Forks In The Road

Hello Dr. Darcy,

I really, really need some help/guidance.  I am a 27 year old male and my girlfriend is a faithful follower to your blog.  After 4.5 years and on the brink of us moving in together, she just revealed to me in a very difficult conversation that she's mostly only attracted to women.  I thought I was her first sexual experience (this is what she's previously told me (she was mine)), but come to find out she's had two prior lesbian partners.  I am not homophobic in any way, but this is the person I'm considering marrying, and as supportive as I want to be, I really am quite devastated.  Not that she is a lesbian, but that there's other sides to her for this long I've only partially suspected, but never knew.  She says she's absolutely in love with me, and I completely believe her, but as I've read your bio she's very much like you.

Maybe the only difference is she's repressing it. I watch her from the corner of my eye, and in general she seems completely miserable.  There are other factors there, but we've discussed them and seeking counseling to get through them, but there's always been something else.  Something else that I couldn't see about her. Something that feels like she's not who she is or supposed to be - then this is revealed and it begins to make sense.  You've talked about repressing sexuality in a post and that it starts to resurface in bigger ways.  For the past few months, I've found more lesbian erotica, more blogs, more depressing young lesbian films (not porn, more v for vendetta), lesbian pop culture around her than I have before and she really connects with our older lesbian friends.

She's very shy and she believes her family and friends will throw her away if she comes out. She told me last night that she loves me, but if we broke up she'd be back with a woman.  She says, "Because no other man would live up to you."  I think that's partially a lie, I feel like, especially long term, she would rather be with a woman.  I don't know if the only reason we're together is because through me this is her only shot at a heterosexual life?  Is that even remotely healthy/right?

(In tears as I write this) I truly love my girlfriend (whom you've corresponded to) very, very much.  I sincerely value her happiness more than anything, though.  If we continue to go forward, move in, get married, how much time do I have before she leaves me for who she really is?  Should I even go forward?  Could it be possible that it's just a phase? What do I do?

ANSWER

For the record, I always edit down long questions, but each time I tried to shorten yours I felt like it diluted your very heartfelt position.

Your girl sounds terrified:  Terrified of losing you, of losing your relationship and of losing everything that she has a frame of reference for.   And I’m sure that the prospect of risking rejection from her friends and family isn’t helping her to ponder this decision.  You say that you value her happiness more than anything else and I’m here to tell you that you need to value YOUR happiness more than anything else.  Spending your life married to a closeted partner is not the path to happiness my friend.

OK:  Now for some concrete suggestions (which is to say, directives):

  1. Do NOT buy a ring or further engage in thoughts of cohabitating at this time.
  2. RUN, don’t walk, to your OWN therapist.  I’ll gladly give you names.
  3. Strongly suggest that she go into her own therapy.
  4. Suggest a 6-month separation, during which time she should commit to pondering her path.

Right now the focus is all on her:  Is she gay?  Is she with me because I’m the only shot she has at being hetero?  Will she eventually leave me if we marry?  Could this be a phase?  You need to refocus on yourself.  In your own therapy, ponder your answers to the following questions:  Why is it that you find yourself in a relationship with a person who appears to be totally miserable?  What would it be like for you to be with someone who is happy and filled you up with hope and inspiration?  Even if she were to commit to staying with you and living a heterosexual lifestyle, would you ever completely trust in that?

If you want to take care of her and be able to support her, you need to get support yourself.  There are no easy answers to your myriad of questions, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.  She’s doing you a favor by bringing this up before you take your next steps in the relationship.  Trust that everything happens for a reason.  Regardless of how this resolves, you will be better for having gone through it.  Now get your ass into therapy.