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30s and still confused

Discussion in 'LGBT Later in Life' started by Antinous, Aug 23, 2015.

  1. Antinous

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    Hi all,

    [repost from another forum area because "later life" seems a more suitable place.]

    I've been lurking here for a while and finally want to get this off my chest. I feel rather foolish saying it, but I'm in my early 30s and still confused/questioning my sexual orientation. I've never spoken to anyone about this, though it has been an on-and-off issue in my mind for many years. I'd like to try to explain it for anyone where who will listen, and am curious about what you all think.

    General background: I grew up as the youngest of several brothers in a non-religious family. I don't remember any overtly homophobic messages during upbringing. I knew and interacted with several gay adults growing up, but never had any gay family members.

    Where I think the issues began: In high school I was a 'late bloomer' and I didn't really go through puberty until my late teens. From the ages if 14-18 I saw several hormone specialists, and was even given testosterone injections to 'kick start' my development. In the end of the medical journey, I was deemed, "perfectly normal", and just on the late end of the normal spectrum. These experiences, however, took a real toll on my self-concept and emotional health. At the time, I had internalized the doubts of my parents and doctors about my being 'normal', and by my late teens, had all but accepted that I would probably never become a 'proper man' (I know that's a vague statement, but it's how I felt at the time). I never felt the 'raging hormones' everyone seemed talked about, my voice didn't deepen much, never had a wet dream, I didn't really 'notice' girls (or guys for that matter)...hell, I didn't even shave until I was 17. When doctors finally told me I was hormonally and physically 'normal', I remember feeling devastated, because the concept of myself I had built as a 'defective' person was suddenly invalid.

    An upside to my high school belief that I would never become a sexual being was that I focused intensely on academics. I excelled, was consistently top of my class all the way through professional and postgraduate studies. I actually remember thinking "I want a career that completely consumes me" because it would distract me indefinitely from the hang-ups and lingering issues I had regarding my sexuality.

    With respect to relationships, I didn't date anyone or have any sexual experiences until I was 27, when I ended up fooling around (manual/oral) with a long-time female friend a couple times over the period of a few weeks. I remember feeling very anxious at the time, and didn't enjoy the physicality of the experiences as much as I wanted to. This ended and I didn't have any more relationships for a few years.

    At around age30, I started taking an SSRI (for minor depression related to work stress), and interestingly, it gave me a HUGE confidence boost in my approach to relationships. Shortly after I got up to full dose, I met a girl at work for whom I developed a fast, deep infatuation...that was reciprocated! It was an intensely romantic whirlwind, and things got physical very quickly. Frustratingly, I had problems with impotence because of the SSRI side effects. Even after that problem was solved (by stopping the medication), however, I was still unable to climax through penetrative sex (with protection, of course). After a few months, our relationship fizzled out, and I haven't been in a relationship since (3 years ago). I've gone on many first dates, tried the internet thing, being introduced through friends, but nothing has worked. Or more honestly, nothing has seemed worth the effort.

    Now, I should probably explain why I'm writing this on the EC forum. The thought that I might be asexual/bisexual/gay has crossed my mind many times for many years. Here are the things I've noticed:

    When I'm out on the street, I tend to notice guys much more than girls. The attractive people that I involuntarily gaze at tend to be males. When I glance at a couple, I will often immediately forget (or not even notice) the girl, but have an instant assessment of how attractive the guy is. One hypothesis is that I'm just comparing myself to the guys...but another possibility is that I'm genuinely attracted to them.

    When people have asked me over the years, "What's your type?", I've had a really hard time articulating it. I don't find breasts, legs, butts, etc. particularly irresistible. I know attractive women when I see them, but I have a hard time imagining an ideal girl.

    Through most of my teens, I really didn't fantasize about anyone while masturbating, but rather focused on the feeling at hand. When I started watching porn in my 20s, I would view hetero stuff, but slowly noticed that I focused mainly on the guy. I originally thought this was because it helped me imagine myself with the girl. Eventually, though, I realized that all I really needed to get turned on was an athletic guy in the video. The same applies for still photos...naked girls are nice, but I definitely feel more turned on by pictures of naked guys.

    Although I've probably had fewer crushes than your average guy, when I think back, I can more quickly recall the guys in the past who I felt attracted to compared to the girls.

    I can think of a straight guy friend with whom I have an extremely strong emotional attachment. In school, we spent so much time together that many assumed we were a gay couple. We used to ham it up from time to time and 'play gay' in public, holding hands, etc. (he always initiated this), which I admit I enjoyed. In private, however, nothing sexual ever happened -- we had a very straight friendship behind closed doors. Interestingly, each time he got a new girlfriend, (and was less available to hang out), I felt such intense feelings of loss that it was like physical pain.

    Having typed this, I can understand why someone might quickly conclude, "you're gay, mate", but I don't know it for sure in my heart, and I would really appreciate some insight from an outside observer. As I mentioned, I've never had a raging high libido, and I've never felt compelled enough to actually act upon my same-sex crushes. When I read coming out stories here on EC, posters so often say, "I knew I was gay since I was...6...or 13", but that's not the case for me. The time when most people seem to figure out their sexuality was confounded by delayed puberty for me, and that delay had knock-on effects to my identity and confidence as a sexual being. I slowly opened up to sexuality in my late 20s, but have never felt 100% at peace with it. I have had a couple short relationships with girls, one of which was great, but none of which lasted. I realize that I am attracted to some guys visually, and that I form emotional bonds with guys more easily than girls, but I still don't feel driven enough to act on those feelings.

    I am tired of being so unsure of myself, of feeling so alone and isolated with these thoughts, and of potentially missing out on the full extent of joy that life can offer.

    I'm sorry for the long post. It's the first time I've articulated these questions about my sexuality to anybody, and I'm really looking for thoughtful input on my situation.

    Thanks for your :help:
     
  2. Tbob

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    Hi there. Based upon what you have told us here, I would say that you are gay. Although I wouldn't say you have strong denial going on, the mind is very powerful and can suppress a lot of feelings. I was also someone who didn't know from a young age, and for a while I considered the possibility that I was asexual as I didn't seem to have feelings for anyone.

    I think that if you could become a little more comfortable with your sexuality, the feelings would get stronger as you remove a mental block that you may not even realize is there (or might not be as I could be completely wrong!). It's easier said than done though. I would suggest staying around here for a while, ask plenty of questions and don't be afraid to say what's on your mind. I hope I have helped.
     
  3. TeamTeal

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    I think it is a myth to think that all homosexuals knew from the earliest age that they were gay. Many gays/lesbians I know, including myself, came to the realization much later on, during adulthood. There are just as many countless stories of (married) people who come out in their late 30's, 40's and beyond. Up until I was 23, I kept wondering why my relationships with guys were always so short-lived and dull. And it took me meeting the right person to tell myself "ah ok, this is it".

    The way you talk about men generally vs. women would tend to have me think you are more likely to be gay. What you say about "focusing more on the guy" in different situations/settings is quite typical.

    With that being said, the sexuality spectrum is very diverse. You could just be a guy who's not too interested in sex. Or it could also be that you haven't met a guy that you liked enough to want to do something about it. Or both.

    I agree that starting off by staying around here may help. And maybe since you're familiar with online dating you could give it a go with men.
     
    #3 TeamTeal, Aug 23, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2015
  4. Antinous

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    Thanks Tbob and TeamTeal,

    One thing I'm afraid of is the possibility of being outed prematurely before I'm sure myself. In my mind, there seems to be an uneasy conflict between exploring same-sex relationships and the 'risk' of being irreversibly outed by an acquaintance I might run into while on a date. What if that happens and 1) I realize I'm not gay, or 2) I am, but don't feel ready to come out yet? The 'default position' for public consumption is that I'm straight, and I don't feel ready to handle the torrent of gossip if this gets out before I'm sure of what I want. I'm sorry if that worry sounds immature... I've never been terribly good at expressing myself in the face of opposition, and I admire those that have the strength to do so.

    I'm also a little paranoid about the online thing for similar reasons. You know what they say...once something is on the internet, it's there forever.

    Another side note...I live in a big city and am still a university student, so maybe there are some low-key avenues I could pursue there.
     
    #4 Antinous, Aug 23, 2015
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  5. Tbob

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    Let's say that you decide to try out some same-sex relationships and realize you are not gay. Although there is a small possibility you could be outed, I don't believe it is irreversible. People can gossip, but they would soon get bored. If you then started dating women again it would soon be forgotten about. People really don't care anywhere near as much as we imagine.

    The hardest thing to do is to get to the stage where you don't care what people think and you live your life the way you want to. I hope you get there :slight_smile:
     
  6. skiff

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    Hi welcome.

    First: Overthinking. Stop thinking and start living. :slight_smile:

    Second: You know you overthink so make your first gay encounters good ones. Friends first, sex later.

    You are obviously a professional so seek a gay professional group or hobby group that interests you.

    Let life happen. :slight_smile:
     
    #6 skiff, Aug 24, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2015
  7. TeamTeal

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    It's not immature to be scared to be outed against your will when you're not ready, it's quite natural, but I think it's pretty unlikely that you would run into someone you know while on a date with a guy, especially if you live in a big city. You can also decide to meet up a little out of the city, or like you said, explore some low-key avenues.
    And anyway, what happened to grabbing a drink with a same sex friend? Just because you'd be out having a drink with a man won't lead people to automatically assume that you are on a date.
     
  8. Antinous

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    Thanks, skiff. As I read your words, I felt a lump in my throat, knowing that overthinking has been my problem for a long time. When I imagine dipping my toe in the proverbial waters, I'm quickly overcome with fears of losing control or drowning. It's a bit of a lose-lose, because I'm not happy with my lack of a love life either.

    I made an appointment with my university's counseling service today. Will see them Friday. It seems a manageable amount of scariness involved. Baby steps.
     
  9. ArtisticWoman

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    A little something I wanted to share is this bit...

    Before I realized I was a lesbian I used to watch the woman in porn instead of the man. At some point I started fantasizing about being touched by women, or doing the touching instead of just looking at them, and the libido skyrocketed. It looks silly and obvious to me in type but that's not something I had allowed myself to fantasize about before. So that might help?

    Also, there are lots of people who don't experience sexual feelings unless they have an emotional bond with someone, which sounds a bit like you. So maybe an emotional attachment with someone you have a sexual relationship with would send firecrackers into the air. And lots of people just don't care that much about sex or at all for that matter. But I think I see sadness and longing in your writing, so I suspect you have an Adonis that wants to come out who maybe just wants another Adonis, and that your libido will find its way out too.

    The other thing I wanted to say is that its ok you haven't got it all figured out yet. I only acknowledged it at the age of 42, and it happens at all different ages. I'm still figuring it out too. So, as with anything emotionally difficult, go easy on yourself, forgive yourself for not knowing and it will get easier.

    Wishing you all the best and that counseling services is a good and helpful resource for you.
     
  10. skiff

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    I dislike the use of "baby steps" as it is misused often and truly an excuse for being glacial or not moving at all.

    Be honest with yourself and use your analogy of testing the waters more.

    We all know the problems of wading into the water versus jumping in.

    You can jump into the shallow end too. :slight_smile: eventually you have to.
     
  11. bi2me

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    I think small continuous movements can be entirely appropriate depending on the situation. You rarely see a baby give up walking after a fall. Maybe it's my anxiety talking, but I'd rather see myself making incremental progress toward a goal that's too big for me to tackle or even comprehend today than either jump in and freak out and run, or just stand on the side staring at the rest of the group. But I tend to be cautious and measured, and I have relationships in my life that I'm not willing to upset by my sudden moves.
     
  12. skiff

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    Hi

    We all know there are baby steps and BABY STEPS.

    Look at that baby... Reaching out, grabbing, pulling, reaching beyond their current capacity. There is nothing small about their efforts. For a baby those steps are monumental.

    Are you reaching, grasping, striving, giving it your all and willing to fall and hurt yourself?

    Those are how babies take steps. :slight_smile:

    Nothing small about baby steps from their perspective.
     
  13. BidiKlum

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    I think that starting with talking to a counselor (as long as he/she is LGBT-friendly) is a great place to start.

    And maybe a next step - next time you are out, challenge yourself to talk to 1 or 2 or 3 people that you find attractive - male or female. And see what happens...

    Good luck and welcome!
     
  14. Antinous

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    Your suggestion of imagining touching/being touched by the same-sex player in porn is an interesting one, and I'm sure I've imagined it before myself. Of course it's a big turn on. As with any thought experiment, however, I always find ways to rationalize and manipulate the outcome. It's frustrating...like trying to know for certain what a dish tastes like before eating any of it! As the expression goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating of the pudding.

    Wow, that was a lot more vulgar-sounding than I intended. LOL.

    I think you're accurate in reading a streak of sadness and longing in my posts. It's funny, because socially, I'm known as being very upbeat, constantly smiling, and a reliable source of silliness. Those who know me better, though, know I'm almost addicted to the melancholy -- in music, books, film -- it just feels so much more profound, and resonates with something unsettled inside me.

    FYI, I've come back and re-read your post several times -- I find it very comforting to know I have a place to share these feelings and received thoughtful replies.

    ---------- Post added 26th Aug 2015 at 06:12 PM ----------

    Thanks, BidiBKlum! The university psychologist is promised to to LGBT-friendly. I think my issue must be a common one, because the intake form I had to fill out before making an appointment had about 6 possible tick boxes to categorize the main concern, 2 of which were "sexuality" and "sexual orientation" (others being anxiety, depressed mood, etc.)

    Even though ticking the box beside "sexual orientation" should have been easy, I felt my head spinning while doing it. I'd never committed those thoughts to paper before, let alone shared them with another person. Since then, I've felt more emotional/irritable, and my head has been swimming with an intense awareness of my uncertainty. I've found it helpful to come here and read lots of posts by others facing similar struggles.

    I'm not ready tonight, but soon, I'm going to take up that challenge.
     
  15. StillAround

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    Does your university have a Gay-Straight Alliance? That might be a safe place to meet people and/or discuss your feelings.
     
  16. steve200

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    Antinous, I see multiple similarities between my situation and yours. The main ones being our age and overthinking! I recently began taking steps of "coming out" and I started a thread the other day when I joined the sight you might find good to read.

    I need to take my own advice, but try not to overthink things so much. Explore this side of yourself and try to let things develop organically. You're not alone and be patient, when you're bisexual it is easier to closet another part of yourself to where you confuse yourself even more. You should read my other thread if you want, or at least my initial post, it might interest you. Also, I agree with Skiff regarding much of what he said particularly his comments about baby steps. "Baby steps" are great and part of this journey and you should go at your own pace. Try to keep a balance, don't let it overwhelm you, it can be a bit exhausting. Keep being social, do things that you enjoy and that keep you grounded. Although this is a big part of your life, don't let it consume you by overthinking everything.
    Things are going to improve the more you explore and be open to yourself about true feelings. Best.
     
  17. Antinous

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    They have something like that, including a drop-in centre. I've looked at their website, but it seems aimed at people who know they're LGBT. I feel 2 things: 1) some fear about visiting for myself, and 2) that I might be perceived as a fraud, because I'm becoming more serious about questioning my sexuality at the age of 33.

    [Having typed it, I know that point #2 is not legitimate. I guess that's why I'm on the EC forums]

    ---------- Post added 26th Aug 2015 at 07:47 PM ----------

    I've been a little spaced out at work the last two days, and people are starting to notice. I know it's the overthinking of which you speak that's getting to me, but at least I can be happy that I have the fortitude to take real steps to be more honest with myself now, even if it does cause some temporary distress.

    Thanks for your support, Steve. Keep us updated on your journey too!
     
  18. Antinous

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    Something I want to share:

    Last night I was poking around EC and found the "coming out" letters section. As I read them, I cried a messy blubbering cry. Cry, I think, because I recognized myself in parts of their stories.

    First, their was the letter by 'Asteroid'. The big waves of emotion started when he talked about using academics to ignore other aspects of his life, but still yearning to "enjoy life and all that it has to offer". I feel that impossible conundrum -- underwater, aching for a breath but afraid to come up for air. He talks about needing to repeatedly step outside his comfort zone to reach the truth and happiness he has today, and I'm very scared but envious of that. I am still afraid to leave the 'comfort zone' for fear I won't find happiness outside it. I know I need to, because honestly, there's not much comforting in my comfort zone anymore -- just avoidance and distance from my feelings.

    Then there was the letter by 'limfjord96'. What a wonderful letter. It had me crying and laughing all the way through. He describes many of the fears I hold: trying to be good and perfect, but not feeling authentic, the fear that people suspect I'm not straight, the fear of all the sadness and disappointment I will cause if I am gay. His mother's response was wonderful, and I wonder if mine would be so positive.

    In the letter by 'EM68', he is so worried about causing hurt, worry and stress that he held on to the letter for a year until things "settled down", and starts with lines of reassurance before breaking the news. It's like a reversal of the parent/child relationship, but I completely understand it. I felt the tears again when I talked about thinking he just had to meet the 'right' woman. I've been thinking the same thing, and it made me sad to think my hope may have been a false attempt to fulfill of someone else's wishes all along.

    All these letters talk about finding happiness and fulfillment, and I hope that is possible for me. Right now, all I see is a scary confrontation with my denial/confusion, and uncertainty whether I'll come out of this more tangled or in a better place.
     
  19. zuice

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    One can easily feel left out by not knowing one's sexuality. I think that being gay is not just sexual, and that there are straight men seeking gay men to balance the toil of being macho. Likewise gay men are seeking straight men, in order to accommodate the masculine personae within themselves. At any rate, be an idealist, gender neutral and evidence based happy for all favorable invitations.

    Zuice

    ---------- Post added 26th Aug 2015 at 05:15 PM ----------

    I hope all goes well for you on Friday. Remember, one should always ask one's therapist, "By the way, how is your life now being fulfilled?" If the therapist asks, "Why do you ask?" "Explain to him/or her, it's part of my treatment plan, to seek to be encouraged by the success of others. " Good Luck
     
  20. confused04

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    This is interesting. I just recently (as in 3 months ago) started seeing a new therapist, and I don't remember if her packet had anything about sexuality on it--but if it did, I can tell you I left it blank. Her website even says she is LGBT friendly, but I just can't bring myself to talk about it with her. We also have really been focused on getting me on anti-depressants/me believing I am depressed, so that has been the biggest thing the past few months. I 100% understand that fear, as it is sitting in the back of my mind to talk to her about, but am so terrified to open that box.

    EDIT: Woops, I did mess up the formatting--but I responded in that long quote above, under the bolded part :wink:
     
    #20 confused04, Aug 26, 2015
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