Sooooo, you just came out to your partner. Or maybe, your partner just came out to you?
There’s no template for exactly how to navigate a partner coming out as LGBTQIA+. Every experience will be unique and different. There will be aspects of it that feel awesome and liberating, and aspects that feel scary and uncomfortable.
But you’d be completely normal if you’re wondering, what’s next?
Normal Responses When One Partner Comes Out
First, let’s normalize some things that can come up when one partner comes out.
Issues with intimacy. When you’re exploring your gender or sexual identity, it’s only natural to feel confused or cautious about bodies, attraction, and pleasure. It’s also natural to be 100% excited and drawn towards bodies. Or perhaps a mixture of both.
Insecurities around the foundation of the relationship. There can be questions such as did you ever really love me? Were you using me? When did you know?
Renegotiations in the relationship contract. While some couples may choose to break up, that’s not the only option! Sometimes each partner is still happy and satisfied in the relationship, and sometimes partners choose to experiment with non-monogamy.
And more - The examples above are just examples. Each couple will have their own unique experience of this, so if you don’t see yourself in the list above, no fear. You’re still normal. You can still navigate this and come out (no pun intended here) on the other side.
Whether there is a reaction of stress and fear, or a tremendous amount of support and excitement, this is still a big deal! These kinds of things usually involve layers of processing. It’s normal for your feelings about this to change over time. It’s normal for parts of us to suddenly arise that fear abandonment or feel hostility. So if you’re still in that acute phase directly following the coming out, trust that things will continue to evolve. Good and challenging feelings will arise.
I recommend that couples navigating coming out experiences seek therapeutic support individually and as a couple. Doing so can ensure each partner has protected space to be honest in exploring their individual experience, as well as feeling safe and supported in negotiating what comes next.
Sound like you and your partner? Good news! I specialize in identity & belonging, and I work with couples in which one (or both) partners have recently come out!