7 Tips for Dating Men Who Aren’t Completely Out

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Gay Dating Tips

By: Zachary Zane

We don’t choose who fall in love with. Gay guys know this better than most. Sometimes, we fall in love with people who are dangerous, who treat us poorly, or who require too much support. And sometimes, we fall in love with men who aren’t completely out.

These men aren’t confused about their identity. They’re not cheaters. They’re not in denial or 100% closeted. They simply aren’t out to some crucial people in their lives, for various (and valid!) reasons.

Perhaps they come from a conservative background. Perhaps their parents are religious fundamentalists. Perhaps it’s something else entirely.

Related: Top 8 reasons gay men cheat

There are a number of gay/bi guys who aren’t completely out. Often times, this isn’t problematic, but sometimes, it can be. If your partner’s nondisclosure of his sexual identity is interfering and causing strain on your relationship, there are things you can do. Take a look.

Authors Note:

Quick thing to note. If your partner would be put in physical danger or would be kicked off his house (and wouldn’t have a place to live), then do not encourage him to come out.

Ninety-five percent of the time, I’m in favor of people coming out, despite the short-term negative consequences, but when the ramifications are life-threatening, that’s the 5% of the time they should not come out. Okay, that said, here we go.

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7 Tips for Dating When He’s Not Completely Out

1. Evaluate for internalized homophobia

Is he not coming out because there’s still a part of him that hasn’t accepted that he is indeed gay or bi? Does he fear appearing “too gay” in safe spaces or in places where he knows no one? If so, that’s the first thing you need to work on.

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Getting him to fully believe that there is nothing wrong with his sexual identity, and it’s nothing he should feel shame for. If you don’t think he has any self-loathing for his queerness, and he simply has a really homophobic relative, proceed to step two.

2. Ask him how close he is with that relative/friend

If he’s closeted to a family member or friend, odds are, he’s not that close to them. He’d have to lie about his sexual orientation, who he’s dating, what he’s doing, and a relationship founded on lies, is never going to be a close, fulfilling, or real relationship.

So most likely, he’s not close with the person he’s closeted to. Or, conversely, his relationship is strained, because of all the lies.

3. Ask him how close he wants to be with that person

Let’s say he’s still not out to his mom. His mom has been a fundamental and influential person in his life, and his fear is that she won’t accept him. After being rejected, the relationship he has with his mother would completely die. You believe his fear is based in reality.

His mom really may no longer accept him if she finds out he’s gay. That’s fine. After talking to him about this proceed to step four.

4. Create cognitive dissonance

If he loves this person deeply and wants to have a real relationship with them, then he must come out to them. There is the possibility that this person will reject him for the rest of his life. But it’s worth the risk. The reason why: The relationship that he has with them now isn’t real. Creating cognitive dissonance may help here.

So either he loses a fake relationship founded on lies, or he’s able to build a real relationship with this person he cares for.

5. Tell him how it negatively affects you

Let him know that it’s negatively affecting you. Of course, say so politely. But explain how when he doesn’t want to take pictures with you, because he’s afraid they’ll end up on Facebook and someone might see, that it hurts your feelings.

You feel like you, yourself, are being re-closeted by dating him, and you hate that feeling.

6. Give him a shoulder to cry on

He’s taking a huge risk by coming out to these people. They may reject him and never want to speak to him again. This is real life. Not a Lifetime special.

Related: Tips for coming out gay when older in life

Be there for him in the aftermath when sh*t hits the fan. He came out for himself, but also, he did it for you. So don’t leave him in his time of need.

7. Remind him of why he came out

He may feel remorse after coming out. He may feel that it was a huge mistake, but remind him why he did. Remind him how he’s now free to live his life how he chooses. He can now surround himself with new family and friends — people who love him for who he is.

Remind him that while in the short term it may be crumby, in the end he will be happier and his life will be better, now that he’s out and open.