Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Independence a shabby excuse for keeping boyfriend a secret
Baltimore: Okay, so I've been dating a girl for over a year. She keeps her family and friends completely separate from our relationship. She recently met my folks, but not only have I not met hers, she also hasn't even TOLD her family she's seeing someone. When her parents come over, I'm supposed to make myself scarce. When she goes out with her friends, it's quite obvious she's going alone.
Should I be making more of an issue of this? She insists she loves me, and when I bring it up she says she's "independent." But I can't help but wonder if she's also keeping secrets from me, just like I'm a secret to her family and friends. It sure would be easy considering how much of her life I'm not privy to. Help?!
Carolyn: Your pride just asked my permission to bang its forehead on my keyboard.
If she's "independent," then she'll be able to stand on her own if, say, you don't like her friends, or her parents don't like you. Likewise, if her feelings for you wane, then she'll be strong enough to break up with you despite your popularity among her friends and family.
An independent person will be able to separate her own opinions of you from others', so she won't have to worry about peer pressure to get married or parental pressure to break up or whatever pressure to whatever.
An independent person will be shaped and informed by past experience but not emotionally crippled by it, and so even a bad breakup with someone who insinuated himself into every part of her life wouldn't justify her shutting you out.
And even if you disagree with my take on independence, nothing I listed is too scandalous to put into words by Month 2. "I had a messy breakup with a guy my family and friends all loved, and I don't want to relive that." Or, "The minute I mention a boyfriend, my family and friends start badgering me relentlessly." Is that so hard to spit out?
Now, if she has some other explanation for treating you like an unsightly rash, even one that's tough to admit, then you're still entitled to hear it and make your own judgments (something independent people can handle). You've stuck by her for over a year, after all; you're not some fling.
But if "independence" is really all she's got to justify her secrecy, it seems like a howler to me.
What matters is how it sounds to you.
Whenever you're not sure whether to endure, protest or flee someone's behavior, just ask yourself whether you understand and respect the reasoning behind it. That's roughly the line between acceptable and unacceptable treatment.
If you don't buy your girlfriend's reasoning, then say so. Ask for a more thorough (or just less ridonkulous) explanation.
And if she doesn't improve on her first explanation, then tell her that's not good enough, and spell out the way you expect to be treated. Not like you're an unsightly rash, for example.
And if she doesn't start including you or offer a valid reason not to, then ask yourself why you're still there, and why you've stuck around so long.