I don’t remember the exact comments my Dad most recently made about one of my ex’s. But the sentiment was very poignant. Because it wasn’t great. In fact, it was brutally honest. And he didn’t utter a word at the time I was dating him. But looking back, I saw the signs. Dad knew he wasn’t right for me. And so did I. But I had to learn that one on my own.
Cue to today, I’m married now almost a decade and my Dad and I joke about the past. And we reel in laughter on the present, because it’s so much better. Because it’s right. But in all honesty and all laughter aside, your parents opinion of your lover does count for something and here’s why.
Love and lust are two different things
My parents have been lovers for almost 50 years. And let it be known they are still very much lovers. But they’ve also been married a very long time and have uttered the same sentiment for years, to all of us kids. “Love is the most important, but know the difference. Your mom and I have been through stuff and it’s not always kisses and butterflies.” And they ain’t lying. And when I first felt the harsh reality of not so perfect marriage, I was mad. But, your parents say this not to make you mad, but to make you understand that love requires work and it’s not all a sexy vacation.
Home for the holidays
Bringing your new love home for the holidays? Perfect. Here’s why. Getting a glimpse into how your lover responds to your family is key. This dynamic only grows exponentially as your relationship grows. As your family grows. It’s all fun and games those first few years at your sister’s house with cocktails and cake a plenty, but when you have a 4 month old screaming during family dinner, it complicates things. Seeing your family for the holidays opens up the floodgates to seeing how life with your lover will be. This dynamic can scare the living shit out of you. Trust me, I know. And it can also be wildly almost perfect. That is, when you pick the right partner. But also, beware, in case you bring your lover home and it doesn’t work out and down the road you’re happily married and your brother decides to be brutally honest about the past, and might say, “I never fucking liked that guy.” And you’ll be like, “why didn’t you tell me?!!” It’s ok. This is all par for the course. Life is a learning curve. But definitely DO go home for the holidays and bring him.
Beers with Dad
The first summer I took my lover home to hang with my parents in California, the bond between him and my Dad was unlike any other boyfriend I'd had. It was incredibly mutual and adoring on both sides. Yeah, that made me cry. But then, they went for beers at my Uncle’s dive bar and they hung out for two hours while my mother and I shopped. That night, I was pretty certain he was the one. And more than anything I realized that although my parents opinions aren’t always going to be my favorite, they do in fact matter. And when it comes to the rest of your life, paying attention to what they’re paying attention to carries some serious weight.
No better way to read the dynamic of family matters than on a boat with booze. No, this wasn’t what you’re probably thinking….mai tais and sunsets and a lot of obnoxious. This was more let’s float and look at the scenery with the family and where nobody can escape if the topics get heated in politics or whatever. Watching your lover interact with your family members, especially your parents, where you can watch him be fully committed to his statements, his beliefs, his true self is quite telling on the open water. And equally telling while your brothers and sister scope him out too over pinot noir and salt water splashes.
They give you away
Ultimately, you are the one who decides what’s best for you and your life and it’s your decision. And believe me, I can be stubborn when it comes to love and I made many choices based on what I wanted, what I loved and what I believed in. But with that, comes the responsibility of your choices. I’ve lived and learned. And I’ve grown. And for me, at the end of the day, my Dad (who I love and respect immensely), gave me away on my wedding day. And although nervous, emotional and excited as we both were, it felt right. It felt natural. It felt like my wedding day should. And because my parents opinions of my lover mattered to me and still do, it was such an easy glide down that aisle. Because I knew I made the right choice. And I felt in my heart, they knew I did too. And that mattered a lot. And it still does. Because almost a decade later, I still ask them for advice and they still return the same answers. And at the end of day, that’s why boyfriend approval matters. Side note, they’ve been married almost 49 years, so they don't know nothing. So yeah, it matters. A lot.