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Carolyn Hax: In midst of family's suspicions, pause, think, then do what's best

In midst of family's suspicions, pause, think, then do what's best

Q: I've been dating a wonderful man for two years. He recently proposed, and I accepted, but my family is not nearly as happy about it as I am. The reason? They suspect that he is gay and that I am about to make the biggest mistake of my life.

The only evidence they have is his effeminate nature, which even I admit can be over the top at times.

In fact, when I first met him, I was sure he was gay, but he has since proven not to be. Beyond the wrist-flicks and the strained S's, he's as straight as an arrow: He has never been with a man or had any interest in doing so, and his family and friends, while admitting he has a metrosexual streak, all attest to his heterosexuality. (There's no homophobia amongst them, so I don't think they're just denying something they don't want to see.)

This is a sensitive subject in my family; both my father and stepmother married spouses who later came out, and it was an incredibly painful experience for both them and the recently outed parties (a.k.a. my mother).

That's not something I want to go through, but I do love this man and believe in our future together. Any advice?

Gay Marriage?

A: The child of a marriage like your parents' who is poised to enter a marriage with any cloud of sexuality-related suspicion might want to stop for a second and say, "Hm." If only on principle.

That said, there's only one answer here, and it has nothing to do with sexuality, homo- or metro- or concealed or otherwise. It's that if you're going into this marriage with an open mind, firm convictions and a devoted heart, then you thank your family for their concern and their honesty, and assure them you're doing what you think is best for you.

Though no one has insurance against mistakes, you're already aware to the point where you won't be blindsided the way your father and stepmother were. (Did they meet in a therapist's waiting room?)

There's also only one sensible path to that one answer: the path of careful consideration. Your parents' experience isn't valuable as an explanation for your family's concern, or a warning of how your marriage could end. Its value to you is as proof that assurances like "all attest to his heterosexuality" are worthless.

Your mother concealed her true nature at a time when society was less forgiving of it, for sure — but it still remains true that what people say about themselves is subject to their own wishful thinking. True of everything, not just sexuality.

So you can't say your fiance "has never been with a man or had any interest in doing so"; you can say only that he assured you of this. Again — true of any assertion anyone makes, not just of hetero claims by lisping metrosexuals.

Before you marry this man — or any man — or any person — make sure you love who he is, and what you actually have together. Don't count on him to be the person he/his friends/his family claim he is — or you want him to be.

Outside opinions matter, but the truth you live and breathe and hold in your hand matters so much more.

Carolyn Hax: In midst of family's suspicions, pause, think, then do what's best 08/04/11 [Last modified: Thursday, August 4, 2011 5:30am]

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