Can a Late Bloomer Really Not Know Until Midlife?
Yes. In the most common scenario, the late bloomer is married and tied closely to her community. But it happens to singles as well.
What helps to launch the coming-out process is that something changes that gets her out of her comfortable little niche. Perhaps she takes a new job or joins a group or committee.
This change places her in the path of lots of different women and eventually, she finds one she admires. Let’s call her The Catalyst (TC).
If she is at work, then TC is likely to be her boss or someone she works closely with most of the time she’s there.
Such frequent contact leads to admiring her even more. Maybe she even begins to care more about her appearance and consider her words and actions carefully because she wants this new friend to think well of her.
Because they are spending so much time together, they become close.
Does she notice that whenever she is around TC, the air seems alive and vibrant? That laughing with her is more fun than any other part of her day? Does she realize how important TC has become to her?
Not at first. But she is aware that she finds herself thinking a lot about TC. And she may realize that seeing her friend is the best thing about her part-time job or the most fun part of the weekly committee meeting.
Eventually, it dawns on her that she has a crush on TC.
But that is not the coming-out moment! It may still be a while before she connects the dots. She may not take it seriously, assuming that it is just a really strong friendship. But finally, she will become aware of sexual thoughts about CW and that is when it will dawn on her that something is happening outside the realm of friendship.
That moment is the one in which she begins to come out to herself.
Challenges of Coming Out at Midlife
1) Single lesbians have to let go of the myth of Prince Charming and a walk down the aisle with a man. For married lesbians, coming out may dismantle the illusion that working on the marriage is what will make them happy again.
2) A common and realistic fear is that society will disapprove. If the late bloomer has “done everything right” up ’til now, traditional marriage, couple of kids, a house and a dog, daring to be different is a daunting proposition.
3) If their families don’t know, that might be an even bigger challenge. Worry about how family members will react often keeps late bloomers quiet.
4) If they are active in churches that are not open and accepting, then that is another hurdle they may dread facing.