Relationship Advice

The Lie

couple with wine glasses

I am writing this after my girlfriend came through the room going to the bathroom after a two hour nap. I was on my couch surfing sites with hot men. I have been dating my girlfriend for three years, yet I know I am gay.

I like show tunes, I am not all that into sports, and most importantly, I am attracted to men. I was the odd kid out at school that tried to fit in with the popular crowd. I bought all the right clothes, got into the coolest frat in college and hung out with people based on social class, simply for acceptance and to know what it is like to live a "normal" life.

I don't know how to live my life any other way, especially at 27 when all major decisions in life should have been figured out. I don't want an alternative lifestyle. I just want to be married and have kids and make my parents happy.

Right now, my girlfriend is head over heels in love with me and waiting for a ring within the year. I know if I break up with her that is the last chance I will ever have at a normal lifestyle.

I am great at fooling everyone. I date an incredibly beautiful woman and I am on top of the world. Everyone is envious of me and every conversation topic is how cute we are together. I could be getting this the rest of my life and never have to hurt anyone. I strongly consider leading an uncomfortable dishonest life, so that everyone around me is happy and gets what they dreamed of.

I can never "come out" of the closet. I am not strong enough for that and am not the type of person who would be loud and proud. I would be weak and humiliated. I don't want stares for the rest of my life. I don't want to be labeled "the gay guy" to every person I meet. I don't suddenly want to be the gossip on Facebook. "Guess who's gay!?"

I am in a black hole right now. I know nobody else going through what I am going through, and I feel alone, utterly alone. I need a hand to hold and somebody to talk to.


Jake, it doesn't matter what we wish we were. All of us wish we were something a little different from what we are. The wish isn't the problem until we take other people, innocent people, down the road of our wish.

You've knocked your girlfriend off her path. You've taken choices away from her and reserved them to yourself. You aren't hiding your sexuality for her sake or the sake of your parents and friends. You are doing it for yourself. You don't want to take what you consider a social step down.

You are great at fooling everyone, but as you get older, how are you going to maintain this fake life? Will it end when you are caught toe-tapping in an airport bathroom? When your wife discovers you with another man? When you meet your one?

It is not a matter of if you tell, but when. You are about to take a momentous step over the boundary of your lie. How fair is that to those around you? They think they are involved in the truth and they are not.

Like everyone else, you have a right to be who you are. Inevitably you will feel compelled to have your life your way, because when we lie we lose ourselves, and ultimately that is unsustainable.

There are groups, organizations and counselors who can help you live an authentic life. Network, search the internet, start at a level at which you are comfortable. Don't delay the beginning of your real life. Save your girlfriend's life and save your own.

Wayne & Tamara

The Follow Up:

A year and a half ago I read your email once, then immediately shut down my laptop because you were the first people to ever give me the truth about my situation and I simply couldn't handle it.

I want to give you an update. I indeed broke up with my girlfriend. She still does not know I am gay, but I am trying to work on the next steps. I created an online profile with a blurred picture, explaining my situation and looking for other closeted men. I've only had one or two responses, but I'm hopeful.

Because of you I understand who I am. You saved my ex-girlfriend's life and mine, as without you, I would have married her and gone on for years with this secret.

I may not be ready to come out tomorrow, but I'm doing all I can to one day make myself comfortable. Thank you again from the bottom of my heart for your help.


Jake,when you wrote the first time, you were engaged to an incredibly beautiful woman who was head over heels in love with you. She was expecting a ring, but you knew your attraction has always been to men.

You were an expert at fooling everyone and terrified at the prospect of being the subject of gossip on Facebook. "Guess who's gay?" You ended your letter saying, "I need a hand to hold and somebody to talk to."

The trouble with online, anonymous relationships is you don't know whose hand you will find. Wanting to hide your identity can attract the wrong person, and showing you won't be open can turn off the one you seek.

Try this instead. Pick out a good therapist and talk to them, simply for the experience of sitting down with someone face-to-face. Talking to a professional, in confidence, who won't out you before you are ready, can be invaluable.

This doesn't need to involve lengthy therapy, because really there is nothing wrong with you. You are just revealing more of yourself to the world.

Think of it as training wheels to say, "I'm gay."

One step at a time, no step too big. Usually people hold on to secrets because they fear the reaction of others, without realizing most others will be sympathetic.

More and more we live in a "I'm straight, he's gay, who cares" world.

We salute your courage in breaking off the engagement. You did your girlfriend an enormous kindness. Now do an enormous kindness for yourself.

Wayne & Tamara