Coming to terms with your sexuality or gender identity is a different process for everyone. Each person’s experience and timeline is specific to them.
When a young man’s significant other reached a milestone in their life, he was initially happy for them. But when they began to demand he deny his own identity to better support theirs, it caused friction in their five year relationship.
So he turned to the Relationship Advice subReddit for help.
Redditor ThrowRA15159 posted:
“My partner came out as non-binary and is now insisting I call myself pansexual.”
“I’ve been with my partner (V) for 5 years. I’m 26M and they’re 27, female at birth. For as long as I’ve known them, they were very girly and comfortable being associated with being female.”
“However, quarantine and isolation caused them to do a lot of introspection and realized they’re much more comfortable identifying as non-binary (nb) and with they/them pronouns. I was very supportive, because I fell in love with this person for who they are and nothing was going to change that.”
“V seemed much happier since coming out as nb. They’ve struggled with depression for a long time, and this is really the happiest I’ve ever seen them.”
“So all in all, it was a positive situation.”
Things did not stay positive for the Original Poster (OP) and his partner however.
“However, within the past week they asked me what this means for my sexuality since I’m dating someone who’s non-binary. They said that pansexuals date ‘people, not genders’ and that that makes the most sense for me.”
“I was very uncomfortable with this as I’ve only dated females, and V’s gender identity was very recent. I still consider myself straight.”
“My partner passes as a female, and I am attracted to their more feminine features. I am not attracted to ‘masculine looking’ people.”
“I tried explaining this to V but they got extremely offended and said that I wasn’t accepting them living their true gender identity if I’m still a straight male. I’m relatively new to learning about gender and sexuality so I honestly don’t know if I’m at fault here.”
“I just want to continue loving my partner and not change what I’ve labeled myself as my whole life because of this. But this behavior is genuinely making me reconsider my feelings for them.”
Redditors were pretty universal in their advice.
“Your partner gets to decide what term they use for themself, you get to decide what term you use for yourself. That’s not your partner’s decision to make.” ~ Fragrant_Spray
“Trying to force OP to re-label his own sexuality is massively hypocritical!” ~ Kissed_By_Fire_X
“Agreed. I wonder if V would accept you saying ‘I’m a straight male in a queer relationship.’ That phrasing respects both your sexual identity and their gender identity.” ~ Melanie_Jellyfish
Redditors suggested a label that would not invalidate the OP’s identity while validating his partner’s gender identity: straight male in a queer relationship.
“I think this is a really good compromise. I’ve dated a handful of NB people but I still consider myself straight because while I don’t care about their gender identity I do still only really like sex with a body that would be traditionally identified as male.” ~ sir-winkles2
“You could explain that you’re still most comfortable with the label you’ve always used and that doesn’t change your love for them. Your support and compliance in their gender identity change should be enough.”
“Maybe they just need to understand that you’re fully supportive. I’d think a non binary person would understand better than anyone that labels and words have very little meaning.” ~ BeachBumbershoot
“One of the things that you both need to understand is that labels are only good when they’re helpful. For them, the non-binary label is helpful to them, but they’re also trying to pin you into a position on a spectrum for their own benefit and that’s bad for both of you.”
“If you decide to label yourself as pan, that has to be your own journey. In the meantime, you love this person and you two shouldn’t have to think about your identity labels beyond that for now.” ~ MrJollyBlastoise
Really there was no logical response for Redditors except for the OP to continue to identify himself in whatever way was right for him.
“As others have stated, you are the only person who gets to define your sexuality.”
“Perhaps it will take some time for V to become comfortable with the fact that you truly do love and support them, but I hope they can come to understand that forcing you to identify as a pansexual when you consider yourself straight is analogous to forcing someone into a gender identity that they don’t agree with.” ~ Theorlain
Love, support and acceptance need to go both ways in their relationship. The OP cannot support their partner if their partner refuses to accept and support them.