Your dream dinner with your girlfriend's family has finally happened. Your gameplan is to win their hearts over with a finetuned display of charm, machismo, and humor. By your estimation, everything's seems to be going according to plan.
Her little sister adores you, her kuya shares the same interests with you, and her mom thinks you're the perfect guy for her daughter. But here's the catch: You can tell by the way his dad behaves that he doesn't like you at all.
No matter how hard you try to prove to him your worthiness of his unica hija, he still remains unimpressed by you. What have you done wrong?
Before you get angry, let us remind you of this: It's natural for fathers to become very protective of their children, especially their daughter.
"[All fathers] have the same basic protective instinct," says Dr. Cely Magpantay, a psychologist at St. Luke's Medical Center in Quezon City. "They want the best possible partner for their daughter so if you haven't met the standards [they're looking for in an ideal son-in-law] it will be a challenge to get their approval of you."
Another possible reason, Dr. Magpantay says, is that he may be seeing you as a threat, taking "ownership" of someone he has cared for all his life. "Having someone around is threatening to them," Magpantay explains. "They don't readily the accept the possibility of their daughter leaving them [for you] and live out her life on her own."
Lando, 56, father of three girls, echoes the psychologist's assessment, saying he wants to see her daughter walk down the aisle with a man who can give her a good life.
"Me and my bunso really have a good father-daughter relationship, he relates. "She is in the I.T. industry and spends her spare time volunteering to help the needy. When she brought home this scruffy looking guy who was unemployed, I didn't like him at all."
He continues: "Just last year, she discovered that she was pregnant. My heart sunk, not because I didn't want a grandchild, but because I don't think his boyfriend could give them what they need. That same day, her boyfriend asked if we could talk and I agreed. He said he knew he didn't deserve my daughter but he loves her with all of his heart. I felt his sincerity, and from that they, we got along really well."
Meanwhile, Dante, 49, shares that it's difficult for him to trust his daughter's boyfriend because he has been "young and stupid once", too.
"Like what they say, 'Been there, done that.' I know exactly how to act nicely around the girl I only want to sleep with. I admit, I'm afraid that karma might play around with my daughter's heart so I'll do whatever it takes to protect her," he says.
To get on his good side, Dr. Magpantay recommends winning his affection and respect one step at a time. Learn what activities interest him and spend some time experiencing them with him so you two can get to know each and bond.
"Activities and talking can bridge the gap between the two of you" says Dr. Magpantay. The idea of spending time with him, we know, can be pretty terrifying, but you've got to man up if you really want to work things out with her daughter, because, like it or not, he will be a part of the relationship.
Next, work hard to win his trust. "Parents want only the best for their daughter so your your job as boyfriend is to work hard to earn their respect," says Dr. Magpantay. "Do your best to show them your intention so that they can process it and know you better."
Dr. Magpantay adds: "If you show them you're true to your word and respect the rules they've set i.e. following curfews, etc., you'll gain an advantage."
If all else fails, your only hope is to sit down and have a man-to-man talk with the guy. "Sometimes bringing beer over and drinking with him can also help to ease tension," Dr. Magpantay notes.
Dr. Cely D. Magpantay, PhD, RP, RPm is a licensed clinical psychologist and psychometrician. She caters to different psychological services like neuropsychological, personality, forensic, and behavioral assessments, and psychotherapy and counseling for children, adults, and families. For more on this and other relationships concern, visit her at St. Luke's Medical Center in 279 E Rodriguez Sr Ave, Quezon City. You can set an appointment by calling 732-03-01 or (+63) 908-353-4862.