“I’ll never talk to you again.”
I remember dad’s words settling in the pit of my stomach. This happened two years ago, when the topic of moving out with my new boyfriend *John first came up.
At the time, I was only asking if I could sleep over at John’s apartment for one night on our anniversary. We’d been together for six months.
Just recently, I negotiated with them to let me stay with him two nights a week – something that I’d been wanting and thinking about asking every single day since we first started getting serious.
Let me give you a bit of background. Both parents were born to Italian grandparents, who migrated here in the 60s searching for a better life.
My mother was not allowed to her school dances, playdates or sleepovers. When she first met my dad at 21, every date included a chaperone (i.e. a cousin or younger sister) and she had to be back home by 10.30pm.
They got engaged at 24, married at 25, and the rest of their lives played out nicely: they started a business, bought a house, bought a car, bought a dog, had kids, and took yearly holidays.
Now I’m not saying I led the sheltered life of an Italian growing up in the 60s and 70s. I introduced many boyfriends to my parents while growing up, went to all of my school dances, started clubbing at 18…I even lived solo in Italy for six months on exchange at uni, and in China on a work placement.
All things considered, my parents seem to be pretty liberal. But when it comes to sleeping over at a boy’s house and/or moving out with him before marriage – that’s where things become unstuck.
So what are they so afraid of?
1: The idea that their unwedded daughter is sleeping with someone.
2: The embarrassment of telling my grandparents that their unwedded daughter is sleeping with someone.