None of us want to be the butt of jokes and whispers. It is human nature not to want to be ostracized by those we care about. Relationships with friends, co-workers, and neighbors are important to all of us, and, in general, nothing is more important than our relationship with our parents, siblings, and children. These are the relationships that make us who we are.
It is reasonable to wonder about how bringing a new woman – any new woman – into your life will impact those relationships. Seriously, if you meet your next serious girlfriend at a church social or an IT conference tongues will still wag. That is human nature.
One of the biggest mistakes some guys make is trying to hide their relationship from their family until the very last minute - like when he's picking her up from the airport. This is a bad move because if you take this route your family will assume that you're trying to hide your relationship because you either feel ashamed of what you're doing, or that your new girlfriend told you to keep her a secret.
Neither of these is true, but in the absence of information your family will rely on assumptions, and that never ends well.
Try to gently let your friends and family know what you are thinking about before you take your trip to Kiev or Bangkok. You don’t have to give them all the details, but gently breach the subject with them.
Point the ones who are more internet savvy towards the articles we have in our Scholarly Research section. There is enough evidence there that international dating is a positive good that it will stop some of the complaints right there.
As you get more serious about the relationship you need to sit down with your parents, siblings, children, and possibly other friends and family. Explain exactly what you are doing and why you have made this choice.
Be clear and offer evidence to back up your decision. Explain why you made this choice, why you feel it's the right choice for you, and that you'd like them to be happy for you.
Show them pictures of your foreign girlfriend, or if you want to take it to the next level maybe organize a Skype/web chat where your parents get to "meet" your new girlfriend. This allows them to see why you fell in love with her, and gives them a chance to learn about her as a person.
Make a Plan
There are some positives in this situation. That’s what you should consider first. Remember, your family and friends talk about you because they are worried about you. So, thankful that anyone cares enough about you to be concerned. This is important, so do not get angry about it. Expect it and have a plan for it.
Smile as much as you can while you are having this discussion. Smile, because you know they mean well and smile, because you have a plan ready for their questions.
After they have raised their concerns ask them to clarify themselves for you. This is important. Simply say, “I really appreciate your concern, but explain to me exactly what bothers you about my new relationship?”
This response has the advantage of getting them to state clearly what their concerns are, so you know what they are really worried about, and it will make them hesitate to try to work out their opinions.
This will give you a chance to smile at them and show them you are relaxed, because you should be relaxed.
You have a plan. And a big part of it is to show them that you are confident, relaxed, and happy. Non-verbal communication is extremely important – particularly with highly charged emotional issues – so let them see that your new relationships is good for your wellbeing. This is half the battle.
So, when they answer your question about what really bothers them about your Russian bride or Thai girlfriend listen closely, because the evidence is available help you overcome whatever objections about your relationship they may toss at you.
The Understand the Media Bias
The mainstream media is incredibly biased against international dating. Most people's impression of international dating is that of a seedy underworld where desperate women tell whatever lies they have to in order to get a Green Card or visa for their partner's country.
We have written about these issues many times, but if you have never read it you should read this article about how the media completely misconstrued this Reddit about mail order brides. So, a lot of information your family has read about international dating is complete bunk.
There is a misguided group of feminists who simply hate international dating. It's based on their belief that you pay thousands of dollars to be introduced to a woman you don’t know, who is only interested in what she can get from you financially, and who doesn’t actually love you.
This is wrong on several levels, but these activists have succeeded in getting the media to buy this narrative hook, line, and sinker.
Your job here is to educate your family in how much international dating has changed over the last twenty-five years, and that your choice isn't based on desperation. What your decision is based on is finding the best possible romantic match for you, regardless of where the woman comes from.
If you want to put it in simplistic terms you could explain that many North American married couples live in different cities to one another, and it's purely for economic reasons - they can't afford to give up their life and move to the same city as their partner.
Your overseas girlfriend, however, is willing to give up her entire life and move to another country, and for love. That has to tell them something about the type of person she is.
Family Psychology 101
When a family objects to the decision of another family member it's sometimes about maintaining control - the status quo of family life - but it’s more often about protecting the family unit. Humans are tribal creatures, and our instinct is to protect our tribe from what we perceive as external threats.
This isn't something we even think about - it's actually hardwired into our brains, so it’s an automatic response. Parents, in particular, will be very protective of their tribe, even when their children have grown into adults.
Overcoming this protective instinct can be a challenge, but it can be done. What you need your family to understand is that bringing this woman into your tribe isn't actually putting it in danger, but making it more secure.
You'll have a mate that you can have kids with, extending the legacy and lifetime of your "family tribe", so that it continues on for several more generations. Once your family understands that this woman is not a threat to their “tribe”, they’ll be far more accepting of her.
If you have adult children sometimes they are concerned about inheritance issues, particularly if you have a family business. In that case, get out in front of that issue really fast. Let them know you have made a will and even tell them if you have a pre-nuptial with your new wife.
The Racism Hurdle
This is a tough one, because racism does exist and it could be a major hurdle to overcome with certain family members who don't even realize they’re acting in a way that could be viewed as being racist. It's all too easy for some people to view women from foreign countries as inferior in some way.
It could be bias against their religion, their education, where they grew up, or even the color of their skin. But the only way for your family to overcome any of those thoughts is by being challenged by the presence of your future bride.
So, if possible, have your overseas girlfriend visit you for a short holiday, one where she'll get to meet most of your family. It's only when people meet her in person that they'll have the opportunity to understand she's just a woman looking to meet a guy to share her life with.
There's nothing weird or dangerous about her, and they'll broaden their ethnic horizons as a result of this introduction. It will take some time and effort on your part to convince your family that you’re doing the right thing for you. Just remember that any concerns they raise about your relationship is because they care about you.
So, try to react in a way that shows them you acknowledge and appreciate their concerns, but that you’re a grown man capable of making his own choices in life.
She’s So Young!
The age of your new wife or girlfriend is probably going to be one of the biggest issues that certain people will raise. You will probably notice that many of these critics will not seem to be particularly concerned about your happiness.
But for the ones you care to answer you should let them know that the evidence is clear: Marrying a younger woman is great for a man’s health is great for a man’s health and general wellbeing.
Also, there are cultural forces in play. In many of the countries like Ukraine, Thailand, and China marrying young is common. So, you are not robbing the cradle in those cultures.
Again, let these people know you are happy and she is happy.
Love Is Hard
Finally, let these people know that you understand you have a challenge to make your new relationship succeed, but not because you married a foreign woman, but because love is hard. It is always hard.
And that might be part of the reason that relationships that start off on paid international dating sites have a higher success rate than most marriages generally.
Perhaps, having to answer these critics is good, because it makes the man and woman in the relationship realize that they have to work to make the relationship a success.
John Adams, the CEO of A Foreign Affair, believes that this fox hole mentality pushes the couples in international relationships closer together and helps make the marriages a success. That makes a lot of sense.
And so one other person that needs to be informed about all of this is of course the woman your are marrying or dating. Let your new bride know that you are facing criticism, but tell her not to worry about it.
Tell her that your family and friends will accept her because they will see how happy you are with her. That is the ultimate test and tell her you and her are going to pass that test with flying colors, because you both know love is hard and you and her are going to work to make your relationship succeed.