He’s keeping me a secret

Is this a red flag?

Our elder has some candid advice for a letter writer whose long-distance relationship is getting a little fraught.


Dear EWC

Hi, I’m 17 years old from Vietnam, I’m currently dating someone 19 years old from Australia and yes, it’s a long-distance relationship! We are learning how to build a healthy one because I have been treated badly in my previous friendships/relationships, despite having cut off the people that made me feel bothered. I have developed overthinking and trust issues, so I would love to know if the following things I’m about to write down is normal for a relationship or not and how we should fix it. 

We made the relationship public, meaning that our friends know, my family knows, but his does not. He says that he has a very judgmental family and will work up the courage to tell them someday, the only one in the family that knows, I believe, is his brother because he accidentally told him. I am concerned if this is okay or not for a man his age to keep his relationship secret to his family until he’s ready. Apart from that, he claims to know how to take care of me during my periods but he asked me to teach him the bare minimum because he doesn’t know how to do it online. I got upset because I thought if he cared, he would at least do some research first. I would love to know what you think and the advice that I need to hear. Thank you so much and I hope you have a great day!


PHJ replies

While I’m glad you’ve written to the EWC for an elder’s perspective on your LDR, I hope you will consult with people who know you personally also. But based on your letter, I would have to judge your relationship as risky and fraught. I think a 19-year-old man who keeps an alleged girlfriend secret is keeping other secrets, too. And his failure to brief himself on an intimate problem while claiming he’s ready to care for you is not the kind of caretaker I’d have much confidence in.

I would not class your doubts as “overthinking”, and I’d agree that you’re right to question your trust in this man. That said, maybe his limitations are a function of immaturity rather than dishonesty and incompetence. I can imagine that shared values and good conversations may be enough to help him develop into a well-rounded man worthy of your faith and trust, but in making that claim I’m aware that you must be ignoring many men with integrity and authenticity who live much closer to your home and are ready for romance. I know there’s an excitement associated with LDRs that make up for the separation to some extent, but in my experience, they’re more often a bust than a boom. Unless it’s brief and follows a telling, live-action romance, there’s too much room for trouble. 

As for a “fix”, the solution lies in eliminating the barriers. Let him know you expect him to be as informed as you are about things that are important to each of you, and that it’s time his family and friends are as aware of you as he is to your family and friends. Tell him you need to meet his judgmental family so they can make a fairer assessment of who you are, what you’re like, and what you believe. I know you might hesitate to be that open with a local bf, but not if you get serious. I think it’s even more important in an LDR because there’s so much room for dissembling when your only contact is via screens. 

I doubt I’ve made any points you haven’t already thought of, but here’s hoping I’ve reinforced the important ones and you can move forward with greater confidence in your relationship. Here’s wishing you progress, and inviting you to respond if you want to add to our discussion. 

Article #: 495564
Category: Dating/Relationship

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