I am a 30 year old female and have been dating a very wonderful successful 35 year old man for approximately 1 year now. When I say wonderful I mean he is caring, sensitive, ambitious, intelligent, loving man. In the midst of his wonderful qualities I have a very big concern, I think he may be bisexual/homosexual. The main reason I feel this way is because of difficulties in our sexual relationship. Our sex life appears to lack passion. When we do have sex, which is not that often, once or twice a month, he has difficulty maintaining an erection, but has no problem maintaining with oral sex. I am also concerned that he does not touch my body in ways that communicate sexual desire for me. He has dated other women in the past, and has told me that his previous relationship was very much controlled sexually. Most of his previous girlfriends have been older and divorced with children. They have also had voluptuous body types, while I am petite and thin and have never been married. I feel he enjoyed the “chivalrous” role he played with these women. I also know that he enjoys watching pornographic movies and often masturbates with these. He also went through a depression about 1 1/2 ago (did not take medication), but he feels this has nothing to with it. We have openly discussed his lack of sexual desire for me openly. Although he tells me he does not have a solid reason or solution and that he believes we will get passed this, he has mentioned that this relationship is the first one that seems so right, free of conflict or situations that could give him an easy outlet. He says that scares him and is very new for him, which can influence the development of intimacy. I also do not spend the night with him and he states that this prevents us from living our relationship and developing more intimacy. We have also discussed the body frame issue, which I sincerely don’t buy and frankly upsets me that this would even be considered as an issue. I often question if I’m being just plain naive in taking any of these “explanations” into consideration and become angry with myself. When we have discussed homosexual themes he has told me he is not gay, although he doesn’t blame me for thinking this. I wish there was a “how to know if your boyfriend is gay” checklist, I’m sure other women are probably in my same situation. Although he doesn’t have any of the “stereotypical” gay traits, I don’t want to marry him and years later find out he has been repressing his homosexual desires! Nowadays you just NEVER know. I should also mention that my previous relationship was with a younger man whose sexual libido was quite the opposite (very high). Have I lost sense of what normalcy is? Can I be so full of myself that I cannot consider the possibility that a man is not instantly aroused by me? When we discuss homosexual men marrying he states many men do this as camouflage because of their career. Can he be talking about himself? His father was very much “homo-phobic”, and he greatly admired his father and his dad’s acceptance is a big factor. He has also mentioned his parents sent him to camp when he was little so he could “toughen up” since they felt he was becoming to much of a “momma’s boy”, and he is a sensitive guy. I come from a Hispanic family where men really play the “macho” role. Can this be playing a factor as well? Am I reading too much into this? please help….
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No one would know more than boyfriend if he is gay. If he gets aroused by heterosexually oriented porn, then he is probably not mostly oriented towards homosexuality. Whether he is bisexual or not is a different issue but not really one that need concern you. People have powerful sexual urges for extra-marital partners all the time and many of them manage to not act on them. I don’t know that it would matter all that much if he was attracted to other women or other men if he was at core happy with his relationship with you. Anyway – I don’t think that the issue is really whether this man is gay. I think it is more about the very different needs for safety, intimacy and sexual ecstasy that you each seem to bring to your partnership.
You seem to be some one who wants a lot of passionate sexuality. Your boyfriend, on the other hand, appears to need a more controlled, cautious sexual path. For him, perhaps, intimacy is something that is build up slowly, along with a feeling of safety. He may only feel safe being explicitly sexual when he feels intimacy and safety already. He’s perhaps at core fearful of unrestrained passion, while you perhaps see it as the very path through which intimacy is built. These two very different positions towards sex and safety and intimacy are both quite legitimate. However, when they are crossed like this, a mismatch between the partners occurs that can be quite painful for both parties.
The marital therapist and clinical psychologist John Gottman, Ph.D. tells us that there are many problems in relationships that cannot really be solved, because in order to solve them it would involve violating the identity and needs of one or more of the partners. For instance, if my extrapolations of your different positions are at all accurate, it would be very difficult if not impossible for your boyfriend to just give up his need for caution, in the same way that it would be difficult if not impossible for you to just give up your need for more passion. Those needs are a part of your respective personalities, and are there based on past experiences that are not removable. They can be modified slowly over time, given the proper loving attention, but they cannot be changed quickly.
Your two diverse approaches to passion and control may be something that will take years to resolve if ever – but this doesn’t mean that you cannot have a satisfying relationship if you truly love one another. What will be important, if you are to have a good partnership is that both of you dedicate yourselves to doing as much as you can to understanding and meeting the other party in the middle – and remembering to laugh about your differences when they are painful.
I recommend that you both seek out couples counseling now (prior to any talk of marriage), as this issue of passion and control should at least be firmly out on the table and accepted by both of you if you are to proceed.