4 Ways To Handle Relationship Intimacy With Super Strict Parents

One of the best parts about college is embracing life on your own and finally making decisions for yourself—including decisions about your relationships. However, this process can be a lot more stressful if your parents, or other people close to you, don’t approve of the decisions you’re making. When it comes to intimacy in a relationship, many college women face backlash from parents who don’t approve of plans to live with their SO or sex in general.

To help collegiettes who are stuck in this position, we’ve talked to real college women and relationship experts about how to address relationship intimacy with strict parents:


1. Decide what YOU want

With conflicting opinions coming from your parents and possibly your significant other, it can be easy for your feelings to get lost in the shuffle amongst those you care about. In the midst of any disagreements, make sure that you’re making your opinions about your relationship intimacy a priority.

“Typically a person in this situation is believing it is an either or situation,” says Kim Olver, a relationship coach and speaker. “Either I do what my parents want or I do what my significant other wants. The first thing I suggest in situations like this is to determine what you really want. Do you want to be intimate with your partner? Is it worth the potential consequences to your relationship with your parents? At some point, a woman needs to take control of her own life but it is important to get in touch with what she really wants from the situation.”

Once you’ve decided what you want out of the physical aspect of your relationship, it’ll be easier to address the issue with your strict parents more confidently.

“When a parent is over-controlling or over-involved in their adult children's lives, those children often choose behaviors in direct opposition and defiance of their parents' wishes and not always in their best interest,” says Olver. “There can be a knee-jerk reaction to do the opposite of what the parent(s) want.”

Make sure that your decision is one that you’re truly independent in making, and not influenced by the fact that you’re upset with your parents in the first place.

2. Weigh the pros and cons of addressing the issue

While some parents appreciate an open and honest conversation in light of a disagreement, other parents may become increasingly upset at your attempt to go against their word. You know your parents best, so it’s important to decide if you will benefit from addressing your relationship intimacy with them or not.

“Once you are grounded in what you really want, then you need to weigh the pros and cons of telling your parents,” says Olver. “If you want to have a direct, honest relationship with your parents, then you can choose to have a conversation with them about doing what you want. If you are concerned about the potential consequences of being honest, you can choose to not make any grand announcements to your parents about your plans, but you also need to take into account the stress of living a ‘secret’ life and the fall out of what could happen if and when your parents find out.”

While you’re in college and old enough to make your own decisions about your relationship, consider how much you still depend on your parents’ support. Although this shouldn’t be a make-or-break factor in your romantic relationship or level of intimacy, it is something to consider.

“I tend to believe that honesty is the best policy but before you have that conversation, be sure you are as prepared as possible for the consequences,” says Olver. “If your parents are paying for your schooling, will they withdraw their financial support? If they do, do you have a plan of how you will continue in college? This is an unlikely outcome because most parents want their children to complete college, but it is a possibility and I don’t want a woman asserting her independence if she is not prepared to be fully independent if necessary.”

While this kind of response from your parents is extreme and probably unlikely, it’s important to consider these factors when you start making important decisions for yourself—regardless of what they’re about.

Related: 13 College Women Get Real About Their Sexual Histories

3. Address the issue (if you decide it’s best)

If you’re never discussed relationship intimacy openly with your parents, but you’ve received direct and outward negative reactions from them regarding the issue, then it may be worth addressing it with them and letting them know where you stand.

“A woman who decides she wants to be intimate with her partner regardless of her parents’ restrictions can have a discussion with them acknowledging that she understands their wishes for her, and even realizes that they may be right, but that she is an adult and needs to do what she thinks is right for her,” says Olver. “She is not trying to deliberately hurt or disappoint them but she needs to make the decisions that she thinks are right for her, even if they are mistakes. She could assure them that she appreciates their wisdom and concern and will ask them when she wants advice.”

While your decisions about the physical aspect of your relationship are solely your own, your parents may be more accepting of them if you’re wiling to address things with them directly. If you’re willing to be up front about your feelings with them, and they still don’t approve of your decisions, you can at least say that you tried.

4. Agree to disagree

After spending years going back and forth with your parents about your relationship intimacy, there comes a point when you have to agree to disagree. After all, part of college and living on your own is learning how to make your own decisions—and be confident with them.

“My mom has always been super-strict with me and she still is,” says Jenna*, a senior at her university. “Although I'm trying to break free, the harder a pull away the more she pushes back. My fiancé and I have been together for a long time. It was never easy dealing with her because she still can't fathom that I'm a grown adult who can make her own decisions. It was even worse when we were first dating because every time I talked about him she has a certain tone in her voice. She still does. I've learned to just not let it bother me anymore because it's my life, not hers.”

While it sucks to not have the support of a family member of close friend during your relationship, you have to do what you know is best for you. Continue to communicate with your parents about your relationship and what it means to you, in hopes that they will come around soon enough. Many times, just seeing how important a person is to you will be enough to make them change their mind.

 

Although college is all about independence, it can be difficult to escape the influence of your parents—especially when it comes to relationships. Be open and honest about what you want, and be mature enough to stand by your decision. Best of luck, collegiettes!