For the majority of fall semester, most collegiettes are counting down the days to winter break. I don’t need to tell you that being home over break can be awesome – with exams finally done with, we can relax with our families and hometown friends, catch up on some much-needed rest, and stuff our faces with holiday goodies in a socially acceptable way. But sometimes, being home can be a downer. We’re used to enjoying certain freedoms at college that simply don’t exist at home, like ordering pizza at 4 am or heading out to a party on a Tuesday.
One of the most common complaints about being home, however, is how our families can impact our love lives. Big holiday gatherings can be prime opportunities for relatives to grill you about your relationship status or slip you the phone number of some family friend “who happens to be about your age”, and living at home again means that your parents have a greater influence on your actions and might try to reinstate your rules from high school (12:00 curfew, anyone?). But if you’re stuck in one of these sticky situations, have no fear – there are a variety of approaches that could help put an end to the meddling. HC talked to licensed psychologist Dr. Walter Sobota for advice on how to handle these tough family dilemmas.
Your family doesn’t understand why you’re not in a relationship.
If Mom literally starts pulling her hair out over this, you should probably just ask the nearest boy out to dinner.
Just like last year, you’re the only one who doesn’t have a date to a family party. Mom doesn’t understand why you’re not actively looking for men, and you feel like the rest of the family is judging you.
“When I was in high school, I was seeing this guy nonexclusively for about a year,” Vanessa*, a University of Michigan junior, said. “I was fine with the nature of our relationship, but my mom worked at my school and would freak out whenever she heard about him talking to another girl. She just didn’t understand how I was fine with it, and ever since then she’s been questioning my decisions about relationships and guys. Whenever I’m not seeing anyone, my mom always wants to know why I’m not in a relationship, or why I don’t want one – she even asked me if I was a lesbian once. I’m just not big on relationships, and my mom just doesn’t get that.”
How To Deal
In this situation, it’s important to think about why your relationship status is so important to your parents – maybe they expected your love life to follow a particular pattern, for example, or maybe they don’t believe that you’re happy without a boyfriend. According to Dr. Sobota, it’s important to understand where your parents are coming from during a disagreement, but decisions about your love life are ultimately yours to make.
“Nobody should be forced into a relationship if they’re unwilling, not ready, or otherwise unable to be in one,” he said. “While a girl should be sensitive to her parent’s feelings, she needs to stay firm that a relationship just isn’t right for her at this point.”
If you anticipate this being an issue with your parents, you might want to prepare a list reasons for staying single, so that you’re able to defend your decision with confidence. (For some suggestions, check out this HC article!). Above all, make sure your family knows that you’re happy with your choices, because Dr. Sobota says that most of our families value our happiness and safety above anything else.
“It’s better to be in distant, non-committed relationships – or not in a relationship at all – than to be in a serious relationship that doesn’t make you happy,” he said.
The Bottom Line
Try to understand where your parents are coming from, but stay strong when you say that a relationship isn’t right for you. Your happiness should be more important than your relationship status.
Your family members are constantly trying to set you up with guys.
Of all of the boys Grandma set you up with this holiday season, this one was definitely Best Dressed.
You go to dinner at your Aunt Marie’s for Christmas Eve and leave with three telephone numbers, all for young guys that your family members know will be “just right” for you.
Lisa*, a freshman at the University of Michigan, knows all about this situation:
“My father’s side of the family is Jewish, and they’re all about trying to set me up with ‘nice Jewish boys’ who go to my school. My aunt will send me lists of guys to introduce myself to, and one time she literally hovered over my shoulder and forced me to friend request this guy I’d never met. Every time I see her, without fail, she asks me if I’ve met so-and-so yet – and of course, on this huge campus, I never have. Thank goodness I haven’t, though, because if I did it would be beyond embarrassing.”
How To Deal
You might feel awkward when Grandpa starts raving about his golf caddy, but an attempted set-up is not necessarily a bad thing. In this situation, your family members probably aren’t trying to make your decisions for you – rather, they want you to end up with a good guy, and they thought that Miss Ruthie’s grandson might fit the bill.
“If someone is trying to set you up, listen to their advice, thank them for their suggestions, and then do whatever you feel comfortable with,” Dr. Sobota said. “I wouldn’t recommend going on a date just to please somebody in your family, but at the same time, you shouldn’t refuse a date just out of spite for the person setting you up.”
The key here is to keep an open mind – while it can be annoying to feel like your family is playing matchmaker, it’s possible that one of their suggestions could be a great fit for you. You might as well look the guy up on Facebook, and if he piques your interest somehow, why not go for it? You and the Mystery Man could end up laughing about your awkward beginnings on your 50th wedding anniversary. And if it doesn’t look like he’s your type? Thank Grandpa but say that you’re not interested – or that your New Year’s Resolution was to stop dating guys with facial hair.
The Bottom Line
If you think he might be an interesting guy (or if he’s really cute!), go for it and see what happens. But if the constant meddling is making you uncomfortable, politely insist that you’re not open to being set up.