Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Married Men on the Down Low

Craigslist, Manhunt, Adam4Adam and many other websites are loaded with married men who are looking for casual sex with other men. "No strings attached." "Safe sex."

If you're bi and married, a down-low hook up every once in a while is a good way to take the edge off, to keep yourself content and well-balanced. If you're careful and safe, it's no big deal, right?

I haven't done anything sexual with a guy in more than eight years. My last NSA hook-up was a few years before that; I'm rusty and out of practice. But I still remember what was in my head as I made dates to meet men. I remember what it's like to enjoy raw masculine sex. I know the mindset. I know how to handle the guilt. And most importantly, when the connection was good I felt like a much more complete man.

What I never spent much time thinking about was my wife. Honestly, she didn't seem that relevant. Meeting a guy was completely different than being with her. Day and night. Two different worlds that, really, had nothing to do with each other. I felt that as long as I was safe and didn't get caught, no one would be hurt and I'd ultimately be a happier guy and therefore a better husband.

No one keeps statistics, but I'm sure it is literally an every day occurrence that a stunned wife discovers evidence that her husband has been meeting other men for casual sex.

As some wives try to wrap their heads around what they have discovered, they sometimes look to other women who have found themselves in the same situation. As a formerly cheating married man, when I came across the advice these women give to each other, I found it to be absolutely fascinating. Here is one example:

"When I found out quite by accident a couple of months ago, that my husband was concealing his one night stands with gay men, I was wounded to the core. The deception! The lies! The extreme disrespect! The trashing of our family--I so hated him for all of it that I could barely bring myself to look at him.

"At the exact same time, I was (and am) terrified of being alone, not sure how I and our child will survive financially, and, yes have serious doubts about my ability to find and attract a new man. I also now DO look at him and sometimes see the handsome, smart man that had attracted me to begin with more than 2 decades ago.

"BUT--and here is the hopeful part--my anger and resentment at his complete disregard for me, and his almost unbelievably glib pack of lies (that continue to this day) has FUELED ME TO MOVE TO ANOTHER LEVEL--and this can happen to you, too.

"If you have any shred of self respect left, you have some anger in there because you have been deeply disrespected--and you know in your heart that you cannot live with a man who sneaks out for gay sex, lies to you without remorse and cannot give you the love that you need.

"That man that you 'love' has treated you like shit. We wove some dreams around these men that said more about our desire to love, our desire to have a wonderful family, our desire for love and stability than it ever said about the actual person we have been married to.

"I think I have been married to a composite of my own desires and have not seen the self-centered, uncaring person who does not, and cannot love me.

"So, what I am getting to is this--try to look at him objectively--is he a good man, a decent man, someone you can happily partner with, going forward?

"My answer was NO! Picture him meeting up with his gay sex partners, cleaning himself up afterwards and then plopping down at the dinner table with you and your kids.


"If not, save all of that good love for someone who will return it."

As I reflected on this I thought: I've always been a good man, a loving man, a decent man. Of course I love my wife. Surely the husband of this woman is someone far worse than me. Surely what I have done is not nearly as bad as what that man has done.

That's why it was acceptable for me to cheat.

And that's why it's acceptable for others like me to cheat - all those thousands of married men who are logged on to Manhunt and Adam4Adam right now.

It's something to think about.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What Straight Wives Think

This blog and most of the blogs I have listed on the right are written by gay or bi men who are, or were, married.

For the most part these men represent my social circle. We're a somewhat geographically diverse group but other than that, we're pretty homo(geneous).

A few months ago I wanted some opinions about my situation that came from a different perspective - straight wives. I found an open, anonymous on-line forum mostly populated by such, so I posted about my situation and asked for opinions. Boy did I get some!

Ever since reading those replies I have been fascinated by the straight wife's perspective. Because my wife preferred to pretend I was not gay when I came out to her, she and I never really talked about how she felt. And it's not like there are a lot of blogs written from the straight wife's perspective. Although I am very familiar with the man's point of view, getting an insight into what women really think has been extremely fascinating and very educational.

People and situations are different so I have to be careful here not to over-generalize. I'm sure that the reactions of straight wives to their husbands' coming out run the whole gamut from violent outrage to genuine joy. With that said, here are some common feelings expressed by straight wives I've come to know:

1. One of the biggest reasons married men hesitate to come out to their wives is because they fear being rejected because of their sexuality. I have learned that most intelligent, educated women (i.e., those that take the time to participate in a certain on-line forum) are not nearly so upset about their husband's declaration as they are about the lies that may have proceeded it. Lies are the BIG SIN not being gay or bi.

2. Timing is extremely important, but not necessarily in the way that first comes to mind. When you're in the closet and thinking about coming out, the tendency is to obsess about the exact circumstances as to when you're going to drop the bomb. Yes, exact timing matters. But what's most important to the straight wife is to be told AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. The longer the delay, the longer you've lied and the more upset she is likely to be.

3. Closeted husbands tend to obsess about whether they will be rejected and sent packing just hours after coming out. Yes, that does happen, but far more often the straight spouse wants to preserve the marriage. In fact, more often that not, the wife will engage in a whole range of selfless behaviors in an effort to "save" the marriage. How the wife's efforts are received by the husband can have major implications for their future relationship, regardless of whether they stay married or not. Insensitive and selfish behavior on the husband's part soon after coming out is the best way to turn a cordial relationship into a multi-year nightmare.

4. The bi or gay husband's desire to be "understood" is often the most painful part of the coming out conversation for his wife. After keeping his feelings pent up for years, the natural desire is to engage in a few rounds of verbal diarrhea about the misery of being isolated and depressed while in the closet. It's easy to confuse "being honest" with "too much information." Although wives DO want to know where your penis has been, they're only interested in a heavily abridged Reader's Digest version of your suffering. The part of the story they are most interested in is...what does this mean to me????

5. After the initial shock of the news wears off and the wife is left to figure out what she is supposed to do with her life, the very biggest issues for her come down to the husband taking responsibility for his behavior. Stopping the lies is a key part of that but it is only the beginning. Taking responsibility means not blaming others (especially the wife; straight wives don't change our sexuality, they cannot be held responsible for the way we were born), to be man enough to wade through the inevitable shit that happens when the kids, family and friends find out, and to show some genuine compassion for the financial situation in which you leave your wife.

I don't know if others find the straight wife's perspective as interesting as I do. I hope some of you do because I have a few more posts in mind about them and also about remaining married after disclosure.