Debate This: Do You Need Your Parents To Approve Of Your Significant Other?

On last night’s episode of “The Bachelorette,” the four remaining bachelors took Ashley home to meet their families. You can read all about the details of the episode in Kate’s recap, but the thing that stuck out most to me was the fact that each of the guys made sure to emphasize just how essential it was that their families approved of Ashley. And if they didn’t? Each dude seem to imply that not getting the thumbs up from mom, dad, and their siblings would make pursuing a more serious relationship impossible.

This was fascinating to me. There’s no doubt that having your parents like — and even love — your significant other is a wonderful thing, but I don’t know that it’s essential for me.My mom and brother liked my ex-fiance just fine, but they weren’t bananas about him. I know that if my mom could play matchmaker, she would undoubtedly pair me up with someone more her speed than my own. I respect her opinion, but I also know she respects and trusts my judgment. Since then, I’ve talked to her a little about the guys I’ve dated — and she met my most recent boyfriend — and she’s offered her advice when solicited. But even if I didn’t follow it, I don’t believe she would ever issue an “I told you so” if it didn’t work out. Would I like for my mom to love my next long-term partner? Totally. I see how much she likes my brother’s girlfriend and it would wonderful to have her feel like my future S.O. is as good a match for me — but I don’t think I need it.

I’ve been on the flip side of the parental approve coin, too. My ex-fiance’s parents loved me and I loved them to the point where they felt very much like my own family. When we broke up, not having them — particularly his mom — in my life was very painful for both of us. There is part of me that is resistant to ever being that loved by and having that much love for a boyfriend’s parents. That maybe it’s better for there to be some distance — though having them hate me (impossible!) would really suck.

Below, a few other women offer their opinions on the subject — and tell us what you think in the comments!

“I’m with the dudes of ‘The Bachelorette’—it’s an essential for me that my family adore my significant other. My family is tight knit—four years after I moved to New York from North Carolina, my sister made the trek up here to join me, and shortly after that, my parents moved here, too. My family gets together at least once a week and that includes my brother-in-law, who is one of my oldest friends and is very close with my parents, too. It’s important to me that the person I love be a part of the fold. That said, in every serious relationship I’ve been in, they have been—my family is very accepting, and I can’t think of a single person they objected to. (I did have one boyfriend who wasn’t so taken with them, however, and I found myself resenting him for that more I would have imagined.) If they did dislike someone, I know it would be for a rational reason—that they saw something in him I didn’t—and not because of some superficial thing like what race/religion he is, what he does for a living, or how he looks. If my family ever raised concerns about a significant other, I would pay that the same heed I would a fire alarm.” — Kate

“My sibling is married to someone my parents aren’t crazy about and I’ve seen what kind of discordance and turmoil this can bring to a family dynamic, especially a small family. I never imagined it could be so damaging. One of the things I value most in my life is peace, so I would love to be with someone who is invested in making nice and keeping the peace with my family because they are so important to me. While I don’t specifically date people because my family will like them, I feel discouraged from pursuing relationships where I know my family will not/does not like the him.” — Beth

“When I was 21, I was caught in between dating two guys — one of whom I was deeply in love with, the other of whom was a more ‘appropriate’ match for me, in terms of having a good career and background, and being more of an academic match to me. My mother, who I have always considered a really strong guiding force in my life (and uh, she’s also a palm reader and such), STRONGLY and openly discouraged me from dating the guy I was in love with and pushed me toward the guy who was more financially set, and who she felt would be better able to ‘take care’ of me. It didn’t work out and I always resented her for imposing such an intense and strong opinion on me. In fact, at one point I sat her down and told her to keep her judgements to herself, because it wasn’t fair to me — what I was looking for in a partner wasn’t necessarily what she was looking for for me in a partner. I have always regretted letting her sway my decision-making process there.” — Julie

“My parents’ support is one of the reasons I felt so sure in my last long-term relationship. They’d never really liked my boyfriends before. (In fairness, most of those guys were a**holes.) The fact that my mother LOVED my ex made me feel a lot more secure about our future together. I guess this means I trust my mother’s judgment? I have, however, been on the other side of this. My ex’s parents were not impressed by me. Specifically, his mother wished he’d date someone who went to an Ivy League school, worked in finance or law, and made big bucks. I am but a struggling blogger who only went to piddling little NYU. I’m convinced that she’s part of the reason he broke up with me and I resent the hell out of him/her for it. So, my thoughts on this are kind of hypocritical. I think when your parents support your union, it’s lovely. But when your parents don’t like the person you are dating, you should think for yourself.” — Jessica