While I wasn’t completely thrown for a loop, I wasn’t fully prepared for the invitation the man presented to me the other night. Laying in bed before getting a start to the day, we were going over our respective schedules for the upcoming weeks. I am spending several days down in Greenwich with my best friend and her family. I want him to pick me up on the last day so he can get a chance to know her too. He has a “bro” day with one of his best friends planned for another weekend. This upcoming weekend, The Warrior Poet is watching a friend of his test for a brown belt, and then we’re catching a friend competing in a strongman contest the next day.
“Okay,” I replied, less convincing at being casual.
“Everyone is going to be there,” he said cheerily. Apparently I couldn’t hide a nervous expression on my face because he added, “But don’t worry, this isn’t the crazy side of the family.”
Regardless, meeting his mother and her family is still nothing to sneeze at. His mom was very young when she had The Warrior Poet, so some of his aunts and uncles feel more like cousins, and he has spent a lot of time hanging out with them socially. In fact, one of his aunts introduced him to his last girlfriend, and another aunt is still in the same social circles as a “crazy ex” of his.
He’s told me before that his relatives are protective of him and aren’t afraid to ask a lot of personal questions. That doesn’t intimidate me so much since my dad and his family aren’t exactly shy either. And I have a really good track record for getting along with the families of the men I am dating.
In a relative recent serious relationship, it was made clear to me by the man I was dating with younger kids that their approval of me meant the world to him . If they didn’t love me, then he would have to reassess moving forward with the relationship. Talk about the pressure when they arrived from their flight from Germany to stay for six weeks. Fortunately, the 9-year-old girl looked up to me like a much, much older sister, and the almost-11-year-old boy came to think of me as his “American mama.” When our relationship eventually ended, I think I missed those fabulous kids even more than their father.
My college boyfriend’s mother and I grew very close over the course of our four years together. She treated me like one of her own in my company. We easily chatted on the phone whenever she called, and she sent me care packages too. Even after my relationship with her son ended, we exchanged letters and cards for about a year before I realized it was healthier for me to let her go too.
While there was one major exception with a racist mother, I’ve even occasionally had a better relationship with a boyfriend’s parents than he does. In some cases, I’ve actually had to play mediator for them when communication breaks down.
But every situation, every family, is unique.
I do know that the fact that I have been let into The Warrior Poet’s “inner circle of trust,” one layer at a time, means a great deal to me and to us. Especially after coming off four years of an on-again, off-again relationship where I felt like I was only let in so far.
The thing about relationships is: Each step forward can’t, and shouldn’t, be forced. Progressions must come naturally and with a degree of comfort and ease that feels right for both parties involved. Admittedly, nerves and hang-ups may cause hiccups every now and then. Yet at the core of your being, when it feels most right, it usually is right.