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Parallax - Advice            May 15, 2000

   Her bisexual ex got her all messed up

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I have to make a difficult decision. My girlfriend and I have been dating for six months. It is going very well so far. Before meeting me she was dating a guy, let's call him Joe, who turned out to be bisexual. She discovered him in bed with another man, and this was pretty traumatic for her. They broke up immediately and she's very sensitive about the whole issue.

Email to a Friend Next week is my father's birthday, and I'm supposed to go up to visit him in New York. I haven't invited my girlfriend and she's getting suspicious or uneasy about it because I can't tell her why. The problem is my dad is also bisexual. In fact, my Mom caught him in the act with his boyfriend, about two years ago, they got divorced, and now he lives with the boyfriend in Manhattan.

I'm stressed about how or if I should tell all this to her. I just have no idea how she'll take it.

Her view:

Dear Dilemma,

That's quite a coincidence. I'd say you can't hide your father's sexuality forever, but you can maybe keep it 'under wraps' long enough so that she doesn't fear that you will go the same route as Joe. I would give your dating a little more time - but not too much - before introducing your father. Have her fall for you more without any external stress factors, and then introduce her to the idea when you feel more confident in the relationship. Don't wait too long though, or she'll be angry that it was kept secret. When you do tell her, explain your delay as related to her past history. Reassure her she has nothing to be concerned about - she'll need to hear you say that. If she cares enough for you, she'll move right past it. And if she doesn't and leaves you over this, she's an idiot and you are better off without her.

In the meantime, you need to be careful about not making her feel excluded from your family. Why don't you invite your Dad to your place for dinner and have him attend alone? That way she can meet him without being hit with the lover up front, which might be painful for her. Also spend time together with your Mom and siblings so she doesn't feel left out.

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His view:

Dear Dilemma,

I don't know what is worse: finding your girlfriend or boyfriend in bed with someone else of the opposite, or the same sex. I guess it depends on what your starting assumption is. Either way it can't make for a happy day, and while I find 'trauma' to be rather excessive, I don't know all the details so I'll grant her excessive anguish over the whole situation.

So far, I follow.

Then we come to the fork in the road where I get lost. Your paranoia over this seems as overblown as her 'trauma.' Do you think that she now hates all bi or gay people, that she feels they have all conspired to make her ex bisexual? Or, even better, do you think she'll be afraid that you will be like your father, and thus, like her ex? And if you do think these things, is it because she has previously demonstrated an uncanny ability to reason in obscure and illogical ways?

I can also imagine an entirely different scenario: that you might be the one ashamed of dad. Maybe just a little? Are you projecting your fears on her?

Either way, I say tell her. Come birthday time, you'll know how big a deal this really wasn't.

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