Hi, first let me just say thanks for a great site. I've been in China for two years and have found it very helpful and insightful. I was wondering if maybe you could help me work out where things stand with my girlfriend, because it's a little confusing.
I've read the entire section on narcissists, and have known many but I'm fortunate that mine is not like that at all. She is beautiful and smart, and her parents are kind of rich (her mother is a government worker and her father is an army general by all accounts, though I'm not sure because the family seems to ignore him and not ever care what he's up to) - but she is very level-headed and kind. She goes so far out of her way to help other people, even sitting exams for them and getting good grades.
As I got to know her, I realised that beneath the surface she is very insecure - she gets upset at the slightest thing so that half of the relationship seems to be me holding her and reassuring her. But I don't mind this so much because it's really her only fault and aside from this, she's wonderful.
I was just wondering about how she and her parents see the relationship. Our situation doesn't seem to conform to anything I've read or heard about. Her parents don't know we're a couple, and allowed her to go on holiday with me before I'd met them. When she showed them the photos of us looking very close, she phoned me in tears and said that, although it wasn't said, she could guess that her mum disapproved.
Then I was invited to stay with them for a few weeks for the spring holiday. I was very nervous but it turns out they're really great people. I can only speak basic Chinese but it wasn't a problem, and they seemed to love me. Like I said, it's a very matriarchal family - most times when her father said something to me, my girl wouldn't even bother to translate it - or just tell me he's being silly. So 'the family' really just refers to her very dominant mum, who is kind of insane in an endearing way. They're old (late 50's) and very old-fashioned: obsessed with mealtimes and health, superstitious, constantly telling me how they don't like their niece's boyfriend because he's ugly...
All of which would seem to put me out of the running: A poor foreigner with weak family ties. And our relationship, though not stated, is pretty blatant: we would stay in her room for most of the day having sex with the door locked (though I was uncomfortable with this) - emerge with ruffled hair, etc. and be greeted with delightful friendliness.
So I guess really my question is: do you think it's possible that they just don't realise? My own guess is that they're not so protective because she's not their first: they had a child die in the womb before her, and didn't have her until their mid-30's. They support her decision to go abroad for further education, and they say it's up to her to decide where. On the other hand, her mother has also told her not to wear green this season, as it's bad luck. So I'm kind of in a muddle, and I want to be emotionally prepared for what's likely to happen.
Furthermore, they command a fair amount of respect and from what I can gather are friends with powerful people - so I don't want to get into any trouble. Thanks a lot, any insight you can give would be great!