The Hook Up: Approaching girls in clubs and family dinner etiquette


Dear Anna, I’m 29 years old with my first long-term girlfriend. After dating her for about a month and a half I finally came out to my parents, telling them about my gf. I had wanted to come out for a while, but what really tipped it was not being able to tell my parents where I was going on the weekends (I used to spend weekends at their house). They were OK, and said they don’t care, but they still want grandkids. I can see that despite the OK reaction, it’s hard for them. Incidentally, my mom has a gay sister and no one cares about that and her partner of 22 years (and now wife) is well-loved by everyone, so it’s not homophobia, it’s just taking time for them to get used to it.

To be fair, it took me a hell of a long time too, which is why I’m trying to be patient. It’s been about six months since I came out to them, and it’s bothering me that they haven’t invited her over, or made any mention of wanting to meet her in all this time. They did say hi to her for two minutes at a roller event I was participating in, but then they sat in separate places (a few months later my mom told me she thought my gf was wearing weird sneakers — that’s only comment I got on the meeting). The most that happens is every once in a while my mom asks about her. I’ve been trying to mention her to my mom and dad every so often, telling them about things we do, or funny things she said and so on. Basically, I want to know how long I need to wait before I can invite her to family things. I don’t want to push my parents, but I want to be with my gf and I want her to feel included. In about two weeks our Independence Day is coming and my family usually has a big BBQ inviting all the family (I’m out to my cousins and my brothers, but not my aunt/uncles or grandma). It’s my favorite holiday so I mentioned it to my gf. Since then she’s hoping my parents will invite her but I don’t think it’ll happen, and I keep telling her so, but she’s still so damn hopeful.

I don’t know if I should ask my parents or if that would be too much for them. Meanwhile, my gf doesn’t have any family in this country, and so an invite would mean so much to her, and frankly, it would mean so much to me, too. It hurts that my brother’s gf (who no one liked) came to family dinners and parties, and that my (male) cousins’ girlfriends are always invited but mine isn’t. What should I do? Should I ask about Independence Day? Should I ask if she can come for dinner one day (but then that’ll have to be after Independence Day)? I’m afraid of their reaction if I ask either of those things. What if they say no? That would be so horrible. Or what if they begrudgingly say yes and it was too soon and it makes it worse? And is it horrible that I still really want to spend the day with my family on Independence Day (and then see my gf in the evening) even if she’s not invited to the BBQ? Thanks for your help.

illustration by Raquel Breternitz

Anna says: It sounds like you’ve kept this bottled in for a long time, Sugar Shoes. It’s time to let it out. So yes, please do talk to your parents about this. Tell them what you basically told me: That you would love to bring your girlfriend to the family BBQ, that it would mean a lot to both you (because it’s a recognition of a relationship that is important to you) and to her (because she doesn’t have family here and will be bored and lonely). It’s not “too soon” to ask that you have the same basic treatments as your brothers and cousins. If girlfriends are invited, then so your girlfriend should be invited too. Especially since you have a gay aunt, I don’t know what excuse they could have for not letting your girlfriend eat some damn chicken wings like everyone else.

And don’t be afraid of your parents! Also, is the decision really up to them? I do think you should still talk to them about your feelings, but can’t you just bring her even if they’re not thrilled about it? You seem like the kind of sweet person who never defies their parents’ wishes (and I’m like that too in a lot of ways), but I’m also of the mind to say, fuck their discomfort. What are they gonna do? Yell and cause a scene and throw potato salad at her? It’s time to start asserting yourself. This is your life and this is a person that you are romantically involved with and she deserves to get asked the same stupid, invasive getting-to-know-you questions that all girlfriends get asked by families. “Oh, you minored in Pottery? How interesting!”

If you’d rather be less confrontational about it, then stage a meeting yourself before the BBQ so your parents can meet your girlfriend and determine she’s lovely already and you can all get on with your lives! Tell your folks that your gf wants to meet them and can you do dinner this Thursday? Bam, done. No overthinking. Simply: I want you to meet this person who I have Big Feelings for. Because they are your parents and you want them to be a part of your life. All this waiting around and hoping your parents will suddenly take an interest in your girlfriend isn’t working. It’s time to put down your domestic beer (to really ride this bar analogy into the ground) and take action. Don’t let fear dictate your life. Fear is an asshole. Tell your parents what you want. It’s not like it’s a crazy request, like a miniature horse or portable jacuzzi. It’s just potato salad. Make it happen.

Best of luck.

Hailing from the rough-and-tumble deserts of southern Arizona, where one doesn’t have to bother with such trivialities as “coats” or “daylight savings time,” Anna Pulley is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. Find her at and on Twitter @annapulley. Send her your The Hook Up questions at 

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