When Your Partner's Parents Don't Approve

By Marina Krivonossova on October 12, 2020

Relationships are hard, and nobody can tell me otherwise. Even when you and your partner have all the love and support in the world, making things work can prove to be a lot of hard work. So I understand how much more exceedingly difficult it can be to keep on going when you don’t have the support of your partner’s parents. Especially when you’re a young adult in college, just starting to navigate the adult world of dating. I’ve been in that situation myself  — more times than I like to admit — so I want to share my two cents with you on what to do when your partner’s parents don’t approve of your relationship.

“What do you mean when you say they ‘don’t approve’ of my relationship?”

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I mean just that: your partner’s parents, for whatever reason it may be, do not feel that the two of you should be together. Whether this be for personal reasons, cultural reasons, or whatever else (we’ll tackle those later), your partner’s parents simply do not give you their blessing to be together.

“Why do my partner’s parents not approve of us?” 

That’s a totally valid question. And it’s a tough one to approach. You love your partner, your partner loves you, and the two of you want to make things work. That should be enough, right? Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. A lot of people’s parents feel as though they should get the final say in the relationships of their children. As mentioned in my previous point, there’s a handful of reasons and beyond that may be influencing your partner’s parents’ disapproval.

“What factors might these be?”

Culture: Your partner’s parents might find the two of you to be culturally incompatible. Older generations often believe that people from different cultural backgrounds won’t live well together.

Religion: The same can be said if you come from different religions, and your partner’s family values the influence religion has in their household.

Only child syndrome: Perhaps your partner is an only child, so their parents are pained at the idea of “losing” them to someone else. This one hits particularly close to home, as I know this happened to me with an ex-boyfriend. If your partner comes from a household where they were always the star of the show, it may be difficult for their parents to realize that their child is a baby no more. Letting go is never easy, and your budding relationship may be perceived as a threat to these parents.

Single parent syndrome: Similar to only child syndrome, this effect is seen when your partner comes from a single-parent household. The parent who raised this child may feel as though their whole world revolves around the child. To the parent, it was them and their baby against the world for the longest time. The idea of the baby growing up and committing to someone else doesn’t always sit well with these parents.

Lack of control: Some parents dislike the lack of control they have over their child’s relationship. You may be a wonderful person with high hopes and ambitions, but you still can’t be enough in the eyes of these parents who crave control.

“Is it my fault?” 

Absolutely not! You should not feel at fault if your partner’s parents do not approve of your relationship. As I mentioned before, all those factors are beyond your control. As long as you love your partner and are committed to making things work, you should remember that their parents’ negativity has nothing to do with you.

“It’s stressful knowing my partner’s parents don’t approve of us. What do I do?” 

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The first and foremost thing that should be done is an open discussion with your partner. You both need to acknowledge the parents’ lack of approval and decide what the best course of action is for the two of you. Some people care a lot about what their partner’s parents think of their relationship. If this sounds like you, discuss with your partner what you should do to try and improve relations with the family. This approach won’t be easy, and there will be a lot of give and take involved. This may include having open conversations with their family, getting to know them better, or spending more time with them. If this sounds like something that will be beneficial for both of you and your relationship, then I highly encourage this approach.

However, it’s important to remember that not all parents will be swayed by your openness and kindness. As previously mentioned, some are set in their ways, and no matter what you do, you’ll never gain that approval you seek. That’s when you have to have a very important talk with your partner: where do we go from here?

Some people are fine accepting that their parents might not approve of their relationship. It’s a reasonable approach. After all, if you’re an adult who’s happy with their partner, why should anybody else’s opinion matter? However, if you find yourself in a relationship with someone who exceedingly values their parents’ opinion of their love life, then you might just find yourself at an impasse. Try to understand that not every relationship is meant to be, and if your partner puts a greater emphasis on pleasing their parents than being with you, you might be better off letting that person go.

At the end of the day, remember that there’s no “one size fits all” piece of advice that will work for each and every person and their relationship. This article was simply meant to help put things in perspective and offer advice to you in your difficult times. At the end of the day, it should be taken with a grain of salt. Only you know what the best decision is for you personally.

By Marina Krivonossova

Uloop Writer
Now that she has completed her undergraduate degree at UC Irvine and graduate degree at Leiden University, Marina is spending her time working in corporate communications and marketing. She has an educational background in business, economics, teaching, and politics. Her passions include creative writing, experimenting with new baking recipes, and traveling the world.

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