True Story: After dating for 4 years, my boyfriend came out as gay

boyfriend came out

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a Midwestern almost-thirty-year-old who loves to read, run, and cook new foods. I am a teacher by day and also love to travel whenever I can.

How did you meet your boyfriend? 
I met him in college and was immediately attracted to him. He was a bit mysterious, but also fun, outgoing, and most of all thoughtful – he seemed to always be thinking a bit more than the next person, always appreciating the smallest things, and deeply enjoying life. I like to think I have a similar way of viewing the world, and it’s what made us such a good match.

We were friends initially, for several years, before we began dating. He grew up near me, but with a very different type of family. Whereas my family is relatively liberal and very accepting of anything my siblings and I want to do or try, his family was much more conservative.

What initially attracted you to him?
In addition to what I mentioned in the previous question, he was adventurous and outdoorsy, which has always been attractive to me in a partner. He was also very easy to talk to. He is much more in touch with his emotions than any other man I know.

How would you characterize your relationship with him?
It depends on what stage of the relationship we are talking about. Overall, he was always very fun and truly cared about me as a person. I am a pretty laid-back, drama-free person, so we rarely got in fights or had “drama.”

Instead, our difficulties mostly stemmed from his unhappiness. Whereas my baseline mood is usually positive and happy, his baseline mood fluctuated depending on the weather, the season, his day at work, you name it. I know now that his struggles with happiness came from a much deeper place than that, and it makes so much more sense now. But at the time, it was frustrating because I didn’t know where it was coming from.

We seemed to have a great life, and I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t happy. And unfortunately, it was making me very unhappy. You can only go so far in your attempts to separate your mood from your partner’s mood on a regular basis.

You were with him for four years. How serious was your relationship? Did you live together? Know each other’s families?
I usually say we were on the cusp of marriage. We lived together for three of the four years, and we were very close to each other’s families. We did holidays together, made plans for the future together. I twice moved to new places for his job, leaving my job and restarting my life alongside his.

Were there any clues that he was questioning his sexuality?
Yes and no. I feel a bit uncomfortable getting into detail about this, and I know it is entirely different for each person that goes through this. It’s easiest to say that, no, I didn’t have any clue. I was happy sexually and emotionally. Looking back, I do see some signs – but at the time, I was completely unaware.

When he came out to you, what did he tell you?
He got right to the point. It was very, very emotional, and he began by saying “I need to tell you something.” Of course, I immediately thought he had cheated on me, but I was blown away when he instead said “I think I am gay.”

He started off explaining that he was confused, and had been thinking about it for several months, but wasn’t 100% sure. As time went by, after about a week, he explained that he was becoming more and more sure that he was “entirely” gay. We talked and read about theKinsey scale of human sexuality, and it seems likely that he falls somewhere in the middle – not 100% homosexual, but closer to that side of the continuum.

And how did you feel about it?
I was completely blown away. My immediate reaction was to support him because he was so emotional. I was the first person he had ever said this out loud to, and it was a huge experience for both of us.

For the first ten minutes of the conversation, I thought more about calming him down, and letting him know that it was okay and I was glad he told me. Then – I’ll never forget this – it was like a huge, heavy wave washed over me, or more like crashed into me – the realization of everything this meant.

The life I had built with him, the city I was in because of him, my plans to marry him and be part of his family, the friends who knew us as a couple for so long, the thought of telling my parents that he was gay. The fact that he would never be my partner again. I had to sit down, and I started to sob. It was confusing (“Wait, you’ve been gay this whole time? Why didn’t I know? Why didn’t YOU know? What does this mean?”) and unbelievably heartbreaking (as breakups with your first real love tend to be).

Has your experience with him affected your romantic life at all?
I guess I don’t fear that I’ll date a gay guy again, although sometimes I joke about that with my friends. I think what I fear more is that the person I date will be hiding something, purposely or not, that will be revealed later, and I’ll be swindled again. I feel lucky to be a relatively confident, trusting person in general.

Now that I am two years removed from this experience, I can say that it shook my trusting nature a bit, but didn’t erase it completely. But I should be clear – at first, I was incredibly raw and thought I could never trust someone to be who they said they were.

Are you two still in touch?
We are. It took me a long time to be able to see or speak to him without being a complete mess of emotions. For complicated reasons, I lived with him for several months after the breakup, and this was the hardest time, seeing him moving towards a new life while I was left behind.
Eventually, I moved to another state, and started my own life, and this helped immensely.

However, even from a distance, I went through long phases that alternated between sadness, anger, and confusion. I was angry at him for not figuring it out sooner. I was angry at myself for not figuring it out sooner. I was angry at society for making coming out so hard to do. I was angry at him for dating other people after we broke up. I was angry at him for seeking happiness. I was angry at myself for not seeking it.

But I remember saying from day one that I would do everything I could to become at peace with the situation. I didn’t want to harbor bitterness and anger. I tried to focus on how hard it must have been for him to keep this huge thing a secret for so many years, and have to slowly reveal it to so many people who knew him as a straight person.  If he could get through that, I could get through this heartbreak.

What advice would you give to others who have gone through something similar?
Oh gosh. So much to say, but I realize that every person’s experience is so different. First of all, I would say remember that IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. It may be your partner’s fault, society’s fault, or a combination of many different factors. But it is not your fault.

Second, I would suggest seeing a therapist. This helped me through the process immensely. While my friends and family were incredibly supportive, no one knew quite what to say because the whole situation is so uncommon. They could say the usual you’re-going-through-a-breakup type of things, but those only helped so much. The situation was more complicated and confusing than a typical breakup, so it helped to talk to a trained therapist about it all.

Third,  give yourself time to grieve. Like any breakup or divorce, you are grieving the end of your relationship and life as you know it. But you are also mourning the loss of a person you once knew. While your ex is still technically the same person as he/she was before, the way you view him/her will never be the same. Give yourself time to be angry, sad, and confused. The only thing that will truly help is time.

Thanks so much for sharing your story, friend. Have any of you experienced something similar – from either side? Do you have any (polite, respectful) questions for her?

P.S. How to get over a break up + How to get the love life you want.

photo by Ondrej Supitar // cc

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  1. Roselie

    Touching story… I am so glad that you were able to see this fairly to your ex boyfriend’s side… But it’s understandable that you were experiencing such a range of confusing and negative emotions… As someone who is more or less lesbian it is really heartening to see someone who has been through something like this be understanding of what we go through… While I know now that I love women I am still not sure about men and I ‘d hate to be in a situation like this… For me, and for him…

  2. anonymous today

    This sounds so familiar to me. Thanks for sharing your story.

    In my case, we were already engaged when my then-fiance said he thought he might be bi. We decided we could stay together anyway, though that did not happen. Calling off the wedding and ending the relationship (two separate instances) were both heartbreaking, but it was easy enough to explain “we’re not getting married because he’s gay.” When his next serious relationship was with a woman, that really shook me — because then it was like *I* just hadn’t been good enough.

    Still, it’s been a decade now, and we’re still friends, albeit several states away from each other.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Wow, Anon. I can totally, TOTALLY see how that’d be challenging. I think it says a lot of good things about you that you’re still friends with him <3

  3. Anonymous Too

    Wow, this hit close to home. My ex-spouse of 6 years came out to me as transgender the day we came home from a vacation. I did my best to be supportive, but it wasn’t a life I wanted and I asked for a divorce. We’d already been on rocky terms and our marriage had deteriorated over the years. The whole thing threw me for a loop – it was hard to go through and come out of, but I did. My experience was similar to this author’s; looking back I noticed some signs, but I wasn’t aware of them until after the fact.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      <3 I can imagine that would be really, really hard.

    • Dee

      I had a similar situation with my first relationship. We dated for 6.5 years while also working together. We had very few fights and he was my best friend. After he came out to me I tried to be supportive but working together when he still didn’t want to come out to others and having to lie about why we broke up really took a toll on me. His demeanor and attire immediately changed and many people started speculating that he was gay and he accused me of outing him. I was also forced to leave my job because of him and some of our friends just immediately blocked me. Over the years he would say things to our friends and justify dumping me for reasons outside of his sexuality so that the blame could be placed on me. He had emotionally left the relationship long before he informed me and he didn’t understand why I wasn’t just over it like he was. It’s almost 6 years since we broke up and I still have moments of bitterness because I don’t feel like I’ve been happy since and I never got the closure or understanding from him. He recently got divorced and apparently has been checking in with our friends about me. Now that someone has broken his heart he sees now what he put me through.. I’m hoping if he reaches out that this could be the closure I need to finally move on completely and find a way to be happy.
      Just note to people who come across someone who has been through this situation… The “You turned him gay” joke is not funny FYI

  4. Rachel Pierce

    I had a similar experience in high school/college, though to a lesser extent. We were together a year and he broke up with me right befor I went back to school in January. He was confused, but I just thought the timing was wrong, so when he contacted me 6 months later and said he wanted to talk with me I thought he wanted to get back together. That summer we spent a month as two of a small handful of people who spoke English in a large group of international students which was probably one of the most emotionally difficult things I’ve ever experienced. We’re friends now, but it took a while to get there.

  5. Court

    Hugs. I’ve been there (not as long as you were, but still) One of my best guy friends in college and I tried dating. He was already (privately) questioning his sexuality but really truly loved me (and still does all these years later) but he wasn’t in love with me. He said if he couldn’t love me *that* way, he was certain that there wasn’t any female he could.

    It was a whole lot of heart breaking for sure and I was angry he tested his theory without talking to me about it first. I guess I felt used and duped? He was angry that I couldn’t be there for him for awhile. A few semesters later we found each other again – actually in the lecture center where we first met! We reconnected and put our anger cards on the table and then behind us. Fast forward a lot of years and we’re still super close.

    And still absolutely adore and deeply love each other.

    I won’t lie, there have been some really confusing moments here and there for us (and his sister after finding us sharing a bed one morning!) but I don’t know that I’d rather be confused with anyone else. It also helped a lot when we married other people. Ha!

  6. Caitie

    This really resonated with me. I have an ex who came out as gay after we split up, when he was in his mid/late twenties. We had a pretty acrimonious breakup and didn’t stay in touch, so I actually found out through his (public) social media presence. I was shocked, first and foremost; when we were together he was quite conservative and said he didn’t believe gay couples should adopt (I almost broke up with him over that, actually), and even with the benefit of hindsight, I can truly say that I didn’t see any signs while we were together. At first, I was really emotional about it. Not sad, really, but more like “OMG HOW DID I NOT SEE? was it obvious? Did everyone know but me?”.

    And then I was mad at myself for having all of these kind of negative feelings. Like, I consider myself an ally: I’ve taken positive space training courses, I am a vocal supporter of marriage equality, same-sex adoption, and ending the ban on MSM blood donors, I have several close friends who are gay. So I spent a lot of time wondering what was wrong with me, that I couldn’t just be happy for this guy, and ended up in a bit of a shame spiral.

    Of course, I’m ultimately happy for him, and I’m glad he’s living a life that is true to his identity, and I don’t regret dating him. But I was also really and truly stunned. And we only dated for like a year and half! I truly can’t imagine how much more difficult it would have been if it was a long-term partnership.

  7. Christina

    Your story has been so comforting as this can be such an isolating experience. My ex fiancé and I split up about seven years ago as I found out by chance that he had been texting and sleeping with men. I cut all ties with him but discovered that a couple of years ago he married a woman. I’m so confused that he has done this to someone else and I’m wondering if he ever loved me or what is going on really. I felt he totally loved me and he was my soulmate. What do people think?!?

  8. Nic

    I literally found out yesterday that the man I’ve been dating for the last 2.5yrs is gay. We had been planning the future together and I’m still in love with him. I feel bad Bc I’m upset that I’m kind of mad at him. We made plans for marriage, kids, even were planning a family vacation with his parents and siblings in July. Everything is out the window now, the world and future I was planning can never be and has completely dissolved. I love and care about him and want to be supportive but I’m still grieving our relationship and I feel like my negative, sad feelings are being detrimental to his acclimation to this new found him. I’m a mess of nerves and I’m luckily in therapy, but I’m still in shock. I’m a ball of nerves and I’m lucky that he still loves me and wants to be friends and he’s trying to help me feel better, but right now I’m mentally all over the place. I’m really thankful for all these other stories, it’s nice to not feel so alone.

  9. Anonymous

    I haven’t told my story…. but you are the most recent person who has replied… it’s was 12 years… I’m 26… I’m heartbroken and have no one to talk to… im so invested.. it’s too hard to leave but also too hard to stay but it’s breaking me…

    • Micks

      You should leave in highlight because in the long run it will hurt you more. It definely hurt me when my ex came out as gay. It was like a what the fuck moment like wow he’s been lying to me from jump to the end. But I’m way better than I was when it first happened 2 months ago. But listen to your gut feeling, if you do want to stay and you two are both HAPPY. I say go for it. But if he’s gay he’s always going to be gay.. Idk I hope this helped 🙂

  10. Jessica

    It’s so comforting to read these stories and know that there are others that have gone through the same situation as me. As I have read a lot, I’m not alone in this and I have felt so stupid for a long time that I haven’t gotten over it and it’s been almost 3-4 years since it’s happened but I’ve never gotten closure. We’ve remained friends even best friends but now I regret not taking the space apart that was needed to heal and get over the situation, now I feel that it is too late to step back and take that time away because to me honestly it seems to hurt more and more but other days it doesn’t hurt at all. I would really appreciate some advise or some tips on what to do or if I could vent to someone about this all to people I can relate to. Thank you all for sharing your story and being strong through this complicated experience

  11. Anonymous

    My boyfriend of 4 years recently came out to me saying he wanted to experiment with men. Now we have lived together for 3 of those years. Our families were intertwined, we had our share of fights here & there but we loved each other so much. Initially, I hated the way he did it. One night we got into an argument & he left & went to his parents house. When he came back like 3 days later, of course I tried to have sex but while trying he kept stopping and finally said it ‘IM GAY’. He tried to comfort me & said he loved me & didn’t want to break up but he had been watching gay porn and talking to men on a dating site. I can’t lie, I said mean things & basically told him he isn’t gay. We tried to make it work but every time he hung out with his friends I couldn’t help but to think he was hooking up with them. I eventually told him I couldn’t do it. He hated the fact that I kept bringing it up & he said he could fight it & told me he never cheated on me before so he wouldn’t do it now.. but I couldn’t. I felt like I had to let him go. It was so hard. But I didn’t tell my friends or his. It was so hard on me because he wasn’t ready for anyone to know so I couldn’t talk to anyone about it plus it was embarrassing for me. That’s his truth to tell. Currently, it’s been probably a week. I definitely saw some signs but ignored them. It’s so tough but I’m going to remain hopeful. It’s reassuring to see I’m not alone. Also, I signed up for therapy. Next week I start so hopefully that helps! Stay strong queens !

    • Erica

      What were the signs? I may be going through a similar situation with my fiancé but I am terrified because I could be wrong – I want to be wrong. I know every situation is different but looking back, what were the signs?

  12. Kim Flood

    This happened to me however my bf didn’t tell me he was gay, he picked a fight, blamed the entire break up on me to the point where I was suicidal all because he wanted to hide his secret. He walked out and strung me along for weeks before actually ending it. It has since come to light that he’s gay and ITS NOT MY FAULT. But for weeks he keeps blaming me for the break up and it was really hard. I have sought therapy over ot but I am still so angry at him for making it about me when it had nothing to do with me at all 🙁

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