Hello, Carolyn: I am a 21-year-old Mexican woman in a wonderful relationship with a 21-year-old white male.
My boyfriend and I are deeply in love and have been together for a year and a half. We’re both almost done with our classes, and he has talked about us moving in and getting married in the next few years. My parents are overjoyed and love him to death. My brothers all love him. My sister, however . . . she does not approve.
To be blunt, she is prejudiced against him because he’s white. She has a crazy idea that he is only fetishizing me, using me and will murder me. She ignores him and is rude to his face even when my parents tell her to say hello.
She is my best friend. I have tried talking to her about it, but she always explodes, and we end up upset with each other.
Am I really forced to choose between my family and my happiness?
Heartbroken in Texas
Heartbroken in Texas: It’s not often that declaring someone a murderer constitutes a favor, but your sister has done you one here.
Had her panic been less hyperbolic, you’d be in the difficult position of never being able to disprove her accusations. Ask anyone whose partner has been dismissed by family as sketchy or unintelligent or just “settling” — that kind of label can stick no matter what anyone does to scrape it off.
In this case, though, you merely have to survive to prove your sister wrong.
This sounds facetious, but I’m quite serious: Given her extreme prediction, time — and a boyfriend who isn’t, in fact, evil — will solve this.
That is, if your sister’s concern for your safety is genuine and will go away if plainly disproved. I have my doubts about that, which I’ll get to in a second.
In the meantime, stand up for your boyfriend as needed, but otherwise, chill; certainly don’t pick out a frame for all this as dramatic as “choos[ing] between my family and my happiness.” You’re happy and your family (mostly) loves him! No terrible choices necessary.
Attempts to convince Sis aren’t necessary, either. Assure her you’re sorry she feels this way; have weighed her concerns carefully, because it’s wise to regardless; feel confident her fears aren’t warranted; love her dearly; and hope time will assure her of his worth as it has assured you.
You can end it there, or you can continue by saying you are, or easily could be, deeply insulted by her implication that your only appeal is in being seen as exotic and he couldn’t possibly love you for who you are. It’s there, and it’s just as ugly as the suggestion that a white person can’t be sincere.
Her charges are so charged, in fact, that you need to be ready for her to come up with new concerns as soon as you put these to rest. Maybe he is a bad guy and she is the one person to see through him — again, it’s wise to weigh loved ones’ warnings regardless — but it’s also possible that your sister is upset or anxious for her own reasons, and this is where it’s emerging. Try defending less and listening more; among other possibilities, she could be unready to let you go.