Recognizing And Navigating Suspicions Of A ‘DL’ Partner

As you'd imagine, deciphering this complex situation will take empathy, comprehension, and introspection. 

Woman and man after a disagreement
Photo by Alex Green

In the maze of love and relationships, the modern-day woman may occasionally struggle with doubts about her partner’s genuine motivations, especially if she suspects there could be someone else. 

Much like the title reveals, this story touches on a complex topic in relationships. How do you recognize if your partner is on the DL? And how do you move forward if your suspicion proves to be true?


Men who have hidden gay connections while also being in straight relationships are often referred to as being “DL” or “on the down low.” 

As you’d imagine, deciphering this complex situation will take empathy, comprehension, and introspection. 

Identify The Red Flags

Identifying the red flags can be complicated and require deep contemplation. 

It first starts with the following question: are these warning signs exclusive to someone on the DL, or are they indicators of general dishonesty? It’s important to remember that the majority of “DL” red flags mimic symptoms of adultery, such as absence, secrecy, and emotional isolation. Keep in mind that these indicators are not permanent. What is a red flag for one person may not be a red flag for another.

Friends may chime in with their own observations. While their intentions are usually rooted in concern, it’s crucial to weigh their words judiciously. Never dismiss their sentiments entirely, but also, don’t allow external opinions to cloud your judgment.

Have A Truthful Conversation 

Approaching such a delicate conversation requires bravery. When you sit down with your partner, do so compassionately and without anger. Legitimate concerns about safety and faithfulness must be addressed but in a non-hostile manner. 

Understand that if your spouse does come out, they are revealing a great deal of vulnerability. This could be their first step toward living in their truth. Your reaction can either support or negate their experience.

Woman and man sitting on a bed after a disagreement
Photo by Alex Green

It’s Not You…

It’s crucial to remember that a partner’s choice to be on the DL is rarely about their significant other. 

Women often grapple with self-blame when faced with such revelations. However, it’s imperative to realize that a partner’s DL status isn’t a reflection of inadequacy or any shortcoming on your part. Rather, it speaks to societal pressures and personal struggles.

Society, with its relentless demands and standards, can sometimes push individuals into hiding their true selves. As a gay African-American man, I can attest to the daunting challenges of embracing one’s authentic identity in the face of potential rejection. Many might choose the easier, less tumultuous path over the rocky road of authenticity. 

The Next Steps

The hurt can be deep, but decisions must be made. Ask yourself, are you comfortable with a partner who has inclinations toward both genders? Our evolving world sees more individuals accepting and embracing such dynamics, but every individual’s boundaries differ. It’s okay to decide that a particular situation isn’t for you. Ultimately, it’s about making choices that prioritize your well-being.

As you navigate this terrain, it’s vital to remember that every individual’s journey to authenticity is unique. While deceit and dishonesty are not justifiable, understanding the roots of such behaviors can foster empathy. 

Instead of a world that pushes individuals to conceal their truth, let’s strive for one where everyone can unabashedly be themselves.

Corey 'Rex Wes' Wesley is Harlem's branding guru, dating savant, and rising music star. The multifaceted powerhouse prides himself in defining Harlem's modern era.