Hi Ms. Aileen,
I hope you can read my e-mail and hopefully find time to respond. Your advice to Ms. Yeng helped me a lot. My boyfriend and I are currently in our ninth month together, and I know he has the three non-negotiable characteristics that I want in a man. I was so thankful when I met his family. They were so warm, and I found out that I was the first girl who got to stay over at their place. But then something happened which caused me to rethink our relationship.
My boyfriend’s ex is close with this family. And since she lives in the same village as they do, she was—without my knowledge—invited to my boyfriend’s brother-in-law’s birthday party. On the day of the event, I received a text from my boyfriend’s sister asking me what time I would arrive. They didn’t tell me about the ex’s visit until I saw pictures posted online by his brother-in-law and I saw my boyfriend’s ex in them. My boyfriend told me that he never got a chance to talk with his ex and that I could even ask anyone to verify.
My boyfriend’s family knew that I was the type to get jealous easily. I felt so betrayed by him and his family, and because they could do something so hurtful, I decided to break up with him.
But after all is said and done, I can still see myself reconciling with my boyfriend but I don’t know how to feel towards his family.
I hope I can hear from you soon.
Thank you so much.
A tip from the Relationship Coach: You must consider your guy's family when thinking about the future of your relationship.
It really saddens me to hear about how you went through the experience of being betrayed by your boyfriend's family, especially when you had such warm and trusting feelings for them. I'm not sure whether or not you’ve decided to reconcile with your boyfriend yet, but either way, I just want you to know of three things to help you as you make decisions about your romantic future:
1. FAMILY IS AN IMPORTANT CONSIDERATION IN A LONG TERM RELATIONSHIP.
This is the reason why I decided not to address marital problems in this column: Once a couple is married, any issues they experience or decide on will no longer just affect one man and one woman. Any decision a married couple makes will directly affect their respective families and the family they are building together. This is the epitome of "it's complicated."
However, in your case, the good news is that you aren't married yet. The dating period is really designed for you to get to know each other, consider all the factors that will affect a possible future life together, and figure out if you’re truly a match for each other in this way. Use this time to decide and act wisely.
2. FAMILY IS WHERE WE GET OUR BASIC VALUES.
Our values and behaviors are directly affected by our families. And because of this, I am concerned about how much influence your boyfriend's family has over him.
You were right to feel betrayed about what happened. Your guy's family invited his ex to the party even though they knew that you would be upset by it. Granted, they may have had a good reason for doing what they did--and they may not have told you to spare your feelings--but it doesn't erase the fact that "withholding information" is something they're willing to do.
The question that you have to find an answer to now is whether or not this is a trait that is part of your boyfriend’s personality too.
3. MISTAKES CAN BE DUE TO A SIMPLE LAPSE IN JUDGMENT OR AN ACTUAL CHARACTER FLAW.
Before you make a final decision, I want you to review the situation using the following questions:
- Was this an isolated incident? Was this the only time you experienced a lack of integrity in your dealings with your boyfriend and his family, or is this something that happened before but in a different way?
- Was it a situation where they simply made the wrong decision? You mentioned that your boyfriend's family knew that you easily got jealous, so could this have been their way of keeping you from getting hurt? If this is the case, do you think they can learn from what happened and hopefully make better decisions next time?
- Are you willing to give them a chance? It's no longer a question of whether or not you'll forgive them. In fact, I can sense from your letter that you may already have, and that's a good thing. But you are right in taking your time to seriously consider whether or not to reconcile with them and let them back into your life. You will never know what they'll end up doing, and they may end up hurting you again. But you can decide how you really feel about it and how you'll deal with it.
If you've noticed, all these things I've shared with you are simply insights, and how you use these insights will be entirely up to you. In the end, I believe that you are the expert on your own life.
Think deeply, trust in what your heart and your mind are clear about, and confidently move forward from this experience in your life.
*All names and some details have been changed.
(Photo by mrhayata via Flickr Creative Commons; photo used for illustrative purposes only)
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I'm sorry I can't respond to your email personally, but I will absolutely read your letter. I would also love to answer your questions in detail in this column (and maybe even in articles & books) so that we can both help many other women who might be in the same situation. Please do let me know, though, if you just want me to read your letter and not answer it here; otherwise I'll change the names and some details and go for it.
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DISCLAIMER: The material contained in this column is an expression of opinion and is not to be construed as legal, medical or professional advice. This material may only to be used for personal entertainment purposes.