Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Men are for sex, women are for love

I've had more than one person tell me that I sabotaged my marriage when I came out to my wife as gay.

"How was she supposed to react to that?" they've asked. "You basically said you have no sexual interest in her. Why would she want to stay married to you?"

Those are good questions. When phrased in that manner, I can understand how some might see 'coming out' as sabotage.

In my particular case, it wasn't. Within weeks of meeting Charlie, and experiencing a never-before-felt sexual charge whenever she was near him, my wife realized that our connection was fundamentally different. I could call myself anything I wanted, but she knew that there was no sexual heat between us. There never really was, and there never would be, regardless of how much we might love one another.

My wife's attitude is hardly a surprise, is it? Women want love and desire to be linked. Men are different. We're ok with, and often prefer, keeping the two separate. Just think about how common it is for a man to enjoy sex with other men, yet have no romantic interest in them. These same men feel very differently about women. It's as if their personal mantra is "men are for sex, but women are for love."

I wonder: how do these guys label themselves? As straight?

Some must. The thing is, it's hard to make a convincing argument that you're straight when you're regularly having sex with men.

On the other hand, they're clearly not gay, right? You can't be gay and NOT have an emotional attraction to men.

So the answer must be that these men label themselves as bisexual. It's the only answer that makes sense.

Here's the weird thing. The labels "straight", "bi" and "gay" are supposed to define sexual orientation. But these men who desire 'just sex' with men, they're not gay because they apply an emotional criteria to define their orientation.

Consider the sex vs. emotion question as you read this story from a straight wife:
My husband has told me that although he thinks that I am beautiful, he is not attracted to me sexually. He wants to have sex with a man. But he wants to keep our life intact, and stay in this relationship. He says that he doesnt want to have a relationship with a man, just sex, and he loves me. The ball is in my court according to him. He has even suggested the idea of a threesome, so that I can feel better about things if I am there. LOL.

Well, this is what I have come up with after much thought, prayer, and reading...........this is classic man wants his cake and eat it, too. He would like to satisfy his desires and keep his life with me and the kids. Thus not having to feel guilty about anything because I would know about it, and not have to experience any accountability.

The big problem with this to me is that one day he WILL meet someone that he will be attracted to and will want to be with. So, after more years of myself being faithful to this man, going through the insecurity and loss of any self esteem, and being robbed of being with a man who desires me sexually, he will leave me anyway. That is what will happen.

Let me share something else.........I agreed to go to a gay bar with him to help him explore this and see how I would feel about it.........one of the single worst moments of my life was looking across the bar and seeing him looking at a man and flirting with him in a way that he has never looked at me. You know, the flirtatous eyes kind of look. I felt like I couldnt breathe and I was consumed with both jealousy and anger that after all I have been to him and giving him the very best of me all these years, that I have never seen him look at me that way.

Sorry to say, but that is my sad reality. It hurts my heart so much that most days I cannot breathe. We straight wives love men deeply; we are in love with men deeply that cannot love us back sexually the way that we as women need to be loved. They will never smell our hair and skin and get dizzy off the scent of us, or be so desperate to make love to us that they cant see straight. Can he be my best friend and make me laugh till the cows come home? Yup. Can we cook together and drink wine and have a great time together and complete each others sentences? Yup. Is this enough for me for the rest of my life? Nope.

I want it to be enough. I really do. But I know in my heart that its not. I know this man loves me as much as he can love a woman. But at the end of the day, its just not enough. I want more.

Notice that the husband's sexuality is not labeled. Given what he wants - to have an open straight marriage - how do you think he labels himself?

I think it's pretty clear that he believes he is bisexual. He might even think he's straight. The reason I say this is because the reason he brought his wife to the gay bar was to prove to her that his interest in men is purely sexual, not emotional. He can't be gay if he has no emotional interest in men.

The thing is, the visit to the gay bar went horribly wrong. She agreed to give him a chance to prove his loyalty, but he utterly failed in that attempt - at least so far as she is concerned. It ranked as one of the single worst moments of her life. So, based on what she said, I think she believes he's gay - emotional attraction or not.

Who's right?

The question of whether he is bisexual or gay is essential. It truly matters whether he's gay or not because this woman, like most others, does not want to be married to a gay man.

I'd like to hear your thoughts. Please weigh in on whether you think the wife is wrong - he's bi not gay - or whether the man is gay and in denial. And please cite the reasons for your opinion.

Using your comments, I will do a follow-up post that will attempt to untangle the complex mix of desire, emotion and sexual orientation.

One initial observation: isn't it interesting that both my wife and the quoted straight wife seem to agree that heated sexual desire is MORE important in a relationship than emotion, yet this man and I believe the opposite? Is this a common gender difference? If so, isn't it ironic that women ultimately care more about sex and men care more about emotion??

I look forward to your comments.


  1. It's difficult to take one situation and then try to apply it as a generalization that fits everyone. People are funny in that they can be in such denial that they can convince themselves of anything.

    I agree with the wife in this case, the guy wants to have to social acceptance of living an outwardly S8 life while secretly desiring the gay sex on the side. If he really loved his wife as he claims he does, he would refrain and suppress his male desires because he knows how much it hurts his wife. Instead he wants her approval to stray.

    To him, it's just sex so why shouldn't his wife let him, it doesn't mean anything. But the wife could counter with the same argument, it's just sex, if it doesn't mean anything, then why is it so important, just ignore it and focus on the important things like wife and family.

    Some relationships rely less on sexual desire and more on companionship, being a good provider, and faithful and loyal spouse, etc.. But if sex is a necessary component to both of them, then not having it is a dealbreaker and those people should separate.

    And I think underlying the problems like you face is the loss of trust. Your wife can never trust you, and without that every move you make is under suspicion.

  2. I think you have described one of the fundamental differences between arousal in men and women: desire. I've long contended that women must first and foremost feel desired in order to enjoy sex. Love can be an outgrowth of that desire but love absent desire will seldom be enough. Women can easily enjoy sex sans love but I cannot imagine a woman enjoying sex without feeling her partner desires her.
    Men on the other hand seem perfectly capable of enjoying sex with someone who does not desire them. How else would using prostitutes or rent boys be possible? Because this has intrigued me for awhile I've asked gay friends about the rather common practice of the "no reciprocity" thing...what satisfaction is there for the guy who does the deed? This would never likely be a practice any woman would consider unless she was being paid or she was working out some fantasy or kink she had. But for men it is not uncommon. No one has yet been able to articulate *why* men do this and what they get out of performing this service.

  3. "The question of whether he is bisexual or gay is essential. It truly matters whether he's gay or not because this woman, like most others, does not want to be married to a gay man."

    I disagree. Labels are too confining and serve only to help us make sense of things. The labels we commonly use, Gay, Bi, Straight, are the Black, Grey, White labels you might try and pin on a rainbow.

  4. To Anonymous 9:31,

    Have you ever petted a strange dog? Maybe it's a stray dog, a dog that came up to you in a park, or a friend or neighbor's pet.

    Agreed, you get some pleasure as your hand strokes it's fur, but you also love to watch the pleasure the dog gets from being stroked. Often the dog will communicate it's own happiness at being petted, and that in turn brings us pleasure.

    I have been known to give a NSA bj to a guy without any expectation or desire for reciprocation. First of all, sucking dick can be quite pleasurable. Mostly it's a real turn on knowing that you're giving pleasure like that to someone else. The fact that this someone else might be someone you just met, doesn't have much relevance, in fact, not knowing all the baggage behind the penis facade may be an even greater advantage.

    Does that make sense?

    Jack in SLC

  5. Jack,
    Thanks. I understand that. Giving pleasure can be a pleasure in itself. Some, but not all, women enjoy that. too. But the differences for us is that there is a mutual exchange almost always. I can't really imagine it otherwise unless as part of a relationship one party is the focus for that evening or act..more of a game...but that would never be the entirety of the "relationship" for a woman. Too, I really get the nsa aspect. That can be very attractive in some circumstances for both men AND women but the woman would, without a doubt, expect and want to feel "desired" by her partner where I don't think that's a necessary requirement for men.

    Again, thanks much for your insight. I generalize but I think this is one of the key areas that men and women differ in their outlook on sex and it is often mistake for "emotion" by men.
    Oh, I almost forgot, dog lover that I am...I am always petting strange dogs. I will never again think of it the same way after your analogy!! lol

  6. Cameron, you yourself described this as a "tangled complex mix of desire, emotion and sexual orientation," so it is pretty hard to distill it down to labels and stereotypes. And all this is under the assumption that sexuality and desire are fixed entities. Being a self-identified bisexual for all of my adult life and having been out to my wife all 27 years of our marriage I have seen my desire and attraction for my wife and for men ebb and flow. There have been times in our marriage where we were doing it all the time and couldn't keep our hands off of each other (and I am not just talking about early in our marriage) and then there have been spells where many months go by when we haven't been intimate — work, kids, stress etc. got in the way. My desire for men has had a similar flow. There are times I feel straighter than others and other times when I feel gayer than others. The Klein sexual orientation grid (http://www.bisexual.org/kleingrid.html) does a fairly good job of covering all the many components that go into how we identify ourselves and even it allows for change and fluidity.

    I think what is truly at play with the example you cite is trust. The wife can no longer trust her husband, she no longer trusts in their love. Trust is what allows you to adapt and adjust to your relationship over time and through the changes through which it naturally goes. We have such a strong desire to hold onto our expectation or image of what we think our relationship should be/look like. The thing is nothing remains the same. Once trust is damaged in a relationship for whatever reason it is hard to move forward until it is healed (if it can be healed), and my guess is that the trip to the gay bar shattered her image of their relationship. So she is unable to trust in that relationship anymore because it wasn't based in reality to begin with.

    I now live a polyamorous life. I have a male lover with whom I spend two nights a week. I spend the rest of the week with my family. I am physically intimate with both of my partners and I haven't heard any complaints from either of them. Actually quite the contrary, my wife now thinks I am a better lover. I am also one of those guys that desires both emotional and physical intimacy with my partners so I could never settle for a series of hookups (although I went through an unsatisfying phase of that as well).

    For another perspective from a straight spouse I invite you to read my wife's post on my blog —

    I don't know if that is the kind of feedback you were seeking. Is the man in the story gay or bi? Does it really matter? I think that is why more and more of today's youth are returning to the more open ended identity of queer. Are men more for sex and woman for love? There's a whole biological component to that one, but ultimately I think what we all want to do is connect and we find a multitude of ways to do that — including blogging and commenting on blogs.

  7. It's hard to really judge, since this is the story of one person, who I don't know. I'm also reading it through the filter of another person. It sounds like this is a gay man who prefers a platonic relationship with his wife.

    I can say as a man who identifies as bi, that I have no trouble being turned on by my wife. It's her desire for me that is the problem. My experience of women is that they are generally a lot less concerned with sex.

    It sounds like a basic story of wanting what one cannot have. This man cannot have men, so he wants them. The woman cannot have her husband sexually, so she wants him.

  8. I think the wife wants to be the one and only...the center of his world. And under this scenario she most definitely will not be. She just wants a normal marriage...I think. Can you blame her? What if his interest shifts entirely to men over time? And she is left in the cold in her old age?

  9. Cameron,

    Very thought-provoking post! I have never liked the labels. Although I have been separated from my wife and living with my partner for almost 2 years, I don't feel gay. I feel straight, emotionally and socially, but gay only in the sexual sense.

    And when I was living with my wife those 29 years I loved her and the sex. And I loved smelling her hair and just melting into her. But I loved sex with guys more- a thing I discovered the last 4 years. So I thought it was fair to tell her I had been doing that. We went to counseling but I really wanted to be with my partner and so we split. I don't think the trust would have been there like it is for some - DMG's comments are amazing - and it has borne out by her anger towards me since. No polyamorous life for me...

  10. I honestly don't think the labels matter. What everyone should be searching for is passion in the bedroom and outside of the bedroom with one person. I was married to a woman for 20 years and thought that we had a great relationship. We knew each other intimately, but I never wanted to have sex with her. How unfair for both of us.

    I am now married to a man that turns me on sexually and emotionally. These two things do not need to be separate. Everyone should chart their own course, but why not choose someone that satisfies all of your needs?

    I am a man who loves another man completely, body and soul. If that's gay, then bring it on.

  11. My husband just pulled me into the closet with him. He is sexually attracted to men, however he also doesn't think he would like an open marriage. he would like to find th elove that I feel for him with another man. I think that would make him gay. Sexual orientation defines only who you would like to have sex with. The emotional connection one wants with a particular sex is what makes them gay, bisexual, straight ect. That is how I view it.

    On another note i would love to stay married to my husband. He is way better than any straight husband! So our sex life isn't magical, but it is not bad. He is kind, loving and everything that straight husbands aren't. Our marriage is probably one of the best marriages on the block, sex is just one small aspect of marriage, that alone can not hold a marriage together.

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  14. Hi. I just discovered my bisexuality a year ago and talked to my wife about it a week ago. We had only been married 2 1/2 years, and I was afraid she would think I lied to her. 2 years ago I knew without a doubt that I was straight just as I know now that I am not so much.

    It has been difficult for me to accept but about a month ago I just kinda accepted it myself. When I told my wife she was so accepting and encouraging it blew my mind. I certainly wasn't expecting that! I fear though, that one day she will feel the same as the wife who wrote that story above.

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