I’ve been dating my girlfriend for about nine months and it’s come to my attention that her parents don’t like me. At all. And they show no signs of warming up to the idea of me dating their daughter. I think it’s got something to do with my political and religious views, so you seem the right guy to ask; should I even bother worrying about this and what, if anything, can be done to ease the tension?
From the House of Montague
Ah, yes, the old “what are your intentions with my daughter“ bit. That’s nothing new. Only in this case it’s couched in terms of the human condition and absolute truth. And where you meant to or not, you correctly alluded to the fact that not only have I been there, but I am there, and am probably gonna be there for a while.
We males would like to think this is all part of some kind of choreographed game of checkers. First the parents frighten us and act protective to show that they’re only in the mood to tolerate serious suitors. Then we stick around to show that we’re in it to win it, not just to pin it. This dance earns trust, which can be stored for future violation by either party.
Anyway, implicit in this scenario is the fact that every single father remembers what he was like when he was between the ages of, oh, 12 and “whenever I met your mother;” and he doesn’t want that dating his daughter. He sees through your “genuine affection” and “honesty“ and knows you for the hornball that you truly are. Funny part is that holding down a job requires you to lie outright for eight to 10 hours a day, so if you can keep up the gentlemanly facade well enough, your girlfriend‘s dad can at least find comfort in the fact that you’ll be a good provider.
But that only goes so far. In your situation, the shit’s chess, it ain’t checkers. When genuine philosophical disagreements about society, human nature and divinity show themselves, you can’t lie or fake your way out of the situation; only time will lead to tolerance.
The disconnect arises from the world of ideas; they have an idea of who their daughter is and a separate idea of who their daughter should fall in love with. Problem is, both ideas are usually wrong. So it’s not that her parents don’t like you, the charming, intelligent, disease-free young man their daughter loves; it’s that her parents don’t like the idea of you, the naive, corrupting, amoral fiend who, if he prays at all, doesn’t pray to their god.
Put yourself in their shoes; they spent 18 years pouring themselves into raising a successful young woman who shares their world view and suddenly she turns her back on her upbringing so she can “get to know you better.“ I for one would be pretty freaked out (and the response is indeed fear) if my daughter came home with an evangelical Christian who wanted Reagan on the dime.
That said, almost all parents are able to put their concerns aside, however gradually, as the idea of you as a corrupting agent is replaced by the realization that their daughter is happy.
And that’s the key. If you can make her happy, no matter what you believe or how you choose to make a living, they’ll eventually come around. They might not start liking you, but they’ll start tolerating you (which is better sometimes).
If they don’t, screw ‘em. It’s the girl you love, and if they can’t deal with it there’s only one option: mutual suicide.
I’m starting to apply for summer internships; what should I do to make my Facebook more “work-friendly“? Or is that even necessary?
Paranoid (or just stoned?)
Let me first say to any employer reading this: You know damn well that some of the best people working for you, and perhaps even you yourself, pulled numerous illegal and unholy shenanigans in college; you just didn’t have the misfortune of living in an era where everyone fancies themselves a celebrity-paparazzo-publisher. So back off.
That out of the way, what I told the last questioner about lying on the job applies equally to getting one; knowing how to keep up appearances despite deep, fundamental flaws is crucial to any profession, especially if you want to go into finance. So get used to altering your persona to fit your audience.
And as Michael Corleone said, “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.“ That’s how you should relate to Facebook. Know that it can be both friend and enemy, and so should be treated with respect and caution.
So here’s my advice: short of deleting your profile, it would be sensible to change the name on your existing, “dirty“ account and then create a new, “clean“ account with all kinds of White-Anglo-Saxon-Protestant goodies. This shouldn’t be too hard; just make yourself look like Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal Kenneth the Page from “30 Rock.”
Because when you think about it, the info section of your Facebook profile is really just a resume, complete with work experience, educational attainment, contact information, (research) interests, extracurriculars (groups, events), and a personal statement (about me). All you have to do is make it look like you’re not a sexually deviant alcoholic with a thing for John Cusack movies who derives genuine motivation from Oprah quotes.
Ham it up, too. Upload pictures of yourself doing things that look fun enough to show that you do other stuff besides work but boring enough to show that you work hard enough to preclude any real fun (example: a baseball game). Then link to an article showing thoughtful inquiry, but not so thoughtful as to betray any real analytical vigor that might threaten a given power structure (example: anything by Thomas Friedman). Finally, quote somebody saying something about the virtues of perseverance (example: Lance Armstrong).
Or, you could just set up your current profile to be a caricature of yourself, exaggerating all the obscene, lewd and violent aspects of your personality, thus creating such a garbled facade of sex and sacrilege that no one will be able to decipher its true meaning.
That’s what I did. And for your information, I am happily unemployed.
K.C. CODY loves that “pirates” and “tea-bagging“ have hit their peak news references simultaneously. Drop anchor matey, drop anchor. Drop a line at email@example.com.