My boyfriend and I got together in January of this year, after meeting online. We fell for each other pretty much instantly and proceeded to spend a couple of months catching up for coffees, lunches or just spending time together.
Unfortunately, we both live at home with quite conservative parents, which made things a little complicated: we could only go to his place when it was empty, my place was never empty at all, so I always had to make up stories about why I was staying out into the evening or staying longer in town.
When lockdown hit, I had just told my parents about him - my birthday was at the start of April and I had wanted him to be able to be a part of it. Unfortunately, this wasn’t taken well by everyone, and it led to a very awkward few weeks. In addition to this, lockdown itself was meaning we were having to navigate a relationship mostly online.
After several months, my parents finally started coming to their senses - this had taken two years, following a conversation when I came out which included “I think it’s wrong and unnatural”. I had thought that conversation was the way things would be, so finding out things were changing took a huge weight off of my shoulders. Unfortunately, my boyfriend hasn’t been so lucky. After he told his family about us, things got a little worse and his family have been increasingly intrusive and overbearing.
The way things are now is not much different to before lockdown - we can spend time at his place if the house is empty, or if my parents are out for dinner, I can bring him round here. The biggest difference is that this time is far more fractious and unreliable and is frequently peppered by phone calls from his family. However, we’re trying to make it all work as best we can, in between uni, work and other time constraints.
My main reason for writing this article is to get a message across to anyone who might be in the situation I was in until a few months ago, or anyone who feels unable to get into a relationship or otherwise move on with things as a result of that kind of situation. I acknowledge that I was lucky in that, until March, I was going to uni every day, so I had a bit of a getaway, but even for those who maybe don’t have that - the people who are giving you problems right now won’t be able to do so forever. I can’t say how long it will be until things change, or change for the better, but you will find people - friends, partners, maybe even more extended family - who will be only too willing to stand by you and be there for you.
I’ve had to deal with a lot of difficulty over the last few months around my boyfriend’s family - I’ve been
left at times frustrated, despairing or furious - but I know it isn’t his fault, and I know he’s dealing with worse than I am. I’m not special, and I’m not alone in feeling this way, and I can practically guarantee that there will be people out there for anyone reading this who might be in that position. No matter what you’re dealing with, there will be someone who’s willing to look beyond that. I’m no saint: in my anger or sadness I’ve said things I shouldn’t have, and it is to my boyfriend’s infinite credit that he’s forgiven me and helped me get through it. You may have to deal with that yourself and understand that if your troubles impact on your relationship or friendships then your partner or friends might be angry or upset, but I can say from first-hand experience that that doesn’t for one second mean that you are loved or cherished by those people any less. Their anger is momentary, but their love will last.
2020 has been a difficult year for everyone, and that’s why it’s so important to know that you aren’t alone, and if you want help or friendship, it’s out there! No matter what you’re dealing with or have been dealing with, there will be someone out there who will love and adore you for who you are! If the problem is people in your life who want to stifle you or stop you being your authentic self, and you don’t look elsewhere for support or solidarity, they win that day, and every day until something changes.
I know it isn’t an easy task, and I know it isn’t always safe to do (and, absolutely, your first priority must always be making sure you are safe!) but if it is safe to do so, please, please look out for those people who could make your life better - you will make the world a better place for doing so! If you aren’t safe and need help, also remember there are services out there, like the emergency services or various crisis groups who could help you in a way which might be safer or more discreet until you’re out of harm’s way.
If anyone reading this can relate or has found this to be in any way useful, then I wish you all the best in however you choose to proceed.