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Dear Stavroula

Ask Stavroula: Should I Pressure My Boyfriend to Formalize Our Relationship?

Dear Stavroula,

My name is Athanasia and for the past six years I have been in a relationship with a guy and we’re very much in love but our relationship does not seem to have a future and the reason is his parents.

Every time I start a discussion about the future, he says vague things like "I'm not ready yet" or “we should test our relationship first" which makes me very angry since we've been living together for a year now, but I try not to dwell on it.

All these years we've been together, he has only taken me to his parents' house once, shortly after we moved in together, and his parents (who are very well-off, his father is a doctor and his mom has her own business) treated me very formally, they were cold and distant. I felt awful and all I wanted was the time to pass so we could leave. When I asked him why his parents acted like that, he asked me to give them the benefit of the doubt since he never brought girls home to meet them before, and that probably scared them.

In other words, they were afraid that I would trap their son and deprive him of his bright future, because you see, I have neither financial comfort nor parents who are doctors or businesspeople.

Since then, there has been no question of meeting with them again, and the truth is that I did not ask for it either. In contrast, we visit my parents’ house very often and eat there and as time goes on I am ashamed because my parents are waiting for a wedding celebration with songs and there is no such prospect.

I think the reason my boyfriend doesn't want us to formalize our relationship is that he's afraid to clash with his parents, who don't like me, which of course he doesn't admit. Do you think that if I push him to make a decision he will be forced to confront his parents?

Athanasia

Dear Athanasia,

Unfortunately, it is often difficult for Greek parents to realize that when their children are older, they have the right to choose a partner by their own standards and the right to make mistakes and suffer the consequences – or to choose correctly and enjoy their relationship. Also, as parents they can express an opinion, if they are asked for their opinion, however even if they do not like their child's partner, they must respect his choice.

Of course, the attitude of the child who chooses a partner also plays a big role here.

If he is complete as a person, he should have the maturity to defend his choice when he is sure that this is the right one for him, regardless of the position of his parents. You don't write me your ages, but I guess since you've been together for six years and you live together, you're over or around 25.

Therefore, in your case, the reason your relationship has no future is not your boyfriend's parents, but your partner himself, because:

First of all, if your boyfriend may still be influenced by his parents. It may mean that he has not yet cut the umbilical cord and has not yet matured as a man, either because he is emotionally dependent on them, or because he is financially dependent.

Secondly, of course, it could be the case that he does not really feel ready to move on and needs more time to decide, as he tells you.

So, in order to find the answer to what you are asking me, that is, if only pressuring him will lead to a formal decision about your future together, think about whether you would like to advance your relationship with a man who is not yet independent and who needs to involve his parents emotionally or financially in decisions that have to do with your relationship or family.

Even if he is independent but not yet ready to formalize the relationship, however, think also about whether you would like your partner to make such a decision under pressure. There is a chance that he will give in to the pressure and you can move forward together, but if he is not entirely sure about his choice, that may affect his attitude when the next difficulty in your relationship arises.

Also, consider that there is a chance that he will not be able to withstand the pressure and due to the apparent lack of respect and trust between you at this time, it may damage a relationship that could have developed better in the future.

Finally, it would be good to talk to him openly and honestly so that you have a clearer picture of what is holding him back. And then make the decision with love and respect for the both of you.

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Dear Stavroula,   I am married with three children.

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