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27 and still not out- any advice?

Discussion in 'Coming Out Advice' started by lottaotter, Mar 31, 2021.

  1. lottaotter

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    Sorry that this is kinda negative. I need to vent, maybe get some advice.

    I turned 27 this year and I'm still not out to my family. I've been out to my friends and some people I've worked with for around 6 years, and I'm at university now and am out to everyone there. I really do feel like a failure though.

    A big part of it is that I only realised I was gay at 19. I read other people's coming out stories and I just feel so jealous that 'everyone' seemed to know earlier than me. I beat myself up about this a lot.

    I just wasn't aware that 'gay' was a thing for all of my childhood and most of my teenage years. My family don't consume a lot of media (still don't have much interest in pop culture tbh) so I just never thought about it. I just never used to feel attraction to anyone, I don't think (I know now I'm not asexual, just to be clear).

    I feel so immature. Obviously I'm a virgin, which makes me feel disgusting. I've been on a few dates (started online dating when I was 24, on and off) and honestly I love meeting new people and I was so surprised how many guys (actually everyone I met!!) wanted a second or third date. Thing is that I got so scared after that. By that stage people want... no, expect sex. And by my age I think it'll be very offputting to someone that I have no experience (and for me to ask them to take it slow).

    I struggle with thinking I'm not hideous (God, I've tried to change my looks over the years but there's only so much I have to work with). Maybe TMI but as you probably guessed I was bullied for the way I looked through high school, and my only experience being intimate with someone (last year) taught me that I tend to dissociate during anything sexy due to childhood sexual trauma.

    This is long already so I just want to list some reasons why I have a lot of fear around coming out to my parents:
    • I get on really well with my Mom and Dad; I don't want to jeopardise that relationship
    • They're the two people who know me better than anyon
    • I owe them so much for raising me and for being patient when I was difficult in the past (mental health stuff)
    • It's never a good time to add something upsetting to their plate
    • I don't want them to be embarrassed or ashamed of me. I just want to make my parents happy (they're not pushy parents, and never have been, but I still feel this way)
    • I'm very worried that other family members would blame my Mom and Dad for bringing me up wrong or something
    • My Mom is very secretive with her feelings and doesn't open up, while my Dad is prone to heavy drinking, even more so to deal with emotions

    My family isn't religious at all but they've expressed the opinion in the past that gay men are paedophiles, or just 'doing it for attention'. Like general discomfort with queer people.

    I feel like I've wasted so much of my life that I'll never get back.
     
  2. quebec

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    lottaotter.....Hello and a very big LGBTQ+ welcome to Empty Closets! Coming out can be wonderful and terrible. Occasionally at the same time! The most important factors in deciding when to come out are:
    *****Come out when YOU are ready. Don't let anyone push you into it if you are not at the place where coming out is right for you...not them.
    *****Don't come out if there is a real chance that you will be in danger. That includes being kicked out of your house, having no way to support yourself, having all privileges (phone, computer, friends, etc.) taken away, being verbally or emotionally abused as well as the danger of physical abuse. Waiting can be very difficult, but your safety and emotional well-being are more important.
    *****Please don't get into a rush about coming out...you have plenty of time! You might want to consider using a letter WHEN the time comes to tell your parents/friends. There are some great sample coming out letters here on empty closets that could be a big help to you. Even if you don't eventually use the letter, taking the time to think about it and to write one will help you be sure to say what you need to say and leave out the rest! An additional plus to a letter is that you don't have to be present when the letter is read. That can be a big help as it eliminates the potential face-to-face confrontation that can easily go bad. It gives the people reading the letter some time to think before they talk to you. After all, you've had years to think about your sexuality...giving them at least some time to think about it only seems fair as well as getting you out of a potentially difficult, emotion-based conversation! Check the letters out (see below)...they could be a real help!
    *****Also...when you do come out, whether it's tomorrow or a year from now, your parents and friends will probably have questions. Take some time now to think about what those questions might be. Such as; "How do you know you're gay?" or "How long have you felt this way?" etc. The questions themselves will vary a great deal dependent upon your family and friends...so take that into consideration. If you work up a list of five or so questions with the answers already planned, you will be perceived as a more mature, serious person.
    *****COMING OUT LETTERS: http://emptyclosets.com/home/pages/resources/coming-out-letters.php
    *****Remember...you are a part of our LGBTQ Family and we do care! Keep us updated on how things are going for you!
    .....David :gay_pride_flag:
     
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  3. Lek

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    quebec has great advice, so I'll briefly discuss two issues: Being scared of sex and your painful experiences.

    First, I hope you acknowledge that the guys you meet are interested in you enough to want to go on more than one date. When you meet a guy you feel like you can be honest with, you can tell him you are sexually attracted to him and that you don't have a lot of sexual experience and want to take it slow. When you decide to have sex, remember you control everything. Yes to that. No to that. Can we stop now? If you start disassociate, you can call a timeout or call it off.

    If someone is worth having sex with, they should be understanding and patient and you both should be able to talk honestly about what you want and need from each. Furthermore, you cannot guess what other people are thinking, so don't assume guys are put off by an inexperienced partner.

    Isn't the point of sex to build trust and to bond? Go at your own pace and don't judge or "watch" yourself. Please don't look back and regret "wasting your life." You have so much to look forward to: healing, growing, accepting people into your life, experiencing physical and emotional intimacy, and so much more.

    As for the pain you feel about being bullied and the sexual trauma you experienced, I think acknowledging that is a very important step forward. I think you sense how being damaged has affected you. You could see a therapist to deal with it. I think an important goal is learning to love yourself, scars, bruises, and all the wonderful things that make you a valuable person. You gotta practice learning to love yourself, but it is so worth it. Learning to love yourself makes being open to love and accepting love so much easier.

    Well, I'm sure others here will have some good advice for you. I hope I've something useful.

    We are, indeed, here for you.
     
  4. QuietPeace

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    I know a lot of people who did not come out until their 40s, 50s or even later. I myself did not start living full time as my true self until I was in my mid 40s. I did not even first start to try to do so until I was 23.

    The fact that many guys want more than one date speaks to you not just "not being hideous" (as I quote you below) but that you are also a person that they think is worth knowing and getting to know better. As far as the sex, I did used to have sex earlier because "it was expected" and I always hated it. I now make it plain and clear that sex will not happen until I am ready and that it will take a long time for me to be ready. With my current boyfriend we met as friends in late 2018, we started getting to know each other better during my divorce last year and then started dating only after being closer friends for months. Even after we decided that we were in a relationship sex did not happen right away. I say all of this to show you that there are guys out there who will wait if you make it clear that waiting is what is required (I use this boyfriend as the example because of the perception that a woman would be willing to wait but that men never would - I have also made other people wait not just him).

    These two things make me think that you would benefit from seeing a therapist. I also have both of these troubles and a therapist can be great help in working through such problems.
     
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  5. lottaotter

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    Thank you. I also think a letter would be a good idea. I express myself better in writing and like you say, I can pre-empt questions and their answers while I have time to think clearly about them, rather than in the heat of the moment.

    I always think I ought to wait until I have a partner to come out, but I dunno. I don't live with my parents anymore- I'm in a different city, I just panic that after uni finishes I might have to move back there. Most of all I worry about ruining their lives by being a disappointment. I do worry about my Dad drinking a lot when he has to deal with emotions.

    Thank you for you advice.
     
  6. lottaotter

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    Thank you. This is my first post after coming back to EC after a three (?) year break.

    I agree I need to be more honest with future partners. The last guy I saw got the idea I didn't like him, which led to me breaking down crying in his car and telling him about all the sticky, messy childhood stuff. It must have been horrible and overwhelming for him. I think a big block for me is that opening up like that would seem like a sign of weakness: of not being manly. I'm privileged in that I can pass for straight most of the time, and some guys I've dated specifically tell me this is something they like about me, and so I have a LOT of hang-ups around masculinity (I hate all the toxic masc4masc crap and honestly don't see myself as masculine at all, but whatever). The whole thing about men wanting sex and the time and being confident, of wanting to get straight to sex, not take stuff slow. I dunno. I am just rambling to get my thoughts clear in my own head.

    I've seen three different therapists. Only mentioned the sexual abuse to the last one, and he told me it would be an ethics violation to talk about it! I might try again. At the moment it would be over Zoom - not in-person - which would be awkward for me, but I'll see. I write every day and I started a few months ago writing down my memories and feelings about things from childhood, and my feelings nowadays. A lot of stuff started 'coming to the surface' recently. I hope this is a sign I'm starting to heal.
     
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  7. lottaotter

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    T
    Thanks very much for your message. I actually feel a lot more in common with people who started living their true selves in their 40's, 50's, 60's etc. It's magnified for me at the moment because I am a mature student (anyone over the age of 21 is a 'mature student' in the UK) surrounded by people who seem a LOT younger. I also look older (bald, so I shave my head, plus facial hair). Ugh. This year I really started to feel rubbish about age.

    I think I will see about another therapist. I wrote a bit in reply to Lek about that, but I will have to just keep searching for one who is not weired out by childhood sexual abuse. All the therapists I've met have wanted to help and been genuine people, I think, ut maybe have lacked the life experiences to deal with many deeper issues. I'm not sure.

    Thank you for sharing your story.
     
  8. QuietPeace

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    I am thinking that therapist needs to lose their license. If you cannot speak about having been abused to a therapist then it can never be talked about. This is very much like the old mindset of "never talk about this", that is what abusers do to their victims. Please do try to find another therapist and see if you can work through this (I also was sexually abused and it has affected me)
     
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  9. Lesbee

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    @lottaotter I am another late bloomer - I just came out now that I'm 40! There are so many things that keep us from seeing or accepting it sooner. (I relate to how you described your upbringing - not knowing "gay" was a thing, conservative family, childhood sexual assault, late-bloomer in terms of finding people sexually attractive....) NONE of the reasons that keep us from seeing or accepting our sexualities are a failing on our part! ❤️

    About a lack of experience well into your 20s... it's more common than you think. SO many people lie because they're bullied and pressured by friends. My most recent partner was still a virgin at 28 (and had only been with 1 other person before me that was not satisfying for either as it sounds) and yet was a fantastic sexual partner. It's all about communication and being present and in your body, so please don't beat yourself up for that. It is not a shortcoming! Some may even see it as a bonus -- less baggage, no diseases to worry about, knowing you're not comparing them to your exes....

    I too had been completely dissociating during anything sexy due to past traumas (sexual and religious), and doing work with a coach and through meditation to be more present in my body is a big part of what led me to coming out. I'm now working with a therapist myself - and if it helps, I searched specifically for those who had experience with sexual trauma. That is absolutely something they need to be a specialist on to talk about, and is NOT an ethics violation. (Agree with QuetPeace, that therapist needs to lose their license.)

    Also, I've come out to everyone except my parents, (and one old friend I knew from when I was as deeply entrenched in religion as she is, who has also been squeamish talking about anything "taboo" like "normal sex"....) and I have some fears around it too. Like others have said, we don't have to do it -- until we're ready, or ever. We can do it in whatever way feels safest to us. We don't do it for them, we do it for US, so there's no pressure to do it if you don't want to. Also, they're grown humans, and as such are responsible for their own feelings and reactions to things. You just stay taking care of your own self to the best of your ability, and let them do the same.

    In some ways, every human on the planet has done that. Hindsight is 20/20! But let's not waste even more time worrying about something we can't change, and just make this moment RIGHT NOW the best it can be.

    Sending you love & support on your journey. ❤️
     
    #9 Lesbee, Apr 1, 2021
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2021
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  10. quebec

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    @lottaotter & @Lesbee.....Please don't ever feel like you've "missed the boat", etc. because you didn't come put in your teens. It's only been in the last decade or so that it's becoming more common for LGBTQ+ people to come out so much sooner than in the past. Part of that is due to the increased information and acceptance about our LGBTQ+ Community. Granted that we aren't anywhere near total acceptance yet, but we are moving in the right direction...in some places anyway. For perspective...I grew up in a place where there was zero LGBTQ+ representation. I didn't even know that being gay was a possibility. I thought I was somehow broken and had to hide my feelings. I was born in 1950 and was a teenager in the 1960's. I didn't have a real clue about being gay until I went to college in 1968. I was out for a while and then a terrible tragedy forced me back into the closet until I came out here on Empty Closets in 2014 at the age of 64. What matters is where your are in your personal journey right now! :old_smile:
    .....David :gay_pride_flag:
     
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  11. ShyBirdy

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    Hi @lottaotter !

    I'm also late in accepting that I'm not straight (I'm 40) and honestly I've never dated either. Pretty embarrassing really, I have very few friends that know that I've never dated and I'm still a virgin. I've only come out to 1 long time supportive friend.
    I'm also struggling with a lot of the same things you're struggling with: body image, worry about how people might expect sex earlier than I'm ready, and also that I've wasted so much time to get to this point.

    Being on EC has really helped me a lot already (I've only been here a few weeks). I've always been really hard on myself, and I guess the main thing I'm trying to work on right now is just accepting myself, flaws and all (I have mental and physical health problems that have also gotten in the way of dating and "normal" life and development) Now I've been trying to treat myself like I treat my best friends: being kind and encouraging to myself, telling myself it's ok if I don't have it all figured out right now. Trying not to stew on negative thoughts when they occur.
     
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  12. lottaotter

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    Thank you. The but about being 'present in your body' really stuck out to me. Since I started thinking about maybe looking for a therapist again who specialises in sexual trauma my mind started telling me 'They'll think you're lying. You weren't abused nearly as much as lots of other people. You're exaggerating because you're too sensitive', so that's gonna be difficult. Hopefully this is normal. Probably a thought for another thread but I hardly have any memory of the actual 'event(s)', just feelings around it and later experiences.
     
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  13. lottaotter

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    This right here! That sums up how I feel too, I think. Do you ever think 'Wow so many other people just had this headstart in life by being approved of by caregivers, very few obstacles, and yet others have to solve all these other problems before they even get to 'life's starting line' '? I think that must be what it is like to grow up very, very poor in terms of material wealth, access to life's basic necessities etc.

    Hope you are doing OK today.
     
  14. QuietPeace

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    It is incredibly common for those of us who are sexual abuse victims to gaslight ourselves like this (and to be gaslight by others also). Being victimized is being victimized, do not worry if someone else "had it worse", if you were harmed then you were harmed and exactly how much is not important. Seeking out help is the correct thing to do.
     
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  15. Lesbee

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    @lottaotter I was just about to say what @QuietPeace said. Also that you saying you could hardly remember the events — this is common too & from what I just googled is called “dissociative amnesia”. Your body knows, and your trauma is valid no matter the details of what happened. I hope you find someone who specializes in trauma who will help you through this soon. ❤️
     
  16. jones434

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    Hi lottaotter and other contributors,

    As others have kindly pointed out above, you’re not alone in the position you’re in and how you feel. Although this doesn’t make your situation any less difficult, I hope it brings you some comfort.

    I’m actually in a very similar position to you, I’m also 27 and only out to one friend (who I don’t really speak to anymore) and I’ve never been with anyone sexually before either.

    I guess my main reason for replying to this post is to say that you don’t deserve to feel bad and that I hope your situation changes for the better.

    Best wishes
     
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  17. lottaotter

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    Hi there, yes it definitely does provide some comfort actually.

    I'm thinking about coming out to my parents in a letter this year. I know 'this year' seems like a pretty vague time line and a cop-out maybe but it is still a big step for me.

    I hope you're doing alright.