Forced to Choose between Parents and Boyfriend

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

So I have been with my Boyfriend for 3 yrs., I am 20 yrs. old still living with my parents and he is 21. About 4 months ago he left me and within one week started dating another girl, that didn’t last and he asked me for a second chance and I said yes. We are now back together but my parents didn’t know until recently my sister blurted it out to them. They hate him for causing me so much pain but they also don’t think he is the right guy for me, they believe I will have no good future with him even though he works 42 hrs. a week and makes good income. Basically my concern is that, now that they found out were back together they want me out of the house unless I break off the relationship and threaten me that I could forget I have parents if I stay with him. My boyfriend says their just trying to scare me but I sometimes doubt it. I love my boyfriend but I also love my family and don’t want to lose them. What should I do??

A: Your parents are doing more damage to you than your boyfriend by threatening abandonment. How curious the very thing they say they don’t like that your boyfriend did — hurt you by pulling away — is what they are threatening to do permanently. Your boyfriend at least had the guts to recognize his mistakes. Your parents have created a lose-lose situation for you. If you break it off with your boyfriend because of them you will resent them for usurping your own decision-making power. If you stay with him you lose them. Parents who use this type of power play typically paint themselves into a corner because in either case they have a daughter that isn’t very happy around them.

I would sit down with your parents and outline what you need from them. Let them know this is your life and you want to make your own choices and mistakes. Explain that they have created a situation where everybody loses, and you would like a chance to see this through. Maybe your boyfriend isn’t right for you, but it will have to be your decision, not theirs that has to come to this point.

The goal of the discussion is to move from conflict to cooperation. Ask them for some time to assess the relationship. Ask for three months or whatever you feel is reasonable, to let you engage in this relationship, with the understanding that the three of you will sit down in three months to talk again. Move this conflict into dialogue and experimentation. I would love to hear from you down the road to see how this worked out.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 24 Jun 2012

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2012). Forced to Choose between Parents and Boyfriend. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/06/24/forced-to-choose-between-parents-and-boyfriend/