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Thread: How to tell your partner

  1. #1
    Mild-mannered member Marla GG's Avatar
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    Jun 2005
    Northern California

    How to tell your partner

    As an accepting GG, I often get requests for advice on how to come out to a wife or girlfriend. Here is an article I recently wrote on the subject. I hope you find it helpful.

    [SIZE=5]How to Tell Your Partner[/SIZE]

    How do I introduce the woman in my life to the woman in me? Most crossdressers are faced with this situation at some point in their lives, and most feel understandably anxious about it. We have all heard the horror stories of wives and girlfriends leaving and families being torn apart. But the truth is, few relationships end because of crossdressing. Couples can, and do, come to an understanding that both partners can live with. Telling your significant other about this part of you may be the hardest thing you will ever do, but what is the alternative? Living a life of deceit? Trying to suppress your needs and deny who you are? Accepting the risk that she will find out by accident? It is much better to tell the woman you love about your crossdressing than to keep it a secret. By telling her yourself, honestly and openly, you greatly increase the chance of finding acceptance.

    Some crossdressers would rather not have “the talk” with their wife or girlfriend. They want to know if they can broach the subject in a lighter way instead, by dropping hints or making jokes. Or they wonder if perhaps they should leave some evidence lying around to be found. The answer to both of these questions is NO. Your partner’s reaction to hints and casual references will tell you very little about her true feelings, and an unexpected discovery will almost certainly result in confusion and misunderstandings. The best way to handle this potentially volatile subject is to have a conversation about it. Tell your partner that you have something important to discuss with her, and that you need to schedule some uninterrupted time to talk. If possible, choose an occasion when she is not under excessive stress and when other things in your relationship and your life are going well. When you sit down with her, do it in your normal male clothes and don’t bring pictures or outfits to show her. There will be time for that later, if all goes well.

    It is very important that you prepare for this conversation. Before you come out to your partner, you need to do your homework. Read all you can about crossdressing and gender issues, and give some serious thought to your own crossdressing and what it means to you. You may even want to make some notes that you can refer to during your talk. Your partner is going to have a lot of questions for you, and you should be ready to answer them. This will be easier if you have first learned to accept yourself as a crossdresser and are comfortable discussing your feelings and desires. If you are embarrassed to talk about this, how can you hope to make her comfortable with it? Joining a transgender social group or online discussion forum and talking with other crossdressers may help you get over your shyness and can be good practice.

    What you say to her is up to you, but you should be honest and answer her questions as best you can. Let her direct the conversation if possible. Don’t overload her with new information until she has absorbed what you have already told her. She is not your therapist or your priest, and your goal should not be to unburden yourself, but to help her understand you. Above all, listen to her! Most problems that arise over your crossdressing will be due to the beliefs and assumptions she holds about it and the fears she has. The more you learn about those, the better you will be able to assist her in overcoming them. You should also assemble some educational materials for her in the form of web links, articles, and books. Do not force them on her, but make them available if she is willing to look at them.

    What should you expect when you tell her? No two women will react in exactly the same way, but it is very common for wife or girlfriend to feel shocked and confused when she first finds out. Also, depending on how long you have kept your crossdressing hidden from her, she may feel angry that you did not tell her before, and hurt that you did not trust her enough to confide in her. Often the hiding or lying is more painful for a woman to cope with than the knowledge that her partner is a crossdresser. All that you can do about this is sincerely apologize and try to explain why you did not tell her before. She may be able to understand that you did not tell her because you were afraid of losing her, and that you believed your desire to dress would go away. Help her to understand that for most of your life this has been a very private part of you that you have kept secret from everyone. She may still feel betrayed by your dishonesty, and she has a right to feel that way. Listen to her and acknowledge her feelings.

    Unfortunately, she may be so overwhelmed that she cannot sort out her thoughts or articulate what she is feeling. Therefore, it may be helpful for you to be aware of some of the most common questions that women have when they learn their partner likes to wear women’s clothes. Familiarize yourself with them and be prepared to reassure her or at least discuss these issues honestly.

    • Are you gay or bisexual?

    • Do you want to become a woman? Do you want breast implants or surgery?

    • Are you mentally ill? Do you need to see a doctor?

    • Are you going to try to stop?

    • Is this some kind of kinky sex fetish?

    • What will our neighbors/friends/employers/children think if they find out?

    • Who can I talk to about this? I feel so alone!

    • Wearing women’s clothes seems morally wrong to me.

    • Aren’t you satisfied with me? What have I done wrong? Don’t you find me desirable?

    • Can we have ever a “normal” marriage/relationship again?

    • Will I still get to spend time with the man I love?

    • What will happen to us if I accept this? What will happen to us if I don’t?

    Be patient in dealing with her concerns. Allow her time to think, and do not press her for immediate acceptance. If she does tell you that she understands and still loves you, tell her how much that means to you. But do not overestimate her degree of acceptance based on her initial response. There are many reasons why she may give you the impression that she is comfortable with your crossdressing when in fact she is not. Perhaps she is concerned about you and does not want you to feel rejected. Perhaps she is afraid of being rejected herself. Perhaps she simply feels stunned and emotionally drained, and is looking for the easiest way to end the conversation without getting into an argument. Delayed reactions are very common.

    Until some time has passed and you are sure of her true feelings, it is not a good idea to move forward. Don’t dress in front of her, or even show her pictures, until she tells you she is ready for that. Don’t start buying new clothes, wigs, and makeup either. At this crucial point in your relationship, it is best to put your dressing on hold as much as possible while she comes to terms with it. A little patience will go a long way in avoiding the “backlash” that sometimes follows initial acceptance. Usually this backlash is caused by moving too quickly, before your partner has even begun to cope with her feelings.

    It is very important for you to reassure your partner that you have not changed and that you are still the same person she knows and loves. She also needs to hear that your relationship is not endangered by your dressing and that you have no plans to leave her. However, you should be clear about the fact that you cannot give this up. It is not a mere hobby that you can choose to pursue or not. There is no “cure” for crossdressing, and the sooner she realizes this, the sooner she can begin to make peace with it. Many women retreat into a state of denial about their partner’s crossdressing and spend the rest of their lives trying to wish it away or simply demand that it stop. They think that if they refuse to tolerate it, it will disappear. This attitude is a tremendous barrier to progress for couples.

    If you have the opportunity to do so, you should try to make your partner aware of the positive aspects of your crossdressing, whatever those may be for you. Help her to understand that many of your best qualities reside with to your feminine side—qualities such as sensitivity, tenderness, empathy, helpfulness, and patience. Make sure she knows that expressing your femininity makes you feel relaxed, happy, and fulfilled, while suppressing it causes stress, anxiety, and irritability.

    For most women, it is easier to accept partial crossdressing than a full transformation. Wearing a few items of clothing is one thing, but looking like a woman is something else entirely and may be frightening and uncomfortable for her. Be understanding of this and plan on taking small steps when introducing your partner to your femme self. Lingerie is often perceived as less threatening than outer clothing, but if you choose to wear a complete outfit, choose a tasteful one. Avoid appearing in front of your partner in clothing that is too sexually provocative or presents a degrading image of femininity. Among the most difficult things for women to accept are breast forms, wigs, and makeup, so be sensitive and ask your partner whether she feels ready to see you in them.

    Although it is not a good idea to go into the discussion with preconceived idea of what will be accomplished, you should nevertheless be prepared to talk about limits and boundaries if she suggests them. Try not to argue over the limits that she insists on at this stage. If what she is willing to accept is less than what you need or had hoped for, there will be time for negotiation later. Her boundaries will probably shift over time as she learns more and becomes more comfortable with your dressing. For now, do your best to honor any wishes she may express. If she doesn’t want to see you dressed, fine. If she doesn’t want you leaving the house dressed, fine. If she can accept certain items of clothing but not others, at least that’s a start. Thank her for any degree of acceptance she shows you. Tell her how much you love her and how very relieved you are that you no longer have to hide your true self. Full acceptance does not usually come overnight, but telling your partner about your crossdressing in a loving and sensitive way is the first step toward that goal.

    Suggested educational materials for partners
    The "Myths and Misconceptions about Crossdressers" and the "Reasons for Male to Female Crossdressing" pages originally posted by Marla are no longer on the site, but I've kept the main index page here since they do have other resources.
    The pages are available here:
    Myths and Misconceptions about Crossdressers:
    Reasons for Male to Female Crossdressing: Helping Wives of Crossdressers to Understand and Cope from the Phi Epsilon Mu chapter of Tri Ess A Letter to a Wife (Website no longer available)
    Now at:
    An article for wives by Dixie Darling (the rest of Dixie's site is also highly recommended) (Website no longer available)
    Now at:

    © Marla Morley 2005

    EDIT - Another highly recommended resource is the book, "My Husband Betty: Love, Sex, and Life with a Crossdresser" by Helen Boyd. It can be found in any major bookstore. - Reine
    Last edited by Eryn; 11-11-2012 at 06:34 PM. Reason: Added URLs to Wayback Machine

    And if the people stare
    Then the people stare
    Oh, I really don't know and I really don't care....

    --The Smiths

  2. #2
    Silver Member Priscilla1018's Avatar
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    Jan 2005
    Hi Marla,

    That was a wonderful post and it is the way everything worked when I told my wife.I think you have done a great service for the girls here.You are a great sister in our large family.Thanks for being there for the girls that are thinking about coming out. :thanks:
    Love and Hugs,

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2005

    Smile very good marla and well written

    marla you are indeed a great support for all us girls here, that need 'th support, me wife has known 'bout me crossdressing since 'th first night we met 5 year ago now and since 'th very beginning she has been very supporting and helpful towards michelle's looks and likes. I wouldn't been able to do as well without her and she thinks and agree with what you said in this post and hopes one day all wifes of crossdressers will understand and be helpful to there so's towards there crossdressing.

    I have to say marla you are doing a wonderful job in supporting and helping Angel in all outing posts that you have posted here. Angel is looking very good and passable as well. I'm sure she wouldn't been able to do it without your lov and support. :thanks: so much for 'th great article and support that you give all of us here my wife thinks you are wonderful on what you are doing and when her hand gets better after her accident she had last year (I will explain in another post later on what happened) she is going join our great forum of ours.

    that's all for now lov, take care and say hello to angel for me.

  4. #4
    A California Girl Rachel Morley's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Northern California
    Quote Originally Posted by Michelle_Pea_Skirter
    I have to say marla you are doing a wonderful job in supporting and helping Angel in all outing posts that you have posted here. Angel is looking very good and passable as well. I'm sure she wouldn't been able to do it without your love and support.
    I can absolutely guarantee that I would not be able to do it without my wonderful wife. I would never be where I am today if it wasn't for Marla's gentle, but progressive help in the feminization of myself.

    I know for a fact that I wouldn't be as comfortable and accepting of myself if it wasn't for her encouragement and direct hand in helping develop the "girl in my head".

    I love you sweetness.
    The River City Gems - Northern California's largest and most active crossdressing & transgender support group!

  5. #5
    MichelleFCD's other half
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Long Island, NY
    Great insightful post Marla. I saw so much of when my sweetie told me. He was "armed" with so much info for me but did not push it all on me at once. He gave/gives me the time and space I need to be in a good place in my own head. I in return give her the space she needs to express herself.


  6. #6
    Action crossdresser Marlena Dahlstrom's Avatar
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    Jul 2005
    SF Bay Area
    Another masterpiece Marla!

    A dream? What is a dream, but a blueprint for courageous action.

  7. #7
    Bunny's submissive girl CharleneCD's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Albion MI
    Simple words are not enough to describe how important you've become to this forum. This thread was well deserving of being masde a sticky.

    Learn To Love Yourself And You will Find That Others Have Always Loved You But You Can Now Accept It.

  8. #8
    Banned Read only
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    I can't help but play devil's advocate for this idea. People will do what they have to do but i feel it will end in sadness as mine did.

  9. #9
    Pixie Hollow's Vixen Katie Ashe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    I just can't get over the amount of nice people we have here, all around...
    DK Productions LLC, Giving back to the Rainbow Community. Need a DJ, Every Song Has a Story, We Make The Memory

  10. #10
    Stockings and Heels Carlacd's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Surprise ,Arizona
    Another great post Marla, that should be read by wives and by all CD's. Alot of helpful information i wish i had 10 years ago when i opened that closet door. Though my door has closed a little on me i want it to open up again, and stay closed, but with ME on this side of the door.

  11. #11
    New Member PartGirl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    NW Pennsylvania

    Hi Marla

    That is such a heart felt, insightfull thread. I am very fond of this sight for its many eye opening,helpfull and wise people!

    I was upfront with my wife when we first started dating. She was very accepting but she also has been envolved in the dance, arts and theater all of here life. So in that aspect I was sort of lucky.


  12. #12
    Haley Pink~
    Join Date
    Jun 2005

    What a great Post.

    I have something’s coming up in my life when I retire. Things I want to change about myself. One is dressing 24/7, at that time. I won't have to worry of losing my job because I got breast implants etc. Or my Face altered to a more Femme face. But telling my wife that I want to do these things is going to be a slow one step at a time thing.

    Just like when I came out to her as being a CD. Now I even sleep in Girl mode. Just not at work or out side the house. Except Tri Ess meetings once a month. But yes I agree on most of what you say. Your article, it's almost a story written about Me.

    Every thing that we do is by trial and error.
    Raising children, dating, marriage etc. This forum helps many people find answers insted of having the trial and error method many times. Sure we are not always going to be, or even have our own ways in everything. But it's nice to know we can part of the time.

    Love to you and yours Hun.
    Thanks for the article, I loved it.

  13. #13
    Silver Member Dragster's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    NW UK

    Too Late

    Thanks Marla, on behalf of those who have yet to come out to their SOs. I wish I had access to such useful insight from the "other side" when I decided to tell my wife many years ago. There wasn't even the internet or any litterature I knew about then, except the very occasional article in newspapers or magazines, and always "women's magazines". I couldn't be sure that I'd get the opportunity to tell the whole story without getting side-tracked in a conversation, so I wrote her a long letter, saying how much I loved her, always had and always would, but there was a part of me she'd never seen. I wasn't sure of what I wanted myself at that time (I now know I'd like to push my femininity to the point of going out en-femme and looking good at it, but only occasionally, and I haven't even confessed that steps! But neither of us would want anyone else to know about it), only that wearing female clothes (lingerie) made me really horny, and that I'd love to make love to her while dressed. She knew I loved it when SHE wore sexy lingerie to bed, but she even had a hang up about that, and still has.

    Well you can guess that the reaction was not favourable to say the least; the whole subject disgusted her, and still does. When she said she "didn't want to know about it", I went back in the closet, and didn't tell her any more, except little hints from time to time, which produced the same response. From advice here, I bought "My Husband Betty" for a last attempt at acceptance, or at least understanding. I read it in April, marked sections I would like to discuss with her, and gave it to her to read then. We agreed to discuss the first few chapters when she'd read it, but even after one or two prompts, I don't believe she's opened it yet. Perhaps afraid of what she'll find. I'm pretty patient, but this is taking a lot longer than I thought it would, and I'm unsure what the outcome will be.

    I think that it is fantastic that you took the time to put your thoughts in print Marla. I don't suppose my wife's reaction would have been much different if I'd read your post first, but armed with your advice, and other GG's contributions, I will never go about it like a bull in a china shop. And if it helps to improve the acceptance rate of others in the same situation, then it will have been well worthwhile. I do still love my wife more than anything in the world, and always will, but if I could just transplant 1% of your acceptance into my wife's brain, I would be an even happier "man".

    Thanks again,
    Last edited by Dragster; 09-03-2005 at 06:55 PM.

  14. #14
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Hey Marla

    There are some things that should be required reading for cd's with an SO....this is one of them!

    kathy in canada

  15. #15
    Lisa Scotts SO Cheery GG's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Midlands UK
    Excellent post Marla.....and superbly written....

    [SIZE="4"]The pleasure you get from life is equal to the attitude you put into it.[/SIZE]

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    I just thought I would also compliment you Marla on a wonderful post. It is so much better to be ready if and when you do tell them and I'm sure the SO or wife would be much more accepting than finding out themselves or worse yet catching you in the act. I do know that now that I am completely open with my wife we are closer than ever and there isn't that wedge of secrecy dividing us. I truely feel for all those that have to bear this burden of secrecy and let it eat away at them.Huggs to all

  17. #17
    Dark Sultry Goddess Sweet Jeanette's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Between here, and there!
    Wow! That was a lot of reading! --- But it's the truth. ---My wife is rather a simple person, as am I. --- We got to know each other for 10 years, before we ever got married, and we DID get to know each other! ---She went through two husbands in those ten years, while her and I would occassionally visit, at my house. I was a Bacholer for 15 years, during the time that she went through this. I guess I was the person that she could come and talk to, when it got too rough for her. -----I told her about me shortly after we got married, and she NEVER flinched! ---She took me as I am. -----And, NO, no sex was involved, before we got married!!! -----We are going on 5 years of marriage, with BOTH of us knowing about each other, and it is just as close as the day we were married. --- This, I believe, is called, --- "Trust"! ---I believe it come ONLY with knowing oneanother, Totally! ----The other husbands she had, never really took the time, or put out the effort, to realize what a Gem, ---they had! I did, and still do, every day!--------This is my contribution.
    [SIZE="3"][50 miles from ANYWHERE![/I][/SIZE]

  18. #18
    Re-discovering life paulacd's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    North Yorkshire & Egypt!
    Quote Originally Posted by cheerygalneedshelp
    Excellent post Marla.....and superbly written....

    I second that, and I'll be sure to use this information wisely.

    My gf doesn't mind me dressing at home, but I'd love to go out with her shopping etc as Paula. You've really given some great advice here Marla

    Thank you.....


  19. #19
    Kiera's SO
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    somewhere, USA

    Red face

    that was a great article and exactly the questions that i asked kiera when she told me, of course i cried, she cried, i didn't understand but i have grown to love her very much and hope that she never goes away.
    Last edited by halox1 GG; 09-08-2005 at 03:58 PM. Reason: mispelled

  20. #20
    Unofficial CD Mom Holly's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    In between states.
    How fortunate for us gurlz that GG's such as Marla choose to participate in this forum. The lifestyle we embrace is tough enough as it is. Having an honest perspective from our GG's here makes this journey SO MUCH EASIER! I don't think any of the GG's here have the slightest idea of the positive impact they have had on the thousands of lives this forum touches. Marla, thank-you for being one of our shining stars! (And Happy Birthday!)
    Fulltime girl on the inside.


  21. #21
    New Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    What great advice Marla. My partner also told me it was a bit of a shock at first then I learned more and became quite accepting that was 8 years ago now. Advice like that you have wirtten will be helpful to anyone!! We are still together after 9 years and everyday she tells me different things to help us get through this together, a learning step for both of us!!

  22. #22
    Member SatinSarah's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Thanks Marla for helping us understand. My wife was accepting to a degree for a time and then last year freaked out and stopped me dresing. I started to understand how hard it was for her and vowed not to dress with her about for 12 months and to start all over again. Its 12 months this saturday and even though she started dropping hints abuot my Cding and joking about dressing again I am as nervous now as the first time I came out to her 10 years ago. So a reminder of what she will be feeling is so helpful. For us of course it seems so natural and part of who we are - and it takes time to know how hard it is for somebody else!

    All girly on the inside...time for the outside too.

  23. #23
    Pausing To Femme-flect melissacd's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Kitchener, Ontario

    Thanks So Much Marla


    I wanted to thank you for taking the time to write this article. It is an extraordinary piece of very informative prose.

    While I still struggle with this issue and nervously gather as much information as I can for the day I try to cross that bridge again, this article takes away some of the fear and gives me hope.

    Generally, my wife is a reasonable, open and understanding person when given a chance. I know that she loves me and she has in fact stayed with me in spite of her accidental discovery of my cross dressing 8 years ago, although she believes that when she told me to stop that that was the end of it. I am hopeful that the years have matured her and that given the right setting and the right delivery I will eventually gain some level of acceptance.

    We have not dsicussed this for these past 8 years and she believes that when she told me to stop that I did. The realization that these past 8 years I have in fact not been cured of cross dressing will be devastating for her at first. The fact that it was hidden for 14 years was bad enough, add another 8 years to that and...I hope that I can cross that bridge reasonably intact.

    At that time I tried to provide her with all the positive information and answers that I could. My mistake was allowing her to make me feel like what I was doing was wrong, immoral, bad, something that I could stop. I tried very hard to live up to that these past 8 years.

    I thought I could stop because of my love for her, however, over the years the urge has remained and my resentment grows. I realize (and your article speaks to this) that this is a big part of what defines who I am as a person. It is not something that I can be cured of, it is a part of my personality and denying that makes me less complete and very unhappy.

    I do not feel the urge to dress all the time, but I do get the urge from time to time and I want to be able to fulfill that urge. For me it is not just about dressing, rather about being able to express my feminine traits as fully as I express my masculine traits without fear of being ridiculed or berated. My femininity takes many forms; the clothes I want to wear, the books I want to read, the subjects that interest me, my choices in art, music, television shows, magazines, movies and feeling that I can express my emotions and more feminine qualities without feeling like a fool. I believe that all men and women have these qualities. We should feel free to be able to express them and be who we really are.

    I know it will hurt her when I cross that bridge once again, however, I am hopeful that l will make it across with the woman I love still by my side. Wish me luck! And once again, thanks so much for the wonderful post and thanks for caring so much.

    What stop do I get off at? Hmmm...

  24. #24
    Still Learning
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Yukon Territory


    An age old question that I doubt will ever be answered.

    It is better to be "immortal" than "mortal"

  25. #25
    Formerly Natalie Lynn Tracy Lynn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    York, PA

    Great Post

    I recently came out to my wife. Although I didn't read this article first I handled it the same way. She was a little hurt that I did not tell her sooner. We have been together for 15 years and I dressed secretly the whole time.
    I worked in a different state 4 days a week and had my own apartment there which made it easy and I didn't feel the need to tell her.
    About 6 months ago she moved to the state where I worked and we fell in love again. The constant traveling was taking it's toll on us. I threw every thing that I had accumulated over the years away in fear of her finding womens clothing in our new home.
    I was living a lie for the last 6 months and the urge to dress again was so overwhelming that I felt if I did not tell her I was going to go mad. It actually went very well and she is starting to accept my girlie side.
    We have started with panties. I do not want to push this on her too fast. We have talked about going further but have decided for now to go slow. I think over the next few months things will get better. We both feel closer now that I have opened up to her. This is the only secret I have ever kept from my wife and now there are none.

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