When I was in high school, I noticed my then-boyfriend's mother was always a little cold with me. After some prying, my boyfriend admitted she didn't like me because she was still upset about WWII and how the Japanese behaved during the war. Never mind that I'm actually Chinese. And that it was the early 2000s.
Racism is always repellent, but the level of stupidity there was mind-boggling. My reaction also felt confusing: Was I mad on behalf of Japanese people everywhere? Was I mad because I was disliked for a dumb reason? Maybe she was just making excuses to not like me because I was Asian?
Choosing a mate is hard enough, but when you have to factor in the hang-ups of immediate families, things can get dicey. Here, people tell us the weirdest reason why their partner's families didn't like them—or why their own family disliked their partner.
Everyone initially hated my boyfriend because they thought he was too obsessed with Disney—the theme parks, the movies, the entire culture. My family assumed it meant he had some sort of weird connection to living in a fantasy world and not being able to cope with reality. Others implied they thought he was probably gay.
They thought he was too obsessed with Disney – the theme parks, the movies, the entire culture.
I didn't listen, because hey, I loved him, Disney obsession or not. Long story short: we got married at Disney World. Now we live in Orlando. Maybe they were right, but I like living in Florida, so it's kind of worked out for me.
My ex girlfriend's dad didn't think I was good enough for his daughter. I think a lot of it had to do with his "macho" overprotectiveness and the fact that we supported rival football teams. It was three-and-a-half years of general coldness, insults, and threats to kill me if I ever was to touch his daughter in a sexual way.
Sometimes we'd play football together and he would always be really intense and try to hit me in tackles as hard as possible. I remember the first time I shaved my head he said I looked like "a prick with ears." There were lots of jokes about me being very skinny (he was very fat) and being middle class (he was not).
Also, on the rare occasions when he made cups of tea for himself, he would press the hot teaspoon against my arm because he thought it was funny and wanted to assert his male dominance over his 15-year-old adversary. After high school, I headed to university. She left me for a dope-smoking skater boy who got her pregnant but continued cheating on her regardless. Perhaps her dad now thinks I probably was good enough, after all.
My parents didn't like my boyfriend because he sat in my dad's chair. Every week he'd come over, plop down in it and hide behind the newspaper waiting for my mom to cook Sunday lunch while my dad was relegated to another chair.
After a tropical island holiday during which I was 'too clingy,' he dumped me. Then I went traveling for six months and he spent the entire time trying to get me back. He even wrote to my parents asking for their help. But his chair-stealing behavior was not forgotten, and it didn't work.
My boyfriend's parents were always really confounded that I was a vegetarian. His mom would always verbally make a fuss over me and my dietary requirements, but then always cooked exactly what she wanted. I remember one time we sat down to dinner and she served roast duck. She asked in this really passive aggressive way if I could "just eat it".
It wasn't just being my being a vegetarian that bothered her. Once on a family holiday to Barbados, I decided to wear shorts – it was super hot and we were on a tropical island. His mom seemed really uncomfortable and told me that people in Barbados are quite formal and that I couldn't wear shorts to Bridgetown because it would offend people.
She asked me to go put on a skirt. It didn't seem to matter that my boyfriend, his brother and his dad were all wearing shorts. In fact, everyone in Barbados was wearing shorts except for his mom and me. We're married now and I know to never wear shorts around her. I've also found it's just easier to fit in if I just occasionally eat meat.
When we first starting dating, my now-husband came over for dinner at my parents' house. They were very cold to him for months after that. I finally found out it was because he only said "Thank you for dinner" once at the end of the evening. Apparently you're supposed to say it multiple times?
When I told him, he was abashed and a little embarrassed that he'd done something "wrong" without realizing it. But he wanted to win them over, so he put "Operation Copious Gratitude" into practice.
Now my parents adore him, but my husband still pours out effusive thanks if my mom even gives him a glass of water. We've also passed it on to our kids: their friends' parents tell me they always say "Thank you" repeatedly when offered anything.Names have been changed*