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Struggling to deal with partners privilege - help?

(191 Posts)
AnnaF55 Thu 25-May-17 12:33:34

Been together for 9 months, has gone smoothly than all my other relationships. I am happier with him than I have ever been - but there's still one sticking point.

While my parents were/are political activists, one of his parents grew up on the Queen's estate. He told me this early on and also talked about how he's anti-monarch. Realising my left-of-centre views, I now think he only did this because he thinks it is what I wanted to hear.

The first time he met most of my family, he brought up the fact his family were raised on the queen's estate. I thought it sounded like he was bragging (although I suppose it is a major thing) and my parents listened politely, but it made me cringe. I find the topic kind of alienating because no one else can really relate to it. As a general rule though, he gets on really well with my family and they like him.

At dinner the other night he talked about little known tales related to Prince Philip, which I listened to because its part of his family life - but then he went on to talk about how he sympatises with the Prince who often wanted to go and live a normal life according to him. I couldn't listen any more, because the people I genereally do sympathise with in this country are NHS staff, people on food banks, etc and said 'I thought you were anti monarch??' and he said 'I don't know how I feel about them - I'm half and half.'

Eventually, we talked more and found a bit more common ground, but I did for the first time point out he has had a very privileged upbringing and may feel differently about some things if he were to see how poorer people lived. He accepted all this was true.

Do you think it is ok for my boyfriend to frequently bringing up his privileged background - how do I become less angry about it?! I really love my partner and don't like having disagreements.

Justmadeperfectflapjacks Thu 25-May-17 12:36:04

Having your own views isn't declaring a disagreement. .
He sounds pompous and entitled. .
You sound like you feel guilty for not hanging on his every word.
That's not healthy.

MissCookiee Thu 25-May-17 12:39:02

It's part of his background and therefore it makes him who he is. He seems understanding too but you can't change the way he was brought up. Of just put up with his talking about it because to me it doesn't seem that big an issue

AnnaF55 Thu 25-May-17 12:46:07

The thing is I want him to stop bringing up his background RE the Queen's estate in front of my family, at least for now.* Is that a fair request?* It might earn my points with some family members, but definitely not with my parents!

DerelictWreck Thu 25-May-17 12:49:44

there is a difference between growing up privileged and acting privileged.

Yes he had a very privileged upbringing and talks about it (who doesn't talk about their past unless something terrible happened?), and perhaps some of his views still seem privileged because after all, they were molded by the environment in which he grew up.

However it doesn't sound as though he acts on his privilege - like he is better than you or your family - or as though the things you believe in (NHS, food banks etc) are trivial. In fact he accepts that he is privileged and grew up well - this is something that people with privilege often struggle to do.

For me, the problems with privileged are when people fail to recognize or challenge it in themselves. He can't help how he grew up and so long as your views are incompatible, I don't think you should let it become too much of an issue.

TheStoic Thu 25-May-17 12:50:02

If he was from an extremely poor background, would you also want him not to bring that up? If that's not ok, why is this ok?

He is who he is. If you or your parents are prejudiced against people of his upbringing, you need to end the relationship, not silently pray for him to shut up all the time.

DerelictWreck Thu 25-May-17 12:50:45

* Is that a fair request?*

No - how you feel if he asked you not to bring up your background in case it offended his family? You'd probably think he was an entitled prick, no?

FrogsLegs31 Thu 25-May-17 12:56:38

Look at it this way.

If he expected you to avoid mentioning your background and upbringing because he felt it embarrassed him infront of his family how would you feel?

AndNoneForGretchenWieners Thu 25-May-17 12:58:15

Genuine question - do you feel the same way about talking about your background, because it's not what he can relate to? Do you not talk about how you grew up, and your political activism, in front of your partner and his family, in case they are offended? If not, I think you need to look at why not. His background is a fact, just as your background is a fact. He sounds as though he is just relating anecdotes from his past, in a similar way that you may discuss something that happened when you were growing up.

It's not inappropriate or insensitive in itself to talk about a privileged background, it's when the privileged background is used as an excuse for looking down on people not from that background that it becomes a problem, and from what you have said it doesn't sound as though he does that.

Rollercoaster1920 Thu 25-May-17 12:58:31

Were his parents servants? Growing up on the estate can mean many things....

hellsbellsmelons Thu 25-May-17 12:59:41

I don't see an issue here either to be honest.
He is who he is.
His background it what it is.
Of course he will talk about it.
We all do.
If you don't want him to do it in front of your parents then tell him.
And remind him every time you go and see them.
Are you ashamed of his upbringing?
Sounds to me like you have a problem with it and it won't change so you'll have to live with it and embrace it or go out there and find someone more on your level.

ZeroFuchsGiven Thu 25-May-17 13:00:44

If my partner told me not to talk about my past I'd telling him to get fucked tbh.

HappyJanuary Thu 25-May-17 13:00:58

He can't help what sort of family he was born into, or what sort of upbringing he had. Why on earth wouldn't he talk about his family and childhood experiences?

The only way this would wind me up is if he acted superior or judgemental, but I can't see any evidence of that in what you've written. Well, no judgement or superiority from him anyway. From you, maybe.

Reverse snobbery equally unattractive imo.

RubyWinterstorm Thu 25-May-17 13:01:01

It is normal to talk about your background, but boring if it is in a name dropping way.

Which is it? Is he trying to impress or does it just come up in conversation?

I am not that impressed with royalty or growing up on the Queens estate (what does that even mean? Maybe his parents were kitchen staff? Horse grooms? What did they do?) Working for the Queen does not make you posh, so I am not sure it is showing off?

wisteriainbloom Thu 25-May-17 13:03:18

I would have thought that it was related to his parents being workers on the estate.
They are not paid very well at all, maybe he was meaning that?

MacarenaFerreiro Thu 25-May-17 13:05:58

The thing is I want him to stop bringing up his background RE the Queen's estate in front of my family, at least for now

So you are ashamed of him and want him to lie about who he is. Nice. The problem here is you - you have issues with people who you judge to have been privileged, and are embarrassed to introduce them to your friends/family.

AnnaF55 Thu 25-May-17 13:06:07

I feel that he is name dropping a bit (probably subconsciously). His parents weren't servants exactly, don't want to get too specific. I do feel that he sort of wants me to be impressed and I'm just not.

For the most part he is not a snob and always votes for left of centre parties. There have been a couple of instances where I have called him out on snobbery during the relationship.

Fair enough, I accept that I can't ask him not to bring it up. With the majority of my family, it does not matter. But it will really not go down well with my father.

ZeroFuchsGiven Thu 25-May-17 13:06:47

So you are ashamed of him and want him to lie about who he is. Nice. The problem here is you

Spot on.

AnnaF55 Thu 25-May-17 13:08:42

It is not straight-forward as saying the problem is me Macarena - since childhood I have grown up in a very left-wing, political family that dislikes the royal family. Now, I have fallen in love with someone that challenges that. This thread shows that I am actively trying to find the right way around this because my partner is important to me.

Figaro2017 Thu 25-May-17 13:10:40

I'm saying this in a slightly teasing way, but are you feeling he's cramping your socialist style?

TheStoic Thu 25-May-17 13:12:33

Well the 'right way around this' is not to tell him what he can and can't say.

How old are you? You seem particularly anxious for your parents' approval.

TheAntiBoop Thu 25-May-17 13:13:28

Hopefully you were also brought up to respect that other people are entitled to their own opinions and views and you don't need to feel horrifically offended if they are expressed?

It sounds like you need to make a fundamental decision as to whether or not you can be with someone who has a different background and belief system to you

SparklingRaspberry Thu 25-May-17 13:15:07

I think you're being incredibly unfair Anna.

He isn't bragging. He is allowed to be anti/for whatever. Just because he doesn't agree with what you and your family agree with, you expect him to keep that part of his life quiet?? You don't think he should be bringing it up around your parents?

Sorry, but you're trying to silence him over his past. He shouldn't have to keep it to himself just because you and your family have different views! It's not as if he's coming over and bragging about his privileged upbringing and how he's soooo much better than you guys.

Maybe he should be able to find someone who appreciates his background and doesn't expect him to keep it quiet?

PollyPerky Thu 25-May-17 13:15:18

I don't regard anyone as privileged if their parents were employed at the monarch's estate. They could be gardeners, cooks, butlers, equery, whatever.

That is not IMO a definition of 'privileged'.

'Privileged' to me would mean upper class or upper middle class, going to one of the top 5 independent schools, being loaded - handouts by bank of mum and dad- and not having to work much.

If he talks about his parents' roles to the exclusion of other things, OR it appears he is trying to impress, that's one thing. If he mentions it as anyone else might about their bog standard comprehensive and dad working in a factory, as chit chat about their past, that's another.

Can't you tell if he is trying to impress or just discussing his earlier life?

Have you tried talking to him about how it could come across to others- ie boasting?

artycakemaker Thu 25-May-17 13:16:38

I think I agree with others. His experiences and background are just as valid as yours. He cannot re-create who he is to fit your idea of who he ought to be. If he is not boasting, just talking about his life, then you need to get over it, I think.

I do understand though - my DH is fairly posh (family is titled, went to very famous public schools, and yes has some tales about the royal family that are based on him actually being there. ) I am from a background of trade unionists, republicans and socialists. Yu know what? We enjoy what we bring to each other- I confess I love laughing at some of his stories, and he teases me about 'showing your roots'. But we can bring something to each other. I am leftie, he is not. Me explaining how I feel about certain things (and vice versa) have made us understand different points of view. The only thing we completely cannot understand is that he thinks boarding school is great, I detest the very thought of it.

We have been together 15 years though. At the core is that we love each other, and respect each other. I worry that your embarrassment at his upbringing means you do not respect who he is.

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