(404) 874-8536 johnballew@gmail.com

Dating Closeted Men

He’s nice looking, has a good job and has a good relationship with his mother. He’s all into you – phone calls, nice dinners, hot sex. Sure there are some quirks; he wants you to be careful when you call his office (or perhaps not to call at all) and he explains that his roommate wouldn’t understand your relationship, so you need to call with a lot of discretion (or not at all).  He won’t have dinner with you in gay neighborhoods because those places are too cruisy, or there are just too damn many gay men there. Strange…

Other times you know what’s up: the guy explains that no one knows he’s gay (yeah, right) because he’s entitled to his “privacy.” Maybe he tosses in that he’s not political, or not into the bar scene or something like that. You like the guy, but something seems not quite right.

Welcome to life dating a closet case.

But he still seems so appealing! You hope he’ll change. Too late you realize that he’ll only change on his on schedule, and the change won’t be significant enough or fast enough to make dating him a winning proposition.

While some of us claim to have never been in the closet, most of us were at one time or another; it’s natural to feel a certain sympathy for these guys. But sympathy is not reason enough to date someone. There are degrees of coming out, of course, and degrees of closetedness. Not everyone is ready to walk down Peachtree Street holding hands with their partner, and that’s probably not the most important dynamic in most successful relationships.

Where’s the boundary where a guy becomes too complicated to date? It’s generally time to wake up if you find the guy in question still harbors heterosexual marriage as an option. Or feels that he must actively hide his identity from the most important people in his life. Or if he can’t actually say the words “gay” or “bisexual” out loud when talking about himself. Time to face the facts: regardless of what he says, this is not someone who is actually available for a relationship.

Beware of rescue fantasies. Once you show him the glory of man-to-man love, you think, he’ll make up his mind. Or you can support him through the process – despite no evidence that he’s actually moving through the steps of coming out. You’re not demonstrating endless patience; he’s just endlessly wasting your time.

And what if you’re the one who’s still in the closet and finding this whole dating thing difficult? You could hope to find someone just like yourself, someone who won’t insist on being acknowledged by your family or your co-workers or heterosexual friends. Just don’t expect it to be much of a relationship. Truly making a commitment means putting your partner first, not your illusions or your fears.

Staying in the closet greatly increases your changes of ending up alone, with no real friends or support system. It’s not a good way to live. Coming out isn’t always easy, but giving up illusions and lies is the only way to live with integrity and to build a future of genuine happiness.

About John

I have been  licensed by the State of Georgia as a professional counselor for more than 25 years.  My areas of specialty are relationships, intimacy, sexuality, anxiety and depression.  My passion is helping people build happier lives and stronger relationships. 

I know it isn’t always easy to talk about problems.  My approach to counseling is nonjudgmental and compassionate.  If you have questions, I welcome the opportunity to talk with you about working together.

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Whether you've worked with a therapist before or are exploring counseling for the first time, you probably have questions.  It is important to have the information you need to make a good decision when selecting a therapist.  I welcome your questions -- about your specific situation, about me or about my approach to therapy. Making things better can start with an email, or you can call me at (404) 874-8536.