Monday, September 13, 2010

Confused About Orientation

Hey Dr. Bill, I was reading one of your posts that said "bisexual or lesbian" and it struck a cord with me because some of the self identified bi-women sounded like me, when it comes to men. I like women and at least 98% of the time I am attracted to women. I think about women when I masturbate, when I watch porn I always look at the women, and I long to have a girlfriend. I consider myself to be a 5.5 on the Kinsey scale but I don't know if that's gay or bisexual. One of the only reasons I don't call myself gay is because I have slept with men before(two) and you can never really know what the future holds. I thought I was gay when I was about 13-14 and I came out to my friends and told them I liked girls (I didn't use labels). When I was 15 I told my mom and that didn't go too well. Ever since then it's been a bit of a struggle. I believe if my mom would have been more supportive I would never have been with men at all. I even had a boyfriend for a little while and I even told him I liked women and wanted to have a girlfriend lol. I was even about to ask him if a girl I liked was gay so he could hook me up. Throughout high school I had crushes on sooooo many girls and wanted to be with them but I was too scared to do it. I kinda envied those women who had girlfriends. I'm in college now and I'm still somewhat scared. I'm intimidated by women I like. I find men attractive but I don't find the sex or the relationships to be too satisfying. I get bored with them really fast. As a matter of fact I told a guy that I slept with that I wanted a wife. I don't know...but when I do talk to guys I still think about girls the majority of the time and how I wish I was with them. I'm convinced that if I get a boyfriend I'll end up meeting a woman and I'll leave him. So...I don't know -- am I bisexual or a conflicted lesbian? I notice when I look at a woman's body I'll get turned on but then I'll turn away because I don't want anyone to notice. Am I ashamed? I don't believe I'm self-hating but I'm confused. Also people say that sexuality is 'fluid' and it will change, especially for women. So I don't want to call myself gay and then ten years later I'm really straight. Any advice would be nice. Thanks.

First let's get one thing clear. When people talk about "sexual fluidity" they may mean that someone who is essentially gay may wind up -- for one reason or another -- in bed with a member of the opposite sex, but anyone who tells you that a person's sexual orientation can change -- that a gay person can magically become genuinely straight [at any age] -- is just dead wrong. Someone as attracted to women as you clearly are will not wake up some day and suddenly [or slowly] become heterosexual.

You also have to remember that sexual orientation isn't just about who you sleep with, but who you really desire on both sexual, romantic, and emotional levels, so your two experiences with men don't really count for much. It very much sounds to me that you want to be with women. Some homosexual people with a very tiny attraction to the opposite sex [as opposed to a whopping big attraction to their own sex] often call themselves bisexual for varying reasons, but in reality they are basically gay. I think this is the case with you.

I'm glad you don't feel full of self-hate, but it's possible that your mother's negative attitude may well have influenced how you see yourself and your sexuality. Based on what you have told me, I would have to say that you are definitely a lesbian, and much closer to a 9 or 10 on the Kinsey scale [if we must talk about the Kinsey scale] than a 5.5. And that's okay! If you feel you are consciously or sub-consciously ashamed of this, you can seek counseling or therapy from a gay or gay-friendly counselor or therapist.

Remember that there is nothing wrong with you and nothing wrong in being gay.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Boyfriend Marries Woman

Hello Dr. Bill,

The last few days have been extremely traumatic for me - I am Asian and my ex-partner is too. We met 5 years ago and from the first minute we both just clicked and knew we were made for each other. At that time we were in India and due to the circumstances prevalent there, we both felt it would be better if we moved into a society which was more accepting of gays and where we could be anonymous. Subsequently within a few months he got the chance to study in the UK for a year and we planned that when he graduated and got a job I would come over and join him. Even a year of a long distance relationship did not put a damper on our love - I came over to the UK and we started living together.

I got a job as well and slowly our standard of living improved and all seemed set for us. Yes we were extremely passionate and occasional fights would get very 'hot' and bitter - but we never let it slip out of hand. We even came out to our families and professed love for each other. A few months ago after a fight he tells me he is engaged to a girl in India in an arranged marriage and their wedding has been fixed for August. I was truly perplexed and even after him telling me all this I kept living with him. Till the last day before he was to catch his flight I pleaded with him to not do it - he said he knew it was a mistake but he desperately wanted kids, plus he says our fights used to leave him so shaken that although he loves me he could not live with me any more, it was too late to go back now. He even says he is open to continuing the relationship after his marriage !! He is now probably married and I feel lost and abandoned in a foreign country - my emotions oscillate between anger and a desire to cling to the hope that he may see the light and come back to me.... I know that I will never be a 'side-show' for him - for now I am not even keen on casual sex. I love my man and want him back - Just need advise on what to do..... Take care and thanks.

It's very important for you not to feel despair even during this very upsetting [to put it mildly] situation.

If you are somehow in touch with your lover, there are a couple of points you can make. The first is about children. Gay men do not have to marry women to have children anymore. Many gay couples adopt children, and some hire surrogates [or a female friend] to give birth to children that they, the gay couple, can raise. This has become very commonplace. The second point is that if your temper or temperament is an issue, you can assure your lover that you'll do something about it, and get counseling or therapy to keep your anger in control.

You said you both came out to your families, and you also said that he told you about this arranged marriage after the two of you had a big fight. There are two possibilities. The "arranged marriage" is not real and your lover only said it to hurt you because he was angry, or the marriage is real, and it was forced upon your lover by his parents, who may not have been happy when he told them he was gay.

In either case, you can hope that he will come back to you after a suitable cooling off period, or if he realizes that his marriage was a total mistake.

You may not be in the mood for casual sex, but you still have to get out there, meet people, date other guys. The alternative is to sit around brooding and feeling terrible, and worse, you'll have no support network to help you. If there are any gay centers or bars in your area, you may find friends or at least acquaintances, some of whom may have had similar experiences.

It is also possible that while you may be comfortable with your sexuality, your boyfriend is not. In that case, whatever your feelings for each other, he would not have made a reliable or supportive life partner. He is also showing insensitivity by suggesting that the two of you continue your relationship after he has become married to someone else! [You're not the only gay man to be put in this situation. My advice in these cases is to say you want it "all or nothing at all." It may be tempting to take him back on a part-time or halfway basis, but why should you share someone, especially someone who has the bad taste to enter into a phony straight relationship?]

Maybe this guy will see the error of his ways, but don't sit around and wait for him to do so. I know you're upset and heart-broken right now, but you may find if you go out and meet new men, the right man may be out there waiting for you.

Good Luck! Let me know if I can be of any further help.

Woman with Gay Husband

I am a woman married to a man who identifies as gay. He was out and proud when we met 12 years ago, and was confused to find himself very attracted to me when he is not normally attracted to women. He eventually pursued a sexual relationship with me, basically couldn’t keep his hands off me, even more than any straight guy I’d been with, and after three years we got married. So we’ve now been married 8 and a half years and things have been cooling off a little. I am really not sure what to do. We love each other and want to stay together. I don’t know if this is normal for a 12 year relationship or if it because he is gay. I asked him if he thought his being gay was causing a problem in our relationship and he said “yeah, cuz you get upset if I check out guys in front of you.” I explained that his being gay is not the problem. Obviously men are going to look at people. I had been upset when he was openly disrespecting me and drooling over someone with his gay friends right in front of me. Any woman would be upset by that behavior, whether the guy is checking out men or women or whatever. I do not care at all if he is attracted to men as long as he is attracted to me, and as long as he is polite in public about it. Anyway, I have had lots of conflicting advice from different counselors about our situation. Some think he is just a normal guy and if I treat him as I would treat any straight guy, things will improve. Some say he is gay and will never be fulfilled by me. We think both those views are extremist and inappropriate for us. Any thoughts/advice?

I do have some thoughts on this matter but I don't know if it's what you want to hear. First let me say that you have to understand I am a long-time gay activist whose message has always been that it's okay to be gay, and that the whole point of Gay Rights and an acceptance of homosexuality is that gay men should be with men [to be true to their natures] and lesbians should be with other women. Therefore, I have never been a proponent of "mixed marriages" between a gay man and a straight person [or a member of the opposite sex, regardless of their sexual orientation.] You might say, well isn't gay rights about people being free to be with whomever they choose? No, for me it was about men being free to be with men and women with women. Mixed marriages generally come about due to the unhealthy needs of the two parties involved. The gay partner somehow needs to be seen as straight by society at large [which is where the wife comes in] and the straight partner simply wants to ignore the realities of the situation -- their partner's true sexual orientation -- out of their own, sometimes self-centered desires.

It seems a little odd to me that you say your husband is/was an "out and proud" gay man at one point, when many today would assume he was bisexual. If this is not the case [and without getting into the fact that "bisexuality" can on occasion be a completely false identification, political correctness be damned] then the relationship doesn't seem to make much sense. Why on Earth would you want a gay husband, and then have to play "policewoman" when he's out in public? If he's gay he's going to be attracted almost exclusively to guys -- this is something he simply can't change. It seems you've set up a tremendous burden for yourself by marrying someone who plays for the other team.

I also have to question his motives. You say he was "Out and Proud" but you may not fully understand what that means. There are, sadly, men who are openly gay but who are still full of guilt and shame and for some reason desire a heterosexual relationship. Women who marry guys like this sometimes suffer from self-esteem issues; they feel they can't do any better. So instead of being good friends to these guys and encouraging them to accept themselves, they marry them!

I'm going to be very, very blunt now and wonder just which of you is paying the bills? I don't like the way your husband tries to sort of sidestep the basic issue of his being gay by making it not about his sexual orientation but about your objecting to his flirting with men in your presence; it's a bit disingenuous of him. But I also have to say that your attitude of "I do not care at all if he is attracted to men as long as he is attracted to me, and as long as he is polite in public about it" is completely unrealistic. Even borderline homophobic. Why not just let this guy be gay and find a perfectly nice straight guy -- they do exist!

I have to agree with those who say that a homosexual man can not be completely fulfilled by a relationship with a woman. I have met and known many homosexual men with wives and sometimes families, and while these men may love their wives as best friends and companions, they can feel no true romantic passion for them. Often they fantasize about men while they are engaging in sex with their spouses. If this guy openly flirts with guys in front of you, you have to assume he's hooking up with them as well. One-night stands can lead to affairs can lead to long-time relationships. [I also have to say that I'm bothered by your use of the terms "normal guy" versus "gay," as if I have said anything over the years it is that being gay is not abnormal. Women who think they're somehow "saving" their men from homosexuality are way off the beam.]

I have made it clear in other posts that I have always been sympathetic to women who inadvertently marry men who are homosexual. I have also maintained that women who marry gay guys -- men they already know are attracted to men -- in the hopes they'll change, stay on the straight and narrow, or somehow magically transform into heterosexuals are asking for what they get. Which, invariably, is disappointment.

My advice is to turn your husband into a friend, and look for a genuinely heterosexual man to have a completely fulfilling relationship with.

It's not the twelve years -- it's that your husband is gay.