I have written previously about the importance of being honest with your significant other. It is not only essential (and the right thing to do) to disclose who you are (and what you like to wear) to your partner, it is also critical to be honest with yourself. This is a beautiful part of you that will not go way. This is not a phase. This is not something that will lessen or diminish over time. Quite the opposite, actually. If you deny your true self, or fail to acknowledge this, or any part of you, it will actually strengthen.
This is who you are.
When you meet your one and only, it is one of the most significant and beautiful moments of your life. Meeting them fills you with a joy unlike anything else. I don't need to tell you how wonderful love is or how amazing your partner is. You know them better than anyone else on the planet. You pick up on subtle things, you know when they are happy, annoyed, or having a bad day. They know you, too. We know our partners better than we know ourselves. How amazing is that?
Revealing this side of you may be a surprise, it may be the last thing they expected to hear, but they need to know. I know it's hard to talk about this side of us as it is explaining something ta cannot be put into words. I can't tell you why I love lingerie or stilettos any more than I can explain why falling asleep listening to the rain is the best thing in the world. It just is. There are moments in life (and clothes in my closet) that just make me happy for reasons that I can't describe. But the reason we keep this side of ourselves private is because truly we have no idea how someone will react when we come out to them. We have no idea what dynamic a relationship will take once this is out in the open. There is no going back.
It would be naive to think that a relationship (regardless if it is a marriage, friendship, or any other) will not be affected by this revelation. Even if this side of you never comes up again in conversation, there is a change. Private thoughts, private fears, private feelings. From both of you.
Although we know our partners better than anyone else on the planet, there is really no way to know how they will react. And not knowing this is terrifying and will often push us into keeping this side of us a secret. Better the devil you know than the devil you don't, I suppose. But we need to be honest with our significant others.
So, what will this talk be like? I don't know. Although I have had "The Talk" with three partners in my life (two girlfriends and my wife), the outcomes and the discussion couldn't have been more different from each other. Each talk surprised me in different ways, but many of the questions were the same. These questions seem to be common in every coming out conversation. Although I can't predict how your talk will go, you should be prepared for the most frequently asked questions including questions about your sexuality, gender identity, and whether you want to transition.
I can also guarantee you will be asked these questions, but beyond that, this conversation is impossible to guess. And yes, that is scary. How does one approach a conversation like this? Beyond having a response (not necessarily an answer) for the questions about sexuality and gender identity, you may want to have the mindset of that this conversation similar to disclosing bad news, or even news that will forever change your relationship. And yes, that is terrifying. I have had to disclose big news to my wife, such as getting laid off or a potential medical issue, and although coming out to her wasn't quite the same as these examples, I approached it with the same seriousness.
No matter how well you know someone, it's impossible to predict their reaction as this is not a conversation that one expects to have with their partner. You may not have expected to have it either... perhaps you thought or even hoped this would pass. But I commend anyone who has this conversation. It means you have acknowledged that side of us isn't going away.
So, how will this conversation go?
The scenario we all hope for is one of complete and sincere enthusiasm. We all hope that our partners will be thrilled about this side of us and before you know it they are doing your makeup or helping you pick out panties. It sounds like a fantasy because for most of us it's not the response that we get. You should not expect this kind of response as it will only crush your spirit if this is not the outcome.
The first time I came out to a girl was not easy. But to be fair it doesn't ever get easier. Her response was basically her appreciating that I told her, but never wanted to discuss it. Ever. At all. Follow up attempts to discuss this side of me were met with a change of subject and I eventually dropped it. This was brutal, to be honest. I had found the courage to come out and was completely shot down. But it's not fair to expect someone to accept this side of us. They are under no obligation to do so. I was disappointed, to say the least. I knew that accepting this side of me as a lot to ask, let alone being allowed to dress how I wanted, but after years of building up the courage to tell someone, it was heartbreaking to not even talk about it. The relationship ended and as a bit of retaliation I shaved my legs for the first time. This outcome is fairly common, and although it wasn't how I wanted the talk to go, I am still convinced I did the right thing. Knowing who I am today, and knowing how she felt about this side of me, I realized I would have been miserable had the relationship lasted. We all need to be happy and fulfilled in a relationship, especially when there are more than one sides of us.
We fear rejection when we come out which often holds us back from doing so. But what can make someone reconsider coming out is if they have a lot of things to explain or come clean about. Lying to your partner is never, never a good idea. This side of us almost demands we tell little white lies to others. Telling a coworker that I had a boring weekend when I really spent Saturday getting a makeover and going shoe shopping is technically a lie, but it’s a lie I can live with. Lying to our significant others about this side of us is a different story. When you come out, you need to be honest. Not only when you are asked about your sexual orientation or if you want to transition, but about everything. And I mean EVERYTHING.
Have you ever posted photos of yourself online?
Have you ever left the house dressed?
Who else knows?
Were you REALLY on a business trip last month and not getting a makeover in Las Vegas?
Have you been faithful?
Any deception can make someone (rightfully so) angry. It's not always about the panties, it is usually about the lying about this side of you. Can you blame them?
The fourth scenario is one of intense trepidation. They don't understand this side of you. You have turned their world upside-down. There may be tears. There is probably fear. I don't need to tell you what they are afraid of. There may not be any resolution to the conversation. They are processing it. They are overwhelmed. They are shocked. They are feeling a million things. Be kind. Be gentle. Drop talking about it if they need you to. Don't let your disappointment get the better of you if you were hoping they would take you shopping for shoes as soon as you came out. This is a conversation that will be had over the course of a few days or even over a few years. Talking about it is good. That's what needs to happen. You may been hoping for, I guess permission is the best way to describe it, but they are still reacting to this bombshell. And it is a bombshell. Let's not pretend it's not.
Regardless of the direction your conversation takes, and it could very well be a combination of more than one of these scenarios, you need to be transparent, calm, and supportive. Answer any questions honestly and openly and with love and patience. The initial conversation is likely the first of many discussions you will have about this part of you as more questions are bound to come up after this revelation sinks in. This is a new world for them. Be kind.