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What am I supposed to do my family doesn't seem supportive of my relationship?

Published on October 10, 2013 by julia216

Okay, I will start off with explaining the situation. I was born and raised in Bosnia, Muslim family, all the stuff that goes with it, tradition and such, but I never felt in any way attracted to it, so I just grew out of it. My parents are very conservative and we do not really have an open relationship. They do not know about a lot of things that are very important to me in my life, and they don't seem to care. I just recently graduated from University, got a degree and I am supposed to find a job, get married have kids and do all that what they expected me to do. I have never opposed them, always complied with their decisions in order to avoid arguing because I truly respect them.

The problem is that I been in touch with a guy (he is Christian born/raised- doesn't bother me) and he is from Australia. We are very close and I can say with confidence that I feel for him. I love him and I really want to be with him. The thing is that I told my mother about his wish of coming to Bosnia and meeting me and my parents. She just yelled at me and didn't talk to me for days. She told me that I would be selfish and she would insist on dishonoring me from the family and the community we live in if I let him come here or even continue this relationship with him. I am completely torn these days, he is still so willing to come and get me, and I thought about elopement, might seem childish but I am so afraid of my parents' reaction to that, and I really don't want to hurt them but it hurts me even more that they totally rejected him, all I asked for was to give him one chance, since when do you meet someone that lives thousands of miles away that is willing to just come to some 3rd world country and be with you.

I don't know what to do anymore, I am so depressed and I wish I knew a solution that would make us all happy, but me ending this relationship and choosing my parents over him... I don't know.

I need help desperately. Am I really selfish? Should I just stay with them, but what are the odds of me ever meeting someone like him because he makes me so happy and he puts so much effort in making this long distance thing work, I feel like I would just be a complete let down.

I just can't stop thinking about my mother's reaction because she said I don't belong to that "western" lifestyle and i need to find a Muslim man whom I would settle down with somewhere in my hometown so I could be close to my family, but she doesn't know what I want neither did she even bother asking. My father doesn't know because I am afraid that if he finds out he would kick me out of the house, but my boyfriend told me in case that happens he would fly over immediately and work with me on getting a Visa to take me back to AU with him.


Dear Julia216:

You say you've been "in touch" with this guy, but you don't mention if you've ever really met in person - if this is someone you met at college or how you met him, if at all. Nor do you say how long you've been "in touch" with him.

Your parents may not "understand" you, but they are older and therefore, by default, wiser even if they don't have a worldly view as someone younger might. If you respect them as you say, then understand that although your mom's reaction seems harsh, she is truly concerned for your welfare and well-being and your happiness.

You are living in a tough world where traditional values may clash with your personal, more-modern beliefs; that's not an easy place to be. Your family is now and hopefully will continue to be an important force in your life. There is nothing in this world that compares to family.

Ask yourself these questions: 1. How well do I know this person (have you met in-person)? 2. Am I driven to him because he symbolizes my rebellion against my religious and cultural background? 3. Could I live without my family whether he and I stay together or not? Because if you break-up, you'll be alone without either and in a foreign country you know very little, if anything, about.

In addition, the modern world of technology makes it easy to feel connected to another person even thousands of miles away, but you never really know someone unless you spend actual live time with them - and often.

You really have two problems you're tackling - your identify as a Muslim-born girl who is not necessarily religious - and dating someone (anyone) who will cause you to lose your family (a thing you may resent them for later, even if it's not their fault).

Write me on YourTango and let me know what happens - or if you'd like to talk more about it - email me and we'll set up a conversation (no cost).

~LJ - a YourTango Expert


I agree with the LJ's comment above about asking yourself what is truly important to you/how your priorities line up ultimately. Are you willing to face the consequences of this relationship not working out (being alone, in another location)? Can you see yourself truly being with this person (especially if you haven't met him face-to-face yet) and losing your family's favor? With that being said, I cannot say that I relate to a strong familial and religious culture/tie, so please take my advice with a grain of salt; however, I don't think that you should live for anyone beyond your means. Always strive to deeply respect what is important to you, which is your relationship with your parents and honoring your shared values, but you do not have to uphold every wish of theirs. It isn't right to the quality of your future because you will continually live in a manner that doesn't align with what you want out of this life. You don't have to do a great deal of what is expected of you--I promise. People become entrenched in this mindset and it is just not the case, depending on your code of beliefs. You say that you are not particularly religious, so why must you marry a Muslim and lead a life according to someone else's ethics? Take your mother's advice and reaction to heart in the sense that you need to ask yourself if you should--in general--move for someone else and change your lifestyle. But do not let anyone, whoever they may be, have their thumb over your happiness. If you do, I doubt that you will ever consider yourself content. I'm sure this must be entirely heart-breaking for you to ruminate over; I'm sorry that this is happening. I hope you're able to come to a decision that satisfies you in the end. Remain genuine to yourself and keep an open heart to your parents, even through your differences. Forgive them, but don't live for them or anyone else.

Julia, I can feel your pain. I am on the same boat as you. I actually secretly had a relationship with this girl for a year and half. I actually did fell in love with her, but I had to constantly let her down when she wanted to see my family. Because I knew my family would judge and criticize me, which I wasn't ready. I have never really brought a girl over to my house, and I couldn't bring her home saying she was just a 'friend'. To make this short, we broke up, and main reason was the incompatible culture and family I had, but after a while, I realized something. My families' view vs. mine, were so different. And they could never see what I saw, and I couldn't change it. So, if you ever find someone you truly want to be with and if you are certain they feel the same way. Then its your choice. I have profound respect for everyone, but if it comes down to it, no matter what. Even if I get kicked out, and hated by parents. They need to realize that they are in a different part of the world, and they need to broaden their perspective. They would need to realize everyones human, and marriage in to same race are views that only desegregate other race, and that doesn't make ours any better. But be certain, before you make your move. As childish as it sounds, test him if you have to, see how long he'll be there for you. Goodluck.