I Dated A Guy For Years & His Parents Never Knew I Existed

My ex and I dated for years and we were serious enough that it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that I’d end up marrying him. While that never happened, it took me a long time to realize it wasn’t going to. It all came down to one minor detail: his parents never even knew I existed.

  1. He told me that the next girl he introduced to his parents would be his future wife. I understand that after years of dating, guys stop bringing every girl to Mom and Dad. However, I was a serious girlfriend, so keeping me a secret was a whole other story. It wasn’t enough for him to say we were serious when he wouldn’t put his money where his mouth was to prove it. Nothing says “serious” quite like having sex with me and then pretending I didn’t exist in front of his closest people.
  2. He took me to his hometown but we stayed at a hotel. I went to visit him in his hometown and was astonished to hear that we’d be staying at a hotel. How does that make sense? My friends were going home with their boyfriends for Thanksgiving and Christmas, whereas I was being hidden away in a dingy hotel room. Trusting a guy who wouldn’t tell his parents about me felt shady and uncomfortable, to say the least.
  3. I felt like his mistress. Really, how could I have known that I WASN’T his mistress? Yes, he spent lots of time with me. Not telling his parents about my key role in his life, however, begged the question of whether he had a secret family and ours was just an affair. When I date a guy, I’d like to have the status of his actual girlfriend. Staying in the shadows was a dealbreaker for me.
  4. My trust in him started to deteriorate. How could I trust anything he said if he didn’t tell his parents about me? Seriously, that’s the first thing you do when you date someone. Did he even have parents? I never saw his house because he always came to visit me. What if he was homeless and using me for a bed to sleep in? I developed an unhealthy paranoia. If a guy doesn’t introduce his girlfriend to his parents, the relationship is doomed.
  5. My self-esteem suffered. I began thinking that he was embarrassed by me. Why else wouldn’t he introduce me to his mom and dad? I started to scrutinize everything I did. I imagined I had flaws like chewing loudly or not cooking well that just weren’t true. The relationship became toxic for me. I tried to change for these secret parents of his, forgetting that you can’t always please parents, and that’s okay. I had to get out of the relationship.
  6. I tried to lead by example and introduced him to my parents. I thought that he didn’t realize meeting each other’s parents was a thing. I took him to my mom (mind you, she lives all the way in Europe) in hopes of encouraging him to offer up the same. Still, nothing happened. It became clear that he was aware of the dating customs. He had another reason for not taking me to his parents that he wouldn’t tell me.
  7. I pretended to be more conservative. I’m anything but conservative. I’m vocal about my opinions and earnest in my praise and criticism. Not introducing me to his parents, however, made me think that I ought to be more conservative in order to make the best impression. I started dressing like a walking Ralph Lauren catalog and keeping my liberal opinions to myself. I realized that I was becoming a fraud and hated myself for it.
  8. I got paranoid about him cheating on me. Naturally, after being with him for years and not meeting his parents, I started to question his loyalty. What if in my head we were more serious than he considered us? I wondered whether I was one of his many girls. What if he had five other chicks he was “seriously” seeing? It would then make sense that his parents didn’t know I existed.
  9. I got very suspicious about his past. What if I wasn’t the problem at all? I figured that maybe his parents were criminals and it was in the interest of my safety that I didn’t meet them. What if they were in the mafia or bank robbers? These are the questions a girl starts to ponder after a guy doesn’t introduce her to his family after years together.
  10. I thought that maybe I had hooked up with his dad. You know those rom-coms where a girl hooks up with both the son and the dad? Think Monica in Friends. Maybe in the past, I had unknowingly hooked up with his dad, but he liked me so much, he still wanted to date me despite the fact. Of course, this wasn’t it in my case, but it goes to show the crazy ideas a girl can get if her boyfriend doesn’t introduce her to his parents.
Dayana is a passionate traveler who's been navigating foreign lands and confusing relationships since she was 16. You can read more of her work on Matador Network and her blog, Dee Across The Sea.