Advicereality check

Reality Check

My dad left my mom and me when I was a kid, but my mom is awesome and provided me with an amazing sense of love and stability growing up. She’s seriously the best family anyone could have ever had, and I am incredibly grateful for all the sacrifices she’s made for me. However, it seemed like while I was growing up one her greatest sacrifices was her lack of a love life. I always felt like she deserved someone, not to co-parent with, but because love is good for people. She always said that me and my aunts kept her too busy to worry about dating, and that she wouldn’t have it any other way. Now that my aunts and I are grown adults in our 20s, I’ve tried to encourage her to get out there, romantically. She keeps denying it, but has been unavailable a lot of weekends in the past few months, so I suspected that she was seeing someone but didn’t really want to talk about it. I assumed that this was because she wasn’t sure about it being serious or just not being that into the guy.

Anyways, long story short, I snooped through her phone and found many romantic texts between her and another woman dating back several months. I couldn’t be more excited that my mom is in a loving relationship, and I’d love to get to know the woman she’s seeing. I don’t know how to tell her that I know though. Part of me feels like if she’s hiding it it is her business and I should respect her wishes, but on the other hand, it doesn’t make sense—no one in our family has ever even whispered something homophobic. I don’t know how to tell my mom I know that she’s with a woman. I’m happy for her, and want to support her with typical fun dating chitchat and whatnot. How should I approach her?
Mom’s Secret

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How likely is it that she will be pissed about the snooping? And how likely is it that she will be embarrassed by the texts you saw? Though I am usually a proponent of honesty, I fear that telling her the whole truth might be a mistake. She might have her own reasons for not telling you. Maybe she isn’t sure herself what she’s doing right now. Maybe like many other people, gay or straight, she is just trying to figure out if she is serious enough about the person she is seeing to warrant introducing them to the family. Instead, you should try talking to her more about your wish that she had someone special in her life. Or you could go the “Come on, suddenly you are never available on weekends and you’re still pretending you aren’t seeing somebody?” route. For now, you should stick to trying to coax it out of her. Better to try and let her do this on her own terms.

I’m a really outgoing girl who loves to get to know new people. I joined an outdoors club recently, and I met a really cool guy whom I consider a friend. Some of the other club members seem pretty conservative, and although I love hanging out with them I’m afraid to tell them that I’m a lesbian. Anyway, this new friend of mine was getting kind of flirty, so I told him I have a boyfriend. (Stupid, I know.) But now that I’m getting to know him a little better, I kind of want to tell him the truth. We’re Facebook friends, and there’s obviously no boyfriend of mine there. And I could see him hanging out with my girlfriend and me if he turns out to be cool with it. So should I risk the friendship (and my participation in the club) and tell him the truth? Or is that a bad idea since I lied to him in the first place?

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If you’re really friends with him, then you should tell him the truth. Unless he is completely clueless, you shouldn’t have to explain why you didn’t tell him at first. He might be slightly insulted that you didn’t trust him immediately, or assumed that he was a homophobe, but if you are really friends he will get over it. As for the rest of the group, you are under no obligation to tell them if you don’t want to, but you might ask yourself if you would really want to be involved with them if they would discriminate against you (or even be uncomfortable with you) because you are a lesbian. Also, I understand your hesitation, but you should also remember that the tide is turning in a big way in this country, and the majority of Americans—especially young ones, which I am jumping to the conclusion that these outdoor folks are—are totally fine with homosexuality. With people under 25 it is, mercifully, practically a non-issue. Conservative or not, I think you should give them the benefit of the doubt.

In response to Irritated:

I saw your letter in Flagpole last week and I feel like I could have written it myself. I’ve been dealing with a very similar situation—I didn’t remember much of my childhood, had always dealt with mental health issues, etc. When I came to Athens, I started experiencing flashbacks that always stopped before I could grasp some clarity of what was actually happening. These flashbacks, along with both my childhood and adult problems, seemed to point to sexual abuse. It’s been a few years, and I still don’t have complete clarity. I’ve been working with a great therapist about this issue and am coming to learn to trust myself and understand that I will know when I am ready to know. Right now, I’m just working on accepting that I don’t know and that whether I was abused or not, the experience I’ve had is real and I have done nothing wrong in having it. I just wanted to extend some support and let you know you are not alone.
Irritated Too

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Thanks for sharing, IT. Support from strangers can be remarkably powerful, and I’m sure Irritated will appreciate it.

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