I Told My Very Strict Mom About My Very Long-Distance Boyfriend

And we’re back! Another year, another set of articles. What sets this year apart from others are obvious reasons, but nonetheless, we’re back, and we’re better! The last couple of months have been a rollercoaster in terms of self-improvement, self-efficacy, and self-disclosure. I said goodbye to Davis and returned home in light of the pandemic which, for lack of a better word, has forced me to reconcile with my mom. She and I aren’t estranged whatsoever, but we do have a rocky relationship that is definitely getting better with time. However, I can’t deny that growing up in a strict household where I’m not even allowed to go to the store by myself (even at the age of 24) has built up frustration against her, and it has definitely affected my overall willingness to move home. I want to first acknowledge, though, that rebuilding relationships, specifically with family, is a two-way street. I wanted to feel better about myself and my situation with moving back home, and I knew in order to do that, I needed to disclose to my mom about the things that I’ve kept from her. So, I have told my very strict Filipino mother about my very long-distance boyfriend.

man and woman on bikes at sunset Everton Vila I’m sharing a moment of my life that I never thought would come, at least for another 20 years. I want to stress the importance and rarity of this moment. My mom is very, very strict. By strict I mean that she is like most typical immigrant parents, they have a short leash on their kids. From the get-go, I was taught and conditioned to believe that I am not allowed to have a boyfriend until I’m well into whatever career I choose. It doesn’t help that I am the youngest child in my family, and my siblings and I are quite far in age. So, the set of expectations for each child in my family are very different. I grew up with a lot of fear towards my mom. I am scared to even ask her if I can go outside because when I was growing up, she would tell me “I do not like it when you ask me if you can go out when you already know the answer. And now you’ve made me mad.” What’s worse is that that sentence is even more frightening in Tagalog.

So that’s just an example of the fear that was instilled in me at a young age, I always felt scared to tell my mom the different things that were going on in my life. I know I’m not alone in this, and a lot of people can 100% relate to this, so it’s made me feel a bit better about how I grew up. Nonetheless, this way of parenting isn’t sustainable, and if anything, promotes a relationship that drives kids away from their parents. I also want to stress that I don’t blame my mom for this at all, and neither should you! A lot of the reason why our parents are the way that they are is because they grew up with the same parents, and they are just mirroring them from their own childhood. Understanding that this is a cycle rather than a personal matter helped bring me peace of mind, and it helped me gather the courage to break that cycle and just tell her about my boyfriend. 

Pexels/TanTan Danh

My boyfriend and I are long-distance, but luckily he was able to visit me during my time in Davis. He and I are very serious about each other and I knew that I had to face my fear in order for us to last while I’m at home. For the worst thing to come out of this would be that my mom somehow finds out on her own, and she realizes I had been lying to her. The day I told her, I had run a lot of errands with her. I also cooked food for her and cleaned the house a bit. I tried to do everything to prevent her from being even the slightest bit angry at me in order to prep her for the storm I was about to rain on her. I am incredibly terrified of my mom, and I don't know if that fear will ever go away, but asking your strict parent for affirmation on whether or not they’ll love you no matter is a great segway into shocking news. 

So, I then asked her, “Mom, I can tell you anything right?” because in the moments before I told her, I really did not think I could tell her anything. She replied to me and said, “I mean, yeah?” In response, I laughed nervously and said, “Oh well, I have a boyfriend.” What’s even more shocking is that my mom’s response was, “Oh! Well of course you have a boyfriend. You’re old now.” 

And that was that. A lot of my internalized fear is exactly that: fear. A big thing about becoming your own person, and being an adult is realizing that your fear is justified, but it shouldn’t hold you back from being the best person you can be.. yourself. So for me, it was getting over the fear that my mom would somehow tell me I can never have a relationship. More importantly, don’t force yourself to do something you’re not ready for. I have been with my boyfriend for over a year now but recently just told her in August. So, it’s really okay if you’re not ready to start mending a relationship with your parent! But take it from me, you can be ready...you just need to try.