One of the biggest things I’ve had to come to terms with in my relationship is the fact that my partner’s parents did not know about me for (I kid you not) years. And even now that they know of me, I have never met them, nor will I for quite some time. If your relationship is under wraps, and if it feels like no one else can understand, don’t worry. I’m right there with you.

A common reason LDR couples are kept hidden is the cultural or ethical differences between families. This is what I myself am dealing with. And though it may be very difficult to understand another person’s way of life, you have to respect their upbringing and let things fall where they may.

That being said, there is certainly a line to be drawn; keep an eye out for red flags. Is your S.O. keeping you from all of his or her friends and siblings? Does he or she hang up your Skype call the minute someone else enters the room? There are some valid reasons for keeping a relationship a secret, but you also deserve to be with someone who is proud to show you off to everyone he or she knows.

Along that same token, show your S.O. that you are proud to be with him or her as well. Even if your parents are still in the dark, tell your partner about how excited you were to show pictures of him or her to your best friends. Even something as simple as “Josie wants to meet you” shows your S.O. that you’ve been boasting about your relationship.

And, as with all things, the secret must eventually come to an end. When you tell your parents, for example, about the two of you, ease into it and stay collected. They are bound to be much more understanding if you approach them with a sense of calm and maturity. As cheesy as it may sound, a note card of talking points may be all you need to keep things civil; you don’t want to get caught up in an argument and lose track of all the things you wanted to say.

Remind whomever you’re telling, most of all, that you are truly happy with your partner. Your family cares about you and ultimately wants the best for you. So in the end, you can’t go wrong with reassuring your parents of your love not only for your S.O., but also your love for them. Let your parents know that you didn’t want to upset them because you truly value your relationship with them. And don’t get discouraged if they don’t welcome your partner with open arms; they’ll warm up to the idea eventually.

And in the end, it’s all about the love. Taking that step to come out of hiding shows that you and your S.O. are both confident in moving forward with your relationship. Be proud of your bravery and keep thinking toward the future. So, when the time is right, tell the world about how happy you are with your S.O.!