So I've had this guy friend for a year and we're extremely close friends. Sounds normal, right? Well, the problem is that I'm not even supposed to have a guy friend... or hang out with a guy... or text one... or have anything to do with one... because if I did, my parents would kill me. (This type of stuff is really taboo in my family). Guess who decided to do all of the above? I didn't really feel bad about doing it because I didn't really think about what I was doing or the potential consequences. It just felt nice to have such a sincere friend who cared so much for me, more than any of my other friends.
But yesterday, my cousin went through my phone and read all my texts, including several flirtatious ones. He confronted me about it but I just made up some flimsy excuse that I'm sure he doesn't believe. Auntie, I don't know what to do now. I'm mad that he invaded my privacy, but I'm far more terrified of what will happen to me now. If he decides to tell my parents, they'll get REALLY mad, lose their trust in me, and take away my phone so I won't ever be able to talk to my friend again. And I don't know if I can bear all of that. Even now I'm dying on the inside from all the guilt and anxiety eating away at me.
You guys. YOU GUYS. What, in the name of all that is cheesy and delicious, is going on with your parents these days? Seriously, is it something in the water? An invasion by pod-people? A secret pact amongst all PTA members to start taking crazy pills?
Because I'm sure I don't have to tell you this, Sparkler, but an all-encompassing taboo against interacting with fifty percent of the earth's population makes literally no sense. And while it's natural to feel bad about disobeying your parents, and it's equally natural for parents to be peeved about being disobeyed, there is something to be said for not making rules that are irrational, unreasonable, and impossible not to break—and of all the stupid, self-defeating restrictions I've heard over the course of my Auntiedom, a blanket ban on ever knowing a dude takes the motherfranking cake.
None of which helps you, of course... except possibly to give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing you haven't done anything wrong. Which, in all seriousness, you haven't. The mere fact of something being forbidden doesn't make it objectively bad, and what your parents were asking—that you never befriend, flirt with, or spend time with a boy—is a crippling restriction with which no normal person could comply. They might as well have made it verboten for you to hang out with black people, or look at trees, or use words that start with the letter "P".
As for what happens now, you have two options:
Option 1: Tell your family, as calmly and pleasantly as possible, that you've found it's just not feasible to pick your friends based on the contents of their pants—and that because you're trustworthy and don't want to go behind their backs, you'd like their permission to have a non-sex-segregated social life.
Option 2: Stick to your story (flimsy as it may be), confess nothing, put a passcode on your phone, delete any flirtatious texts immediately after reading, change your friend's name in your contacts list to something non-male, and continue the relationship with maximum caution.
Needless to say, Option 1 is the superior one—and a lot less sneaky and risky, to boot—and it's the option I'd rather you chose. But Option 1 also only works if it is an option—as in, if your folks can be talked to, and won't flip out and punish you for even having brought it up. Otherwise... well, that's the tragedy of tyrannical parents: they leave you with no good options. If you know that you can't be honest about your missteps without dire consequences, and that your parents will respond to any attempts at straightforward, mature communication by grounding you, what you're left with is the world's crappiest choice: between stifling repression, or disobedience and dishonesty.
And if that's the miserable situation you're currently in? Then all I'll say is this: nobody would blame you for finding some solace in a good, caring, discreet friend... who just happens to be listed in your phonebook as "Anita Mann."
Do your parents expect you to have a sex-segregated sociall ife? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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