By admin

He first told me that he wasn’t out to anybody after the third date.

We were sitting outside on my balcony and after far too many wines the conversation veered into new territory. A lot was discussed. I had suspected he was in this situation. He told me that his family wouldn’t understand and that he felt like he wasn’t ready to tell them or his friends yet.

He had never had a long-term boyfriend. Neither had I for that matter and I told him that I understood where he was coming from as I had only recently decided it was the time to “come clean” with the people around me.  Everyone has his or her own experience in coming out of course. For some, unfortunately, it is a terrifying experience.

Let me backtrack to a couple of weeks prior.

I knew as soon as I met him that this was the one. This was the guy.  No more bad dates or failed encounters. This guy was different. This was the type of guy you fell for, and fell hard I did.

He was introverted, softly spoken and quite the opposite to me but he had a dry humor and cheek about him which I loved.

We had our first date at our local pub, keeping it casual. We both lived in the Newtown area and he was a student from across the waters who had lived here for 6 years. I was so nervous meeting him for the first time, even though we’d been speaking for quite awhile. God he hates the fact that we met online. We’ve been together now for 3 years, 8 months and 12 days.

It seems like so long ago.

My best friend had recently made a profile for me on a gay dating website telling me I had to seriously suck it up, get over the internet dating stigma and just try my luck.

This was before the days of Tinder, this was when you had to answer questions about yourself, make a profile about what foods you liked and try and be witty and interesting to gain attention from potential online suitors.

Frankly, the whole thing didn’t appeal to me back then being only a recently out homo and still finding my feet. So my friend eventually makes the profile, with me peeking through my hands on the couch beside her, and we hit CREATE. I looked at her and she said to me“what’s the worst that can happen? You could go on a couple of horrible dates. Big deal!”.

Well go on several bad/boring/interesting/weird/kinda fun dates I did, but that’s a story for another time. Back to the story at hand. I began talking to him one night when I checked my messages after not having checked the site for weeks. He had good chat. He had no photos and barely any info on his profile. I didn’t really care. I just enjoyed the banter.

We kept speaking for a few weeks but it was summer and I didn’t find myself in front of the computer much most of the time so the messages kind of just trailed off.  When I finally did check weeks later I saw that he had asked me for a drink a fortnight ago. My heart kind of went into my chest and I had this weird feeling come over me. I don’t know why. I was really nervous when I wrote back saying I was sorry for the delayed response but yes I’d love to have a drink. Oh god I sounded way too keen with that message I thought. His response was so casual though and we met that Thursday night. He was tall, dark and handsome (the cliché in the flesh really) and he and I just hjt it off immediately. It was relaxed yet not too relaxed. I still felt nervous which I think is a good thing. I love the initial nerves. I could tell we were clicking after we had been kicked out of two bars because they were closing. This was a school night but I don’t think ether of us even realized at that point.

As the third date progressed on my balcony and he told me about not being out to anybody in his life I listened to his stories about his experiences as a teen growing up and it sounded like he had been through some difficult things and made me realise my own journey wasn’t half as bad. He had been through a bad bout of depression, one which he was still dealing with at this time and he apologized. I told him he had nothing to be sorry about. This was our third date. He owed me nothing.

As I mentioned, we’ve been together now for nearly four years. I’ve never met a member of his family. His friends wouldn’t know me if they saw me on the street, which they often do. I’m actually quite chummy with his best friend who works at our local pub. I often wonder as she pours my beer what would happen if I just looked her in the eye, as she made bartender chat with me, and I told her I had been with her best friend for the past four years. Sexually. Shock! Horror! At the end of the day though I would never do that. I couldn’t ever do that. It’s just not me. I’m the “silent partner” for lack of a better term. It’s something which I’ve found isn’t written about enough. I’ve trawled through the interwebs and I didn’t have to go too far until I discovered stories of people in the same situation as mine. Unfortunately a lot of the stories I happened upon ended in tragedy. Stories of men who decided to come out to their families after years of living with their partner only to be treated like dirt and going on to commit suicide after not being able to deal with the whole experience.  I was undoubtedly reading/watching the more extreme cases but it made me think every time one of my friends would ever ask me “why don’t you just give him an ultimatum?”

They don’t ask that question anymore.

He recently just moved into my one bedroom apartment.  This was a HUGE step. One that most couples see as a natural progression, though being with someone who isn’t out can be a very slow moving process. It’s a process that I’ve been through for nearly four years because I am in love with someone who challenges me, who I respect, who makes me laugh uncontrollably at times, who I connect with more than anybody I’ve ever met, who has been with me through so many highs and lows over the past few years, who tells me no when I deserve it but yes when I really need it, and who I find more attractive with each and every year that we spend together. Isn’t that what everyone hopes to have in their relationship? I don’t know the answer to that and I’m not one to speculate because every relationship is different to the next and that’s the great thing about being with someone. Each year has been completely different together and I’ve learnt to forget about all of the outside influences and just focus on us as a pair. What works for us. It’s something I didn’t do for a long time.

It’s funny how things change over the course of a relationship. After the new living arrangement recently we now go grocery shopping, buy knick knacks for the house, have photos of each other around the place, go travelling together, do everything that “normal” couples do.

I guess that’s the whole thing. What is normal? Sometimes I try and justify to myself the pros of my particular situation. Pros: you never have to go to crappy Christmas dinners with his family and wear Rudolph aprons whilst his Aunt Flo gets drunk on the shandies.  You have him to yourself when you’re together and you never have to fight with his friends for his attention. God what happens if his friends actually hated me. That annoying drunk one who always shouts and has to be removed before she makes out with the random bar guy/ vomits in the cab on the way home. Thankfully I don’t have to deal with these situations.

In all honestly though, I would love to have the chance to deal with these situations and these people. Missing out on these moments is something I never thought I’d have to deal with when I first decided I was ready to be in a relationship with a man. “They” fail to mention that part, whoever “they” are. They don’t mention the fact that you will have to wait four years until you finally get introduced as “ this is my boyfriend” for the first time at a backyard party full of strangers. Yes ladies and gentleman this happened only weeks ago. The giddiness I felt hearing these words come from his mouth can’t be explained in only the 1500 word count I’ve been given unfortunately. Suffice to say, I was pretty damn chuffed. It’s the baby steps that count.

Writing this all down for the first time has made me realize how fast the past four years have just flown by. It’s so cliché, but it really does feel like an instant. Our time together has gone way too fast even though I’ve just proclaimed that everything has moved so slow for us. I want to go back. Back to the beginning. I would love to experience it all again. Would I do things differently? I’m not sure to be honest. Would I even be writing this article if I’d given him that ultimatum? Would we still be together? Maybe I’d be having a glass of red with him and his mum right now discussing how cute he was as a baby instead of sitting here as these thoughts pour from my head in a red wine haze. Who knows? The only thing I do know is that I’m looking forward to the future. Being in this relationship with someone who is not openly gay has taught me many things, the most important being; never take for granted the small things you don’t feel are important. Holding hands down the street. A kiss in the park. Helping your partners mum with the salad at xmas. I don’t have these things but I know I have those experiences to look forward too and that they will eventually happen for us. I know I won’t always be the “silent partner”.

Baby steps.

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