What To Do When Your Partner Demands Your Silence

by Dian Reid-Jancic· Follow Dian on

No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow. ~ Alice Walker“So while we’re at [my aunt’s] this weekend, we need to be … just friends.”

I’d be willing to bet that some form of this announcement has been said to many a lesbian in the early years of her dating history. I went along with some version of it (a few times) in my own dating history. Partly out of naiveté, but mostly out of fear.

Fear of being found out, sure. More so: fear of being brave enough to stand up for myself. Fear of the consequences of standing up for myself.

No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.
~ Alice Walker

Let us remember this, in friendships and intimate relationships alike.

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What to do when your partner demands your silence

Be honest. If you feel uncomfortable about not sharing the true nature of your relationship, say so.

“We’re not just friends, and saying/behaving like we are makes me uncomfortable.”

Make sure your partner knows this isn’t about her. It’s about you being uncomfortable about being dishonest, not about your love or affection for her. Start the dialogue and keep it open to give her some time and space to take what you’re saying in.

Be understanding of where your partner is in her process. 

“If you’re not ready to let people know we’re more than just friends, that’s okay. We can go on a trip together when you’re ready.”

You’re growing, you’re changing, you’re evolving. This doesn’t make you better than anyone else, it just means you may not be on the same page as a person who’s not on your path of change/growth/evolution.

We are who we are; no more, no less.

Take care of you. 

“I understand you’re not in a place to share this, and that’s okay. I need to be with someone who’s ready to be out about our relationship in her family, so if that’s not something you’re ready for, I need to move on.”

Ultimately, you need to take care of yourself. Respect yourself. It’s great that you’re ready to be in an out relationship, and you deserve a partner who’s willing to be out, too. Don’t hide in your partner’s closet; it’ll feel darker and more cramped than your own.

And if through the dialogue you’ve created with one another you find that you’re both in the same space and willing to work through coming out together, then more power to you both. Just remember how scary it was when you came out of your closet, and support her through whatever scariness she may be going through as she comes out of hers.

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It can be difficult to speak up for your needs in the beginning of a relationship, intimate or otherwise. Hell, it’s difficult even smack dab in the middle of it, if you’re not used to it. But if you don’t speak up for what you want, what you need in your life and relationships, then who will?

 

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