Secret Relationship

Dear Counsellor,

I have a boyfriend and we've been together for a while. The thing is that, for the entire time he has told me to keep our relationship a secret. I have been doing this but it's making me unhappy, because he can go out and do whatever he wants and I am there, but he doesn't even talk to me! I can tell people that I have a boyfriend, but not who he is. When my very close friends who know about him ask me about our relationship, I explain to them that that's just how he is. They think I am foolish, but I don't want to break up with him because I don't want to be alone.

- Confused

Dear Confused,

I can see how difficult this situation must be for you.

Unfortunately, I can't imagine any good reason why your boyfriend would want to keep his relationship with you a secret. Usually, when guys are happy or proud to be with a girl that they like, they want everyone to know that they are together. I could understand if he wanted to hide the relationship from his parents, but I wouldn't expect him to keep you a secret from his friends.

The question that I want you to ask yourself is, 'What's in it for you?' He gets to have you as his girlfriend, and I assume there are benefits, but all you seem to get is to say that you have a (mystery) boyfriend. Telling persons that you have a boyfriend is a good way to keep other guys who may be interested in you away, isn't it? So, how do you benefit? Is he ashamed of you or is he using you to get what he wants while he continues to look for someone else? How do you know that he doesn't have other (secret) girlfriends? It's obvious how unhappy you are and your friends are right - you are being foolish.

Unless you have no value at all for yourself, don't let this manipulative young man take advantage of you any longer. I am sure you will find that being alone is much more fun than being with someone who doesn't think very much of you. Take some time to work on yourself. Spend some time thinking about who you are, what you love about yourself and what you want to improve. Your next steps should then be to ensure that any future relationships that you choose to enter into make you feel good about yourself, instead of leaving you feeling hurt and insecure, as you feel now.

Karen McGibbon is a physiotherapist and a certified life coach specialising in relationship, health and wellness, and parenting, Email questions or comments to or