I am a 23-year-old straight woman from the Midwest. My question has to do with the relationship between my partner and my family. About five months ago my boyfriend of two years and I decided to move in with each other. We are very committed to one another and would like to be married one day but this is the step we wanted to take before that happens. My father is quite conservative (he's Arab) and made it clear before we moved in with each other that if we went through with it, he would have nothing to do with us. I've had issues with him in the past because we are very different people (I grew up in the United States), but in more recent years we've been able to look past it and be friendly. I was still quite hurt that he said that, and we ended up sitting down and talking about it. I made the point that I understand that he comes from a culture where this is considered inappropriate, but this was a step that I was ready for and comfortable with. He told me that after moving in with each other he was just going to lose interest in me, cheat on me, and/or find someone else—which hurt the most.

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So after all this backstory, my question is what should we do to move forward? I feel like my dad is being a little immature about this when all I have asked is for him to accept that this is what is works for me and move on? More importantly, I just want to be able to spend time with everyone at the same time and not feel awful that spending time with family means leaving him at home.

A Racially Ambiguous Rachel Berry

You're gonna have to call dad's bluff, ARARB, and there's only one way to do that: if you haven't already moved in with your boyfriend, move in with your boyfriend already.

Your dad may be trying to manipulate you into not taking this step, the right one for you, by making what could be idle threats. Or he could really and truly mean it — he won't have anything to do with you if you move in with your boyfriend — but there's only one way to find out which it is, ARARB, and that's by moving in with your boyfriend.

If your dad is having a tantrum — if he's pitching a fit to stop you from making this move — it'll subside once he realizes his tantrum isn't having the desired effect. But if it's not a tantrum, if he truly means it, then you'll have to stand your ground. If your boyfriend isn't welcome at family meals and events, send your regrets and make other plans. Like I'm always telling queer kids with shitty-at-the-moment parents, ARARB: your only leverage over your family as an adult is your presence. If they can't love and accept you and if they can't treat your partner(s) with courtesy and respect, don't make yourself present. Don't show up to be abused, either alone or with your partner, and don't let your family separate you from your partner on holidays by only inviting you home. Once your family realizes they can't manipulate you into either doing as they say and can't have you on their own hateful terms — you alone, no boyfriend — they'll either come around (Yahtzee!) or they'll be out of your life for good. Either way, you win.

P.S. Your boyfriend could wind up losing interest in you, cheating on you, and/or finding someone else — hell, he could wind up abusing you. But a wedding doesn't immunize you against any of those negative outcomes. Your future husband, whoever he might be, could wind up losing interest, cheating, finding someone else. Or you could wind up losing interest, cheating, or finding someone else yourself. Remind your father that divorce courts are packed with men and women whose partners lost interest, cheated, or worse. Then tell him this: "Dad, if worse come to worse and my relationship falls apart, the last thing you should want is for me to hesitate to turn to my family when I need your support for fear of hearing 'I told you so.' I need to know you're on my side and you'll be there for me even if I've made choices you disagree with."


Listen to my podcast, the Savage Lovecast, at www.savagelovecast.com.

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