Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What My Straight Wife Said

The proof is in the numbers. This blog gets consistently more page views when I write about straight wives and gay husbands.

I have quite a few more interesting experiences and ideas to share on that topic. I hadn't planned on writing about my straight wife and me, but this little anecdote is worth a few sentences.


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Three weeks ago I wrote about Feeling Lost.

In the several months since my wife and I agreed to separate I've had one date. My self-confidence has been so low that I've opted not pursue anyone because I'm afraid that I can't handle being rejected. (Yes I know I'm being ridiculous.)

I've come to suspect that I have a psychological block of some kind. Until a few days ago I hadn't been able to identify the cause, but now I think I've found the problem. Or at least, one of the problems.

The fact that our "separation" is something of a joke has been on my mind. On the one hand, my wife has her boyfriend and she has encouraged me to go on Match.com. On the other hand, we still sleep in the same bed and she still talks about saving for "our" retirement. I've been asking myself, does she understand that we're separated??

I've discovered that my discomfort with my wife's strange attitude is near the target - but still far from the bulls eye.

On Friday, my wife and I again discussed our separation. I told her that I felt like I needed more guilt-free freedom to find a new center for my life since she couldn't be that person.

"What exactly do you want to do?" she asked.

"Well...I don't know..."

"You must have some ideas."

"Not really. I guess I just mean more freedom to date."

"Date who? Do you already have someone in mind?!!"

"No! No, it's not like that."

"Well WHO do you what to date?"

"Who?" I couldn't understand what she was getting at. Then it clicked. "Oh. Men."

"I knew it! I always knew that's what you wanted. You've been gay this whole time! Even when I asked you before we had kids!"

Huh?!!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen...for reasons that completely boggle my mind...my wife thinks I just came out to her.

To say that I am stunned is a huge understatement.

It seems to me that if my wife had not lost her mind she would recall that I first came out to her 18 years ago. It was a rather memorable event...considering that she moved out and we separated for 10 weeks.

And even after we got back together I was upfront about my homo-ness by letting a few lusty comments slip. My lust-honesty didn't last long, that's true. My first few comments made my dear Gabbie bristle so decided to keep my mouth shut in the future. This means that if I was going to vouch for my wife's sanity I would have to admit that shortly after we reunited I went back into the closet for an extended period of time.

But hello!! It was just this past November that we separated and in that conversation she said to me, "I know you're gay," AND "I've always had a feeling that you wanted a different life." ('different' = wink, wink) AND "I guess on some future Christmas we'll be celebrating with the kids and I'll have my boyfriend and you'll have yours."

Yet NOW she thinks I'm coming out to her?????????

I don't think I will ever be able to understand this. I mean I've been confused about how she spoke about our separation but I never, ever would have guessed that she honestly thought I was straight.

I've been trying to figure out what this revelation means.

One thing that's clear is that I must take a half-step backward. I thought we had both made peace with the fact that she's straight and I'm gay. Apparently not.

As part of my move backward, I repeated the same offer I made to her in November: we can live happily ever after together if she dumps her boyfriend and honestly wants to have a "normal" intimate marriage. She's responded by giving me a tentative "No, I can't do that." But I can see the wheels turning in her head. Maybe she never believed that I would find someone else because she thought I was closeted? Maybe now that I've made it clear that I'm willing to replace her, she's reevaluating whether she's willing to let me go?

For now, I'm off the dating market. I can't proceed until I get a clear, definitive statement from her, wherein she releases me. I have no idea how long that might take. Days? Weeks? Months? We have a one week vacation planned for just the two of us at the end of May. I think it would be awkward if I was actively dating and then we spent 170 hours alone together. My guess is that I won't be able to seriously consider trying to date again until June, at the earliest.

I also don't know for certain whether getting through this hurdle with my wife is going to clear my attitude problem. It might. I still have big concerns about dating men. The more I see, learn and experience about gay dating, the less appealing it becomes.

Regardless, I can't worry about that now. First things first.

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.

"CAN YOU REALLY DEAL WITH THIS? SHOULD YOU? IS THIS REALLY LOVE YOU FEEL, OR A COMBINATION OF LOSS, GRIEF AND NEEDINESS?

"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.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Feeling Lost

I have been told, and I believe, that NOTHING is more important when dating than confidence. Good looks and natural charm count for a lot, but confidence is essential.

Most of the time I am a confident person. But, as the weeks have ticked by since my wife and I separated, my dating confidence has been in a downward spiral. More and more, I feel completely lost.

I didn't start out this way. Yes, I had some concerns about my age and living situation, but there are a lot of fish in the ocean. I never had a problem meeting men in the past so I thought it was reasonable to expect one or two decent dates a month. But reality has hit home. I've had just one date (that wasn't anything like a date) in two months.

Although I'm disappointed to be doing so poorly, my bigger problem is that I don't know how to repair my confidence. That's why I feel lost.

Sometimes I think if I had just one modestly positive experience, it would do wonders for me. But everything I've tried so far has been a failure and my complete lack of success makes me more and more reluctant to make any effort at all.

Every day I try to motivate myself. The options run through my head: be more aggressive on dating sites, find more ways to meet people in person, focus on making friends. Every day I postpone or reject any action plan that pops into my head.

It dawned on me the other day that my last two posts about my "urban hipster" said far more about me than him. That realization has forced me to wonder if I have some kind of psychological block that is holding me back.

I also wonder if my expectations are too high. Maybe I'm older and/or more unattractive than I think I am.

Maybe I'm too comfortable in my straight life?

Maybe I lack the necessary "hunger" to date?

I just don't know. Nothing I've thought about seems right.

Feeling lost is a new sensation for me. I don't like it and my discomfort only makes my head spin faster.

Maybe I need to flail around like this for a while? Maybe I need to become so frustrated that I reach a tipping point, then I'll finally act in a decisive way. Maybe if I never act, that means I just don't want to be with a man badly enough?

At this point I think I need to protect my trampled ego. I don't have the fortitude to take any more disappointments in stride. What I need are some no pressure ways to meet men. Jason has made some good suggestions. Unfortunately all I do is makes excuses and tell myself why they won't work.

I need a really big kick in the ass and I just don't know how to do it. Any ideas?