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Coming out at 35 in NYC

Discussion in 'LGBT Later in Life' started by nerdbrain, Aug 24, 2014.

  1. nerdbrain

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    Hi everyone,

    I'm new here and this is my first post. I've known/suspected I was gay since I was 18 or so but have managed to repress it for a long time because I can have sex with women. But I've always felt something was missing -- many of you already know the drill.

    I'm married now to a wonderful woman who is my best friend, and the thought of hurting or betraying her is crushing me. I work from home; lately I've been sitting by myself and sobbing or screaming. I am filled with shame at the idea of hurting the one person who has always loved and supported me. I am so resistant of actualizing the gay fantasies that to date have only existed safely in my head. My identity is built around me being straight; I am terrified of tearing it down and having to make a new one.

    I often feel like a coward for not confronting this sooner. I live in New York City so the idea of being closeted can seem utterly absurd -- gay people are everywhere. But the pain I'm experiencing is real and intense, and I don't want to make life-altering decisions in a state of desperation.

    I yearn for gay friends, to be my true self around people who accept it. But honestly I don't even know what that true self is.

    Of course I'm in therapy, but that's only 2 hours out of a whole week of being alone in my head. Anyone who has been there -- your help and perspectives are greatly appreciated.
     
  2. YaraNunchuck

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    There are many people in your situation here, and those who have already been through it will tell you: it gets better. You will overcome this moment. By coming out to yourself, you have already won 90% of the battle, in my view. That was the hardest thing for me - I was in deep denial through my teen years and early twenties - and coming out of that *is* a real achievement. (*hug*)

    Do you want to come out to your wife? I personally think, done appropriately and at the right time, you should prepare yourself for doing this. I defer of course on this matter to the many older EC people who have experience of this. People in the later in life section who are/have been straight married often tell people to expect rough patches after they come out - it's not a panacea, but can be a liberating step to a better life.

    I also wanted to say how much I relate to your point about being in New York. I grew up in London, a similarly progressive world city, and have spent much of my life there. I've seen happy hip gay men all my life. So why wasn't I out at 16? It seems to me sometimes deranged that while there so many young gay people partying out there, I was stuck inside the closet of my own denial. Uncool in the midst of cool. It can be embarrassing, but we must accept that rationally, even or *especially* in big global cities there *are thousands who struggle with their sexuality, just as there are thousands who are out and proud. By definition, they are not visible, but know you are not alone.
     
  3. Yossarian

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    How this is all going to turn out for you depends not as much on you as on your wife. Yes, you need to come out to her "in some manner" depending on what you think your needs are. If your interest is to divorce her and move in with a man, then you and she are going to have to deal with that scenario and decide how best to disassemble your marriage and assets.

    If, on the other hand, if all you feel you need is to be able to have gay friends and engage them as understanding friends in a non-sexual manner, and she understands that you still love her and want to be intimate with her, and only her, you may be able to reach some kind of accommodation that will allow you to experience your "gay" side while still maintaining your marriage. Each situation is different.

    Either way, you need to open a dialog with her and explain the emotions and feelings you are experiencing to her, and what you would like to happen with the marriage. Stay away from "labels" and focus on how you feel when you are attracted to another man and how you want to interact with him. Be honest with her about how you feel towards her today. Then all you can do is listen to her concerns and find out what she wants to do, and go from there. You have many gay people in NYC to be friends with and be your "true self" around if that is all you need; similarly if you are looking for a new lover and feel the need to separate from your wife, which is not too much different from any other sort of divorce, just for different reasons.

    Right now, you still have the opportunity to be honest with her about what you have finally accepted about yourself. Don't start any outside relationships and "cheat" on her; that will make everything a lot worse, particularly if the s**t hits the fan. Maybe you can both handle this as reasonable adults and move forward with the minimal amount of pain for each of you. Good luck and keep in touch here; it really helps and is confidential.
     
  4. jnr183

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    Hi nerdbrain,

    Glad to see you here. I've never been married but just want to tell you how much I identify with what you wrote. I have spent a lot of my life- including my formative years- in and around the big cities in the northeast. Being unable to accept my sexuality in a fairly accepting part of the country has made me feel (unnecessarily) ashamed.

    Don't feel ashamed about this. I'm finding we all figure it out at our own pace because we
    are all different.

    It's a daunting task. I'm just a few months ahead of you and I'm moving awfully slowly through this process but this whole ordeal of self-discovery has been mostly good so far and, as far as the big steps have gone, I haven't had many or any moments when I felt like I was doing the wrong thing.

    We are here for you. I'm here for you. Please keep us posted and welcome to the EC family.
     
  5. wanderinggirl

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    Have you heard of Identity House? It's a volunteer-run organization in the city. They offer peer counseling and group sessions for LGBTQ-identified people over the age of 18, and can either provide you temporary relief from your loneliness or refer you to a therapist.
     
  6. nerdbrain

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    Thanks to everyone who responded to my post. Today has been particularly challenging for me as it was my mom's birthday and I was visiting my parents with my wife.

    There's a key part of my story which is unusual and worth mentioning.

    Shortly after I started dating my wife (about 4 years ago), I reached a desperate state: I loved her but I had this terrible secret fantasy life. I broke down and told her of my confusion; we split up for a few weeks. In my desperation, I googled "homosexual obsession" and came across an article on HOCD by a well known psychologist here in NYC. I was in his office the next day.

    I had been in therapy of one form or another since I was 18. Before I got married, I spent about 5 years regularly seeing a gay therapist in Chelsea in an effort to come to some degree of self acceptance. No results -- still this feeling of deadlock. I went to gay bars and felt disconnected and anxious. I slept with women. I developed an alcohol and drug problem and eventually got sober in 2008.

    In a way, HOCD seemed to explain my pain and all my "symptoms," the constant need to ascertain what my orientation truly was. CBT therapy and medication did help calm me down, and I've learned to observe my thoughts and feelings a bit more objectively.

    My wife knows all about the "gay thing" and, like my former psychologist, is convinced it is an anxiety disorder, not a true matter of sexual orientation. On his advice, she jokingly teases me about it -- for example, am I going to be a bear or a twink when I finally come out? Basically, she is desensitized to the subject. She sees when I am upset or depressed but ascribes it to OCD and tries to soothe me.

    I find myself in the bizarre position that I would have to convince her that I'm actually gay. But the problem is that I haven't convinced myself -- I've never acted on my fantasies and I'm scared to; don't even know where to start (which is why I'm here on EC).

    I know it's not just an anxiety disorder. Sure, I have a lot of anxiety but that is the symptom, not the root cause. There is a pain in my heart, a soul-sickness and a longing. I yearn to be tender and intimate with a man. I seem to be able to channel my sexual feelings towards women enough to get by, but that deeper stuff is tearing me up inside.

    My feelings for my wife are warm, protective and loving. I would do anything to prevent her from being hurt. The idea that I would ultimately be the one to hurt her the most, especially after she has this false sense of security, is not acceptable to me right now.

    OK, that's my whole mess. Sorry for dumping but I guess this is the place to do it...

    ---------- Post added 25th Aug 2014 at 12:06 AM ----------

    Thanks Wanderinggirl; I've heard of Identity House. I may look into that soon. I do have a therapist now though.
     
  7. YaraNunchuck

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    I'm guessing you don't have kids, nerdbrain? You have only been married less than four years - isn't now the best time to come out fully and prevent her from being hurt - while you're still young and she can find someone else with ease, should you choose to break up?

    I wonder if your wife's knowledge of your supposed HOCD might make things easier. Indeed, though it might be difficult to convince her you're really gay, she has forewarning that you've been going through a lot of issues in the area. 'Gay stuff' won't be a shock as it is to some wives. After all, the possibility that you're really gay must have crossed her mind before....
     
  8. Jim1454

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    Hi and welcome to EC. I was married for 9 years to my wife before coming to terms with my orientation. I know how you feel. I hated the thought of being the cause of our marriage ending - but I was going to be the cause one way or another. Either because I was gay or because I was so incredibly depressed that she couldn't stand to live with me any more. It is already affecting your relationship - she just may not have noticed yet.

    You are going to have to tell her - and you may have to tell her that you haven't been completely honest with her, with therapists, or with yourself over the years. If you've had homosexual fantasies the whole time that seems more than just a preoccupation with your orientation. It is a reflection of who you really are.

    Telling her sooner rather than later is best. It will be hard, and it will be sad for both of you, but your lives will go on. You won't be 'ruining' her life. You'll be providing her with an unexpected turn of events - but we all face those in one way or another.

    Hopefully you'll find some strength here, and by working with your therapist. Joining a support group would also be of great value.
     
  9. bingostring

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    Welcome to EC ...
    Is it possible your wife really "knows" already and is sort of waiting for this to come to the surface?
    Just a thought.
     
  10. nerdbrain

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    @yaranunchuck -- No, we don't have kids (thank God) and certainly, sooner is better. I guess the issue is that she really believes it's an anxiety disorder and is invested in the idea. I feel like I'm doubling the betrayal in a way by first lulling her into this false sense of security. At first I wanted to tell her to run as fast as she could in the other direction, but I couldn't bear to be without her love and support. It seems so selfish now.

    @jim1454 -- I know I'm going to have to tell her, and soon. I just don't really know how. She probably won't even believe me. I'm like the boy who cried wolf, except wolf=gay :frowning2:

    My OCD therapist has said (jokingly) that he won't be convinced I'm gay until I suck 5 dicks; I told this to my wife and we had a good laugh. Like I said, this situation feels absurd at times. And from my own perspective, I have no real evidence to go on except my own feelings, which keep getting thrown into doubt.

    @bingostring -- you may be right. I honestly can't say what she might be thinking. I know that if I had a female friend whose husband said he was having gay thoughts, I would advise her to RUN. FAST. But she has hung in there with me.
     
  11. offmychest

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    hi nerdbrain, you sound a lot like me except i did not get married. you have sex with women and enjoy it so that causes a lot of additional doubt. you start asking yourself...am i really into guys? am i gay? i mean, i like women and enjoy having sex with them?? you also start thinking...well i know i like guys but maybe this is just a passing fantasy. maybe the reality of being with a guy is not like what i am fantasizing about and that will prove that this is all just something i have been obsessing about. i do not know you personally and can't speak against what the doctor said but to me i think you know you better than anyone else does. and deep down inside, you even said you want intimacy with a man.

    here's what i can tell you.

    what you are fantasizing about may or may not happen like you have dreamed. you have built yourself up as a straight guy and that is part of your identity. coming out as gay or even fully exploring the gay part of yourself is quite an undertaking. i find it likely easier for people that just want to have sex and "experiment with guys" sexually. for people who are wired that way, they can just hook up or experiment and it answers the questions they need answered. however, if you really want an emotional connection/loving intimacy with a man, i can tell you as a newbie who tried exploring that, it is very hard to find. its not impossible but so many guys are wired for sex and hookups that its quite hard to meet someone that wants more. if they do, they usually want it after the physical and not investing in you before the physical. so if you are ok with that, then you will have no problems adjusting. however, if you are seeking something meaningful it could be quite challenging at first. i think that crying and sobbing at home while you work from home is a good sign that this is tearing you up inside. i think that you should truly ask yourself "what do i want?" "how is my life now?" am I happy now?" and "is making this switch going to provide me with what i want for the future?" i can tell you that sometimes i wonder if i made the right choice with exploring this. i haven't felt particularly happy or at peace or at ease since exploring this actually. instead of more answers, i think i ended up with more questions. i wish i was wired more physically like most of the guys i have met but i am not. for me, i want to fall in love with someone. i want intimacy and connection and dont want sex thrown in my face or pressure to get physical without any connection or knowledge that the other person is interested in me as a person. i find many people will be interested in you as a physical pleasure zone but nothing more. i'm not saying exploring gay is horrible. im just saying that your fantasy may not be exactly the reality.
     
  12. nerdbrain

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    @offmychest: Yes, it sounds like you get my situation well.

    If only I could just dip into some gay bar and have a quickie -- then all would be resolved!

    But it's not that simple. It's not just about sex -- not even primarily about sex I would say. It's something much deeper than that. Something about my relationships with other people, men in particular. Maybe "father hunger" as some therapists call it?

    Maybe something else. I know that I don't have close male friendships and I really, really miss that. I used to have good friends in high school and college but once I started having gay fantasies (not about those guys, but in general) it became harder to just "be myself" around them.

    All in all there is some deep, unmet need -- emotional, sexual, both -- that I've been suppressing and find that I can no longer suppress.

    Right now, the only kind of interaction that makes sense is talking to formerly closeted people like on EC to vent some of this stuff and get other perspectives. I'm not ready to date and definitely have no interest in a hookup.

    I know I need to explore this part of me. My biggest question is what do I tell my wife? I'm not about to go and hook up with a guy without telling her, but it also seems wrong to ask her to stand by me while I go meandering down this path -- which, in 99% of cases, means the husband (me) is gay. Even if she agreed, how would it work? Wouldn't it just be drawing out the inevitable and making it worse?
     
  13. offmychest

    offmychest Guest

    can you explain father hunger? maybe i have that. i have also been OCD'ding my gayness and since the results of my exploration have sucked, i am wondering maybe i wasn't gay after all and this is all some result of some paternal longing or male bonding longing. but yes the is a definite physical attraction. maybe some of the sexualized itself somehow? i'm trying to explain the gay away. i tried the pray the gay away approach and that didnt help. as far as male friends, i never really had very close male friends. but i can definitely relate to this idea of male bonding. i really want that. part of my fantasy was a masculine guy that could get women that felt that i was awesome and that he wanted me over the women and that he only wanted to spend time with me. almost like a straight best friend that is attractive and is romantically interested in you as well.

    as far as your wife. lets be real. its not like she is going to give you a gay hall pass to see what its like and then you can come back and life goes on back to normal. actually some women might very well do this. but would you even want her to do that. if i was married, i would have to do the following:

    1. i would pretend i was straight and then ask myself, ok, let's say you are 100% straight but you are still unhappy with this marriage, would you still stay in it? take the gay out of the equation and just pretend you're 100% straight and you're asking yourself a general question of a straight unhappily married man. Would you still stay in the marrigae? well then you would probably say you would try couples counseling before you called it quits. well since you like guys, you can try all the counseling you want but the end of the day, she is not going to ever be a man, so you have to ask yourself, what do you really want and what can you live with?

    you're 35. if you're going to end it, end it now while you're still young and while she can still maybe remarry and have kids with someone else. bro, can i be honest with you. you said you been in therapy in some shape or fashion about gayness since you were 18 and you're now 35. That's 17 years. so that would indicate that you will also be going round and round about your sexuality 17 years from now if you're still with your wife.

    the bottom line is this. what do you want and what can you live with. pick your poison. stay in the relationship with the wife and have sex with her which you said you can enjoy and accept you like guys but you're not going to go there in this lifetime. OR accept you like guys and that you want them more than you want your wife or women. divorce is not great but living a lie and dragging someone else down with you sucks as well. just know that the gayness isn't a walk in fantasy island or candy land, so like i said, pick your poison.
     
    #13 offmychest, Aug 25, 2014
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  14. nerdbrain

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    Here's the wiki on father hunger: Father complex - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Basically, it means that you are missing a deep connection with a male figure (from a very early, primal level) and constantly seeking to reestablish it somehow.

    As for your comments, I appreciate the frankness and in a lot of ways you are right.

    The issue is that I'm not unhappy in my marriage -- on the contrary, I'm very happy with my wife. We have a loving relationship; we cuddle all the time. We look out for each other, we take care of each other, we IM all the time during work. We have sex on average 2-3 times a week, which as I understand it is pretty typical for straight couples.

    It's just that there's this other thing that seems to come from deep within, and I can't seem to get away from it. Hence the conflict.

    And you are also right -- I could probably keep up this torment for another 17 years. But I don't want to. I feel like a diminished person because so much of my inner life and vitality is eaten up by conflict. I've often likened it to the Israel/Gaza conflict -- endless war, total deadlock, neither side giving an inch. And the result is that everyone suffers.
     
  15. offmychest

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    ok that clears things up. you sound like you love your wife. you're sexually attracted to her. things are going great. and you guys have fun and have regular sexual appetites. so basically you have 5 options.

    1. stay with her: accept that you like guys. accept that you'll never act on it. have some kids and be a grandpa at some stage. have a nice life and maybe things will diminish over time when you get older.

    2. ask for a hallpass: basically tell her you want to experiment with men. its something you have to get out of your system to end the noise in your head. tell her she can get a hallpass too and experiment with someone as well so it will be fair. then shag someone and see if you like it. if you do, then you know you'll either have to have an open relationship and be swingers or eventually divorce your wife. i doubt this will work.

    3. cheat: dont tell her anything and cheat with a guy from online. she'll be in the dark. you will be in anguish and guilt over the cheating. the relationship will eventually fold.

    4. emotionally cheat: find another closeted gay who is going through this same thing. many are online. bond. chat. text. skype in secret. sooner or later she'll find out and the jig will be up. the relationship will end badly

    5. end the relationship: tell her you're gay. tell her you really want to be with a man and that its not OCD anymore. but once you do this, there's no take backs. you cant get divorced, be with men and realize omg, this sucks i want her back. you can try. she will likely not let you back in. you'll have to start all over with some other woman.

    my gut tells me you are not going to tell this gay stuff go. you definitely want to be with a guy and have a deep love bond with him. so here's the thing. you're probably some level of a bi. that means you like both. you havent mentioned this but i am assuming you are also physically attracted to guys and that you get a woodie to guys when thinking of them and fantasize about them sexually. if so, then you're bi. if you're not getting physically aroused to the notion of men, then this is probably your OCD kicking and you have anxiety about being gay but you're not. so see it like this. you can like both men, and you can like both women. you like both. but you can only be in a relationship with ONE. which one do you want the MOST. also, a bird in the hand is worth more than two in a bush. remember, your fantasy romance guy may or may not present himself and you may have to kiss a lot of yuck mouth frogs before you find Mr. Right. Are you up for the challenge? the rejection , the agism, and gosh if you're not that attractive, the blantant shallowness? remember, most women want the lovey dovey romance novel. most men want to shag. you need to know what you're getting into. sure things are going to be great with the right guy when/if you meet him, but are you ready to end it all now for what "could be". only you know this and only you know how much you want to be with a guy. what i can tell you is that love is love. yea the body parts may be a little different but the love is basically the same. so the question is, who do you want to love more...the man or the woman?
     
    #15 offmychest, Aug 25, 2014
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  16. likethewind

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    Hi nerdbrain. Welcome to EC — and I completely relate to this quote. I was about a decade older than you when it happened, but it happened. I'm not married and don't feel I'm in much of a position to offer advice — but I did want you to know you're not alone.

    Good luck as you sort through this process. As I continue on this road, I find I'm less fearful of what I perceive as "consequences." But I still have a way to go.

    Be well.
     
  17. YaraNunchuck

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    I'd just like to say that being able to enjoy sex with women is not really a good barometer of sexuality, from thinking about my own orientation and reading EC. Many gay men in denial enjoy sex with women, probably not to the extent they'd enjoy it with men, of course. I would probably enjoy sex with women, arousal definitely wouldn't be a problem. So I wouldn't on your own evidence, nerdbrain, guess that you're actually bi; in some ways it's unsurprising that you enjoy having sex with the woman you love. But could not that fact become a vector for self deception and denial? You say here that you are probably gay, and I'm guessing you're fundamentally attracted to guys and not girls.

    If that's the case, then your marriage is on unsteady foundations. If I were in your shoes - and I cannot of course fully imagine your situation - I'd hope I'd have the fortitude to end it as soon as possible. You don't have kids. You're young. Who knows? Maybe you could still be best friends with your wife after.
     
  18. offmychest

    offmychest Guest

    i was at a lounge once. met this woman. she was in her late 40s and she was beautiful. she was alone at the bar and we started talking. she said she was divorced. she said ended up telling me that her husband was gay. she said that he was a very attractive man. she said that he told her he was gay after they were married. she said that since she loved him and since he was so distraught over the whole thing, she said she would be ok with having him experiment inside the marriage with men so he can figure things out but only on one condition...he couldn't sleep with anyone without her approval and foreknowledge. she said that he broke her trust when he stopped telling her what he was doing and started hooking up with random guys. they divorced. she said it was the best thing for them and for him. they had kids too. she said they hadn't told the kids just yet why they divorced but that the kids were handling it pretty well. she said he was full on gay when i questioned maybe he was bi and they could get back together. she said no. she did not speak bad of him at all and seemed very understanding. i will say that it was a bit sad for her to be so pretty and thrown back into the dating/single life at late 40s but what can you do. she didn't seem depressed about it. i guess my point is, if you're married and know that you are never going to be happy married and will always seek men, then cut it off sooner versus later.
     
  19. nerdbrain

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    @yaranunchuck: I'm not claiming that I'm bi, rather I'm trying to sort out who I'm "fundamentally" attracted to. It's tricky given that my earliest memories are of having crushes on girls, and through age 18 the idea of being gay never manifested consciously. But in retrospect it seems that there was always something going on in the background, and I didn't even understand that homosexuality existed until my mid-teens.

    @offmychest: Your 1-5 list is spot on; that's basically how I look at it as well. Options 2-4 are off the table for me, because I'm just not going to go there with cheating or the "open" thing.

    Problem is, that leaves options 1 and 5 which are basically polar opposites. And choosing option 5 (ending the relationship) is not only terrifying but seems somewhat rash: after all, I've never had sex with a guy. How can I end my relationship with my wife with no real-world evidence that I am in fact gay? It seems like the only "honest" thing to do, but it also seems crazy.

    That's my dilemma right now.
     
  20. offmychest

    offmychest Guest

    i feel your pain and i also thought 1 and 5 were your only real options but i didnt want to speak for you. but from the way you sound 1 and 5 were the only ones that seemed viable for your situation. please remember nobody is saying leave your wife. in fact, you sound like you have a good thing going and the grass isn't always greener. but yes, 1 and 5 are the only options really.

    there's a really important thing you said:
    after all, I've never had sex with a guy. How can I end my relationship with my wife with no real-world evidence that I am in fact gay?

    i used to think this way as well. and i struggled with this. i was and still am in denial about this but one thing i have accepted and that i know to be true is that the act of sex with a man, does not make you gay or bi. what does make you gay or bi is that you have a deep longing for physical and emotional intimacy/relationship with someone from the same sex. for instance, sometimes i thought, "ok if i never do anything physical with a guy, then i am not gay, im just having thoughts." well if those thoughts are prolonged and last over years, then at some point you have to admit to yourself that you are indeed interested in the same sex. the label of gay or bi is just something that modern people want to slap on this situation. those labels really dont exist. the fact is that many men and women have thoughts about the same sex and are curious and may want to act on it. does this make them "gay' "bi" "straight". those labels are ridiculous. thoughts for intimacy with the same sex does not negate your loving relationship with your wife. it doesn't mean she has been your "beard" or "cover up". it just means that you are human and like most humans things and specifically sexuality is not black or white. there are all shades of gray in between. i fought this for a long time. i still fight this. because truly accepting that you have desires for the same sex now creates a whole list of problems. does that mean, i can't date women? does that mean i should not ever get married to a woman? have i missed out on awesome women because i have been stalling for a guy? should i pursue sex with guys to "figure myself out"? will pursuing men in what seems to be challenging gay dating circumstances going to be good for my future? all of these questions and the anxiety that has come with them has made me stall. just like you are stalling.

    remember you will stay in this stalemate for years unless you address the main issue....Accepting who you are and then deciding what you ultimately want. both are very scary. but if you keep going around these two main things, you will stay in conflict.