photo for gay straightI have heard from any number of women who are understandably shocked and confused to find out that the man they are seeing or married to has been having sexual experiences with other men.  Sometimes it is in the form of actual sexual encounters in various situations and sometimes it is only in the context of cybersex experiences.  These are situations in which the relationship had previously seemed like a normal heterosexual one.  Often it is confusing to the man as well who feels he cares for and is genuinely attracted to his female partner.

Straight men who are interested in gay sex are not at all uncommon.  Research conducted by okcupid.com found that 13% of straight men have had gay sexual experiences and another 5% have not but would like to.  Their report maps out the concentrations of “gay curious” men across the United States and Canada showing some interesting results.

So there are a number of ways clinicians can think about this type of situation.

Some believe that the fact that the man is having sexual experiences with men indicates the possibility that he is covertly gay and is in need of help to overcome his shame and come out.

But I believe it is impossible to conclude that a man is or is not gay or bisexual simply based on his acting out sexually with men.  In most cases, the first question to assess is whether the man’s behavior actually is addictive or not.  Is he just having an occasional encounter with another man when the opportunity presents itself?  This may not be characterized by the sexual preoccupation, the compulsiveness, the furtiveness and the shame that usually characterize sexually addictive behavior.  In such a case, the man may just be sexually adventurous and interested in any desirable sexual opportunity wherever it presents itself.

In some cases the man in question is very addicted to real or virtual experiences of gay sex.  In other words assessment will indicate that the behavior and associated fantasies are excessive and preoccupying.  Also that he feels bad about how much it controls him, that there have been negative consequences in his life or relationships, that it has had a pattern of escalating over time and that he has been unable to quit.

When sex addiction therapists see this pattern they often find that there is some history of trauma that is being played out compulsively in the addictive behavior pattern.  Addictive sexual behaviors often mirror early memories and are highly charged by urges that come from deeply buried experiences.  Hence they are powerful and can become a drug.  But this in itself tells us little about the issue of the man’s “real” sexual orientation.  He could be a gay or bisexual man who is a sex addict or he could be a straight man whose acting out behavior scenario is with gay men.

As sex addiction therapists we are often unable to answer the question of orientation until the addiction has been addressed.  You could say that in some situations addiction trumps orientation, and it is only after the person has worked through the unconscious issues driving the addiction and come to some level of sobriety from the drug of his acting out behavior that we can begin to see whether he actually has a gay or bi or straight orientation.  It may be that he would be happier having relationships with men, that he is more likely to fall in love with men.  Or he may find that he truly does prefer his relationship with a woman once he has given up his sexual acting out behavior in recovery.

Regardless of what his sexual orientation turns out to be, this man may be like all recovering sex addicts.  He may feel a pull toward his old addictive behavior, just as any addict would, whether he is in a relationship with a man or a woman.  But in recovery this may be something that subsides with time.  And that is the point: in recovery we truly have the choice to live in the way that will bring us the most fulfillment.  Find Dr. Hatch on Facebook at Sex Addictions Counseling or Twitter @SAResource

 


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    Last reviewed: 4 Apr 2013

APA Reference
Hatch, L. (2013). When Straight Men are Addicted to Gay Sex. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 16, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/sex-addiction/2013/03/when-straight-men-are-addicted-to-gay-sex/

 




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