SHOULD I STAY WITH MY PARTNER WHO KEEPS ME IN THE CLOSET?

DEAR DALI MAMA:

I have been out of the closet since I was 17 and am in a relationship with a man who is still very much in the closet even though he claims to be out. He told his parents that he is gay but refuses to tell anyone at work about me. I have been to his office after hours and there’s not even a photo of me on his desk or anywhere else in his office. I’m guessing that none of his colleagues even know I exist or know that he is with anyone. I’ve never been invited to any of his company holiday parties even though I feel his company, though conservative, is at least open-minded enough for him to bring me to social functions. I am getting tired of this as it has been four years and I feel I am being kept in the closet with my partner due to his refusal to really claim me as his partner to all of the world. What do you recommend?

–One Foot Out (United States)

DEAR ONE FOOT OUT:

Only you can decide what you need to do. The question to ask yourself is whether the joy and fulfillment you have with him outweighs the resentment and frustration of feeling invisible and hidden in your partner’s life. A relationship counselor might be able to help both of you understand each other’s perspectives in this situation as well to help you as you make your decision.

Also, no one can truly keep you in the closet if you’re out. Be proud of who you are and of your sexuality and don’t take your partner’s reluctance to be public with you personally. You were amazingly self-aware and courageous to come out as a teenager but sometimes others may need more time to have that same level of courage and freedom.

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