Holding Hands Through the Keyhole
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Holding Hands Through the Keyhole

The Challenges of Love

Dating someone who is still in the closet brings many challenges to a relationship. Had we all been born without a heart, a libido and a desire to share our lives with "Another," I suspect that a great deal more productivity and creativity would be apparent in our world. Fortunately -- or unfortunately -- we were born with these needs and desires that continue to influence our choices and actions. So, we continue to seek love and lovers despite broken hearts, unmet expectations and frustrated encounters for the magic of a numinous relationship.

The Challenges of Dating

Any dating is stressful. Any dating is stressful. Heterosexuals despair of the practice, despite that their dating activity is supported by multiple social institutions and situations. Most gay men pair up for sex and sometimes surprise themselves by falling in love. The lesbian singles scene is markedly more complex and difficult to navigate. Even among women there is the great divide of lipstick lesbians versus dykedom. Some lesbians are bisexuals, other women are simply exploring the limits of their own sexuality and still others are heterosexuals on the rebound from a disastrous relationship with a man. No other type of dating has quite the capacity to expose one to so many individuals who may or may not actually be who they say or think they are. In addition to friends, online dating services can help you meet lesbians, determine who you might want to get to know better and under the circumstances you prefer.

Adding An Extra Challenge: Dating Someone Still in the Closet

For someone who is already living out, dating someone still in the closet can best be described as "The Olympics of Gay Dating." While there are happy couples who perhaps met and began their relationships this way, there are many more men and women who can describe the pain of being blithely waved off as "a friend" in certain social situations, the inconvenience of meeting only in places where she doesn't fear running into anyone she knows, and the loneliness of holidays spent apart and alone.

Dating = Acting

Dating, in and of itself, is a stressful situation. Essentially, it is an exercise in acting. During a date, most people try to present themselves -- or act -- in the best possible light they can. You know this. When you're out on a first or second date, you're still using your best table manners and double-checking that your role is still an attractive one to your date. In turn, your date is doing the same thing. He or she is acting and playing out her role in order to best attract your interest.

Dating Someone Still in the Closet = Acting2

When you date someone still in the closet, the complexity of the situation is raised by a power of ten at least. Now, you're no longer just interacting with an actor trying to win your attention, you're interacting with an actor who usually behaves like a heterosexual man or woman but is now temporarily acting as your gay date. The locations of your dates are limited, whether you visit her home may be limited and her acting will be limited. After the date is over, she will return to her character as a hetero. You return home to fewer etiquette constraints, but you're still a lesbian woman wondering what character your date will arrive as for your next date. Sound confusing? It is. Sound stressful? More than you might imagine. Even if you've happily lived openly as a lesbian or gay man for years, the stress of the situation will still affect you. Sadly, the situation can add such a layer of complexity to the potential relationship as to stress both parties beyond their abilities to cope.

Is There a Solution?

Yes and no. We fall in love with whom we fall in love with and sometimes distance and difficulty add to the equation of attraction. If so, at least recognize your own choice in the matter. Simply because you meet someone, doesn't mean vows need be exchanged. If a man or woman is interesting but remains in the closet, make a friend. If he or she comes out, be his or her friend. But if you're into rescue fantasies, go to your nearest animal shelter. Your love and attention are just too valuable to be wasted on something that is not meant to be.