As-Salamu `Alaikum dear sister,
Thank you for writing to us. I wonder if there is a way that this guy proposes to you through a third person who the family knows and trusts; it doesn’t have to be through you. You can just keep yourself out of the whole picture and let this third person talk to your parents about a suitor who heard about your family’s good reputation and who wishes to propose and marry from this family.
Or it could just be that this guy comes directly to your parents (not through you or anyone) and indicates that he saw you in whatever setting he knew you from (I mean the place from where you got to know each other like school, or college, or neighborhood, etc.) and that he asked about you and knew that you come from a respectable family, and he wanted to propose to you.
These are just some suggestions that this guy can propose to you in a way that eliminates the harms which could come from your parents knowing that you were in a relationship with that guy for the past years. You can also think of other, even better ways that could be more suitable to give a chance to this marriage proposal and that keeps you away from the picture.
Of course, it is my role to tell you that having a relationship with a guy outside the context of marriage is not acceptable in our religion as it is not acceptable in your culture. Therefore, my advice to you would be to sincerely repent of the period you spent in this relationship and to have a sincere intention for the coming years that this relationship will only be in the context that Allah (swt) accepts. Also, make sincere du`aa’ that Allah (swt) makes this step of the marriage proposal easy for you and the guy, and that Allah (swt) puts acceptance in the hearts of your parents and sends His blessings on your future marriage.
Another very important point you have to keep in mind is that when in sha’ Allah this guy proposes to you and your parents accept him as a suitor, you have to take your time in getting to know this guy well under this new situation. You will be able to see different perspectives of this guy; the perspectives of your parents and their opinion of him, you will see this man among his family and how they interact with each other, their family culture, their norms, their lifestyle, etc., and whether you will be able to adapt to it or not. What two people in a relationship know about each other is not at all the full picture that needs to be known before a person makes a decision of a lifelong marriage relationship.
Make istikharah and du’aa’ before any step you take. May Allah (swt) bless you and make every step in your life easy for you. Feel free to write us back if you need further advice.
Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information that was provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, it’s volunteers, writers, scholars, counselors, or employees be held liable for any direct, indirect, exemplary, punitive, consequential or other damages whatsoever that may arise through your decision or action in the use of the services which our website provides.