This isn’t a particularly dramatic question, but I’m stumped. I’m a dude who would like to say he’s in his mid-twenties, but probably can’t anymore. For a long time, I would have said I was straight. I was attracted to women, dated them and had relationships with them. Then, a couple of years ago, I randomly met a guy I knew immediately was going to be a huge deal to me, and I was right: Two years later, we’re getting married, w00t! I’m lucky in that I come from a really liberal, relaxed background, so it was more of a ‘huh, that was unexpected’ situation, rather than a cause for major upheaval.
My question relates to my high school girlfriend, and do I tell her anything (specifically that I’m bi, as opposed to gay, which seems to be what everybody assumes)? On the one hand I think not, because we’re not in touch anymore and I wouldn’t even think to ask this question if I were marrying a woman, but on the other, we were together on and off for almost all of high school, and were each other’s ‘firsts’ in every way that I can think of. I obviously don’t want her back, and I don’t for a second think she wants me, but she/our relationship was really special to me and I still look back on it fondly. I guess what I’m thinking is that I know she’ll find out through the grapevine that I’m with a guy now, if she hasn’t already, and I don’t want her to feel like our relationship wasn’t what she thought it was, if that makes sense? Like, if she’d come out as gay, I think I might be a little sad somehow, because it would mean that we didn’t have what I’d thought we had? I’d wonder if I should have known, and helped/supported her, and I’d doubt myself and the lessons I learned through that love. Also, I’d feel guilty looking back on it happily, because how can you, if you later found out the other person wasn’t as happy as you thought? I feel like I’d want to know, but I also can’t think of a way of telling her that doesn’t come across as horribly narcissistic, basically calling someone up and going ‘hey, getting married to someone else next year, but just FYI, I was totally into you back then’.
FWIW, Fiancé is totally cool with me potentially getting in touch with her, but doesn’t want to express an opinion either way as to what I should do, since he doesn’t know her/our situation.
We get a lot of “should I reach out to this person from my past and tell them something” questions here at Captain Awkward Dot Com Enterprises, and I am trying to develop a working framework on how to tell whether this is actually might be a good idea.
I think the questions to ask are:
- Who am I really doing this for?
- What do I want to happen after I reach out? I.e. Is this a beginning or an ending?
If this is just a drive-by, where you say your “Hey, I need to tell you something, bye!” and then ride off into the sunset again, then who is this really serving?
If this is about you reconnecting with someone who was very important to you once upon a time, great! As long as you are open to rekindling some kind of ongoing communication or friendship (even a very loose, casual, or even ambient Facebook “friend”ship). Track down her info. Tell her your good news. Introduce her to your dude. Ask about her life. Make plans to hang out for a drink if you are both heading to your hometown for the holidays. Most importantly, assume nothing about how she will react to your news or how it might change the way she saw your relationship. The fact of your upcoming wedding will come up, and you’ll probably have an opportunity to say “Yeah, after high school I figured out I was bi.” If she has the kind of feelings you are imagining, let her be the one to bring them up. But chances are that even if the relationship was an important & positive one, she doesn’t think about you all that much these days and her response will be something like “I did not see that coming. But I’m happy for you!” The goal is coffee, not FEELINGSCOFFEE.
Because I think you’re over-thinking this a lot! When you end a relationship, you don’t have to keep working through issues of how you felt about the person…with that person. One of the reasons that I advocate taking a no-contact break after a breakup, even if you do intend to remain friends, is to give everyone time to get past the need to solve or fix or analyze the problems of a relationship that is no longer happening. There are no clean slates, but there should be a “BYGONES” slate where former partners who are now friends agree not to rehash the past.
So that’s my advice. Seek your old friend for her own sake, for the possible pleasure of her company, or not at all. And if you do, assume nothing about what she feels or needs. She has her own story about what happened between you and the years you spent apart. Let her tell it clean.