I identify as a queer cisgender 17 year-old female and I am not out yet, but I want to be by the time I go to university. My friends are a mix of: homophobic Christians ( I am a Christian but I don’t believe being LGBT+ is a sin), some people who don’t care about LGBT+ issues, and people who joke about gays. Besides that fact, they are mostly good to me since they don’t know I like girls. Am I obligated to tell them in due time — when they often have secrets from me as a group — (even though I know I’m not obligated to come out to anyone) or, since we’ll probably lose touch, should I be ok with them finding out eventually through mutual friends or Facebook in the future (and having to answer their questions and face their gossip at that time)? As you can see I’m unfortunately too concerned with what people think (especially those who might mean or have meant something to me) so my question is perhaps how do I distinguish when to care and when not to care what people close to me think of my sexuality? I don’t want my sexuality to define me but most of the time I just want to talk to someone queer about how hot Kristen Stewart is and discuss the L Word coming back.
If you want to be out by the time you leave for university, you should absolutely do that! But you should do it because you want to, not because you’re worried these people will be even more gossipy if they find out a few years from now. For the most part — barring any sort of life-altering personal growth — people who’d be gossipy and nasty about your queerness in five years will probably be gossipy and nasty about it tomorrow, too. And maybe even 10 years from now. And that brings us to this important point: it doesn’t fucking matter what they think about you.
You are NOT obligated to come out to anyone, ever! Not in a million years! You get to decide who knows what about you, and when, and how. What you don’t get to decide is how they react, and that goes for everything. Like literally everything. You can’t control people’s reactions and they can’t control your queerness. That’s not to say it’s easy to stop caring what people think about you! It can be really hard actually, but! I’m 36 and I can tell you, I give fewer and fewer fucks about what anyone thinks of me with each passing day.
For what it’s worth, coming out or being out to new people is generally easier than walking up to the people who’ve known you since you were coloring in pictures of the alphabet and saying LISTEN UP, BUDDY, GOT SOME NEW INFO FOR YOU RE: ME. Because yes, absorbing new info about an old subject can be hard! But also! Everyone on the planet will be asked to update their existing knowledge of a thing, several times in fact. All different kinds of things! How they choose to integrate that information will be on them, regardless of how long they’ve been working with the old information.
To thoroughly answer your last question — how do you distinguish when to care and when not to care? Never care. You just never care. To the best of your abilities, just decide not to care. Not because not caring is easy — it’s not — but because you deserve to be you, period. Everybody all over the place is just trying to figure out who they are and how to be, and we all deserve that space. You deserve queer friends who’ll talk about KStew with you and what a clusterfuck the new L Word will be. YOU DESERVE TO BE YOURSELF. So if you want to come out, come out! And if you want to let those turkeys find out in their own damn time, fine. If you want to wear a space helmet that says OUTTA THIS WORLD QUEER GIRL and never talk about anything heterosexual again for the rest of your dang life, COOL. Everything’s on your terms. Take up that space.
So I’ve been seen this amazing woman for some time, she’s pretty much everything I ever thought I needed in a partner and I’m crazy for her. She has a kid, though. A kid that she’d been wanting to have for a long time -she wasn’t married or dating-, she went through IVF because she felt the time to be a mother was right. I, on the other hand, have never wanted kids. When I met her the baby had just been born and I still decided that I wanted to get to know her better and somehow I ended up so, so in love with her.
I know I can be her girlfriend but I don’t know if I can be a co-parent to anyone. She’s not exactly asking me to, but I don’t wanna get too caught up in my love for her to end up co-parenting the baby anyway (and my friends have pointed out that I’m already doing it a bit).
I don’t know what to do or what to think because I wanna be with her, I just don’t know if I want to be with a baby and I don’t want to break her heart either. I need help!
Hello here I am to help you! The short and quick answer is that you should probably break it off with this woman. But let’s keep talking because it wouldn’t be an advice post if I just gave one-sentence answers now would it. So basically if you really truly do not want a child, then you really truly do not want this woman, because this woman comes with a child and there’s absolutely no getting around that.
I’ve been trying to think of an analogy to express the degree to which this woman’s life is altered and informed by her motherhood, and how much that’s never changing, but to be honest I’m struggling. Like ok, how do you feel about your head being attached to the rest of your body? It’s pretty much non-negotiable, right? Your head’s gonna stay right on your body ’til you die. Just head and body, forever and ever until death. Not going anywhere. That’s how having a child is! And it just keeps being that way, even when they move away and don’t call for weeks. Just like if you never washed your hair or looked in a mirror or rested your head on your hand, your head would still right there, perched on top of your spine. Not going anywhere. And if someone wanted to date a person who didn’t have a head, that sure would eliminate you as a possibility, no matter how much of an otherwise perfect match you might be.
Some people — maybe even your own self — might try to convince you that you could continue dating this woman and still not be involved in this child’s life, but in my experience that is incorrect. Even if you somehow managed to devise a way to never see this baby, its mother is still gonna talk about it. She’ll still have availability based on the baby. She’ll still make every life decision with this baby in mind. She’s still someone’s mother. Just like if you put a large box over your head, it would still be there. Your head, I mean. You’d still need to put food into your body via it. Your head would come up in conversation, likely often. Thoughts would come from it, it would keep existing right there. No getting around it. You have a head. She has a baby.
The thing is, you’re dating a mother but you don’t want to be dating a mother. And that doesn’t make you a bad person! Just want to get that all the way out there: not wanting a child is A-OK. Cool cool. But she did want a child, to the extent that she went out there and made one. So even though this woman is pretty much everything you ever thought you needed in a partner and you’re crazy for her — and I’m really not making light of those feelings! — she can’t be the person for you because the person for you is all of those things (more or less) but with NO child.
Speaking as a mother who’s dated people who didn’t want kids, it’s just not going to work. At all. Not in the least. Kids are an all-in situation and you can’t be lukewarm about the prospect of helping a small human become a large human. It’s just too important. Unless she wants to keep dating you in a hella casual way that doesn’t involve you being part of the baby’s life at all, which is a possibility and maybe even a doable one. But you have to have an honest talk with this woman about how you feel, what you want, what you don’t, what you’re afraid of. Give her all the information so she can also make an informed decision about who you are and how your hopes and dreams fit in with hers.
I’ve been seeing this girl for three weeks, and things are going REALLY well. This is SUPER unusual for me. I haven’t been this into anyone in a LONG time, and I’m pretty sure she’s just as into me. Problem: We had “the talk” the other night, and she kind of surprised me by saying she wasn’t looking for anything serious. Specifically, she said that since she’d just moved to this city (our first date was 6 days after she’d moved here), she wanted to build her own life and friend group and community before getting into a serious relationship with someone who already had a life and a community and a friend group that she would inevitably end up subsumed into. I got the impression, though she didn’t go into detail, that this situation happened with the last girl she dated (they broke 6 months ago after 3 years together).
Now, I think this sounds super healthy, and I’m fine taking things slow, and I’m definitely not ready to uHaul any time soon. But she’s giving me a lot of mixed signals. She also said that she hadn’t PLANNED to get into a serious relationship, but that that was before she’d met me, and she hadn’t counted on meeting me or liking me as much as she does. I’ve been trying to text her less, but she’s usually the one to text me first, and she says things like she doesn’t want to wait to see me again, and sending me heart emojis and stuff.
I REALLY like this girl, I want this to work, I’m willing to wait and go slow, but I’m just not sure what to do now. Help!?
Listen I’m not judging or anything, but I don’t think you had THE “the talk.” I think you had one of those preliminary talks that pretty much only serve to concede the fact that you are, indeed, enjoying each other’s company. “The talk” is supposed to lay bare exactly where you both want to go from here and how you plan on getting there. This prelim talk just made you both admit that you really like each other even though you didn’t plan to, which honestly, congrats! That’s a fun weird talk to have AND how fucking great that you found a person in your radius who’s cool and cute and fun and sexy and neat! AND she likes you, too! Damn that is lucky.
Ok, re: her mixed signals, it’s 100% likely that she’s sending herself mixed signals, too. Neither of you expected to actually connect with each other, and here you’ve gone and done just that. But you both have these logical minds that are trying super hard to be heard because, last they knew, they’d laid out a perfectly reasonable and sound plan for you to follow and now you’re clearly deviating from The Plan. That’s Mixed Signals City, population 2, come on in, etc. What a confusing fun time for both of you!
What does taking it slow mean to you? Not moving in together, not saying I love you? Not meeting each other’s families or being the person the other one calls when she has the stomach flu? You can totally prevent yourself from doing all of those things! Like, it would take more effort to do those things than to keep yourself from doing them — except for maybe the I love you part. That might be tricky. If you find yourself slipping and saying “I love—” just stop yourself right there and stuff the words “your hair today!!” into your mouth before before the “you” can fall out. EASY FIX. “I love the way you’ve got this room decorated!” “I love knowing what you think about global trade!” “I love that we can all agree on gravity, you know??!”
Keep sending those heart emojis and being excited to see each other again! Keep having separate friend groups and making your own lives! You’re doing GREAT this is SO FUN. And when/if you find yourself throwing up in the bathroom floor this winter and wishing you could ask her to come over with soup and Theraflu, well you’ll just cross that bridge when you get to it, ok? Now go live it up!
Y’All Need Help is a now-biweekly advice column in which I pluck out a couple of questions from the You Need Help inbox and answer them right here, round-up style, quick and dirty! (Except sometimes it’s not quick, but that’s my prerogative, OK?) You can chime in with your own advice in the comments and submit your own quick and dirty questions any time.