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How to Tell Your Parents You're Dating Someone They Hate

Updated on February 11, 2014

Just because you adore him, it doesn't mean your parents will.

While your parents may not agree with your choice of partner, their acceptance of your new lover is fairly important. A study published in the "Journal of Social and Personal Relationships" in 2008 showed that families got on better if in-laws accepted a new partner, especially if that acceptance was verbally expressed. It is never easy to break difficult news to anyone, but mentally rehearsing how you will do it and following certain steps can make it easier for you to manage the situation.

Prepare Yourself

To minimize the stress of telling your parents you're dating someone they despise, consider ahead of time how you may feel while delivering the news and what your parents' responses might be. Prepare yourself for any emotional outbursts and think of how you could best answer questions they may ask. It is normal for you to have negative feelings when telling your parents something that may upset them, so be prepared to feel upset and consider how you will cope with that.

Set the Scene

When you need to break the bad news, show respect for your parents by giving them the time and space to process the situation. Make sure that you tell them the worst somewhere that you won't be interrupted. Find somewhere quiet and private and turn off your phone and anything else that might interrupt you. Sitting face-to-face, with no physical barriers between you is a gesture of openness. Sitting also relaxes the body more than standing up, so both you and your parents should be less tense.

Mind Your Language

When delivering news that your parents will be less than delighted with, it is vital to watch exactly what you say and do. Keep body language intimate and genuine, maintaining eye contact at all times. A warning shot in the form of “I've got some difficult news to tell you” can help your parents to brace themselves. When you've delivered the news, don't round your conversation off with any hostile phrases, such as “And that's that,” which will only get your parents' backs up.

Manage the Fall-out

When the deed is done, you will have to deal with the reaction from your parents. They may feel many different emotions, ranging from shock to anger to sorrow to disbelief. If their reaction is silence, and you're not sure how they feel, ask them. Make statements which validate their feelings, such as "I understand this is upsetting" or "I can see you are angry". Allow your parents to express their fears and concerns fully. It is only when these emotions have been cleared out of the way that they can consider practically how to deal with the situation.

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    • Widdah profile image

      Cassandra 3 years ago from Georgia

      Good article, but I have a crucial question: How can I, if I even can, help them understand where I'm coming from, when my mom tends to be rather biased and stubborn? I've been dating a guy for 2 1/2 years, and at first she seemed to love him as much as I do. But then after time..she changed. She stopped speaking to him, and would only offer harsh words if he and I were struggling with something. I've always been close with her, and I could talk to her about anything, but ever since she started dating this guy, I've noticed her mouth mimics his words. It's gotten to the point where I can't talk to her about anything unless she's angry with him (sounds weird, I know). A lot of things I keep to myself now. My boyfriend and I (I'm sorry this is long, by the way) broke up for a short period of time, but now were working things out and it's going well..but I dread telling her, more so because I don't want to hear it. But I don't like secrets. So..on that note...is there a friendly way of telling her that it is my life, and this part..though may matter..is not for her to decide?

    • Smyls profile image
      Author

      Beth Burgess 3 years ago from London

      Hi, I recommend telling her using "assertive structure". This is basically expressing your feelings and needs using "I" statements rather than "you" statements (this make the other person less defensive)and showing that you understand their position partially. So something like: "I feel like you don't like {boyfriend's name}, and I need to tell you I've decided to get back with him. I wanted to tell you before, but I feel like we don't seem as close anymore. It upsets me that you may not like him, but I hope you can respect the fact that I need to make my own relationship decisions. I know that you want the best for me - and {bf's name} and I are getting on well, and I hope you can be happy for me." Hope that helps!

    • Widdah profile image

      Cassandra 3 years ago from Georgia

      Okay, sounds doable. Thanks! I appreciate it, I'll try that. :)

    • Smyls profile image
      Author

      Beth Burgess 3 years ago from London

      Good luck - and remember, you can only do your best to be nice and thoughtful. What she actually thinks about the news isn't something you can control. So, whatever the outcome, just be proud of yourself for handling it maturely and as nicely as possible :)

    • profile image

      Hannah 3 years ago

      So, i'm 20 and go to school in San Diego. My parents live in Maryland yet are still very controlling and nosey and intrusive. I recently used the money I've been saving all school year to buy a plane ticket to visit my best friend/ex/fling in Berlin for 10 days. But my parents hate him and are going to be mad that's what I used my money on. How do I go about telling them and communicating to them that I am capable of making my own decisions without their consent or control?

    • Smyls profile image
      Author

      Beth Burgess 3 years ago from London

      Hi Hannah, Use "assertive structure" (explained above)! So you might say: "Sometimes I feel like you don't trust me to make my own decisions. I know it's because you love me, and don't want to see me get hurt. At this point I need to be able to grow into an independent adult. To do that, I need to be free to make my own choices, and a few of my own mistakes if need be, without feeling like I need to answer to anyone. You have done a great job raising me so I hope you can trust me to make mainly good decisions! I love and respect you both and hope you can let me judge what's best for me from now on." Hope that helps!

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