The Challenges of Being Out When Your Partner is Not

The Challenges of Being Out When Your Partner is Not

So you’re “out” and about in your daily life. Your family and friends know your sexual orientation. You live out in the sun and not behind the shadows. It’s a wonderful feeling to live life as YOU. Maybe you’ve never had to come “out” because you had a loving and supportive family that saw “all” of you from the beginning. That is AMAZING! True-fully… it really is. So now you are in a relationship with a person whom you love and want to experience life to its fullest. That is what many people want to do in their relationships. To live life to its fullest with all the experiences that it has to offer. However, your partner is not on the same playing field yet. Now what?

Your loved one may be newly living who they are… maybe they have been living who they are for a while but not as openly. Their family doesn’t know, coworkers don’t know, and maybe only a few select very close friends know. This can be a real challenge for your relationship. It can make a relationship feel “half complete.” So what to do?

Start a Dialogue

Well… first, it’s really is important to find what truly is the reason to staying in the shadows. Is it because of the religious beliefs? Maybe cultural beliefs? Country of origin – and societal pressures? Maybe it’s the fear of disownment by their family, friends, and/or religious organization? Perhaps its even more internal… personal shame, perhaps. All of these are difficult topics to process for a person who is not living “out,” but it’s equally important to identify which one or ones it is. 

Once the root can be identified, you can address their concerns of coming out. Having this conversation can help each of you better understand the scope of what your partner is facing – and then what you can weather together. It may also highlight where each of you truly are in this path.

When to Re-Evaluate

So what happens when you’ve been together for a while and you are just heavy from the weight of living with this compromise – of not being able to shout from the roof tops the celebration of your relationship. Ultimatums will not work here (in fact ultimatums normally are not good in any scenario, just food for thought), but we do need to be honest with ourselves and our partner. 

If your loved one is unable to live as openly and genuinely as you need in a partner, then it may be time for the two of you to let go. You may be thinking “wow… this lady is harsh!” That is really not my intention. My intention is to allow you to see the true circumstance. 

If your partner could face real dangers for living out and proud…then, at this time it’s just not feasible for them to do so. And that’s okay. We can’t really know for how long the dangers and pressures to remain “in” could be their reality. In this case, it falls more on you to decide what you can withstand as a partner. Often, we feel that walking away from a relationship in this position weighs more on us as a person. Guilt can be a driver for staying in a relationship that isn’t providing you what you need. 

If the fear is more internal, for many it take some time to process for themselves when they are ready. That is their journey to undertake – be it alone or with professional help. Either way it’s not something that can be just pushed on them. It really is a challenge. One that can take years. And again, it falls on you to decide what you are willing to do – how much of yourself you are willing to give. 

In the end, the best I can tell you is be as true to yourself and allow your relationship to know that truth. Even if that means you cannot be together at this time. You will be hurting each other less and respecting each other even more. Isn’t that what real love is?

As always,


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