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College student: I'm bi, should I tell my folks?

Published Mar. 24, 2014

Q: I am a female university student. Over the past few months, I have come to realize that I am bisexual. So far, I've only ever dated men, though none of those relationships have been long-term. I'll be home on break soon. Part of me wants to tell my parents about this. The other part of me thinks I should tell them only if I do end up in a relationship with a woman. While I don't think my parents would disown me or have a moral problem with it, I do have concerns that they'll question whether or not I'm sure, or refer to it as "going through a phase." Every time I come home, my parents ask if there are any boys that I'm interested in at school, so I know the topic of my love life will come up. Would that be a good time to mention it? Or should I just keep quiet until a same-sex relationship actually occurs?

A: Separating from your parents and establishing a new, adult phase of your relationship with them can be full of uncertainties and disconnections. At your age, people aren't sure how much to share and how much to keep private from their parents. Given that your exploration has been psychological to date, I think you should keep this to yourself until you know more about yourself. You have anticipated your parents' questions and conclusions, so there's no reason to go through the exercise right now. Without having sought a same-sex partner, you yourself don't really know how you will feel when this idea becomes a reality. You are living away from home which means you aren't under daily scrutiny. So explore away, and wait until there's something more concrete to report.

Q: In the heat of an argument with my wife, I often detach from my emotions and try to look at what is happening objectively. This irritates her because she thinks I am both acting morally superior and not being objective because too often I side with myself. But if I can objectively pick apart and present both sides of my wife's and my arguments, and it turns out I'm right, shouldn't this help? If not, what is a better way of ending our arguments and stopping future ones?

A: It is gratifying to always be right, but for the sake of argument, I'm going to give you some phrases to use to try to end some of your marital spats in a more productive way. Try sprinkling them liberally, and see if your life doesn't improve: "I hadn't thought of that." "You make a good point." "That's a fair criticism." "I see what you mean." "Yeah, that's true." "You know what? You're right."