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Married, older and trying to figure out orientation

Discussion in 'Sexual Orientation' started by Nightwing8, Oct 20, 2018.

  1. Nightwing8

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    Hi, I'm 48 and have been in a straight marriage for 20 years. I am in therapy and my therapist thinks it might be helpful for me to engage with a group such as this. Last year I started hooking up with men and in March I met someone that has me considering whether I am really gay or bi or whatever and whether to end my marriage for a relationship with him. I am not out at all. I'm in therapy to deal with anxiety, my failing marriage and my confusion over my identity. My therapist has raised the question of attachment theory, ie am I simply getting emotional and physical needs most this man that I've been missing in my marriage for the last decade. I don't know that I want to have this conversation in an open forum but I don't know how it all works here yet. But anyway there it is.
     
  2. Rade

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    Welcome to EC
    I also had been married/with wife for 20
    years. We are now separated and I'm 43.
    It's really not easy and you have to go with what you feel in your heart and who makes you the happiest.
    I'm currently on my own but haven't been this happy in years.
    EC is a great place and there seems to be quite a few of us looking for change in our 40s and upwards.
    Warm regards .Rade
     
  3. Lexa

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    I'm seeing a therapist for similar reasons. I know I'm attracted to women but I've been very attracted to men too, in the past. Since I have a lot of anger and rage in me towards men at this point (feelings of unsafety during my youth thanks to my father and feelings of unsafety during my current relationship with my BF) it's possible this has an influence on my feelings for women, which have increased. Men = unsafe, women = safe. This can happen in bisexuals so at the moment things are clouded. I'll have to wait and see how things work out.
     
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  4. silverhalo

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    Hey welcome to EC. If you search the forum you will find lots of similar threads, I know talking about it in the open forum can seem daunting but it will give you a wide response.
    I would say take the actual man out of the equation for a minute because if you want to leave your marriage that's a decision you should try and take for you regardless of whether or not you then get into a relationship with this man. If you leave your marriage just for this relationship I think it puts a lot of pressure on the relationship to succeed.
    Does your wife know about the man?
    Did you ever question your sexuality before you married your wife?
     
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  5. Nightwing8

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    No she doesn't know about him. She knows I'm seeing a therapist because of how unhappy and lonely I've felt for a number of years and that basically the past 10 years have left me feeling that I'm not worthy of being loved.

    I had an encounter in my 20s but I met my wife 2 years after that. I started looking at gay porn about 12 years ago. About a year ago I started hooking up with guys via online social apps for non-penetration sex. Met up with 4 guys before I met the man I'm now exclusive with. I feel very attracted to certain types of men that are slim, fit and it feels very real.

    The root problems in my marriage started after our first child was born 15 years ago. Feelings of rejection, lack of affection, lack of intimacy, being abandoned, being lonely, are definitely independent issues from my sexual identity.
     
  6. Nightwing8

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    Thanks. I know I complicated things by not separating first. And I'll face consequences for that. Trying to figure this out and minimize hurting my wife and daughters is very anxiety inducing. I'm glad to hear that you are happy.
     
  7. Rade

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    My wife was hurt, livid, we had a brief better spell where our sex life was great but at the end of the day she could not cope having a bisexual husband, though I'm probably more gay I don't know . ...I have three children. I still live in the family home but will move out next year. She has a boyfriend and I find it hard seeing her with him.
    I do understand where your coming from . You need to give yourself time . I stayed in a unhappy marriage for 5 yrs before it all blew up. She even asked me if I was bi and I denied it. We all have to accept our own sexuality before we can open up to others....
    A taxi driver even asked me out but I stayed unhappy and faithful to my wife but if it happens now I would act differently .
     
  8. Nightwing8

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    She asked my 6 or so years ago and I denied it. I know I need to slow down and do more work in therapy before I push things.
     
  9. Dollop

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    You stated that the marriage isnt working is this purely cause of feelings for men or for some other reason. I think the advise to remove the man from the equation breifly and see how you feel then it very good.

    Its a very hard place to be not only does your wife suffer but there is effects for you kids. But staying in a marrige thats not happy will not only hurt you but also your family. I would maybe discuss with your with that you have feelings for men but dont tell her you have acted on them straight away. let her accept the news that you have deliveried and go from there.
     
  10. Rade

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    Yeah time is the most important thing and your therapy ...
    I'm having therapy too and I'm worried about the future. We live in a rented hiuse, though I spent thousands on furnishings. I could end up leaving with nothing. I won't see my kids as often. But I will have my freedom to a point, a could start a new relationship with anothrr guy . It's just alot to think about. It scares me.
     
  11. Nightwing8

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    I'm very
    I'm very scared too. So much to think through.
     
  12. Chip

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    If you've disclosed what you said above to your therapist, either she isn't very familiar with sexual orientation issues (more common than you'd think among therapists) or she is confused about attachment theory and how it does or does not affect who you're attracted to, or both.

    In my opinion, there are several issues at play here. First,
    has nothing to do with sexual orientation; that's the textbook definition of what shame is. And shame absolutely has a huge impact in our ability to love others and, really, to connect with anyone on a deep, vulnerable level. The shame is likely impacting your ability to deeply and fully connect, but it wouldn't impact the sex of who you connect with; it's an equal-opportunity offender. I strongly suggest taking about an hour and watching Brené Brown's three TED talks, "The Power of Vulnerability", "The Price of Invulnerability" and "Listening to Shame". All are on Youtube. I think this will help illuminate that issue.

    Secondly, if you've been watching gay porn for 12 years, that has nothing to do with attachment. While porn isn't a reliable indicator of sexual orientation by itself, when we combine it with the fact that you had a same-sex encounter in your 20s before you met your wife, and that you describe an 'exclusive' relationship with a guy... that isn't about attachment at all. That's about genuine sexual desire. If it were simply attachment, you'd have sought out hookups with other women, but those would have also been unfulfilling because the shame issues would interfere with being able to deeply connect. The fact that you describe feeling significant attraction to certain types of men, and that this particular relationship feels very real, is a pretty clear indicator that you are at least bi, and my guess is probably closer to gay. Another indicator that's usually pretty accurate is masturbation fantasies when you aren't watching porn. If you masturbate without porn and find yourself mostly or almost exclusively thinking about guys, or guys create stronger arousal, that's a pretty good indicator that you're at the gay end of the spectrum. If it's closer to equal with men and women, or there's no discernable difference in arousal between the two, then you're probably closer to bi. It isn't infallible, because your conscious mind can interfere with how you interpret it, but it's usually a pretty good indicator.

    Third, there's always a lot of shame around the idea of accepting that we have same-sex attraction, because we get so many messages from society and organized religion about why it's wrong, and that can really play into our conscious acceptance of sexual orientation.

    Does this therapist claim specialization in sexual orientation or LGBT issues, or is she more focused on anxiety and depression? If it's the latter, depending on how strong your bond with her is, you might consider finding a therapist who has a deeper understanding of LGBT issues. It doesn't need to be a therapist who is, him or herself, gay or lesbian, but it would be beneficial to have someone with extensive knowledge or experience in those areas.

    In any case... simply talking about it here is a great way to think about and process what you're experiencing. As long as you are using a username you don't use anywhere else, and follow the rest of our security policies (don't disclose email or other information that could link to you in public forums), then there's pretty much no way anyone can identify you or what you're saying here.

    Finally, I would suggest that you do need to address the issue of this relationship with the guy to your wife sooner rather than later. Living a double life will have some pretty significant emotional consequences for you if it hasn't already, as it contributes to anxiety and further amplifies shame, because you're forced to be inauthentic. Additionally, if you think about it as though your roles were reversed... what would you want in a similar circumstances? Presumably you'd want your wife to not cheat on you, and to tell you if she was. So she is owed the same. It's an incredibly uncomfortable conversation, and will upend both of your lives, and at the same time, if you do it, you get to choose when and how it comes out. If she somehow finds out... you lose all control. So authenticity is usually the best choice.
     
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  13. silverhalo

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    I'm interested to know whether you feel loved by the guy you are exclusive with?

    I also think it's probably a point to consider more that you say all of these feelings that began after your first child was born are independent to your sexuality but then in the other note said you'd only sought out same sex interactions outside of your marriage.

    I assume the guy you are exclusive with knows about your wife? As hard as it is I think you have to be honest with your wife, I don't say that lightly it's not going to be easy or pretty but firstly I think she deserves to know what is going on and secondly I think for you actually to be able to get to the bottom of what is going on and for you to be able to understand yourself properly and deal with everything you need to be able to be living an honest and true life and I think you need to do that before you can make a decision on whether or not you then commit fully to a relationship with the guy.
     
  14. Nightwing8

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    My marriage issues are not about my attraction to men. They are all about how my wife and I relate to each other and my feelings of being rejected by her repeatedly over the years and not getting what I need from our relationship.

    I'm working on how to talk to her about all this with the therapist. I'm not ready yet and pretty scared to do it.
     
  15. Nightwing8

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    Yes he definitely loves me and I love him... assuming I'm not confusing things... I'm very happy whenever I spend time with him. He knows about my wife. I was open about it when I was using a hookup app.
     
  16. Nightwing8

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    Thanks for this. I really appreciate the time and thought you and everyone else has put into responding to me. The therapist is a specialist in men's issues but I'm not sure about his LGBTQ+ knowledge or expertise. I will ask him more about that at my next session. There is no question I have many feelings of shame about a lot of things. Mainly the cheating.

    I have a lot to think about and I know I need to sort out how much and what to tell me wife. Leading a double life was never the plan and not something I want to continue, but before I blow my life up I need to sort some of this out I guess. I don't know... I don't really trust my own judgement at this point.
     
  17. Chip

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    Men's issues are very different from LGBT issues. And men's issues (intimacy and anger are among the most common) are directly tied to attachment, which is probably why she went there. All counselors and therapists are guilty of seeing things through the lens of what they most commonly work with, and that can be problematic. Hopefully if you point that out, she can either identify the blind spot she has and address it, or refer you to someone with more expertise in LGBT issues.

    It may be hard, but try to let go of the shame about the cheating piece. It's important here to understand the difference between shame and guilt; shame is "I am fundamentally a bad person"; guilt is "I did something bad." So cheating is definitely a bad decision, but it does not make you a terrible person.

    Another piece of this is realizing that we are all doing the best we can with what we have. In your case, you felt alone, unappreciated, and (my guess) is that some part of you knew that you would rather be with a guy than with a woman, which is why you reached out and made the connection. It may not have been a wise choice, but it was one that, at the moment, addressed your needs. And often, when we're addressing needs, we don't think much about consequences or long-term impact... because we are hurting, and want out of the pain now.

    It makes sense to unpack all of this, and if it were me, that would be the main focus of my therapy. The question is whether or not your therapist is genuinely equipped and experienced to navigate this with you. EC can help, but it's no replacement for a really good therapist. Another thought is to be careful that you don't simply let 'the need to unpack this' become an excuse for continuing the deception. If you are actively working on this, it should be something you can explore and address in relatively short order, at least enough to where you can be authentic with your wife.

    That doesn't mean you have to know what you want, but just that you know that what's going on now doesn't work, and you need to do something for your own sanity. Likewise, I doubt that simply dropping your male friend and pretending the whole thing is a mistake will likely work for you; my guess is you've basically started to let the genie out of the bottle (in terms of finding your real feelings), and so the only real option will be to see it through. That's by no means easy for anyone, but the sooner you do it, the sooner you stop wasting your wife's time so she has time to think and decide what's best for her.
     
  18. Nightwing8

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    I agree. What you say resonates. Not that it matters but this therapist is a man and I just started with him... 3 sessions so far.

    I think I want to get through the Decembsr holidays and tell her after that. That should give me plenty of time to make sure I have my head sorted.
     
  19. Chip

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    Crap. I'm sorry. For some reason I thought you'd said the therapist was female. Lots of possibilities, but if he has not had a lot of gay clients, it is possible that he's got some countertransference issues (basically, his own discomfort, which may not even be conscious) that could be influencing how he's interpreting things. Or... he could be right on the ball and simply throwing out the attachment as the first idea that came to him. No therapist I've met or worked with is infallibie. :slight_smile:

    That seems like a very sensible idea, and gives you time to think, plan, contemplate.
     
  20. Lexa

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    @Chip Or perhaps his therapist thinks it could be a mix of both (attachment issues and same-sex attraction - bisexuality IS an option after all). I'm a woman with anger issues due to attachment issues (oh yes) and I am definitely attracted to women. And at the moment not so attracted to men (but I have been attracted to men in the past) but a lot of things happened between me and my BF (boundary issues, safety issues... and my underlying childhood trauma was triggered). And I have a therapist (a man in my case) specialized in LGBT issues (married to a man himself) but I have the impression it's as clear to him as it is to me at this point. We're trying to figure it out.