Telling mom about my boyfriend and our birth control

Originally Published: March 13, 1998 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: October 26, 2012
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Alice,

I am 18 years old and have been dating my boyfriend for two and a half years. I love him very much! Well we started sleeping together when I was 16! I love him very much! I even recently got put on birth control! My family is very religious, but I want to tell my mother about us and don't know how. Can you help??

thanks,
scared

Dear scared,

So, you want to open up to your mother about your relationship with your boyfriend? It may be helpful to first take a little time and decide what it is you would like to share with her. Does your mother know that you’ve been dating your boyfriend for two and a half years? Is that something you would like to share with her? Would you like to tell your mother that you are in love? Or, would you like to discuss with her that you are sleeping with your boyfriend and started taking birth control? Similarly, it may be helpful to consider if there is information you don’t want to share with her. Are there certain details that, if she asked, you wouldn’t be comfortable sharing?  If so, it would be helpful to plan how you will respond ahead of time. You may want to say something like this: “I understand why you are curious about [fill in the blank], but I’m not comfortable sharing this with you right now.”

Next, you may want to consider why you would like to talk to your mother about your boyfriend. Do you have a close relationship and wish to fill her in on this other part of your life? Are you seeking advice or perspective of any sort? Has she asked in the past about your relationship and you’ve chosen not to disclose details until now? Thinking about the reasons why you want to tell your mother more about your romantic life will help you decide what information you feel comfortable sharing.

You also mentioned that your family is “very religious.” How do you see this impacting the situation if you choose to tell your mother some or all of the information you provided in your question? Will she be upset? Is there any risks you face by telling her (e.g., will she be upset with you; will she kick you out of the house; take your car away, etc.)?  It might be helpful to first talk to siblings or relatives for support and to help predict your mother’s response.

It’s important to think about these types of questions before speaking with your mother. It’s clear that you are apprehensive about this decision, so the more prepared you are, the better you may feel.  It might help to draft an outline with all of the things you want to tell her in order to better plan how the conversation will flow. In addition, it’s good to keep in mind that you can choose what to disclose and what not to disclose with your mother. It’s your decision. Your relationships can be as private as you would like them to be – it’s up to you.

Lastly, consider that you can also tell your mother about your relationship little by little. Perhaps you can first tell her about the strong feelings you have for your boyfriend. Then, based on her reaction and feedback, you can choose to share more details with her.

Talking to your parents can be hard — especially when the subject relates to sex, love, and relationships. If you are a Columbia student on the Morningside campus, Counseling and Psychological Services can help you sort this out. If you are a student on the Medical Center campus, the Mental Health Service is a great resource. It can be scary to share personal information with someone because you are opening yourself up for the potential to be hurt. There’s another side to this, though: You are also opening yourself up to the potential for a stronger, closer, and more transparent relationship. Good luck with whatever you decide to do!

Alice