Would you date someone if your friends & family don’t approve?


byrnj019 asks:

Would you date someone if your family doesn’t approve?

Demetrius says:

Would I date someone if my family doesn’t approve? Probably not, but let me be clear about why. To keep my answer simple, I’ll make it more specific and answer the question of whether or not I would date someone if my mother didn’t approve, because her opinion probably holds the a lot of weight for me. Also, because she’s awesome and you should read my interview with her, or her own guest post on dealing with substance abuse in relationships, or listen to the Mother’s Day episode of the podcast, or the more recent Thanksgiving Day special episode. She gives great dating advice in my humble opinion, but I’m biased.

If my mother disapproved of a woman I was dating, I would probably stop dating her. My mother is one of the most objective people I know, especially when it comes to my dating life. The only people I can think of that she does not like are people she has a very specific, valid cause to dislike. I’ve never known her to dislike any person I’ve dated without good reason, and the very few she has disliked, and I mean very few, she had very good cause to dislike. So if she doesn’t like someone, she’s probably got a good reason. That doesn’t mean I’ll just take her opinion as the final say-so on who I choose to date. I said I would *probably* stop dating her. While I value her opinion, it’s still her opinion. While she’s been right about every person I’ve dated who she hasn’t liked, there’s always a chance she’ll get it wrong.

With that said, I don’t think that my answer holds true for everyone. I’ve known plenty of men whose mother’s hate any woman they date, for reasons best explained by mental health professionals. I’ve dated plenty of people whose parents wouldn’t approve of them dating me because of a) my race b) my religion, or lack thereof c) my education d) my socioeconomic background or e) all of the above. Would I tell those people to heed the advice of their family? Definitely not. Whether or not you should date someone your family or friends disapprove of comes down to a question of context. If you need a quick guide on establishing context, ask yourself these questions:

  • Who is disapproving, and what’s their relationship to you?
  • Why do they disapprove?
  • How much weight does their opinion hold?

This goes for family and friends. Family is cool and all, but sometimes your friends know more about you, or are closer to you, so I’m throwing them in as well. I’m using both of the terms loosely, so if you’re thinking “Well what about someone I consider my sister” don’t worry,  I mean them too.  So, if your bigoted 1st cousin, who is as dumb as a bag of really dumb hammers, disapproves of who you’re dating because of the color of their skin, I would suggest that you don’t even remotely consider their opinion valid. If your closest friend disapproves of who you’re dating because they’re consistently rude to you, take their opinion to heart. If your absentee father disapproves of the man you’re dating because he’s jealous that he’s being replaced, do you think his opinion should matter?

I would also recommend that you do this on a case by case basis. It’s easy to assume a group is right because they share the same opinion, but that’s just a shortcut. The number of your friends or family who disapprove of who you’re dating shouldn’t be a factor to consider on its own, you still need to figure out why they disapprove, who they are to you, and how much their opinion matters to you. Just because all of your friends dislike who you’re dating, it doesn’t mean the reason they dislike them is inherent valid. If all your friends are terrible, and they dislike who you’re dating for no real reason, it shouldn’t hold more weight to you than having only one person dislike your partner because they’re cheating on you. You really need to take everyone’s opinion into consideration in context.

Sometimes the people closest to you don’t like who you’re dating for valid reasons, sometimes they’re just not good personality fits so they’re not big fans of your partner. I’ve seen both situations more than you can imagine. No matter what you do, never make the only reason that you end things as simple as your friends or family don’t approve. Take their opinions with a grain of salt, consider who those opinions are coming from, why, and how much their opinions matter, and decide for yourself.

Good Luck Out There.

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