Dating someone who’s still in the closet is difficult. There’s just no way around it. You’ve experienced the anxiety, struggle, and ultimate reward of coming out. Your partner is still living in fear of being outed. While your relationship may be growing and becoming more intense, so is your cover up. It’s a tricky romantic territory to navigate, but it can be done.
Though you’re out and proud, it’s important not to push your partner out of the closet. Everyone has their own process and their own time. You simply can’t force someone to do something they’re not ready for. Remember how you felt and what you experienced. But consider that your partner’s family, friends, and professional setting are vastly different. They have every right to be afraid, and they have every right to come out on their own terms. If you’re choosing to stay in the relationship, it can’t be about a vision of what things will be like once your partner comes out. You have to focus on the now.
Ultimately, in addition to understanding why your partner is in the closet, you have to truly identify if this is a deal breaker for you or not. You have to consider that you may be left out of family celebrations. Your partner’s family likely won’t know who you are or you’ll have to pretend to be a roommate or friend. Dating someone who is in the closet is often a partial step back inside for you. You need to know upfront if that’s something you want to do. If it’s not, don’t prolong the relationship as it will only end in hurt and frustration. If you decide to stay, you have to exhibit patience and understanding.
Your relationship may not hit the natural steps of progress that other relationships do. Depending on your partner’s level of comfort, you might remain a little secret for a long time. With that lack of public recognition and relationship growth comes resentment. Sometimes love is enough to overcome this. But often, it will gnaw away at you.
You have to decide early on if this is something you’re prepared for. It’s not fair to either partner if you work against your instincts for the sake of the relationship. You have to be honest with yourself and with your partner.
Successfully dating someone who’s in the closet requires a lot of immediate honesty. Realizing that your partner’s out status is problematic much later can be upsetting. You have to have realistic expectations from the beginning. Or else, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. That’s disappointment that can be easily avoided with a little introspection.
As members of the LGBT community, we’re all on our own paths to acceptance. We’re all moving at our own speeds. You might fall in love with someone who’s journey is moving at a snail’s pace while you’re zooming ahead at light speed. But speed isn’t what matters here. Honesty is most important. Know what matters most to you or you’ll be disappointed.
If you are looking for a gay therapist in Long Beach who specializes in LGBT issues, please call me. We can talk about how to work through your fears and how you can proceed in a way that is authentic and genuine to your needs.