Closing comments because, WTF, people?
LW, your coworkers are not going to care about this that much. It’s gonna be fine.
I changed careers and started a job in a brand new field about a year ago. Around the same time, I started dating someone new. I kept quiet about my new relationship at work for a few reasons:
- Being new on the job, I didn’t know my coworkers so well, and I wanted to get a better sense of the culture around personal talk at my company.
- I didn’t have a great sense of whether or not the relationship would be a long-term thing or just a fling.
- I identify as a lesbian. I’m dating a guy. All my coworkers are straight.
A year later, I’m pretty invested in the relationship. My community has been supportive and wonderful; everyone I hang out with gets that identity, desire, and behavior are separate things. It feels like I’m back in the closet at work though. I initially came out to my coworkers as lesbian and haven’t told them I’m dating a guy just yet. I play the Pronoun Game occasionally, or speak about “one of the people that I’m dating” in vague terms, and I’m tired of it — I’d like to come out and let people know.
My coworkers are warm, kind, respectful humans. I am sure they have the capacity to understand, but I’m struggling to come up with the best way of explaining the situation. Do you have any scripts?
Thank you so much!
The good news is that your work environment turned out to be a comfortable and supportive one, your coworkers sound generally like cool people, and the thing driving this problem is you wanting to be a bit closer to them by telling them about your life. The second good news is that they probably don’t think about your sexual identity or your romantic life all that much and won’t be phased by anything you tell them. The other good news is that you don’t owe them a narrative of yourself that all makes sense.
If you ever bring your partner by the office, maybe to meet you or pick you up, or in the course of talking to your coworkers say “that person I’ve been dating, heck, after all this time I should just use his name, which is Ned Nickerson, told me I might really like Kieslowski’s Three Colors Trilogy, so we watched the whole thing this weekend…”
Yep, you might get a momentary “Wait, but aren’t you….????” reaction that slips out before your coworker’s filters come up. The screenwriter in me pictures you as Cameron Esposito saying “I was just as surprised as you are, believe me.”
- No answer at all, just, shrug and move on. Their filter will catch up.
- “Yep, I am. And yet? This works for me.“
- If you’re comfortable with it and if and only if this actually describes you, “Yep, though maybe I’d use the word bisexual if I had to introduce myself now.“
- “Yep, I am, but sometimes that’s a more fluid thing.”
- “Yep, I am, but I’m glad I made an exception in this case.”
Then don’t get drawn into a long discussion about it. “Have you ever seen those movies? I think Blue is my favorite, Ned really likes White for the dark humor.”
Potential trouble spots:
- The dude coworker who thinks he has a shot now.
- The coworker who has 8 million questions and theories about queerness and sexuality.
- Maybe a conservatively religious coworker who now thinks you are “cured of teh gays” and wants to “celebrate.”
Do you have any of these types around? If so, your answers are “Nope, not you, not ever”, “Wow, I don’t really know the answer to that, but there are a lot of websites out there with info,”/”Your curiosity is really heartening, but I’m not comfortable being your sounding board about that stuff at work,” and “Not how it works!” (+ sticking to work topics only with that one), respectively.
You got this. You’re not lying, you’re not letting anyone down, you’re not failing to conform to someone’s idea of how you should be, you’ve got nothing to apologize for or explain. I predict that this will be a weird 5 minutes or so in your life and then you will get to enjoy the freedom of not having to parse all your statements about this person so much.