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'Coming Out'

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Hello everyone! I'm new to this forum, so I apologise in advance if I'm posting this in the wrong category!

The fact that I'm even typing this means that I'm considering making the next step, which is so incredibly terrifying to me, but necessary all the same. I won't go into great detail, to spare everyone, but let me give you a bit of an introduction.

I'm 21 and have been in a relationship with my cousin for the last five years. We've always been closer than most cousins, which has always been appreciated by our small family and looked at as 'Oh, how lovely that they get along so well'. I think that I've always been 'in love' with my first cousin, who's always been on the same line as I have. Our family is small and close and we've always been there for each other and, although our family is generally intelligent and very open-minded and understanding, I can't help but fear how badly they will take us telling them about our relationship.

When I was seventeen, a few months after my cousin and I had shared our first kisses, I suddenly realised that this relationship meant that I wouldn't have the 'normal' teenage love-life. I wouldn't be able to share it with my friends, I wouldn't be able to fall in love with someone in my year and have the most awkward dates and this had me so stressed out that I thought it was better that we would put an end to it. I knew that there was no way that this, our relationship, was okay and every moment I was trying to convince myself that it would be so much better to try to be 'normal' instead. I told my mother and got a relieved response, who thought something more serious was going on. Next she asked questions, but also said things like 'Did <name> force you into having a relationship?" You see, my cousin is four years older than I am, and at the age of sixteen, that's a rather big gap. I understand where she was coming from, but it was hurtful.

I spent a week at home, crying, because I didn't want that relationship, or so I told myself. I did want it, I wanted it more than anything, I just didn't dare to face the fact that I was going to have to bear all the complications that came with it. I already knew it was going to be a serious relationship, because I could feel it.

My mother helped me send my cousin some emails, formulating my feeling, or the feelings I thought I had, while I ignored his phonecalls and texts all week.

A few months after we were hanging out again and I asked whether we could try again. We were romantically involved and to not act upon it was merely denying that something was there, which was a feeling almost worse than the feeling that had had me crying in bed that week, heartbroken.

I haven't spoken to my family about it since, nor has anyone mentioned it. Over the past years I've 'come out' to two of my friends, one that I met and told about my boyfriend, to whom I then explained that he also happened to be my cousin. She didn't make the faintest problem out of it. The next person was a friend I'd had since I was about fourteen. She'd known both me and my cousin well and we'd been great friends, the three of us, for years. Telling her was unexpected and her response was that that she'd suspected it and that she couldn't see how it was a problem. We were meant to be together.

I've since moved out of my parents house and I now live with my cousin, my partner. My new acquaintances know I have a boyfriend and while I'm moving forward in my life (meeting new people, going to university in a different country, finally living a life without my parents looking over my shoulder) I feel like this secret is holding me back. I intended to keep it forever, if I had to, but I can't. It takes so much energy to keep it hidden and I realise that, somewhere, it might not be fair on them to not tell them. What if they understand? Don't they deserve to see how happy I am?

The reason I'm posting all of this is because I'm looking for advice from people who might have been in similar situations and who have come out to their parents. How did you approach it? And what kind of responses do you get?

I come from a non-religious British family, if anyone's interested in my cultural/social background to know in what culture to place this story.

Thank you all in advance. I'm grateful to have found this forum.

- Kate

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hi kate! listen, i totally understand how the secret weighs you down, and you're right, they do deserve to see how happy you are! and it sounds to me like your mother was always understanding, even back then, so i think you'll be fine. with me and mark, we told my mom first. she was so supportive, in fact she was excited and couldn't wait to call everybody else and tell them. first she told my dad, and he was happy about it. i think she kinda threw mark's parents into shock when she told them, but his parents have always been the least interfering, least judgmental people i've ever known in my whole life. they never said anything negative about it, at least to us... although several months after we married, his mom told my mom that i was the best thing to happen to mark in a long time. it's been years ago, but it seems like i recall my mom saying that his mom said it with quite a bit of relief, like they'd been holding their breath waiting to see if this was a mistake or not, and they'd finally decided it was a good thing.

i have a letter posted here on the forum for people to read, modify, and share however they want. it's all about telling the family. a lot of people have to do it in a letter to avoid a family brawl. i don't think you're going to get a lot of opposition, at least from your mom... but the letter is full of useful information and diplomatic wording that you can draw inspiration from when telling others. it's located here: https://www.cousincouples.com/forum/index.php/topic,1444.0.html

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I agree with LadyC, and I'll add my two cents if you don't mind.

I agree that this probably won't come as any shock to your Mom. Or anyone else in the family for that matter. You now understand why we tell our young members to keep it on the down low until you are of age, ( I personally recommend to wait until right about the age you presently are) and THEN go for it. I'll also remind you to NOT let this interfere with your studies. You are also most likely a case study for why I always say that initially, the keeping it under wraps/sneaking around is exhilarating, but eventually becomes drudgery. You're so happy, you just want to stand on the top of the world and shout it out.

However, if it were me, I would consider a slightly less overt approach. Many here have adopted some version of how I would handle it. Personally, I would tell the Mothers, and let those chips fall where they may. The rest of the family will either be informed by them, or catch on eventually. In the end, it isn't really any skin off their backside either way. It is perfectly legal in the UK, even if it is not quite so common there as it once was. Everyone may as well get use to it. Like LadyC, I don't think there will be too terribly much drama over it. After all these years of them seeing how lovely you are together, they really shouldn't be shocked. Any reaction like that is not shock, it's drama. If it started, I'll assure you, I would get one of these: http://www.cafepress.com/mf/44538864/no-drama_tshirt?productId=468604272 and wear it to EVERY family function until EVERYBODY got the hint. Of course, that's just me, LOL  :grin:

As far as new friends go, at least initially, (as with any new introductions) it really isn't so much of their business anyhow, now is it? If asked, I would use a line others here have used, and merely say "Oh, we've known each other and been friends since we were kids." After all, that IS the truth, isn't it? If these new friendships deepen to the point of further confidence, and such conversations become naturally, and appropriately, more involved, then perhaps I would discuss the matter further. I personally wouldn't go so deep into such personal matters until such a point that I realized new friends were apt to become more than casual acquaintances, and may end up being longer term/life-long friends. 

My situation is that I'm not with my cousin, nor shall we ever be together. We're the same age (50's) and back when we were 20, had what we call our "moment". She got scared of what other people would have said, I didn't want to push her, and we walked away, letting the whole affair be overly awkward for decades. In the last 3 or 4 years or so, we've aired it all out, and it's all good. But, much too much water has passed beneath the bridge to go back. We have SO's, and no stomach for cheating with each other. But, our mothers would not have been a problem. Her Mom knew. I mean, we came dragging in all rumpled up from just leaving mine, so, it was pretty obvious what was going on. We didn't really have to say a word. Her Mom can be quite the drama queen though, and started a conversation of some sort as soon as we walked in. Cuz hurriedly scampered to her room to get ready for work, and that's when her Mom took a breath, and a look at our condition. It was priceless. She was speechless. By the time she picked her chin up off the coffee table, I had moved beside her on the couch, and said something to the effect of "And you were saying....???" She got a huge grin, never said a word, and went right back into whatever she was rambling on about. Like I say, it was priceless, and I'll never forget it so long as I live. In airing it out, I asked her if her Mom had said anything afterwards, and perhaps that was why she got scared, and didn't want to go for it. (I always assumed, wrongly, that may have been the case) She said no, that her Mom never mentioned a word about it. After we backed off, I thought that at some point in the future, she could possibly get the nerve to go for it, so, I told my Mom something like "Don't be surprised if at some point me and Cuz become an item." She said "So long as you treat her good, and you make each other happy, I don't have a problem with it." Just the kinda Mom I have. Looking out for Cuz first, LOL. But, Mom looks at her and her sister as the daughters she never had too. And, her Mom looks at me and my brothers in a similar manner.

So, bottom line? You make the best of what you have. You may have a drama filled dysfunctional family that ends up having no problem or drama over it, or a tight-knit family that looses touch. We've seen all ranges in between too. What worked at the time, and I'm sure would have over time, had we went for it, was to just act like it was the most natural thing in the world, and let that be the visual, and speak for itself.....

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