Meeting my boyfriend’s family has made me want to break up with him. Am I overreacting?

Dear Evie,

I recently met my boyfriend’s family, and I’m not sure I want to keep the relationship going after seeing what they’re like. We’ve been together for over 2 years but haven’t visited his family before because they live fairly far away. He invited me to spend the weekend with them and told me it was his brother’s birthday, and that close family would be invited for a day and lunch celebration. I’m normally a bit nervous meeting new people, but by no means anxious to the point where I can’t cope. I wasn’t however prepared to meet 40+ people (family, extended family, friends of family – basically everyone!), but did my best to speak to everyone and make a good impression for myself. I spent most of the day with my boyfriend so he could introduce me, but I don’t think I came across as too attached to his hip.

Maybe I was wrong, as his mother kept throwing me disapproving looks and making comments about how he needed to catch up with more of his extended family and how me following around was getting in the way of this. I tried to not quite defend myself, but still say that it was a joint decision but was quickly hushed by not only my boyfriend, but his mother and some of the extended family. I immediately felt incredibly shameful and had to go into the lunch feeling embarrassed and heated, with a bunch disapproving looks around the table all directed my way. I spent most of the rest of the day in silence, trying not to step on anymore toes, and brought it up with my boyfriend later. I said that I was so disappointed that he said nothing to defend me, even siding with his mom, but he shut it down quickly again and said I was being disrespectful. I’ve never considered him much of a mother’s boy, but now I get the impression that he is, that he might never defend me in front of her, and that his family have all taken an immediate disliking to me – what do I do!


First of all, let me say how sorry I am that you had such a stressful and disheartening experience meeting your boyfriend’s family. It sounds absolutely overwhelming, and the fact that he didn’t have your back makes it sting even more. I’ve been there, not with 40+ people at a birthday lunch (yikes!), but definitely in situations where my partner’s family made it clear they weren’t my biggest fans. Feeling unwanted, unappreciated, and very much not good enough is a feeling that can really knock you off balance.

But here’s the thing: You did absolutely nothing wrong. In fact, you walked into a situation where you were outnumbered and potentially judged before you even opened your mouth, and you still tried your best to be friendly and make a good impression. That takes courage and grace. So, before you do anything else, give yourself some credit and allow yourself to feel the hurt and disappointment. It’s okay to not be okay sometimes.

Once you’ve taken some time for yourself, it’s important to have a deeper conversation with your boyfriend. I know he shut you down the first time, but this can’t be swept under the rug. Find a quiet moment – away from his family – and explain again how their behavior and his lack of support made you feel. Be honest and vulnerable, but try to avoid accusations. Instead, focus on how their actions impacted you and what you need from him in the future. Try and gauge what his replies are like:

  • Does he understand where you’re coming from?
  • Is he willing to address the issue with his family?
  • Would he willingly show his support for you if this were to happen again? 

His response will likely tell you a lot about his character and his priorities.

On top of an honest conversation, if future interactions with his family are unavoidable, talk to your boyfriend about setting boundaries. This could mean limiting the time you spend with them, opting out of large gatherings, or even having a conversation with his mother about her comments. It’s not about being difficult or causing drama, it’s about protecting your own emotional well-being. Remember, you deserve to be treated with respect.

This experience has given you some valuable insight into your boyfriend’s relationship with his family, and perhaps even a side of him you hadn’t seen before. It’s important to consider the bigger picture here. Does he generally prioritize your feelings and well-being? Is he willing to stand up for you, even when it’s difficult? These are very important questions to ask yourself as you think about the future of your relationship. If he has a track record of leaving you high and dry when things get tough, I would have a long think about whether or not you want a partner who isn’t up for standing by you (let alone up for you!)

Finally, trust your gut. You mentioned that you never saw him as a “mama’s boy” before. Pay attention to that instinct. Has this experience revealed something new? Do you feel secure and valued in the relationship? Your intuition is often a powerful guide, so listen to it carefully.

You deserve to be loved and cherished, both by your partner and the people he surrounds himself with. If this relationship isn’t giving you that, it’s okay to walk away. It’s not your job to win over a family who isn’t willing to accept you. You are worthy of love and happiness, and there are people out there who will see and appreciate you for the amazing woman you are.

Sending you so much love and strength,

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Ask Evie

Evie is on a mission to revolutionize relationships and help you sort through your emotional woes. Her popular column helps readers break free from societal restraints and create empowering relationships - both with their inner selves and with those around them. With a wealth of experience in relationship counseling, backed by several professional certifications, she’s open-minded, big-hearted, and extremely compassionate… But she’ll also be completely honest in telling you the (sometimes) brutal truth, so you can get straight to the heart of the matter. Maybe you’re trying to save a marriage that currently feels like a sinking ship? Or worrying that your new friend isn’t quite as nice as they seem? Perhaps you’ve accidentally killed your partner’s goldfish and are weighing up the pros and cons of going to the pet store and finding a doppelganger, or fessing up? Whatever the dilemma, Evie’s at the ready to help sort through the emotional turmoil and guide you towards the next best step. To get in touch with Evie, click here.

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