Dating, Partnering, and Your Family

So you’re out to your whole family. Everyone is dealing. Some people are handing it better than you thought they would. Others, not so much.

Accepting you is one thing, accepting your relationship may be another. Seeing you with another man is an adjustment. I know many gay men who have never brought a man home to meet mom.

There are times when it makes sense to leave that closet door closed. How out you want to be is totally up to you. It is ultimately for you, and your partner to decide.

My challenge didn’t come from being with a man. My family struggled with my first boyfriend a bit. But it is the number of relationships that presented a problem. They felt like they would just get used to a new guy and poof I was single again.

That’s their perspective. It’s not like I subjected them to my dating merry go round. The shortest relationship they know about lasted 5 years. The other two nine. Jack and I have been together for eleven. Hardly outrageous by most people’s standards. My parents have been together for more than sixty years so they just don’t get it.

It’s easier with my brother. He has been married to his wife for over two decades but we’re still from the same generation.  He and my sister in law have heard about most of the men I have dated but didn’t meet many of them. Jack’s daughter has been fine with us.

I don’t suggest that you bring over every guy you date. I give the same advice to straight clients. When a relationship is getting serious, then it’s time to think about it.

The great advantage to having your partner integrated into your family is acceptance. At their best weddings are about communities coming together to honour the couple’s union. That support can be a very powerful thing in a relationship.

Being appropriate is important. It’s fair to expect respect. It’s entirely possible that your family members will grow to love, and appreciate, your man. If they don’t it’s OK.

Don’t read homophobia into every challenging interaction. Sometimes people don’t like each other. I was with a man for nine years who I consider one of the finest human beings I’ve ever met. My mother didn’t like him. The feeling was mutual. It was about personalities not our relationship.  If issues come up get some clarity before making accusations.

My parents and Jack had a rough start too. They were in “Here we go again!” mode when they first met him. So they didn’t exactly welcome him with open arms. We all have better relationships because we gave each other space and talked things out.

Being fully integrated into your family and sharing your partner with them is a wonderful and challenging thing for any couple. There may be homophobia to deal with.  People may need time to adjust. But, the journey is worth it for all concerned.