Boys. Boyfriends. Husbands. Marriage.
When it comes to my family, romantic relationships don’t exist.
It’s not like my sisters and I have never had boyfriends. We’ve each had our share of relationships—serious or and not so serious—but we just don’t talk about them with our parents. Sure, they come over for the holidays, they try very hard to impress our father, they even stay the night. We just don’t call them what they are. If anything, they’re referred to as “friends.”
Unlike some parents who pester their children to get married and have children, my parents never addressed this topic—ever. When I was younger, I fantasized about what names I’d give my children—you know, like any middle school-aged kid does. One day, while driving in the car with my mother and father, I casually mentioned that I’d love to name my daughter Everett, so her nickname would be Eve (stupid, I know). Instead of playing along, my father immediately spat out “Why are you thinking about this? Why aren’t you thinking about your career?” I was 12.
I learned very quickly that idle thoughts about future families or relationships were not welcome. Career was king.
What makes me most sad about this is that my parents are a wealth of information about everything. They don’t hesitate to give advice (or, until recently, demands) about my choices when it comes to my education, my job, my housing situation, what bank I should patron, what foods I should or shouldn’t eat, if my hair looks too messy to leave the house. A lot of times, I’m annoyed that they give me unsolicited advice, but at the end of the day, I trust their words over anyone else’s.
But when it comes to relationships, they’re silent. Instead, I get all of my relationship advice from TV and movies, which I’ve found paint extremely unrealistic pictures of relationships and expectations, and friends who, let’s face it, are trying to figure it out for themselves.
I know that no matter how much advice you get from your parents about relationships, heartache is inevitable. And I have suffered my share. I’ve learned things the hard way and put myself back together with the help of friends. I might have become better for it.
But still there’s this huge blind spot. I wish I could hear what they have to say.