It’s more complicated than you might think.
Prompted to delve in to this issue by my caller Antonio, whose wife of 15 years left him for another woman, the issues of leaving a straight relationship for a same sex one, are complex.
Antonio was blindsided, and understandably hurt when his wife suddenly left him for her female lover. At the time, he was working three jobs to support her and their three children.
So, what factors are at play when a spouse decides to leave their heterosexual relationship for a gay relationship? The differences between the sexes in this situation are vast.
The Men. When men decide to venture outside of their heterosexual relationship, research supports the notion that they are simply acting on a basic homosexual attraction that has always been part of who they are. That may not be what you wanted to hear, but it is generally agreed that homosexual attractions never change and may grow stronger over time. For men, homosexual attractions always were and always will be.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 7% of men have sex with men, but gay men are estimated to comprise about 4% of the population. So, what’s up with the missing 3%?
A 2006 study of gay men, published in the “Annals of Internal Medicine” indicated that nearly 10% of men in New York City who were surveyed identified themselves as straight, but, had sex exclusively with men! What? There’s that missing 3%!
This same study found that nearly 10% of married men had experienced sex with another man in the preceding year. What’s going on here?
Well, for men who have lived a predominantly heterosexual life, coming out gay is complex. In addition, many of them don’t see themselves as “gay”. Many of them believe they are too straight to be gay. They don’t identify with the gay lifestyle. They have an easier time identifying as bisexual or bicurious, and many of them are married. Their sexual dalliances with men are “on the down low”.
Sacrificing the marriage, even though they are unfaithful with a same sex partner, is too much to give up. There are privileges to leading a double life while presenting themselves in society as straight. It does get complex.
The Women. Female sexuality swings more broadly from the spectrum of straight to gay. Their sexual orientation is said to be fluid.
Psychologist Lisa M. Diamond tracked the sexual behavior of nearly 100 women. After studying them for a decade, she wrote in her book “Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women’s Love and Desire”, “that one of the fundamental, defining features of female sexual orientation is its fluidity.” “A predominantly heterosexual woman might, at some point in time, become attracted to a woman, just as a predominantly lesbian woman might at some point become attracted to a man”.
I take the research on men and women, who go from straight to gay, to mean that a woman who finds herself in a gay relationship is not as “set in stone” as a man when it comes to sexual preferences. Men, who desire men, will always desire men. Women will more easily swing both ways.
The final point to mention is that, of course, all of this has woven in to it the issues of infidelity, trust, lies and broken relationships. I referenced the article by Loren A. Olson, MD titled, “Infidelity and Forgiveness: The Complexities of coming Out in a Straight Relationship”, for this blog. Dr. Olson is a psychiatrist and author of “Finally Out: Letting Go of Living Straight”. Google his article. It has more great information for if you find yourself in this situation!
Listen to my caller Antonio tell his story of how his wife left him for a women, this Saturday, 11.1.14, on 1150 KSAL. The Joan Jerkovich Show broadcasts from 6-7:30 am CST.
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