My parents also had almost no involvement in my dating life. I didn’t really start dating until I was eighteen years old. I had three sort of cutesy, puppy love relationships before that, though. My parents only found out about one of those, when I was in sixth grade. My mom used to go through my stuff and she found some silly little love note to this boy I liked. The punishment was severe. I wasn’t allowed to use the phone or see my friends outside of school for a month. She never asked me any questions about my relationship with this boy. She never asked if we kissed or held hands. If she had, she would have found out that we were both so shy that all we managed to do was pass notes to each other.
I never got “the talk” from my parents. Sex was never addressed in any capacity, I learned everything I knew about it from medical textbooks that my grandmother gave me when I was in the fourth and fifth grade. I didn’t get any kind of sex education in elementary, middle or high school either, so it was my responsibility to learn about that on my own. That initiative probably saved my life in a lot of ways, but of course left me ill prepared since all I knew were the clinical applications. Without those books though, I wouldn’t have known the mechanics of pregnancy or disease and how to protect myself from them. It’s a miracle that I never got sick or got pregnant without being aware of it. My parents never talked to me about dating either. I learned everything I knew about that from television and magazines. My friends didn’t even talk to me about dating. I have no idea if they were doing it when we were in high school or middle school. I don’t know if they were uninterested in it, not allowed, or just never brought it up with me specifically.
My parents never told me that I wasn’t allowed to date, nor did they give me permission at one time or another. They also never laid down any rules for me whatsoever in that regard. It was just another one of the weird vacuums of care that I lived with in this quiet, uncomfortable way. By the time I was in high school and seeing other kids date and talk about it, I knew something was different about me and the way my parents controlled virtually everything about my life (down to the clothes I wore and how my hair looked) but at the same time pointedly ignored sex and dating.
I suspect now that I’m on the aromantic spectrum, so I wasn’t as interested in dating as some of my peers but even so, I’m always going to be angry with my parents for setting me loose in a hostile world without some kind of education and support in terms of how to have romantic relationships with other people. I think that whether they meant to or not, they set me up for a lifetime of abusive relationships because they didn’t teach me anything about how they worked (or should work) and the way they raised me focused so much on undermining my personal boundaries.
My parents have only ever met two of my significant others. My first boyfriend ever when I was eighteen (we were together for about two years) and my most recent ex that I was with for about eight years. I did a lot of dating in between those folks but I never brought it up with my parents and they never asked. My mother didn’t even ask me any questions when I called her crying on the night that I broke up with my first boyfriend. The conversation must have been five minutes. It felt like a courtesy call more than anything else. Like I was calling her up to say “this person that I have brought to family gatherings in the past will no longer be in attendance”. She never asked me why I broke up with my most recent ex either, and that was an even bigger breakup considering he and I were living together. I consider the end of that relationship more of a divorce than just a simple split.
Because of all this history, at thirty two years old, I have no idea how to talk to my parents about my relationships. At this point I don’t think it’s possible to do so. I used to blame myself for this, I thought I was keeping secrets from my parents to cover my ass, but it’s not a secret if nobody wants to know in the first place. I just told myself that it was because that’s the only way it would have made sense, I was trying to make nonsensical behavior work logically and it just doesn’t. The bottom line is, my parents hung me out to dry. I’m in the first healthy relationship of my life now and it allows me to see just how little investment my parents and previous partners had in my well being and health.