How do you tell someone, "I'm gay now, but I wasn't when I was with you"?
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Dear Miss Information,
I dated a guy about two years ago pretty seriously, and at the time we were on track to be engaged. Blah blah blah, it ended really badly. We haven't spoken since, even though I found out through mutual friends that he has been asking about me for months if not years. Finally, that has died down, and we've both moved on with our lives, I think. Here's the problem: I'm now dating a woman (oh, I'm a girl, if that wasn't already clear.) She and I are really happy together. I guess I've always identified as "bi," but it never came up when I was dating the guy. So this isn't that surprising to me, but apparently it is to him. I think one of our mutual friends told him I'm with Anna now, and supposedly he's been really freaked out about it.
A very close mutual friend is getting married in about a month, and my girlfriend is coming as my plus-one. I know he will be there with his new girlfriend (The friends who told me he was freaked out also filled me in that he's dating someone from his work), and I want to avoid hurting him further. How do you tell someone, "I'm gay now, but I wasn't when I was with you"? And really, we haven't spoken in about two years, so how much responsibility do I even need to take for "letting him down gently"? I'm just really, really, REALLY dreading this wedding because of having to see this ex. What do I do?
—Chasing (Away) Amy
Dear Chasing (Away) Amy:
Are you living inside an episode of "I Love Lucy"? It's great of you to consider your ex's feelings and to plan accordingly, but there is an awful lot of hearsay going on in this scenario. If Lucy and Ethel have taught us anything, it's that trusting rumors only ends in wacky, mildly degrading highjinks.
From here it looks like you are spending a lot of energy worrying about hypotheticals. It's possible that your intel is wrong: maybe he no longer cares what you're up to, or maybe he has come to terms with you dating a girl; maybe he'll be there with his new boyfriend, not girlfriend. (Wouldn't that be a fun sitcom twist!) So, while it's good to have a plan, draw one up and then let the topic rest. Spending the next month worrying over "what-ifs" will only fritter away your life force.
When you get to the wedding, stay poised and polite, no matter what your brain may be screaming. Your number-one goal, as a friend of the engaged couple, is to keep their wedding and reception as positive as possible. This means focus on their big day, and try your best not to make it about you. If you do somehow get locked in a room with your ex, your girlfriend, and his girlfriend (you know, like happens all the time in farces), keep it light and be kind. Make a special effort to be lovely to his current girlfriend, who will likely be feeling exceptionally weird right about now. The olive branch will go far.
It may not be the big, cathartic coming-out moment you've hoped for, but someone else's wedding isn't the place to break new ground with an ex. You can keep things superficial for six hours in the name of preserving peace at your friends' party. If you need to hash things out with the ex, set a future date when there are no bystanders to injure. But at the wedding itself, you should be putting your personal drama aside and congratulating the happy couple.