So, we finally did it: we went on holiday to Turkey with my boyfriend's family! Since this trip taught me so much about his family and myself, I wanted to share some details with you.
Before this trip, we hadn't seen each other in more than two weeks, so it was lovely to be back with my boyfriend.
We spent almost two entire days in a car that was crammed full of stuff - mainly things his dad wanted to take to Turkey (4 electric kettles, a radio, so much more unnecessary stuff). I had the most space (since everyone made sure I stayed happy) and had brought my own food (to mitigate the issues in the past with that topic) to feed me for 2-3 days. We took many breaks, which was good because his dad was the only one who drove - I drove for 2-3 hours but his dad got too nervous and wanted to get behind the wheel again (despite everyone saying I did an excellent job and drove better than him (I focus on the road and the road only, he was fairly tired at that point already)).
We were incredibly lucky with traffic, the biggest traffic jam was in Istanbul actually. We had a minor incident in Serbia with the police (he wanted to charge us with 80€ because my boyfriend's sister hadn't had her seatbelt on while passing through the border (because she was always sleeping and insisted that it made her uncomfortable)) but that was quickly settled.
His parents were very nice to me, always offered to buy me snacks, I was happy with just being on the road, getting away from Germany and all the stress with my parents.
His mother kept saying that I wouldn't be able to kiss him as often as I was now, which made more sense once we arrived, given how conservative his dad's side is.
Meeting his dad's side
Once we arrived, at last, we were greeted warmly by my boyfriend's dad's family, who had prepared lovely food. Everyone watched me closely, and despite feeling gross and ugly (I hadn't showered in more than 2 days after all), I passed the test; I didn't cross my legs, I ate all the food and actually enjoyed it a lot, I stayed more than 4 feet away from my boyfriend at all times.
Nobody knew who I was, nobody asked who I was, which was rather strange, so I just sat there, smiling and full. My boyfriend's mom had told the family that I was just a friend of the family, which made me really upset when I found out about it because it seemed ridiculous given how I had treated my boyfriend (clearly not the way you'd treat a stranger), I didn't want to come off as a wh*re or an insane person (I genuinely had the fear that they'd think that of me, I think it was just in my head though), so my boyfriend told his dad's family the next day that I'm his girlfriend and that was that, people were a bit nicer to me because they finally knew who was in their house lol.
After more than an hour of sitting with the family on that first day, we were able to go to his dad's part of the house for us to be able to *finally* sleep. Interestingly, me and my boyfriend were given an entire room for ourselves and his mom was shocked to find us in the same bed the next morning (no lock on the door), given that there were 2 single beds in the room (a single bed is 35 by 78 inches here), but sleeping apart seemed unbearable and I slept very well.
Meeting his mom's side
After some more family meals and waiting, we continued our journey to my boyfriend's mom's apartment, where I met her family, who again greeted us with lovely food. Her family almost solely consists of women, which was fairly nice because it offered a different dynamic. We spent the first nights at her apartment, enjoyed time at the beach and played video games, just unwinding and taking everything in (my boyfriend hadn't been to Turkey in a while).
After some time, we were able to go to another apartment within walking distance of his mom's, which was very enjoyable because we finally had time for ourselves and the walls no longer had ears, but it was INSANELY hot there and we didn't have access to water the first two nights and then we didn't have access to hot water or a fridge, which made showering unpleasant and would mean that I woke 3x a night, drenched in sweat, unable to cool myself off.
We'd get up in the morning, walk over to his mom's, have breakfast there and then we'd have a lot of time for ourselves, which was great.
We also celebrated the fact that we've known each other for a year now there - his mom's family let me drive with one of their cars, so we went to a nice restaurant, had a great time at the beach, watching the sunset.
Going back home
This was quite the journey because we had to go back to Istanbul, get tested there, pick up the results ourselves and then catch a plane for me to make it back in time for exams.
On the way from my boyfriend's mom's apartment to the house where his dad's family lives, we were accompanied by one of my boyfriend's brothers who happened to be in Turkey too, and I kid you not, he's a lot worse than the other one I had previously met. Him and his wife speak German, his 3yo kid doesn't (despite being born and raised in Germany (???)), yet they also didn't ask who I was, what my name was, why I was here. I laid low because my boyfriend's siblings (those on his dad's side) love to gossip and are jealous as hell (the fact that his family took me to Turkey but never took any of their girlfriends caused a 2h fight that delayed our departure from Germany lol). Still, they were weird during the car ride.
For example, my boyfriend's brother thinks that his dad will buy him a house to live in. He had a horrible sunburn from laying in the sun all day without sun screen - it was so bad that they had gone to the hospital to get it treated and he couldn't wear a t-shirt. This guy is ~35 but has the same interests as my boyfriend, watches the same videos on YouTube and talks like a 14yo. His wife is boring and didn't talk to me at all. I was nice, polite and quiet.
When we arrived at the house, we were assigned to the room we had previously stayed in, which surprised everyone because that meant that my boyfriend's brother, his wife and his child would have to sleep on the couch. They were very disappointed by this and the next day, they started to spread ridiculous rumours about me.
Apparently, I had placed a spoon in the dish washer (like I'd ever use electrical machines at a strange place that isn't mine without asking anyone first). My boyfriend's brother has a very loud voice, so he'd constantly complain about how I was acting as if his wife is a cleaning lady, despite them never cleaning (I vacuumed every other day and mopped whenever necessary because I felt better that way and I love cleaning), dropping their kid off at their relatives and then having a nice day in the city.
Also, I allegedly didn't respond to my boyfriend's brother's wife hollering at me to bring her shampoo while she was showering. HOW would she have hollered at me without knowing my name? I was incredibly dumbstruck about that. Stupid allegations.
While most of the trip was great and I got to know his parents much better, there were issues that seemed insurmountable.
- One of the most annoying circumstances was that his sister was extremely jealous of how much time my boyfriend would spend with me, how well he would look after me etc. She'd try to ridicule me, making up stories (e.g. she told his dad's family that I had kissed him in public on the street (in a conservative part of the city), which was completely untrue) and telling everyone that I insult her whenever I speak German (complete bs but I get it, German sounds mean). This didn't get better with time, she even started crying out of nowhere once because she didn't get enough attention in her eyes and made me out to be the scapegoat, like I was keeping my boyfriend from doing stuff with her. We also always invited her, but she never wanted to do something with us.
- I also had a huge argument with my boyfriend's mom over food. My boyfriend won't eat some Turkish food and is quite vocal about it. While I'm vegetarian, I always ate whatever was handed to me and always said thank you, smiled, made an effort to engage in the conversation etc. I never complained about the food, I actually enjoyed it, my boyfriend didn't.
Yet for some strange reason, his mom told me that because we ate takeout/snacks a lot (pizza, ramen and Sucuk omelette), we were never hungry when she'd cook, which was simply untrue. She also said that I have a different palate because I'm a foreigner and that my boyfriend had her palate because he grew up with her, at which point I completely lost it. I started telling her how I had been nothing but grateful for everything and that I was excellent at feeding myself, yet she and her daughter had told her family that I was never eating, assuming that I must not like her food. I then told her that while I can't continue to explain this to her (my boyfriend addressed it at least 5x in the past, I can't believe it's still an issue), I have an eating disorder and that eating around others is incredibly stressful for me but that I never go to bed hungry. Unfortunately, whenever I get angry, my dialect gets stronger, so my boyfriend told me afterwards that despite all of my efforts, all of my energy, my yelling, his parents hadn't understood a word of what I had said, because he's the only one in his family used to me not speaking proper German.
- While we were with my boyfriend's brother and his family, it was the time of Eid ul-Adha, where families who can afford it buy a lamb, butcher and eat it and distribute leftovers to the poor. Again, I'm a vegetarian and I have a very hard time when I see blood, it makes me dizzy. That sheep's meat was being cut up just a few feet away from our room, I didn't say anything. Since I always feel sick when I eat lamb, I politely declined eating some of it, thinking in my mind that this was polite as it wouldn't distract anyone during Eid ul-Adha from thinking about the poor, paying their respects to the elderly etc.
- Unfortunately, that backfired. My boyfriend's dad sent me some lamb to our room, delivered by my boyfriend's aunt. I was very grateful, had some of it, but the portion was huge so I simply couldn't finish it and threw the rest away (I NEVER waste food so that was sad for me). That evening, my boyfriend's brother and his wife very loudly complained about me not eating anything, IN GERMAN. It was so hurtful that I cried for an hour. They also told the family that I was ungrateful and wasn't a good fit for my boyfriend because I don't cook and don't clean (don't even get me started on that one, I cooked at least every other day and cleaned more than I should've probably).
I truly think that after this trip, his family needs some time to digest everything that I said.
It was exhausting to feel left out because I don't speak the language. I have since started to study Turkish much more rigorously so that I'll be able to say more than "sorry, I don't speak Turkish" the next time we go.
I don't think that that will be anytime soon and I know deep down that this was the last time we ever went together, as a family. Still, I learned a lot about his parents on that trip and we had a great time.
My family had told me that I'd be forced to marry my boyfriend as soon as I go to Turkey. This wasn't just untrue, it turned out to be the other way around; my boyfriend's family had told people I was just a friend, nobody even thought about talking about getting married lol. People didn't treat me differently because I'm not muslim, which is largely because they have respect for my boyfriend and because I tried my very best not to offend anyone.
I'm also a very cleanly person, and I've heard from some mudlim middle eastern people before that they consider western people to be dirty, but my boyfriend's mom's side actually said that I give off very clean and healthy vibes, which was a great compliment.