Wedding Woes

My family doesn't know what to do around my BF.

Dear Prudie,
In my family, especially around the holidays, you have to be able to dish it out and take it. Good-natured ribbing about the things you’ve done, large and small, flies around the room, and the measure of how much we like you is how much we tease you. No matter how much I tell that to my current boyfriend, he doesn’t get it. He takes my family’s barbs as personal. They give him grief about his age (which really isn’t that old) or about how all his friends have kids (and he doesn’t) or about how his favorite team never wins the Super Bowl (while theirs does). He’s a super straight arrow, and it’s even hard to come up with things to tease him about. If he dished it out in return, they’d respect him for it. Instead, he politely sits there, smiles uncomfortably, and waits for it to end. My family winds up not knowing if he likes us or not. Does his discomfort mean that we should stop teasing him altogether? If so, I have no idea what he’ll do at any of our family gatherings.

—Start Dishing

Re: My family doesn't know what to do around my BF.

  • larrygagalarrygaga Czechoslovakia member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Anniversary First Answer
    Not everyone loves teasing. They should stop :(
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    weddingcactusredoryx
  • Part of me wants to say that you just need to tell your BF to get over it MrsConn, because my family is the same way.

    But if he's really that sensitive, then she needs to step up and tell them beforehand to lay off.
  • PMeg, I agree.  There has to be a balance. 
  • This reminds me of my uncle. He's a tad crazy and we all know it and will warn new people.

    "Don't pay him any mind girl, he's crazy." That kind of stuff. He still calls my aunt's husband ugly. Yes, ugly. This gentleman will call him something back, they laugh and then start drinking. It's been 30 years, so I guess he's gotten over being called ugly all the time.

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  • This would not be an issue - because I wouldn't be able to keep a BF like this. How does *she* express affection toward him? My family is very much like this, and therefore, I found a partner who can take it, and dish it out, and keep the tradition going. There simply wouldn't be a relationship if he couldn't take some good-natured ribbing about things. 
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    MesmrEwethejucheidea
  • I have found that sometimes people who think their family participates in 'good natured ribbing' actually has a hateful and mean family that they've normalized.
    I know that my FIL thinks that his family had 'really interesting debates" when what it actually had was people screaming at each other and long-range, long-lasting feuds.

    There's also the point at which you want to go "really?" to the person continuing the teasing...it's not fun or funny if one person just sits like a slug.  Don't they know any other way to interact?


    But that said, WTF, BF, this is her family, make an effort!  Be in on a joke.  Or a few jokes.


    redoryx
  • This reminds me of my uncle. He's a tad crazy and we all know it and will warn new people.

    "Don't pay him any mind girl, he's crazy." That kind of stuff. He still calls my aunt's husband ugly. Yes, ugly. This gentleman will call him something back, they laugh and then start drinking. It's been 30 years, so I guess he's gotten over being called ugly all the time.

    I know someone like your uncle...I call him my husband, lol.  He doesn't insult people, but he'll say off color things that would be funny to close friends who know him and knows that he doesn't mean anything by it...but are often cringe-worthy when said to an acquaintance. 

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  • This reminds of me of that scene in Runaway Bride where Julia Roberts is constantly the butt of the same jokes that she just puts up with because it's her family and it's funny and that's just how they are and Richard Gere has to stand up and be all WTF is wrong with you people, she's clearly uncomfortable and this joke isn't that funny anymore.

    I may be the outlier here, but I hate being teased and, as such, don't really like teasing other people. I will tolerate it if it's an every once in awhile thing, but if that's the main form of communication with a certain group I interact with on a frequent basis, I'm going to be that person who just sits there and takes it, all the while internally rolling my eyes and willing for it to stop. The fact that my SO knows it makes me uncomfortable and doesn't tell anyone to knock it off would give me pause, too.
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  • My family participates in good natured teasing but some family members can take it to an extent that is rude.  There are also some topics that I think aren't funny to joke about.  For example, my DH is a different religion than my family and my brother will make joking comments at times - what's the point of that?  I know he doesn't mean it as an insult, but it's hard when you don't know someone really well to know where the line is, and you assume that you can treat them the same way as people you have known for years.  Not true.

    I guess I don't have any advice for you, other than to say that I know where you're coming from.  It might be helpful to bring this up with family members individually rather than as a group, and not in front of your BF.  If you bring it up to everyone as a group, you are more likely to get ganged up on, and if you bring it up in front of your BF he will likely feel embarrassed and tell everyone that it's fine (when it isn't).  I think that teasing doesn't come naturally to some people and your BF may not be comfortable dishing it because it feels like a mean thing to do.  However, since the jokes seem to be consistently on the same topics, maybe the two of you could come up with some joking replies so that he has something to say rather than sitting there uncomfortably.

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