Should I Tell My Parents About My Boyfriend Who’s Not Jewish?

By The Jewish Daily Forward

May 2, 2014


This article was reprinted with permission from The Forward

The Seesaw was new kind of advice column in which a broad range of columnists addressed the real life issues faced by interfaith couples and families. This edition of The Seesaw features InterfaithFamily Advisory Board member Ruth Nemzoff.

Seesaw illustration

I fell for a guy who is not Jewish during my first year of college

I am about to finish my freshman year at college during which I have started date, and perhaps have even fallen in love with, a guy who isn’t Jewish. I really don’t think I will marry this guy, but for now I am pretty into him and have no plans to break it off. The question is, do I bother telling my rather traditional parents about this? I know it will upset them. Also, he is off to South America all summer so I won’t be sneaking around or anything. —Dating Out

You’re Becoming an Adult and Entitled to Privacy

Ruth NemzoffRUTH NEZMOFF: You might want to wait until after the summer to see if your romance survives the distance or like so many marathoners hits a wall. Long distance tests any relationship. Each of you will grow and change over the summer. Use this time to think about why you asked this question. Is marrying someone within your religion important to you? If so, you may decide to break it off with your beau. If not, you might want to use your reunion to talk about the future with him and to discuss what troubles you.

Certainly you don’t want to lie to your parents nor do you want to hurt them unnecessarily. On the other hand, as one moves into adulthood, one is entitled to some privacy. If your parents ask, have a discussion about your situation. Every emerging adult struggles with the tension between pleasing their parents and finding their own path. Look at this as an opportunity for self-reflection. The ensuing years will be filled with more and more decisions that are complex and ambiguous. Balancing the needs of others with our own desires goes on for a lifetime.

Dr. Ruth Nemzoff, author of “Don’t Bite Your Tongue: How to Foster Rewarding Relationships with Your Adult Children” and “Don’t Roll Your Eyes: Making In-Laws into Family” is a resident scholar at The Brandeis Women’s Studies Research Center. She is on the Advisory Board of

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About The Jewish Daily Forward

The Jewish Daily Forward is a legendary name in American journalism and a revered institution in American Jewish life. Launched as a Yiddish-language daily newspaper on April 22, 1897, the Forward entered the din of New York's immigrant press as a defender of trade unionism and moderate, democratic socialism.