The Secret Life of Dating

If you have strict parents that don’t allow you to date, you know my struggle. Whether it’s because they think you’re too young, want you to focus on other priorities like school, or, in my case, just don’t let you date, it’s a struggle. My parents are very traditional and haven’t yet accepted the concept of dating. For those of you that don’t face this dilemma, I want to share my struggles of dating without my parents knowing. I’ve found that sometimes the extent of this cultural difference can come as quite a shock.

1)    You have to rename your significant other.

Whenever I’m around family, I have to make sure my boyfriend’s name in my phone is something feminine. In pretty much any story that involves my boyfriend, I’ve replaced him with a female friend. At this point, my parents think I have a friend named Stephanie. Have they ever met her or seen a picture of her? Nope. Let’s just hope they ever don’t ask to meet her.

2)    They will never know who your significant other is.

You almost have to train yourself: make sure you never utter their name in front of your parents or accidentally mention something you’ve done with them—like last night when you saw The Avengers together. Most importantly, you can’t leave any trace of them. Whenever my parents come to visit me, I go into cleaning mode—hiding the pictures, clothes, and anything else my boyfriend has left behind.

3)    Training your friends and housemates.

Now that you’ve trained yourself, you have to make sure your friends and housemates don’t spill the beans in front of your parents. This is especially tough when they don’t face this problem because they forget it’s different for them. Therefore, before my friends encounter my parents, there’s a few reminders I always have to give them (e.g. don’t mention boyfriend).

4)    Celebrations are always missing your significant other.

One of the saddest parts of a secret relationship is that you can never spend any important holidays or celebrations with your significant other and family together. I always wonder how it would feel to celebrate New Year’s or Christmas with all the important people in my life together.

5)    Coordinating excuses.

The toughest part is probably coordinating excuses whenever we’re home (e.g. during the summer). Because my boyfriend faces the same restrictions with dating, when we spend time together, it’s a mission. There’s an immense amount of planning that occurs beforehand: we have to make sure our excuses line up; we cover up our tracks; there’s no reason for suspicion. It’s a lot of effort. The worst is when one person’s excuse works and the other person’s excuse doesn’t. Then one of us is stuck out of the house because we had “training” or “an important appointment”.

At the end of the day, you’re almost living a second life. It can be stressful, but reminiscing about all those close calls and tactics you used can be fun. The most difficult thing I find is definitely the uncertainty you face while dating. Especially when you first start dating, you’re not thinking about your relationship’s future. You’re not thinking about whether this relationship is going to work out: is this your soulmate? Are you going to marry them? And personally, I don’t want to think about that yet, but I feel as if I have to. I know my parents expect me to have an arranged marriage, so what am I doing here by dating? Five years down the road, what will I choose—to break my parents’ hearts or my boyfriend’s heart? It really does become a sticky situation. And I know what you’re thinking, talk to your parents. I’ve been trying to change their mentality since middle school. They’re stubborn people.

I know I’m digging myself a hole and have no idea what the solution is. Will I ever? I don’t know. But when I do figure it out, don’t worry, I’ll write an article to update you guys.

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