Relationship is a secret


Relationship is a secret


your avatar   Renee, 38-year-old woman

I am divorced, dating a divorced man for 1 year and 3 months. He has kept me a secret from his family and they think he is not dating anyone. I asked him why and he said he is afraid they will think I was the "other woman" but I wasn't. He is unwilling to allow me to meet them. This behavior is unacceptable to me and the fact that he can be so deceptive right in front of me concerns me. He is divorced because I have physically seen his divorce decree. That obviously is not the problem. What is he hiding? Why is he keeping me a secret and being so deceptive with his parents?


    Margaret Burr, MA, MFT


Thanks for your letter.

You don't say how the relationship is going, but, generally speaking, dating someone for fifteen months will pretty much reveal what they are really like. By that I mean that this is an adequate trial to get know a person's personality, character, strengths and weaknesses.

In fact, you know a lot about this man. For instance, assuming that he is about your age, you know that - as a middle-aged adult - he still needs the approval of his parents. You know that deceit is a part of his nature. You know that he has some intense shame issues apparently due to his behavior in his marriage, which he has never resolved. You know that he betrayed at least one person's trust (his ex-wife's).

You know a lot about this man. How do you feel about these traits - that you have observed these aspects of his character?

My guess is that you are more uncomfortable with what YOU are hiding from yourself (about him) than what he is hiding from you. In fact, he is actually revealing a whole lot to you. What he is revealing says that he is insecure, dishonest and shame-filled, but I suspect you don't want to see these weaknesses.

By focusing on his refusal to introduce you to his family, I suspect you are choosing to experience this hurt (and rejection) rather than see the big picture he is presenting to you. The family issue is a smokescreen for the bigger concerns you (unconsciously) know are there.

In other words, if this relationship were based on real intimacy, honesty, trust and respect, I doubt that it would matter at all if you ever met his family. You would be too busy - together - creating a life of your own and loving every minute of it. I mean, it's not as though you are both eighteen and need anyone's permission to be in love, is it?

Think about it.


Margaret "Peg" Burr, MA, MFT

This question was answered by Margaret "Peg" Burr. She is a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFC34374) with a private practice in Santa Clarita (near Los Angeles). She performs psychodynamic psychotherapy with individual adult clients as well as couples, teens, and families. She also runs groups for adults and adolescents. Her specialty area is Object Relations Systems Theory. This branch of psychodynamic psychotherapy uses a client's interpersonal relationships as windows into his or her intrapsychic structure.For more information visit:


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