Parents Don't Approve BF/GF Relationship - What to Do

What to Do About Parent Approval of a Relationship

What if My Parents Don't Approve of My BF/GF?

Finding someone you love who loves you in return can be difficult. Then learning how to deal with conflicts within a relationship can be painful, as well. But there is an entire additional level of stress when, for some reason, you discover your parent(s) disapprove of the person you are dating.

This can make any dating relationship difficult and put a strain on your home life.

When you discover your parents strongly disapprove of your bf/gf, your first inclination will be to pull away from them and continue your dating relationship behind their back. This doesn't do anybody any good. Never secretly date someone your parents don't want you to date. Having secrets and lies between you and your parents ruins trust and causes needless stress and drama which will affect your self-esteem, grades, and even your other friends.

Just Because You Disagree Doesn't Make Your Parents Dumb

Just because they are your parents and you don't agree with them, that doesn't make them dumb.  Although far from perfect, they have years of experience and wisdom that you don't have yet. This might enable them to see the character faults in your bf/gf a whole lot easier than you, especially if you're blinded by the deep emotions you feel for your bf/gf. It is worth pushing pause on your anger and emotions and considering whether your parents may be right. They have the advantage of perspective...they realize over 90% of high school dating ends up not working out. Parents remember their own good and bad choices while dating. They just want you to be protected from bad consequences that could affect the rest of your life.

The fact of the matter is, that most people spend very little time researching and getting to know the other person before they start dating them. They just jump into the relationship. Many parents' fears are well-founded. They have fears of unwanted pregnancy, date rape, drug use, physical abuse, or simply having their children get a needless and unnecessary broken heart.

What Are the Signs of a Toxic Relationship With Parents?

First of all, just because your parents don’t like who you’re dating doesn’t mean they’re toxic. It’s okay for them to have concerns–they love you, and they want your life to be easy and fulfilling. However, it’s pretty common for toxic parents to be hard to please, and if you’re working to address some conflict with them over your romantic partner, but they’re being unreasonable, there might be some toxicity in the family.

How do you know if your parents are toxic? Common signs of toxic parents are:

  • They overreact or often have surprising, loud, large, or out-of-control emotional reactions.
  • They think about everything in relation to themselves. For example, they might ask, “How could you do this to me?” about things that have nothing to do with them. They may also have a hard time with empathy for your feelings and experiences.
  • They treat you as a main source of their emotional support, even if you’ve asked them not to, and even if they need support for things it’s inappropriate for them to talk to their child about.
  • They don’t respect your boundaries. If you live with them, they go through your phone or diary, they don’t knock before they enter your room or the bathroom, or they tell your siblings things you said in confidence. If you don’t live with them, they call you constantly despite knowing your work schedule, or they show up at your home without asking first.
  • They’re controlling. They use manipulation to get you to do what they want—guilt, money, the silent treatment, withholding love, etc.
  • They’re extremely critical. They are never happy with what you do. If you get an A-, why wasn’t it an A+? If you get into college, why didn’t you get a full scholarship? If your team won a game, why weren’t you the top scorer? If you picked up your brother from school, why didn’t you feed him dinner? If you come home for Christmas, why aren’t you staying longer?

If you think you and your parents may have a toxic dynamic, the first thing you need to realize is that you cannot change them. They are who they are, and you can only change how you cope with and relate to them. A licensed therapist can help you figure out how to negotiate healthy boundaries with folks who aren’t necessarily going to respect those boundaries, so seek out counseling to address difficult family dynamics.

What Do Others Say?

Carolyn commented that her response to her parents' dislike of her boyfriend was to ask other people what they thought. They [my parents] said he lied, cheated, and I shouldn't be involved with him. They also said he pushed me around too much. So I thought about what they said and talked to more people. The more people I talked to, nobody wanted us together. It wasn't just my parents. Chances are, your parents have more wisdom than you do and it's a good idea to take their advice. 

Solomon, the man God blessed with the greatest wisdom in the Bible, said something very similar. He said, "Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed." Proverbs 15:22   He also went on to say, "A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the fool feeds on trash." Proverbs 15:14

Be wise here. Search for knowledge about your bf/gf from many people, including your parents, and take their advice seriously.

Tips for Having a Successful Conversation With Your Parents

The best thing you can do is to sit down with your parents and calmly, with great respect, ask what it is they don't like about your bf/gf and what you can do to lessen their fears and objections. Another question you could ask them is, "What should my bf/gf do to win your trust?" Be willing to listen to what they have to say. Never argue with them about it. That never works. It only shows them you are too immature to be in the relationship they are so worried about.

They will appreciate your desire to learn from their wisdom and respect their point of view. Remember, most of the time they are right and who wants to gamble with the few times they might be wrong, just for the sake of having a bf/gf.

Ask your parents if they would be willing to meet with your bf/gf and have them explain their reservations to him/her. If your bf/gf refuses to meet with your parents, that's a sure sign he/she is not respectful to you or your parents.

What Do Parents Expect?

Sometimes parents' expectations for whom you should date can be too high, but often your expectations are too low. Are you willing to settle for someone who might be harmful to you in the long run, just because they appear to show interest in you in the short term? Your parents can help you answer that question without all the emotional fog you are experiencing.

Most parents will appreciate a bf/gf who treats you with respect and honesty. Someone who makes you a better person. If they observe that you are often sad or hurt, those are red flags for them. They will also appreciate someone who cares enough for you that they are willing to make an effort to get along with them.

As you identify the problems and come up with the plans to fix them, you will be well on your way to a more healthy and positive relationship between you, your bf/gf, and your parents. Don't forget, while boyfriends and girlfriends come and go, parents are forever.

How do you go about protecting and guarding your heart? Click here for the lies and truths on how to guard your heart in relationships.

Dawson McAllister
Dawson McAllister, also known as America's youth pastor, was an author, radio host, speaker, and founder of TheHopeLine. McAllister attended Bethel College in Minnesota for undergraduate work where he graduated in 1968, began graduate studies at Talbot School of Theology in California, and received an honorary doctorate from Biola University.
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272 comments on “Parents Don't Approve BF/GF Relationship - What to Do”

  1. Hi I cant say my name because if somebody else sees me on here. But my situation goes like this. I am 16yo, a sophomore. I've liked this one super nice and very funny guy but I told him after the 3rd year of being his friend, I really thought we matched and he liked me, turns out he did not like me and he said "I am a cheated I cheat, grow tf up" This had made me really really sad. I was doing stuff to help me get my mind off of him, but I have him almost every class. I did these things for a while feeling numb everytime I did them, it did not help it would just make me like him more. So recently this guy hit me up on instagram and he goes to my school we met up for this valentines convention and it was really fun I had such a great time with him he is perfectt and right before I went back to class he asked me to be his valentine with a bouquet of eternal roses and a box of chocolates, this made me really really happy I thought to myself this is perfect I couldnt be happier. He wanted me to tell my mom, so I did she was not happy she kept on saying how all guys want now days is sex, nudes and other things she considers none of the the rest of the things this man has done for me, like hello he buys me things he makes me feel loved hes respectful. So I go to tell the guy about what my mom says and he said " I really dont like the idea of hiding us dating from you mom and Ill wait but waiting forever is not something I had planned to do" and this man means so much to me if he leaves me because of my mom im going to be so SO sad. I gave up my 3year crush because of him I did so much, like tell my mom I never tell her about my relationships because of this, but this time this felt legit. I just need someone to read this someone to reply please anything<3

  2. Respectfully, this article appears to have been paid for by the Parents Council of the United States of America. Which is just a corny way of saying it appears to contain quite a bit of bias. If I had to guess the writer is a parent themselves, and to speculate even further, I would even go as far as to say that they wrote this because they were presently dealing with this issue in their personal life. I could be completely wrong and I'm happy to admit I am but the point of what I'm trying to say here is that it's coming from a very bias place and I think that goes without saying as the other opinions that have been offered in the comments tend to align with how I feel. The comments do not tend to align with how the author feels I think this is important.

    Parents are fallible humans and should be treated accordingly. Giving those that chose this path a wide berth is not closeness, its controlling. We should not be living to please our adult parents in any capacity.

  3. The whole point of dating and such is usually (not always) to find and start your OWN family. And most of these comments I agree with when they say that most parents honestly dont care to get to know certain peoples s/o. My parents only bothered to get to know the favorite sisters bfs...but never mine. Still to this day. It's really sad. My exes mother was the same. No one is ever good enough for him..and she needs him too much (shes freaking married still) and depends on him being her therapist about her life problems and doesnt seem to want her only child that doesnt have a kid, to finally have his own family.

    1. What if My Parents Don't Approve of My BF/GF?
      My co worker did this to some black guy she was with, made a whole deal out of it, then married a white guy right after to not be alone during pandemic. Why bother waste a mans times like that, be degrading, sleep with him but hide him from your parents if you're racists. Seems like a huge waste of everyones time.

  4. Well, You describe perfect and reasonable parents here but not all of them are like that. I am grown up now, 41,but I had trouble with my parents accepting my boyfriends during whole life. I must say we weren’t on best terms when it comes to that. Reasons for them to forbid the relationships varied from case to case but one thing was in common: they never really met my boyfriends and were not interested in any of them as a person. That didn’t matter. They never wanted to meet them. They would just assume if he is or is not right for me. If their background didn’t fit, parents, age, religion, or whatever they would just disagree and get mad at me without talking to me or hearing me out. And yes, because of that, I lied to them my whole life. In the end i would just not talk about it. They never asked me: Are you happy? Do you love him? Does he love you? Does he treat you right? Those things didn’t really matter. If for any reason they thought it is not the time for me to be in relationship (have to study, I am too young, what if i get pregnant, what will people say) or they thought he is not right (i repeat: they never met them. Unless i forced it and then they made it very uncomfortable). We never managed to have normal open conversation because it would just be a conversation where they are angry with me and want me to stop dating that guy. Once my mom thought i was in relationship with a divorced guy and this is how she started conversation (angrily):”sit. We have to talk. Now, If you are in a relationship with him, you and I will now have the biggest fight ever.”What an opener! Yeah mom, can’t wait to tell you all about it. I said no, i am not dating him. And i was. And i still am. She only cared about the fact that he was divorced. That is all. So I have to disagree about some things here: 1. No, parents are not always reasonable and sometimes they don’t really see the whole picture but are blinded with their own rigid attitudes and believes. 2. They don’t always want what is best for you but what they think is best for you. 3. It is not always easy to openly talk to them. Your article is just...a situation in perfect conditions. Life usually is not perfect and it is hard to find common language. Some of us, never really manage.

    1. Omg this was my mother when i was a teenager. She once said I couldn't even talk to boys unless he wanted to marry me - to which I sarcastically replied, "What, he's supposed to propose marriage just to say hello? Don't be ridiculous."
      I had boyfriends anyway, yet somehow remained a virgin until 22. Why? Because contrary to my mother's idea that I had no sense, I was perfectly capable of refusing to do things I didn't want to do, and even then, I was really, REALLY good at being intimidating when I chose to. I was also pretty impervious to peer pressure (one boyfriend tried that, found out I didn't CARE if he broke up with me because of it). My desire not to have kids was stronger than anything, and the boy never seemed to have a condom.
      Moral of the story? Parents may have more life experience, but it would serve them well to listen to their kids -- sometimes the kid is wiser than they think.

  5. “Parents are forever” well sure but the wonderful part of being an adult is that you get to choose who is in your life and it’s is entirely okay for you to choose what’s best for you even if that includes distancing yourself from your family. When I tell someone I don’t talk to my dad and they say well “they’re family”....that means nothing to me. Why should I put up with more bs from them just because were related. You’re making a lot of assumptions ”parents always want what’s best for you”.... none of this applies if your parents are narcissists.

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