Can't Meet the Parents Because I'm Black?

Ask Demetria: How his folks feel about you is not a good indicator of how he feels about you.

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(The Root) --

"I've been dating this guy for five months now. He is very nice, but I have never met his parents. It seems that there is always an excuse why we can't see them. I guess I'm being paranoid, but I'm not sure he wants his folks to meet me, since I'm a black lady and he's white. I keep telling myself it's 2013, but ... " --F.T.

Perhaps there's more to your story that you haven't shared that explains why you think not meeting your date's parents may have something to do with your race. Admittedly, it's possible that they could have a problem with the fact that you're black, which wouldn't be unheard of, even in 2013. It's also likely, however, that his folks don't care all that much about your race, or the fact that their son is dating you -- emphasis on dating -- but is not in a serious relationship.

You don't really know how they feel because you haven't met them, and the man you're dating hasn't given any indication about them one way or the other. I know there are lots of stories about people whose families reject a member for dating "out," but let's avoid assuming that all members of the older white set are raging racists who yearn for the days of social segregation. Unless your boyfriend has given you some indication that his parents would have a problem with your race, then I'm going to say that you may be jumping to conclusions.

There may be a multitude of plausible reasons that he hasn't introduced you to his family that have nothing to do with race. Maybe he is the so-called black sheep of the family and isn't all that close with them. Maybe he's embarrassed by them or loves them but doesn't really like them. Maybe they act as if no one is good enough for their boy, and he doesn't want to put you through the drama.

Women often take not meeting his family as a sign that a guy isn't (getting) serious about them, but it's a misguided worry. One, you're not dating his family -- you're dating him. As long as he likes you and treats you well, you're in the clear. Two, you can't reliably base how much a man is into you on whether he introduces you to his family.

Several years ago, in my former life as the relationships editor for a popular black women's magazine, I used to conduct male roundtable discussions. I'd ask all sorts of "women want to know" questions to probe man-thought on subjects that matter to us. One of them was meeting the parents. I thought I was lobbing a softball question to get the conversation rolling: "Of course it means something ... right?"

I'd asked, and the guys were staring at me blankly. One finally took pity on me after the awkward silence and asked something like, "Is it supposed to mean something? Do women think it means something?" If so, he, and many other guys, had missed the memo. Another said there was sort of an unspoken agreement that he could bring home as many people as he liked, and everyone would play along as if each woman was special.

I'm sure, to some men, it's a big deal to take a woman home, but for others it's as simple as not wanting to be alone -- yes, guys get lonely, too -- and wanting someone to spend time with. I read plenty of stories from women who tell of bonding with a guy's mom and siblings and vacationing with his family, only to find out that he had another long-term girlfriend and the family spent time with her, too. (No one ever says anything because it's his family, not yours.)

If you want to know how he feels about you, ask and then watch his actions (they should align). Don't try to use markers that really reveal nothing. And if you're still really concerned about why you haven't met his parents, ask about that, too, instead of jumping to one of the worst-possible conclusions.

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