Breaking Out Of The Closet

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Hi Dr. Darcy!

I have been having some issues in regards to accepting my sexuality. I am a 2nd year university student, and I have known I am gay since my teenage years. I have struggled with being in relationships with men - and though just recently I have started coming into my own, I jumped back into the closet and am in a relationship with another man. I am currently in therapy and I know a lot of my issues are around my life-traps of defectiveness and shame - and the anxiety I have surrounding this.

Would you have any advice for how I can learn to accept myself as a gay woman?

ANSWER

I’m sorry you’re having such difficulty. We live in a world that until very recently has almost exclusively told us that it is shameful to be gay. And so it makes perfect sense to me that you’re battling these feelings.

I think the first step towards self-acceptance is meeting other students in the LGBT community. A college campus is perfect for this. Find out if your school has a group for LGBTs. These groups often have straight allies who are members and so there’s no need to make any declarative statements to your boyfriend about why you’re joining – that is, if you even feel the need to tell him. My point is that you need gay friends.

In addition, I think it’s important for you to get very specific on your therapy goal. You can spend your entire life in therapy exploring the roots to your shame, or you can focus on how your shame is presenting itself today, and then pull that weed out, root and all. I’d get curious about what specific needs you’re fulfilling by dating this man. It doesn’t feel very loving to me for you to be in a relationship that has locked you back in the closet. That’s an area I’d encourage you to explore if you were working with me.

At the end of the day, being single can feel terrifying for many people, and that fear becomes the glue that keeps them connected to people who aren’t necessarily good for them. It’s easy for me to speak from my vantage point. I’m married, after all, and have likely forgotten how lonely nights can be when there isn’t someone calling to say goodnight. But I want to believe that I’d be capable of being single if being part of a couple meant I was acting in a way that was sabotaging my wellbeing.

Please let me know how else I can help. Darcy@AskDrDarcy.com

Writer’s Stats: Female, Lesbian.