California Closets

Dear Dr. Darcy:

I’ve been dating a man for almost a year.  We both live in the California Bay area, we have great jobs and I’d really like to move in with him.  The problem is that he used to be married to a woman and his entire family knows him as straight (though I can’t imagine how they, along with his friends, haven’t begun to question our relationship).  Although I’m not the first man he’s been with, he’s never told people that he now identifies as gay.  For him, the idea of moving in together means he needs to come out and despite his age (40), he says he still needs time. For me, this is further complicated because I’m ready to buy a home – I’m done renting, and that means that he would need to comingle funds with me to buy.  Not sure what to do.  Can you help a brother on the West Coast?


Cali Boy, I’m not a big fan of people who are “out” dating people who are not.  I’ve rarely seen the closeted person’s outing coincide with the partner’s timeframe.  Typically what happens is that the partner gives his closeted counterpart time to come out, a year or two passes during which time resentments build because ‘progress’ is not occurring in a very visible or objective way.  As the partner continues to either verbalize or repress his complaints, an emotional wall begins to build between the two until the issue is no longer about one person coming out ~ it now includes months of unspoken or spoken needs that were not met.  In short, it becomes a big mess.  I’m not saying that it’s impossible to make this work ~ just saying that I’ve never witnessed it personally or professionally.

Now, on the outside chance that you’re able to stick with him long enough for him to exit the closet, let me give you some feedback: You’re over-complicating an already touchy issue by looking to merge assets.  Do not attempt to buy a home with this man.  He’s not ready.  Compromises need to occur on both ends, and yours will include living in a home that you rent and which will not be perfectly decorated because it will likely be your ‘starter’ home together and not the ultimate home that you’ll own, gut-renovate, and spend 100K on custom fabrics, wall hangings and furniture.

Baby steps, Cali Boy.  Choose your battles.  First, get the man to a couple’s counselor so that you can begin to have productive conversations about him coming out.  Then rent a home together, knowing that one day you’ll buy your dream home together.  But you’ll get nothing if you try to do too much too soon.