Three years ago I met a co-worker’s son and began dating him. The co-worker adored me at that time, but soon rumors flew (as they often do in all female workplaces) and she and her husband threatened to disown him if he ever dated me again. Stating that his parents had never steered him in the wrong direction before, he broke off our relationship and left me devastated.
A year after the breakup he began to see the truth and we rekindled our relationship, but in secret (according to his wishes). He remains convinced that they will disown him if they find out about us. He has stated all along that he wants to get a good job, move out of their home, and be able to stand on his own feet before he tells them. The problem is that it has been a year and eight months since that statement. I’ve had to push him to find a better job, he is in no rush to move into an apartment of his own, and he still will not tell them about us.
Living in secret affects every aspect of my life. We cannot go on dates locally, my friends and family judge me (even though none of them are in healthy relationships), and I still work with his mother (who adores me again, and offered her version of an apology for treating me horribly at work). I am also getting very angry with him for putting me through all of this and my patience is running out.
Can you offer any strategies for getting him into therapy (he says something changed in him the night they said they would disown him), or advise if therapy would assist me? It will not be easy for me to break up with him or vice versa. I’m at my wits end. Thank you.
A: I’m sorry to have to tell you this but I think this relationship is going nowhere. You two are almost thirty and your boyfriend is so dependent on his parents or afraid to move into adult life that he can only have a relationship in secret. Face it. If he wanted to get into therapy, he would have done so already. If he was ready, able, or willing to behave like a grown up, he would have moved out, found a job, and changed his relationship with his parents without any pushing from you.
You deserve better than this. Finding a therapist for yourself is not a bad idea. It might be helpful to you to figure out why you have been so stuck so you don’t repeat this kind of mistake.
I wish you well.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 16 Aug 2007
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2007). His parents say they will disown him. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 10, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/08/16/his-parents-say-they-will-disown-him/