How to discuss my same-sex relationship with my parents

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP


Six years ago at the age of 24, I came out to my parents. It was an awful experience in which their reaction was for more hurtful than I had anticipated. My parents and I have not discussed it since and avoid all discussion of the topic. I have been reluctant to talk with them because their reaction to my coming out was so painful for me. For the past five years, I have been in a committed relationship with a wonderful man. Our relationship is happy and healthy; we both are active in our communities and have rewarding careers. We have been living together for the past several years and live several thousand miles from my parents. Since my parents or I have not discussed anything related to my sexuality, they do not know of my relationship or living situation. They have suddenly informed me that they will be visiting in a few months. Obviously, if they come to visit they are going to discover my relationship and living situation. Their rejection of me when I came out was so painful that I’m scared to confront them on this. They need to know, but I am not sure what to say, how to say it, or how to deal with another round of rejection from them.

A: I am sorry we live in a world where parents alienate their children the way your parents have. This is sad.

Tell your parents where you are at and the truth of your life before they come. They need to know and you need to say whom you are and what it means for them to visit. Be clear and straightforward. Explain you have a life that they are welcome to visit, but that there are some guidelines.

Explain that you love them, but that they are only welcome if they can respect your decision and can honor that decision by treating your partner well. Explain that such a visit is acceptable if they can do that, but that you are not willing to hide who you are to them. Tell them that you are happy and thriving, and that you want to share more of your life with them, but these are the ground rules.

How they respond is up to them, but you will have done all in your power to be open, honest, and clear with your needs.

“I love you, but until you are able to accept me the way I am, and treat my partner with respect and dignity, we won’t be seeing much of one another. I’m sorry about that, because I love and miss you, but I won’t go back into the closet to help you feel more comfortable. This is my life and I want to live it honestly and with someone who I love and feel better with.”

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 7 Aug 2011

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2011). How to discuss my same-sex relationship with my parents. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 18, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/08/07/how-to-discuss-my-same-sex-relationship-with-my-parents/