Frets about com­ing out to girl­friend

Orlando Sentinel - - PUZZLES & ADVICE - By Amy Dickinson [email protected]­dick­in­son.com Twit­ter @ask­ingamy

Dear Amy: I’m a 26-yearold male with a gor­geous, amaz­ing girl­friend, a lov­ing fam­ily, a suc­cess­ful ca­reer, and a house to call my own.

Through col­lege I had lots of girl­friends. From the out­side it seems like the per­fect pic­ture. For the bet­ter part of my life, I’ve hid­den thoughts and feel­ings about men, brush­ing them off as a phase.

The prob­lem is that these feel­ings have be­gun to get stronger. I re­al­ized this year this isn’t a phase but a real part of who I am, and I be­lieve I need to em­brace it. The prob­lem I have is that even in this cul­ture of ac­cep­tance and open­ness I can­not get over the thought of hurt­ing those around me by ad­mit­ting to these feel­ings.

My sex life with my girl­friend has fiz­zled over the last five years, so maybe this knowl­edge could bring some com­fort to her, but also pain. Not to men­tion the chal­lenges with friends who have strong con­ser­va­tive views, or my fa­ther, who is old-school.

I feel I have to choose be­tween throw­ing ev­ery­thing I have away or con­tin­u­ing to hide it. I think I’m bi­sex­ual, but I haven’t felt any sex­ual feel­ings to­ward women in a while. The back-and-forth is killing me.

I don’t know what to do. Can you help? — Up­set

Dear Up­set: You are con­flat­ing two ex­pe­ri­ences: break­ing up with a long­time part­ner and con­fronting your in­stincts about your own sex­u­al­ity. The two chal­lenges are re­lated, but you might be less over­whelmed if you ap­proach them separately.

Yes, end­ing your re­la­tion­ship will be very hard to do. Your girl­friend will likely be hurt and dis­ap­pointed, but per­haps not quite sur­prised. I don’t think it is nec­es­sary for you to dis­cuss your sex­u­al­ity with your girl­friend, un­til you feel emo­tion­ally ready. How­ever, re­mem­ber that she loves and also likes you. She may be able to love and sup­port you through this. She could con­tinue in friend­ship with you, as an ally.

It is not nec­es­sary for you to dis­close your sex­u­al­ity to your friends or fam­ily un­til you are more ex­pe­ri­enced and feel emo­tion­ally ready to do so. Com­ing out is a process, and it be­gins with you ac­knowl­edg­ing to your­self that you want to live au­then­ti­cally and that you have a hu­man right to do so. As hard as it is, and no mat­ter how oth­ers re­act to it, your brav­ery will lib­er­ate you.

The Hu­man Rights Cam­paign (hrc.org) of­fers a sup­port­ive, com­pre­hen­sive guide to the comin­gout process, which I know you would find help­ful.

It notes: “There is no right or wrong way to come out or live openly . ... You de­cide how, where and when, based on what’s right for you.”

Dear Amy: For the first time in my life, I face the prospect of spend­ing Christ­mas by my­self.

Un­for­tu­nately, a sur­prise ex­pense scup­pered my plans to go to my home of ori­gin and I have no close friends within a day’s drive.

I have been of­fered Christ­mas din­ner with the fam­ily of a col­league, but spend­ing the day with strangers sounds some­how worse than be­ing alone. I am re­signed to a day of movies and co­coa on my own and I think it will be fine. What I don’t want is to spend the day feel­ing sorry for my­self .

Any ad­vice for mak­ing the most of my cir­cum­stances? — Santa Claused

Dear Claused: My first sug­ges­tion is that you look for a way to be of ser­vice on Christ­mas Day, whether through help­ing to serve din­ner at the Sal­va­tion Army, walk­ing (or pet­ting) dogs at your lo­cal an­i­mal shel­ter, tak­ing a plate of good­ies to an el­derly neigh­bor or work­ing as a “shovel Santa” (I just made that up!), shov­el­ing a few side­walks in your neigh­bor­hood.

Check meetup.org for ideas in your area.

I also think you should take your col­league up on the of­fer, but only for dessert. Af­ter that, a movie and Chi­nese take­out sounds like a per­fect day.

Dear Amy: Re­gard­ing the con­ver­sa­tion prompted by “Stumped in Alabama,” I’d like to vote for re­tir­ing the la­bel “house­wife” and em­brac­ing “homemaker.” That’s what I was, for many years, and I trea­sure the ex­pe­ri­ence. — Homemaker

Dear Homemaker: “Homemaker” is nicely de­scrip­tive of the do­mes­tic ex­pe­ri­ence. Thank you.

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