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ComingOut

5 Ways To Deal When You're Dating Someone in the Closet

5 Ways To Deal When You're Dating Someone in the Closet

Patience is the first step. 

RachelCharleneL

Dating someone in the closet is rough, but it doesn't have to be impossible. Sometimes, choosing between breaking up with someone you really care about if they aren’t willing to come out for you isn’t the right choice. Ultimatums aren’t always the right answer, and if someone is stuck in the closet, ultimatums won't necessarily help them come to terms. 

Some people are empowered by controlling who knows about their sexuality, and it isn't your responsibility to convince them to come out. But how do you deal when you want to be public, and they need a little secrecy?

1. Know it isn’t about you

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Your significant other isn’t choosing not to come out because they’re ashamed of you. This is something really hard to remember when you feel like you just aren’t worth coming out for. For some people, coming out simply isn’t the answer. Maybe the timing just isn’t right. Maybe it never will be. But it’s 100% not because your partner doesn’t want people to know about you.

2. Don’t make them choose between you and their family

In typical queer narratives, there’s always a moment where you come out to your parents. It goes well, or horribly, but at the end of the day, you’ve come out. For some people, this just isn’t an option. Maybe it’s for financial reasons, or maybe it’s that losing their family means losing their culture. Regardless, it isn’t fair to expect someone to choose between you and their family. Not everyone has to have a huge coming out moment with their parents to be legitimately queer.

3. Recognize that there are different ways to be out of the closet.

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So, everyone in the world doesn’t know. You won’t get to make out in front of homophobic protesters at Pride or hold hands in public. But maybe they’re okay with your closest friends knowing, or they’re willing to bring you to family functions without declaring the status of your relationship.

4. Remember that your relationship is valid whether people know about it or not.

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So often it feels like unless your Instagram is filled with your partner, and if you’re not known as #couplegoals you aren’t a “real” couple. But if you’re together, you’re together. For the most part, people knowing doesn’t change who you are to each other,  and it doesn’t delegitimize your relationship.

5. Know that you aren’t the only one.

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People have been dating, and even marrying each other, without putting a label on things for the public for years. Since it’s not always safe or realistic to come out, some people never do. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have kids, grow old together, or be together.

And at the end of the day, just being together is what it's all about.

 
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Rachel Charlene Lewis

Rachel Charlene Lewis is a writer, editor, and queer woman of color based in North Carolina. Her writing has most recently appeared in Ravishly, Hello Giggles, and elsewhere.

Rachel Charlene Lewis is a writer, editor, and queer woman of color based in North Carolina. Her writing has most recently appeared in Ravishly, Hello Giggles, and elsewhere.