Friday, May 18, 2007

there goes my career as an advice columnist

Someone recently came to me for advice. I was stumped. Maybe my good Internet pals might be able to help?

Let's say you're Brown (for those of you who are not). Let's say four years ago you moved seven states away from everything that you knew for the love of somebody who is NotBrown, who is also away from everything, namely her parents. After you two were together a year, NotBrown's parents found out about you and NotBrown. And without ever meeting you or knowing anything else about you except for your Brownness (they are NOT down with brown in general and have only recently spent any time with the brown 2-year husband of their other daughter). They refused to meet you or get to know your sparkling personality, and seriously threatened to stop paying NotBrown's tuition and bills unless NotBrown dumped you. NotBrown lied to them and said you were out of the picture to keep from going home and attending community college under the watchful eye of the people paying the bills.

But you weren't out of the picture.

Now you're really irritated because for four years, NotBrown has been faking to them like you don't exist when they come to visit (increasingly often) or are on the phone. You really love NotBrown and think there's a chance for you to be with NotBrown forever, but you're afraid that NotBrown's parents could poison the love you guys have with their hatred, and also don't want to drop a bombshell in the event that you and NotBrown do decide to get married someday in the Future. You give NotBrown an ultimatum to tell the parents now or else it's over.

NotBrown is in a really tough spot. Cut ties with parents for a relationship? Lose a love because of parents' rigid attitude? What if NotBrown tells the parents and gets disowned and then the relationship doesn't work out? What if NotBrown lets you go just to keep nice with parents but regrets it forever? At this point you have broken up with NotBrown, but both of you are miserable without each other, and NotBrown's friends can't figure out why you did it and are hinting that you wanted to break up with her and are using the parents as an excuse, which is not true. It is unclear whether the parents will eventually give your charm a chance, but they have only extended themselves a millimeter toward NotBrown's brother-in-law, who has been around for almost five years.

Did you do the right thing? Should you get back together with NotBrown for the Here and Now (you both really miss and love each other, but aren't sure marriage is on the agenda right now) and worry about the parents later? Or do you stick to your ultimatum and ask her to risk being cut off financially?



Beenzzz said...

Man, that's a tough one! Racism is such a pile of crap. I mean who the hell do they think they are in the first place? What makes them better because they aren't brown? If your significant other wants to get back together and work things out and your are in agreement with that, then I say you should. What the parents think or feel is their thing. It has nothing to do with you. Obviously, they need to learn that true love has no color boundary. Perhaps, if they opened their eyes and heart to this fact, they wouldn't be such frightened and sheltered excuses for human beings.

Radioactive Jam said...

I hate to say anything that might be construed as actual advice on this one, but - it seems like the parents have - and "are" - the root problem. Deception was wrong, and Eventual Accountability seems likely. Ultimatum ... seems wrong, but since I'm not wearing those shoes I really can't say. Whether the ultimatum is right or wrong, the root problem remains unchanged. And unaddressed.

I assume we're talking about non-minors here. Financial dependence on parents is different for non-minors; it's more... voluntary, no matter how necessary.

So. The advice. To NotBrown.

Give the problem back to the parents. Admit the still-there feelings and relationship. Admit the deception, admit being wrong for deceiving, apologize, and ask forgiveness. Make no excuses. Not even "you made me do it" because really, they didn't; there's always a choice. In short, be honest and take full responsibility.

In biblical terms that's known as removing the log from your own eye.

Then (and some amount of Time might need to pass, possibly multiple years) NotBrown might be able to rightly mention the speck of racism in the parents' eye.

Funny thing about that: when it's in someone else's eye it's always a speck, no matter how big or glaring it seems to you. When it's in your eye, and *seen* through your eye, it's always a log. And typically invisible (to you).

Hope in the parents' case, it loses its invisibility and they see it for what it is: their problem, and wrong. I hope truth, and honesty, and "blood" ties enable NotBrown and parents to work through these deferred problems, and come out together (and closer, and stronger) on the far side.

bluebird said...

I have a really strict mother, and it's really trying at times, but I almost never lie to her. I certainly wouldn't perpetuate a lie for four years, and I don't think I would want to date anyone who would be comfortable doing that. I feel like there are more values in question here than just the racism of NotBrown's parents. But these are serious questions. I think NotBrown, as radioactive jam pointed out, really needs to accept responsibility and take action.

omar said...

I haven't read the other comments yet.

I think that NotBrown's parents, combined with NotBrown's willingness to act like I don't exist for so long (to her parents), would send me running for the hills.

Even in the best case scenario, where we get back together and NB's parents claim to be OK with it, I wouldn't believe them. And I'd spend the rest of the relationship being afraid that the slightest misstep on my part would turn her parents against me, and then we'd be right back to square one.

ML said...

Hard place to be in. Why is it that the parents can accept NotBrown's brother-in-law, but not Brown? That's showing stupidity and it really makes no sense.

Demosthenes said...

Obama's roots were just traced to Ireland, and I don't think a less Irish person exists.

The point is, we're all cut from the same fabric. Too bad not everyone gets that.

Jon said...

Sadly, this is not the movies. I don't think NotBrown's parents are going to have any kind of eye-opening, character changing moment... It's either never going to happen, or it's going to take a very, very long time. I think they need to talk to each other and decide just how big of a problem NotBrown's parents are. If it's too big and they can't get around it, why delay being miserable just for the sake of convenience? Better to get it over with and move on with your life.

I don't know, it sounds a lot like a lose lose situation to me. Either way, someone is going to get hurt.

Alexandra said...

it's all about presentation... notbrown needs to present brown to her parents on a "golden plate" that is introduce him properly and highlight all the wonderful qualities thus showing he is nice and that she is serious abt him. if parents dont get it still, then she should just lie and tell them she will end it.

though i agree with omar- if i was brown in that relationship i would not want to be with a person who's family is so racist and who wants to lie abt my existance. because the racism issue will never go away. it'll be something to put up with for the rest of their lives, both of them should think abt it really hard.