How do you stop someone from feeling guilty?

Discussion in 'Relationships' started by rac, Dec 10, 2014.

  1. rac

    rac Well-Known Member

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    Or at least lessen the guilt. GF just admitted she's feeling a lot of guilt lately because she's still halfway in the closet. We've talked about this before and like before, I assured her this is not a concern right now. The other thing is, she mentioned this just recently when she's away. When we're together, things are almost perfect. And when I try to talk about it, she just tells me she's fine, she was just missing me and blamed it on holiday blues (she said because we will not be spending Christmas together. Her parents are hosting this year and to lessen the pressure on her, I decided to go visit my Dad.) And that's one thing about her, she is very good at avoiding conversations like this when it makes her uncomfortable. And I don't want to push her because that will only add to her stress.

    I can't believe I'm back here so soon with a question but I sometimes don't know what else to say or do to make it better for her. She tries not to show it but I notice. Even if she doesn't say, I can feel it's taking a toll on her.
     
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  2. Bluenote

    Bluenote Well-Known Member

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    You can't make someone feel or not feel something. All you can do is give them space to feel their feelings and not try to shut them down (or out). Just support them.

    I'm guessing she feels bad because she's living a double life. Wanting Christmas with you, but "hiding" you to go home for the Holidays. It's a pretty normal way to feel.

    Those feelings of discomfort are ultimately what push us to make changes, such as coming out. But it takes time. Getting more sure of one's self, one's sexuality, feeling mature enough to 'come out,' etc...

    All you can do is reassure her and be kind to her during the process.
     
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  3. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member

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    :) Absolutely
     
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  4. Bluenote

    Bluenote Well-Known Member

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    Yer just scared I'll throw some of my rainbow-pink avatar [email protected] at you. :mad:
     
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  5. Bluenote

    Bluenote Well-Known Member

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    Years of therapy netted me these three* likes.

    Takes little bow.

    *updated, lol
     
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    Last edited: Dec 11, 2014
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  6. Just Me

    Just Me Well-Known Member

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    Lol bluenote!

    The only other thing I can think to add is, at least she might start dropping hints that she's gay over the holiday. Then when she does mention you it won't be such a shell shock to the family. My finance came out to her family over Christmas when we were dating. (mostly she told her mom who told everybody lol) But at least stepping out the closet is a first step towards saying "by the way I'm in love with blah who's also a woman."
     
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  7. Bluenote

    Bluenote Well-Known Member

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    It can be tricky too, in new relationships. I mean, straights don't always bring home someone they've only been dating a little while. Depends on the family and all, of course. How long before you meet the parents? Always a sticky issue.
     
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  8. rac

    rac Well-Known Member

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    I wasn't really expecting her to bring me home. Here's what happened - I cleared my schedule thinking if she doesn't have any plans then at least I'm free and we don't have to sort it. Then I told her I'm free that week and she told me that family thing. She felt bad even after I said I understand and not to worry about it. To lessen the pressure on her, I booked a trip to see my Dad. When I told her of my plans, she felt worse when I only did that so she won't feel guilty about Christmas.

    You guys are right, I should just be more understanding. It can get frustrating sometimes, not because she's not out, but because I'm not sure if I'm doing a good or bad thing. And it doesn't help that she doesn't really like to talk about stuff (she once told me we don't have to process everything she says or feels. I wanted to tell her 'but I'm a lesbian!')

    Her brother and his wife know about us. We agreed to wait until after the holidays before she even starts thinking of coming out to her folks. I guess I'm just worried sometimes that she gets overridden with guilt and quit on us.
     
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  9. greylin

    greylin Well-Known Member

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    Rac, I think JustMe has it and I would not worry too much. It is hard to not talk about stuff and I really really feel your dilemma because I talk about every quirk, and brainfart I have and I do not shut up while my partner processes every node, vertices related to a subject and assigns weights on them before she speaks.

    Don't forget to woo her everyday and remind her how much you like her. Send stuff to her for the holidays, even if it is something silly. Send old-fashioned communiques in care of her brother for a more personal delivery. If you are worried about her worrying, at least give her something to smile about. Have good vibes, good thoughts, walking-on-stilts type merriment while you miss each other. Can't elevate someone when you are down, right?

    Like Bluenote said, and I hope to paraphrase correctly, you can only go on account of what you do.
     
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  10. Bluenote

    Bluenote Well-Known Member

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    I dunno. I wouldn't send her stuff over Christmas without asking her first. I know it ruins the romance, but...

    Closeted types can feel super paranoid that any little gesture will out them. Plus, she already feels guilty.

    I'd just ask her what she was comfortable with.
     
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  11. rac

    rac Well-Known Member

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    Their parents live about an hour away, she has her own place. But Bluenote is right, she may freak out if she receives something from me while with her family. But she will be back next week (her work includes frequent travelling) so maybe we'll plan something. And I'll be back before New Year's and we will be together celebrating.

    She had her moment the other day and she's miles away which frustrated me more because I couldn't be there. But like you guys said, I can only deal with what I can control so I'm gonna back off a bit and let her talk when she's ready to talk.

    Thank you guys! Talking about this here helped me keep my sanity. Oh, I cannot go online that often so just in case, Happy Holidays to you all!
     
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  12. Coffee Addict

    Coffee Addict Well-Known Member

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    I think @greylin was suggesting to do the delivery through her brother because he already knows and that would not be too indiscrete (?).

    Now, when my partner feels guilt about something like that I usually give her some reassurance and lighten the mood with some joke (I am silly that way)... and of course I tell her I will make her pay by giving me lots of kisses when we see each other next. :) friendly blackmail :rolleyes:

    Anyway, don't worry too much about it... you can tell her I said so :D

    Happy Holidays to you too !!
     
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  13. Bluenote

    Bluenote Well-Known Member

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    So I went back and read your first thread, to get a little perspective.

    You gals haven't been together all that long. So I think it is normal for her to want to take things a bit slow - in terms of coming out and all. It took me a few years from dating a girl to being fully out (though coming out was a bit different in the 90s).

    From your other thread "M" sounds pretty self aware. She takes a little while to figure out the truth, it hurts a bit, but then she accepts it. It's not an easy thing to do.

    I think you are doing the right thing, in terms of telling her your expectations and taking the pressure off. So that she knows you don't expect her to leap into being 100% out, etc... I think it is pretty normal for couples, gay or straight, to allow their relationship grow and evolve. You can be crazy about someone, but if you've only been dating them a month, they're not the person you bring to Cousin Susie's wedding. But it's not always that clear - I mean, do you bring someone to a wedding after 6 months? Or introduce them to your parents after 9 months.

    So you guys are going to have these bumps in the road. Where you sort out stuff like Holidays, business trips, that first vacation together.

    I say when she gets back, talk to her about what she wants to do for New Years. Then just look forward to that and enjoy it.

    Happy Holidays!!
     
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  14. rac

    rac Well-Known Member

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    I agree with everything you said.
    That's what I've been trying to tell her, that I am perfectly fine with going slow. When she agreed to date me, I told her we'd go as fast or as slow as she likes, whatever she's comfortable with. Before I do or say anything, especially in public, I ask her if she's ok with it. TBH, I'd rather not meet her family until she's ready to introduce me as her girlfriend.

    I talked to her last night and this time, she initiated the talk. She said she felt guilty because I had to do all these things to make sure pressure's off her and she feels like she's being unfair to me. And she felt helpless because she couldn't do things properly (her words) like bring me to their family thing. I asked her if I am a boyfriend, will she take me to meet the family this early? She said no, maybe not. So I told her to treat this the same as her past relationships. I think she accepted that reasoning better.

    We will celebrate the holidays next week when she gets back and New Year's is already planned with friends so we're good.

    @greylin, I think I know what you meant now. She's better with surprises but that may be a good idea because it will be unexpected. But I think I'd go with the SIL with strict instructions to be discreet.

    @Coffee Addict, she is the silly one. When I try to make a joke, she laughs at me. I will try anyway, anything to make her laugh.

    Thanks guys. Enjoy the season!
     
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  15. Coffee Addict

    Coffee Addict Well-Known Member

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    I am glad you were able to talk to her, that is very important. You guys are learning to be together, you are discovering one another as partners. I think you are doing great in helping her see things different, like seeing the relationship as any other one. As long as you both keep the communication going you will be fine, and so far you are doing great.

    Best wishes for you two.
     
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  16. Bluenote

    Bluenote Well-Known Member

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    Speaking more generally, there are similarities between gay and straight relationships and there are differences.
    Also, there are similarities between gay people, closeted people and straight people.

    One of the differences between gay people or gay relationships versus straight can be isolation. Gay people may not know lots of other gay people, or feel widely accepted and comfortable seeking advice or support.

    When I was first 'out', I dated a few women who were older than me. They led me on that they wanted a serious relationship, but really they were just using me for something casual. I was left feeling used and hurt. If I had had someone that I could talk to, they might have helped me spot the "red flags" earlier. (With 20/20 hindsight, I can see them clearly now).

    This is part of why I post on AE. Because I wished I'd had someone to talk to back when I was a little baby dyke.

    Closeted people can have some differences between gay or straight people, too. They can wind up feeling a bit like an island in the middle, not really belonging anywhere. Like the straight side scorns them, and they disappoint the "out and proud" side.

    It's pretty common for closeted people to feel internalized homophobia, doubt, shame, anger, etc... But they can feel like they don't really have anyone to talk to. I mean, look at all the flak that Jillian Michaels took for admitting that she'd rather not be gay and deal with everything. So yeah, it can be hard for someone to say "I feel ashamed that I find women's breasts so sexy."

    Eventually, people just have to work through those feelings. Of course, it helps to have someone to talk to. So groups like coming out groups, or pflag can help.

    A bit of a slightly off topic rambling, sorry. One of the sad things about the nuking of the "pre-pink" AfterEllen is that so many nuggets of wisdom on the forums got nuked. Well, I guess it's up to us cockroaches to rebuild.
     
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  17. rac

    rac Well-Known Member

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    Her best friend is gay and so are my two best friends who are her friends, too, so she's not lacking support. I'm pretty sure she talks to BFF about these things; I am very sure she doesn't talk to her about anything that concerns me (only because she's considerate of her feelings, I suspect.) I don't know how receptive she will be with going to pflag, etc. but I'll mention it to her. I thought about this forum but I have to tell her what I wrote and I don't want to give her another reason to freak out.

    After reading all your replies again, it got me thinking that maybe I am trying too hard to simplify things for her when it is not that simple. I know she's still grasping on the idea of coming out. One time, she told us she doesn't understand why she has to come out now when she didn't have to when she was straight. Her BFF I thought gave a good answer: nobody's forcing her but she has to at least acknowledge it so people will. Her parents, from what everybody told me, are liberal folks. But you know, this doesn't come easy to anybody and there are no rules on when or why or what to do. And that's what I've been trying to make her understand, to go easy on herself.
     
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  18. Bluenote

    Bluenote Well-Known Member

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    I agree, you can't really simplify this for her. (or for you as a couple). Just like trying to protect her from guilt. It is a very understandable impulse, but in the end, people just have to work through what they have to work through. If her life is accepting (liberal friends, liberal family, liberal culture) it will be easier than if she lives in an intolerant environment.

    I think the fact that she is confused and asking questions is a good sign. At least she is facing things and dealing with them, not being in denial. It's like that stage of cleaning where you take everything and dump it on the floor. Big mess, but has to be done.

    The truth is that she doesn't have to "come out." But she will be happier and healthier if she at least "comes out" to herself and some of her close friends. Because then she won't be struggling internally, won't be isolated and won't have the stress of having to censor her speech and actions.

    Denial or avoidance is a defense mechanism that protects us from overwhelming emotions or ideas. So if someone was raised that gay people are 'perverts,' then living in denial that they are gay protects them from the shame or fear that they feel about being a 'pervert.' To be healthy, one has to eventually face this myth that gay people are 'perverts' and dispel it.

    Coming out to oneself isn't just about saying a label or telling people. It is about this process of letting go of denial an facing internalized homophobia, or facing fear of external discrimination. Just about everyone I've met has some negative thoughts or feelings about gay people.

    Have you (or her friends) talked to her at all about what they went through coming out to themselves? I'm not talking about 'oh, this is how I told my parents.' I'm talking more the internal struggle, like 'oh, I thought all lesbians were crazy flannel wearing man haters that just drank beer all day.'
     
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  19. greylin

    greylin Well-Known Member

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    What's wrong with flannel and beer? :p
     
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  20. rac

    rac Well-Known Member

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    Lol, @greylin.

    As for your question @Bluenote... I'm trying to remember. It may have been partly discussed with friends but maybe not on that level. Unfortunately, I don't have much to tell her because luckily, I was blessed with a very understanding, supportive, and the most open-minded parents. I told them I'm gay and they basically said 'Good, love you still' and I never looked back. I have an idea on how to talk to her about this but what is the best way? And any suggestion on what to say is very much appreciated because it seems like I've been hit and miss with her lately.

    One thing about her, she is the type who won't get into something unless she can give her everything. I think that's part of why she's having this guilt, she somehow feels like she is disappointing us (that is, me and her family and to some degree, our friends) for some reason or another.

    If it's not obvious enough, I really like her and I want to do everything to make this work. I appreciate having this conversation with you guys because it helps me understand her perspective.
     
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