When and how to broach the controversial aspects of your SO with your peers

It’s just it’s hard to see what even counts as “controversial”. I mean, my husband is short–like under 5’ and is mildly disabled from a related bone disease. Is that a controversial aspect?

I guess I see three main categories: quirks, or traits out of the norm. Second, things that are shocking because they go against expectations in some major way–different religion in some families, different race in others, different gender, different social class. And then, last, things that people are likely to find morally unacceptable and really resist accepting: “Drove drunk and killed someone” or “Went to jail for domestic assault” or “is a neo-nazi and has a swastika tattooed on his chest”.

Within those categories, stories might be useful and interesting. Between those categories, though, there really is no comparison.

I gave some examples in the last sentence of my OP. But since you insist, his secret is that he is dating a guy, and mine is that he is a reformed felon. But any controversies are fine for this thread besides those - age/racial/religious differences, complications from former relationships, infidelity, criminal record, drug use, discord between mutual friends or family, etc.

If you had any reason at all to want to hide an aspect of your SO from people because of their potential reaction, it counts.

No, that’s what we’re saying- it’s different.
Reformed Felon doesn’t need to ever be a topic of conversation. People can meet him and it never need be mentioned.

You being a dude is (probably) obvious, and the two of you will need to come up with an approach to that.
Are you going to be known as ‘friends’, and let people learn more as they get to know you?
As for family, same thing. He’s a friend, he’s a roommate. If you two last as a couple, it will become evident eventually, and if not, why stir things up?

I don’t think it is really different. It’s still got the same general answer: be as honest as you feel you need to be, not a word more, and probably best to have the conversation privately with “your” people before they meet him to avoid shocky unpleasantness.

I don’t agree that no one needs to know he’s a felon. These things have way of becoming known, and I know I for one would rather hear that from my son, so we could talk about our concerns and he could reassure me about the “reformed” part. I’d hate to hear it third hand gossip later, and then fret about whether my son knows who he’s dating and/or if he’s in danger. Hate to stage an intervention for old news…

OP, when we were sharing our surrogacy news w/ people we knew might not be open-minded about it, we phrased it very specifically so that even the most tone-deaf person would know what their reply should be; “We have wonderful news! We’ve found a way to have the happiness of a family that we thought would be out of our reach.” Right there we’ve told them that A)we are happy and B)we expect them to be happy for us b/c we’re happy. People that cared about us always responded (apparently) happily, though some asked pointed questions later that we answered by reiterating how happy this would make us. The one or two people who were less than thrilled about it were still polite in their expressions of concern or personal issue w/ our solution. To wit - a good neighbor/friend’s mom (a sweet older lady who we’d always gotten along well w/ at that friend’s house) made a point to come over to tell me that while she was glad for us, she wanted me to know that she could never give up her baby like our surrogate was going to. I simply told her our surrogate never considered this baby to be anything but ours so that wasn’t an issue and thanked her for being happy for us. She left and never brought it up again.
After our surrogate miscarried the mom came over and hugged me in my driveway the next weekend when she came to visit our friends. She didn’t say why she wanted to give me a hug and didn’t need to.
Long story short - so long as you say you’re happy and actually ARE happy, the troubles should be rare w/ those whose opinions you value.

I don’t know why people kept trying to guess at the OP, the specifics aren’t really necessary. There are aspects of a relationship that range from things that can, and probably should, remain secret, and some aspects that either figured out quickly or immediately apparent. If someone is gay and hasn’t come out to their family yet, there’s no way to include one’s family without dealing with that. Being a reformed felon, or if someone is a different ethnicity or has very different religious or political views, those can easily cause problems and will eventually come up when dealing with friends and family.

Honestly, I don’t know how much I can help with my own experience. I’ve dated a few girls who were other races and religions and such. Generally, I’ve prefered not not even directly mention someone I’m dating, unless it’s directly relevant to the conversation, unless it’s past the introductory stage, and even then I’ve been pretty blunt about it. The only time I thought about it was when I was dating a girl of mixed race. When my mom asked me about her it obviously came up, and I mentioned it flatly, but my dad is a little more touchy on that sort of stuff and I wasn’t sure how he would react, so I just didn’t mention I was dating anyone and dodged when it came up. We stopped dating before the whole “meet the parents” thing came up, so I never really had a resolution for it.
As for your situation, it sounds like he has the harder issue. I can certainly understand issues, particularly concerns, from your family about dating a reformed felon, but that’s something they ultimately will have to trust you and will learn about from interacting with him that he is trustworthy. OTOH, if his family doesn’t even know he’s gay, that’s a huge can of worms and without knowing them, it’s impossible to know how they’ll react to that news. If they have illusions that their son is straight, then they get the double whammy of coming to terms with that along with meeting someone new would probably put their acceptance of your relationship on shaky ground from the start. At least for that part, he likely ought to break up the news into two parts. Then again, I’ve never had to deal with something like that; everyone I’ve known is gay was open before I met them, so I’m not sure how that all actually works out.

It’s ok if it is different, I’d still love to hear your stories.

If you know his full name, you can find news reports on google, and occasionally someone will mention something related to it on Facebook. And I’m not fond of lying in general. It does come up occasionally in terms of why he is just going to school now, why he hasn’t gotten his license back yet, why he had a curfew for awhile, small things really. It’s sometimes hard to walk the line between just keeping something private and actually being dishonest. I’ve told close friends a partial truth, and other people I’ve blamed things on his Mom. Probably I should have just said something like “that is related to something personal so you’ll have to ask him about it” but as you can see by this thread that just makes people want to start guessing lol.

I’ve already spent a lot of time with his family as his best friend. We’ve explicitly kept it secret until he moves out at least. His Mom is a JW. After that, if he wants to still hold off that is fine with me, but I think he is better off telling them himself at some point than having them find out accidentally. And it would kind of awkward for them to find out in a few years when they get the wedding invitation :wink: I’ve told him what I think, but that I will support him in however he wants to handle it. It’s just around his immediate family, he’s fine being affectionate in public for example, so it doesn’t really bother me.

Honestly, I don’t do well with closets, and I don’t do things I’m ashamed of (including dating people I’d be ashamed of), so I’m kind of not relating to this sentence at all. If I felt an impulse to hide my SO from my friends or family, I’d take that as a big red flag that there’s something wrong with the relationship.

I came out as queer before I was dating anyone – mainly because it just became too damn hard to carry on a phone conversation with my mum without slipping up and mentioning I met a girl I found attractive (I was in college and meeting people all the time, so my social life figured prominently in our conversations). I figured an on-purpose conversation would be better than an “oops” one.

I came out as pagan because she asked me a direct question, and by now it’s pretty obvious anyway, given that 90% of friends and major activities are too. For the most part, among family, this doesn’t really come up in conversation, but I have the freedom to not need to remember to self-censor. I honestly have no idea if other relatives know, but wouldn’t care if they did. Or if they didn’t.

I certainly keep things private, but these are not things that ever come up in familial conversation. If someone did ask, I’d have no problems telling them to MYOB.

So, no, I don’t WANT to hide things about my SO. If I ever did want to, there’d be something wrong. I just don’t live that way. If someone has an issue with that, then they are free to walk themselves out of my life – I don’t need that drama. Thankfully my mum is supportive, always, and I surround myself with cool people rather than the alternative, because life’s too damn short to put up with not-cool people.

Sometimes people leave for stupid reasons, and yeah, it hurts. But in the long run, you really are better off. You can go find yourself better friends.

You absolutely do this, and let them wonder. I always recommend taking a card from Miss Manners in these situations. She is wonderful at this kind of stuff. When people get nosy, you have many ways to shut them down, depending on how they asked:

“How kind of you to take an interest.” This is GREAT for the snoopers. Don’t answer their questions, that’s enough. It’s none of their business.
“Thank you for your advice. I’ll keep it in mind.” When they give you advice.
“That’s personal to him, you’ll have to ask him.” Nothing’s wrong with that, and let them wonder.

I get asked stupid questions all the time. “Why don’t you have kids? Why aren’t you married? Why haven’t you bought a house? Renting is throwing money in the trash!” It is amazing to me how people judge, judge, judge.

My two biggest things I get nagged on are a) we’re not married, even after 17 years of being together, and b) we have no children, and just not interested. I have no problem with people asking “Are you eventually going to get married?” My answer: “Yes.” “Do you want kids?” My answer: “No, never did.”

It’s when they need to ask whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy that I get annoyed. Then I tailor my response to the person asking (basically do I have to be polite, snarky, or what). I practice saying it smoothly or it comes off as halting and unsure. If you look in their eyes with confidence and say one of the above statements with a small, cool smile, 99% of people will chicken out and get the hint. The other ones? Get the axe.
Hahaha, don’t do that. Miss Manners would not approve. And you can never get the blood out of the upholstery.