One of the scariest parts of being in a relationship can be introducing the person that you are dating to your family and friends. Why is that exactly? I mean, we're dating the person in question and not our friends, parents or siblings — so why is it that we put so much importance on the opinions of those closest to us?
You will often hear a person exclaim that they do not care what their parents think about their lover because they know in their heart that they love them; they believe that no matter what those closest to them think, they will never change their opinion of the person that they are seeing. But is this true?
Or is it that no matter how hard we try, we can never entirely separate ourselves and our own opinions from those of others, that there is no way that we can distance our opinions and beliefs from the influence that the opinions of others have on us?
The fact of the matter stands that because as human beings we are forced to live within a society that necessitates interaction in order to function properly, we are subject to the thoughts and opinions of others, as well as the effect they have on us.
Because we are human beings, the actions of others affect us — either minimally or profoundly, depending on the importance we give to that person. We understand that other people have thoughts of their own and arrive at conclusions by receiving and contemplating the information received via the senses. Being human, we also understand that while we must trust our own conclusions and reasoning, that we are not faultless and do either make the occasional mistake or overlook some sort of evidence that if known would change our views entirely.
We understand that we are not perfect and therefore are open to the advice or recommendations of those around us. The more important a person is to us — or the more important the relationship we hold with that person is to us — and the more we trust the opinions of said person and the way they experience the world, the more seriously we will consider the opinions they hold and the more influence their versions of the reality of things will have on us.
It all comes down to how much we trust the person giving their opinion and how important we feel it is for us to maintain a healthy relationship with them. Likewise, an important factor is how often we interact with the person(s) and how often you and your lover will need to interact with them.
If you do not see your family very often and you and your lover will not need to interact with them regularly, then the opinion of your parents or cousins may not affect your opinion of the person you are seeing as profoundly. Sure, once the relationship gets more serious and you are considering marriage and starting a family of your own, then whether or not this new person in your life will be a good addition to the already existing family tree may very well play an important role.
For this reason, the opinions of your closest friends tend to have the most affect on the opinions that you yourself have of your partner. Friends tend to take up more of our social interaction than our family members. The more social you are and the closer you are to your friends, the more important it will be to you that your friends and your lover get along well.
What you are basically doing is adding another person — an outsider — to the group, the inner circle. If tension between your boyfriend/girlfriend and your close friends arises, then as a result, tension between both you and your friends, as well as you and your lover will arise. We understand this going into relationships — we understand that allowing a new person into our lives does not only affect us, but also affects all the other people we interact with regularly — the people that we love and care about the most.
Newfound tension will cause stress and unhappiness, which will flow outward and into the crevices of your entire life. The way you feel, the way you think, the way you work and the way you view your life is all affected by such stress. This sort of stress can become severe for the reason that it stems from a source so close to home — our friends, family and lover. We begin to understand that there are few places for us to run and few options left.
The more stress you have from introducing your new boyfriend to your friends and family, the more you will blame them for your unhappiness. You may understand that it is not their fault entirely or at all, but nevertheless the fact remains that were they to exit your life, the stress and all the issues correlated with it would diminish.
And so it is…the person that you once loved has turned into a burden and your relationship has no other direction to go but straight off the deep end. The opinions of those most important to you have made you question how you feel about the person you are dating and doubt if the way that you are feeling is deserving.
You begin to believe that your friends or family must be seeing something that you are not. The tension that the new addition to the group has created formed a rift between you and what you once called your life. This is why often at times when a new romantic relationship is formed, we tend to reduce the amount of time we spend with everyone other than the target of our affection.
Sure, a lot of it has to do with the fact that we are in love and that we would like to spend as much time with them as we possibly can — but this decision is also influenced by the fear that our friends may see something that we ourselves don't or can't see, that our relationship will become tainted by the opinions of others. How you deal with this is entirely up to you and the best way to go about things depends on each specific incident. All I can recommend is treading carefully and slowly.
As long as your lover treats you well and with respect, your friends and family ought to notice that and appreciate him or her for it. But make sure to be smart about it all — don't think that the opinions of those around you won't have any effect over you, because they will. Be smart and do your best to guide the transition seamlessly. Ideally you want your new partner to add to your life and not to change it drastically.
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