My Baby’s Got a Secret

Six tips for how to live with a closeted partner.


Some lesbians bust the closet doors off their hinges and never look back. Others, however, refuse to come out at all. While every dyke should be allowed to make her own decision about how and when to declare her gayness to the world, things can get a little tricky for the partner whose girlfriend is still clinging to mothballs. It can be difficult to be out when the one you love is emphatically in. The good news is that you don’t have to let her dirty, little secret be the end of your relationship. Here are six tips to help your romance survive the closet. 

1. Don’t take it personally.
If she loved you, she would come out, right? Wrong. Her decision to remain under the lesbian radar has absolutely nothing to do with you. It does not mean that you aren’t good enough. The ideal that love should be able to transcend all other considerations is merely that—an ideal.

2. Remember, the fear of rejection can be terrifying.
Childhood trauma precedes reactionary drama. And these days, imagining the reactions in our churches, in our families, and even in the workplace can make it awfully scary to come out. The fear of rejection is so omnipresent that it can keep some people stuck in the closet for a very long time—sometimes years. Explain gently to your partner that if fear stopped everyone dead in their tracks then everyone would be dead in their tracks.

3. Be realistic about your expectations.
Fighting over your need for public affection from a partner who is still living in the closet is about as much fun as a root canal. No woman should attempt to change her partner or girlfriend. Offer all the support in the world, but it is never wise to stay in a relationship based on the hope that your closeted girlfriend will change. Ask yourself this question: If she never changed, would I stay? If the answer is no, then it’s time to move on.

4. Beware of resentment.
The out lesbian in the relationship usually tends to let the resentment build up. She may find herself always looking for how, when, and where her partner is going to disappoint her or let her down—at family gatherings, on vacations,  at weddings and dinner parties, anywhere in public. 

Choose to look at the good—perspective is our choice and our birthright. Observe, take note, and pay close attention to the positive aspects about her. Surely, she has many. After all, you’re not staying with her for the PDA.

5. Support her, don’t force her.
When assisting her in looking for a good time to come out, remember that every moment is considered perfect; the question is: Is it perfect for her?

She could possibly lose the support of her family, so it’s important that you don’t pressure her or make her feel guilty. Instead, introduce her to friends who have already come out, have a little dinner party and ask them to share the positives that came from it. Supporting her without judgment can go a long way.

6. Lead by example.
If you are living your best and most fulfilling life by simply being you, a proud lesbian, she will see that. It’s not what you say, it’s what you do that will encourage her.

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