Q. I’m 22 and have been with my wonderful boyfriend for almost four years. We met during our freshmen year of college and have basically been glued at the hip ever since. He’s my best friend and the love of my life. Occasionally, he’ll say things like, “When we’re old . . .” and “When we have a big house . . .” that imply that he thinks about marrying me. I definitely think about marrying him and if he asked me in a year or two I would say yes. (I would marry him now, but we both just graduated and I think our parents would say we are too young.)
I have a one-bedroom apartment that he spends every night at because it doesn’t make sense for him to stay with his parents out in the suburbs. I can tell that his dad, who is traditional and religious, doesn’t really approve of this but doesn’t say much about it because his son is 22 and clearly an adult. My boyfriend is definitely moving into the apartment in September when his full-time job starts. Yet, it’s July and he still hasn’t told his parents that’s his plan.
His dad says he is going to start charging him rent if he is going to be living at home (which really struck me as surprising and strange — do a lot of parents do this?) and his extended family keeps asking him where he plans to live when he starts his job. I am almost always around during these conversations and my boyfriend just shrugs and says he’ll find a place in Boston eventually. It’s really irking me that he can’t just tell everyone that’s he’s moving in to our apartment. I say our apartment because he basically already lives there. I get that he’s nervous about telling his dad, and that his dad would really only be comfortable with this if we were engaged. We’re happy the way we are and don’t want to be engaged but we do want to live together.
I’m tired of the awkward uncomfortable look his dad gives me whenever my boyfriend tells him he’s spending the night. How do I get my boyfriend to just suck it up and tell his parents? Am I being too demanding to ask that he tell them sooner rather than later? Do I need to be patient or am I right to be discouraged by this?
A. My guess is that your boyfriend has a weird passive-aggressive plan. That’s fine, but he needs to tell you what it is.
If his plan is to tell his dad about the move to your apartment as he pulls out of the driveway on Sept. 1, that’s OK, but you should be in the loop. If his plan is to rent a separate, cheap room somewhere so that his parents don’t know where he’s actually living, that’s not so fine — but he should tell you that, too. You need to know what’s going on. If he talks to you about this stuff, you might be able to help him craft a better Plan C.
Your boyfriend has been navigating a difficult situation with his dad for his entire life. That’s not going to change. I’m sure that even if you get married and have kids, your boyfriend’s dad will be surprised and maybe even offended by some of your choices. I’m all for bravery, but sometimes it doesn’t make much sense to stand up and give the whole, “I don’t want your life” speech to a parent. Sometimes it’s better to make very quiet choices without much discussion.
That’s why I’m advising you not to tell your boyfriend how to deal with his parents. Because you don’t know what’s best for him. Just tell him how to deal with you. You’re the person who should always be in the know. You’re the person who should understand everything. As long as you’re in on the plan, you shouldn’t be discouraged.
Ask him to tell you what’s going on.
He knows his parents better than you do. Sometimes parents know what’s going on, but don’t want it spelled out for them. Blissful ignorance. As long as he is honest with you, let him deal with his parents.
You need to respect your boyfriend’s relationship with his parents — and choices regarding that relationship. He will tell them when he’s ready. They seem to have a strong belief system, and your boyfriend seems to respect that. Let him manage that relationship. Oh and be very kind and respectful of them. Remember, you may not like their religious mores, but they raised this wonderful man that you love so much and want to be with the rest of your life.
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