I remember the exact moment when I found out my brother was going to propose to his girlfriend. I overheard him telling my mom on the phone, my heart skipped a beat and I started crying.
Actually, I started sobbing. In the middle of a waiting room at Valley Children’s Hospital.
It’s funny now, but it was terribly embarrassing and cringy and straight-up sad that I had that reaction. My brother’s girlfriend wasn’t some horrible person, but I just knew she wasn’t the one.
My mom told me to calm down and said that it’s his life and his decision. I thought to myself, if he’s happy, why shouldn’t I be happy too?
Having four siblings, I’ve seen plenty significant others come in and out of their lives over the years. Some I liked, some I didn’t care for and others were kind of just there. But I’m just the little sister, so what should my opinion of who they date really matter?
This got me thinking: should I care about my siblings’ approval of my relationship?
I remember the first boyfriend my sister brought home. She was a freshman in high school, and her boyfriend had bright blue hair, which I think we all thought was cool at the time. (They were “scene kids,” which we no longer think is cool.) I thought he was nice enough. But after they broke up, he was dead to me.
One of my brother’s first girlfriends was quiet but so sweet. We all loved her. I actually cried when they broke up. Now, of course, I see that was for the best, but it just goes to show the impact she had on our family.
Through all of the relationships that passed in and out of my family’s lives, I learned to see different examples of love, some positive and others… not so much. It was good preparation for when I ventured into my own relationship. I didn’t have to go into it blind. I had realistic expectations of what to expect, do and receive in return.
But knowing the kind of reaction I had when I met my siblings’ partners, I kind of wondered what they would think of my own relationship. Would they be hard on him? Would they like him? What if they hated him?
I also questioned how much I should care about their opinions. If I care about my boyfriend, then that’s all that matters — like how my brother loved his girlfriend enough to know he wanted a future with her despite my displaced opinions.
But I also really value my family’s opinions. Being the fourth born of five children, I had a lot to look and live up to. I had a lot to learn from, as well. And I think along the way, as I saw my siblings make mistakes and succeed in all sorts of ways, I learned that it’s OK to think for myself and trust my gut in certain aspects of my life (i.e. interpersonal relationships).
I’m lucky. All of my family really likes my boyfriend. I’m not sure how I’d feel if they didn’t. But I also know what I want and what I deserve. While I think my siblings are a good judge of character, I trust myself to make the right decision with who I date, regardless of their opinions.
Plus, no one cries when I talk about our future. I think that’s a good sign.