While commuting on the New York subway recently, I overheard a young woman asking her friend, “Do you know how to tell your parents you have a boyfriend?” The question compelled me to contemplate parent-children relationships and how romantic love fares within familial conversations. Soon, I reached my stop, went home, and decided to write a piece to help young people in love better communicate their relationship statuses to their parents.
Your interaction with your family about your love life depends upon many factors, such as their parenting style, the status quo within the family, the socio-cultural context, class/race/caste and other disparities within your romantic relationship, etc. For instance, if you are in college, your parents might be more comfortable knowing about your boyfriend than if you are a pre-teen. Thus, there is no one-size-fits-all solution when you’re informing your parents that you are seeing someone.
Is It Important To Tell Your Parents You Have A Boyfriend?
You should tell your parents that you have a boyfriend in the following situations:
- You are underage
- There are trust issues and you don’t completely trust him yet
- You want to make your life easier by being able to go out and meet him without hiding and lying to your folks
- You think they will find out through other sources
- You are in a committed relationship with him
It’s not ‘important’ or ‘necessary’ to tell them about your partner, especially if you’re an adult or independent or both. If you don’t wish to share this news with your parents, I’m sure there are valid reasons.
The response to this dilemma of whether you should tell your folks or not also lies in the equation you share with them. According to the ‘attachment theory,’ the security of the early parent-child bond reflects in a person’s interpersonal relationships throughout life. Therefore, how you communicate with your parents as an adult is rooted in the dynamics you shared with them as a child and an adolescent. Attentive and expressive parents tend to bring up children who feel comfortable expressing themselves, their thoughts, and their opinions.
Likewise, children brought up under the ‘uninvolved parenting style’ may struggle to cope with adult problems. Thus, such complexities may affect your decision to tell your parents about your relationship status or not. You would be cautious while you spill the beans about the person you are seeing, even as an adult. Kindness, understanding, and patience are key to breaking the intergenerational curses that plague families and prevent meaningful communication.
Related Reading: 8 Relationship Problems You Can Face If You Had Toxic Parents
How Long Should You Wait To Tell Your Parents You Have a Boyfriend?
As stated above, the timing of informing your parents that you have a boyfriend depends on a lot of things. Let’s go over a few scenarios.
- As a teenager or an adolescent, sharing your intimate life with your parents may seem awkward and inorganic. Studies show that half of the teens feel uncomfortable talking to their parents about sex; however, only 19% of parents feel the same
- If you are in a serious relationship, it might be best to bring up the topic as the sooner you own up to the relationship, the better it is
- It can also become important to tell your parents about your boyfriend when you trust their nuanced guidance to analyze the equation with your partner better. After all, in romance, even the red flags appear green. So, tell them as soon as you feel you’re falling in love but are not sure about him yet. If you’re friendly with your parents, they might know you enough to give you valuable insight
- In case you have fallen victim to abusive relationships in the past, subtly communicating about your new boyfriend to your parents can provide a sense of security and support. Keep them in the loop from the beginning so they can track any red flags in your routine/behavior and warn or comfort you beforehand
- Lastly, if you are financially and legally dependent on your parents but are worried that knowing about your boyfriend might trigger violent responses, it is best to conceal the relationship until you can find a viable support group
Therefore, the answer to the question “how long should you wait to tell your parents you have a boyfriend” is highly subjective, and premised on the aforesaid dynamics.
Top 15 Sensible Ways To Tell Your Parents That You Are Seeing Someone
In his magnum opus, Dragon Slaying For Parents, Tom Prinz opines that most adults are not adequately prepared for parenthood. They bring excess baggage into their roles as parents, such as low self-esteem, unresolved resentment, codependency, and more. Therefore, the first step toward how to tell your parents you have a boyfriend starts with demystification. The key is to see your parents as flawed human beings with unsettled trauma and many layers. Such comprehension can start a healthy relationship with them and enable you to introduce your boyfriend to your parents more easily. Now that we have covered the basics, let us finally dovetail into the crux of the topic.
1. Pen down a heartfelt letter
In today’s digital age, where almost all communication happens via phones and laptops, the quaint charms of a heartfelt letter can go a long way. Thus, a tried-and-tested way to tell your parents about your relationship is by writing them a letter. Communicating about your relationship via a written medium means you have ample time to process the things you want to say and present your boyfriend in the best light. While penning down the letter, try to anticipate your parents’ responses so that you can answer their concerns while simultaneously informing them about the relationship.
2. Send them a photo of you and your partner on WhatsApp
If you are a college student who has moved out of your parent’s home to study, and you’re wondering how to tell your parents you have a boyfriend, then taking the help of social media might do the trick. Provided that you have an amicable relationship with your parents, you can send a group picture of you, your partner, and your friends. And then a single photo of you and your boyfriend. Such a strategic move will surely stir some feathers in your parents’ minds.
Make sure that the photographs are quirky and candid. Sending pictures can be an excellent conversation starter to break the news about your new beau. In addition, pictures are a light-hearted way of telling other people what is going on in your life. The old saying ”a picture is worth a thousand words” holds veritable significance when intimating to your parents that you are seeing someone.
3. Tag and mention your parents on social media
In today’s day and age, social media is where most people announce their relationships to the world. So, do not shy away from co-opting the prowess of social media, and let your parents know that you have found the love of your life. You can tag your parents on an adorable photograph of you and your boyfriend on Instagram.
Likewise, you can also ‘soft launch’ your boyfriend by sharing small, out-of-context snippets on your Instagram or Facebook stories and tagging your parents in them. This prevents awkward or tense one-on-one conversations from coming up suddenly. Be careful, though. Social media might not be a great tool to tell your strict parents you have a boyfriend, especially if they feel hurt that they got to know an important update of your life through an Insta post.
4. Drop occasional hints that you’re seeing someone
Rather than dropping the truth bomb, you can try taking the ‘breadcrumbs’ approach. Prepare your parents for the big revelation by mentioning your boyfriend’s name in conversations.
- You can tell your parents about a ‘friend’ whom you enjoy spending time with
- When telling them about your outings with friends, casually mention that your new ‘special friend’ is also joining the group
- Likewise, you can discuss this ‘new special friend’ more with your siblings who are sure to mention him to your parents (only tell your siblings if they can convey the message in a clever and kind manner)
- Tell your parents about a problem you faced recently and how your ‘friend’ helped you out of it
- Such ‘breadcrumbs‘ will pique the curiosity in your parent’s minds; they will be desperate to know the truth
The key is to condition your parents about an ensuing disclosure. By gradually acquainting them with your partner via casual mentions, your parents will not be surprised or taken aback when you finally tell them about your relationship.
Dropping occasional hints is a great way to tell your strict parents that you have a boyfriend. Why? Because their initial reactions to your ‘special friend’ will provide an estimate of how they might respond when you lay the facts bare, and introduce your boyfriend to them. Thus, through the ‘breadcrumbs’ approach, you can anticipate your parents’ reaction to your newfound love and tread cautiously.
Related Reading: How To Deal With Clash Of The Parents In The First Meet
5. Be abrupt and straightforward
At times, being abrupt, swift, and straightforward can be the ideal way to tell your parents you have a boyfriend. Contrary to the ‘breadcrumbs’ approach, sometimes, being upfront is the best way to deal with any situation. One of my school friends utilized this method to tell her mother about her new boyfriend when she was in her late teens. She simply went up to her while the latter was preparing dinner, and said, “Mom, XXXX and I are in a relationship.” Of course, my friend shared a cordial and healthy relationship with her parents and, thus, could communicate better and in an open way.
If you feel too anxious, intimidated, or simply too shy to communicate about your boyfriend to your parents, then take a few deep breaths, head to the living room, break the news, and be done with it. Announce your relationship with confidence and surety, and remember to sprinkle kindness. For example, you could say, “Mom and Dad, I am in love with a person, and he is absolutely incredible. I know the news might be a surprise for you, but I would love for you to meet him once you’re ready.” The method may seem too idealistic. But as we all know, when elaborate ploys fail, simplicity and honesty come to the rescue. The ideal scenarios wherein you can be straightforward with your parents are:
- You are an adult
- You are financially independent
- You have a strong support system beyond your parents
- You share a healthy and friendly bond with your parents
- You are confident about your relationship and see signs of true love
- You’ve decided to move in with your partner
6. Introduce your partner as a ‘friend’ to your family
A sneaky way to tell your strict parents that you have a boyfriend is by first introducing your beau as a casual ‘friend.’
- After introducing him as a ‘friend’ to your parents, his identity has been established as a dependable and trustworthy individual
- Thereafter, go on to mention his name in major conversations and iterate his best qualities
- Be careful not to get carried away. When in love, talking about your beau may seem like the best thing in the world, but do not chant his name in every other sentence
- After your parents are comfortable with your new friend, keep plotting scenarios where both parties can interact and meet, as it would enable your boyfriend to impress your family
In due course of time, there is a possibility that your strict parents will take a liking to the guy and would feel okay knowing that both of you are dating.
7. Invite your boyfriend to dinner
If you are wondering how to break the news of your relationship to your folks, then a good old family dinner might be it. Provided that you are in college or financially independent, a simple family dinner to which your beau is invited can help begin the conversation. First, ask your parents if your boyfriend can come over for dinner. Make sure that they are fine with him joining you all. If your parents don’t seem to welcome the idea, then it is best to cancel the plan as nobody wants to spend an awkward evening.
However, if your parents have given the green light, tell your boyfriend beforehand to prepare for a slew of questions. A family dinner is a civil and simple way to introduce your boyfriend to your family and vice-versa. Both parties have ample time to know one another and forge a trustful relationship during the one-on-one conversations. And the best part is that you will be by their side to mediate the topic and keep uncomfortable silences at bay.
8. Highlight your boyfriend’s best qualities
Your parents might think that the guy will hurt you, that you might end up in a toxic relationship, or that you are too young to start seeing someone. Clear those doubts by letting your parents know what makes your beau the quintessential ‘boyfriend material.’ Tell them how you feel when your beau is around, his constant efforts in the relationship, and how he makes you feel secure and loved.
Such proclamations of affection, when said with conviction, can melt even the most rigid of hearts. So, the key to communicate about your relationship is by highlighting your beau’s best qualities. This, unfortunately, might include money too. Though it doesn’t matter to you, it might help if you tell your parents how much he earns or about his degrees and ambitions.
9. Create a video or photo compilation
A sensible way to tell your parents about your beau is by being creative and ingenious. For example, you can make a cute compilation of the photographs and memories you share with your beau and send it to them via email or Whatsapp. Moreover, you can simply show them the compilation in person. Such creative acts are a great way to give your parents a clearer idea about your relationship and show how happy you two are when together.
Related Reading: 18 Surefire Signs Someone Loves You With All Their Heart
10. Be ready to negotiate when you tell them you are in a relationship
Let’s talk about how to tell your parents you have a boyfriend when they are conservative. If your parents are not comfortable with you having a boyfriend right now, then be ready to compromise in the following ways:
- Do not stress the fact that you love your boyfriend, and he is an excellent guy, or both of you are a match made in heaven. Such mouthful claims can only make matters worse and frustrate your parents
- Instead, let them know you understand their reservations
- Try negotiating with your parents that you cannot break up with your boyfriend but are willing to tone it down until things reach a more stable dating phase
- You can tell them that you will meet him only at school, or you will only go out on group dates
- Remember to be patient and understand the generation gap. Moreover, some of the concerns they express might be valid, so do not dismiss everything outright
Negotiation and compromise are key when you are not allowed to date but still want to acquaint your parents with the relationship.
11. Engage in an indirect discussion
If you feel your parents might react aggressively to the news that you are seeing or dating someone, try engaging in indirect discussions. For example,
- You can cook up a fake story wherein your distant friend who is in a relationship tells their parents about their new boyfriend
- Through their responses, see what they have to say about dating in general and if they are comfortable with the idea of people from your circle having partners
- Use the insights to devise a way to inform your family about your own dating life gradually
12. Invite your parents to your boyfriend’s performance
If your boyfriend is an athlete, a singer, or an artist of any sort, then it is a good idea to let your parents see him perform. You can ask your parents to accompany you. After your beau is done performing, you can inquire your parents what they think of him. Then, garnish the conversation by telling them what a great guy he is. Performers have a unique charisma, and there is a huge possibility that your parents would take a liking to your boyfriend if they were introduced to him via a performance or competition, be it a match, a singing gig, a science/math quiz, etc.
13. Determine whom to inform first
The tip is especially relevant if you are in your teens or in high school. You might be closer and friendlier to one of your parents. Likewise, one of your parents might be more lenient, communicative, and open to new changes. Thus, use your discretion, and determine whom to inform first about your boyfriend. Often, breaking the news to one parent is easier and can clear the path for talking to the other parent.
The approach is especially helpful if you are in school or are a teenager who has just gotten their first partner. For example, if you feel that your mother would be more accepting of your beau, then go ahead and tell her first. On the other hand, if both of your parents are likely to take it equally well or bad, then just rip off the bandaid, and tell them together.
14. Invite your parents to your home where you live with your partner
If you live independently and away from your parents in a different city, one way to tell them about your boyfriend is by simply inviting them to your home. Light some scented candles, play soothing music, and cook a scrumptious meal to create a Zen-like ambiance in your apartment. Then, open up about your relationship, tell them you have been in a live-in relationship, and that you make a compatible pair.
It’s probably a good idea to not have your boyfriend around for this evening and help him avoid your parents’ initial reactions. The aim is to show them the life you’re leading and the home you’ve made with your special someone. Invite them again when they have absorbed and accepted the news and want to meet your partner.
15. Put your foot down despite their disagreement
Last but not least, the key is to talk and act like an adult if you want to be treated as such. Tell your parents that you are capable enough to manage the ups and downs of a romantic relationship. Explain why you chose the guy as your partner and why you think the relationship is worth it. Reddit User PhilipTA explains that despite being an ‘adult,’ your parents might view you as a dependent for several reasons. But it is important to explain to them that “you are becoming an adult, you have a boyfriend, and they cannot dictate the terms of the relationship.”
- Open communication is key and the first step of healthy parent-child interaction about relationships
- Reflexivity and self-awareness are crucial; you should have a grasp on how your parents might react if they learn about the relationship
- Taking things slow, and gradually acquainting your parents about your newfound beau is a good trick
- Understand that parents are flawed beings. Their response is a result of intergenerational patterns
- The concerns your parents express about your boyfriend could be very legitimate. Consider your mom’s and dad’s perspectives on the situation with an open mind and listen to their thoughts earnestly. They do have more experience than you, whether they talk about it or not
- While being in love is a beautiful feeling, it is pivotal to remain aware of your partner’s red flags and heed them in a timely fashion
So, there we have it, a comprehensive set of guidelines on how to tell your parents you have a boyfriend. The path you follow while informing your parents about your relationship is highly personal and subjective. But the tips and tricks mentioned above can make things easier, and help calm down your nerves.
It is okay to hide a relationship from parents if the expected reaction is violence or aggression. However, if you feel that your parents will only be initially upset or concerned after getting the news of your dating life, it is best to bring up the topic slowly.
There is no specific timeframe, as sometimes even a year after the relationship may feel too soon, and other times, two months might make you feel like it is time to break the news to your parents. The key is to understand the dynamics of your relationship and ensure that your boyfriend is in it for the long term.