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How, exactly, could I be so dense?

Discussion in 'LGBT Later in Life' started by LostJedi, May 19, 2019.

  1. LostJedi

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    So, I've only come to understand that I am bisexual very recently - within the last month. And I've come out to a few people with no issues or problems. In fact, it has been so smooth that I feel somewhat guilty because I know how much harder it is for so many others.

    The thing is, I'm 52 years old, and the one hang up that I find that I have is trying to reconcile why it has taken me so damned long to figure this out. I mean, I have a university education, always near the top of my class, I've held several senior positions, have led workshops on strategic planning, and on and on.... So, how can someone so smart and accomplished be so bloody stupid and have not been able to read all of the signs throughout my life that clearly pointed to the fact that I am bisexual?

    So far, no one has judged me on this point. But, of course, I am far more critical of myself than others likely are. I can look back on my life and find all sorts of instances where I was clearly attracted to men, to the same degree that I am attracted to women.

    Throughout my life, from university onwards, I've had friends and colleagues who are gay, lesbian, and trans. But until recently, no one who identified as bi. And maybe that was the thing - that I didn't have anyone who I could see myself in, and I wasn't able to understand who I am and to put a name to it.

    I feel very positive and empowered identifying as bisexual, and with that, there is no barrier in coming out. But it is the notion that this is something that happens for people in their teens or their twenties, not in their 50s. It almost seems like an admission that I'm pretty dense to not have figured out myself earlier that gives me pause and drives me a bit bonkers .
     
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  2. silverhalo

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    Hey it happens and I know it can feel strange and frustrating to think that for so long you didn't work it out but I think sometimes these things are right there in front of us but we need that one last missing piece or key in order to be able to see it clearly.
     
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  3. Unsure77

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    Only can answer that. But throwing some possibilities out there (since I'm 41 and just now accepting that I'm gay)... I don't think it has anything to do with education. I have an engineering degree. I'm not a stupid person. And for me it wasn't that i didn't academically know what makes a lesbian a lesbian. And I was aware enough of the signs in myself to suppress (and even feel a degree of shame and self hate for) the feelings I had for women and then realize I couldn't care less about romance with men. At least for me, I didn't WANT to do the math. And so I didn't until I just couldn't deny it anymore. It took a major shift in my relationship with the community that made me being afraid of being gay and then having my feelings about men vs women being glaringly shoved in my face to finally accept it. Cognitive dissonance is a thing.

    Another possibility is just inertia. Over 90% of the population is straight so it's just the default. If you never took the time to stop and reflect (and why would you have), it's possible that's what happened. Especially if you're Bi. It's not even like being full on gay where a complete lack of attraction for the opposite sex is a huge, glaring sign that something is up.

    Besides that, knowing lgbt people (and accepting them) and accepting that you ARE an lgbt person are two dramatically different things.
     
    #3 Unsure77, May 19, 2019
    Last edited: May 19, 2019
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  4. LostJedi

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    There is a lot of truth to that. There was no question of my attraction to women. It was just this attraction to men that I couldn't reconcile. I thought of myself as a straight guy with this little bent that I didn't want to talk about or examine.

    It is funny that I have no shame in admitting an attraction to men, but I am somewhat ashamed that I came to accept/name it so late in life. It feels as thought when I come out it is the latter that makes me feel more vulnerable and says more about who I am than the former.

    I am trying to learn to forgive myself for being so dense and for all of the lost opportunities because I was so dense. I usually find it much easier to forgive others than myself in most things....
     
  5. Unsure77

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    It may just say that you wanted to be average. Being lgbt makes us different from most people and, ignoring the more insidious feelings some have about our community and fear from that, there’s also just the simple desire to be like “everybody else” that accepting this torpedoes.
     
    #5 Unsure77, May 19, 2019
    Last edited: May 19, 2019
  6. LostJedi

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    Average? I've always strived to be fricking awesome! :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

    It is funny (ironic? paradoxical?) that our society claims to encourage and reward individuality, innovation, and uniqueness, and yet THE most prized attribute is conformity.
     
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  7. DecentOne

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    I am pretty sure I wrote the same thing when I realized my bisexuality around a year ago.

    I guess conditions are just right. Life stage, societal reinforcement of greater acceptance and variety... who knows what else. It happened when it happened, so that must be the right time.

    I’m envious you’ve got a group in Toronto. I’ve got lots of good stuff here where I’m living, but not that. I’m finding the integration of self to be of great importance, and not even the therapists around here run any kind of coming out group or bisexual group.
     
  8. Nickw

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    I think there are a lot of different ways and reasons that we recognize our sexuality later in life.

    In my case I treated my same sex desires as unimportant in the big picture of my life for so very long. Something that can be dismissed so easily then might become something I didn't need to claim.

    I never wore the bisexual label myself until I came out to my wife. I was a straight guy with a fetish even though I knew at a young age that I had same sex attractions and even identified as bisexual for a very brief period of my life (a few months) in my twenties.

    The strong attraction you have had for women might have confused it a bunch too. It is SO easy to let those attractions dominate because we are taught that opposite sex attractions are the right thing to have regardless of how liberal and accepting our community is.

    I'm a bit older than you with advanced degrees in engineering and I didn't really figure it all out till even later. TBH, it is still a work in progress.

    Look at it this way. Shouldn't we continue to strive to understand who and what we are? Life happens an how we respond to that is so interesting. We are all capable of personal growth and insight at any stage of our adventure called life.
     
  9. LostJedi

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    That is so true. I guess I always considered "me" to be the finished product and that there was little else to figure out (except whether I'll feed pigeons or shout at small children in my retirement:stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:). But more to the point, it feels like other people have it figured out and I'm the last one who doesn't.

    Yes, that describes me quite neatly. There were a lot of other things in my life that I was focused on, and when I was in a stable, monogamous relationship there wasn't much impetus or time to ponder this little "fetish".

    That is certainly me, too. And I know that my sense of what bisexuality is was pretty superficial. Certainly that wasn't helped by the fact that bisexuality is discussed and portrayed so infrequently that it was hard to see that this is who I am. So, I sort of knew what bisexuality was, but really I didn't. If I did, I'd have known it was me, since I certainly couldn't deny my attraction to women, but with the equally strong attractions to men (and sometimes to very specific individuals).

    Certainly since figuring this out it has been like the radio, which has been static for so long, has suddenly turned into the station. It all makes sense, suddenly.

    I suppose so. I can't help but wish that the conditions had been right and I had figured it out sooner.

    I was only recently drawn to questioning my sexuality, which led me to coming here and doing some reading. Once I did a little investigating, it all came together in remarkably short order. Once I knew what the hell I was talking about, it was pretty easy to say that I'm bisexual. Really, really easy, once I put my mind to it....
     
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  10. MBM4K54

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    If it makes you feel any better, I've only recently (1-2 years ago) come to accept my bisexuality and yes, just like you, in hindsight it was as plain as day. I'm 55 years old and married with 4 kids .
    Like a lot of bisexual people, I thought that I could hide in a heterosexual marriage, and to a certain extent I could. But luckily for me, eventually I couldn't hide from myself any longer.
     
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  11. SevnButton

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    My take is that later in life, for many of us our focus shifts toward self-awareness, and we have an accumulation of experiences to guide that. Earlier in life many of us (me) get caught up in developing career and family.

    So even if you've done really well in other areas of your life, it doesn't guarantee that you have all areas figured out. This is our time. It's our turn.
     
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  12. greatwhale

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    Hey lostjedi,
    Time to give yourself a bit of a break...it took me until I was 53 to realize I am gay, it's not that old...One of the most shocking graphics I have ever come across should serve as a good reminder to all of us that life is short...much too short to spend whatever is left of it regretting an all too recent past. Instead, why not spend that energy by focusing on what matters in the present moment?
     
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  13. LostJedi

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    Thanks, @greatwhale . I really like that This is a very optimistic way of looking at things.

    It is similar to something I do: When I feel that someone or something is wasting my time, I check the clock, sigh, and say, "I only have another 94,672 hours left in my life. Should I really be spending what precious time I have remaining on that?"

    But life is short, and I will forgive myself the past.
     
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  14. out2019

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    dont' feel bad- I had clear signs I was gay at a young age and rationalized them and wrote them off....
    a lot of us later in life have similar feelings - but humans, even smart humans, are funny they can deny evidence and signs or mis-interpret them.. how many people have health and weight problems but continue unhealthy lifestyles or smoke too much or drink to much despite the obvious pain it causes?

    Accepting my sexuality back in high school would have been a tough road, and I chose the 'easy' route.. plus as guys, I think it's pretty easy to enjoy sex when younger, and get enough positive feedback from a girlfriend to convince yourself you're not really gay..

    Yes you can spend the time regretting the past but then you're just creating more regret about wasting today!
     
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  15. ladykiki

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    Hello! Yes, I felt the same when I realised I was gay. I was 26/27 and when I thought back over my life I thought how could I not have known? I didn’t fancy any male celebrities or boybands or u dersrand the fuss over that one boy in school.

    I had no frame of reference for how I felt, I didn’t see lesbian relationships (or same sex, I think Willow was bi) until Buffy in the late 90’s and something about it rang bells in my head, but I couldn’t quite figure out what.

    Fast forward to 2010 and Gillian Anderson was presenting an award with an English accent and my parents asked me isn’t she American, and I became so embarrassed, went bright red and my heart raced and mumbled how would I know, but I’m a well known X-Files geek so of course I know the answer to that. I just didn’t want to answer in case they thought I fancied her, and that’s when it hit me like a ton of bricks... I do fancy her! Why else would I react like that! Then I spent the next few days going over everything from my past and things started to make sense.

    I’ve had bad anxiety since high school, and there’s many reasons as to why, but suppressing my sexuality was part of it. I thought I wasn’t capable of loving another person after watching all my friends settle down, but I just couldn’t make myself feel like that about a guy no matter how hard I tried. I couldn’t go through with sex with my boyfriend unless I was drunk, and the next day I always felt wretched and couldn’t figure out why. I spent my early 20’s drinking too much and avoiding whatever guy I was seeing. Looking back, the way I behaved wasn’t fair on them, but I was trying to fit in with everyone else and they all expected me to get a boyfriend.

    But yes, I feel like an idiot for not realising it sooner, and i feel like when I tell people they don’t understand how you *couldn’t* know. They’re all straight and the media is geared towards them, so they don’t feel at odds with everything or themselves.
     
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  16. LostJedi

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    I had this sudden memory reading this, of seeing Prince in concert and being equally turned on by Prince and Sheila E (let's face it, both were sexy AF)! But like... hello?! Like that shouldn't have been a clue!

    I think that is an excellent point. Straight people have it figured out from the start that they're straight. The assumption that those who aren't straight are equally certain of their queerness is likely expected. And with few (read: none) role models when I was growing up, it is little wonder that I didn't have it figured out earlier.
     
  17. Unsure77

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    On an up note, we older folks don’t have to worry about being bored in our old age. We have a whole new avenue of life that’s new and exciting to us to explore that’s old hat for everyone else.
     
  18. out2019

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    Yes! I adapted this ' lonely" 'outcast' persona'

    yes! all this time I was trying to suppress my gay fantasies at the same time trying to think of reasons why i'd eventually like some girl I was dating...

    I drank too much too, I have the reverse of this though - I avoided some guys that made advances at me, that I fantasized about later -the spark was there, I was too afraid !
     
  19. Unsure77

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    Yeah, I pretty much gained 40lbs and started wearing baggiest, frumpiest clothes I could find to avoid the issue.
     
  20. ladykiki

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    I used to love All Saints and had a soft spot for Melanie in particular, it was definitely a crush. I remember watching Dusk till Dawn and Speed with a friend and she was gushing over Keanu Reeves and George Clooney, and I couldn’t take my eyes of Salma Hayek and Sandra Bulloch.

    Looking back, I think I recognised on some level what I was feeling, but not enough to understand it, if that makes sense. Was definitely very aware that boys weren’t having the same effect on me as they were on my friends.