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Q. I have an aunt that I was close to growing up. Though I came out to my parents in high school and that went fine, they respected my wishes to wait in terms of the extended family, who was more conservative. Well, I am 23 and came out to my aunt this summer. She’s been surprisingly great, and I wish I hadn’t waited. But she now talks about wanting to set me up with other people she knows. From what I gather, it is just her being excited that she happens to know like one or two other gay men, so she has to set me up with them. How can I tell her that I appreciate her support but that this is so not what I want, and that just because two people are gay does not mean that they are a match?
I hope you can appreciate her enthusiasm, even if it’s as tone-deaf as an office karaoke round of “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Just be respectful and direct. “Auntie, I’m so grateful you’re so supportive about my personal life. And I appreciate your enthusiasm, but I’m really not looking to be set up with anyone. I prefer to meet people in my own way on my own time.” If she takes that initial hint, then you don’t have to do the whole “Two people who just happen to be gay are not necessarily soul mates because of it” lesson (unless you want to). If she keeps trying, however, you can gently impart a loving version of that lesson, conveying that although you’re happy she knows and admires other gay people as well, this is not the way to show support for them.
I’m done being her ‘joke’ target
Q. My boyfriend’s mother doesn’t like me. She makes it very clear by “joking” about the things she doesn’t like (I wasn’t raised in the church, I don’t eat much, I’m quiet). My boyfriend defends her when I tell him how much I don’t like spending time with her, saying she’s still “getting to know me” and that she’s just kidding around, that that’s how she is. But I don’t like it. I have told him I don’t want to go anymore to his family dinners — they happen several times a month and I’ve had enough. He says I need to make more of an effort.
Well, I’d venture that we can’t be sure she doesn’t like you. Granted, her “joking” (biggest air quotes ever!) is not acceptable, but in fairness, she needs to be made aware of that, and given a chance to rein it in before you go for the boycott. Do you or your boyfriend say something in the moment? How about: “Yes, you’ve mentioned that before. Could we stop dwelling on it, though? I know you may be joking, but it hurts.” A larger, more private conversation could paint the bigger picture. But your boyfriend needs to step up here and be willing to mediate, or your dinner disappearances are understandable. What matters most is that you’re feeling targeted — not whatever her intentions may be. Fingers crossed she just needs guidance in better ways to make a connection.