Home » Ask the Therapist » Parenting » Can’t Tell if Parents Are Too Controlling or if I’m Really in Over My Head

Can’t Tell if Parents Are Too Controlling or if I’m Really in Over My Head

Asked by on with 1 answer:

From the U.S.: I’m 21 and have a long distance boyfriend of 3 months. He came to visit and meet my family and meet me in person for the first time. The relationship between him and my family was already rocky because of a rule that my family made for us. They told me we couldn’t be in a room with the door closed. They didn’t want me to tell him because they thought he would think that was weird, but I had to because I knew it would get in the way of us trying anal sex which I had told him I would like to try with him. That made him mad because he’s 23 and he just got out of the army so he’s tired of rules and feels like I’m an adult and should be able to have more freedom.

He came anyways, though, and we ended up breaking the rule my family put in place. My mom accidentally caught us breaking the rule. She doesn’t know we were trying anal, but just the idea of us sneaking around and breaking the one rule they put in place made my parents upset. They had my boyfriend leave, who acted kindly towards them but told me he thought they were making way too big of a deal out of it and needed to “cut the umbilical cord” and realize that I’m an adult and should be able to make my own decisions.

I had also been planning to go with my boyfriend to his house to meet his family and stay there for a while, but my family wouldn’t let me and told me it would be dangerous and that I don’t really know him or his family. They told me they feel that I’m in over my head and that I’ve changed a lot and been to wrapped up in this relationship. They’re considering taking my phone and were about to transfer me to a different school because they’ve seen me put too much into friendships and put them over school before and fear that at my current school I couldn’t handle friendships plus this boyfriend. The only thing that made them not transfer me was that it would be too complicated to transfer credits. I love my parents and their boundaries do comfort me, but I wonder if my boyfriend is right. Who do I listen to?


Can’t Tell if Parents Are Too Controlling or if I’m Really in Over My Head

Answered by on -


¬†You have only known this young man online for a few months and were meeting him for the first time. I suspect your parents were trying to protect you from moving too fast into a sexual relationship with someone you barely know. I agree. It’s easy for your boyfriend to urge you to “cut the cord,” but he’s not the one risking their support and respect. You are. Although you are 21, you are still living in your parents’ home and they are supporting you. For that reason, both you and your boyfriend needed to respect their rule. The fact that the two of you “sneaked” only proved to them that you are immature and that the boyfriend can’t be trusted.

My advice to you is to slow down. Your parents are right that you know very little about this guy and his family. You don’t need to rush into a sexual relationship with him or a long visit with his parents. You have plenty of time to see how this relationship unfolds and if the interest turns to real love. Doing well in school is your road to eventually being an independent adult. If your guy loves you, he will take the time to really get to know you. He will honor your family and support you in your schooling — not just pursue his own goals.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Can’t Tell if Parents Are Too Controlling or if I’m Really in Over My Head

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Can’t Tell if Parents Are Too Controlling or if I’m Really in Over My Head. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 21 Sep 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.