Dear Peer Column 2/22/13

The MSU Spokesman

Dear Peer,
I am in a happy relationship with my boyfriend. My only issue is that he is afraid to tell his parents about me! We have been dating for a year now, and he has already met my parents. My parents and friends are telling me that he must not be serious about me because he does not think that I am important enough to meet his parents. My boyfriend is Nigerian and I do not know what to think. He has told me that I will meet them, but has not made it happen yet. I don’t know what to think, but I am starting to feel that he is ashamed of me, or does not care about me very much. I love him, but I don’t know how much I can handle this situation, if at all. Can you give me some much needed advice please?
Confused and frustrated

Dear C and F,
Just to let you know, for the answer to your letter, we consulted our fellow Nigerian peer counselors. Here is our outlook on your situation:

  • As an American you may have particular expectations according to your culture and family beliefs, but you also have to realize that he also has a different culture along with different expectations.  It is important that you understand his culture and embrace the rules of what he grew up with as well as yours.  A couple of our fellow Nigerian peer counselors have stated that it could be that in his Nigerian culture, he can’t bring anyone home unless he is sure that he is going to marry her. Bringing home just any girl, at any time, is unacceptable. The only time they may want to meet you is when you both are ready to get married.

  • We understand that you feel like he must not care about you–if he did, you think he would introduce you to his family, but we think we may understand his reasons for not doing so. You may need to ask your boyfriend to be more open with you to understand his culture barriers. Also, maybe it is confusing that he has a foot in both worlds and is unsure how to explain where his identity lies. Sit down and have a talk with him about what your culture expects and what his culture expects as well. Perhaps this can give you some insight on what to expect so that you do not feel as if he does not care about you. You may have to see things from his perspective in this situation.  Asking him to explain the dilemma from his point of view might help you feel what he is going through.

  • Back to his parents’ culture, it could be that he is afraid for them to know he is not dating a Nigerian girl, but someone completely outside of his ethnicity. His parents may have the mentality that if he was dating inside of their culture and ethnicity there would be no disagreement in the first place. Also, think about the dating rules of his culture. Our fellow Nigerian peer counselors have also said that his parents may believe that since you both are so young that you should not be dating in the first place, but should be focused on school and your studies

  • As an American, you may be used to your parents wanting to know who you are involved with whether you plan to marry them or not. Nigerian parents may only want to meet you when the relationship has gotten to the engagement step.

  • Keep in mind that you may also be dealing with two different approaches to meeting you. His mother may be more easygoing, while his father may be more serious, or vice versa. Be prepared and try to know which is which.

  • Last but not least, realize that not everyone in his family will be the same. Perhaps meeting his siblings, if he has any, may be an easier way to bond with his family. They may just tell his parents what they think about you and they may become curious about meeting you, or will simply have a better impression of you. This could also make you feel as if you are making some progress so that you do not feel as if no one in his family accepts you.

Good luck!

If you have some problem, confusion, or drama in your life, send a letter to Dear Peer c/o [email protected] .  We’ll be happy to hear from you.