The two of them have found happiness. God bless them.

    I know there are more pressures in other cultures, but this is happening right here in America. There are other considerations in other cultures for sure. It can be particularly difficult for the females.

    I know one man from a Near Eastern country (he is young) where he said it is perfectly acceptable to mistreat the wives. If I were that woman, I would feel no one in my family loves me if I am allowed to be mistreated. Why stay in such a relationship with such expectations? What has the person really got to lose?

    Good luck to all the people out there struggling with this dilemma.

    • Petra says:

      Thank you for chipping in. Great comment, as always 🙂

      • Ms Jones says:

        Hi Petra –
        Your blogs are so thoughtful they do prompt me to reply. Thanks for putting it out there. I am sure others have read this post and are thinking it over. Probably an issue a lot if people face

        • Petra says:

          You are right, there is a lot of people who struggle with this – I got a bunch of questions and comments on other posts on this topic, so I decided to write about it specifically. Thank you again.

  2. Andrea B. says:

    Petra, thank goodness, I found your website. Reading your posts, watching your videos and blogs have helped me so much. I do have a question for you regrading this article. My sexual orientation isn’t straight, I am a bisexual to be exact. My mother did approve of me being with the same gender so if I fall in love with a woman again my mother will not accept this.I find myself more drawn to women romantically and sexually so I could lose my mother over this. What should I do?

    • Petra says:

      It’s a tough call and I know it’s one many gay or bisexual people face. Long term – I’d say it would be better for you to fight for your right to love whoever you want, because otherwise you could end up miserable – alone or with someone you don’t love, just to please your mum. But I know it’s a big risk. It would be best to have an honest conversation with your mum and try explain to her how you feel and why it is important to you to be able to date women too, and hope she’ll get it. Most parents accept their kids’ sexual orientation eventually, because they don’t really want to disconnect from them. When they see their same sex partners truly love and care for them – they tend to accept their kids’ choices because seeing them happy is what’s most important to any loving parent. But you know your mum best and you can best assess what her reaction might be.

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