Ask Dave-He Won't Introduce Me To His Family

Gay couples often face more challenges integrating families and friends than straight couples.

By Dave Singleton

ear Dave,
It’s been two years now and I still haven’t met Jeff’s family. It’s really becoming an issue. In fact, we broke up briefly last year over this. At that point, I hadn’t met his friends and it seemed like he was excluding me.
I hadn’t met his friends and it seemed like he was excluding me.
We are both 29, see each other exclusively, and I’ve been trying to integrate our lives more. We care about each other and spend a lot of time together.

But I guess I question how real the feelings can be if I am sectioned off into this one area of his life. Jeff knows how I feel. I want a commitment and a partnership. I don’t want to casually date anymore. I have done that. He’s close with his family and he says he’s never introduced any of the guys he’s dated to them. He said that as if it should make me feel better. What’s up with a guy who won’t introduce me to his family? I keep wondering why. He met mine very briefly when they were visiting last year, but hasn’t seen them or mentioned them since. It’s puzzling.

Since he’s a conservative lawyer and I have a big personality and am a trainer in a health club, my friends wonder if he’s embarrassed and thinks he should be with someone he considers smarter or more buttoned down. After the brief breakup last year, we talked and I thought we were on the right track. He’d never introduce me at his work, but at least we started hanging around a couple of friends, his and mine (more mine, but still), so I thought maybe he was coming around.

Every now and then I threaten to leave and then he makes an effort, but it never lasts. Today, he just got back from another Sunday dinner with his family, who live about an hour away, and he didn’t even tell me he was going to see them. How can I deal with this situation?
-Tired of These Family Problems

Dear Tired,
I am not sure you’re tired of family problems since you haven’t met his family yet. But I can see why you’ve grown impatient with the waiting game after two years of what you’ve assumed is a real relationship.

If you are serious about coupling, it’s important to make a public statement with family at an appropriate time. Unfortunately, the two huge issues here rarely seem to go hand in hand. The first issue is “public statement” to the family, making it clear you are a couple. The second is appropriate timing.

It’s possible that you are on different timetables. He might have an idea of when timing will be right to introduce you to his family. But the other evidence (i.e., he doesn’t mention your family, he neglects to
He’s integrated just enough to keep you around and hopeful.
mention when he’s visiting his, and the fact that it took a breakup to even hang out with friends) suggests that it’s more than that.

How you fit into the world as a couple has a lot to do with how you socially interact together and how you meld all the parts of your lives. At this point, after two years, it sounds like Jeff is still torn between having an intimate relationship and keeping you at arm’s length to pacify what he perceives could be family and work backlash. He’s integrated just enough to keep you around and hopeful. But who knows the real reasons for keeping you at a distance? What you know for sure is that he’s ignoring your request for a real melding of lives. So take action and consider these three steps:
  1. Stop making idle threats. They clearly aren’t working. Instead, talk with him honestly about the integrated life you want and expect, and outline clearly what that looks like to you. In your case, it might be Jeff inviting you to meet his parents sometime in the next few months. It might include seeing mutual friends a few times a month and developing more of a social network. Be as specific as possible. Quantify when you can. At this point, you want to avoid a purely theoretical talk.

  2. Ask him what he wants out of your relationship and if he sees any relationship “red flags” with you. (But I wouldn’t refer to your friends’ theories, such as you’re not his intellectual equal. In legal terms, that’s leading the witness.)

  3. Give a deadline for ending the status quo. You know what you want. You don’t want to waste more time if you can’t find solid middle ground between the two lives you’re leading (his and yours). If he agrees to work through the issues that keep him from sharing his life more fully with you, make it clear that actions speak louder than words. I know it sounds more like something out of business school than a page out of the book of romance, but make an agreement to review your progress in three months.
It’s harder sometimes for gay couples to merge lives since we face more potential prejudice from family members, friends and work. But I hope you’ll follow through with this plan. From my research with gay couples who waited for various reasons to merge lives, resoundingly they wished they’d integrated sooner and shortened the lulling, initial honeymoon phase when it’s easy to overlook the kind of true obstacles to longer-term love that you now face.

Dave Singleton, an award-winning writer and columnist for since 2003, is the author of two books on dating and relationships. Visit Dave’s website and send your dating questions and comments to him at
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