5 Tips On Dating a Girl Who Is Only Kinda Sorta Maybe Out To Her Family And Friends

As somebody who is kinda sorta still in this position — despite dating women now for over seven years — I feel as if it’s almost my duty to offer you some insight and advice on how to make this less-than-ideal situation work for you.

To give you a bit of background, as far as my parents were aware I was straight, right up until I brought home my first girlfriend. It went a little like this:

Me: Dad, this is Stef. She’s staying at ours tonight.

Dad: (looking at Stef, who had a shaved head and was wearing a t-shirt that read ‘Saturday Night Beaver’) Hi Stef. Can I get you a drink?

And Stef stayed at ours pretty much every other night for the next 3 years.

That being said, nothing regarding my sexuality was really openly declared or spoken about until we broke up, at which point it became hard for my family to have a conversation at the breakfast table due to the horrendous wailing coming from my bedroom.

Since then, I have dated other women, one guy (it was a weird time in my life okay) and finally, my current girlfriend Tahlia. Whilst the ‘L’ word still hasn’t been brought up, I now bring Tahlia to all of my family events, refer to her openly as my girlfriend on Facebook and upload photo upon photo of her doing cutesy things like ‘sleeping’ and ‘wearing a hat’ to Instagram, followed by 52 love heart emoticons.

Put simply, everybody knows — even if we don’t refer to it specifically. Interestingly, however, when I first started dating Tahlia, she was a few years behind me on the coming out timeline. A good four years my junior, she had moved to the big smoke from the coastal town she grew up in and although her mum was all over it, other family members and childhood friends still were none the wiser. This made for an interesting first few months, especially as for once I was the “friend” who was suddenly making appearances at family functions, something I’d never experienced before.

To those who are experiencing similar situations, I give you my 5 top tips to surviving the awkward “This is my…..friend….” stage.

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How to Date A Girl Who Isn’t Really Out Yet

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1. Be understanding

via cutestpaw.com

My number one tip with a situation such as this is to put yourself in their shoes and try being a little bit empathetic.

Yes, it can suck having to be the “dirty little secret,” or not being able to shout your love from the rooftops but remember what it was like for you when you were first trying to figure things out. “Confusing,” “scary” and “overwhelming” are just a few adjectives that spring to mind. At the end of the day, if they care enough about you then they will want to share it with their family and friends but pushing them into a conversation they aren’t ready to have isn’t going to do anyone favours. Ask her about her reasons, and genuinely try to understand them.

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2. Get familiar with the ever-changing privacy settings on Facebook

via giggledaily.com

As someone who is a huge Facebook-er (if you ask me, ‘Checking In’ to a venue comes right after ordering the food and before the first sip of a drink) it was very tricky trying to remember what I could and couldn’t put on my Facebook wall…or more importantly, her Facebook wall.

Uploading photo albums of your sneaky little trip up the mountains and tagging her in every single shot probably isn’t going to go down well if she still hasn’t told Aunty Sue and Cousin Felix that she’s now decided men aren’t really her thing. If in doubt, just don’t upload it.

As for the official Changing of the Relationship Status Ceremony, that’s a whole different ball game. Take my advice and compromise with “Is in a relationship” and be happy to leave it at that. Six months down the track and I still haven’t managed to convince Tahlia to publicly link our profiles.

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3. Make an effort with their family and friends

via cat-lovers-gifts-guide.com

Whether the family is gay friendly or not, it pays to make an effort with them if you happen to be invited along to an event. Remember, this is a huge deal that you’ve been included, especially if your partner isn’t out. If you spend Sunday roast sulking on the couch because she won’t hold your hand except for under the dinner table then you’re only going to leave a bad impression behind.

Ultimately, all the family want is for their little Sally or Sarah to be happy (hopefully, at least), and if they believe you to be a warm and caring upstanding citizen of the law then chances are it won’t sting as much when Sally/Sarah breaks the news to them later down the track. Think of it as scoring overtime points before the game has even begun.

via myspace.com/rebelofcourse2

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4. Ease her into the gay scene

Now I can’t speak on behalf of everyone but I can tell you, as a Sydney-sider, the lesbian scene is pretty fucking insane. Not only that, but going out in the lesbian scene requires a certain level of confidence… or at least seven tequila shots before leaving the house.

A Wednesday night in Newtown can be anything from a few quiet ciders at the pub, surrounded by 80 of your closest lesbian friends/ex girlfriends/current girlfriends/women you used to share a dog with to a 4am sweaty grind up and down the Sly Fox stage where you get home only to find your clothes reeking of Amyl.

May I suggest that if your ladylove isn’t fully out and proud just yet, chances are they aren’t going to be so comfortable at one of the said lesbian nights. In fact, you may scare them off entirely. Perhaps start off with a daytime pub lunch with a few select lesbian friends and see how you go from there.

via photographysaga.com

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5. Don’t take it personally
Finally, if there is anything I can urge you not to do, it’s to try not taking it all so personally.

“What do you mean?” I hear you shriek, “How can I NOT take this personally? She is clearly embarrassed of me/doesn’t love me enough/doesn’t see the point telling her family as it’s not going to last anyway….”

Stop right there! You can’t think like that because I can almost guarantee you it is simply not the case.

Believe it or not, she is probably not 100% out to her friends and family for reasons that have absolutely zero to do with you personally.

You taking it to heart is only going to make you feel like shit and make her feel pressured to prove you wrong by telling everybody you’re together, something you’d rather she do on her own terms, in a positive light. Believe me.

Give her time, give her love and support and when she’s ready to whack the rainbow flag bumper sticker on her car, then she will.


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Profile photo of Tully

24, single white female with too much time on her hands and a fatal obsession with social media, travelling, food and creating an abundance of online time capsules otherwise known as blogs.

Tully has written 5 articles for us.

55 Comments

  1. Thumb up 7

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    I think number 3 is a good one to keep in mind. In my experience, parents have an easier time taking the coming out news if they know and like the person you are involved with even before they were aware that the two of you were more than just “best friends”. When it’s a stranger or a “friend” that they have had unpleasant encounters with in the past, well it’s going to be an uphill battle.

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      Exactly. I lived #3 when I was in that situation, and I think it helped a lot after the inevitable coming out that I was a living, breathing person who they liked instead of a scary green-scaled beast who stole their daughter away.

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      Parents make the whole sexuality label a big thing. Being gay isn’t seen as a great thing in my family so for me to be out properly I’ve decided to wait for a girl worth coming out for and ease that girl into the family so my parents can like her and get used to her company.

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    So true. So very true. I think this is really helpful and relative advice for anyone in the situation. I’ve dealt with this more than once, and I can’t stress enough how you shouldn’t “take it “personally” ! Though it takes some time to accept that part.

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    You can also personalize your privacy settings on your relationship status. When I wasn’t out to my extended family but was in a relationship on facebook with my girlfriend, I just made it so none of my cousins could see my status.

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    Nice post and relevant to yours truly. I’d like to buy a vowel… err solve… err add to the “puzzle”…

    1. Be understanding – This is key to any relationship (platonic and romantic) really, if there isn’t any understanding there isn’t going to be a connection, period.

    2. Facebook – I don’t do Facebook (I abhor those things), however privacy is a BIG deal to me and my personality. I’m an introvert (shy as well) and I’m not a fan of PDA at all, regardless of “insert relationship label here” status, etc. Sorry, I’m not velcro (at least not in public), nor am I the fiddler on the roof. Understanding in this department is key for me. Besides, I’m more interested in what “we” share as a couple. I could not careless if other people knew our business, in fact, imo it’s none of their business, but ours.

    3. Nothing to add here.

    4. As for the ease her into the gay scene, part of me kind of cringed here. First of all, I don’t like to be pressured, even slightly into any scene, I will do it on my own accord. You can suggest it to me, but if you insist or do it in some manipulative way, then yeah, shit will hit the fan and it won’t be pretty. I’m not much of a “scene” person, regardless of race, class, sexual orientation, etc. I find that “niche”-like groups tend to be cliquish (not always of course) and I usually feel uncomfortable in groups such as those, even if I identify partially with said groups, it feels claustrophobic and stagnate for me and very limiting… I don’t know how else to really describe that, perhaps that’s just me? I rather just live our lives outside of “groups” and “scenes” if that makes sense. My ‘fierce independence’/’free spirit’ goes nuts when there is anything that mentions “scene” “group” or “community.” Immediately I want to shout, “I’M NOT PART OF YOUR GROUP, DON’T LABEL ME, I’M DIFFERENT! JUST BECAUSE IT “SEEMS” LIKE I BLEND IN, DOESN’T MEAN I’M NECESSARILY PART OF IT. I’M A CHAMELEON AND I ADAPT TO ALL KINDS OF ENVIRONMENTS….LOOK! I JUST TURNED INTO A TURTLE AND YOU THOUGHT I WAS AN OSTRICH!” I’ve never really fit in anywhere in my life (externally), except for my own skin. *shrug*

    *Also, sometimes it’s not about being comfortable with themselves and the scene (which is assumed quite a lot on this site I’ve noticed), but other things that people may not have factored into the situation. Someone can be comfortable with who they are (be it gay, straight, queer, lesbian, sexually fluid, etc), but may feel it is not necessary to be the “voice,” “beacon” “raised fist” “knight in shinning armor” of a “group.” Sometimes people just want to “BE” you know?

    5. Definitely agree here. People have their own process that they have to take care of, on their own and you cannot do that for them, but what you can do is be supportive, patient and understanding. Those three things are not always easy, especially if one of you is on a certain level of personal growth and the other is on another level (again this can apply to any relationship), but whatever the case may be, it’s rather nice when you have that with someone, as those are the keepers.

    Anyways, that’s my 2 cents for whatever it’s worth.

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      Co-Sign your thoughts on number 4. I am so not a scene/club/bar person. It’s not because I’m uncomfortable, it’s because I just don’t like doing those types of things. I am just as uninterested in hanging out all night at a ‘straight club’ as I am at a lesbian one. You don’t have to be apart of any “lesbian scene” to be out.

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        Indeed, being around loud obnoxious people is a total turn-off (most bar/club/scenes are like that), plus I don’t like to be around hordes of people for long periods of time, it becomes overload for me (I need my space), otherwise I get irritated. Being squished like sardines in a room that has reached maximum capacity is not my idea of fun, but I digress. Also, Türk mısınız?

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      Oh yeah, if you try and pressure me into something I will run in the opposite direction. I do not respond well to that at all. Basically the more someone pressures me the more of a guarantee it is that I won’t do whatever they’re trying to pressure me to do.

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    When I saw the title of this article I knew that this would be great but not that I was doubting it would be crappy, I just felt it would be very fun ya know? I love this! Now I think I can take baby steps to looking at dating girly girls and not just my common type (butch) because believe me I have had those daydreams (ranging from decent to not-so-decent) of dating femmes like me. I have always said that butch lesbians are my type, having had dated 3 and on my 4th right now. I have always reasoned out that I am at ease dating somebody who is out of the closet because I can’t bear the idea of being a catalyst or to expedite the coming out of a not-so-out person, and that I myself had a process I had to go through before hence she should do it on their own. But now I have realized that I am being selfish and that I should reach out and be of help especially since I went through with it already. Kudos to Tully! The pictures of the cats are so cute by the way ;)

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        Let’s see indeed haha I am currently in a monogamous (and long-distance) relationship so going out with a new girl (femme) is not the best idea but yeah I guess it would be a rather lovely change. Surely your tips would be engraved in my mind! ^___^

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          I also agree by the way for item # 3. Before, I was into those linking FB profiles when I am in a relationship but after my 2nd gf (which was an open-book I almost felt like I was a local celebrity everytime we posted something) I kind of kept it to myself not because I was ashamed of her or of myself but because I didn’t want people butting into my (our) business. Privacy nowadays are kind of a privilege so…

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    So relevant right now! As a bonus, we’re also poly and she is the newer of my partners, so things are pretty convoluted. Some folks think I’m monogamous with one of them, some of them with the other, my new partner’s dad actually thinks she’s straight and single, and only my ridiculously chill hippie parents know the whole shebang…
    I also might meet her mother on Skype soon. Trying to not be too nervous.

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    You learn something new every day. To be honest I didn’t really know there was/is a specific lesbian crowd. (If this sounds at all offensive it is not mean to)

    Another entirely irrelevant piece of information could be that I am a male.

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    Waaa! I just started dating a girl who isn’t out to her family and it’s fine. It’s mildly entertaining, quite honestly that her family maybe kinda sorta knows but doesn’t want to deal.
    I came out by bringing my girlfriend home and haven’t looked back since! I wouldn’t change a thing!

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    I definitely felt this way with my current girlfriend, it was hard to NOT feel like she didn’t love me or was embarrassed when she wouldn’t introduce me to her family. I had to realize though that me and her were in two different spots emotionally and being comfortable with our sexuality. Instead of getting all “butthurt” I needed to learn how to be understanding and more importantly be there for her so I would be the one she’d want to introduce to family.

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    Great article. My girlfriend has been the patient one with me and you’re absolutely right, I was never not-out because of her. If I could have, I’d have loved to have told everyone I knew because I was so happy, but it was my mum who put the brakes on and said she didn’t want me telling the wider family.

    Fast forward a few years and some serious rows with my mum, and the whole family knows (and no one cares, as I predicted, HA, take that Mum!) and we’re getting civil partnered next year and everyone’s invited :D Yay!

    But it would have been really tough if my OH hadn’t been so understanding about the situation and got that it wasn’t embarrassment or shame on my part that kept me from telling people.

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