What to do if you broke your family’s rule of not talking with someone

Jerry asks:

            A boy proposed to me but I denied him and talked to him for some time to make him understand why I did. He is a good guy by heart but he had many temporary relationships with many other girls. So after making clear that I can’t talk to him because of my very strict family whom I don’t want to betray, we didn’t talk for almost 1 year.  But now he wished me happy birthday and I talked to him for the whole night. We just talked about our common friends and nothing romantic, but now I’m feeling guilty that I have betrayed my family. I shouldn’t have talked to him for the whole night but I couldn’t stop myself. What do I do to get over this feeling? I also think wonder what that guy is thinking about me.  I said to him “I don’t talk to boys because of my family,” but I talked to him whole night, and he said “I don’t think anything like this about you. I like you and you can talk to me anytime you feel like, without having a concern of what I will think about you. I know that you are a different girl,” but still I’m feeling uncomfortable.

Hi Jerry –

         This is one of those situations where we dogs are at a loss.  Because we don’t have cultures, in the way you humans do, our ideas of right and wrong are much more blunt than yours: it’s mean to hurt someone, it’s wrong to do things that hurt others unless it’s necessary… and that’s about it.  Now in my home, there are other rules – don’t bark early in the morning, don’t get on the couch – but those are just for me, and not something I’d tell others not to do on this website.

         So did you do something wrong by talking to this boy all night?  To my mind, not at all.  After all, what if you’d been on an international flight and chatted with the stranger sitting next to you for hours on end?  Would that make you a bad person, a flawed daughter?

         But if that’s the rule your parents put onto you, then sure, I guess you broke it.  Maybe you need to confess it to them – and maybe not.  It’s not my place to say.

         But you seem especially worried about what this boy will think of you, even though he’s told you the conversation didn’t change his opinion of you at all.  So I’m wondering if there’s more to the story.

         For example, it makes sense that this boy who a) has been interested in you, and b) has more dating history than you, would be a better conversationalist than you’re used to, and probably really enjoyable to talk with for a long time.  Especially during this lockdown, when so many people feel so isolated and lonely!  And I’m wondering if that’s kind of new for you, so you feel there might be something wrong with it (even though it looks as though there really isn’t).

         But also, I’m wondering if, after that fun long call, you’re starting to feel something for him, something you weren’t planning on.  And something that isn’t convenient for you, given that you believe that getting involved with him would be a betrayal to your family.

         So my main suggestion right now is two things:  First, to talk with your parents more, and find out their boundaries.  Would you getting involved with a man who’d dated women in the past be all that bad, as long as you and he followed all the rules, and he made his respect clear to them?  Or would it just be ‘not ideal?’

         And second, for you to spend some time and look into your own heart, and ask if what’s difficult here isn’t more about you starting to like this guy more than before, and not just that you guys talked.

         And maybe these will lead to you starting something new and wonderful with him.  Or, if not, at least you’ll have had a good learning experience – and a really fun long conversation!


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