Dear Uncle Mat

I am a teenager, British, and have been, for about the past nine months, in love with my closest online friend, who is Australian. The problem isn’t that he doesn’t know — the feeling is, happily, mutual, and we spend vast amounts of time together: He is the only person I can imagine having a seven-hour video call (or, you know, for those of you who still do things in the real world, conversation) with. The problem is that I really ought to tell my mother about this, sooner rather than later.

She’s fantastically understanding, and tells me that she trusts me to know what I’m doing with my life, has let me meet up with online friends a little closer to home with no ill effects, and knows of his existence — so why am I so afraid of her taking this badly?

I know that someone my age probably shouldn’t be taking love so seriously, but I doubt I’d be able to find someone like this again, and after this amount of time it’d be difficult to write off our relationship as a delusion or a mistake. So I come to you requesting not advice on how to end the relationship, or to be told how stupid I am, but simply to know how to go about telling my mother, finding a good time, getting over my fears, and, in the worst-case scenario, what to do if she reacts badly.  

Yours —

`insert witty, appropriate alias here`  

(PS: If you are wondering how I found you in the first place, I adore Nation of Amanda, found you through her LiveJournal, and established that you gave exactly the sort of sound, sympathetic advice that I needed.)  

Dear Witty and Appropriate,

I am not going to tell you that you are stupid, but I will, for the sake of all readers, mention that you need to be careful when making friends, falling in love, and meeting people that you connect with on the internet. You seem to be taking precautions and are involving your mother, so good job.

Finding the right time to tell your mother is something only you can feel out. Make sure you are both in a good state and try not to ambush or bait her. You already share a lot with her; follow your instincts and trust your relationship.

I am a little confused about what exactly you want to tell your mother and what your expectation of the next step in your online relationship will be after you tell her. Her teenager announcing she is in love and moving to Australia would shake even the most understanding mother. Dingos eat British babies — I saw it on the TV! Are you planning to move to Australia? What is it that you want to happen? This is important and what your mother will want to know. Even if you do have a plan, downplay any definitive ideas and allow your mother to at least feel as though she is being consulted. You might find that she has some sound advice to offer.

I would ask first about creating an opportunity to meet in person and spend a little time together to explore your relationship. Taking this approach will ease your mind as well. Some of your fears are most likely about the uncertainty of the relationship, not just your mother’s reaction. Meeting will be a big change. A few continents and oceans are a nice bumper zone.

Being young and in love is wonderful. If it lasts, you have a long life together. If it isn’t perfect, you have a whole life ahead of you to fall in love again. Your mother may be touched by your feelings for your boyfriend, but she will be more moved if she can see that you are also thinking about the situation rationally. Do either of you have an income? International travel isn’t cheap and it isn’t fair to expect your parents to foot the bill. What about a study-abroad program? Involving education in the trip might make it more palatable for your mother as well.

It is impossible to predict how significant this relationship will be to you in 10 years, but your relationship with your mother will always be important. No matter how she reacts, stay honest and open to communication with her. Remember that your goal is love and happiness, not drama and regret.

Much luck and understanding,

Your Uncle Mat

Uncle Mat answers questions about relationships, sex, pets, and art. Email him at
[email protected],, or check out the Dear Uncle Mat Page on Facebook. Your true identity is safe with him.

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