Gay to Straight Woes
July 13, 2006 5:09 PM   Subscribe

Have any MeFites had experience dating someone of the opposite sex after previously only being attracted to members of the same sex?

I have previously identified myself as homosexual. I recently began a relationship with a very close friend of the opposite sex. I love them, but whether it is as a close friend or something more I'm not sure. It is difficult for me to stop thinking about dating members of the same sex. Sometimes I look at my partner and wish they were my gender; I still find myself in the "single person" mode and part of my head is still continually weighing options for someone of the same sex to date. The physical relationship with the current partner is good, but I wonder if it wouldn't be better if they were of the same gender. I wonder if I wouldn't feel more connected to them.

I want to give this relationship a chance; I don't want it to write it off as idle curiousity or a "settling" relationship until I "trade up" if I find someone suitable of the same sex to date. My partner deserves better than that and I refuse to do that to them. I don't know whether the difficulty in turning off the dating radar is normal for people getting off a long period of single-hood or whether it's rooted in my lack of attraction in general to my partner's gender (I still do not find other members of that gender attractive). I'm looking for guidance from others in my situation. How did your relationship start? Did you have trouble adjusting to the idea of yourself dating someone of the opposite sex? Did you have trouble not continually searching for someone of the same sex to date, or did that urge dissipate as the relationship progressed?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
posted by jjg at 5:27 PM on July 13, 2006

It sounds to me like yer just a big ol' homo (said lovingly from one to another).

I'm pretty darn near sure that it's possible for gay folks to fall in love/lust/respect/trust/attraction/bed with members of the opposite sex and stay that way quite happily for a long time. But it seems to me like your recently begun relationship is already suffering from a wandering (and rather mysteriously non-gendered) loin that wants something diff'rnt.

I'm a big believer in passion being a-number-one in a the ol' love dept. Boy or girl, it just doesn't seem (from your post at least) that you've got it for him or her.
posted by 10ch at 7:46 PM on July 13, 2006

Flip it around. If this person was the same person (in broad terms of personality, likes/dislikes, hobbies, idiosyncracies, whatnot), but had the plubing that you generally prefer, d'you think you'd be more interested or about the same?

If it's more, then plumbing is the issue. If it's the same, then it's probably adjusting to dating again. I'd suggest a couple sessions with a queer-positive therapist (but not queer-activist; what you're doing is a big no-no* in many homo circles, except for the seriously pomo sexuality crowd) who specializes in relationships.

*By which I mean that it runs rather counter to the gay/straight binary paradigm, and likely falls afoul of most peoples' conceptioni of bisexuality as well.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:47 PM on July 13, 2006

I've always been straight (behaviorally, anyhow...for the most part ;) ), but I had a friend I was fairly close to briefly who'd spent pretty much her whole life as a lesbian, but then told me she was interested in men. You sound almost just like her. So uncertain, so confused and troubled about it. I'm not sure if she ever actually started dating men.. I don't think she did because ultimately she was too anxious/uncertain/afraid of it, and just went back to women, with whom she was more comfortable. In her case, she was sexually molested (possibly raped as well) by her father at a young age and that made relationships/trust with men particularly difficult for her.

It sounds to me like you really know the answers but you are not listening to your gut. If I were you I would let all your anxiety settle to try to gain some clarity about it -- maybe meditate, or it might just take time for your uncertainty/confusion to settle.

I like the idea put forth by Kinsey, which says we are not EITHER gay or straight but fall somewhere on a continuum. Maybe you are, say, 85% gay. But, and I could be wrong about this because those 2 paragraphs are the entirety of what I know about your and your life, it sounds to me like you are not really attracted to this person, but mainly feeling a sense of platonic love. Sort of like when you sleep with a roommate and have a "bed buddy" kind of relationship.. they're there.. nearby and available when you're feeling lonely or horny.

Maybe this is coming up as a situation that will ultimately strengthen your self-concept as gay.. as in, feeling more secure that that's your true orientation.

Whatever the 'answer' is, if there is such a thing in this situation, I think you know it already, but maybe just haven't seen it yet.
posted by mojabunni at 8:04 PM on July 13, 2006

Well here's my story. I identified as being gay about year ago, and was very open about. It was during that, at some point, that I found I did harbor an attraction to a few members of the opposite sex. I started dating member of the other sex and eventually the whole 'gay thing' seemed like more of a phase really.

The phase did mean I turned down a few girls at the time, and has given me a small reputation that makes dating now somewhat more difficult. On the plus side, it certainly made me a more accepting person (in more ways than the obvious) plus offered challenges, which are always nice when you overcome them (becoming school captain in my Catholic High School while very open about it is something that gives me that warm fuzzy feeling).

Having gone back to 'being straight' I've come across problems. I've found a major problem being is that more often I seem to attract members of the same sex than the opposite, this usually leads to a one-off hook-up, which is a shame as I always much prefer relationships. I have, an occasion, been unable to pursue a relationship on account of my history, as well as the odd friend adamant that a tiger cannot change its stripes (and keen on letting others know this).

I was still in High School for my first relationship after deciding it was a mere phase, however I had had heterosexual relationships beforehand. I found it remarkably similar, except for perhaps getting less stares and giggles whenever we walked holding hands (of course, she wasn't such a fan of that as it turned out). The fact that it was her first relationship certainly changed things, contrasting with a guy who had dated both guys and girls. But all in all, I didn't have too bad a time. Now days, the only thing that makes me feel awkward is my terrible dry-spell, but at my age, I can certainly live with it for now.

It seems you have a different problem. Now, you haven't mentioned what your gender is, which, in my mind at least, does change things somewhat. The fact that you already have a relationship now is a good sign at least.

One could say that in every relationship there are attributes that one wishes the other partner had. This, however, definitely does not hold in this situation. I've heard people say things to the contrary, but to me it is certainly not this way.

It sounds as if your partner already knows about your history, but if not, I suggest telling him/her. They'll find out anyway, and it not only creates trust in the relationship, but opens up the avenue of talking about the problem you mentioned.

Now, it is more than just the sex, but that is an important thing. Are you enjoying it? Do you think of someone else during it? However, keep in mind that problems in bed do not necessarily identify problems with the gender.

Should (touch wood) this relationship not work out, I'd suggest you still leave yourself open to both sexes. You're not going to know which one you prefer unless you get a decent sample size (that was terribly nerdy of me, which my well explain my dry-spell). If you don't want to be thinking about the same-sex while in this current relationship, just think how badly you want to remain faithful in the relationship. Sounds hard? That's the point. What you're going through is similar to the man who may have married the wrong woman. There are cheap tricks to stop thinking about it (focus on your worse same-sex relationships etc.) but in the end it's all about finding out what sticks with you. So go out and find out.

Of course, all this comes with the disclaimer that I am only 18 years old, so I'm hardly a overflowing cup of experience. And good luck.
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 8:09 PM on July 13, 2006

Seems to me that if you're having this many doubts this early on, you're not ready for a monogamous relationship with this person. I'd suggest putting the breaks on the potential relationship & doing some soul-searching.

To look at it another way, I'd say there's a greater chance of a relationship succeeding in the long-run if both partners take it as slowly as they need to. If one partner feels rushed or makes comitments they're honestly not ready for, I'd say the chances are very slim that the relationship will last.
posted by treepour at 8:58 PM on July 13, 2006

I have experienced a lot of what you're talking about. It's just very very weird to open yourself up to having relationships with or having sex with a new gender.

[personalexperience] Between the ages of sixteen and twenty-four, I was an all-girl girl, and very happy that way. Then I began realising that I was attracted to a (very) few men. I began acting on these feelings and have found myself enjoying the experiences more and more.[/personalexperience]

I think what eases the transition is experimenting outside reationships as much as possible. This means one can try before buying, so to speak.

Obviously, this is tricky for you, because a budding relationship was the catalyst for your new explorations. If it were feasible, I would advise a period of experimentation before committing to one person. However, given that probably isn't possible, just keep on keeping on with your partner. Maybe try a few more things in bed? Is an open relationship a possibility? I think you will come to see whether you two really aren't compatible, or you are just having a few teething troubles that result from sex with a person from a new gender.

A wandering eye isn't necessarily a harbinger of doom. (Did you have one in your queer relationships?)

In the end, I think that opening the door to other genders is fully positive because:

a) attraction/love/desire becomes more a matter of the person and less one of gender. These days, I genunely think, "that person is hot," rather than "he/she is hot".

b) you are just widening the pool of people with whom you can have fun and relationships. Revel in it.
posted by pollystark at 6:11 AM on July 14, 2006

let's all take note that it isn't just straight vs. gay out there. you can be a lil' bit of both. perhaps being so adamant about idenfying with your same-sex relationships is inhibiting your ability to function in an opposite-sex relationship ("this isn't me!!").
posted by soma lkzx at 8:15 AM on July 14, 2006

What you're attempting in this relationship is possible, and it happens all the time. Two of my good friends are now husband and wife, even though he had mainly dated men before meeting her (they met in a gay bar of all places). But before the idea of committing to something forever gives you the total creeping shakes, keep in mind that all you need to do is to commit to the adventure you are on at this moment, and to consider it just that, an adventure.

But it will only work if you are able to resolve, not ignore, your feelings of doubt. Sex brings so many of our ephemeral urges and dreads to center stage, and makes whatever you we feeling at any given moment seem the most valid. Give it time. You are grappling with trying to find a way of seeing yourself and your future, but what you have in the present sounds great. I'm sure your friend knew this would be an issue when they took it to the next level with you, and is also adopting a "wait and see" attitude. It will be a terrible shame if one day when you look back at this relationship all you can remember are these feelings instead of the actual time you spent together.

The problem with having so much sexual freedom is that it creates the feeling that a person can actually attain their sexual ideal, no matter who or what it is. But the people we are given to choose from come in very mixed packages, and actual ideals very rarely present themselves, and even then are too good to be true. The fact that you have the happiness that you do in such a mixed package is worth exploring further, especially since you are both adults and you both are honest about what the situation really is. Having dated both sexes, I have learned how to balance the reality of both against my expectations of either.

Having to keep my sexuality under wraps for so many years, from an early age I grew a voracious "hunter" mentality that you describe above, my dating radar cranked so high that it was secretly my main instinct in almost any public place or social setting. I was always preparing myself for that moment when I would look up and see the person I'd been dreaming of for years. Barring that, I wanted to have an immediate mental index of who was available, who was interested, and who could be compelled to be either. It has taken me years to turn this sensitivity down to a manageable volume. I'm now over three years into a relationship, but the whole first year was spent trying to keep myself from sabotaging it for whoever walked in the door. It is psychological baggage that has outgrown its usefulness and I have worked hard to discard it. Hopefully someday even if I am single again I can keep it at bay and enjoy people and situations for what they are, not for what they could be (or what I could make them be.

And if it doesn't work, then your concept of your sexuality will be greatly informed in the future.

I want to say I'm really glad that people have showed up here with such good advice. These matters are hard to discuss with others in our lives (often because of the sexual politics mentioned above). Email is in profile, if you want to talk more.
posted by hermitosis at 8:23 AM on July 14, 2006

anonymous and "slumber party" boy (ahem), you sound like nice young men. (I'm just going to make the male assumption about anon.) Many guys, having been through a gay "phase," go back to being straight. Alas, the being straight thing turns out to be yet another phase. Sometimes this phase extends into a marriage that ends when the husband is caught being, in fact, gay. Either in porn or in act.

(When it comes to determining in your sexuality, porn is a great tool. No one cares if you're able to get hard and have straight sex. I used to do that too, but through it all, I sure did love my gay porn. I would look at straight porn for good measure, but I knew I was kidding myself.)

This is not to claim that sexuality is binary. It's to claim that, wherever you want to see yourself on some gay-ass continuum, you experience more desire for one sex or the other. In long relationships, like the one anonymous is considering entering with his (?) friend, sexual desire fluctuates. This happens to everyone. It's already difficult when you're on the low end of this fluctuation, but there is nothing more destructive to a relationship at that point than the desire for sexual organs your partner does not possess. It's the death blow.

And regarding "adventure," none of the handful of women I know who've seriously dated pre-gay men would describe the experience as such. It's a humiliation they have a heck of a time forgetting about.

So this is my advice: since you care about this person, be honest about your continuing hankerings for gay sex. She (?) presumably knows about your past "identification," but deserves a little reality check.
posted by Doctor Barnett at 11:18 AM on July 14, 2006

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