I’m moving in with my girlfriend and now my homophobic parents want to disown me

This is a repost blog.

Trigger warning: homophobia

Original posts by Letter Writer #1194 at Captain Awkward.

16 April 2019: #1194: “I’m moving in with my girlfriend and now my homophobic parents want to disown me.

Hi Captain Awkward!

I came out to my parents about 3 years ago, when I was still living with them before moving abroad to start my PhD. They were horrible — and it made the next 6 months of my stay a traumatizing experience, to say the least. I think you could describe my parents as controlling, and when I came out there was a lot of we HATE all the career choices you’ve made, but we had the goodness to tolerate them, and now this!’ Anyway. Moved out, moved countries, got a fuckload of therapy, and started the process of healing.

I told my mother (via a text) that I was moving in with my girlfriend and she freaked out. She is devastated”, and my father, with whom I have not had an actual conversation since my coming out (made summer visits home real fun, if you can believe it), is furious, and wants to disown you”. I… am not sure how to cope with this? The worst part is that I have a ticket home to visit them for nearly a month, in three weeks. Captain, I’m not sure I want to visit them (for three whole weeks!) after this terrific display of parenting. At the same time, I’m pretty sure that not visiting them will be taken as this huge display of disrespect and an indication that I *want* to be estranged from them. So the options are to either stay away for my own peace of mind and be a bad daughter, possibly irrevocably so, or to grit my teeth and spend 3 weeks at home enduring silent disapproval at best and emotionally abusive confrontations at worst.

Like I said, I don’t have a relationship with my father. My mother is the one I speak to on the phone and text with. I told her I’m sad and disappointed that you feel this way about my moving in with my girlfriend. I don’t feel safe coming back to visit you, and I don’t think you’d feel comfortable either.” She replied and the preview contains another allusion to my disappointing career (for the record, worked at a non-profit, doing a PhD now, only a failure insofar as not earning hundreds of thousands as a corporate lawyer” is a failure) and… I haven’t seen the rest of it because I get avoidant when I’m anxious. Do you have any scripts for like… how to respond and how to navigate what may potentially be a long, torturous process of becoming (formally) (even more) estranged from my parents?

Bad Kid

P.S. My pronouns are she/her!

P.S. Just wanted to give a heads-up that you’re almost definitely going to recommend therapy, which I know is a big part of the answer! The most recent therapist I had didn’t really work for me, and since I’m moving in 2 weeks, I might not have a huge amount of time / resources to devote to finding a new therapist.

Editor’s Note: To read Captain Awkward’s advice, click through to the original post.

May 18, 2020: Update (second update at the link)

Hi Captain!

Your recent posts made me think + feel better about where I am with my life and career, so thanks for that. It also made me think about how kind and helpful your advice was when I wrote in to last year, so I thought I’d write in to update you:

  • I did not end up visiting my parents last summer, and in fact we stopped speaking for a couple of months. I felt bad and guilty and ashamed, but also… very relieved. It gave me the mental and emotional space I needed to settle into my new apartment and adjust to living with my partner.

  • My mum and I started speaking again after a couple of months, and our relationship is pretty much the way it always was, which is: mostly fine, with a good dash of avoidance of Difficult Topics and mutual incomprehension.

  • I did speak to my father a couple of months ago when I called home for a major holiday. It was very stilted, but we stuck to light topics, and overall I’m happy with how it went.

  • I have now graduated with a PhD and have a job that allows me to stay in the United States without worrying about visa or financial issues.

  • I am very happy with my partner (even during these stay-at-home times), and in addition to the cat that we had when we moved in, we’ve now started fostering a dog!

Captain, above all you reminded me that my parents’ skewed perspective is neither my fault nor my responsibility. This was something that I knew rationally but, as someone who grew up both loving and fearing my parents, has been an ongoing process emotionally. In addition to my girlfriend and the friends who closed ranks around me, it was really fucking valuable to have you (and the whole community of CA commenters!) stand in the corner of someone they’ve never even met with that amount of love and kindness and protectiveness. I was and continue to be profoundly moved by that. So: thank you very much ❤ ❤ ❤

Best wishes,

LW 1194


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September 8, 2023