Dear Worrier Princess: Holiday Blues
dear worrier princess is a queer advice column based off the ex-girlfriend of my ex-girlfriend is my girlfriend, an advice zine by maddy court (a.k.a @xenaworrierprincess on instagram).
Queery #1: My girlfriend (of 4 months) is asking me what I wanna do for Christmas this year.️ My dad thinks being gay is not "gods plan for me" and grandparents don't know (as far as I know). So besides logistics of couples planning holidays, (who gets the 25th?) this would be the first Christmas I bring a girlfriend. I know my dad will like her, an engineer, much more than the first girlfriend, an alcoholic musician, so the bar is pretty low but literally I’m thinking like would my extremely religious (although very kind and gentle) grandparents rather actually die without having to confront my scandalous lesbian reality on the holiest of Christian days? What needless stress would I be putting on my gf? Is it all ludicrous because it's obvious to them anyway so why bother hiding it anymore and maybe it'll go over well?
A: Rolling up to Christmas with your girlfriend is a bold, bold way to come out to your grandparents. The situation would be easier to assess if your dad and grandparents were staunchly homophobic. Your dad is accepting in practice, but not in words. Nobody has even tried to explain anything to your grandparents because they’re old and religious. You’re drinking a frothy egg nog made from assumptions and uncertainty, and it tastes bad.
Coming out is never a one-and-we’re-done deal. When you’re dealing with older generations, or families that cope by burying and ignoring difficult truths, it can be a constant struggle. You have the option of calling your grandparents right now, but it might cross an unspoken boundary established by your parents. You could tell your father that you’re bringing a successful engineer home, and ask him to communicate with the rest of the family. Or maybe all of these options would cause needless, draining drama. I can sit on my advice columnist throne and espouse direct communication all I want, but families are immensely complicated and coming out isn’t the always the resolution it’s cracked up to be.
Here’s what I do know: Christmas, as a season, spouts values of togetherness and compassion. In reality, it’s an emotionally fraught marathon that pushes our limits for eating starch-based foods and existing peaceably with our families-of-origin. I understand the urge to rip off the band aid, but your girlfriend deserves the spec sheet before she makes a decision. She might be envisioning a different kind of Christmas and as much as she might care about you, don’t make her an accessory without her consent.
Queery #2: I started college this fall, outside of Seattle, and my girlfriend started school outside of LA. I care super deeply about her, but since I’ve been here my feeling have all but faded. I went and visited her last weekend and it was amazing, so I know that when we are together we still have it. I asked to open our relationship, and she agreed but she doesn’t wanna hear about the other girls. I’ve been hooking up with this girl at my school, and I invited her home with me for Thanksgiving break (as her parents live out of the country). I feel bad but I also am really excited for her to come back with me. This means that I won’t really have any alone time with my girlfriend, but I’ll be sleeping in the same bed as the other girl all break. Am I a horrible person?
A: It is cold in the small, sparsely furnished office where I write. I made a mug of Celestial Seasonings Tension Tamer to warm myself, got distracted by the internet and 30 minutes later, my tea is all but iced. But still, I feel dizzy and overheated. Is that sweat I feel pooling on my lower back? Nothing, dear readers, gives me the hot prickles like poorly communicated, boundary-busting open relationships.
Here’s the deal: you know your hometown girlfriend will be hurt. You’re forfeiting a rare weekend with her to spend time with your college girlfriend, who you can see literally whenever. What’s gonna happen when your hometown girlfriend texts you and says she’s excited to see you, or wants to discuss Thanksgiving plans? It is so, so much worse that you haven’t told her yet. Now you’re in a position to send the worst text of all time. A text that goes something like: “actually I’m bringing my college boo back with me to meet my family and since she’s a houseguest and will be sleeping in my bed, so I can’t spend any time with you. Sorry I didn’t tell you sooner, I was afraid you’d be angry.” Sounds bad, right?
I know this sounds really, really harsh. To answer your question, I don’t think you’re a horrible person. I think you’re young and still learning about what a healthy, reciprocal relationship means. You’re still learning that open relationships are not decaf relationships—like container gardening, they take work and compromise. You need to tell your hometown girlfriend immediately. When she tells you how she feels, listen as closely as possible. Sadly, the biggest relationship lessons often come when we hurt people we care about deeply.
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All illustrations for this column are done by Sid Champagne. Sid is a freelance illustrator based in Baltimore by way of the Gulf Coast. You can find them on Twitter @sid_champagne, or Instagram (more cat pics) @sidchampagne