Dear Miss Emily:

I am 21 years old and have been in a serious relationship with my 24 year old boyfriend for just over two years.  I really love him. He has always been there for me through the good and the bad., and I've had a lot of bad!  He treats me with respect and love - and we get along so well!  I lost my virginity to him. I'm truly happy with him. The only problem is his background.  He has bad credit, a criminal record from before we met (he used to be a drug dealer) and no post-secondary education. These are all the things my parents used to tell me to look out for!  He was honest about this from day one, and he has changed. He has not been involved in any criminal activity since before we met. He is trying to restore his credit, and he just enrolled in a college certificate program. He is not very materialistic, but very family oriented, so he is looking for an 'average' career that will 'get his future family by.’  Despite being happy and loving him, I am still concerned about our future. I'm almost done my undergrad. degree in Finance, and I come from a family that places a lot of emphasis on university education.  My parents are not impressed with him based his education and ethnic background, because they feel he will not be able to provide a secure future for me (they still don't know about his credit and criminal record).  It has come to the point where I avoid bringing him around my family, and I feel bad because he brings me around his family all the time. His family raised him differently from mine - they are a lot more open and easy going.  He is now starting to question why I don't bring him around my family, but I always make up silly excuses. I feel selfish saying this, but like most females, deep down I have always wanted to be with someone well-off – someone with a good, reputable career and a big bank account.  He is already talking about us getting married and starting a family one day. My question is, should I be concerned about his background even though I really am happy with him?  Is love blinding me and, if so, should I leave him? I look around at how a typical male is today and I don't know if I can ever find someone else who treats me as well as he does if I leave.
Torn Between Two Worlds

--------------------Miss Emily’s advice---------------

Dear Torn:

Your boyfriend has made tremendous positive changes in his life.  I think you are proud of him, and he should be proud that he had the mettle to better himself.  Bad credit is a no-no, however, and if that continued it should be a deal breaker.  But your questions and concerns are real, and I am not the person who would advise you to throw caution to the wind and be with this guy no matter what the obstacles. Love does not conquer all!  Whoever said that was an idiot.  It might conquer initial trouble spots because of chemical factors or not being a grown-up yet but, eventually, when certain realities hit like a tsunami, many relationships go sour.  I think you are just too damn young to be talking about marriage to anyone (but that’s my opinion).  You’re not finished with college, and career options have not been decided.  That said, so much in your mind is at odds.  You are straddling a fence that is, alternately, pulling you in one direction or the other. Get real on what side has the strongest pull, and weigh it’s legitimacy before you jump in either direction. You will, eventually, either tell your parents that this is the man you love and want to spend the rest of you life with (exhibiting true conviction when you say it), or you’ll decide that this man cannot match the lifestyle you envision for your future, and you will end this relationship when the time and opportunity presents itself.  In the meantime, don’t keep him from your family.  That’s absurd.  This is where you are in your life and shouldn’t hide from it.  It’s horribly unfair to a guy who has been open, loving and honest, and it’s emotionally weak on your part.  You have time to get it right.  Use it wisely.