I’m a 42 year-old man and am in a mess. I’m married to a woman, father of two children and I’m realizing I’m gay. I’ve been having a relationship with a guy I met online for the last few months and I’m falling in love.
I always knew I was attracted to men but wanted to have a normal life like everyone else. When and where I was growing up, being gay wasn’t accepted and I didn’t want to face a life of ostracism. Also I wanted to have a family. I dated girls hoping I would stop thinking about guys, but I never stopped fantasizing.
I’ve been happy with Rachel overall and I wouldn’t have missed being a dad for anything. But I am feeling so much more passion and love with Chris. Plus, the sex is amazing, so much better than anything I ever experienced with a woman. Every time I’ve had sex with a woman, I’ve really been fantasizing about guys.
For about 25 years I’ve been telling myself I’m bisexual but I don’t think that’s the case anymore.
If Rachel finds out she will be furious and I’m worried she’ll poison our kids against me. A few years ago she found some gay porn on my laptop. She sort of accepted I was “curious” and maybe a little bi but I promised I would never act on it. But I think she has been suspicious ever since.
On the other hand, I don’t want to spend the rest of my time hiding or being in a sham marriage. And Chris is pressing me to leave Rachel because he doesn’t want to be “the other woman.” I’m afraid he’ll leave me if I don’t leave Rachel. But then I go in a circle because of the kids issue. I’m so scared to make a move that could hurt my relationship with them.
I don’t see any clear way out and I’d be grateful for your expertise.
Yes, you are in a mess, and you have a lot of work to do on yourself.
Here are a few points to consider:
First, I’m struck by how little regard or empathy you have for your wife. Your focus is on avoiding her wrath and keeping her clueless so that you can have things your way, rather than considering the kind of marriage you’re giving her. She’s married to a guy who promised he would not have sex with men and then begins an affair with a guy he met online. I’m not telling you that you shouldn’t have sex with men, but what about her right to honest dialogue about all this?
Second, I’m struck by how much your decision-making is driven by fear. You don’t want to tell your wife you’re gay because she might poison the kids against you. Conversely, you might tell your wife because otherwise Chris will leave you.
I’m not saying any of this to slam you. I want to get you thinking about how you want to treat others, about how honest you want to be, about how you make your choices and about accepting the consequences of your choices.
Let’s go way back to your decision to date girls and get married.
True, it was a lot more difficult to be gay in the 1990s than it is today. But while there was far less acceptance then, there were plenty of out and visible gay people. We’re talking the 1990s, not the 1950s.
So I’m wondering what’s up with your telling yourself this story. My hunch is that you haven’t wanted to struggle with the harder road in life. You’ve wanted to give yourself an out.
Problem is, there are often consequences to taking the (seemingly) easy road, and now you’re facing them.
If you want to be with Chris and don’t want to be with Rachel, it would be kind to do her the favor of letting her know you aren’t really into her so that she doesn’t squander the rest of her life in a sham marriage. Yes, there may be consequences to your being honest, though if you have a good relationship with your children, you may stand a good chance of staying connected to them.
Speaking of squandering, consider that you may in large part be squandering your own life, lying, living in fear and pretending to be someone you’re not. The path out of your “mess” is to figure yourself out, to take the time to consider who you want to be and to define the values by which you want to live.
We’re talking about you constructing a self for the first time, by challenging yourself to live with integrity. You’ve taken the first step on this road by telling yourself the truth. Good luck going forward.
Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with LGBT couples and individuals in D.C. He can be found online at michaelradkowsky.com. All identifying information has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Have a question? Send it to Michael@michaelradkowsky.com.