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Alicia_MSW
Alicia_MSW, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 512
Experience:  Specializing in mental health counseling
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My boyfriend has a mental block about me meeting his family.

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My boyfriend has a mental block about me meeting his family. He can't explain why he can't. He is a bad communicator as well. And goes all quiet. Makes statements more than converses. And he can't use the word 'love'. Says he never has said it to his family or anyone.  He feels it but can't say it. He is very caring and empathises with people and has a very gentle, relaxed nature.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Alicia_MSW replied 2 years ago.
Hi there,

It does seem to me that it's about time that you meet his family, and I can empathize with your frustration and feelings about this issue. It's a long time to be in a relationship and not feel like you're a part of certain parts of his life. I understand if he's feeling insecure or nervous, or if he's had some bad experiences in the past, or whatever it is that's causing this "block", but if you've been together for four years, and you've been understanding and supportive up until this point, then I think he needs to bite the bullet and at least introduce you to his family. It doesn't need to be a big, long, involved meeting, but I think it is appropriate for you to be a bit more firm with him and explain to him why you feel like this is important to you. Perhaps if you can outline your feelings about it and explain how you (for example) want to feel like you're an important part of his life, and that meeting his family would help you feel more comfortable with that. But as far as not saying the word "love", I think there might be some bigger issues going on here than simply being socially awkward. When you combine this with the fact that he hasn't introduced you to his family, then I have to think that he's maybe dealing with some sort of an anxiety disorder - social anxiety disorder, perhaps, although it's not really possible to say without meeting him in person, of course. Especially since you say he has problems conversing, is secretive, etc. There might even be the possibility of some other mental health concerns, but he'd need to see someone in person to obtain a proper diagnosis (or, even if there is no true diagnostic problem, to determine what is causing these blocks.) And based on what you've said, it does sound to me like he needs a bit of help in overcoming some of these blocks. I'm not sure how you would feel about this, but I think you might want to have a discussion with him about the way you're feeling. You have a right to discuss your feelings with him, and it sounds like you've been very patient and understanding so far. If he's not receptive or he resists discussing these concerns with you, then you might want to broach the idea of couples counseling with him. I think it could help in terms of improving your communication, and it might be a good place to discuss some of your concerns about meeting his family and his not using the word love, for example. Discussing things with a neutral, third party can help you both get a different perspective on what's going on as well as to obtain advice about how to deal with it. Sometimes, people need a bit of extra help, and there's nothing wrong with reaching out to a professional who might be able to help you both get to the root of some of your concerns. If you're interested, you can find a counselor on this website:
http://www.theaca.net.au/

I hope that helps. Please let me know if you'd like to discuss this further.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your reply.
I want to add that he did once tell me that once I meet his family he will never ever let me go and that I would have trouble leaving him even if I wanted to! He mumbled something about he is scared he will be hurt and is trying to protect himself. He hates that he is hurting me and upsetting me by him being like this and he even admits he is weird.
His last girlfriend of 9 years didn't meet the family for years and years and then they seemed to split up after she did but I don't know the details of that.
I would find it extremely hard to suggest to him to discuss with an expert about his problem.
Expert:  Alicia_MSW replied 2 years ago.
Hi again,

Sorry for the delay. It's obvious to me that you both care very much for each other, despite the social difficulties, the family issues and saying the word "love". I do absolutely understand that he's afraid of being hurt and he's trying to protect himself. The best thing you can do is to reassure him that you're not going to hurt him or leave him no matter what happens with his family (they are the way they are, and it doesn't have to be a reflection on him) - but that you need to be able to make that judgment on your own. Because you care about him. If it is really important to you that you meet his family, and you don't think talking about it with a professional would be an option, then you have to try to work with him on his terms. He might not budge - but then you have to ask yourself if you're willing to accept it. If he had a bad experience with his last girlfriend (and, perhaps he feels that his family was one of the reasons they broke up and he's afraid that will happen with you) then you might have to give him a lot of leeway and let him take this at his own pace (realizing that it might be years until he takes a step in that direction - if at all). You could discuss it with him and try to learn what it is about his family that he fears will happen if you meet. Dialogue between the two of you could help to clarify things, even if the situation doesn't change. So if you understand why he's resisting so much, perhaps it will be easier for you to handle.
I hope that helps, and I wish you luck. Please let me know if you have any more questions. Best wishes.
Alicia_MSW, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 512
Experience: Specializing in mental health counseling
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