Holidazed and Confused
Question: I've been dating my boyfriend for seven months. We both live in Brooklyn (though not with each other...yet) and grew up on the West Coast (me: California; him: Oregon). I asked him several weeks ago what his plans were over Thanksgiving and he said he didn't know. I threw it out there that I'd love for him to come home with me and meet my family and he seemed into it. Fast forward to now. I've already told my mom he wanted to come and I booked my ticket. When I forwarded him the itinerary so he could look for similar flights, he texted me to say that his mom wants him to be home this year after all and he wouldn't be able to join me. I texted back asking when, exactly, she'd expressed this wish to him and he gave a pretty vague answer. That was yesterday and no apologetic words from him yet. I wish he'd told me earlier, or at least before I'd told my family to expect him. Like, how long was he going to wait to say something? We're both 29 and have lived abroad, so it's not like we're kids who have never been away from home for the holidays. Things have been progressing pretty smoothly until this point (we spend several nights a week together, have met most of the friends, etc) but now I'm questioning where this is headed. Shouldn't he want to meet my family?
Answer: Your boyfriend is a jerk. Not because he doesn't want to come home with you, but because he shirked on being upfront with you. It sounds like he had ample time to do so. Waiting until you came to him, flight details in hand, is the work of a Staller. And Stallers jerk people around.
Let's be clear: This is his choice, not his mom's. She may be the most turkey-loving, guilt-tripping mom in the world, but he's a grown-ass man. When a grown man wants something—particularly in courting of a lady (I'm assuming you're female?)—he will find a way to make it happen. The fact that your boyfriend is being vague and citing his mom as the cause indicates that he's not ready to progress to the "Meet the Parents" stage. And that would have been understandable, had he not gotten your hopes up by feigning interest.
The more generous among you might argue that perhaps he is ready and really did want to meet your family, but wasn't able to for reasons more easily blamed on his mom than explained. A long-lived fear of choking on a wishbone in the company of strangers, for instance. To this I say, Yes, possible. And yet, had that been the case, he would have made a reassuring gesture. Like promising to FaceTime everyone after pie or asking to come to yours over Christmas/Hanukkah/New Years instead. At the very least, he'd have apologized profusely for causing any confusion.
Instead, he left you hanging. That doesn't mean that you don't have a bright future ahead of you (if you want there to be). You're only seven months in and uncertain moments like these are bound to arise. What it does mean is that you should create space for him to figure out if he wants to take a step forward with you. You thought that the logical next step was meeting the parents...what does he see? Is it planning a vacation or moving in together? Or does his future vision not involve the two of you at all? Only he can say.
Tell him that you're disappointed and, briefly, why. Then leave it be and cut back on the time you devote to him while you enjoy the run-up to the holidays. If your boyfriend tries to make it up to somehow, demonstrating that he does foresee a shared future, then consider this a minor bump in the road. If he offers no further explanation or insight into what the future holds, kick him to the curb. A 29-year-old, grown-ass woman doesn't have time for a Staller to get his act straight.