The family you're born into versus the one you create for yourself

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    Jul 11, 2010 7:14 PM GMT
    I was reading a topic on here recently titled "Why are there so many single gay guys who can't find a relationship?" And one RJ member made a very interesting comment which I wanted to delve deeper into. He said:

    "...Then there are those single guys that seemingly have a serious committed ongoing relationship with one or both of their parents, where they have no real interest or ability in actually sharing a life with someone else other than their parent."

    This made me wonder how many people are in this situation. I wonder when most people feel the need to create their own life for themselves and how often is it the result of necessity versus desire. (An example of necessity being someone who does not have a close-knit family or lost their family earlier in life). I love my family but the family you're born into can't provide for all of your needs in life till the end of life.

    Perhaps having strong familial support enables certain people to be patient in finding the right person the share their life with. If they already have unconditional love and support from mom/dad/siblings maybe there isn't as strong of a need or desire to find someone with which to share their life. However, I am not saying that people in relationships necessarily come from loveless families and are filling a void.

    Also, how do we balance our obligations? My cousin was in a very serious relationship with this great guy and they were so close to getting married. Unfortunately, his mother was terminally ill and he spent a great majority of his time tending to her and taking care of her. It got to the point where they had a big argument about it and he told her "My mom will ALWAYS come first in my life..." at which point she ended the relationship. I've heard of this happening very often in gay and straight relationships alike (especially as the population ages and we end up providing for our parents until later in life).

    At what point do we move beyond the families we're born into and work to create our own relationships? When we do so is it a need or a desire to do so?

    I realize this is a bit disjointed and I'm probably just rambling but I was just wondering what anyone else's thoughts are. This topic is not about me and my life in particular. Please discuss as I'm eager to hear other people's take on this issue.

    Thanks.
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    Jul 12, 2010 12:00 AM GMT
    This is going to come off as a culturally biased opinion, but...
    In the Caribbean islands, Latin Countries, India, Middle East, Africa, Asia etc

    1) Your parents MUST always come first, unless you have kids

    2) A good wife knows the first rule to making the marriage work is: become good friends with the mother-in-law.. same for a good husband

    3) Romantic love is always subservient to familial piety

    In my case, I lived apart from my family for 10 years.. never had a serious relationship, guess I was one of the unlucky ones who never met anyone, (and Im serious, I met like 6 gay people in those 10 yrs, none of which were available for a relatonship) this though I was living in Amsterdam, Paris, Las Vegas, major cities

    I finally decided to return home.... live with my mom... I eat my grandma's food every day... today I went to the beach with my sister's kids, I get to participate in their upbringing, throw them in the water, theach them how to swim, teach them discipline and manners and all that..... I had to shower my grandfather, who is physically not capable of doing so,...

    And other than the fact that Im single, I wouldn't have things any other way, family first...

    now if you have a strong relationship, your partner is expected to become part of the family... even though there may be strife between family members... you must swallow your pride in front of family... always...

    Ill try to explain what I am concluding here... a good partner will always accept the situation you have with your family and will never ask you to leave it... even if the partner cant get along with some family members, he/she too must swallow his/her pride in front of them.... we come second in their lives as partners... though the romantic notions we have may make us feel otherwise



  • Jul 12, 2010 12:17 AM GMT
    Coming from an Italian family I feel the same way.
    My family is quite enormous, over 800 family members and extended relatives. I am grateful my family accepts me for who I am but if I were to have a boyfriend, that man had better accept my family. In our culture, family comes first. The elderly live with their children and the young ones stay home until marriage. We might fight once in a while but it is quickly resolved. Physical affection between couples is kept at a minimum around family gay or straight. If a member of the family brings a boyfriend or girlfriend it is a huge deal, outsiders rarely ever meet the family unless they are a special long term thing. My family invited my ex-boyfriend into their lives because they knew he was important to me. My family will always be first, and my boyfriend needs to understand that. Without my family I would literally not be here for many reasons. They are the world to me and if a man can not accept that, then he is not the person I want in my life. When all is said and done, and when friends show their true colors and leave you, who is left? If you come from a family such as mine, we will be there, always. They are my best friends, the ones I look up to, the ones who guide me, and I will play the same role as my I become the elder. Growing up in this large family as the youngest, I have been blessed to be spoiled with love and I could never imagine a man tainting that or keeping me away from any of them. A true partner in life will share you with your family as I would share them with him.
    After this said, if you are the man meeting my family then you know how much I would truly love you. They are special to me, hence, you would have to be extra special to me!
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    Jul 12, 2010 3:09 AM GMT
    Italianstalian saidComing from an Italian family I feel the same way.
    My family is quite enormous, over 800 family members and extended relatives. I am grateful my family accepts me for who I am but if I were to have a boyfriend, that man had better accept my family. In our culture, family comes first. The elderly live with their children and the young ones stay home until marriage. We might fight once in a while but it is quickly resolved. Physical affection between couples is kept at a minimum around family gay or straight. If a member of the family brings a boyfriend or girlfriend it is a huge deal, outsiders rarely ever meet the family unless they are a special long term thing. My family invited my ex-boyfriend into their lives because they knew he was important to me. My family will always be first, and my boyfriend needs to understand that. Without my family I would literally not be here for many reasons. They are the world to me and if a man can not accept that, then he is not the person I want in my life. When all is said and done, and when friends show their true colors and leave you, who is left? If you come from a family such as mine, we will be there, always. They are my best friends, the ones I look up to, the ones who guide me, and I will play the same role as my I become the elder. Growing up in this large family as the youngest, I have been blessed to be spoiled with love and I could never imagine a man tainting that or keeping me away from any of them. A true partner in life will share you with your family as I would share them with him.
    After this said, if you are the man meeting my family then you know how much I would truly love you. They are special to me, hence, you would have to be extra special to me!


    Dude, can we date? icon_razz.gif
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    Jul 12, 2010 3:17 AM GMT
    Italianstalian saidComing from an Italian family I feel the same way.
    My family is quite enormous, over 800 family members and extended relatives. I am grateful my family accepts me for who I am but if I were to have a boyfriend, that man had better accept my family. In our culture, family comes first. The elderly live with their children and the young ones stay home until marriage. We might fight once in a while but it is quickly resolved. Physical affection between couples is kept at a minimum around family gay or straight. If a member of the family brings a boyfriend or girlfriend it is a huge deal, outsiders rarely ever meet the family unless they are a special long term thing. My family invited my ex-boyfriend into their lives because they knew he was important to me. My family will always be first, and my boyfriend needs to understand that. Without my family I would literally not be here for many reasons. They are the world to me and if a man can not accept that, then he is not the person I want in my life. When all is said and done, and when friends show their true colors and leave you, who is left? If you come from a family such as mine, we will be there, always. They are my best friends, the ones I look up to, the ones who guide me, and I will play the same role as my I become the elder. Growing up in this large family as the youngest, I have been blessed to be spoiled with love and I could never imagine a man tainting that or keeping me away from any of them. A true partner in life will share you with your family as I would share them with him.
    After this said, if you are the man meeting my family then you know how much I would truly love you. They are special to me, hence, you would have to be extra special to me!


    I wish I could have what you have...

    If I ever brought home a BF... icon_cry.gif
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    Jul 12, 2010 3:28 AM GMT
    I would probably be closer to my family, but I'm still jaded from all the years of listening to them say things like "Paul never has a girlfriend...I sure hope he doesn't turn out to be gay."

    My mom and aunts are the ONLY family members I ever call now, and they know I'll probably never attend another family get-together...not even for the holidays. Mom still doesn't like the fact that I'm gay, but she prays for me instead of bashing me. Gotta love her for that. icon_biggrin.gif
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    Jul 12, 2010 3:32 AM GMT
    Ricovelas said
    Italianstalian saidComing from an Italian family I feel the same way.
    My family is quite enormous, over 800 family members and extended relatives. I am grateful my family accepts me for who I am but if I were to have a boyfriend, that man had better accept my family. In our culture, family comes first. The elderly live with their children and the young ones stay home until marriage. We might fight once in a while but it is quickly resolved. Physical affection between couples is kept at a minimum around family gay or straight. If a member of the family brings a boyfriend or girlfriend it is a huge deal, outsiders rarely ever meet the family unless they are a special long term thing. My family invited my ex-boyfriend into their lives because they knew he was important to me. My family will always be first, and my boyfriend needs to understand that. Without my family I would literally not be here for many reasons. They are the world to me and if a man can not accept that, then he is not the person I want in my life. When all is said and done, and when friends show their true colors and leave you, who is left? If you come from a family such as mine, we will be there, always. They are my best friends, the ones I look up to, the ones who guide me, and I will play the same role as my I become the elder. Growing up in this large family as the youngest, I have been blessed to be spoiled with love and I could never imagine a man tainting that or keeping me away from any of them. A true partner in life will share you with your family as I would share them with him.
    After this said, if you are the man meeting my family then you know how much I would truly love you. They are special to me, hence, you would have to be extra special to me!


    I wish I could have what you have...

    If I ever brought home a BF... icon_cry.gif


    Even if I couldnt bring you home though, I would still keep you as a partner... it would just mean the romance would have to stay separate from the family... I know its not ideal, but I consider it an acceptable compromise.. I would totally respect my partner if he had could not mix me with his family, I know there are family;s like that... I know there are gay guys that get shunned by their families just for being gay, but I would prefer if you could keep the family bond through this compromise
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    Jul 12, 2010 4:00 AM GMT
    amar_m saidThis is going to come off as a culturally biased opinion, but...

    Ill try to explain what I am concluding here... a good partner will always accept the situation you have with your family and will never ask you to leave it... even if the partner cant get along with some family members, he/she too must swallow his/her pride in front of them.... we come second in their lives as partners... though the romantic notions we have may make us feel otherwise




    I guess it IS curturally biased because as a latin man i was raise the same. If there is something my parents taught me is that people come and go but family is always there. Specially siblings because they are the ones who will stay with you the longest. At my home my parents would never accept a fight with one of my siblings, so it would never last more that a few minutes, the idea of stop speaking or stay angry at each other was unaceptable for my parents, so you can usually see us screaming at each other and then go out to watch a movie or have dinner like nothing happend lol.

    It is also true that in our countries parents ALWAYS come first, UNTIL you have kids, then they obviously become the priority.

    An as far as partners go, they are suppose to become part of the family and like amar_m said "shallow his/her pride" and basically work their way in, as they are suppose to interact with all the family member. Both my sister and one of my brothers are married, and their partners became part of the family, they are with us in xmas, major events, help with family stuff, etc. They are like another brother and sister to me.

    And lets be honest, if a guy ask you to choose between your family or him, its like wtf is wrong with him, he is out.
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    Jul 12, 2010 4:19 AM GMT
    paulflexes saidI would probably be closer to my family, but I'm still jaded from all the years of listening to them say things like "Paul never has a girlfriend...I sure hope he doesn't turn out to be gay."

    My mom and aunts are the ONLY family members I ever call now, and they know I'll probably never attend another family get-together...not even for the holidays. Mom still doesn't like the fact that I'm gay, but she prays for me instead of bashing me. Gotta love her for that. icon_biggrin.gif


    Although I understand you, you lose the excellent opportunity to change your family's opinion if you avoid them like that.
    You've shown us that you like yourself, you like most of the stuff you do, and you enjoy life as much as time permits. People like that, and respect people who are proud and happy with themselves. They're like hound dogs. Relatives see that kind of stuff and it trumps the gay stigma.
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    Jul 12, 2010 4:29 AM GMT
    I'm going through a weird separation from my family right now. My mother told me that I was "abandoning the family" by deciding to move away from home (and told the same thing to my sister, who is moving to Seattle to start her dream job). My family are all deeply damaged people who refuse to change their situation. I don't ever plan on moving back home.

    (I will fucking politely stab the first person to say "Your family are who they are, you just have to accept them.")

    That being said, sometimes I fantasize about marrying/partnering/whatever a man with good family connections, and being accepted into a new family situation like that. Right now, I have a very familial relationship with my friends -- we have "Friend Christmas" and other friend holidays, and we always turn to each other first with big life problems, which are most often caused by our (blood) relations.
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    Jul 12, 2010 4:48 AM GMT
    sexyactionnick said

    (I will fucking politely stab the first person to say "Your family are who they are, you just have to accept them.")



    Get out the knife because we don't choose our family. They are who they are, and you have to accept that fact...but not necessarily them. You can love them from afar, and over time, people may change and you may find yourself closer...or not.

    "Keep the door open" for them, and continue to respect yourself and your own choices for your life. You do not have to live your life according to your family's rules. You don't have to play that game.

    We do get to choose our friends, and they can become extended family. I am so blessed. I have a wonderful extended family.

    That all said, I am choosing to come to my family's aid during this time of crisis. However, I still maintain my own life and can make other choices depending upon realized outcomes.

    Stay strong! Be Well!
    Alan
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    Jul 12, 2010 4:57 AM GMT
    sexyactionnick saidlife problems, which are most often caused by our (blood) relations.


    If you don't speak the truth, I relate this funny moment of this old TV show...
    This could so happen in my family.


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    Jul 12, 2010 5:11 AM GMT
    sexyactionnick saidI'm going through a weird separation from my family right now. My mother told me that I was "abandoning the family" by deciding to move away from home (and told the same thing to my sister, who is moving to Seattle to start her dream job). My family are all deeply damaged people who refuse to change their situation. I don't ever plan on moving back home.

    (I will fucking politely stab the first person to say "Your family are who they are, you just have to accept them.")

    That being said, sometimes I fantasize about marrying/partnering/whatever a man with good family connections, and being accepted into a new family situation like that. Right now, I have a very familial relationship with my friends -- we have "Friend Christmas" and other friend holidays, and we always turn to each other first with big life problems, which are most often caused by our (blood) relations.


    Funny enough, it reminds me of my dad's family, who is American, and very distant, hardly ever speak to them... Ive never understood that though, I find it a sad thing, I understand you could not stay in that family though,

    Also, I have family members that bash gays in front of me, knowing Im gay, they are usually not the pleasant family members, but yeah, they are family, so I just have to swallow my pride and be polite to them...

    And like Gp said, with my Caribbean family, me and my siblings can have horrible fights, maybe not even speak, but nontheless, I could never abandon them... the way I see it is, if I cant be faithful to my family, how can I be faithful to my partner?
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    Jul 12, 2010 5:19 AM GMT
    Indeed. Currently I live with my grandmother who is turning 86 in september. In general life is at slower pace for me. Which is intentional. I am trying to stay close to home and be with her. It is just the two of us most of the time. All of my other relatives have families to raise and have established a living elsewhere.

    I have decided that finding or pursuing a relationship would simply be unfair to whoever he is, myself, and my grandmother. She gave me her golden years so to speak, raising me when it wasn't her responsibility. So she will always come first.

    I simply think it is impossible to sustain a relationship right now. While I know it is not impossible to meet someone who would understand it just wouldn't be right. Not to mention if I told my grandma I like guys at this point it would put her in an early grave or terribly depress her....
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    Jul 12, 2010 5:24 AM GMT
    Oden86 saidIndeed. Currently I live with my grandmother who is turning 86 in september. In general life is at slower pace for me. Which is intentional. I am trying to stay close to home and be with her. It is just the two of us most of the time. All of my other relatives have families to raise and have established a living elsewhere.

    I have decided that finding or pursuing a relationship would simply be unfair to whoever he is, myself, and my grandmother. She gave me her golden years so to speak, raising me when it wasn't her responsibility. So she will always come first.

    I simply think it is impossible to sustain a relationship right now. While I know it is not impossible to meet someone who would understand it just wouldn't be right. Not to mention if I told my grandma I like guys at this point it would put her in an early grave or terribly depress her....


    Good on you man! This illustrates a point: as much as family creates problems for us, we create them for them too, thats the mutual deal you make with family... and with your partner by extension

    WEll you dont have to tell her, but you can still have a relationship with someone who understands she comes first, right?
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    Jul 12, 2010 5:35 AM GMT
    @amar_m

    It would be a nice dream, but not likely for meicon_neutral.gif
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    Jul 12, 2010 5:39 AM GMT
    There is no need to create a family for myself. I am luckier than most as it is not just my immediate family that knows about and accepts the fact that I am gay. My grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, all know and have never had an unkind word, despite the fact most on my dad's side are fundamentalist Christians. My bf is welcomed at family events and they are always very kind to him.
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    Jul 12, 2010 5:41 AM GMT
    Oden86 said@amar_m

    It would be a nice dream, but not likely for meicon_neutral.gif


    HEY, I WOULD TOTALLY UNDERSTAND, ..... BITCH icon_razz.gif

    jk
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    Jul 12, 2010 3:43 PM GMT
    GAMRican said
    Get out the knife because we don't choose our family. They are who they are, and you have to accept that fact...but not necessarily them. You can love them from afar, and over time, people may change and you may find yourself closer...or not.

    "Keep the door open" for them, and continue to respect yourself and your own choices for your life. You do not have to live your life according to your family's rules. You don't have to play that game.

    We do get to choose our friends, and they can become extended family. I am so blessed. I have a wonderful extended family.

    That all said, I am choosing to come to my family's aid during this time of crisis. However, I still maintain my own life and can make other choices depending upon realized outcomes.

    God damn it, I was hoping to avoid this cliched load. Oh well. Maybe you wouldn't have said anything if I hadn't tempted you.

    At least right now, I find that my family heavily abuses the "swallow your pride for family" thing. My extended family have all crossed the line (not in the "oh no you didn't" way but in the "court records are sealed" sort of way) multiple times with each other. Though they mostly keep in their pants nowadays, they continue to backstab and hurt one another, but stay together for the sake of this quasi-mythical concept of "family."

    (Am I being too subtle? My family tree is a conga line of rape and incest. That's the line. It's been crossed. Why the fuck do they insist on staying together? I was goddamn pissed at my parents when I learned the "family secrets." You let me stay with these people? Unsupervised? What kind of fucking shitty parents are you?!)

    I try to question all social systems before I buy into them. For instance, I don't believe in unconditional love. I think the "family before anything else" thing is a social mechanism designed to keep people in tight-knit groups to protect each other, leftover from millenia of tribal culture and feudalism.

    If you've got a good family, great. But don't fucking preach to me about tolerance and love and "family first." If you happen to be in the same situation as me, and still find a way to make it to every family reunion, then congratulations. You've got Stockholm Syndrome!

    (I'll make good on my promise. Next time we see each other, I'll get a little stabbity. I'm a man of my word, after all.)
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    Jul 13, 2010 3:54 AM GMT
    All excellent comments fellas. I'm not surprised at the differing views and that this is a touchy subject but lets try and keep it civil.

    Some of you have mentioned what a great asset family is in your lives and others of you seem to treat it as any other relationship (neither is wrong, btw).

    For those of you for whom family is not as vital, do you find your romantic relationships become your new family in a way? Or have you created for yourself a family of friends? Everyone has a support system; some keep the one they're born with, others create one of their own.

    Perhaps people without strong families work harder at romantic relationships as they do not have family to fall back on for life support? Maybe they are more successful at creating better lives/relationships for themselves or maybe people from strong families are find it easier having had good examples of healthy relationships growing up?

    I know nothing is black and white; I'm just thinking out loud.
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    Jul 13, 2010 4:03 AM GMT
    Gp87 said
    amar_m saidThis is going to come off as a culturally biased opinion, but...

    Ill try to explain what I am concluding here... a good partner will always accept the situation you have with your family and will never ask you to leave it... even if the partner cant get along with some family members, he/she too must swallow his/her pride in front of them.... we come second in their lives as partners... though the romantic notions we have may make us feel otherwise




    I guess it IS curturally biased because as a latin man i was raise the same. If there is something my parents taught me is that people come and go but family is always there. Specially siblings because they are the ones who will stay with you the longest. At my home my parents would never accept a fight with one of my siblings, so it would never last more that a few minutes, the idea of stop speaking or stay angry at each other was unaceptable for my parents, so you can usually see us screaming at each other and then go out to watch a movie or have dinner like nothing happend lol.

    It is also true that in our countries parents ALWAYS come first, UNTIL you have kids, then they obviously become the priority.

    An as far as partners go, they are suppose to become part of the family and like amar_m said "shallow his/her pride" and basically work their way in, as they are suppose to interact with all the family member. Both my sister and one of my brothers are married, and their partners became part of the family, they are with us in xmas, major events, help with family stuff, etc. They are like another brother and sister to me.

    And lets be honest, if a guy ask you to choose between your family or him, its like wtf is wrong with him, he is out.


    I don't think this is necessarily culturally biased. I mean, i am as white as the come, from the US and my family has never made me feel like anyone has to come first. After I came out, my bf's have always been welcome with open arms to all family gatherings. In fact, my family tends to fully believe the old adage "the more the merrier" and we always have a place in our homes for people who don't have family or for people who's families have become estranged from them. So i guess my point here is that its not necessarily cultural so much as it is environmental. If your family is welcoming and open, then you learn to be the same, and you teach your children to do the same....