My girlfriend Becky broke up with me after nine months because I’m not out to my religious parents.
They’ve made it clear my entire life that gay people are not acceptable. If I were to come out to them, I’m certain they would disown me. I couldn’t care less about not getting an inheritance. I just don’t know how I would live without my parents’ loving me.
They don’t live in the area so I only see them a couple times per year. When I returned after visiting them for Father’s Day, Becky had moved out.
I think it’s really mean of her to be trying to get me to essentially choose between a relationship with her or a relationship with my parents. She isn’t in my shoes. Her parents, whom I know because they live in D.C., are totally supportive and were with us at Pride a few weeks ago. She can’t imagine having parents who would stop loving her as mine would.
And she can’t understand why I’m not mad at them. But I believe you can’t be angry at people over their religious convictions.
I’m heartbroken. I love Becky and have done my best to be a great girlfriend. I’ve been happier with her than I’d ever previously been. Now she pulled the carpet out from under me.
Is her behavior fair?
This is not a question of fair. Becky gets to decide whether she wants to be with you or not, whatever her reason. You can’t force her to be with you. Likewise, you get to decide if you want to be out to your parents or not. Becky can’t force you. But she doesn’t want to be with you, if you aren’t.
I’m sorry you’re in pain right now and I’m sorry you’re in a tough situation that’s likely to recur unless you change the conditions of your life. Suppose you get into another relationship. Even if you see your parents infrequently, how might hiding your relationship from them torque your life?
Would you be afraid to live with your significant other for fear that your parents might visit? If you wanted to become parents yourselves, would you be able to conceal that from your own parents? Would you be able to keep your story straight (literally) so as not to slip up and give yourself away?
Who would want to accompany you on such a life journey? Going along with your secrecy and contortions would be a hardship and a headache.
I’d also venture to say that hiding from your parents must be negatively affecting your self esteem. No matter what justification you make for your parents, part of you has to believe you’re not OK if you’re willing to keep yourself in a straitjacket in order not to offend them. Low self esteem doesn’t make you great relationship material.
I’m not telling you to come out to your parents. No one can make that decision but you, but believing that you need your parents’ love to survive and that they must think you’re straight so that they will love you, will constrict your life and interfere with your efforts to find someone to love you for whom you actually are.
Perhaps they might surprise you and choose you over their religious beliefs. But you can’t force them to accept you. All you can do is decide whether what you have with them is worth what you’re losing in return.
Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with LGBT individuals and couples in D.C. He can be found online at michaelradkowsky.com. All identifying information has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Have a question? Send it to Michael@michaelradkowsky.com.