Best-Of Advice

On living in sin

How do I break it to my religious, highly conservative parents that I’m moving in with my boyfriend? Just to provide some context: they got me a “purity ring” for Christmas when I was fourteen, and they likely still maintain delusions of my virginity. I don’t want to hurt them, and I really don’t want to irreparably damage my relationship with them, but I need to move on with my life and I feel like it’s time that I stop living according to their values and not my own. Every time my mom hears about someone moving in with their significant other before marriage, she snarks about “living in sin.” Is there a way to manage this situation respectfully and relatively calmly?

I don’t know your age, but I’m guessing early twenties. Based on your grammar and punctuation, I’m also guessing college educated. In other words, you’re an adult — young, but nonetheless fully capable of making life decisions according to your own set of moral standards.

It’s good that you want to remain respectful, but you need to start making a distinction between showing respect for your parents and showing respect for their belief system. They aren’t the same thing.

Showing respect for your parents means being honest and straightforward with them about your decision to move in with your boyfriend. It also means being patient as they come to terms with the fact that you’re an adult who makes her own decisions. Beyond that, though, you don’t have to put up with their conservative religious bullshit.

No doubt their ideology is deeply intertwined with their identity, so don’t be surprised when your parents will take an open rejection of their values personally. You’ll also find them rather impervious to rational discussion, which means you’re going to have to accept a certain measure of disapproval as an inevitability.

Get comfortable with the fact that you’ll never change their minds, know that they love you, and don’t ever expect their approval. I’ll say it again, because it’s the most important thing you can possible learn from this: Know that your parents love you, but don’t ever expect their approval.

Moving in with your boyfriend might be a huge mistake. Then again, it might be the best decision you’ll ever make. It’s impossible to know, and that’s not the point. What matters is that you give these decisions careful consideration and start making the best possible choices for yourself that you can make according to your own set of moral standards.

It’s okay that your value system is different, and if “living in sin” damages your relationship with your parents, so be it. Just remember, you won’t be the one doing the damage. They will.




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