How do I tell parents about secret boyfriend?


Hi Everyone,

I am very much in need of some advice that fits within Catholic teachings. At the moment I feel so ashamed. :frowning: I am a 22 year old college student and for the past seven months I have been dating a man 10 years older than me. This man has a deep Catholic faith, has his life together, is so smart and respectful, and is everything I could ever ask for in a partner.

I still live at home and have not told my parents about him for fear that they will disapprove of his age and that he is a former professor of mine. I want to tell them but am so afraid that they will look down on me. Since it has gone on for so long I feel like I have gotten myself into a deeper problem than I am capable of solving.

If anyone could help me I would be so grateful.

Thank you.


So I’m guessing its the ‘former professor’ part which is bothering you most, right?

Why don’t you phrase it like you haven’t really started seeing him, and just ask “There’s this guy who is a faithful Catholic, smart and respectful, but he is 10 years older than me, and used to be my professor. Do you think its a good idea to pursue a relationship?”

You wouldn’t be able to change their reaction to the facts anyway, so this just gives you a chance to get their opinion without condemnation.

And if they say “No way, he’s too old, that’s not right etc…” just ask if you can bring him round to meet them.

You don’t want a secret relationship for the rest of your life, but also remember, your parents have been through it all before, so their words might be sensible, if painful :thumbsup: and you should give them thought. They only want the best for you.


You were at least 21 when you got together, an ADULT, regardless of whether he taught you or not. It’s not like he was going for an ‘under-age pupil’…So, what’s the problem? My parents were 27 and 40 when they met and were very happily married. Age isn’t everything! Better a mature man, and a good Catholic at that than someone your own age who still has a ‘lot of growing up to do’…just my 2 cents!

Anna x


10 years… come on… thats nothing…! :thumbsup:
I know of some couples where the lady in the couple was 12 and 8 years older than the man.

Also I heard of a lady of 25 who married a gentleman who was 50 years old… I’d say Go for it!

look, I think that sometimes we fear the reactions of our surroundings and then when we actaully do open up we feel ridiculous because they react in a good and understanding way. I think this is one of those times… and I have been there myself but where the guy was much older… I too thought the whole world would think that was crazy… but most of them actaully urged me to just be true to my heart… if its love, then 10 years is nothing… In your life you will meet many couples that have the same or even more age-difference.

Just tell them… You will feel a lot better afterwards… I cant imagine they would say ":bigyikes: ".
As long as the man loves and respects you and you do the same. 32… is really still a young man and you are both adults.
One more thing… it will be a declaration of love towards this man and take the relationship into a much healthier phase. No man feels good if his beloved is ashamed of him.

So… dont worry. You should celebrate openly that you found love… sounds like a good catch too :slight_smile:


Ps. stop sneaking around… thats not worthy behaviour.
and dont tell you parents in an excusing way. Just tell them that you have found someone… I bet they’ll be happy for you and they will also be happy that its a well educated man with his feet firmly planted on the Rock that is Christ.

:thumbsup: Grace


First, I would find out what the regulations are at your school about Professors dating students. In most institutions, this could result in the loss of his job.

Should there be rules to this effect, the prudent thing would be to wait until after graduation and then discern if this is the man you are called to a marriage vocation with.

A relationship that requires sneaking around to both your parents and the school - well, does not seem to be a good basis to begin a life.



I’m suspicious about a man who would maybe violate his teaching authority and date someone much younger for over half a year and be okay with her sneaking around. Just what do you have there? Is he really all that mature and devout? I see integrity issues there.

Your parents’ bias about age at this point is because YOU are very young. Though technically 21 and 22 are “adult” you are still untested, still forming and still maturing. You are very compliant and malleable in lots of ways. And 22 year old women do things and marry people they wouldn’t even approach when they were 32. (Trust me on that one! :eek: ) You still live at home and have not broken those ties yet. And so you are sneaking around right under their noses and secret boyfriend allowed that? He is dishonoring your parents. Not a good start. While you live under their roof and eat their food and accept their tuition money, you owe your parents in justice some honesty and respect. Yes, their disappointment will be in YOU and how YOU have called your own integrity into question. I’m saying that as a mother. They’ll wonder what else you’re lying about.

Some men like young women still being sheltered in their parents’ home. Some men look for younger, controllable females. And if they can create a wedge somehow between her and her family, that isolates her and puts her into an emotional dependency just on him. Please make sure NONE of that applies or even the whiff of that isn’t involved in your present relationship. Because that is the seed of an abuser. It’s part of a long pattern known well to many women.

The fact your “secret boyfriend” is content to be a secret boyfriend this long is a huge red flag. A man of integrity would want to meet your family, look your father in the eye and reassure him that his intentions toward his daughter are purely honorable. And then he’d work to prove it.

The fact you are still not your own person enough that you can’t tell your family what you are doing and take ownership of this relationship indicates you maybe aren’t as mature as you think you are. In short, this relationship is built on some pretty shaky sand. And if your parents, knowing you much better than secret boyfriend does, have an issue with it, please listen to them.

Start proving you are old enough to date a man who is 1/3 older than yourself. That decade difference does matter more when you are younger (think 22 versus 12) and it diminishes as you get older (think 52 versus 42.) Own up to what you have been doing. Sit and have a discussion with them (without secret boyfriend present to hide behind or inflame the situation.)

Anything that has to be done in secret is usually not of God. That’s your first clue. A man who tolerates (or even THRIVES UPON or ENJOYS) secrecy is a problem waiting to tear your life apart.

Please be warned your judgement may be askew here. You see an older man with his life together. Your parents may see a professor who preys on his nubile young female students. (Were you the first one he dated?) You see a devout Catholic. Your parents may see a man who encouraged deception and drove a wedge of dishonesty between them and their priceless daughter. You see a smart man. They may see a stupid man who is risking his career to date a student. You see someone respectful. They see someone who everytime he met you behind their back was showing them the ultimate in disrespect. You see someone where you couldn’t ask anything more in a partner. They see a situation where you don’t seem to know what to look for at all.

Are you afraid they’ll look down on YOU, or are you afraid they’ll really look down on him when this blows into the open?

Let me tell you from the parent’s point of view… I don’t even like when a guy picks one of my daughters up to go to a movie and they’re in high school and he doesn’t ring the doorbell and look me in the eye and introduce myself. And that’s a clueless teenage boy. Someone who is 32 with a masters or doctorate doesn’t have that excuse. Your parents love you and will forgive you. Trust me on that. They don’t love secret boyfriend and they will have a hard time getting past this.

Sit down with all the contrition and humility in the world and explain that you have a problem and you need them to help you. (They’ll immediately think you’re pregnant.) When they find out that’s not the case, take advantage of their relief and tell them what is really going on. And ask them how you can fix things. And then be prepared to listen. Don’t argue secret boyfriend’s virtues. He is the only one who can convince them he has any virtues. And that will only happen when he talks to dad man to man and looks your mother in the eye and explains why he’s been sneaking around with her daughter. If he can’t do that, he’s not the person you think he is.

I’m not in agreement with the other posts. This problem isn’t about age differences. It’s about respect in a situation where a young woman hasn’t yet made the emotional and financial separation from her parents and as a daughter still living with them, he is not honoring her family. My question is, what else is HE hiding?

If he’s such a worthy Catholic, has he had spiritual counselling? How does that go? “Father, I have this female student… umm, she’s only 21/22. Her parents don’t know about me. We’re sneaking around. She lies and tells them she’s going to the library and we’re really dating. I won’t introduce myself because…”

I mean, what kind of answer to that do you think a good priest would give?



Please look at the big picture here. I see lots of high school drama going on. You call him a “partner.” Are you afraid to use the F word or the H word? What are YOUR real intentions? Do you want him as a spouse? Are you even ready to think in those terms if you can’t introduce him to your family? Partners are for laboratory experiments.

Proceed with caution and don’t do anything without adult supervision.


:ehh: easy now Lib!


Lib, I think you make some good points. I think the secrecy, and inability to own up to her decisions, is the biggest issue. I also agree that if you feel like you need to hide something…there may be a reason (unless her parents have some history of being extremely irrational…but no reason tot hink that right now)

But who knows, maybe he does want to meet her family. But I think you do bring up some things that potentially could be huge concerns.


I understand your worries about him maybe being an older man preying on a younger woman. He has had no prior dating experience so I feel that we are equals in that regard. He very much wants to meet my parents but has told me to tell them whenever and however makes me comfortable.


And he wasn’t my professor at my primary university. And we started dating more than a year after I was last in his class if that helps any.

I think I have had this issue with all of the people I have dated, regardless of their age. My parents have wanted me to focus on school and work rather than have a boyfriend. So now that I have found one that I want a relationship with, I don’t have the right social skills to tell them. I have built this up in my head as a big deal my entire life.

I have met his parents formally too and they are fine with the age difference and how we know each other.

This guy is not sleazy or a user, he will not even lay a hand on me.

My mom does have a history of “flying off the handle” as well so I am afraid of causing family disequilibrium.

He has tried to advise me on ways to tell them. Admittedly, I think that I have also led him to believe that they know more about them than they do. He brings it up on his own that he would very much like to meet them (and soon).


Ah, I see.

One thing - you say he doesn’t have experience dating. This COULD be a red flag at his age.

It could either be something positive (he’s picky, has high standards, didn’t want to date frivolously, never really found anybody he liked enough, he was discerning) or it could be something negative (badly socailized, unable to commit, unable to relate to the opposite sex, unable to relate to people his own age that he sees as ‘equals’, fear of intimacy, etc) - only you can tell which one that is. Or it could be something neutra/outside of himl; he had strict parents, was unjustly unpopular in school or something like that - but just make sure that whatever it is that prevented him from dating isn’t something that is also going to be an underlying issue for other things.

I’m certainly not trying to imply that one must date in order to be socially healthy and developed :wink: I never dated in high school, and I’ve only ever had two boyfriends and I think I’m fine :slight_smile:


I understand your worries about him maybe being an older man preying on a younger woman. He has had no prior dating experience so I feel that we are equals in that regard. He very much wants to meet my parents but has told me to tell them whenever and however makes me comfortable.

Okay, more information. Good. He’s 32 without any prior dating experience? That could be good or bad. So he is your emotional equal? Again, that could be good or bad. He wants to meet your parents but is letting you set the tone on when and how you are comfortable? Ummm… not so good.

That changes the whole focus here to YOU and your readiness for a serious relationship and him dating someone who is not ready for that. If you have not negotiated your comfort zone with your parents yet, and it takes you seven months to even think about telling them you are in a serious relationship, then you have issues you need to take care of at home before you can move to the next level. When people try to skip levels, it always comes back to haunt them. Do it now or do it later when it gets really messy.

There is still a whole issue of integrity here. For whatever reason, your secret boyfriend is letting a dishonest situation go on. What is the real reason you cannot trust your parents to have an honest conversation with them? Do they still treat you like a child and so you behave like one sneaking a cookie from the cookie jar, resenting them all the while because they are paying your bills? Or will they beat you? Or have you not started down the road to emotional and spiritual and psychological independence from your family of origin? Not a false “I hate you I never want to see you again” rebellion, but the kind of independence where you stand on your own feet, own your own actions and live by the codes they raised you with but because you see their value and want to, not because mommy and daddy make you.

That kind of independence is the position from which you can look them in the eye and say “Mom and dad, meet Joe.” Without apologies, without deception, without lengthy explanations about why it took you so long to come clean.

Dating seriously is for adults. Because adults are responsible for the long-term consequences of their own behavior. If your mom and dad are still responsible for you and your consequences, you aren’t independent.

Have you met secret boyfriend’s family? Do they know about you? What do they think? And how do you think your family would feel if you told them you met his family long ago and they were so far out of the loop? Hurt wouldn’t begin to describe my emotions if one of my children pulled that little trick.


Just wanted to add (but lib got there first) that I also agree that he should be more firm in insisting that you stop the secrecy…since it really isn’t good - unless there really is some kind of abusive situation with your family. That’s not a terrible failing on his part - we all make mistakes - but he should have that integrity.

I also really agree that you do need to work out your issues with your parents, regardless of any boyfriends you have. I know it’s hard when you still live with them and are depending on them financially. I’d say move out but I know how expensive college is.


I think I answered some of those questions in the 9:19 post.



Parents are not as clueless as we might think they are. If you live with them and you’ve been going out for 7 months with this man, there’s a great chance that they are already sensing it. So find a good time to seat with them, probable over coffee, and then tell them. If they disapprove, then respect it. If they don’t, then good for you. If your parents are practicing Catholic, they shouldn’t have so much of a problem with the age as long as you and you bf practice Catholic moral values. God Bless.



If my experience will help you any, I will share it. I am married to a man who is 5.5 years older than I am and was formerly my teaching assistant in one of my college courses. We started dating two years after I was in his class. I came to know him through the school’s Catholic Center.

My advice to you is to just come clean with your parents. I think you’re overthinking giving them the news. Let them know that you are aware of the age difference and that you want them to meet your boyfriend so they can get to know him. Tell them you want them to feel comfortable with the relationship and happy for you. I am sure they will be glad to hear that!

I really cannot fault you for waiting seven months to introduce your boyfriend to your parents. My now husband met my mother at four months, but only because they were both coming to my first communion. At the time, it felt too early for me, and it would not have happened that soon had there not been an event they were both attending. That said, the fact that your boyfriend wants to know your parents is a very good sign and as you seem to care much for him, I think introductions are now in order.

If your parents are initially surprised and do not temper their reaction, know that they will calm down. Your job is to relay the information calmly, let them know that you appreciate their input and set up a meeting. If this guy is who you say he is, I am absolutely sure they will come around.

God bless you.


First, in defense of moms who fly off the handle everywhere… We do that because we care. Really. We don’t fly off the handle about what the neighbor’s kid is doing. Carry a baby nine months with morning sickness and stretch marks, nurse it, diaper it, teach it for 22 years, and see if you aren’t so heavily invested in its outcome that you are viewed as “emotional” over every detail of its life.

Now, having said that…

I think I have had this issue with all of the people I have dated, regardless of their age. My parents have wanted me to focus on school and work rather than have a boyfriend. So now that I have found one that I want a relationship with, I don’t have the right social skills to tell them. I have built this up in my head as a big deal my entire life.

Understand how wise your parents are. They have wanted you to concentrate on developing your own personality. Do you realize your brain is still making connections even as we speak? Your prefrontal cortex is not fully developed until you are 23 or 25. You are still a work in progress. You parents want you to spend this critical time developing and concentrating on yourself and your future, and getting an education. You will thank them someday. This is not the time to be cutting off parts of your personality (like the integrity part) in order to please some boy/man, conforming to some immature guy’s standards of who you should be or how he likes a woman to dress and do her hair, or setting your standards to please someone who may be gone this time in five months.

That happens to girls when they date. They lose themselves to please the guy at the precise time in their lives when they should be pursuing their own personal and emotional and mental development and becoming independent. A true independence, like I said above. And this is also a time you should be renegotiating your relationship with God from being a child taken to church by mom and dad to being an adult who accepts and follows God on your own.

That’s a huge task that doesn’t need to get waylaid by all the drama and emotional drain involved in serial dating/breaking up.

Do I take it that you have been sneaking around for years dating behind mom and dad’s backs? Cutting them out of the loop so they have no idea even what your “type of guy” is? Is secret boyfriend aware of your history of deception? Again, this puts all the spotlight on you and your behavior. Of course you have no practice in telling mom and dad about secret boyfriend. Again, you haven’t been developing those social skills. So you are either attracting someone who has none either, or you are attracting someone who preys on the naive. Only you know the difference. Or maybe you don’t.

The way to stop this from being built up in your head into a big deal is to bring it into the open. And let mom hit the walls and explode. Moms do that. Here’s how you handle that kind of mom. You sit quietly and LISTEN to what she’s saying, not how she’s saying it. Then when she settles down, you ask her why she is so upset. Not like this; (WHY ARE YOU ALWAYS FREAKING OUT?! YOU ALWAYS DO THAT!) No, that won’t help or make them think you are very mature.

Say instead: “I hear you are concerned. What are those concerns? Yes, this is all new for all of us. So how can we deal with this? I made some mistakes, but I’m trying to fix them.”

Your parents don’t want you to be a miserable old maid all your life. But they don’t want you to do things at the expense of your own future and then someday end up back on their doorstep with kids in tow, no education, no job and a broken heart. They may think you have played by the rules for 22 years and may be concerned when they find out differently.

And again, I see a trust issue. You don’t trust your parents with the truth about you, your emotional development and your behavior. Part of that is learning to accept that your decisions will always affect those who love you. And you have to take responsibility for that. It prepares you for marriage, where every decision you make will have consequences on your spouse, whether they freak out or not. If you can’t handle it with mom and dad, you are not ready for a serious relationship with anyone else.

No one loves you like your parents. No one wants the best for you like the people who have sacrificed and cared for you all your life.

Accept that as the foundation for every conversation you have with them. You can turn the volume of that conversation down by how YOU talk to THEM. They are not the enemy. And that is the big deal you have built up in your head. You have made them the boogie monsters.

Yes, you growing up will cause disequilibrium. Until everyone adjusts. You know what? You’ve been doing that for 22 years. Your arrival stopped them sleeping through the night. Just when you got that down, you started walking everywhere and they had to put things up high and watch you like a hawk. At every step you progressed, they had to adjust to YOUR development and stay one step ahead of you. At least when you were younger they knew what to expect. You didn’t SNEAK around PRETENDING you couldn’t talk. You didn’t PRETEND you couldn’t open the door by yourself. So their attitude toward you was based on truth.

They are alot better at this than you think. They’ve been giving you more and more independence as you’ve been earning it. (I trust you do drive and have your own bank account and they don’t hire a babysitter when they leave you at the house anymore.)

What I"m saying is they have shown all along they are ready to let go of the reins. If you have gone to college, they’ve even let you out the door to go to school and work! They don’t intend you to live with them forever. But you short-circuited that whole independence process by not being honest.

Time to rewire the relationship and bring them into the loop. They will probably handle it better than you think. And they were 22 once also.

And here’s a hint: WHEN your mom is upset to find out you’ve been lying, don’t shove it back on her. “THIS IS WHY I DIDN’T TELL YOU!” That’s blaming someone else for the pain you caused. Accept your role in her reaction, apologize for it and tell her that you want your relationship with her to be based on honesty and that you can’t lie anymore because you value her opinion and want her guidance.

The funny thing about developing social skills… they are like any other talent. They come with practice. Develop them and practice them on the most important people in your world and using them around strangers will be a snap! :wink:


I am not concerned about your boyfriend, I am concerned about your secret. It would seem to me that, if one is not mature enough to be open about a relationship, then one is not mature enough for the relationship. Grown-ups don’t play those kinds of games.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit