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Typically, when I introduce a man to my family it means that I plan to have him around for a while. It’s not a casual encounter for me, simply because I don’t allow just anybody to be exposed to the people who are most important to me. I assumed that everyone felt the same way. After dating a man who not only introduced me to his immediate family, but also took me to a family reunion, I learned that my way of thinking was off.

John* and I had been dating for about four months before he invited me to his family reunion. It would be my first time meeting his siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles all in one park that they’d reserved strictly for their annual gathering.

I can’t recall how he introduced me because we hadn’t decided that we were in a committed relationship yet, but I shortly found out that his intentions when it came to whatever we were doing were a lot different than mine. I thought the planned encounter meant I was ‘in’ and he was ready for a commitment. However, to him it was simply like bringing a friend along to a gathering that happened to consist of more than a hundred of his family members.

On the ride home from the reunion that was four long hours, we began to talk about our future. While I was sure he was secretly planning to confess his love for me and tell me why he allowed me to meet his family, somehow our conversation took another turn. Instead, he told me that he wasn’t ready for a relationship and that he wants to take his time. I was a little confused, but more angry and disappointed. I had just spent hours in humid, muggy weather sweating out my blow-out, smiling at strangers all because I thought this was my “introduction” to the family. For him, it was nothing serious and lacked any sufficient meaning. I was dumbfounded, at least for the rest of the day. Later, I reflected on it all and that experience taught me a very important lesson: Just because you meet the family doesn’t mean a man is serious about making you his one and only. Actually, it doesn’t even mean that you will ever see his family again.

The last man that met my parents was my committed boyfriend. The one before that was the same situation. There has been a time or two that I’ve introduced someone to my family who wasn’t, but it wasn’t exactly through a planned encounter.

Initially and possibly with a level of child-like hope, I thought that when you invite someone to a family dinner or gathering or introduce someone to family, it’s because you just might want them to know that they’re special, but that’s not how everyone thinks. While John eventually wanted to be in a relationship with me, at the time that I met his family, he wasn’t sure.

He admitted that he’d had a few ‘friends’ around his family with no intention of making them his girl. While it sounds extremely premature and reckless to me, I had to understand that everyone doesn’t value the same things in the same way.

What was a special event for me was a simple tag along for John. I was his date for the day, and it was just that.

Now when someone invites me to meet the family, I usually decline unless we’re in a committed relationship, but if I happen to oblige, I don’t make any assumptions that just because I’m around the family, that means that I’ll eventually be a part of it.

 

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