Dear Carolyn: I just finished high school and am going off to college this fall. I recently got a boyfriend, and we have become very serious (marriage has come up).
He and his mom had a falling out, and his father was abusive. He has been staying with his sister, but they are now not getting along.
My parents also don’t completely approve of him. He always has me pick him up at a general location. They also don’t like us kissing in front of them.
I am close to my parents but also truly love this young man with all my heart. I don’t know what to do. – Pulled in Two Directions
Stop sucking face in front of your parents, then go to college.
That’s it, really, but I’ll explain anyway.
• Public smooching: It makes bystanders wish they were elsewhere. The better the bystanders know the smoochers, the more self-conscious they get, even when they are happy for you, which apparently your parents aren’t.
• Parental disapproval: They may be wrong about your boyfriend, and the “general location” could have an innocent explanation, but there’s also a grain of hmmm to a situation where people avoid showing you their home.
• Oh, the drama: My biggest concern. I get how good it can feel not only to be in new love, but also to feel needed and relevant to important things, like providing a sense of family to someone whose own family harmed him. Stepping in both to repair and compensate for his family brings attention, intrigue and a sense of purpose.
But someone who comes from abuse and is talking marriage early in a relationship is red-flag material. He might be lovely and both of you just young and impulsive, but don’t assume that. Be skeptical, patient, sure. “The Gift of Fear,” by Gavin de Becker, is your homework.