The Parent Trap

This week Hayley reminds us to date your date, not the family!

Have you ever found yourself lukewarm over a guy but head over heels with his parents…or sister…or dog?

Well, I have.

Recently, I met a guy (surprise, surprise) and things were going  pretty well. I mean I wasn’t running out to find myself something borrowed, something blue, but we definitely had a fun time together. He managed to make me laugh, and I never finished up a date wondering what the hell I just willingly handed my time over to. We started off with a casual lunch meet-up (maybe not the most creative of approach but I’m a sucker for a classic…or, more accurately, for anything with food involved…) And after a month of easy, breezy lunches I was feeling pretty peachy about seeing where things led.  But then, I was ambushed – his parents were visiting and it just so happened one of our lunches clashed with one of theirs and would I mind terribly if we all met at once?

What an unavoidable coincidence, huh? Where had my easy, breezy lunch guy gone?

Initial shock aside, I tried to see it as NBD (that’s ‘no big deal’ to you, me or the gatepost). I like parents. I like my parents. I like introducing them to people and I like to see the way people act around theirs. So, I agreed to keep the lunch date and promised myself I would not read it as a coded signal that he very certainly definitely wanted to marry me… and soon.

Then, disaster struck:

– His mother was delightful

– His father gave me insightful career advice

– They made me laugh

– They shared about their lives and past and encouraged me to do the same

Two hours later, I was eager to see them again. We hashed out a plan for dinner later that week and as they hopped on the tube, I was glowing, wrapped up in fluttery visions of dinners with the in-laws and family ski holidays.

That’s when the first bullet hit:

Despite the fact that he had struck up this ‘meet-the-parents’, suddenly, I was the one overcommitting.

And then the second:

I was much more excited about seeing his parents than I was about seeing him.

Dating the family is dangerous and I’m a bit of a serial offender. I guess it comes down to the fact that falling in love with someone’s life is much easier than falling in love with the person themselves. When we start writing that checklist of everything that’s ‘right’ about him, whether that’s his job or his family, it’s essentially like trying to squeeze through that tiny door at the start of Alice in Wonderland. You’re trying to buy yourself a ticket to the life you want rather than letting excitement and adventure grow from your own.

Families are really nice but they’re not the one you’re going to wake up next to every morning and it took a date with the parents to realise that perhaps easy, breezy lunches aren’t enough to convince me.  I guess, what I’m trying to say is, wanting to discuss career progression with your date’s dad isn’t the best indication he’s the one for you.

Damn, damn, double damn.

…Next cab, please?