Meeting the parents of your betrothed can be a nerve-wracking experience. But most men in this situation usually don’t have to confront the uneasy knowledge that they’ve had sex with their fiancée's father. One man, however, is experiencing that exact crisis.
The question, which ran in the Guardian's Dear Mariella column touched upon the important issues of trust, honesty and how much of your previous relationships you need to discuss with your partner; and, the advice-seeker wanted to know, should he just walk away from the relationship altogether?
The dilemma I have been in love for the last year and recently proposed. After 10 years of bisexuality (though I had more female partners than male) I was happy, excited and in love. She introduced me to her parents three months ago and her father and I recognized each other from a local cruising site. We have been intimate on about three or four occasions. He has made contact with me and asked me to tell my fiancée about my sexuality. I asked if his wife knew about his, and we have reached something of an impasse. He has since taken screenshots of old photos of me and I have also found some of him. Shall I just walk away from the woman of my dreams?
The advice given by Mariella Frostrup is difficult to act upon. While she doesn’t recommend just walking away — although she acknowledges that it may not be the asker’s choice if her advice is followed — she does make it clear that honesty is not just suggested, but mandatory.
Putting the past behind you is one thing; shoving it in a sealed trunk and dropping it into the ocean depths is another. It’s not healthy for you to leave part of your life hidden away, and it’s not conducive to happiness as a couple for one partner to be deluded about the true nature of the other.
As for her father, he certainly doesn’t come out of this looking good, but if you are locked in an impasse with him, then only honesty can free you. Daughters do tend to worship their dads, so it’s possible she’s found qualities in you that she also sees in him. Though what she’s identified may come as a surprise to her! That’s not the secret that you need to be sharing. Your first task isn’t to enlighten her about her father’s cruising days – that’s a dilemma you can leave him to face up to. Any information you proffer at this juncture will just be seen as a clumsy attempt to divert attention and spread the responsibility.
Some are criticizing Frostrup’s handling of the asker’s sexuality — she refers to his bisexuality possibly being on pause — but the question of honesty appears much less debatable, regardless of whether both men in the situation are attempting to blackmail each other. While Frostrup clearly states that the asker’s responsibility is not to out his fiancee’s father, she also points out that not telling her about his own sexuality is problematic even if it may come with painful consequences.
If you really do care for this woman, she deserves to know the man she is marrying and to be allowed to make her decision about her future based on full disclosure. That doesn’t mean you need to focus on the details (such as the dalliances with her father), but you should fill her in her as delicately as you can on your previous sexual history. We live in far more tolerant times and there are plenty of people out there who wouldn’t see bisexuality as any barrier to a committed union. I can’t promise it won’t change her feelings toward you but that, too, may be a relief in the long term.
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