Maria Bello Is Dating Clare Munn

12/02/2013 at 09:45 AM EST

Maria Bello Comes Out: I'm in Love with a Woman Named Clare
Jackson and Maria Bello
Matt Sayles/Invision/AP
When Maria Bello first met Clare Munn, she had an "immediate connection."

"I didn't think of it as romantic or sexual," Bello says in a New York Times column published Sunday titled Coming Out As A Modern Family. "She was one of the most beautiful, charming, brilliant, and funny people I had ever met, but it didn't occur to me that we could perhaps choose to love each other romantically."

The actress has a 12-year-old son, Jackson, from her former relationship with Dan McDermott and says she struggled with how to tell her only child about her relationship with a woman.

"This was the moment I had been anticipating and dreading for months," says Bello of when her son asked if there was something she wasn't telling him.

"I took a deep breath, knowing that my answer, and his response, would have an impact on our lives for a very long time. He was right; I was with someone romantically and I hadn't told him. I had become involved with a woman who was my best friend, and, as it happens, a person who is like a godmother to my son."

But when Bello made the decision to finally tell her son about her relationship, she was surprised by his response.

"He looked at me for what seemed like an eternity and then broke into a huge, warm smile," she said. "'Mom, love is love, whatever you are,' he said with wisdom beyond his years," she writes.

And Bello agrees with her son.

"I would like to consider myself a 'whatever,' ... Whomever I love, however I love them, whether they sleep in my bed or not, or whether I do homework with them or share a child with them," Bello says. "Love is love. And I love our modern family."

"Maybe, in the end," she continues, "a modern family is just a more honest family."

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