Dr. Darcy, my partner has just recently come out, she was married to a man, has three kids, and has a very religious father that is very outspoken about gay people and how they are sinners. She is terrified to come out to him, fears losing him and some family members. She has lived a straight life for 40 years and of course the kids are used to that life, the youngest a 15 year old daughter is dealing with losing an in-home father and all that comes with being a child of a LGBT parent. My partner is very worried about taking away the traditional family life her daughter has always known. But the biggest concern I have is that she is worried about going against her father’s wishes and hopes for her, which is a straight life. I know she has to find the strength within herself to come out to him and live her life for herself and not others. But I can’t fully understand her struggle because I have supportive parents and family. What can I do to help her find the strength within herself to come out to her dad and be ok with the fact that he will most likely walk out of her life?
I love it (and by this I mean, I hate it) when people break one of my cardinal rules and then ask me for help fixing the mess that resulted from breaking one of those rules ~ which is now is fairly unfixable.
Short Answer: She’s not coming out to her dad. Furthermore, if she ever did, she will NEVER be OK with him walking out of her life.
I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and presume that you haven’t been following my blog for long and I’ll laboriously reiterate the cardinal rule that you broke:
You should only date people who are exactly where you are on the Coming Out spectrum. To date someone who is at a different phase of coming out than you are will create a power struggle – like the one you find yourself in. The person who is further along in coming out will invariably be dissatisfied with the more closeted partner. I’ve seen it hundreds of times and it’s always the same story, though each couple hopes theirs will result in a different outcome, with the closeted partner assuring the out partner that she will eventually come out but that she’s just more of a ‘private’ person, and the Out partner swearing that she doesn’t even care if her partner comes out – the important thing is that they’re together. This. Never. Works. Both partners become ingrained in their respective positions which results in a power struggle between the couple.
Here’s what you need to do: Stop wishing it was different than it is. She’s not out to her dad. She’s never coming out to her dad. Find a way to make a life with this woman despite her bible-thumping father – or decide you can’t live like this and end the relationship. But stop hoping she will change. If you can do this, the power struggle will immediately end and you’ll have peace.
Writer’s stats: Female, lesbian.