Going straight for grandma
Q: I have been with my partner now for 14 and a half years. The positive has always outweighed any negative – and we have definitely had our share of trying circumstances thrown at us, but we’ve persevered. However, he has a grandmother who lives overseas in China, who he has visited every year since he was born and who visits him here too. He has never told her that he is gay, but his brother has certainly less-than-subtly hinted about it and the woman isn’t stupid. She knows. She simply will not accept it, and I’m fine with that.
My issue is that she is getting bolder with wanting him to be straight. We visited her this past February and she set him up on a chaperoned dinner date with a woman for the night of his birthday. I was told that I would not be attending the meal. I had a problem with this, but he didn’t because, he said, it’d never go far and it’d make grandma happy. Regardless, I was still very unhappy that I was not included.
We returned home and this woman has continued to call him several times a week (he currently works out of state due to the economy and our jobs), has sent him gifts (expensive gifts – things I certainly can’t afford), has joined him and his grandmother in London for a weekend and will be joining them again in a few weeks for a trip to Singapore. He has told her that they will not be anything more than friends – he has forwarded me the e-mails and her responses – yet he continues to accept the gifts she sends or has waiting for him overseas. She does not know that he is gay.
Grandma is currently visiting and spent the week out of state with him. He called earlier this evening before his flight to tell me that she did inquire about me during the weekend and wondered if I knew he had a girlfriend. He corrected her in saying that he did not, yet also confirmed that I knew about the woman she set him up with and that I was hoping to meet someone like her who bought me expensive things, too. This was, as he told me, to make grandma happy.
Explaining my unhappiness with this situation to him, emotionally or through an attempt at logic, always ends with his conclusion that the problem is entirely in my head; and that I shouldn’t have any complaints because nothing will happen with this woman. Also, he will never tell his grandmother that he is gay, plain and simple.
I don’t know where to begin detailing all the problems I have with this – any of it. I was quite depressed, though, when we returned from overseas earlier this year, and I am concerned that it could happen again. So, for the sake of my own sanity, I’m wondering if you also see any red flags with any of this, or is it really only in my head?
A: Yes, red flags are flying, high and brightly. I certainly can understand that your partner is dealing with cultural issues – as well as family and personal issues – that are very difficult for him, but that doesn’t take away what he’s doing to you in the process. From what you have said, his problems are deep and many. He’s not writing to me, but if he were, I’d be suggesting counseling for him, and couple’s counseling for you both. But as I said, he’s not writing to me, you are.
You certainly have put up with a lot from him. I’m wondering how long you want to continue testing your sanity or, in my mind, being a door mat. If he were my partner, I’d be insisting he go to counseling and deal with his issues as a requirement for stay together – for even the next 10 minutes. And, since you have been dealing with this for so long, you are obviously having problems honoring yourself by not setting boundaries with him. (I’m wondering if you have problems setting boundaries with others in you life as well.)
If I were you, I’d start out by insisting to your partner that you both go into couple’s counseling. If he won’t agree to that, it is important for you to find your own personal counselor to help you deal with this situation.