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Bi or gay?

Discussion in 'Sexual Orientation' started by doinmybest, Apr 20, 2020.

  1. doinmybest

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    Hey everyone!

    I was hoping to get some advice and help from people who have been through this before. I realized I was interested in men a few years ago, and came out to my wife over a year ago as bisexual.

    Our marriage has suffered a lot since I came out to her. She has trouble trusting me, our relationship, and has very low self-confidence. She really believes that I might actually be gay, and this is just the first step in the process, and that I will leave her later. We've really struggled to get back on track again.

    I believe that I have defaulted to emotionally repressing most "contradicting" things I ever feel and I'm definitely a people pleaser. I have struggled with my sexuality recently though. As I have given it more space and tried to accept it more, I feel like my attraction to men has gotten stronger. Over the course of the year, I've gotten consistently more depressed, my anxiety has continued to get worse, and recently I've started to have panic attacks. I have worked with a therapist, but haven't really gotten anywhere and I haven't been able to see them recently with the pandemic.

    I feel a lot of pressure to figure it out asap, because I don't want to "drag it out" with my wife and waste her time. I don't know how to become more confident in my sexuality though. When I fantasize, it's mainly about men and the last few months I don't have desire with my wife, but I don't know if thats because of my mental health, or if it's because it's just a new thing I haven't tried. Any help would be appreciated.
     
  2. Chip

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    Hi, and welcome. You're definitely in the right place. :slight_smile:

    What you are describing -- the emotional repression of contradicting thoguhts/behaviors -- is very common for somoene in the early stages of coming to terms with not being straight. As we process this loss -- the loss of our straight self -- there are 5 stages we go through: denial-anger-bargaining-depression-acceptance. They aren't always sequential; we can go back and forth, and they can take minutes or months or longer.

    You probably won't want to hear this, but it is also not uncommon for people (anecdotally, men, it seems, more often than women) to discover that as they begin to move out of denial and to accept that they have attraction for other men, the feelings for men grow stronger. And along with this, the feelings for women often start to fade. It isn't that your attraction is actually changing, or that you're "turning gay"; what's going on is you're finally listening to the unconscious part of self that was always there, and conscious is becoming more comfortable with accepting that part of self.

    This doesn't necessarily mean you're gay and not bi; sexual orientation is a spectrum more than a binary or trinary, but where one is on the spectrum tends to stay pretty stable over time (once one gets in touch with where one really is.) Most people, however, do tend to cluster at one end of the spectrum or the other (straight or gay.)

    If your fantasies are mostly about men, that's generally a pretty reliable indicator. As is decreasing desire for sex with your wife. If you are masturbating with porn, try giving up the porn and using entirely fantasy, and experiment with different fantasies in different sessions. Practiced over a few days, this typically gives you a pretty clear indication of where your stronger attractions lie. You can also look back to your earlier teen years and think as to whether there may have been early indicators. I didn't figure out I was gay until my late 20s/early 30s, but as I became more aware, I could look back and remember things like cute guys in clothes commercials when I was a young teen, or finding my eyes looking more at the guys on the beach than the girls. But somehow... this never registered at the time as me being *attracted* to men.

    One thing for sure: The more you talk about it, and especially the fears, anger, and other emotions that are coming up for you as you think about it, the more quickly you'll be able to come to terms with it. I do encourage you to take a breath and give yourself the option of taking some time to figure this out. If it takes a month or three or six... that is more important, in terms of understanding yourself and preparing to have whatever conversation you need to have with your wife, than doing this in a hurry.

    Finally, I always suggest getting Joe Kort's wonderful book "Ten Smart Things Gay Men Can Do to FInd Real Love". It has almost nothing to do with finding real love, but everything to do with understanding and accepting yourself, and there's an excellent chapter in there on heterosexually married gay men. Buying the book doesn't mean you're gay, but it might help you figure out if you relate to what it has to say. It's out of print, but there are usually copies you can find on bookfinder.com.

    Feel free to ask more questions, check back in, and continue to share your thoughts and feelings.
     
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  3. doinmybest

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    Thank you for the thoughtful response Chip. Your description of the 5 stages of grief in this process does seem to make a lot of sense.

    As you become more conscious, move towards accepting, and the feelings towards men grows stronger, is that because you're getting closer to understanding where you are on the spectrum? Or is it more "over indexing" in one direction because it's new?

    You mentioned "if fantasies are mainly about men, that's a pretty reliable indicator." What do you see that as being a reliable indicator of specifically? Sorry, I just don't want to assume I know what you mean. To acknowledge the other part of that paragraph, I don't really need porn and often times don't use it. Since I've come more to terms with my interest in men, I've reflected back to when I was younger and definitely recognize more times where I thought men were attractive, but just repressed it or chalked it up to being something else.

    I guess the biggest challenge is that I don't feel like I have time to figure it out while maintaining my marriage. It's really crushing my partner, and the space doesn't really exist to understand it more. How can I become more confident with where I land on the spectrum?

    Thanks again for the response and book recommendation, I'll be sure to check it out!
     
  4. Snowqueen

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    Hey, it's all a big confusing isn't it? There is no rush for you to apply a label to your sexuality. Just take your time and don't stress too much about things, it's your life and your choice. I began my journey thinking I could live a Bi life, but after years of termoil I realized I'm 100% gay and happy to be so.
     
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  5. BiGemini87

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    This thing is always sort of a doozy, to be honest. I found when I came out, my attraction to women almost entirely overshadowed my attraction to men--likely because I'd repressed it for so long. Eventually it balanced itself back out, and I'm more or less equally attracted to both (I just have specific preferences between the two sexes that translate differently, and it's kind of a sliding scale depending on circumstances).

    You could just be experiencing the backlog that comes from accepting after a long time of repressing, or it really could be an indicator that you're gay, and slowly coming to accept that. Give yourself time, try not to force it one way or the other. I know it's difficult, because your wife is basically leaning on you to make a decision (especially given her lack of confidence in herself and the relationship). But this isn't something that can be rushed. Moreover, regardless of whether you are bi or gay, it's important to reassure your wife that being the former isn't 1) A stop on the way to "gay town" and 2) Also doesn't mean you're more likely to cheat on her or leave her.

    If it turns out your bisexual, your marriage is something that can be worked on, something that can be salvaged--provided you're both keen on it.

    If you are gay, however...well, that's a different matter.

    But again, don't rush yourself; try to be patient, hard as it is.
     
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  6. doinmybest

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    Thank you all for the responses, I really appreciate the insight. I know you're all right in that it can't be rushed. I just feel very "stuck" in the unknown, without really seeing how to become unstuck. I'm so exhausted and worn out from it too, and just struggling through it. I don't want to feel this way any more, both for my sake and my wife's sake because it's so difficult on both of us. I just want to know what I can do to "progress" towards an understanding.
     
  7. doinmybest

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    If you're comfortable with it, can you share what this looked like? How did you come to realize that you were gay instead of bi?
     
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  8. Snowqueen

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    I guess it just got to the stage where I accepted my attraction was exclusively to men, have had a lot of relationships with a woman, still at the moment, which I have to end when the world is back to normal. Woman are amazing, but they hold no sexual attraction for me now, thinking back there were signs, such as appreciating topless guys during the summer and at the gym and whilst swimming, noticing men on TV and for me the biggest clue, watching porn and noticing men and wishing I was the one being made love too, not the woman. I only watch gay porn now as it only gets me off.
     
  9. doinmybest

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    Thanks for sharing the Snowqueen. It's helpful to hear other people's experiences so I can have something to compare my own to.
     
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  10. Snowqueen

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    Your welcome, always here to listen and help.
     
  11. maybgayguy

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    I completely agree with Chip. As time has passed my desire for gay sex has increased and sex with my wife (and women in general) is all but gone. The desire for gay sex was always larger for me than straight sex though.

    A big thing for me was the realization that I wanted to be in a romantic relationship with another man.
     
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  12. Snowqueen

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    Pretty much the same feelings here, like a switch got turned from off to on.
     
  13. doinmybest

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    Thanks for more shares above. So where did you all land than? Did you initially think you were bi, and end up identifying as gay? Or more on the spectrum but heavily leaning towards men?
     
  14. Snowqueen

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    For me, I guess I was always gay, but tried the straight but in denial route, which is the worst way to go, as it just lurks under the surface. Came to ahead for me when I went on a stage weekend and spent 4 days around men in various stages of undress and couldn't stop taking sneaky peeks.
     
  15. maybgayguy

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    I guess the exactness isn’t so important to me. I mean I find women attractive enough. However, I don’t really think about women and I would be ok if I never was intimate with a woman again. The thought of not being with a man though brings quite a bit of sadness.
     
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  16. Snowqueen

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    I can understand that, we all crave love and affection.
     
  17. doinmybest

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    I appreciate all the responses <3
     
  18. xenu

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    This sounds alot like me. I saw myself as gay for awhile, but kind of drifted back to bisexuality. It was just so new and intense.
     
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  19. Chip

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    The former. Basically, the conscious mind is letting down the shields of denial, and the unconscious (which is where the sexual attraction/arousal is coming from) becomes more present in your day-to-day.

    A pretty reliable indicator that you're gay, or at the gay end of the spectrum, more so than in the middle of the spectrum.
    The recollections from childhood that point to same-sex attraction tend to be a very reliable indicator, in part because, as children, most of us have less societal influence to impress on our conscious minds that being gay is wrong.

    Well, Joe Kort's book might be really helpful in that regard. Simply talking about it, as you are doing, is also super helpful. To be really honest, the more you are clarifying, the more it is sounding like you are closer to the gay end of the spectrum than the bi end of the spectrum.

    What sucks here is that there is really no way to speed this up. The "argument" between conscious and unconscious simply takes some time to resolve. Without delving deep into psychological theory, the 'schema' (the set of facts, beliefs, knowledge of the world) you build about who you are has several things that are pretty foundational and core to who we believe we are. For most people, sexual orientation is one of the foundational pieces. And foundational schematic information is basically a base on which many other beliefs about self are built, so we are naturally pretty resistant to change of the foundational schematic aspects of self. It means, in a way, tearing down a lot of what we know about ourself and rebuilding the schema with this new information that doesn't fit into the existing understanding of self. That takes time, and it is, for many, at least somewhat traumatic because it makes us question our existential self, reason for existence, and so forth.

    I've heard some people say "Oh, I want to go have sex with a guy to answer the question" but, in most cases, that doesn't do it. I mean, maybe it feels awesome, but it doesn't change the fundamental need to rewrite the schema, and so I don't recommend it, and I have almost never seen anyone that found it helpful.

    One thing that *does* sometimes help is an exercise borrowed from another of our former advisors, Lex. He recommended taking a few days and simply deciding that, for those days, you've accepted that you're gay. You walk around (granted, hard when we're all supposed to be sheltering in place) and look at guys like it's the most natural thing in the world. You imagine who you might want to date if they were gay. You dream about the perfect boyfriend. You masturbate thinking about guys. You spend time noticing the hot guys in movies or TV. In short, you act as if there's no question that you're gay, and essentially play the role. For a lot of people, that exercise doesn't even take a few days... they know within a few hours that it "feels right".

    That won't solve the issues, but it can at least help with the cognitive shift. The rest -- coming to terms with the loss, grieving the loss of your straight identity, and the "normal" hetero life and so forth -- takes longer in most cases.

    Now... if the 'acceptance' exercise gives you a pretty clear answer, you could start having the conversations with your wife. The risk there is that if you aren't relatively certain and comfortable with the decision -- which essentially means getting through the stages of loss -- then you'll find yourself second guessing the decision, wavering, and so forth. In any case, no matter where you are, you'll find some "OMG am I doing the right thing" and you'll have essentially another whole stages-of-loss if the marriage ends around that. And, mind you, your wife will also have stages of loss to go through with first your being gay (if indeed that's the case) and second, the loss of the marriage. And part of the stages are anger, which means... it will suck at least part of the time. I do strongly recommend you read Kort's book (at least the chapter on hetero married gay men) before having major conversations with your wife.

    The process is no fun to go through under any circumstances. But it is still far, far better than the alternative of staying in a marriage built on inauthenticity.

    Sorry, the above is probably a bummer to read. But hopefully it starts you thinking and helps you move in the right direction.
     
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  20. Snowqueen

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    Gotta say, I agree with chip, have a few days when you only think about men, think about men sexually, and in general, notice how a man looks, his body and how he makes you feel if you notice more than a passing glance, try not to over think things, as this will make you feel worse. Remember, you are the master of your own destiny. Message me if you wanna.
     
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