Dear Dr. Romance: Why Sneak Around and Hide?

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Dear Dr. Romance:

I am in a relationship with a man who twenty years younger. He is black, and I am white. We are very much in love. The problem is that my parents are very much against my dating a black man. They do not like the age difference either, but the being black is worse. This is causing a problem in our relationship because I am putting up a wall between us because of my parents. I know how old I am and that I should not let my parents rule my life, but I am very close to my parents and my family.

I have 3 brothers. All of them are also against me being with a black man. I have a son, so all I want for him is to be happy, and he wants me to be happy. I wish my parents felt the same way about me.

I am so happy and in love with this man. I feel like we have to sneak around and hide because of my parents. I feel like a teenager who is going to get caught. Should I tell them that I have continued to date this man, even though they have forbidden it? I feel like I can move on with my life if I tell them, but I may lose my parents and brothers for good. What do you think? Thank you for any help you can give me.

Dear Reader:

In my experience with people who fall in love outside of their families' expectations, and I've seen many (including cross-cultural and gay relationships) the families object as long as they think they have a chance of dissuading the family member from staying in the relationship. In most cases (not all) once the family understands the relationship is not going anywhere, they accept it. They may never get comfortable, but they don't disown you.

It's important to consider this carefully, because you're in a hormone-flooded state right now. You have cultural differences and age differences that will present problems in the future. The problems can be surmounted, however, if you are both able to be mature about it and work through the issues. I don't know if you've met his family, but it's a good idea to do so as soon as possible. By all means, let your family know you're still dating this man.

It's time to grow up and let your family know that you love them, but they're not in charge of you. Whether this relationship succeeds or not, your family should know that it's what you're doing. They don't have to know details. You can let them know each new stage as it happens — don't project too far into the future. "Mirrors and Teachers" and "Creating Family Acceptance" have helpful information about responding to your family in a different way.

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