Every week, Mallory Ortberg answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members.
Q. Permanent secret: A few months ago, I began dating an amazing man who I can see myself being with long-term. He’s funny, kind, thoughtful, and honest. We have the same interests and views and make each other laugh all day. We’re both around 30. We are also interracial, from very different backgrounds: I’m Caucasian, from a Catholic family; he’s South Asian, from a Muslim family. A few years ago, he denounced his conservative lifestyle and became nonreligious but has kept this from his family, who live in a different state.
If his parents knew he stopped practicing Islam, or that he drank, or that he was dating me, they would be appalled and cut him off indefinitely. So, he says that he can never tell them about me. Which means that if we move in together, it would have to be somewhat of a secret, and if we got married, we couldn’t publicly celebrate it.
I don’t know where to go from here. Is there some sort of compromise that I haven’t thought of? I’m willing to work with this, but the thought of being a permanent secret is not something I’m enthusiastic about.
A: There is not a compromise you have not thought of. Either your boyfriend would have to be willing to tell his family about you and accept the fallout, or you would have to be willing to pretend to not be his partner (and later, his wife) whenever his family called or visited. If he can’t do the former and you can’t do the latter, then you two do not stand a very good chance of making a long-term relationship work.