I Don’t Know How to Handle My Mother and Romantic Relationships

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a female university student in my teens. I’m interested in someone, and while I don’t know if it is love, I would like to get to know him better. At the same time, I feel that I should not date at all because of my mother.

My mother was apparently assaulted by a man in the past, so she doesn’t like when I talk about relationships. When I had a boyfriend in high school, my mother recognized him only as a “another man who assaults women,” which made me sad. It was difficult for me, so I broke up with him.

I learned about sex from books and videos, and I am the kind of person who can speak up if I don’t like something. However, I don’t think my mother is able to understand.

I don’t think I should fall in love with someone again because the same thing might happen. But I also think it’s not right to suppress my feelings. How should I handle romantic relationships and my mother?

— K, Saitama Prefecture

Dear Ms. K:

I advise you to keep your feelings a secret. Your mother must not know that you are interested in someone or that it might develop into love. Keep that in your own heart.

Since you are a kind person, you may be convinced that you must confide in her about your feelings if she found out. But a mother and a daughter have different personalities. No matter how deeply your mother has been hurt, she has no reason to restrict your freedom to love someone.

You will be able to examine your feelings calmly by keeping them secret. You may find that your feelings waver. For example, you may become unable to sleep because you are thinking about the person you love or feel insecure about whether the person really likes you. With your own special space, you will develop the strength not to be controlled by your mother, while still caring about her.

Your mother may grieve when you introduce a boyfriend to her someday. She may say something or act in a certain way to disrupt your relationship. That is sad, but that is an issue your mother must work out by herself.

Once you accept that your mother does not need to understand you and that there are other people who understand you, you will have become a splendid adult.

— Hazuki Saisho, writer