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.
Please send your relationship and lifestyle questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet them to @NBSeen. You can also send postal letters to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15212
(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)