Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“It’s Been Three Years and My Boyfriend Hasn’t Told His Muslim Family About Me Yet”

religious_symbols

I’ve been with my boyfriend for three years, and our relationship is so easy and fun. He’s my best friend. Most importantly, we agree on all the big things and plan on getting married, but I’m not in a rush. We’re in our late twenties and are looking to move in together at the end of the year.

The issue is that his parents don’t know about me. My boyfriend wants to tell his parents, but he’s scared they won’t accept me and us as a couple. His family is Muslim and traditional, and they don’t know he doesn’t follow Islam strictly anymore. Telling them he’s seriously dating a white, non-Muslim woman isn’t exactly an easy topic for him to bring up. He wants to tell them, and knows it’s time, but I don’t know how to best support him in that and what he should say to his parents. He’s grown a lot in having his own beliefs and values, but it’s almost like he has a separate life when it comes to his family. I’m not ready to meet them and they live far away. I suggested easing into it, but I think he would rather spill it and rip the band-aid off. He’s scared they may never speak to him again, but the problem isn’t going to go away. Most of his boundaries with them involve appeasing them. How much should he say? What would you advise in this situation? — Not Muslim

You’re asking two questions here: what you should do in this situation and what your boyfriend should do. I’ll start with you, since you’re the LW. You should not move in with your boyfriend — not now, not at the end of the year, not next year or the year after — until or unless he has told his parents about you and he has reached some sort of resolution on the topic. That doesn’t mean they’re going to accept you or that he’s going to be happy or satisfied with their response. But it does mean that he won’t be hiding you, keeping you a secret, and worrying about when and how he’s going to break the news to them and how they’re going to react when they find out. These are huge burdens weighing on him and your relationship, and you don’t want to — and, really can’t — move forward with this weight holding you back. So my advice to you is to hold off on moving in with him and to encourage him to be open with his parents about his lifestyle and about you.

I would advise your boyfriend to first tell his parents that he does not strictly follow Islam anymore. Leading with you instead will unfairly point the blame for his rejection of Islam — which is probably how they’ll see it, as well as a rejection of them — on your relationship with him, rather than a decision he gradually came to before he met you. He should explain to them when he started feeling a disconnect from his religion, and what — if any — aspects of the religion or culture he still holds onto. Once he lets that news sink in, he should tell them that he’s in love with a woman who is his best friend and whom he hopes to marry eventually. He should share what he loves about you and how happy you make him. And then he should tell them that you are not Muslim.

This will be hard for him. You can support him by reminding him how much you love him, and how you want to spend you life with him, and how proud of him you are for being honest with his family despite his fears of losing them and being rejected by them. And they may reject him. They may be completely shocked by his admission. Or, they have have seen this coming and have been emotionally preparing for such news. You can’t know for sure. They may never accept you… or they may surprise you both and accept you right away. Or, it may take a long time but they might ultimately come around to accepting you in their lives. You and your boyfriend need to emotionally prepare for any of these scenarios and discuss how you’ll move forward together as a couple if your boyfriend is cut out from his family’s life.

Even with all the unknowns in this situation, there is one clear certainty: until all of this is out in the open, you and your boyfriend are stuck in a sort of limbo. To be a secret to his family for three years means there’s a part of your boyfriend — even a tiny part — that hasn’t completely opened himself to you. Once he opens up to his family, he’ll be able to totally open to you as well.

***************

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].

25 comments… add one
  • avatar

    PumpkinSpice April 4, 2016, 8:46 am

    What kind and compassionate advice Wendy! ? when I read this letter, I honestly couldn’t think of a response. Religion in and out of relationships are a hard topic, and I think you hit the nail on the head!

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    keyblade April 4, 2016, 9:11 am

    I think this is great advice. If the family is dysfunctional and abusive I could understand the band aid approach. But if that were the case your boyfriend would still have to do individual work around those issues and get some personal closure with the way things stood with his family before I would enter the next life phase. Kudos to Wendy.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    dinoceros April 4, 2016, 9:47 am

    Good advice. I think on a practical level, you’ll also have to consider what your plan is if he hasn’t told them within a certain period of time. What if a year passes and he hasn’t? Two year? Three years? There’s no right or wrong answer, but I think it’s something to be mindful of so that you’re prepared in case you get to that point.

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      RedRoverRedRover April 4, 2016, 1:07 pm

      Agree with this. My sister dated a Muslim guy for about the same amount of time. He ended up never telling his parents, and she finally realized it wasn’t going anywhere and left. He eventually married a Muslim woman. So, yeah. Don’t move further along in your plans until he tells his parents, and think about how much longer you’re willing to wait.

      Reply Link
  • avatar

    Juliet April 4, 2016, 10:04 am

    LW, I hope you and your boyfriend will remember that part of growing up and becoming oneself is separating from our family of origin and defining ourselves on our own terms. Sometimes that means that we develop a core set of values that don’t align exactly with what we grew up with. Some families have a very difficult time accepting it, especially if there is some element of “this new choice or value is better than yours.” Some people have a difficult time achieving their new personal self if they feel guilt for not living up to the unreasonable expectations set by their family.

    My guess is that your BF will retain most of the core values he learned from his folks even as he has decided not to continue to follow all of the rules of Islam. I suggest consciously looking at those values and focusing on them (reminding the parents directly if necessary) when going forward with a ton of kindness and self-respect.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    Essie April 4, 2016, 10:33 am

    I’m sorry, this is difficult for both of you, and I honestly don’t know what I’d do in your situation. I would be very hesitant to push someone into a “outing” that may well cause him to be estranged from his family.

    I tend to default to practicality in tough emotional situations, so I’d be thinking things like this:

    1. When you move in together, will he tell his parents that he has a new address? How will he handle things when they want to come visit? Will he come up with some excuse as to why they can’t come over? How long can he keep that up? They’re going to know something’s up when the “bathrooms are being remodeled” for two years. Or, will he insist that you leave while they’re there, and hide any evidence that you live there? Since they live far away, it many never come up, but still?

    2. You’re thinking marriage. Will he be keeping that a secret from his parents, too? And any relatives/friends of the family? How about any kids that you have? Will they never meet their grandparents? How will you explain that to the kids?

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      Essie April 4, 2016, 10:35 am

      Hm, and that got me thinking about relatives and friends of the family. His parents may be far away, but does he have no one else here who talks to his parents? Aunts, uncles, cousins, old family friends. How long can he keep you hidden from those people, especially once you’re living together?

      Reply Link
  • Cassie

    Cassie April 4, 2016, 12:21 pm

    LW, one thing to note is that according to the tenets of Islam, it’s okay for your boyfriend to date and marry a women who is not Muslim. Of course every family is different in practice and so they might have personal wishes that his gf/spouse be a Muslim woman. But, if he’s nervous about how to start introducing you, he can at least have that to stand on if they voice concerns.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    saneinca April 4, 2016, 12:47 pm

    Great deconstruction of the issue/question and excellent advice, Wendy!

    Reply Link
  • Dear Wendy

    Dear Wendy April 4, 2016, 2:08 pm

    From the LW:

    “Wow, thanks for the advice! Him telling his parents is definitely a condition of us moving in together. I didn’t think of it, but I think it will be really helpful if my boyfriend does begin with that he’s not a strict Muslim anymore. I don’t know if he will, as he has said his parents will stop talking to him if he drank alcohol (which he does). He’s still a believer in the spiritual sense, as am I with my religion, but he grew up in the Middle East before moving to the U.S., and his parents are very strict and traditional, as they haven’t fully embraced American culture. I still have lots to think about and discuss, but I think I have a better handle on this, and how best to support him; he plans on talking to his parents this week. Crossing my fingers that this won’t be as bad as we expect, and that we can have a deeper relationship as a result. Thanks again!”

    Reply Link
    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray April 4, 2016, 2:33 pm

      This reminds me of “Meet the Patels.” Anyone seen this cute documentary? It’s about an Indian guy (born and raised in the USA, to parents from India) who was scared to tell his parents about his white American girlfriend. So he broke up with her and agreed to let find him a way through modern arranged-marriage dating (that’s more prevalent than I thought!). Without spoiling the doc, it has a happy ending.

      Reply Link
      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray April 4, 2016, 2:34 pm

        * agreed to let THEM find him a WIFE

        Link
      • Portia

        Portia April 4, 2016, 2:55 pm

        Yes! I watched it after a friend (who’s Indian) recommended it, since the process of modern arranged marriage in the doc seemed pretty accurate to her. I had already liked the actor from Aziz Anzari’s show and I really enjoyed the documentary.

        Link
      • avatar

        jlyfsh April 4, 2016, 3:01 pm

        And it’s on Netflix. Now I know what I’m going to do tonight!

        Link
      • MaterialsGirl

        MaterialsGirl April 4, 2016, 3:29 pm

        Its such a good watch! So cute

        Link
      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray April 4, 2016, 3:56 pm

        So cute! But * * * SPOILER ALERT * * *: I read since the documentary he and Audrey broke up and now he’s engaged to marry some super duper hawt Indian woman. I feel bad for Audrey. Fame kicks in and BAM, out with the normal girl and in with the super model. Maybe his issues ran deeper than just fear of disappointing his parents.

        Link
      • MaterialsGirl

        MaterialsGirl April 4, 2016, 3:58 pm

        I did read up on that, but it sounded like they broke up and are still friends. It was more relationship stuff than the parents thing. Plus, I stalked her on instagram and she has a daughter and husband so I think she’s doing alright

        Link
      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray April 4, 2016, 4:00 pm

        Shit balls, all that happened since filming the documentary?

        Link
      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray April 4, 2016, 4:01 pm

        My deep take away: life happens fast.

        Link
  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark April 4, 2016, 3:31 pm

    I wouldn’t expect much from this relationship. As somebody who dated a closeted Muslim, I wouldn’t hold his breath on this one. As time when on — my Matt got even MORE conservative and is now married to some unsuspecting Muslim woman who has no idea about his late night salacious texts to me…

    Reply Link
    • juliecatharine

      juliecatharine April 4, 2016, 3:47 pm

      This was my take as well. While I think we can all empathize with the LW and her boyfriend’s predicament it really doesn’t bode well for them that he has kept her a secret for three years. That speaks to his parents exercising a level of control over him that won’t be going away over night and that will likely manifest itself in lots and lots of ways. Cautionary tale: my parent’s tenant lived with her boyfriend for two years. He went to visit family in India for three weeks and came back MARRIED. This stuff happens, believe it. LW, I would really hesitate to invest more of your prime years into this man.

      Reply Link
  • avatar

    Brise April 4, 2016, 4:22 pm

    This is a very good advice. Don’t project too much in this relationship, until he makes this move to speak to his family and to stand up for you, as for himself, for his own personal evolution. Three years, in your late twenties, is already quite late to inform his family of your existence. The “easy and fun” side of the relationship might change for something more difficult, for both of you.
    By the way, to break the new is only the beginning. Then there will be probably pressures by his family. How about yours? It requires a lot of energy, conviction, personal strength, to go through this. Do you want it? I guess so, and I understand you, I understand love. But it may be more difficult than you expect. Protect your feelings and think how far you are ready to go. In my experience, and in a friend’s experience, it didn’t end well.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    Anon April 4, 2016, 8:38 pm

    I’m sorry to say that someone who has been hiding a serious relationship from his parents for three years isn’t ready for a serious relationship. That level of fear and kowtowing to his parents is not adult behavior, and does not bode well for this relationship. He needs to find his own ground and become his own person before he’s ready to make a commitment to someone else.

    Posters who say that this sort of hiding often ends in the fearful person breaking up with the not-the-right-ethnic-group partner and marrying someone the parents approve of are right to be worried about that happening here. That outcome is very, very common. It’s likely he’s right to be afraid of his parents’ reaction and likely he won’t be able to stand up to the pressure enough to have a healthy relationship with the LW if he’s been this much afraid of them for this long. Maybe he’s stronger than that, but ending the relationship with the LW in favor of someone his parents approve of is a high probability outcome.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    Kay February 4, 2018, 10:05 pm

    He’s just wasting your time. I know it is wrong to generalize but when it comes to them. 90 % of the time they are playing. They enjoy screwing around pretend that it’s so difficult to tell family.. meanwhile they are doing other things behind your back.
    I’ll tell you my story. I met my ex Nov 2013 on a dating site. We instantly connected. He was Pakistani muslim and I’m Indian sikh. Originally I told him I wasn’t interested because they always bring religion into everything and I will not convert. He convinced me his family is open minded because his sister married a christan and his family is okay with it. 
    This was a time his family wasn’t in his life. He was living in his own working etc. He was great. I would get good morning msgs beautifully done. He would bring me out. He ended up getting a promotion to open a call center in Phillipines. It was 3 months. He did Valentine’s before he left. My cards were beautifully written decorated etc. I took care of his car during winter because he didn’t have a garage. Everyday he would write to me. It didn’t seem like he was gone. He came back. His job was laying off ppl but he still had one. His car has problems I gave money to repair. I had introduced him to my mom friends since I wasn’t hiding. I still hadn’t met any coworkers cuz according to him our schedules wouldn’t meet. His birthday in June I surprised him with treasure hunt. Aug I saw in his phone he told of coworker he was going out with a friend. That bothered me. He said it was a typo didn’t believe him but. I let it be. Oct was my birthday. He did a nice dinner with my friends etc. Our 1 yr I surprised him with a belly dancing halal restaurant. Everything was great. Dec his family contacts him. And things start. The more he starts hanging with them the more he became dumb. He was getting promoted to a high executive position.i told him to take it he quit because his family said a job is just a job. Since he comes from money. I start asking him talk to his family about me.but always an excuse of he’s not ready. He wants to see what his family wants since they contacted him after 4 yrs of no talk. They were building a million dollar house. This is the same time I find out he was married before and divorced which he hid. He was 28 she was 18. Lasted 6 months or so he said. We start having arguments because he isn’t working just working on that house. Spending his time their I’m barely getting anytime. I’m still compromising on meetings etc. Eventually we get into a huge fight because as usual I wanted to plan something for the weekend but his mother wanted something and he wasn’t telling her he had plans. He broke up with me may 27 2015. He made a ticket to go to kuwait cuz his family has business and restaurant there and like a lazy **** that he is. He wants easy money. He left 3 months i heard nothing. I was depressed. Crying. I got sick. Lousy 40lbs. I finally get an email where he wants to see how I am. He wanted to be friends I said no. He came in Sept. We met up. He apologized said he realized he loved me couldn’t be without me etc at. He wanted to get married. But future generation was a concern for him. I told him about compromising kids learn both when old enough they can choose. He didn’t want. He asked me to convert. I said never. I studied so much of his religion and it’s contradictions. Now this dilemma started. Meanwhile he still didn’t tell family. He was still going out of his was to do everything supposedly for me. He asked me to give him time because he eked to be financially independant before he could mention about me. I said okay. He left again to kuwait. Dec 27 2016 we break up because he pops a comment that my mom will not be allowed to teach my kids about my religion etc. I got mad and told him to be afraid of god. 3 weeks later his sister baby of 10 mths dies. He calls me crying. Told him karma. But he didn’t believe. He starts with the can’t be without me etc. This goes on for another year. He stopped asking me to convert. Now it came to how he should tell family. Oct 2016. I break into his phone and see him msging 2 girls .. I miss u I’m with my niece and nephew ..meanwhile he was with me. .etc.. I’m furious. I walk out on him. He chases me telling me he never cheated etc. Same time He gets call his mom is in hospital. He goes there. From there he is begging me not to leave. He never cheated it was just talk. He just hide me cuz that’s what he’s used to etc etc 6 hours non stop of he made a mistake he’s an idiot he can’t lose me. His life without me is nothing .. etc etc etc all his words. He came over and begged for me on his knees. I give him another chance. He starts being good and so called perfect… He would send me screen shots of whatsapp and Viber showing He wasn’t talking to other girls. He has to leave again in Dec told me his plan is to ask his uncle on how to break the news to family. He gets back to kuwait.i even send me a Christmas and Valentine’s gift in advance so he would have something to open. Which I did everytime he left for whatever holiday was near. He Is good for the first month. Everyday sending texts . Calling. Everyday telling me he lives me he’s lucky to have me. Feels on top of the world because of me etc. After the drama starts . Texts are boring. He is calling his family everyday. Supposedly business drama he had to deal with. Etc etc. Everyday 2 hours talking to his family. He would be trxting on whatsapp I wouldnt get a text cuz he was busy. Sat sun I would wait all day to talk to him. I would get half asleep talks cuz he was so tired with his family. I’m still trying to be patient. and still be is telling me he is grateful for me. I’m sick on feb 26. And he spends the day calling his family. Eventually I lose it. I’m so angry. I told him off. At 35 yrs old which guy needs to speak to his family 2 3 hours. everyday. We hang up. I calm down. I apologize. The next day. He goes his feelings changed. I was angry. And told him everything he was..a liar cheater user etc. He still denies everything. So nothing Feb 27 2017 we break up officially. He has to come back mar 28. Which he does. I’m thinking he will do his same pattern.. nothing. I’m upset everyone told me not to Contact him. No contact rule. I’m hurt angry crying. Thinking he is v with someone else. Everyone kept telling me he can’t be. May 14 mother’s day I’m praying and crying non stop. I ask God please give me a sign. I need something. I go to work next day. My friend sends me a picture of him and his new wife. I’m 35.She’s 26 supposedly good girl etc. Not the girls fault. But the pain I feel till today is never ending. The so called family talks were ****. He was talking and planning a wedding. Meanwhile telling me he will never leave me. 
    How can a person do that? Play with my emotions. But to give me mom hopes and dreams to. 
    Do I believe I got saved yes. Who knows if I had gotten married the **** I would have gone through. 
    But I can’t get passed the pain. Everyone keeps telling me. Don’t worry let it go. He will suffer and pay. Guys like him don’t change. Etc etc etc. But I just feel like he got away with the **** he did. I did send him a pic of his wife and him and a msg day after he got married. He read it never responded. 
    I know I have to move on. But do guys like him suffer in the long run?

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    Kay February 9, 2018, 2:41 pm

    I know how u feel. I went through the same thing. Except the best way I can explain it. When it comes to the their culture and religion.. they know how to use ppl for their own personal pleasure and then act like it’s hard for them to tell family. You can’t trust them at all.
    This is my story
    Karma is what might give me hope. My ex of 3 yrs 4 months. 
    I met my ex Nov 2013 on a dating site. We instantly connected. He was Pakistani muslim and I’m Indian sikh. Originally I told him I wasn’t interested because they always bring religion into everything and I will not convert. He convinced me his family is open minded because his sister married a christan and his family is okay with it. 
    This was a time his family wasn’t in his life. He was living in his own working etc. He was great. I would get good morning msgs beautifully done. He would bring me out. He ended up getting a promotion to open a call center in Phillipines. It was 3 months. He did Valentine’s before he left. My cards were beautifully written decorated etc. I took care of his car during winter because he didn’t have a garage. Everyday he would write to me. It didn’t seem like he was gone. He came back. His job was laying off ppl but he still had one. His car has problems I gave money to repair. I had introduced him to my mom friends since I wasn’t hiding. I still hadn’t met any coworkers cuz according to him our schedules wouldn’t meet. His birthday in June I surprised him with treasure hunt. Aug I saw in his phone he told of coworker he was going out with a friend. That bothered me. He said it was a typo didn’t believe him but. I let it be. Oct was my birthday. He did a nice dinner with my friends etc. Our 1 yr I surprised him with a belly dancing halal restaurant. Everything was great. Dec his family contacts him. And things start. The more he starts hanging with them the more he became dumb. He was getting promoted to a high executive position.i told him to take it he quit because his family said a job is just a job. Since he comes from money. I start asking him talk to his family about me.but always an excuse of he’s not ready. He wants to see what his family wants since they contacted him after 4 yrs of no talk. They were building a million dollar house. This is the same time I find out he was married before and divorced which he hid. He was 28 she was 18. Lasted 6 months or so he said. We start having arguments because he isn’t working just working on that house. Spending his time their I’m barely getting anytime. I’m still compromising on meetings etc. Eventually we get into a huge fight because as usual I wanted to plan something for the weekend but his mother wanted something and he wasn’t telling her he had plans. He broke up with me may 27 2015. He made a ticket to go to kuwait cuz his family has business and restaurant there and like a lazy **** that he is. He wants easy money. He left 3 months i heard nothing. I was depressed. Crying. I got sick. Lousy 40lbs. I finally get an email where he wants to see how I am. He wanted to be friends I said no. He came in Sept. We met up. He apologized said he realized he loved me couldn’t be without me etc at. He wanted to get married. But future generation was a concern for him. I told him about compromising kids learn both when old enough they can choose. He didn’t want. He asked me to convert. I said never. I studied so much of his religion and it’s contradictions. Now this dilemma started. Meanwhile he still didn’t tell family. He was still going out of his was to do everything supposedly for me. He asked me to give him time because he eked to be financially independant before he could mention about me. I said okay. He left again to kuwait. Dec 27 2016 we break up because he pops a comment that my mom will not be allowed to teach my kids about my religion etc. I got mad and told him to be afraid of god. 3 weeks later his sister baby of 10 mths dies. He calls me crying. Told him karma. But he didn’t believe. He starts with the can’t be without me etc. This goes on for another year. He stopped asking me to convert. Now it came to how he should tell family. Oct 2016. I break into his phone and see him msging 2 girls .. I miss u I’m with my niece and nephew ..meanwhile he was with me. .etc.. I’m furious. I walk out on him. He chases me telling me he never cheated etc. Same time He gets call his mom is in hospital. He goes there. From there he is begging me not to leave. He never cheated it was just talk. He just hide me cuz that’s what he’s used to etc etc 6 hours non stop of he made a mistake he’s an idiot he can’t lose me. His life without me is nothing .. etc etc etc all his words. He came over and begged for me on his knees. I give him another chance. He starts being good and so called perfect… He would send me screen shots of whatsapp and Viber showing He wasn’t talking to other girls. He has to leave again in Dec told me his plan is to ask his uncle on how to break the news to family. He gets back to kuwait.i even send me a Christmas and Valentine’s gift in advance so he would have something to open. Which I did everytime he left for whatever holiday was near. He Is good for the first month. Everyday sending texts . Calling. Everyday telling me he lives me he’s lucky to have me. Feels on top of the world because of me etc. After the drama starts . Texts are boring. He is calling his family everyday. Supposedly business drama he had to deal with. Etc etc. Everyday 2 hours talking to his family. He would be trxting on whatsapp I wouldnt get a text cuz he was busy. Sat sun I would wait all day to talk to him. I would get half asleep talks cuz he was so tired with his family. I’m still trying to be patient. and still be is telling me he is grateful for me. I’m sick on feb 26. And he spends the day calling his family. Eventually I lose it. I’m so angry. I told him off. At 35 yrs old which guy needs to speak to his family 2 3 hours. everyday. We hang up. I calm down. I apologize. The next day. He goes his feelings changed. I was angry. And told him everything he was..a liar cheater user etc. He still denies everything. So nothing Feb 27 2017 we break up officially. He has to come back mar 28. Which he does. I’m thinking he will do his same pattern.. nothing. I’m upset everyone told me not to Contact him. No contact rule. I’m hurt angry crying. Thinking he is v with someone else. Everyone kept telling me he can’t be. May 14 mother’s day I’m praying and crying non stop. I ask God please give me a sign. I need something. I go to work next day. My friend sends me a picture of him and his new wife. I’m 35.She’s 26 supposedly good girl etc. Not the girls fault. But the pain I feel till today is never ending. The so called family talks were ****. He was talking and planning a wedding. Meanwhile telling me he will never leave me. 
    How can a person do that? Play with my emotions. But to give me mom hopes and dreams to. 
    Do I believe I got saved yes. Who knows if I had gotten married the **** I would have gone through. 
    But I can’t get passed the pain. Everyone keeps telling me. Don’t worry let it go. He will suffer and pay. Guys like him don’t change. Etc etc etc. But I just feel like he got away with the **** he did. I did send him a pic of his wife and him and a msg day after he got married. He read it never responded. 
    I know I have to move on. But do guys like him suffer in the long run?

    Reply Link

Leave a Comment