Q: I am currently on vacation with my lover and I am so disappointed and angry.
We have been seeing each other for about 6 months, well not actually just seeing each other, but living together. John, (not his real name), has a job at a high-powered investment company in the Detroit area. He has been working there for three years and is rapidly climbing the corporate ladder. No one at the company he is working for knows he is gay. He even covers up by taking a female friend of ours to some company functions so that he won’t become suspect. This company’s founder and CEO is very conservative so John is afraid he will be put on the back burner, or maybe even fired, if anyone finds out who he really is. John says he will start looking for another job as soon as the time is right but that he can’t afford to right now.
I have been willing to go along with this whole charade because: 1. I knew it would end some day, and 2. We have lots of gay friends and lead a good, although private, life outside of his work environment. Of course there are some things I wish we could do, but I have agreed not to do with John so as not to jeopardize his future. I have lots of friends and go many places without John. In other words, I’m not just sitting home waiting for him.
Well, back to the problem. Now that we are on vacation, in the state of Washington, John is still acting as if he will be found out if he does anything with me outside the hotel. He doesn’t want to go out with me, unless we plan to just casually meet some times. He went as far as to pay for two separate rooms so no one would know we are together. He and I arrived on two separate dates, which I thought was because of a conflict with work. But now, I am thinking he arranged this so no one would know we are together.
When I have confronted him with this last night, he agreed that it wasn’t my imagination and that he was afraid someone would see us and tell his boss. He says you can’t be too careful as you never know who will see you. I can’t believe he is so paranoid. I tried talking to him about my needs to be taken out, to hold hands, to be a couple, but he says I am being selfish. I also want him to start looking for another job, which he said he would but it has to be the right time. He doesn’t seem to get it that at some point I want to be known as a couple. I am so pissed right now I don’t know what to do. How do I convince him that our relationship is more important than his job at this stupid company?
Tired of Dating in the Shadows
A: I can understand why you are filling so angry right now. I imagine you thought you would be able to stop living a lie for a short time while on vacation. It sounds like John lives a closeted life for more reasons than just his job. From what you say, he is probably dealing with internalized homophobia and shame. It is important for the two of you to get clear on what each of your expectations is for this relationship. Right now, I hear that you want to be open, and he wants to be closeted. Some questions for the two of you to explore are: How much longer before he will begin looking for a new job? How longer are you willing to go on living like this? Is he willing to look at his own internalized homophobia? And, what do each of you want for your relationship and are willing to work towards? Good luck, I know this is hard work. If you are having a hard time with this at home, I suggest getting a couple’s therapist to help you both.
Have a problem? Send your letters to: “Dear Jody,” c/o Between The Lines, 11920 Farmington Road, Livonia, MI 48150. Or, e-mail: DearJodyValley@hotmail.com Jody Valley spent 12 years as a clinical social worker. She worked with the LGBT community both as a counselor and a workshop leader in the areas of coming out, self-esteem and relationship issues. The “Dear Jody” column appears weekly.