Lifestyle

What it’s like to: have your boyfriend tell you he’s gay

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After being a couple for five and a half years, Gina’s* boyfriend told her he’s gay. What first turned out to be a relief, turned into shock and many, many questions. But it also meant that she was single again, a thought which she had tried to avoid for a long time.

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It took him three tries to say it, to finally get out what he must have carried around with him like a huge weight for an eternity. “I’m gay. I’m attracted to men”, he said. My heart stopped for a second, but almost immediately my shock gave way to something else. I took him into my arms; I felt for him and wanted to be there for him in his pain. He started to cry, uncontrollably. “I’m sorry,” he sobbed, “I’m sorry.”

I could have thrown all of my toys out of the pram: lost control, screamed and shouted at him. Instead of feeling angry, disappointed or sad in this moment, I was mostly relieved for him; I understood that admitting his sexuality to me was a load falling off his shoulders. As for me, I was comforted that he didn’t break up because he didn’t love me anymore; he just wasn’t attracted to me anymore. I have to admit, though, that this was the last thing I expected. How could I not have noticed it sooner?

The first time I met Luke I was drawn to his confidence and sense of humour: he was one of the funniest people I had ever met. A few awkward, drunk make-out sessions later, he became my first boyfriend at the age of 18. Two years later, I said goodbye to my teenage bedroom and moved in with him. We were happy, and never guessed one of us could have a different sexual orientation.

It was a Tuesday evening. I had just come back from my job as a social worker that I started a few weeks before. After a short hug in the kitchen, I told him about work and listened to what he had been up to. I was happy to see him as we had not seen each other for four days, even though we didn’t talk much later on. He said he was tired, which was unusual, as he never went to bed early. I rationalised it in my head: he probably had a few too many drinks last night after Spanish class.

A little while later, I heard the creaking of the bed: he had got up again. I heard his footsteps as he walked back into the room, his face looked pale. “We need to talk”, he said. It was only at that point I knew something serious was about to happen…

Outwardly, I was calm. But inside I was in turmoil. The questions were relentless: Was this relationship ever real? What will people think of me? Why is he telling me this now? Is there someone else? And finally, what are we going to do now?

You’re probably wondering how on earth our relationship made it past the five year mark – I’m honest enough to admit that our relationship had its problems, but ultimately, it seemed like a good one. Perhaps I was blinded by the fear of being alone.

In public, we were never an intimacy-heavy couple: you wouldn’t see us holding hands or his arm around my shoulders. It never bothered me because when nobody saw us we touched each other, kissed and moaned with pleasure – at least for the first three years. I remember the first time we had sex on the kitchen table after we moved in together; it was fun, passionate, intimate. I felt desired by him, and that he enjoyed it, too, even though I was the one who initiated it.

With the time and stress of university, though, our sex life gradually faded and we fell asleep next to each other every night almost immediately. Though we still cuddled, I did not feel the urge to do more than that.

Looking back, I realise I must have had noticed something subconsciously. I often pushed him away and was very frustrated for what seemed like no reason. I started to make fun of him; he was the housewife and I was the masculine counterpart. Today, I wish I’d known how hurtful it was to him.

When he confessed, I knew deep down that our relationship had stopped being passionate a long time ago. Endless fights about nonsense, no kissing and no physical attraction towards each other. It had been about two years since I felt that tingling sensation when he touched me.

It turned out that he had felt that chemistry again, just not with me. An interest had arisen that was new and unusual to him: Ben was in his Spanish class and had just come out publicly the Friday before Luke’s confession. Knowing that he was interested in a gay man, it was time to tell me.

They had been messaging for a while and I knew who he was – I had met him at Luke’s birthday party a month earlier. I remember how I thought he seemed like a nice guy. It didn’t matter who it was, male or female. To me, it only mattered that he had emotionally cheated on me and I wasn’t his number one anymore.

With time, I realised this was the perfect outcome for the relationship’s end. I didn’t have to go through a break-up that meant I would lose him completely. It meant that my best friend could now be just that: my best friend.

Initially, we kept it a secret: it took him another six months to tell everyone the real reason for the breakup. Which was fine by me: I had been ready to admit that my relationship was over, but not that my boyfriend had been gay. In my head, the fact that he was gay was not embarrassing for him. But I felt ashamed. I was the one in a relationship with a gay man for five and a half years and didn’t know. Initially, I thought I’d failed as a girlfriend and a woman, but I know now that it doesn’t work like that. Luke hadn’t known about his sexual orientation until towards the end of our relationship, and nobody was at fault.

Nonetheless, I realize that Luke’s realisation was not my fault, nor his. It’s just who he is and doesn’t need justification to anybody. Seeing him confident in his skin, I hope that someday I will be just as happy as I am for him. But for now, I know who will laugh about a crazy night with me, who won’t judge me for sleeping around and who I can trust with any secret I ask him to keep to himself. After all, it’s my best friend with whom I have the healthiest relationship.

 

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