Today, I am featuring a blogger who has firsthand experience on what it’s like to be in a same-sex relationship with someone who is still in the closet. In this post, she shares her experiences and offers tips for anyone else who might be experiencing the same thing. Trust me – it’s a really insightful read!
Sometimes I wish I was a boy. I’ll think, ‘If I was just a boy, then we could tell her parents that we’re together. And everything would be so much easier.’
Isn’t it horrible when somebody’s disapproval can actually make you feel bad for being who you are?
Maybe everything would be easier if I was a boy, but I know it’s not my fault that there are some people who don’t approve of same-sex relationships.
I’m in a two-year relationship with my girlfriend and her parents don’t know we’re dating.
At first, I wanted them to know, but the more I learn about their opinions, the more afraid I become of how they’ll react. One telling moment for me was when my girlfriend told me a story about her mom. She said, “When I was in high school, my best friend would give me gifts. My mom thought that it was weird for a girl to give another girl gifts and assumed that she liked me, so she told me to stop being friends with her.”
My girlfriend’s parents know me (I gathered the courage to meet them), but when I was introduced to them, it was as her friend. And that story made me think, “What if when they find out about us, they tell her that she shouldn’t even be friends with me? What if they want me out of her life completely?”
When you’re in a same-sex relationship and you’re not sure about their parents’ approval, it can be difficult.
You want them to like you, accept who you are, and accept the two of you together. And it’s sad that prejudice can get in the way of that.
So what do you do when you’re in a situation where if you tell their parents, you might not be together anymore, and if you don’t tell their parents, then you feel like you have to hide?
1. Talk to Your Partner
Before anything, you need to talk to your partner and understand where their head is at. You have to consider the possibility where their parents don’t approve and ask your partner what they would do. You don’t want to spend all your time thinking about how the parents are going to react. That can drive you crazy. Instead, you need to focus on the relationship with your partner and learn how much their parents’ reactions matters.
I’m very lucky in that regard. My girlfriend doesn’t have the best relationship with her parents and she highly assumes they won’t approve of our relationship. They might even tell her not to be around me. But she told me that she would still date me and she would still want a life with me if that happened. So I know that even if that happens and her parents want us to break up, we’ll be okay because we are two adults that can make our own decisions and date who we want to date.
And if your partner is so reliant on whether their parents do or don’t approve of you based on your gender, then they might not be the partner worth staying with.
2. Meet Their Parents as Your Partner’s Friend
The next thing you should do is meet their parents. You do not want to be that surprise in their life that their parents find out about. When you meet their parents, don’t be the girlfriend/boyfriend. Just be their friend. It’s way too early to reveal your relationship to parents that you think won’t accept it.
When you meet their parents, you’ll get to see how they feel about you just because of who you are. You’ll find out if you get along with them, if you can talk to them, and if they like you. When you find out that they like you, it feels wonderful!
Knowing that their parents like you for who you are is important because it helps you through the negativity that comes with the thought and fear of their parents never approving of you as the girlfriend/boyfriend. And that piece that you learn will be a constant reminder that you did absolutely nothing wrong if they disapprove of your relationship.
Another great thing about meeting their parents is that you become a bigger part of your partner’s life. Their parents learn your name, where you’re from, and a little about you, so you’re no longer someone who has to be kept hidden. Your partner can openly tell them who they’re talking to on the phone or online, and in a small way you become a part of your partner’s life without them realizing who you are.
3. Have a Safe Zone
By this, I mean you need to have a place where you can openly display the relationship with your partner and be around people that accept your relationship. Even though my girlfriend hasn’t told her family about us, she has told her friends, and her best friend’s place is our safe zone.
A safe zone is important because you need a place to feel like a normal couple. When I was around her parents, we couldn’t hold hands, kiss, or even flirt. Since I couldn’t flirt with her, it also felt like I couldn’t truly be myself.
But when we went to her best friend’s place, a huge weight was off my shoulders. We could flirt and show our affection to each other without being judged, and that was incredibly freeing.
So when you’re choosing your safe zone, think of a person that has accepted your relationship and see if they wouldn’t mind you two being open around them.
4. Have Supporters
You need to have supporters because when you’re struggling with the terror of revealing your relationship to your partner’s parents, you need to know that other people are in your corner. When it gets hard and you feel like you can’t show your relationship openly, those are the people who are going to be there for you.
The accepting family members or friends that will tell you that sometimes there are people who don’t understand, but that it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be with your partner.
5. Share Your Supporters with Your Partner
Then you should share those supporters with your partner. They may have their own supportive friends, but if their family is disapproving, they won’t know what it’s like to have a bigger form of support. Having them meet your own supportive parents, friends, and other family members can be helpful for them because it can give them an environment to feel comfortable in.
6. Let Your Partner Tell Their Parents When They’re Ready
You have to let your partner choose when to tell their parents. It may be this year or it may be five years from now. It’s going to be hard, but you can’t rush them. When you came out of the closet and told your family, you were probably scared out of your mind. You may have thought they would hate you or disown you because of your sexuality. If your partner hasn’t told their parents, they’re probably afraid of the same thing.
You have to be understanding about their fear. And you may not know it, but your partner’s biggest fear may be their parents finding out before they’re ready. The worst mistake you can make is telling their parents about your relationship. Your partner will freak out. My girlfriend has told me so many times, “Don’t you dare tell them.” I understand that it’s not my place, and it’s not your place either.
7. Recognize When Fears Are Irrational
You may have that fear that you’ll end up with that person and that they won’t tell their parents about you until the day someone’s proposed, and the parents have to be told. You may even have a more irrational fear that the two of you will live a completely separate life from your partner’s parents because they’ll never tell them about your relationship.
I have that fear all the time! Maybe we have those fears because we just want to know the outcome. It’s normal to have fears when you don’t have control of the situation, but you should recognize that they’re irrational and highly unlikely.
8. Expect Some Strange Ideas from Your Partner
Over the course of your relationship, your partner may come up with some strange ways for you two to share a life without their parents knowing. My girlfriend wants to buy a house next door to her parents and have us live there together without telling them that we’re dating. Which I think is insane.
But maybe our partners come up with those strange ideas because they want us in their life and they’re just afraid that their parents will ruin it. Consider the good intentions behind their ideas, but don’t be afraid to tell them if their idea makes you feel uncomfortable.
All in all, just remember even if it does take them a long time to tell their parents, at least you’re in their lives.
Are you in a same-sex relationship with disapproving parents? Have you used any of the strategies I mentioned, or something else? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
The author of this post chose to stay anonymous for the sake of her partner, but shares that she is a freelance writer, editor, and social media manager with former experience as a copy editor for Ronin Robot Press and an editorial assistant for the North Carolina Literary Review. She graduated East Carolina University with a Master’s in English and has written over 47 published articles for online magazines, blogs, and businesses. You can contact her for writing or editing inquiries here, or visit her blog at Stress Free Success.