Sometimes secrets aren't yours to tell, but that doesn't make it any easier.
Reddit user randomuser21041996 is in the doghouse with his girlfriend because he knew her older brother was gay for almost a year and he didn't tell her.
Was he in the right because the brother had sworn him to secrecy, or should he have let his sister in on the situation? He went to the popular subreddit "Am I The A**hole?" to find out.
He told his story in a post titled "AITA for not telling my GF that her brother is gay?"
"This story takes place over some time. My GF is the youngest of three siblings, the middle child is "Jake" (26m) and the eldest is 'Dan' (30m). So last July me (21m) and my GF (21f) went to go visit her fam in their hometown for a couple reasons. It was my birthday, it was her mum's birthday a day after mine, and Jake was planning to propose to his girlfriend in that general time period, who's birthday was after my GF's mum's."
"Hectic time for sure. Me and my GF helped him pick out the ring, and Jake ended up proposing to her on her birthday and it was really good. Tears were shed, hugs were exchanged, the whole nine yards. It was great."
"I wandered off to the side just taking everything in and I realized that Dan was looking kind of misty eyed. I was a little bit concerned so I asked if everything's ok and he said yeah. He then asked if he can tell me a secret. Bear in mind that this was my first time meeting her family so I was like hmmmm this is like the 2nd time im talking to you and you're already telling me secrets?"
"But no I didn't say all that, I said sure go ahead. He said he's had a ring hidden away for his girlfriend for going on 10 months now. Bear in mind that he's been dating her for 9 years and she actually just gave birth a few months before this event. Naturally, I asked him what's stopping him from proposing, if he's scared or something else. He was quiet for a moment and he said well I think I'm actually gay."
"Crazy, right? 30 year old grown a** man telling a 21 year old dude he's never met before that he's gay before he tells his own family. Something rubbed me the wrong way about that, but I digress. He swore me to secrecy and I honored his request, as hard as it was. Whenever I showed up to family events it was like only I could see this giant dark cloud hanging over them."
"Fast forward all the way till today, where my GF was on a group FaceTime with her family in the office. I heard loud shrieks and WTF's and I nodded to myself because I thought the time had finally come. And it did. When she told me, I tried my damndest to act surprised like I didn't know all along but my girlfriend knows me better than anybody else except for my twin and she knows when I'm bullsh*tting."
"She casually brought it up and said that I didn't seem too surprised. I sighed and told her the truth. Now she's not quite pissed off at me, but she's disappointed (which I feel is somehow worse). She says that while she understands my need to keep a secret she said I should've confided in her, as this is something that concerns her and her family."
"She said she's also a tad bit suspicious that he chose to confide in ME over everyone else, as if I was in cahoots with him in some way. And most of all, she said I contributed to the deception of Dan's girlfriend (now ex I suppose). I accepted what she said but maintained that I had to keep a secret and I didn't want to out him to anyone, not even his own family. AITA?"
Many people thought the OP had done the only thing he could have.
"NTA (Not the A**hole). You. don't. out. people. It's wrong." -disregardable
Others added that there might very well have been a reason the brother confided in a stranger.
"Hijacking the top comment to say: it might be very weird for you that a person you don't know well told you that, but for him it might have been much easier to confide in you, who he doesn't have big emotional connection with, than his family, whose reaction he might be fearing. Judging by the family's reaction he did the right thing and you, of course, are NTA." -HandsomeJill
Some readers recognized the gray areas between right and wrong in this situation.
"After all, OP is confiding his personal conflict in a group of strangers and trusts these strangers to judge the situation. The brother's been eaten away by his secret, forced himself to live a happy hetero life and was coming close to his breaking point because he could not confide in those close to him, his own partner included, because it would (and ultimately did) cause pain to everyone."
"But he'd probably have emotionally exploded that day and was just glad that there was a person who wasn't a random stranger but distant enough to somewhat feel neutral. There's nothing weird or creepy about that. It's just a sad story with no winners."
"Also, his sister/OP's gf even proved that the brother couldn't trust his family: She said she has been entitled to this information as it concerned her family. So, if the brother had talked to her, wouldn't she consequently have thought that the information concerned the whole family and therefore, it'd have been morally wrong for her to keep it a secret? NAH"
"Lots of mistakes have been made, everyone has been hurt, but unless the family is aggressively homophobic and conditioned the brother to better have a hetero relationship and make babies or else...! it's one of those situations that don't work with black and white mechanics." -pokethejellyfish
At least one reader thought there was less deception involved than OP's girlfriend thought.
"Did you not read, or misunderstand, the part where Dan told OP 'I think I'm actually gay'. That means at that point, he didn't know for sure. I mean, he bought a ring, he had plans to stay with her, and then he started realizing something about himself. Not everyone just knows from the time they're a child. Compulsive heterosexuality is a VERY real thing and it can really confuse people about themselves. It's something that takes a long time to process and unpack."
"Self-discovery periods can happen at any point of life. Speaking as a gay person, this situation doesn't sound out of the ordinary at all. It sounds to me like Dan really did think this woman he almost proposed to WAS someone he wanted to spend the rest of his life with and raise a child with, and then he found something out about himself. Plenty of people go through that same thing. Sometimes it happens earlier, sometimes it happens later. Have patience for people."
"Nothing in anything OP's told us about Dan has implied he wanted to be deceitful to anyone. He kept to himself, was asked by the OP, and then explained the situation. He asked OP not to out him. That's a very serious thing, more serious than just a flippant secret. He came out to his family when he was ready to. OP just happened to already know. That's all." -albatrossbones
It was a hard situation but, ultimately, most thought OP had done the right thing.
"I'm not arguing for her "need" to know - the phrase was "deserve" to know. I THINK she deserves to know. I THINK she should know, but guess what? It's not my story to tell. It's not my choice to decide when and how she finds out. It's not MY relationship."
"Given that the brother only said he "thought" he was gay, what if he had subsequently realised that he wasn't? That he DID love her? That he was bi, but in love with her, so it didn't matter? Accordingly to your logic, my beliefs would have already outed him and potentially wrecked any chance of that."
"Personally, I think honesty is the only way to approach any relationship. I have every sympathy for the girlfriend- she has done nothing to deserve this. I also have every sympathy for the brother - we have no reason to suppose that he deliberately deceived her; from the wording it sounds like he had a realisation after the fact, and found himself in a terrible situation."
"The point is, however, that OP spilling the beans would in no way guarantee a better outcome and, in fact, would be far more likely to cause a far more traumatic situation for all concerned. Therefore, in staying silent, they did the right thing from a limited number of unpleasant options." -HRHArgyll
It seems not all situations are as cut and dried as we'd like them to be, but at least OP can go to bed knowing he's done the best he could.