What’s Her Problem?

We’ve got a double header today.

Dear Dr. Brothers: My parents really don’t like my girlfriend. She’s never done anything to offend them or anything, and she’s always really nice to them, so I can’t understand what the problem is. We’ve been together for almost two years now, and they still try to set me up on dates and convince me to break up with her. It makes family dinners really uncomfortable, and it’s embarrassing to have her over at all. How can I get my parents to get over it and start to like my girlfriend? — B.I.

They say that love is blind, and you obviously can’t see what your parents do, but it’s probably there.  Parents don’t like their kids’ significant others for many reasons, but they all simplify down to the same answer: she’s not good enough for you.

You're trashy, dear.

To be honest, I could care less. The only reason I’m answering your letter is it’s an excuse to tell one of my favorite stories that is related to your problem.

When my best friend Paul* graduated college, his parents threw him a party.  They were like a second family to me, and I was there well before and well after the party to help out.  Also there was Paul’s girlfriend, Beth*, who he had been dating for a few months.  She, Paul’s mom, and I were all in the kitchen.  I was wrapping up leftovers and putting them in the fridge.  Mom and Beth were doing dishes – mom washing and Beth drying.  They were doing this in silence.  Just the silence of people doing a chore with nothing to talk about.  I wouldn’t describe it as awkward.  At least not until what happened next.

All of a sudden, Paul’s mom turns to Beth, handing her a dish and says “Maybe you should start seeing other people” Not breaking her stride, she picks up the next dish and continues washing.  Mind you, Paul’s mom is the sweetest women you could meet, and I could not believe what I had so clearly heard.

The oddest thing was not what she said, but the way she said it.  It was as plain and casual as any other friendly advice.  She could have just as easily  said “There is a stain on your blouse.”

Needless to say, their relationship didn’t last long.  I will always remember it as the most polite and tactful way anyone has ever said “you’re not good enough for my son and I want you to go away.”

* Names have not been changed.  That’s how I roll.