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Dating on the Down Low

— By 15 September 2014

I always assumed being in a relationship with someone of the same gender meant I had to come out to family and friends. Like, as soon as my hand-holding went from platonic to vaguely romantic I had to give up my closeted life and put on a rainbow sweater with comic sans text saying “LADIES LADY”. With my first kiss, I would probably be cursed to start every sentence with “as a young lesbian...”

Well, as a young lesbian, I was so wrong. I dated a girl for seven months while in the closet. She was out to one of her parents, and all of our friends. I was out to her, and a few others.

Sure, the dynamic took us a while to get around. She was easy going with the relationship, but man I was terrified someone would find out. Walking down the street and passing someone from school I would enact every variation of “NO HOMO” I could think of.

Laughing loudly and saying, “hHahaHA, my friend here!”, awkwardly punching her arm and walking a few meters in the other direction and sometimes even being really passive aggressive towards her. It was awkward as fuck, and so unnecessary.

I’ll tell you a secret, you don’t look nearly as gay as you think. Your parents cannot read your thoughts when you get home from a date and see you thinking about your love interest. Let me learn you some things from my experience.

You don’t have to make an excuse every time you visit your partner’s house.

Literally every time I went to her house after school I would tell her parentals I had forgot my history book there, or I needed to copy notes. Honestly in my mind it was like “it must have looked so suss having the same girl come over once a week", even though their kid has friends over every other day.

Take a deep breath and embrace the fact two girls hanging out together isn’t the weirdest thing ever. You’ll be fine. Unless your parents walk in on you two on top of each other (more talk about that later) you’re going to be fine.

It’s not the end of the world if someone walks in on you.

Ok, so one time I was at my girlfriends house. We were kissing and being cute and we didn’t hear her mum come through the door. We panicked, like she could see the lesbian—ness in our eyes. She said a polite hello to us and went on with her business. Sometimes we forget, but parents can be pretty oblivious about their kids’ relationships. And if you’re in the closet, take advantage of that sweet, sweet blissful ignorance.

You may outgrow your closet. 

Sort of like how a hermit crab grows out of their shell. The closet isn’t a yes or no situation, you can be out to your friends and not your parents, or out to one sibling and not the other. You can take as many small or big steps as you need.

Don’t feel rushed. I got pretty sick of having to lie to my friends about why I hung out with this one girl all the time. I took a few weeks to explain to my friends that I was in a relationship with a girl. It took me months before I could tell my family about it. But honestly, if you’re not feeling it, don’t worry about it. There’s no rush.

There’s no set relationship structure. 

Your relationship is unique to you and your partner. No matter how hard you search (and trust me, 16 year old Indigo did a lot of searching) there is no perfect WikiHow page telling you how to have a relationship. You’ll run into bumps along the way, whether you’re out or not. It all depends on your individual self and the environment you two are in at the time. You’re not in a scripted TV Show, and that’s ok. I was expecting a Modern Family gay couple thing and I got frustrated when it didn’t always work out that way. You’ll find your own flow eventually.

Take your time. 

Your feelings are valid. Being in your first relationship takes up a lot of energy, and for most people it’s a big learning curve. Even for people out to their parents, there’s a lot of psychological barriers you’ve got to jump over. Learning to accept yourself takes a lot of time. Accepting yourself as part of a couples takes time too. Breathe deep, take your time, and as dorky as it sounds, listen to your heart.

Most importantly. 

Never think your partnership means less than others. Dating when in the closet can be just as enjoyable as dating while you’re out to the entire world. You’ll experience awkward, amusing and lovely moments regardless of how many people know what’s going on. Time spent in the closet isn’t time wasted, it’s time spent looking out for yourself and your own wellbeing. There’s no rush.