Woe Is Me! “My Partner Asked Me to Marry Him, But He Hasn’t Told Anyone About Our Relationship. Is This a Red Flag?”
Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.
“We started dating, and he proposed to me. It has been two years since. He is a good partner to me, but he hasn’t told anyone about our relationship – neither his family, nor his friends and colleagues. Last year, he told me we should get married; he said the same thing again this year. He tells me that he is going to tell his parents, but he still hasn’t. I am from a different caste and he is from an orthodox family. I know that this is a red flag, but I feel stuck. What should I do?”
— Forced into hiding
AB: This is, without a doubt, a red flag. If your relationship has gotten serious enough to the point of discussing marriage, being publicly known as his partner is kind of a given. I’m sorry to say this, but he isn’t a “good partner” to you; a good partner wouldn’t be hiding you and your relationship from everyone else in his life. In this situation, I feel like him repeatedly proposing to you is less about actually wanting to be married to you, and more about having his cake and eating it, too. His family might disapprove of your relationship — especially if they are as orthodox as you say, which is why your caste differences matter to them.
My suggestion is: take a step back and truly reconsider the relationship. In my opinion, this is a situation where an ultimatum must be made: either he tells his parents about you, or you leave him for someone who is willing to fight with their family and world to be with you. This isn’t me being a clichéd romantic — what would your wedding or married life look like, if no one knows? Privacy is one thing, and hiding is another; don’t settle for this man if he can’t/doesn’t treat you with the respect you deserve.
AS: You said it: it’s a red flag. If he’s unwilling to tell even his friends and colleagues about you, let alone his family, then his proposal rings hollow. Was it a serious proposal or something he said in an offhanded manner? Either way, you’re right to worry.
I can understand he might be genuinely concerned about how his family might react to this relationship. But at the same time, if he’s seriously proposing marriage, he needs to realize this is a decision you both will be making as equal partners in this relationship. If you both collectively decide that you’d prefer to keep your relationship private from the world, that’s a different matter. You deserve respect, and if you’re not okay with this, you shouldn’t have to settle for a relationship that is kept under wraps for whatever reason.
You can try having an open and direct conversation about this with him and let him know this makes you uncomfortable and uncertain about where you both are headed. Emotional entanglements can make decisions difficult, but you might want to reconsider this relationship if he continues to separate you from the rest of his life. Don’t get strung along in the hopes of marriage.
DR: Break up. Over the past few months, I’ve read way too many stories like this online — on r/TwoXIndia, among other city-centric subreddits — and it always ends badly for the people in your position. Just an hour ago, I read about a guy who misled his girlfriend for more than five years, assuring her they’ll eventually tie the knot — only for her to find out yesterday that he is, in fact, getting married in less than a week to a girl his family found for him. To make it worse, he has still not broken up with his girlfriend, who happens to be from a different caste — just like you. Treat this as a cautionary tale, break up, and try to move on for the sake of your mental health.
I worry that if you confront him instead, he might figure out a way to manipulate you — maybe, by asking someone to pretend to be his parents on call. But, then again, he refuses to disclose your relationship even to his friends and family, which I find really really suspicious. I don’t mean to imply that you’re gullible and can easily be taken for a ride. The fact, however, remains that when we’re in a relationship, we are programmed to believe the best of them (you can read about it, here, in the part about cognitive dissonance). So, even if you do want to give him an ultimatum, I’d urge you to tread carefully, and continue consulting with someone you trust without shutting them out if they, too, don’t think it’s a good idea to carry on. My advice still remains the same, though.
HK: In the words of Taylor Swift, this is giving off major “You kept me like a secret, but I kept you like an oath” vibes. Ideally a two year relationship shows a sense of seriousness and commitment, but yes, this behaviour does come across as a bit of a red flag. A lot of people justify these actions by classifying themselves as ‘private’ persons who want to keep their inner life at a distance from social environments, but keeping you away from his closest circle also implies that you don’t get to see him from a different perspective, and are thus restricted to a one-dimensional worldview of him. I would suggest keeping marriage off the cards until you meet his friends and family members, and feel secure in your decision. Best of luck!
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