General Question

jazzmine's avatar

Choosing boyfriend over family.

Asked by jazzmine (50points) October 24th, 2014

I’m 25 years old (chinese-american) & currently living at home. My dilemma currently stands with the decision of moving out with my boyfriend against my parents wishes. I have been with my boyfriend for over 4 years now and we’re incredibly committed to each other. We are planning on getting married & being together for as long as the universe will let us. However, my parents don’t want me to move out. They’re your typical Chinese parents who have HUGE cultural expectations. They’ve said in the past multiple times that they don’t think my boyfriend and I will last. They’ve even gotten my sister to make me out to be the villain where I’m “purposefully” being with him to “spite” them.

Note: I don’t have much freedom being under their roof at the age of 25. I currently reside in California and if I wanted to take a trip out to Vegas with my friends or even go on a trip somewhere; I would not be able to because my parents would not “let” me. The only things they are okay with are me going to places within a 30–45 minute commute. Even though they’ve met my boyfriend and have invited him over for dinners; even if I wanted to take a short trip with him even up north to San Francisco; they simply would not “let” me. While everyone else I know my age can go where the hell they want! I have coworkers and friends who travel across the country for fun and I’m sitting over here thinking things like, “I can’t do that because…my parents won’t let me.”

Please also keep in mind, my parents used to physically abuse me for well over 15 years. My mother even ended up in jail for child abuse. The physical abuse isn’t so much there anymore, however, constant verbal abuse and negative things are always said. For example: I got home from a long day of work and I go to see how their day was…First thing that is said to me is “You are ****ing obese. You are so fat. You need to lose weight.” If the negative comments aren’t about my weight; it’s about my mexican boyfriend.

I’ve been working at my job for over 4 years now, steadily. However, I haven’t completed college yet (only some) and as much as I would LOVE to wait until I obtain my degree to move out; that could be minimum 2 years. I’m exhausted of living at home because of the way my parents treat me and the way they treat my dog (mainly how my dad treats my dog). I’m incredibly appreciative of all the things my parents have done for me, but I’m at the point in my life where I finally want to make a decision for me. I want to move out with my boyfriend and start our lives together. We have plans of marriage and living at home with my parents who aren’t his biggest supporter doesn’t help me one bit.

Almost 3 years ago, I made the attempt of moving out with him and for the 3 months I was living with him; every time I talked to my family; it was always “If you move back home, we’ll give you more freedom” or “We’ll let you have the car” or “Why won’t you let us provide for you?”. My sister said things like, “You don’t even care about the family. You don’t care that we’re hurt.” My sister would try to emotionally guilt me every conversation with “Mom can’t even sleep and she’s crying every night”.

I need some real advice on what to do because my boyfriend and I are planning to move out in March (his lease ends at that time) and I know my parents are going to throw a tantrum about me moving out. I know my mom is going to try to stop me any way she can, whether it be by saying I can’t or physically grabbing me.

If anyone has dealt or know anyone that has dealt with a similar situation: How did it pan out for you/them? Am I a bad person or bad daughter for wanting to make a decision that I ultimately have wanted for a long time? What is your best advice on dealing with these cultural expectations my parents have of me?

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36 Answers

janbb's avatar

It is time for you to move out and move on with your life – the sooner the better. Your relationship with your parents will either change or end but you need to get away from these toxic parents. Even though you want to finish college, at 25 – in any culture but especially with parents who were abusive and still are – you need to start living your own life. What is keeping you back?

I would advise you to move out as soon as you can. Living with them cannot be good for you.

elbanditoroso's avatar

I am not Chinese and I cannot speak to the pressures of Chinese parents and Chinese culture.

However you are living in the US now, not China. And you are 25 years old. You have to break out and do what is best for YOU, not for mother or father. While they deserve your respect, for sure, at age 25 you are an adult, your own woman. Giving them respect does not mean living in their tent for the rest of your life.

I don’t know how you will accomplish that – you know the parents better than I do – but it is something you must do, whatever the consequences. Or else you will resent them for the rest of their lives.

snowberry's avatar

Yes. Move out. After you do, don’t agree to be in the same place with any of them alone. You need compassionate support from someone outside the family whenever you’re with them. Healing from this can take a while. Be kind to yourself.

Why oh why would you even consider moving back in with them with your boyfriend??!! That’s a recipe for disaster!

marinelife's avatar

I believe that by abusing you your parents have lost the right to control what you do now. I would not only move out I would cut off contact with the family (do not tell them where you are moving).

Do not let them continue to manipulate you or make you unhappy. You have given them 25 years of your life.

You are a grown woman.

You might consider checking to see whether there is a therapist who understands the cultural issues that could work with you.

You need to learn new ways to communicate with them. I strongly recommend the book Toxic Parents,.

Good luck!

syz's avatar

Move out!

dappled_leaves's avatar

Move out. Also – since you mentioned it – why did you move back in with your parents after the three month trial with your boyfriend? You’ll want to think about that experience, to avoid repeating the same pattern this time.

Darth_Algar's avatar

You’re an adult now and have been for several years. Time to take control of your own life rather than allowing your parents to dictate your life for you.

CWOTUS's avatar

Welcome to Fluther.

As hard as it will be for you – and it will be very hard! – you need to move out. You already know how difficult this will be from your failed attempt to do it once before; hopefully by now you have learned the lessons from that failure… and are ready to learn some new ones.

Since your boyfriend is Mexican, I’m presuming that he will understand some of what you’re going through with “family pressure”, as Mexicans tend to be very family-oriented, too – one hopes not in the damaging ways that your parents are. Because you need to recognize as you do this that your parents have not simply been “over-protective”, they have been abusive. You need to internalize that. Stop being “incredibly grateful for what they have given you”, since it has always been in their own interest to give you anything that they have given you.

Your parents are childishly selfish. There is nothing wrong with being a little bit selfish. Every normal person is. But your parents want to be selfish to the unhealthy degree that they refuse to let you have a “self”. You may need professional therapy to deal with the damage that they have caused, and I don’t say that lightly. In fact, I would recommend that you have some therapy – for yourself alone, not including your boyfriend at this time – before you make an irrevocable commitment to him.

There is a very strong likelihood that you could jump “from the frying pan into the fire” if all you have ever known is the restrictions of life as you have described it with your parents. Don’t fall into the same trap again.

For this reason I would, in fact, counsel you to be by yourself for a time. Not to “break up with” your boyfriend, since you have said nothing that indicates that he is an abuser in the mold of your parents, but just to be certain of your own ability to live independently, to make friends on your own without any influence from parents or boyfriend, and then, in a few months if you still feel the same way, going back to him with no reservation. But I would not recommend moving out of your parents’ house and straight in with him.

You’ve been damaged, and you have to recognize that and get over it before you can begin a healthy permanent relationship with someone new.

snowberry's avatar

Awesome answer @CWOTUS Do move out and live on your own for a while. You need to know who you really are apart from your parents before you unite with anyone else.

longgone's avatar

Get out, and fast!

How old is your sister?

jazzmine's avatar

@longgone my sister is 10 years older than me, which makes her 35–36.

Also, my boyfriend did NOT move in with my and my parents. When I moved back home, he got an apartment with him and a friend and that lease will be ending in March.

I moved back home because during the time I had moved out, my family had planned a short vacation to Vegas before Christmas and my dad had made threats. My sister was ultimately the reason I mover back because she said that I was being selfish and that I didn’t care for the family. She said a lot of things to the extent of : “you just really don’t care about us and you’re being selfish and you’re making a really stupid decision.” In the end, she really emotionally guilt tripped me into thinking I was making a “bad” decision.

I’ve learned a lot now and truly my parents have always been hell bent on “we have provided for you for all these years and you go and do THIS?!” Using phrases like: we didn’t raise you like this to be “american trash” and how that isn’t the way it is done in Chinese culture.

jazzmine's avatar

I appreciate everyone’s advice and feedback and would love any more advice one can give in this situation. :)

jazzmine's avatar

I would like to add: my boyfriends family is super supportive of us and any decision he makes (moving out, etc)

snowberry's avatar

@jazzmine It’s time to develop some new vocabulary. Put these in your list of things to say in difficult situations:

“Oh, thanks for telling me. I’ll take it under advisement.” Say that, and

“Nevertheless I’m going to…(do this or that)” and

“I’m sorry you feel that way. I love you.” Become a broken record in that department. Once you’ve said it, then move on. Do not. DO NOT engage on conversations with these people. Use your new vocabulary.

Eventually (maybe months, maybe years) they’ll learn to speak properly to you and have ordinary conversations. If or when they do, reward them with normal healthy conversation in return, but not until then.

These habits will take time and self discipline to learn, and that’s why never allowing yourself alone in their presence is a good idea.

jca's avatar

I would have moved out long ago. I read your answer about why you moved back in. You obviously believe your parents’ lies and manipulations. If I were you, and if it were possible, I would leave when they are not home so as not to have a dramatic scene. 25 years old is way too old to be dealing with that abusive crap, in my opinion.

Here2_4's avatar

Whatever your parents motives, I suspect selfish has nothing to do with it. I get the feeling from your descriptions, that they see you being rebellious, but a very poor planner. Your boyfriend, which is how you keep referring to this man you say you want to marry, is not engaged to you? You are 25. You have had plenty of time to plan, and prepare, and so has he.
I agree with the consensus that you should move out, but with a different view on it than the others who have answered you so far.
Your parents have done as much for you as they can. In regards to the abuse, I have only your accusation that there has been any abuse. Everything else you have said points to overprotective parents. Lots of kids holler about abuse when they are backed into a corner. Even if there has been abuse, other cultures view the topic much differently than the laws here in the states. They may have done nothing more than what they were raised believing was right.
Back to you as the subject. If you are so ready to face life, Why hasn’t this boyfriend become your fiance? Why isn’t he buying a house, instead of sharing an apartment? I think your parents love you very much, and want to see you be mature and ready before you face a world where you will be harshly judged. I don’t think that has happened. I don’t think they should protect you any more. I think you should move out, but not with your boyfriend. I think you should live alone. Prove to yourself, and the world that you can, or fall flat on your face. I am expecting the latter.
Tell this boyfriend you will move in with him after marriage. Does that sound old fashioned to you? I think jumping from having your parents to depend on, to sharing with some guy is toxic. You can’t do justice to a relationship until you know exactly what you have to bring into that relationship yourself. If you haven’t faced some of the problems that come up in life on your own, you won’t know what is reasonable to expect from a partner. You will end up being whiny, and feeling lost and frustrated. Life is not all about falling in love and taking trips. If you have the money to travel, you have the money to rent an apartment. Prove you are strong enough to rely on your own skills, then you can think of joyful ways to spend money.
Move out, but do it on your own, or at least with a woman friend. Fall on your face, or be a success, but do it without parents or boyfriend.

the_overthinker's avatar

To some extent, I can relate. I’m also a North American born Chinese, and I have many other North American born Chinese friends who are in their early 20s as well, and can relate.

Chinese parents will tend to be more strict, and I’m also not “allowed” to do many things, less freedom, etc. I think the most important thing that allowed my parents to trust me more and give me more freedom, was to show them that I can be responsible, trusted, etc. I find that these types of parents are more controlling, protective, etc.

Now, I’m going to go on a slightly different path than what the other flutherers are suggesting, just to open up another view—>

If your sister is guilting you that way, perhaps she feels neglected. Do you balance your time with the family, your sister, and your boyfriend? Perhaps invite your sister out with you guys so she will be more on your side? Or, hang out with her more. My sister used to dislike my boyfriend, and also accuse me of caring about him more than the family. etc, but as time went by, I made sure that I spent enough time with her, did my chores at home, etc, and spent enough time with my family so that my family could not accuse me of that.

My mom basically did not “allow” me to have a boyfriend.. I “rebelled” and for a few months, it was quite hectic. My mom was upset, my parents were disappointed that I did not put school first before getting a boyfriend.. etc. But eventually, I figured out a way to make it work. It may be a matter of understanding how to get around your mom. My mom slowly accepted my boyfriend, got to know him, invited him over, and then now it is quite well. But like your case, I’m not allowed to go on trips with him that is further than 30–45 minutes away still working on that.

As a 25 year old, yes, you should be getting more freedom. Although your mom being abusive and was previously in jail, is quite frightening.. But if you were to look at it in their perspective, I think perhaps, if they are anything like my parents, they just care too much. In their mind set, and traditionally speaking, I think that Chinese parents want their daughters to be married first before moving away. I know I won’t be doing that, and I’m adopting the more North American way, and you should be able to do that as well, without the guilt tripping, etc. I think if you can find a way to make peace with your parents and sister, that would be great. If I were you, I’d try to make peace first, before moving out, to cause less stress. But that is totally up to you, and I really can’t tell if you’re exaggerating, or how your predicament really is, so it is up to you to make that ultimate decision.

But I would suggest spending more time with your parents and talking to them? I think your mom doesn’t understand your point of view.

PS: I started to read the response above me, and I agree. I think your parents are overprotective, just as mine are.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Out of curiosity, at what point do being overprotective or “just doing what they think is right” cease to be a justification? I mean if the TC is speaking truthfully and her mother has gone to jail for this then the mother has clearly crossed some lines (considering how difficult it can be to get authorities to act on child abuse I’d say “poll-vaulted over some lines” may be more apt). Sometimes family, even parents, just aren’t worth a shit no matter how well intentioned or right they may think they are.

jazzmine's avatar

@the_overthinker I want to add my sister doesn’t even live near me. She’s 3000 miles away in Virginia, so there would be no way in spending time with her and in my case… That is not what is going on. My sister likes being alone. That’s what she prefers. She isn’t even married and hasn’t had a boyfriend in at least 10 years.

You tell me to spend more time with my parents, however, when I try it is constant negativity and judgment. Even if I’m trying to relax with them, they will have something negative to say.

Regarding the abuse, I am not exaggerating. My mom was in jail and I ended up in foster care for 2 weeks. They released me back to my parents because THEY promised to take anger management classes and they had to abide by certain “rules”. Of course, they did for a short while, but they went back to it when they felt they could.

jazzmine's avatar

@here2_4 my boyfriend is 2 years younger than me. I don’t recall you being 22–23 years old and owning a house at that age! We are engaged, but he knows my parents feelings about him and obviously I’m not about to parade around d that he proposed. My dad threw a lamp at my face when I even mentioned my boyfriend wanted to have a sit down talk face to face with them.

I understand what you are saying as well, but I’m not undermining the abuse. Plain and simple, I’ve been physically, verbally, and emotionally abused by them my WHOLE life. Whether it be an umbrella to my face, a pipe, a knife or even words that are said.

One vacation my dad had to get held back by 6 grown adults because he came at me and threatened to beat me and kill me. Yes that was that one time, but similar situations have happened throughout my lifetime.

jazzmine's avatar

Also I want to add to @Here2_4 opinion: I have wanted to move out even on my own. My mom’s statement to it was “you can’t move out. We need you to take care of us. What happens when I can’t walk up the stairs anymore? You can’t move out because you have to take care of us.”

So you’re telling me to not move out then?

jazzmine's avatar

@the_overthinker my mom doesn’t want me getting married period. I want to say that they really don’t give two shits about happiness and I say that because they’ve literally told me that themselves. So, being married before I move out has nothing to do with why they don’t want me to. As I stated in my past statement, they have said that I can’t because I need to be there for them since my sister is in Virginia. Obviously it is not the ONLY reason, but it is a huge reason.

snowberry's avatar

@jazzmine Ah, I’m guessing you’re the youngest daughter? My mother’s aunts did that to their youngest daughter (and this is from a long-time American family). Ruth Anne was told from the time she was small that she was “stupid,” “worthless,” “never to marry,” and that the only acceptable place in life was to take care of her parents when they got old. That’s exactly what she did. It was a rotten life, and my mother always had the poorest view of her aunt and their family.

Anyway, is this the type of life you want for yourself? Answer that, and you’ve got your problem largely licked.

bossob's avatar

Ideally, there comes a time when a child moves from the parent-child relationship they’ve known all their life, to that of an adult-adult relationship with their parents. Some parents understand that, and are willing to help with the transition. Sometimes the transition is called ‘cutting the apron strings’. When a parent refuses to acknowledge the adult status of a child, it causes all kinds of problems. Things won’t change as long as you’re under their roof, and that’s not good for your development into an independent adult.

I, too, recommend moving out for your own good. If it’s at all possible, you might consider living on your own for a while. That would provide a wonderful opportunity to learn more about yourself. Regardless, it’s time to cut the apron strings.

Coloma's avatar

@jazzmine I think you have very good insight into the core of the matter. Your parents want you to be their caretakers and are willing to sacrifice your life and happiness to have their own needs met. Your sister being out of state has shifted this burden to you. Don’t allow this to happen, very unhealthy. If kids want to help their parents it should always be from a place of choice and wanting to help not obligation.

RocketGuy's avatar

I would agree with @Here2_4 – find some friends to room with. But before that, you should asses:
Can you afford it?
Can you finish college?

I am Asian American too, and can see your predicament. I consistently found ways to stay as far from my wacky Mom as I could. Takes $$, which takes education.

Here2_4's avatar

@jazzmine How could you recall anything about me? You don’t know me. I moved in with the man I loved when he was my husband, not before, and he had his life set on track.

I said yes, do move out. I believe you will make a disaster of it, but I don’t think there is another way for you.
You asked for advice. I didn’t pat your hand and tell you what terrible parents you have, and now you are angry. Well, advice is not always easy to hear. You can listen to it or not, but arguing with me will do you no good, because you don’t need my permission,. I said what I believe. You can appreciate it or not. It is free advice. You paid not one cent for it. I don’t care if you ignore it. Unlike your parents, I won’t go on about it forever.
If they are terrible, leave, and don’t look back. If they are not terrible, apologize for being a big baby. There are two options. You are grown, and you can choose one, or not.

Response moderated (Personal Attack)
jazzmine's avatar

Damn, didn’t realize that people were so cold. Thanks everyone else for all the advice you’ve given! I really appreciate it!!

Response moderated
Response moderated
longgone's avatar

I asked because I figured your sister might be younger, and simply scared for herself. As that is not the case, I am not the least bit ambivalent anymore:

Get out of there, as fast as you can. You don’t owe your parents anything.

General advice I’d give to anyone in your position…

1. For the sake of your self-worth and your relationship, don’t move from your parents’ house straight to a partner’s. I’d recommend this to everyone, but you, especially, could benefit from a bit of independence. Your parents deprived you of that – don’t repeat their mistakes. Learn how to be alone!

2. When dealing with your parents, be a broken record.

3. Find a mentor. You are, essentially, parentless – at least for a while. Find someone with lots of life experience to help you when you need it. I’m about your age, and have several mentors whom I greatly appreciate.

4. Stay strong. You seem smart.

PS: Welcome to Fluther. Try to stay calm when standing up for yourself…we hate personal attacks!

jazzmine's avatar

@longgone thank you so much for all your advice!!! :) I really appreciate it. I absolutely tried staying calm and nobody likes personal attacks at all.

fluthernutter's avatar

Your boyfriend is a secondary issue.

Your primary concern should be about living in the household with people who are abusive. Cultural pressures cannot explain your parents’ behavior. From the examples that you have provided, it is clear that lines have been crossed.

As others have already mentioned, I would hold off on moving in with the boyfriend. Live on your own. Own roof. Own means. Own rules.

Good luck!

RocketGuy's avatar

Abuse is an Asian tradition!

chelle21689's avatar

Hey, I’m Asian too so I know how crazy parents can get. I’m about your age and it wasn’t until I hit maybe 20 they backed off. I think you should just do what you feel right with your life, you’re not a child anymore. They’ll get used to the idea whether they like it or not…

Happened with my parents! lol

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