October 26


Lesbians Coming Out Late in Life: The Struggle is Real

Let’s talk about coming out later in life and some of the challenges.

When Pam and I met, I was almost 35. To date, Pam has been my longest-term relationship with a woman. However, I wouldn’t categorize myself as someone who came out late in life. I’ve always known who I was; I just seldom dedicated my life to long-term romantic relationships with anyone, really. 

I dabbled here and there, in relationships with men and with women, but this long educational journey of mine really kept me from investing too much and too long into relationships. I was, instead, a serial monogamist: one short-term (measured in years, not months) but exclusive relationship after another.

Pam was not my first truly long term relationship, and neither was she my first relationship with a woman. But she was the first time those things occurred together. It was a learning curve for me.

So while I would not categorize myself as someone who came out later in life (my first relationship with a woman was when I was 20), I have some understanding of the unique challenge faced by those who do.

As we fall further into the abyss of middle age, Pam and I come across quite a few women who are either newly out to those around them or even newly out to themselves.

Many of these women are in a space where they are both trying to learn about themselves and also learning how to date women AND trying to find women to date.


Every year, I host a discussion session on my campus where we talk about lesbian relationships. While there are a lot of things that are consistent across relationships, there are some issues that are unique to women dating women. We discuss many of these things in our blog.

I’m a psychologist. I’m a big proponent of knowing oneself and being honest about what you know about yourself. It pays out big in so many ways. 

Building positive and healthy relationships, both romantic and otherwise, with people who complement you is one of the ways in which knowing yourself pays off in huge ways.

So now you know yourself. You’re learning more and more about dating women.

What about finding her? That’s the part that gets more challenging.

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, as we get older, people are paired off. Pam and I are hard pressed to think of many lesbian single friends. An already small dating pool is made smaller the older you are. That’s just the hard truth.

Here’s another: of the women who are still single (or newly single), probably a disproportionate number of them, are not ideal mates for reasons you’ve probably already experienced, unfortunately.

They have not had successful relationships for reasons that likely became pretty obvious the more you talked to them.

There are a lot of such women swimming in the dating waters at this age.

It can really leave you feeling like either women are a bit nuts or that lesbian dating in general is just a hodgepodge of hopelessness.

I don’t say this to discourage you.

Instead, I say this so that you know that you likely will have to try a little extra hard to find “her.”

You may have to revisit the things that are most important to you and decide what are things that are must-haves and what things are just nice-to-have and adjust your boundaries and expectations accordingly.

I’m not telling you to settle (more on that next week). I’m telling you to consider a comfortable spot where you can still feel satisfied with your choice in partners and not like you are giving up something you really wanted.

There are women out there. There are women out there without horrible relationship track records or traits that make them less-than-ideal partners. But if you open your possibilities and they open theirs, then you’ll be more likely to find each other.

How willing are you to keep an open mind?


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