DEAR NATALIE: I recently broke up with someone that I thought was going to be my life partner, and I am feeling a little lost. It seems every great girl out there is either taken or just not interested in me. But I met a girl at work, and we really hit it off. The problem is, she is married and clearly not out to her conservative family. We have been sneaking around for a few weeks now. All we’ve done is kiss, but it’s clear that she is gay and just afraid to tell her family and husband. I don’t know what to do. I am falling for her and afraid of getting my heart broken. — IN HIDING
DEAR IN HIDING: This has disaster written all over it. First, having an affair with someone you work with is a terrible idea. Factor in the fact that she is hiding her sexuality from her family and husband and you have a catastrophe on your hands — and guess who will be its first casualty? Yes, you. How do you know she even thinks she is gay? She might just tell you that she is experimenting, or unsure of what she wants, or perhaps she doesn’t want to label her sexuality.
This could go one of two ways if she does reveal her affair: 1. She comes out to her husband, reveals her sexuality, falls in love with you and the two of you live happily ever after. 2. She comes out to her husband, he freaks out, her family freaks out, everyone blames you for her “confusion,” and you get your heart broken because now she resents you for blowing up her life. If she doesn’t come out, you are stuck back in the closet by default because your partner is married and cheating in secret with you.
So what should you do? I can’t tell you that. I know that the heart wants what it wants, but I am worried for you. I am worried that this isn’t going to end well and that you will be hurt badly. I don’t want you to think that the best you can do is be cloaked in secrecy, unable to express your love freely. You deserve to be loved wholly and completely by someone who can share and revel in that joy. I worry that this may hurt your sense of self-worth and make you uncomfortable in your own skin. If you were my friend, sister, aunt or colleague, I would tell you to take a step back and re-examine the relationship. Are you really falling for her, or are you just falling for the idea of being in love? If you truly have feelings for her, you may need to give her an ultimatum that either she comes out or you have to move on. You can’t keep yourself in limbo, and if she cares about you, she wouldn’t want you to be in that place, either.
DEAR NATALIE: I went out on a date with a woman I met online. I haven’t been on a first date in a while. She and I are both in our early 30s. Before dessert had even arrived she started talking about how she wants to have children and if I don’t want children there really wasn’t any reason to continue the date. I was so taken aback that I told her, “No, actually I don’t want kids,” (which isn’t exactly true, but she caught me off guard and I was weirded out by it), and she basically ended the date. The sad part is, she was really funny and cute — or so I thought. I guess my question is, are all women over 30 baby crazy? Should I be prepared for an interrogation every time I go out? — BABY ON THE BRAIN
DEAR BABY ON THE BRAIN: I can assure you that not all women over the age of 30 are baby crazy. In fact, I know plenty of women who have very little interest in having children. But, the only way you will find out which woman is right for you is to keep dating. I know it can seem overwhelming, but relationships take time to grow and build. In fact, this woman did you a favor by being so upfront about her feelings. She wants a partner who wants kids, and you hesitated, so she bolted. While it made for an awkward conversation with the waiter when he or she came by and saw you sitting there alone, dazed and confused, it works out in the long run because she didn’t waste your time. Moving forward, I doubt you will experience that kind of directness (for better or worse) with women, but don’t get discouraged. As I read on the inside of a bottle cap once, “There is a lid for every pot.”
Natalie Bencivenga is the Post-Gazette’s Seen and society editor. She has a master’s degree in social work from the University of Pittsburgh. Need advice? Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Natalie on Twitter @NBSeen and on Instagram @NatalieBenci.