In need of (LGBT) people wiser than me
June 14, 2013 8:16 AM   Subscribe

I guess I'm one of the women French Fry speaks of, but with an LGBT twist. I'm in therapy, but it's not enough; I am desperate for someone to talk to, especially other semi-late-blooming LGBT folk, but I don't know how to find them.

For over a decade, I'd only ever slept with one person since age 18: my husband. A couple months ago, I slept with a woman. Before her, I can't recall the last time I truly enjoyed sex; mostly I endure it, because intimacy, because I'm supposed to, because I love him and he's my best friend, and sadly, and often, because he badgers me relentlessly until I do it to shut him up. With her, it was fantastic.

It's not an unfamiliar story, I know. But after a decade-long, mostly happy and supportive relationship, there are so many complicating factors, and I know how impossible it is to condense and balance the ideal amount of details in an AskMe, especially with a fraught, judgment-inviting topic like this. Lord knows how fucking terrified and guilty I already feel. I did tell my spouse, and things have been deceptively normal, although the sexual badgering (ugh) has been worse than ever, due to additional insecurity, I'm sure. I will pursue couples therapy with him, but there has always been pushback on that front.

Solo therapy has been helpful for me, as she specializes in LGBT issues, but it's just not enough. I've realized that somehow I don't have any super-close friends who are lesbians; most of my close queer friends are gay men or bisexual ladies in relationships with men. Other than tons of self-reflection, I just have no gauge for determining how much of the issue is actual gayness (like, I've always known I'm bisexual, I've definitely been attracted to men, but it's been a long while) and how much was her simply being another person: a catalyst to facing my sexual incompatibility with my spouse. And how valid an excuse that is for so utterly turning two lives upside down.

How can I find somebody to talk to? Perhaps sort of pen pal or mentorship like this, but with an LGBT twist? Particularly queer women who've been through something similar? I'd love offline resources too, but am afraid of inviting suspicion/more insecurity. Or maybe that's silly? I just don't know. I am in a big city.

You can also email me at morninganyway(at)gmail(dot)com. Thank you so much.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
A big city! Perfect. There is an LGBT resource center in your city. Many have support groups for people going through similar issues you are. If you also want there are social clubs where you can meet other lesbians.
posted by munchingzombie at 8:24 AM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

For sure, LGBT Center. My dad came out at 41, something like that. It was incredibly hard for him, but having a good therapist and access to LGBT groups/hanging out places was essential.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:29 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

And how valid an excuse that is for so utterly turning two lives upside down.

Please be kind to yourself, and patient. It's not an "excuse" to want to be happy (in or out of a relationship) and sexually fulfilled. I mean, if you took the "slept with a woman it was AWESOME" out of the equation entirely, you would still be totally within your rights to want good, happy sex with someone you wanted to have good happy sex with, and to never feel badgered into it.

Even if you are in a Big City, you may not have an lgbt center - not all Big Cities have them. Do googe, of course, and definitely talk to your therapist about support groups - she may know of groups that meet in places you wouldn't think to look.
posted by rtha at 8:38 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

As an online resource, the always kind people at /r/actuallesibians (which is aimed at lesbians and allies/friends as opposed to the lesbian subreddit which is for "lesbian" porn) answer and support these kinds of questions all the time. It's a kind, well-moderated space.

I was a late-blooming lesbian who left a heterosexual marriage, but that was kind of my whole story. I came out, I got a divorce. Not particularly complicated, so perhaps not analogous to what you're going through. The thing that worked best for me was space. I got space outside my marriage with friends who let me live-in cat-sit while they were out of town for a week. I got to be alone for a while to get myself sorted without pressure from my then-husband. He was, I should add, as supportive as he could be considering the circumstances.

I just have no gauge for determining how much of the issue is actual gayness (like, I've always known I'm bisexual, I've definitely been attracted to men, but it's been a long while) and how much was her simply being another person: a catalyst to facing my sexual incompatibility with my spouse. And how valid an excuse that is for so utterly turning two lives upside down.

I don't think you can look at this as an "excuse" to change things up. But it may be a reason. Are you happy? If you aren't happy but you can make changes in your life to increase your happiness, shouldn't you consider it?
posted by komlord at 8:38 AM on June 14, 2013

i read as a boy, reatively young, and read as a boy, and have been out since i was (15/16?), but know a lot of conseratives and evangelicals, who have only come out to me, or have come out very late. so, yeah, memail if you want.
posted by PinkMoose at 9:17 AM on June 14, 2013

Butch Wonders was married to a fella, determined she was queer, divorced. Maybe a little younger than you but similar situation. Her posts on here here (starting from bottom up) may be helpful to you.

On a personal note, I have been involved with men and women. I am very satisfied to say, now, that I am lesbian. It was very, very confusing for me for a while. I'm not saying it will be the same for you, though. I just think that, because queer folk do not always have the knee-jerk response that some hetero folk have to deny attraction to the opposite-of-their-gender-of-choice, it may not be crystal clear. Also, it's a spectrum. Also also, bisexuality is a thing and ok too, if that's where it falls for you. Lesbian-identified bisexual, even.

Be kind to yourself. Give yourself the space and time you need. You can give me a holler if you want to talk more; I think my about page has some info. :)
posted by custardfairy at 9:19 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

One of the things you need to sort out is the difference between discovering your queer side and the lack of sexual fulfillment in your marriage. They are really two separate problems that just happen to be crossing paths at the moment.
posted by gjc at 9:37 AM on June 14, 2013

GJC, I don't think that is necessarily true. If the OP is a lesbian or lesbian-identified, then her queerness could very well have an impact on her physical (as well as emotional) intimacy with her husband. Could they be entirely unrelated? Sure, possibly. But not empirically.
posted by custardfairy at 10:05 AM on June 14, 2013

I'd like to respectfully dissent with gjc's comment. If indeed you are not bisexual but lesbian, it is highly unlikely you are going to be sexually fulfilled in your heterosexual marriage. I'm not saying that is what is going on here, but it is something you should look at, because marriage counseling will not fix it. BTW, your sexual fantasies can be a gauge for determining your "actual gayness." They're not the only gauge, of course, but don't let people try to convince you that they're necessarily trivial or that they don't need to correspond with reality. IMHO, that's a way that people try to enforce heterosexual norms, perhaps unconsciously. Because it is really easy for people (even well-meaning therapists) to believe that heterosexuality is preferred, I would also strongly suggest you choose a bisexual or lesbian (or gay) therapist, not just one that is gay friendly. Best of luck. I've written to you at your email address and would be glad to share my experience.
posted by Wordwoman at 10:12 AM on June 14, 2013

I highly HIGHLY recommend seeing if there is some sort of coming out support group at the LGBT center in your city.

I went to the one in my city when I was just coming out. I was terrrrrrrrrified to go in there the first time. But you know what? It changed my life, and I made some really solid friendships from it. These friends are now people I can talk to about ANYTHING, especially gay-related. Plus, half the women that went there (or more than half) were women in relationships with men trying to figure out how to either leave their husband or figure out their identity.

Also also - Is your therapist gay? I found that going to a lesbian therapist (she is a lesbian but has straight and gay clientele) helped immensely because they truly understand the process of coming out to yourself and sorting out sexuality. It's a very unique process that I'm not sure straight people entirely understand. It's nice to talk to someone that's *been there*.
posted by christiehawk at 11:26 AM on June 14, 2013

If you secretly hope to find some kind of proof that you're "really" a lesbian because that will make it possible/more ok somehow for you to leave your marriage, then, for what it's worth, you have this internet stranger's permission to just leave without that proof or anything else happening other than the feeling that you don't want to be married to your husband anymore.
posted by prefpara at 1:16 PM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

If you were 100% certain you were 100% totally straight, and Recent Hookup had been male, my advice would be "couples therapy." Not necessarily to fix your relationship or your sex life with your husband — because therapy can't always do that — but to help the two of you figure out what sort of relationship you're going to have from here on out. Maybe the answer would be "Awesome marriage with awesome revitalized sex life," maybe the answer would be "Get divorced and stay friends," maybe the answer would be "Split up and move on with your lives," but one way or another it's nice to have a supportive setting where you can negotiate that shit.

So I'm gonna give you the same advice, with the added caveat that (1) you should find a couples therapist who is queer or queer-friendly, and (2) you should also make sure that said therapist really believes that bi people exist, and isn't going to just assume from the get-go that you're a closeted lesbian.

Being bi is complicated. For some people it means "my odds of having good sex with a randomly chosen man are precisely as high as my odds of having good sex with a randomly chosen women." For some people it means more like "once every decade or two, there will be a couple weeks when I find myself checking out men." It's possible you're bi but only really experience long-term, sustained attraction with women. It's possible you're bi but only attracted to a small, specific set of men (and sadly, it's possible your husband isn't in that set). It's possible you're bi but turned off by the experience of being with a guy who finds your bisexuality threatening. It's possible that... well, all sorts of things are possible.

So I'm not going to tell you that your sexual orientation is irrelevant to the question, exactly. It's a highly relevant complicating factor and there's no sense ignoring it. But still. There's a basic principle that doesn't change regardless of orientation, which is that it SUCKS ASS to be married to someone you're sexually incompatible with, and based on that principle alone, you are totally justified in trying to do something about it. Couples therapy is about the gentlest, least drastic way of "doing something about it," and there's a decent chance that it really will help you and your husband come to terms with the situation and work out what you want to do next.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 4:55 PM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

One more thought. It sounds to me like your husband is in pretty serious denial here, like if he can just manage to keep the two of you on a frequent-enough sexy-fun-time schedule then it will totally eliminate the bigger issue that you're not actually particularly attracted to him.

That could be another argument for doing therapy together. It's possible that just getting through his denial, getting him to see the problem and take it seriously, will go a long way towards helping you two straighten this shit out in an amicable way — either an amicable "oh hey now I'm gonna pay more attention to your sexual needs" way, or an amicable "oh well if this isn't working for you then we shouldn't keep doing it" way, or even just an amicable "fuck this really sucks I hate that we're splitting up but I guess there's no avoiding it so let's get it over with" way. All of those, even the one that begins "fuck this really sucks," are better than the status quo.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 5:12 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I don't know if I've ever come up IN a question before.

I would re-iterate my suggestion you quoted. That was an answer desperately advising that woman to leave.

Out of context:

There is someone... Tom who is very close to Marry. Tom badgers Marry and manipulates her by claiming he is being victimized. By this Marry is coerced into having unwanted sex.

What does that sound like to you? Is that a thing you would be pleased to hear if a young woman told you that? Does that sound like the kind of thing that under any circumstances should be allowed to continue??

Also the LGBT issue is not a complication. It is a clarification! You have a uncommonly concrete explanation for all that unbelievably wretched sex. Many many people I know have come to this realization later in life after being married for years (people in my own family even). I can't say that makes things easier or cleaner but it can add a clarity and certainty to what must be done. And that is permanent separation.
posted by French Fry at 7:58 PM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

I already don't like your husband for badgering you into sex, but wouldn't both of you be better off being with others who actually want to have sex with you or him? It sucks to only be able to get sex from someone who doesn't want it with you. Staying together is doing no favors for either of you, whatever your orientation is. And yours is clearly "not him sexually "
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:34 AM on June 15, 2013

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