Help Me With My Closeted Boyfriend

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Dear Mona,

I'm having a hard time with a situation and who better to turn to than you?

Here's the deal: I've been seeing a guy for about two months now. We go out to dinner, hang out, talk, text, IM. Pretty good communication. One minute he talks like I am his, the next breath he is talking about the fact that he's not ready for an actual relationship. We both work in different fields, but see each other at work all the time. He's a paramedic and I'm a security officer for the hospital he's contracted with. When he sees me at work, provided nobody is around, he acts like he's my boyfriend, I'm his everything! When we are out, he acts the same way. But when it comes down to having a deep conversation about our relationship, he says he's not ready for anything official. We aren't sleeping together or anything, but still we are very close.

I really know that I am falling for him, and most of the time he seems that way too. What's going on here? One tidbit of info that might be helpful is that he is not out and I am. I'm fine with him not being out and would NEVER do anything to jeopardize that. Is he just saying he doesn't want anything serious because he doesn't want to be outed or am I just wasting my time on the "relationship"?

-J


Well J,

I concur: What better place to turn for all of your gay lifestyle needs than here at Gay Life on About.com?


But enough plugging... on to your issue. What's playing out in your "relationship" right now is fairly common for mixed couples where one gay is out and the other is just seeing a crack in the closet door.

What seems like inconsistency on his part is really a manifestation of the mixed feelings he has running a muck in his head. It's not you that he's indifferent about; it's his life as an out gay man–a life that he has yet to fully realize. Some guys are out and know it the moment they look up at the delivery room lights. Other guys just know something is "different" and either can't or won't figure it out until later in age.

Once the gay bomb does drop, which it has, your guy must undo all of the pre-programmed hetero thoughts cemented in his head. And like the road repair guys, he's got to strip those thick hetero layers in order to lay down a new gay framework. He's wavering because he's trying to chip away the old and introduce this new unknown and unsure life.


The thought of coming out is overwhelming enough for him right now, not to mention your talk of relationships and everlasting gay love. When you think relationships as an out gay man, you're imagining your committed and happy togetherness. When he thinks of relationships as a closet dweller, he's thinking of you two holding hands in public and parent introductions and all of the other relationship standards that will urge him to come out, perhaps prematurely.
And how can he commit to such an expectation when he's not even comfortable being out yet? Follow me?

Here's what you do:
  • Put on the parking break. Enjoy spending time with him and lay off of the relationship talk for now.
  • Be open about how you feel and let him know that you are willing to take your time building a connection.
  • Ask him to communicate when he's feeling overwhelmed or when he thinks you guys are moving too fast.
  • You told me, now tell him that you would never intentionally out him, but you do desire a relationship at some point in the future.
Couples with varying levels of outness are hard to maintain and take constant communication. One reason is you can't predict when someone is fully ready to come out. The most successful relationships are the ones that harness constant communication and an openness to each partner's present space. Talk to him, reassure him, believe in your feelings and be patient as your relationship grows. Your loose relationship may continue to dip into rattling pot holes, but they will settle as he (and you) become more comfortable and open about your expectations.

Yours out of the closet,
Mona

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