Before we started going out, my boyfriend told me his mother asked, “In the event that you two get married, will she convert?” And if the answer was no, “there was no point” in beginning a relationship with me. He was 17 at the time and hadn’t even started dating yet.
Anyway, he asked me out and we’ve discussed this issue to some degree, and we are both happy with me staying Catholic. I am not asking him to give up his religion, so he won’t ask me to give up mine.
His parents are very strict. He still has to ask permission to go out, he has a very early curfew most of the time, and he often has to say “we can’t” go out. I end up spending most nights at his house until about 8:30 PM when his parents start making noises that it’s getting too late for me to be there.
Lately, we’ve been talking about engagement and marriage. I said I wanted to live with him before we got married. I want to know how he’s going to function away from parental supervision and in the adult world, but his mother has said that none of her children will be leaving the home before marriage. She said that if he and I were to be married tomorrow, she’d come and be the witness and we could live together then.
To this, my boyfriend just shrugs and says, “So, we’ll just get married and move in,” but my fear is that he hasn’t had time to be an adult and I don’t want him to become dependent on me in the same way he is currently dependent on his mother.
How do I get him to start being an adult when his family is trying so hard to keep him a child? How do I get HIM to confront his parents about giving him more responsibility and flexibility and freedom? — Still Dating a Kid
You don’t make someone become an adult. That’s just not possible. And the fact that you seem to think there us — that there’s, like, some magic action you can take or some perfect words you can say to make your 19-year-old boyfriend grow up faster only indicates that he isn’t the only one in your relationship who hasn’t had time to be an adult yet and shouldn’t be rushing into things like marriage or moving in together.
You know, sometimes we can really love someone for a certain period in our lives but we aren’t necessarily meant for each other. Or, we can love someone but take years before we’re ready to fully commit. I’d say you’re in either of those camps when it comes to your boyfriend. Maybe you two are at a point where you’re maturing at different speeds and growing in different directions. Maybe you’re ready to experience more of an adult reality while he is perfectly content nestled in the safety of Mom and Dad’s home. Or maybe he’s perfect for you but not as anything more than a boyfriend right now — a boyfriend who lives with his parents and abides by their rules because that’s what he’s comfortable with at the tender age of 19. If he’s not ready to spread his wings just yet, you have to accept that. And if you can’t, then it’s time to MOA.
And you know what might happen in you move on? You may find that being a young, single adult is pretty fun, especially when you no longer have to deal with uptight boyfriend’s parents who give unreasonable curfews and want you to convert to their religion. Honestly, at your age and with all the life you still have ahead of you, you’d probably be better off if you kiss this ship and all its baggage good-bye. You talk about your fear of marrying your boyfriend without him first experiencing being an adult on his own, but couldn’t the same be said for you? You were 19 when you started dating. Don’t you kind of want to see what it’s like being a single adult before you commit to one person forever?
If I were you, I’d slow the brakes on this relationship and date around a little bit while your boyfriend figures out what his plan is. If you know you have no interest in marrying a “man” (boy, really) who has never lived outside his parents’ home, and your boyfriend decided he’s never moving out until he gets hitched, then it’ll be time to move on. It’s pretty cut and dry, really. The hard part is simply accepting what you already know.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.