One of the most devastating times of my life was when I was about 19 and my then-boyfriend confessed he was gay.
It was my first-ever “real” relationship. By real I mean we started as best friends, then started to date and agreed to be in a committed relationship with each other. I only had dates and few non-serious relationships that only lasted up to 3 month and never felt like they could give me more than some fun times.
My boyfriend’s coming out was intimidating and I admit, as young I was, I handled it totally wrong.
I got super emotional, I was incredibly hurt and reactive. I didn’t think at all, looking back now. All my world was upside down and I had no idea how to handle but weep, cry, yell. Subconsciously I was trying to hurt him with my awful blaming and victim mentality. (Isn’t it so much easier to see through our patterns in retrospect?! Amazing.)
Of course, my first reaction was to leave him. We had an awfully painful break up. I didn’t understand him and as hurt I was, I didn’t even try (shame, I know). But as time passed, I kept missing him. Not mainly as a romantic partner but as the best friend we used to be.
After about a half year of silence and no contact, I decided to reach out to him. It was really awkward and clumsy but we still loved each other a lot, thought in different ways. I realized we were never really more than just friends who tried to have sex, but that it didn’t work.
We were able to step over the trauma—of his confession for me and my destructive behavior towards him, and discussed the matter with brutal honesty, so we can repair and save our friendship.
From this, came a great lesson of empathy and understanding people and the complexity of life and feelings.
There’s a Hungarian saying which goes “every coin has two sides”: meaning, there are always two sides of the story. But my dad keeps saying that the coin actually has 3 sides, there’s also an edge we keep forgetting about. The edge is all the things we do not see or aren’t aware of.
So there’s more than two sides for this story.
1. The side of the girlfriend.
2. The side of the boyfriend.
3. Complicated other stuff you’d never think about.
So let’s take a look at these.
From the girlfriend’s point of view:
What your boyfriend is telling you, first and foremost, is something that’s true about himself, no matter what else happens from there.
This coming out made me feel betrayed, cheated, lied to. It broke my confidence into tiny peaces. I even questioned if I was feminine enough and if it was me who made him realize he’s gay. Am I so manly and horrible? I kept questioning my sanity and developed serious trust issues. For a long time, I felt like I couldn’t trust any men and their true identity. It took a long time to recover.
However, the most important part if this happens to you, is not to blame yourself. What happened has nothing to do with you. Him realizing he’s gay doesn’t mean you’re any less than you were when you were with him. It doesn’t mean you’re ugly or have an awful personality. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad girlfriend. If he had such a hard time figuring himself out yet still chose to be with you, you must have special qualities he saw in you and made him like/love you. Even if it’s not exactly the same way as you expected it.
Stereotypes run deep in our society, and if you tell a story about your gay-ex-boyfriend some people might judge you. But do not listen to them. You believed he is in loved with you and committed to you, why would you suspect any other thing? So stop blaming yourself for not “seeing the signs.”
From the boyfriend’s point of view:
My gay ex explained how hard it was for him to befriend his own sexuality. He realized he has different feelings when he was in his early teens, but for years he was fighting them and hiding them from even himself. He struggled to be “normal” but he knew he wasn’t, so for him being bisexual seemed like a stepping stone. He said it was important to him to tell me this because he still loved me and wanted to be honest with me and show his real personality to me, instead of lying about himself. He knew it might ruin our relationship but if he lies and I figure out about it, it would be worse. So he took all his courage and confessed to me, hoping for the best.
I understood later that it might have been harder for him than it was for me. Insecurities, family, circumstances, prejudices… there are so many reasons why people don’t come out of the closet, and why people deny to themselves that they’re homosexual. And on top of that, he lost a valued friend when he came out to me, not just a “cover-up girlfriend”.
From the 3rd perspective:
It took months to build back the trust to a point that we could be friends again, but I’ve always believed that if you think you can salvage a friendship, you should at least give it a chance. It’s a devastating experience but I became grateful it happened this way. Imagine if we’d gotten married and had children, and he’d come out after 30 years as gay? I’m not sure I could handle it any better that way.
I respect my gay ex for the courage he took to be honest with me, value our renewed friendship and I still had a whole life in front of me to find the right partner for me.
Cliché, but there is always some silver lining. In this chaotic world we have to remain open and loving and grow from our painful experiences too. So probably, that is why we contract such things to happen to us, so we our souls can grow and we can become the person we are meant to be.
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Photo: Joel Overbeck via Unsplash