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Unaccepting parents

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Old 11-01-2007, 11:15 AM   #1
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Unhappy Unaccepting parents

The holidays are quickly approaching. While most people experience a hint of joy at this idea, I'm left with sadness and nervous tension.

Here's why:
My girlfriend and I have been in a relationship for 2.5 years. We're in love, and that's not going to change any time soon (I hope!) All my friends are okay with it, and all hers are, as well. Some of her extended family knows about her relationship with me, and they couldn't care less. Her brother and her sister both love me, but her parents never, ever want to meet me, hate that she is involved with me, and don't want to hear a single word about me.

However, they are well aware that I have a good, steady, decent-paying job (I'm able to support the two of us while she pursues her masters, though she just started a job today so that we can have some extra), that I'm a very talented web designer (they saw my web development business site), that I'm not physically unfortunate (they've seen pictures), that I'm well-educated (they saw my resume on my web site because they're nosey), that I'm polite and well-mannered (her brother and sister have both said so), and that I'm not leaving my girlfriend's life any time soon

My family is the same way: my sister completely accepts me and is ok with my girlfriend (though they have a small bit of a personality clash), my cousins are completely cool with it, but my parents... well... here goes:

I "came out" to them as bisexual when I was 16. They thought it was a phase. I dated both girls and guys from the ages of 16-18, until I met my current girlfriend. She is unquestionably my longest relationship to date. My parents were disgusted with my "life choices" and my mom screamed, "LORD! TAKE ME NOW!" and forced me to go to confession. Then, they (Mom especially) wouldn't stop harassing me about being bisexual and telling me how I'm going to ****, reading bible verses to me, then wondering if I need an exorcism My parents are hardcore homophobes and have 732094709 misconceptions about those who aren't completely straight. Even though I contradict every single misconception in the book (I'm not promiscuous, I don't want to be a member of the opposite sex, etc), they still harbor these very false stereotypes.

I never even told them that the girlfriend and I are romantically involved (because we never, ever discuss the subject of my sexuality) but I'm sure they can read between the lines considering I moved to the other end of the east coast for her, share a bedroom with her, am planning on moving again -with her, and we do everything together. I'm pretty sure they know (even if they don't want to) but like everything else related to my "alternative" sexuality, it's swept under the rug.

This makes me sad that I can't really share my girlfriend with my parents, and she can't share me with hers. Whenever we visit family, we can never bring the other. This causes arguments between us. I've accepted that I will never meet her parents, but she won't accept that she probably should never meet mine unless they become more accepting. She wants to come over to my family's place for one of the major holidays, and I've told her repeatedly that it is not the best idea, because I don't want all **** to blow over and make us both miserable.

We are very serious about each other and the discussion of long-time commitment has come up several times. We're not planning to do this any time *too* soon, but we've mentioned it briefly. I don't want us hitched until we can afford a faaaabulous ceremony and I don't want us hitched until she's done with school. So, it would be in a few years. Still, I know that if we ever DO get hitched, neither of our parents will come to the ceremony, and that sucks.

A part of me wants to cry right now.
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Old 11-01-2007, 11:24 AM   #2
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You know what I say? Bring her. See what your parents think. Most people won't say something to someone's face. In my family, we have had family members date/marry people that the family doesn't like but I had never seen any of my family members say anything to that person. They just kind of go with it.

My advice though would be to take it slow and introduce her and maybe hold back on affection in front of them, at least the first time.

Your parents basically have a basic belief that your sexuality is wrong and that may never change. It is too ingrained into them. They may be able to accept it over time but it may take 10, 15 or 20 years for that to happen.
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Old 11-01-2007, 11:30 AM   #3
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My advice though would be to take it slow and introduce her and maybe hold back on affection in front of them, at least the first time.
I agree there completely. I DO want to introduce her to my family, but I know my family will NOT be able to tolerate any kind of affection. We never are extreme with it (too much PDA is just tacky and very high school) but we do say "I love you," we use pet names, and sometimes I'll hold her hand or put my arm around her. I told her we can't do this without my mother bursting into tears, and she said, "Then we're hiding who we are. I can't say I love you at all? We can't use pet names? We might as well just be ROOMMATES or FRIENDS! BEST FRIENDS is all our mom wants to think we are anyway!"
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Old 11-01-2007, 11:37 AM   #4
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I agree with nelie - I say go for it. You only live once and you might as well be happy. It was the same way with my aunt and then my grandparents and other family members came around to it and now they tease my aunt that they will get rid of her from the family and keep her girlfriend instead. Good luck and let us know what happens.
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Old 11-01-2007, 11:37 AM   #5
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Sorry you have to deal with this, it makes me sad that people can’t just be happy for others that have found someone who makes them happy. We should all be so lucky.

I don’t know your parents or your girlfriend, so this is coming from an outsider to the situation (obviously), but I would think that the best way to do this is to start slow and then maybe you can loosen up and be more yourselves after your parents have a little time to warm up to her? If you hit them too hard on the first meeting they might shut her out, but if they can at least pretend in their minds a little bit like you are roommates or something they might open up enough to get to know her as a person, and maybe even like her. Your parents reaction is coming from a place of fear and unfamiliarity, once it becomes more familiar and they see that your girlfriend is a real person (and probably a really nice one!) they might not be so afraid.
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Old 11-01-2007, 11:41 AM   #6
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Aww, big , Shane.

Not sure if you're looking for advice or just sympathy, but I'll give advice anyway: although I understand your desire to avoid conflict, I think you're doing yourself and your girlfriend a disfavor by not coming "out" to your parents. You might consider letting your parents know that their intolerance of your sexuality and your choice of a life partner is making you unhappy and also damaging your relationship with them. I wouldn't put it as a "her" or "them" ultimatum, but your parents do need to know that if they can't accept who you are as an adult, they can't expect to be invited to share a major part of your life as an adult. It's their choice.

Your parents might, in the end, surprise you. Parental love is strong enough to overcome a lot of things, including homophobia and intolerance in the name of "God." (See, e.g., Dick Cheney.) They're not likely to just all of a sudden shed their homophobic beliefs, but they may not apply them to you or your girlfriend. Stereotypes -- and people -- are like that, too.

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Old 11-01-2007, 11:51 AM   #7
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Advice, sympathy, it's all good.

"Parental love is strong enough to overcome a lot of things, including homophobia and intolerance in the name of "God." (See, e.g., Dick Cheney.)" - good example, Kim. I hope you are right about this; perhaps I should just state the obvious to them. I'm sure they've put two and two together, but hearing it from me will solidify their assumptions. Just thinking about "coming out" to them all over again is making my heart beat out of my chest because of the memories I have of dropping the bisexual bomb. And now, I'm much closer to them than I was then. I'm much more kind and much more respectful towards them than I was as a teen. Our relationship is just SO, SO perfect, except for their homophobia. It's like I'm so scared of breaking their hearts all over again
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Old 11-01-2007, 12:04 PM   #8
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My cousin went through the same thing. Her parents practically disowned her... for about a year... and they came around. Parents in my opinion should love unconditionally. I'm one and there is NOTHING my boys could do or be that would make me love them any less.

Her parents adore her partner once they wrapped their brains around the fact that this is (and who is) what makes her happy.

So hang in there.
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Old 11-01-2007, 12:04 PM   #9
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Ok, I'm going to go a completely different way here. My concern, if I were you, would not be about parents. Parents are what they are. They are adults who get to have viewpoints the same as you do; the fact that we don't agree with them is sometimes just the way it is. I married a black guy and Mom has no problem with it and Dad never accepted it till the day he died. Oh well.

Here's my concern when I read your posts. Your girlfriend always sounds really manipulative and controlling to me. She doesn't want you to get as thin as her, she doesn't want you to wear your hair in certain ways that she doesn't like, it's fine for men to look at her but she gets ticked off if they look at you, she gets ticked because you won't force the issue with your parents while doing exactly the same thing with her own. It always sounds like you are trying not to upset her and that can be a hard way to live in the long run.

I'm always amazed at how young you are because your posts are so mature, you seem to be such a strong assertive person that I hope you aren't burying that part of yourself to make this relationship work.

As for the holidays, start you own traditions and screw the people who don't like your choices. (And feel free to tell me to mind my own business. )
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Old 11-01-2007, 12:09 PM   #10
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Not that it is related, I do have to say that I have a tough time with my parents partly because I'm an only child and I moved away. Also, it has been my moms dream for me to have kids. It isn't my dream. Sometimes she makes me feel like I have broken her heart but she does need to realize that I need to live my life and it doesn't mean that I don't love her.

So I do understand your concerns about breaking your moms heart but really she needs to understand that it is your life, not hers and you need to figure things out for yourself. I think once you start showing her your life (slowly), then she will eventually get the idea that your sexuality is not a phase that will go away.
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Old 11-01-2007, 12:11 PM   #11
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That being said...... perhaps like you have realized, an actual "do you get the reality of the situation" conversation might bring things to a head. That is what she had to do to finally get where she is.
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Old 11-01-2007, 12:25 PM   #12
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Ok, I'm going to go a completely different way here. My concern, if I were you, would not be about parents. Parents are what they are. They are adults who get to have viewpoints the same as you do; the fact that we don't agree with them is sometimes just the way it is. I married a black guy and Mom has no problem with it and Dad never accepted it till the day he died. Oh well.
I'm sorry your dad never accepted your marriage - but you definitely understand what I'm going through! As a lot of people mentioned, people are often already grounded in their principles and nothing will change that, unfortunately. Of course, I'll probably always hope things will change and try to make it happen anyway

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Here's my concern when I read your posts. Your girlfriend always sounds really manipulative and controlling to me. She doesn't want you to get as thin as her, she doesn't want you to wear your hair in certain ways that she doesn't like, it's fine for men to look at her but she gets ticked off if they look at you, she gets ticked because you won't force the issue with your parents while doing exactly the same thing with her own. It always sounds like you are trying not to upset her and that can be a hard way to live in the long run.
To an extent, you are right. She actually doesn't mind when guys check me out, though... I think she may even like it, because it means that the one she's with is attractive and that others want me, but only she can have me. Oops - that goes back to the jealousy thing The only time she's ever really gotten paranoid about stuff like that is when my Halle Berry lookalike friend started hitting on me (in a really explicit way - she was also beyond plastered). She started hating my friend after that, but she's come back around, as her and this particular friend have always gotten along pretty well. The dislike only lasted around a week or so, but of course it would be indefinite if this friend was sober. I wouldn't blame her for that, though.

I DO sometimes feel like I have to walk on eggshells for her, but I've also told her this. We've had rough patches because of the silly double standards she likes to have. I've stated multiple times that it's not fair, and she gave me this silly smile and said, "Since when was this relationship FAIR?" I told her to stop being such a diva.

But here's why I stay: She is a very caring person. She's intelligent, witty, well-spoken, well-educated, and full of dreams, ambition, and aspirations. She is supportive of all my dreams, whether it is to own my web design business, become a personal trainer, or even a rock star or actress. I'm very comfortable around her and can act funny, silly, goofy, and all kinds of dorky without getting made fun of. She's very affectionate and doesn't mind holding my hand, hugging me, or even kissing me in public (not in tacky make out way, just a little peck). She writes me cute, sweet things, and I do the same for her. She's appreciative of every little thing I do for her and she gives me lots of compliments, pets my head, and tells me how great I am WHILE genuinely meaning it! We're very connected, can finish each other's sentences, and have very similar views on many different subjects. While she isn't into everything I'm into, we have enough common interests to have tons to discuss. She is not afraid of what people think of her, which I love. Oh, and she's absolutely stunning, physically.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin41 View Post
I'm always amazed at how young you are because your posts are so mature, you seem to be such a strong assertive person that I hope you aren't burying that part of yourself to make this relationship work.

As for the holidays, start you own traditions and screw the people who don't like your choices. (And feel free to tell me to mind my own business. )
Aww, thank you.

And mind your own business!

Just kidding
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Old 11-01-2007, 12:30 PM   #13
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Not that it is related, I do have to say that I have a tough time with my parents partly because I'm an only child and I moved away. Also, it has been my moms dream for me to have kids. It isn't my dream. Sometimes she makes me feel like I have broken her heart but she does need to realize that I need to live my life and it doesn't mean that I don't love her.

So I do understand your concerns about breaking your moms heart but really she needs to understand that it is your life, not hers and you need to figure things out for yourself. I think once you start showing her your life (slowly), then she will eventually get the idea that your sexuality is not a phase that will go away.
You know, there is also the possibility that she wonders if she did anything while raising you to make you not want children. Often, when parents have dreams for their children that their children don't want, or the children do something that they don't like, they start to internalize it and wonder if they did anything wrong.
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Old 11-01-2007, 12:38 PM   #14
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Ah, parents.
Some of them want to control their offspring well into adulthood, forever if they can get away with it, and just can't let go of that control. My mother was like that. I still have nightmares about it.

There is also the idea that "when you are in my house you will do things my way," which I can sort of understand. It is a control thing again, but at least it's only for a short duration. Maybe you could give your parents that much and stifle the affectionate stuff while you are there, but still let them know how things are with you and your girlfriend.

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Old 11-01-2007, 12:47 PM   #15
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Just my 2-cents (worth only what you paid for it) is that you should open up a dialogue with your parents wherein you let them know you've made a decision and that you are no longer bi-sexual but a gay woman in a very loving and committed relationship. Every parent wants their child to find love...

Define who you are and what you're feeling so they'll know exactly what they're dealing with. Tell them what you are and feel and stick to it. You are a much different person now than you were at 16 and even at 18 when you told them you were bi.

Today, you are a mature young woman in a committed relationship that's moving toward the long-term. Let your parents know this is who you are and ask that they accept your partner, whether it be this one or someone else in the future. After all, if you were straight, there would have been more than one man they would have met by now...

Ask them to accept YOU first and then ask them to trust YOU to bring into their lives someone who will respect them and their values the way you do.

Just like you wouldn't parade a bunch of different guys through your family holiday gatherings, ask your family to trust that when you do introduce someone it's because they are special to you and you wish to share them with your family.

I think it would make a difference and help your parents to know this is not a choice, it is not about all about sex, and most of all, there is no confusion left in you so they needn't be confused either!

I've been married since I was 19 (22 years); fresh out of a Catholic high school and raised in a very strict German Catholic family - I'd never met a gay person until I started working with a lesbian in my 20's... When I asked her why she couldn't just love a man and be happy she told me it was because I couldn't love a woman and be happy; it's just that simple.

I don't believe who you love is always a choice and your parents need to hear that not all gay people live a deviant lifestyle. There are plenty of examples of healthy, happy, successful gay couples and you're next on that list! Surround yourself with loving and supportive people and remember, if her family or your family cannot or will not accept you, there is joy to be had in self-acceptance and the family you build together.

Often when parents hear their child is gay they sprint straight for the closet you've just come out of. There is a lot of shame, blame and unhappiness to go around. But it doesn't have to be that way...

Bottom line, this is your life and you're a caring and wonderful daughter to want your family to be a part of your life... I believe that if you respect your parents, (and it may mean holding off on pet names and PDA when you're around them) eventually they will trust you and whom it is that you love. Remember, deep down all they want is your happiness and a lot of what you might see as anger is just fear that their daughter might be disappointed or get hurt.

I think down the road there is happiness in store for all of you - just by the very fact that you're all still talking.

You may want to pick up Straight Parents, Gay Children (Inspiring Families to Live Honestly and With Greater Understanding) by Robert Bernstein, and ask your Mom and/or dad to consider reading it.

With or without your family the holidays (and the other 363 days of the year) should still be a wonderful and exciting time for you. You are creative, brilliant, successful and best of all, loved back by someone.

My best to you,

Janet

Last edited by CABunnyGirl : 11-01-2007 at 12:52 PM.
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