DEAR ABBY: After an abusive relationship ended 14 years ago, I stayed single and raised my small son to adulthood. I dated here and there, but never found anyone I had serious feelings for who also felt the same way about me until seven months ago.
My feelings for my boyfriend are strong, and it's mutual. He is giving, kind, caring, hardworking and protective. We are very much in love. He tells me he feels like he can be himself around me, something he has never had before. I've never had anyone care so much about my well-being.
We talk about everything and differ on only one point so far. I'm in education and an LGBTQ ally. He feels strongly that nature dictates that only a man and a woman belong together, and he says he hates gay people. (We both grew up in very small, conservative communities.)
Now that my son is older, I plan to use my experiences to be a stronger voice on education issues regarding tolerance and improving learning outcomes for all by instilling conflict resolution principles in my educational practices. I'm not changing my view on this, but I want to continue for us to love and support each other.
Should I tell my boyfriend I understand where he's coming from based upon where and how we were raised? Do you think down the road our basic principles will drive us apart? We have been talking about buying a house in the country together, although neither of us has intentions of marriage anytime soon. -- HESITATING IN ILLINOIS
DEAR HESITATING: You should absolutely talk to your boyfriend about your plan to become an outspoken LGBTQ ally and more active in your profession. When you become more visible, do you plan to separate your career and your personal life? It appears you are willing (and able) to respect him, and understand why he feels the way he does. But is he willing to do the same for you, and will his conservative convictions negatively affect how you plan to live your life?
It is very important that this issue be resolved before investing in real estate with him -- as well as any more precious time. A professional mediator may be able to help with the conversation if you can't do this by yourselves.