7 Tips For Coming Out To Your Partner, Because Vulnerability Isn't Always Easy
In general, coming out can feel daunting. Whether it's to your social circle, family, community, or the internet, speaking your truth often goes hand-in-hand with vulnerability. Opening up to a partner might feel even scarier if you think they might interpret your coming out as you wanting to take a step back from your relationship, even when that might not be the case. Of course, your partner's response can also be to accept you with loving, open arms. No matter what reaction you get, keeping the following tips for coming out to your partner in your back pocket might help eliminate some of the stress that comes with speaking your truth.
For starters, before you even have the coming out conversation, psychotherapist Todd Baratz recommends focusing on you, your desires, and your well-being first. "Give yourself time to understand what it is you want to convey and why you want to do it," Baratz tells Elite Daily.
If you're already feeling nervous, it can be easy to get caught up in making your coming out experience "perfect." But Baratz suggests giving up on the idea that you won't hit some bumps in the road, or that your coming out will go without a hitch if you just do X,Y, or Z. "Let go of the fantasy that an ideal context exists for you to come out," Baratz says. "This is a challenging and courageous thing to do."
Still, while the experience might not be everything you hoped for or imagined, you do have the power to help it go as smoothly as possible. Here are seven more tips to keep handy when coming out to a partner.
1. Do It When You're Ready
Try not to put pressure on yourself about when the "right" time to come out to your SO is. "Feeling 'ready' to come out to your partner is deeply personal. It is a choice that will depend on one's own comfort, safety, and relationship dynamics," sexuality educator Jamie J. LeClaire tells Elite Daily. And because homophobia and misogyny are still present in several pockets of society, that can make coming out feel even more difficult. It's important to take your time and only speak your truth when you feel safe and ready.
2. Do It In Person (If You Feel Safe)
"Ideally you want to have this kind of conversation in person, if you feel safe to do so," says LeClaire. If saying the words "I'm bi," or "I'm pan," or "I'm queer," out loud feel overwhelming, they suggest writing down everything you want to say in a letter and having your partner read it out loud to you.
3. The Timing Might Not Be "Perfect," But Do Try To Pick The Right Moment
While there might not be a perfect moment to come out to your partner, try using your best discretion about creating or waiting for a moment that feels good. "Choose a time where you have each other's focused attention and are not busy with other things," LeClaire says. So, for example, a chill night in with no plans might be an ideal time to broach the subject of sexuality with your partner. On the flip side, you might not want to come out, say, right as you two are leaving the house for bar trivia with the homies, or in the heat of an argument.
4. Prepare For Any Reaction
"Prepare for a range of different reactions from your partner," says LeClaire. They could react in disbelief or in anger. Their response could be less than warm. They could try and make light of the situation by saying something ignorant or shoving it away. Whatever the case may be, let your partner feel what they're going to feel, so you can move past it and have a productive conversation. And remember: They may surprise you and react far better than you might think.
5. Figure Out How Much You Want to Disclose
Baratz suggests you be intentional about what you decide to disclose. When coming out to your partner, maybe you want to mention the queer crush you kept to yourself in high school, a gay kiss you had at a college party, or the revelation you had two weeks ago about a celebrity fave. But you don't have to give them all the details if you don't feel comfortable. You can simply tell them that you're attracted to people of the same gender, period. Try to be as open to questions as possible, but remember: You don't have to put up with anything you don't want to. "Allow your partner to ask questions, but disengage if there is judgement in the form of questions," Baratz says.
6. Figure Out What You Want Going Forward
Try to keep in mind what you're hoping to gain from coming out to your partner — whether that's increased intimacy, a desire to just be yourself, more authenticity in your relationship, a breakup, or maybe even space to explore your sexuality through non-monogamy. Again, having a goal in mind (even if that goal is just happiness and honesty) can better prepare you for this complex conversation and keep you grounded. "Be mindful of what you think would be most helpful for you and what it is you want," Baratz says. "This is the start of an ongoing conversation that will likely occur throughout a period of time."
Similarly, LeClaire says, "You don't owe anyone an explanation for your sexuality or gender, but you should be prepared to talk with your partner about what this means for the relationship going forward." This includes how you're feeling about them, and if there are any changes you need to make in your relationship.
7. Remember Therapy Can Be An Option
Depending on your relationship and what you feel you need, couples' counseling might be the right move for you. "It can be helpful to enlist the help of a non-biased, affirmative third party, to help guide discussions and allow for both partners to express vulnerability," Baratz says.
At the end of the day, you might feel like the risk of upsetting your relationship dynamic (or even breaking up) isn't worth you coming out. And while the hassle may seem huge, it's worth considering the triumph that comes with coming out as queer. If your partner is receptive and supportive, you'll probably feel a lot more at ease with yourself and significantly closer to them. You might feel like you're finally able to be your authentic self, and you might even feel hella validated and super proud because of your partner's support. Getting to exhale and be who you are is truly a reward that might very well be worth the risk. If you feel ready and comfortable about having this conversation and opening up, try not to let self-doubt or negativity stop you.
For more stories like this one, visit Elite Daily's Coming Out page.