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Worlds Colliding

Hello, I am new to NEY and relatively new to the Knot in general. I was hoping some of you would help me out with a bit of advice. Here is my story:

My SO and I met in Madrid while I was studying abroad there. He is half Spanish and half American but grew up mostly in Asia. While we weren't in the same place very long, he brought up marriage very early in our relationship. (Is this a European thing?) At first I was a bit freaked out since I was a 20 year old college student whose longest relationship was 9 months. However, after I left him and Europe behind, we stayed in contact on and off. It really hurts me sometimes to talk to him simply because I miss him so much and the time zone thing is difficult.
Long distance problems aside, he has brought up engagement again within the past few months. We have the same spring break week off, and he is asking his parents if he could come visit me during that week. His family is fairly wealthy so they could afford to fly him over to the states easily. Also, because of this, I know he could afford to buy a ring before this and pop the question. He's given me "hints" on multiple occasions.

I know this sounds like a fairy-tale story but I'm hoping someone here can see it for the culture clash that it is. If it wasn't for the potential disapproval of my immediate and extended family (I told SO he has to meet my parents before proposing) I would say yes to him, even though I'm considered young by current standards to be getting married (I'm 21). However, I want my family to be there for me during this forever life altering time in my life. 

Thank you in advance!

Re: Worlds Colliding

  • phiraphira Bahstin member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary 5 Answers
    edited February 2014
    I'll have more to add when I'm less half-asleep tomorrow, but this doesn't sound like a fairy-tale to me at all. It sounds like you're feeling really rushed and pressured. Cultural differences are a real thing, but if you're uncomfortable with something, it doesn't just get chalked up as, "WELP cultural difference so it's totally okay!" If it makes you feel uncomfortable, then it doesn't work for you, cultural difference or not.

    While you have been together for a bit now, you're both still very young. Additionally, a long-distance romance is doable but not really representative of how things will be when you're in the same place. While you met in person and were able to spend the very beginning of your relationship together, it's intensifying dramatically while you're apart.

    I advise significant caution here. You sound like you're throwing up road blocks ("I'd want a significant other to meet my family people a proposal HINT HINT") instead of clearly saying to him that you want things to slow down. Don't get swept away--stick to what you want. Someone who loves you and cares about your well-being doesn't have to rush and pressure you to keep you in the relationship.
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    SwazzleKeptInStitches
  • SwazzleSwazzle New Jersey member
    10000 Comments Seventh Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    I agree with everything @bethsmiles and @phira have said. 

    The age thing aside, you sound really uncomfortable with how quickly your relationship is moving and that's absolutely ok. However, this is something you need to sit down and have a serious discussion with your BF about. It seems like there's a communication issue at hand and the only way to fix it is to talk to each other and get on the same page about your relationship and what you both want in the future. 



  • Everyone above me has given you some excellent food for thought. It definitely sounds like you are significantly uncomfortable with the pace he has set, and you need to tell him this. This is more than a simple culture clash; it is essentially agreeing to marry someone that you haven't had a chance to spend a significant amount of time with all at once. You don't need your family's approval to get engaged or married, but it sounds like you yourself don't really approve either.

    I would sit down when you have a second and think about all the things that you want to have happen before you get engaged to this man. Having him meet your family is a good start, but I'm sure there's more. Maybe think about, "We need to live in the same country for a year," or, "We both need to be graduated and working full-time jobs." Also think about your personal goals - educational, travel, etc. Consider what you need to get done, and what you need to see from him, before you're comfortable committing the rest of your life to him. Once you have a completed list, present it to him. It should be pretty non-negotiable; you are young, and you have all the time in the world right now to have a relationship with him and also live your life. It doesn't make you any less committed if you decide to wait; it makes you smart, and it makes you your own best advocate.

  • You've only met him...once?

    It's perfectly okay to say no to a proposal, actually.  Especially if you feel uncomfortable with the idea (and yes "my parents wouldn't approve" is probably just your conscience saying "whoa nelly, we are moving too fast").

    Also, I don't think this is a cultural thing.  I think you're trying to call it a cultural thing so you don't hurt this guys' feelings when you're all "what the hell".

    Also, if I met someone overseas that wanted to marry me somewhat instantly, I would wonder who was paying him to get into the US and why.  That's my paranoid patriot talk speaking though...
    I guess, to tell you the truth, I've never had much of a desire to grow facial hair. I think I've managed to play quarterback just fine without a mustache. - Peyton
    KeptInStitchesOllie08
  • Dignity100Dignity100 Northeastern Ohio member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Anniversary First Answer
    It sounds like you're not ready to be engaged.  There's nothing wrong with talking to him and asking him to slow down and just tell him that you want to see him and spend time with him but you're not ready for the next step yet. 

    The ladies on here are great and they've made some excellent points.  The ball is really in your court to figure out how you feel and to convey that message to your SO so that you two can just enjoy each other and get to know each other better.


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  • GoldenPenguinGoldenPenguin Upstate NY mod
    Moderator 2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its
    All of the above. 



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  • Is he a US citizen?

    If not, you've just discovered why he's rushing a 21 year old into marriage.

    Hello, Green Card.

    (Take it from me.  I come from a family of Portuguese immigrants.)
    NotATotalBetty
  • phiraphira Bahstin member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary 5 Answers
    So one thing I wanted to touch on more before I passed out last night is that you honestly seem like you don't WANT to say yes to a proposal. The fact that you're setting up road blocks for him (he needs to meet your parents) and framing this as a culture clash feels like you're trying to come up with reasons why you can't say yes if he asks now. "Well, you haven't met my parents yet!" works until he meets your parents. "This is a culture clash!" works except it begs the question: when would it be acceptable for you, culturally, to get engaged. In the meantime, you seem anxious and worried about the potential proposal, as if you are obligated to say yes when it happens, or to say yes if it happened after he fulfills the requirements you've set.

    And the thing is, nowhere does it sound like you really want to marry this guy. Someday, maybe; you care about him obviously. But you sound scared and pressured and stuck. After all, you miss him very much, ergo that must mean you should say yes to him. But you can love someone and be in a happy relationship with them that's leading towards marriage without being READY for marriage. This isn't an unfamiliar narrative ... it's just that we usually treat dudes like they'll eventually be ready (and engagements happen when they're ready) and ladies like we're TOTALLY already ready, let's get this engagement on the road!

    The concrete advice I can give you:

    - Focus on the more immediate question facing your relationship: if this turns into a forever-relationship, where will you both live and work? Is he going to move, or will you? Will either of you have a support system if you have to move (that is, will you have any friends or family if you move abroad, or will he if he moves)? Do you feel comfortable moving or having him move to be with you? If you aren't comfortable with this at all, it's an indicator that this is likely not the relationship for you. It doesn't make you a bad person. Sometimes, relationships don't work because of issues like living in two different countries. Two people can love each other and not work out because of it, and it doesn't mean you didn't love the person enough or try hard enough.

    - If you want to continue the relationship, figure out when you can both live near each other. That doesn't mean live together in the same home--just when you can live in the same area and see each other frequently. That's your next goal: that's what it's time to start saving up for and looking into.

    - TELL him that's your next goal. Tell him that you do not want to discuss engagement or marriage until you're living in the same place. If he refuses to drop the subject, or if he tells you that he can only take the next step (move closer together) if you've already agreed to marry him, it's time to drop him.

    - When you're ready to live nearby, then go for it. This might mean he's moving to you or you're moving to him. Go for it. See each other regularly. Crash at each other's places. Make dinner together. Have your relationship!

    - If you decide that you want to marry this guy, then tell him. Then, if he wants to marry you, he can tell you, or he can propose to you in whatever way he wants. It will be a lot happier if you're saying yes because you want to marry him, and not because you've run out of roadblocks or you don't want to hurt his feelings.
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    KeptInStitchesOllie08[Deleted User]
  • Is he a US citizen?

    If not, you've just discovered why he's rushing a 21 year old into marriage.

    Hello, Green Card.

    (Take it from me.  I come from a family of Portuguese immigrants.)
    ^^^This was my exact thought.

    And what @phira said.

    This doesn't sound like a fairy tale to me.  It sounds like the beginning of a horror movie.

    Can you meet someone in another country, and live happily ever after? Yes.  Your story doesn't make me think happily ever after is in your picture.  You've met once, and the rest of your relationship has been online and phone calls.  You haven't spent enough time together to actually really know each other.  My advice would be to spend more time together in person.  A computer/phone can be a really deceptive wall.  Unless you really know the person and can say yes you want to spend forever with them, don't say yes.
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  • Dignity100Dignity100 Northeastern Ohio member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Anniversary First Answer
    With the whole 'green card' debate - I am keeping an open mind.

    I know I was in a situation where a guy-friend of mine had come out and told me he had feelings for me which I did not return (he was from Europe and going to school in the US).  I know we got into a debate and I asked 'Where would we even live' and he said that he had expected me to move in with him.


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  • Thank you all so much for your responses. I've taken a lot into consideration and am making my wishes very clear to my SO. It's a continuing conversation, and I don't know if this will work out in the end, but I do know that time is a factor. We're both still finishing school and things may change only when at least one of us graduates.
    bethsmilesCLoGreenEyes
  • laceybirdlaceybird member
    100 Comments 25 Love Its Name Dropper
    edited February 2014
    My last relationship was LD. Not quite overseas, but on the opposite side of the country.

    Needless to say, (as many of the ladies here know), it did not work out. One of the things I wanted most was the love and support of my family, and for them to be just as excited about me getting engaged as I was.

    They were supportive, yes. And they were still loving, yes. But they weren't able to get excited over my wedding because.... well, they barely knew the guy. They had only met him once or twice over the 2 years we dated, so they really didn't know what to say. They said they were happy because I was happy... but I wanted them to be happy about getting a Son-in-Law.

    But the fact of the matter was that there was no way they were ever going to be able to BE that happy for me without actually knowing who he is, what he's like, and actually getting to SEE and TALK to him.


    My current FI, on the other hand.... his mother cried, because she was happy. My mother cried, because she was GENUINELY happy... not just happy because she thought I was happy. My family is excited and has even offered to help me plan. They're excited that he's going to be a part of our family. And THAT is worth more than I can say.
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