Coming out & Overseas Relationships
February 18, 2013 4:22 PM   Subscribe

I finally came out to myself, my therapist and my mom. And I am in a deep overseas relationship with a guy that I met online from South America. Where do I go from here? Lots of details inside.

Hello! I am a 23 year old man and have been struggling with accepting my sexuality for my entire life. About 8 months ago, my life began to change when I met a guy online from a country in South America and fell in love with him. I worry that it will be hard for people to believe that you can fall in love like this (just as it was for me), but it did happen. Such passionate, deep sweet love. We really are lucky to have found each other's soulmate.

Since then, we've spent every day talking on video chat, phone, writing long letters, etc. We spent months dreaming about the moment that we would actually meet and be together. And then just two and half weeks ago that moment finally came true. I flew down to South America to meet him. We traveled together for two weeks and it was absolutely amazing.

While on the one hand I was so happy during the months leading up to this moment, I have also never felt so alone and sad in life. I live alone, and nobody knew about my sexuality nor this relationship. But then about 3-4 weeks ago I decided that I needed to talk to someone about this. The happiness that I was feeling about this relationship was so much stronger and more powerful than the pain and secret of my sexuality that I was repressing for so many years. So I found a therapist (who also happens to be gay, older, very understanding, perfect mentor). And I came out to him about my sexuality and about my relationship right before I left. It felt amazing - like my system finally relaxed a bit.

Then I went on the trip, and just came back yesterday - to my empty apartment. And all I can say is that I felt a great deal of happiness and calm confused with a sense of sadness and pain. I miss my guy so much. Every little thing reminds me of him. And I can't seem to let it go. Having to say good bye to him at the end of the trip was the hardest moment of my life. I cried (and I never do that) for many hours during my 30 hour flight back home. When I got home, I entered the shower and was finally by myself and I just wept out loud and cried again, hyperventilating. Then I took a nap, and when I woke up, I was so delirious and confused for a few seconds. Crazy thoughts were running in my head... where am I? What time is it? I started to say the name of my guy out loud several times and looked around for him. And then suddenly the scary reality kicked in and I realized he was not there. I kinda freaked out, and just felt so broken. How can we be together again? So many logistics to overcome. And a long journey ahead of us.

Then I went to bed again and woke up at about 4am in the morning. I called my parents (7am their time) and told them that I was very sad that my trip is over and that my normal routine is starting again (they don't know the real reason for my trip and about my sexuality..) I told them that I feel like I have nothing exciting to look forward to. They tried to be very supportive and were really nice and said some comforting things. But then I started crying and getting super emotional. My dad had to leave, but my mom wanted to keep talking to me - because she felt like something deeper was up. We decided to video on Skype (haha just like how I met my guy).

And then all of a sudden, I just felt this intense urge to tell her everything. Through Skype (OMG!!). I was just so vulnerable and emotional and broken and confused. But at the same time, for the first time in my life I felt so ready to just talk. And she was soooooo supportive and it felt amazing. She sent me this text afterwards:

"It's about time you felt good, really good about yourself. You are an amazing person and I'm so proud to be your mom. Thinking about you and sending you so much light and love. I'm very proud of you and love you so much! Everything will fall into place, just be patient. If you and [name of my guy] are meant to be together, you will. Take one step at a time. Love you always!!"

I literally almost started to cry (AGAIN) haha. And I'm at work right now just thinking about it and about my guy and about everything. Anyways - sorry for my stream of consciousness but had to write about this to just let it out. I guess I also just wanted some validation, because I really feel proud of myself and just want to scream to the whole world about it. Never thought I would be able to get to this place. I have a LOT of work ahead of me still to do, but for the first time in my life I feel like I truly accept myself and love myself.

Would love to hear any thoughts or advice on where to go from here. I have a great job and not sure if it's worth moving away in the near future to be with him... yet at the same time I don't feel like I have any roots anywhere. He's in graduate school in a very specialized field in his country, very rooted, but also a bit lost yet open minded. We are both flexible and willing to think about all possibilities/options. Lots of things to face. I guess I just took the first step by talking to my mom about it. Thanks so much for listening!! Sorry my thoughts are not fully coherent.
posted by mrdexterous to Human Relations (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure what the question is, but it sounds like your mom has terrific advice (and is also fucking awesome.)
posted by lalex at 4:28 PM on February 18, 2013 [12 favorites]

First off... Congrats! While it sucks being apart from someone you love, keep in mind that the separation makes the next reunion... 'sweeter'.

More importantly, I think your ma is offering some excellent advice - especially since this sounds like your first experience (and DOUBLE especially after coming out to yourself and others) with 'head over heels OMG I'm in LOVE!!!' emotions... "Take one step at a time." Let yourself get used to the feelings, and remember this... ALWAYS remember this:

Learn how to cultivate your self-worth now that you've come to terms with your sexuality, discover the ability to make yourself happy while living on your own, and foster an identity for yourself that is not dependent on your relationship.

It's great, great, GREAT that you've met that someone special - but don't let not being around him cripple you.

You're 23... young enough to cut out on a great adventure and still have plenty of time to recover from any unforeseen disaster. So how would your beau feel about you moving out be closer to him and see how things work out? Like you said, you don't really feel rooted anywhere - so go explore!

Congrats again!
posted by matty at 4:35 PM on February 18, 2013 [5 favorites]

Be careful - it's lovely that you're happy and that you're in love, but please be realistic when it comes to quitting your good job here/asking your beau to leave grad school. Even the strongest and most amazing relationships can be put to the test when it comes to uprooting lives after only two weeks together. Spend as much time together as possible (within reason) before making drastic, drastic steps to be together. Don't go into credit card debt to buy plane tickets, don't lose your job by taking off too many days, don't alienate friends by only talking to your dude on the phone/Skype 24 hours a day, don't become sleep deprived if you are in a different time zone and stay up all hours to be "together."

If you are willing and flexible to think about all the possibilities and money for travel is plentiful, see how your relationship is going in a few months after either side has gone to visit one another on a few different occasions AND THEN begin to talk about moving in together. If this is a same-sex relationship, you will have to take into consideration which country (yours/his) is better for getting greencards/visas for same-sex couples, or, alternatively, help find the other a job that will sponsor a visa/greencard, so your time together will not be interrupted by having to leave the country every few months to maintain a visitor pass.
posted by banannafish at 4:38 PM on February 18, 2013 [5 favorites]

I think the question may this a normal feeling, coming out and feeling great and feeling alone and feeling...well, everything?

YES. I came out a very long time ago, but I remember exactly what that feels like, and it's nothing less than being yourself for the very first time. And it's an astounding thing.
posted by xingcat at 4:38 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Congrats on your new relationship, on coming out, and on getting such an awesome response from your mom. Sounds like many things are falling into place.

Just for the record, I had very much the same reaction as you the first time I spent a week with my long-distance love and then had to go home without him. I cried at the airport, cried all the way home on the plane, missed him terribly for days until I settled back into my normal life and started just regular-missing him again.

We eventually started living together, but it took months and several more visits before we were ready to make that step. And moving away from my family was a big leap of faith for me, not knowing how our relationship would be once we were together day to day. There were some bumps in the road... no matter how deep you think you know someone online, there are things you just can't know about them and about the two of you as a couple until you've spent a good deal of time in the same geographical place, dating and hanging out and living together and all that.

Just take it one step at a time. Write, Skype, etc as much as you can but also make an effort to visit many more times before you start thinking too far ahead in the future. And just know at some point if it feels worth it, you will have to take your leap of faith and move heaven and earth to be together. But give it the time it needs to grow and don't try to rush things.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 4:44 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I was in a long distance relationship for a while last year and I can tell you that the feelings of being alone and 'lost', are totally normal!!

Congrats on coming out, finding love and yay for your mom!

My advice is to start planning your next trip so you have something to look foward to and do lots of research on long distance relationships. There is some fabulous advice on things to do to make you feel closer. Have as much fun as you can and when you feel up to it, TELL PEOPLE!! It's wonderful news!

What I used to do right after a trip was spend 2 weeks making up a package of things that represented the time we had together and then posting it off.

Good luck with it all. I'm happy for you.
posted by Youremyworld at 5:44 PM on February 18, 2013

I also came home from an intense trip and cried in the shower at 23. Not to diminish in any way shape or form your transformative experience but now you know who you are better, you had a great trip, you have a fan-freaking-tastic mother and a long life of awesome experiences ahead of you. So, I also don't know your exact question but congratulations, don't quit your job yet and keep seeing your awesome-sounding therapist.
posted by bquarters at 5:53 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think it sounds like things are going pretty well for you, actually!

I would just caution you to try to keep your feelings about coming out and your feelings about this relationship as separate as possible. It sounds like this relationship is awesome, but since you are so overwhelmed and relieved about coming out and about finding a great therapist and your family's positive reaction, it is possible you might transfer some of this feelings onto your relationship. Coming out is probably the biggest, most transformative (and so far positive) experience of your life. The relationship may or may not be. Don't confuse them. At least, don't quit your job until you are totally sure you are not confusing them.
posted by lollusc at 6:04 PM on February 18, 2013 [6 favorites]

I think you know this, but do be careful. You're in a perfect position to make bad choices. I speak only as someone who has done exactly that, for exactly the same reason. I've also made good choices, and have been happy with my guy I met on the internet, for 15 years. But oh, boy, can this kind of situation cause trouble.

If you find yourself feeling sick over the loneliness, seek diversion. Seriously. You can't make sane choices over this if you're feeling everything so strong you're getting sick (I got sick). Pull it together and work toward a rational goal, staying well. It's really the only way.
posted by Goofyy at 8:40 AM on February 19, 2013

It's hard. It doesn't get un-hard. But with time, sanity returns. Haha, sounds pretty damn bleak, but basically long-distance relationships suck even without the whole trauma of coming to grips with one's identity... though in a sense all first time relationships have that element. So yeah, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

One major thing is how well do you deal with your emotions in general, and besides how well, just how. Dealing with emotional excess healthily is sort of like draining pus from a wound (sounds lovely), but it needs to be done safely and properly. Some things that people use are the usual: meditation, exercise, friendship/group support, art, therapy. It's going to be intense for awhile. Make sure you have an outlet outside your bf or therapy or it'll all be too much for any relationship to handle the strain. One thing that may help is throwing yourself into something-- again, depends on you, it could be anything from a creative project to the gay community in your area. Try to funnel some of this feeling somewhere. At first it's exhilarating but not bad-- this much feeling quickly sours (if not dealt with or channeled) into bitterness, loneliness, frustration, insecurity/anxiety/fear, and does serious damage. Take advantage of any period of clear-mindedness to figure out what to do with yourself so you don't go stir-crazy, thinking of talking to him all the time you aren't, etc.

This (coming to terms with yourself and long-distance relationships) are long-haul things. You're not going to know how it 'turns out' for a long time. Focus on taking care of yourself and pace yourself. Don't overdose on contact or withdraw for too long. Remain honest with yourself and with him (but maybe not too honest-- avoid drama if possible, it's wearying on the endurance). Crying and talking to people helps takes the edge off, so you've done really well. But yeah, we all just muddle through, though the way is long and the drop is steep, but there are people who love you and you know now that you are not alone.
posted by reenka at 3:10 PM on February 19, 2013

Thank you all so much for such thoughtful and insightful comments. The past two weeks have been very difficult at first. But like some of you said - it is already becoming a little easier in terms of getting my focus and sanity back.

Anyway - I completely agree with everyone that even though we feel madly in love, the best thing to do for now is to take one step at a time and see how things feel in a few months from now. In the meantime, we are planning on visiting each other every few months (I could probably have flexibility of working remotely) to help us cope with our emotional need to be together but in a rational way.

Thank you again so much. I can't even tell you how much all of your comments helped and comforted me.
posted by mrdexterous at 10:55 PM on March 3, 2013

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