Hi! I miss getting letters from you asking for advice, and I need them in order to publish new columns every day, so if you need advice and are cool with your letter being published here, please email me at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com). Today, two letters from Reddit:
The next day I crafted a text that said that I will absolutely respect their parenting and not challenge them in front of my niece again. I also explained that I was hurt and upset by her comment because it made it seem like she thinks being gay is a bad thing and that it would be unfortunate if my niece were gay. My brother lost it. He texted like five consecutive texts claiming that everyone is too sensitive nowadays and that I’m trying to push something on my niece and insisting that SIL isn’t homophobic and that I should apologize for accusing her of that.
So what do I do now? Drop it? — Not a Homophobic Aunt
I guess by “respect our parenting,” your SIL means “don’t use inclusive language as that is not something we do in our family.” And when it is in direct relation to their children, I would go ahead and stick with the language your brother and SIL use. When it’s in relation to anyone else, I’d feel free to use child-appropriate inclusive language so that at least your niece is getting exposed to the idea of inclusivity. Doing this also signals what your attitude is and flags you as someone who could be open to ideas and relationships that your brother and SIL have signaled they are not as open to.
In the meantime, in an effort to maintain civil family ties, I’d avoid ever seeming to “correct” your brother and SIL in front of their daughter/kids, especially in relation to their parenting and the language and phrases they use in their parenting. For example, Indigenous People’s Day is coming up in a few weeks. If you were to hear your brother or SIL – or even your niece – refer to is as “Columbus Day,” resist the urge to say, “Actually, we call it ‘Indigenous People’s Day’ now,” not because you’re wrong or that that is offensive, but because you already know that this is likely something to trigger your brother and his wife and you threaten your relationship with your niece every time you push their buttons in this way. Best to maintain a relationship with her by playing by their rules. As someone in her life, you can continue modeling for her more inclusive behavior and and using such language yourself when it’s not used in a way to correct her parents.
In the meantime, since your brother and his wife are so wound-up, send a text apologizing for upsetting them, reminding them how much you love your niece, and saying that going forward you will be better about using language that better reflects the respect you have for them as parents.
I told him that I felt really weird knowing that hestill has the video. He said he didn’t understand why it would upset me and that while he would not get rid of it, if it bothered me, he would definitely never watch it. He said it’s part of his documentation of his life. I expressed that this was a huge turn-off, and we argued about it. Since them, he claims he deleted it, but that changes nothing for me, because his intent was to keep it.
The main thing that bothered me was that I was very open with him and we would exchange nudes often and I adapted to so many things, so the fact he wanted to hold on to some woman he had a fling with really messed up my head. As a result, it was for months that I did not find him attractive anymore. After a while, I slowly got back to normal, but occasionally I will remember this and it’s like reliving that moment again. I’m not sure if I’m over-reacting or insecure, so I would like to hear opinions from others. How would you react if this happened in your relationship? — Feeling Turned Off
There are several red flags here and they would all give me serious pause about continuing this relationship. The first is that he even told you he has video of another woman that he doesn’t want to get rid of. Like, why do you even need to know that? What was the purpose of telling you that, especially when, in the next breath he said that he wouldn’t show anyone but, oh wait, he already showed a friend of his to “brag.” Ew. That would have been a deal-breaker for me right off the bat. You have a private video a woman sent you and you showed your friend to brag, and then told me about it? Nope, next, moving on. Then, the idea that he’s holding on to this video as “documentation of life”? Wtf does that even mean? That’s akin to holding on to a bed with notches in it for each sexual conquest. Gross. Feeling unattracted to the guy, and occasionally reliving the moment you learned about this video even over a year later, is your gut trying to protect you from this sleazebag. Listen to your gut and move on.
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.
Fyodor September 20, 2021, 9:59 am
Do NOT stay with someone who shows his friends sex videos he made with his partners. That is completely messed up.
ron September 20, 2021, 10:19 am
“we would exchange nudes often and I adapted to so many things,”
I’d break up, if I were you. If you do choose to stay, I’d definitely stop sending him nudes, now that you know he will show them to his friends and keep them long after the two of you have broken up. He’s an ass.
Hazel September 20, 2021, 10:26 am
stay with him just long enough to extract any nudes he has of you from all his devices etc and then make a swift exit. Unless the internet woman had made it clear to him that he was welcome to show her video around, he’s a creep.
Kate September 20, 2021, 11:11 am
Yikes, letter 2, what a creep! He would (and probably has) share nudes of the LW with friends if he found them brag-worthy. He’s not only a creep but an idiot too, for ever bringing that up to you. Run.
Kate September 20, 2021, 11:21 am
Also, this whole thing about him sending you many videos of himself, and it sounds like pushing your comfort levels and forcing you to “adapt,” is not normal. Like… yeah ok, if it’s long distance or whatever, sure, send nudes I guess? That’s normal… but this guy sounds like a collector, or like there’s something obsessive for him with videos. Like an addiction / compulsion. Bad news.
anonymousse September 20, 2021, 12:06 pm
Yes! What a creep. I would just assume he has already shared what you’ve shared with him, LW. Delete them if you can before you kick him to the curb.
CanadaGoose September 20, 2021, 7:08 pm
For the first letter, I would in no way apologize. They can want CIS, straight kids all they like but the reality is they don’t get to choose. If their child comes out as any colour of the rainbow, they will harm their kid if they don’t actively support them. I get not antagonizing them but the parents’ attitude is backwards and offensive.
Bittergaymark September 21, 2021, 12:05 pm
LW1) eh… the time to pick this battle is when the kid is gay and 13. Look — I get the sentiment… but useless dipshits like the mom here are fucking lost causes. Trust me.
LW2). Um. Really? Are you THIS FUCKING desperate?
Prognosti-gator September 21, 2021, 1:32 pm
I’m going to guess that they don’t think twice about heteronormative wording because that’s “just the way things are” but they feel that anything outside of that is “sexualizing their kids.”
They don’t really get that talking about “boyfriends” for a 3 year old IS also sexualizing their kids, because that’s just the norm. They’ve never even thought twice about the underlying sexuality in their norms. It’s the same with marriage. Teachers for years have mentioned “my husband” or “my wife” in class with nobody giving a second thought. But as soon as a man says “my husband” – the bigots act as if he was standing in front of the class giving explicit instructions on how to perform anal sex.
They really just do not see the implicit assumptions hidden behind social “norms” and treat them like they’re “safe” whereas those things outside are the first time their kids will have even had to think about the topic. It’s crappy, but I’m not sure you can teach them. It kind of has to be something they come to realize on their own.
brise September 25, 2021, 4:05 am
LW1: if you make a distinction between advocating gay rights, being inclusive, and speculating about your 3-year-old niece potential sex life and sex orientation, it might go a long way. Your brother and sister-in-law may be homophobic, it seems, but I think they also react to your making a point about their daughter, and they see it as their daughter’s privacy, not their daughter’s rights (or their daughter’s right to privacy, or their parents prerogatives). You don’t know how they would react if their child comes out as gay later, give them the benefit of the doubt. By the way, the statement about her potential future boyfriend was also probably inappropriate, or dumb, but it was heteronormative so they didn’t take offense. Some parents are fiercely protective, super-defensive, and it sounds they are like this, others are cool. You have to read the room.
One of my brothers came out relatively late and it was difficult for him, he had a girlfriend (not for us, except for seeing how difficult it was for him). He told us, then he told our kids and their cousins, in an age appropriate way, and it went fine. The kids were flattered to be informed. But I don’t think that he speculated about their own sexual orientation. He just spoke about his, probably. I am confident that the kids, were they feeling like, would talk with him by themselves if they want about coming out, being queer. So don’t intrude (I don’t think you did but this couple does) and be a model like Wendy said, be a referent adult the kid can talk to and who is inclusive. Wendy’s answer is perfect, follow it to the letter.