Ask Amy

Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 10:05pm

DEAR AMY: I am a 17-year-old girl in high school. I have a loving boyfriend of nine months, and we have a safe and healthy sexual relationship. His parents know and accept this. I have been debating whether to tell my parents.

They have expressed that they do not support premarital sex, and they would force me to stop seeing my boyfriend. I love my boyfriend, but I also want to respect my parents' wishes and honor their trust. Is it better to keep mum, since we understand the implications and consequences of sex, or should I be honest despite my parents' potential reaction?

— Torn

DEAR TORN: I applaud you for being safe and healthy in your sexual life, but part of the whole "health" equation is to live a balanced, honest, integrated life, in which you are not lying to the people who raised you.

If your boyfriend's parents know about this, then that tells me that you two are willing to be open and honest — but only with people who will let you do what you want to do.

If you believe that your folks will throw you out of the house or disown you, then you should not risk your own safety. But what if you tell them and they simply insist that you not be sexually active while you live at home? Are you willing to do as they say? Are you willing to risk disappointing them?

You say that you understand the implications and complications of having sex — that is a good awareness to have — but one complication is the one you are facing now: the realization that you and your parents have different values.

I cannot answer this question definitively for you. Some parents want to declare their non-negotiables but don't really want to have to act on them. You might be able to feel them out by asking them again to state their views on this, without disclosing your own choice.

DEAR AMY: My boyfriend and I have been dating for 10 months. The other day he left his Facebook page open on my computer. Out of curiosity, I decided to pry a little.

I know it's bad and I shouldn't have done it. I looked at some of his archived messages. I noticed that he had been talking very sexually with several girls — one about a month before we started dating, and the other 10 days before we started dating.

I really didn't think he would ever cheat on me, but after seeing those messages, I don't know what to think. There has been no message of that kind since we have started dating, but it just makes me question the kind of person he really is.

— Upset

DEAR UPSET: Did you rescue your boyfriend from a mountaintop monastery before you started dating? Did you imagine him not to have a past?

From what you report, your snooping should confirm your best estimation of your guy, not create suspicion.

I think it's natural not to want to know every sordid detail of a person's past before you met and fell in love. One consequence of snooping is that you are forced to realize that your guy has had contact with other women. Nothing in his behavior indicates that he is cheating on you — and so don't compensate for your own poor choice by blaming him for it.

DEAR AMY: "Wondering" asked if she should include an account of childhood sexual abuse in her autobiography.

I think she should do so. When I was 10, my father's cousin molested me, and I was afraid to tell anyone because I thought no one would believe a little kid.

I finally told my mother when I was an adult, and then found that she had gone through a similar incident when she was a girl. Telling might help any of Wondering's descendants who might have experienced a similar problem.

— Been There

DEAR BEEN THERE: Thank you so much for offering your survivor's perspective.

Send questions via e-mail to askamy@tribune.com. Amy Dickinson's memoir, The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.

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