Friday, June 28, 2013

Happily Monogamous with a Woman, Mostly Attracted to Men

Buried in the early entries of this blog is the story of how I transformed from a habitual, down-low cheater to a satisfied gay man, happily and monogamously married to a straight woman.

Quite a few men have told me they envy my evolution.  They want to know the secret.  How did I do it?

The first thing to know is that I never expected it to happen.  Nor did I really try.

Here's my story:

I met my future wife a week after my 20th birthday.  Although I had accepted myself as gay five years earlier, I hadn't come out to anyone yet.  I didn't feel ready.  In high school I'd had a few sexual experiences with men, including several anonymous encounters and a six-week "summer romance" when I was 17.

How I ended up married is a long story.  Basically, my future wife doggedly pursued me.  Among other things, she ran up a $2,300 phone bill in 10 weeks, offered me her virginity, and gave me a "propose or we're through" ultimatum.

Putting it like that makes it seem like she steamrolled me, which she did, but the situation was more complicated than that.  I genuinely liked her, I was curious about exploring a real relationship with a woman, and, I liked all the attention she gave me, which was something I'd never experienced before.

We were engaged within 9 months of meeting, lived together for nearly two years, then married at 23.

During this time I had a number of anonymous encounters.  Back then, there was no Internet.  The only way I knew to secretly meet men was to hang out in certain restrooms, especially at colleges.

In 1992, on the eve of my 26th birthday, I had a too-long first meeting with a great guy.  That meeting caused a chain-of-events that forced me to come out to my wife later that same night.  Following my announcement, we separated and she moved out.  We stayed in close contact, however, and two months later we unexpectedly reconciled.  From that time until late 1994 I stopped fooling around with men.

What got me back into hook-ups again was reading about electronic bulletin boards - places where married men could post "notes" seeking other married men for discrete connections.  Curious, I signed on to the World Wide Web for the first time and discovered Internet Relay Chat, one of the Internet's early instant messaging systems.  On IRC, I was able to talk openly to many other married men for the first time.  Before long, I met one and had sex with him, which broke my two year stretch of monogamy with my wife.

I still remember what I told myself to justify my decision to cheat again.  I said, "There's an empty part of me, deep inside. Only a man can fill it.  Only a man can complete me.  I can't live the rest of my life and be this empty.  My relationship with my wife is a good one, but I need to connect with another guy.  I have to do this."

Over the next seven years I serially had three "friends with benefits" relationships. My first two FWB situations were pretty good, especially the second one, which lasted six years.  My third FWB started out well enough but by the fourth month I'd had enough of him.  Meeting up had become a chore and I found myself making excuses not to meet him.  Before long, even when I was with him, all I wanted to do was leave.

Two months after I stopped seeing that guy, I started thinking about how I should go about finding my next friend.  Then, rather spontaneously, I decided FWBs and hook-ups just weren't worth the effort.  From that day forward, and for more than nine years afterward, I was happy to be monogamously committed to my wife.

What changed after nine years?  My wife.  She was bored with motherhood and unimpressed with my modest desire for her.  She wanted to go out with her HS girlfriend and drink and dance and have a good time.  Before long, she met a guy and got emotionally involved with him.  After about a year, their relationship grew to include sex.  Three tumultuous years followed, which were hard times for me, yet I still remained loyal to my wife.

Eventually I decided our marriage needed to be reconsidered because she was in love with her boyfriend and I was gay.  At my suggestion, we separated.  It wasn't until five months later that I fooled around with a guy for the first time in more than nine years.

Although separating was my idea, I didn't ask to do so because I wanted to fool around with men.  I asked because I wanted my wife to rethink our marriage and (hopefully) decide that I was a better man than her loser, idiot boyfriend.  Had she affirmed that I was worth keeping, we'd still be monogamously married to this day...but that's not what happened.

That's my story but it doesn't exactly explain how I went from feeling incomplete and needing to cheat, to feeling like men "aren't all that."  Here's how that happened:

First, it was my attitude about men that changed, not my attraction to them.  This is a crucial distinction because I think way too many men focus on submerging their attractions, which is about as effective as staying on a highly restrictive diet: short-term success is relatively easy, but long-term success is impossible.

Experience with men is what changed my attitude about them.  It took quite a few years of experimentation, but eventually I learned that no matter how good the connection was, the happiness and satisfaction I felt while being with a man was very temporary.  This fact led me to one of my first big realizations: part-time, FWB, conjugal "relationships" would never be enough for me.  The only way I could truly be satisfied would be to have a full-time relationship with a man.  Pursuing anything other than that, therefore, was pointless.

Experience with men also taught me that no matter how good a connection was, I remained the same person afterward.  This was not what I expected.  I thought that connecting with the right guy would somehow fulfill me in a way that nothing else could.  Well, it didn't, no matter how much I liked the guy or enjoyed spending time with him.  Yes, for a few minutes I could achieve a higher plane of happiness by really connecting with a guy, but when it was over, it was over.  This led me to my second big realization, which was that the endless worry about diseases and getting caught cheating greatly outweighed the short, temporary periods of satisfaction that being with a guy gave me.

The third big realization I had was that connecting with men through sex was not rare or special.  With hundreds of different men (just on Craigslist) to chose from every day, why get twisted into knots pursuing them?  Any day, at any time, I knew I could arrange a hook-up within just a few minutes.  It wasn't any more difficult than ordering a pizza to be delivered.  What's so special about that?  Nothing.  And again, why bother if I had to constantly worry about diseases or bad experiences or getting caught?

All these things caused me to conclude that pursuing sex with men just wasn't worth the trouble, so, I stopped.

"That's all good for you Cameron," you might say, "but it doesn't help me because I crave connecting with men and I can't help it.  Besides, it doesn't exactly work to become monogamous by spending years having sex with men.  I need a solution that can work for me, in my situation, right now."

I understand, and, I have a solution.  Will it work for every man's situation?  Almost certainly not.  I can't promise anything to anyone.  What I can do, which I think would be very helpful, is to provide some suggestions based on my experience.  If they work, great.  If they don't, at least you tried.

When I was recently discussing this topic with a married, closeted guy, he told me the reason my attitude about men changed was because I'd become jaded.  Hmm...maybe I did, but if so, that's a good thing.  How else could I ever happily commit to straight monogamy unless I no longer idealized connecting with men??  I couldn't.  I don't see how any bi or gay man could.  So that's the goal, to feel that connecting with men is something very ordinary and not to be prized or valued.

I actually don't think I'm jaded.  I think a better description is that "my need to connect with men has been normalized."  That is, the way I think about sex isn't much different than the way a typical, mature single guy does.  Please notice that I used the word "typical" and not "stereotypical."  Think about men you actually know who are over the age of 35 and who are single.  How much time do they spend trolling for sex?  How long do they go without having sex?  Are they totally stressed out, miserable and depressed?  Mostly, they're not.  But many closeted men are.  Repression makes man-sex more special, whereas expression makes it more ordinary.  It's kind of like being on a no-chocolate diet when you're a chocolate lover.  Denial makes you crave the forbidden chocolate even more, which in turn stresses you out, which then causes you to want more chocolate.  It's a nasty vicious cycle.  Repression and denial don't work.  Instead, you have to incorporate what you crave in a manner that moves you toward your goal.  If you want to lose weight, don't deny yourself chocolate, just exercise more.  If you want to have a monogamous straight marriage, don't deny your orientation, just make it part of your everyday life.

Closeted men in straight marriages, especially, put sex with other men on a pedestal.  It's something special.  It's an unquenchable thirst that you must constantly fight to control.  Well, if you want to be monogamous, you need to get over that idea.  You need to normalize the idea of connecting with men, not idolize it.

How can you do that?

By embracing the dick-sucking faggot within you.

I could write a book about the endless ways that closeted married men fuck with their own heads.  Does it help?  In the short run, maybe, but in the long-run?  Not a bit.  The purpose of the head-fucking is to cope with self-hatred and fear, and to push as much of the gay away as possible.  The head-fucking includes all kinds of rules, especially those that dictate when thinking about man-sex is permissible, which mostly, of course, it isn't: no gay porn, no gay fantasies when jerking off, no gay fantasies when fucking your wife, no lusting after male friends, no flirting with men, no anal sex when hooking-up, no kissing when hooking-up, no emotional connections when hooking-up, no gay books, no gay movies, no gay friends, no gay mannerisms, no gay label, no gay, in any way, at all times!  In other words: denial, denial, denial.  The goal is to push the gay away or risk having it consume you.

That is exactly the wrong approach - and the proof lies in the fact that it doesn't work.  Pushing the gay away makes gay thoughts special, not bland and ordinary.  Denial makes you crave man-sex more intently, not less.  That might make no sense, but it's human nature, and it applies to all kinds of denial.  Think about it.

The solution is to embrace your inner gay man.  All of him.  In all his weirdness, depravity and femininity.  Go for broke on gay and let the flood gates open.  Do that, and before long you'll begin to understand who you really are and what you really need.  Do that and you might just discover that down-low hook-ups really don't mean much to you, but intimately connecting with another person you love (i.e., your wife), does.

Closeted men don't know it, but they've fucked with their heads so much that they no longer know who they are and what they want.  Instead, they "think" themselves into isolated corners and fight the misery that presses down on them from every direction.  What they should do is let go of their rational minds and let their feelings express themselves.  Open the flood gates.  Wash away the barriers.  Wash away the denial.  Wash away the mind-fucks.  THAT'S how you find peace.

I realize that this is such radical advice that no one will have the guts to take it.  "Embrace the gay???  No fucking way!"

Bah.  Don't be a weak coward.

Why is it so difficult to even think about embracing the gay?  Because you're deathly afraid that once you take the barriers down and let your faggoty emotions go wild, you'll never get control of them again.  You're afraid you'll turn into a sissy, an effeminate, limp-wristed queen, the most hated kind of fag there is, and, worst of all, you're afraid you'll actually like being that person.

Yes, that might happen...but it probably won't.  It's much more likely that you'll finally understand what it is you want and need from men, and by understanding those things, you'll also see how they mesh with other priorities in your life.  Eventually, as you reconcile who you really are with what you really want, you might come to realize that trolling for dick just isn't that important any more. 

This is essentially what has happened with another blogger, Bobby, author of Reality*.  Recently he wrote about being more happy with his straight, monogamous marriage than ever, largely because he and his wife frequently and openly discuss his sexuality.  By being so open, he's been able to embrace his inner gay man and integrate that part of himself into his 'real' life.  Having done that, he longer feels restless or boxed-in and that makes him very optimistic about the future of his monogamous in his marriage.  Check out what he says and see for yourself.

To summarize, the goal is to make your attraction to men as ordinary to you as your own breathing and heart-beat are.  Once you see your gay attractions as routine, you'll spend a lot less time thinking about them, just as you don't spend much time thinking about your heart or lungs.

There's a second goal, which in my experience is much more challenging to address.  It pertains to the powerful need to connect with another man, and the feeling that you are empty or incomplete unless you do.  This need can be met through sex and intimacy, but the goal is not an orgasm, it's about feeling whole and fulfilled as a person and as a man.

The reason I think it's very challenging is because, for me, it was an "aha!" moment spread out over many years.  It's a light switch need (you either need another man or you don't), that, most likely, can't be changed by one experience.

The way it happened for me was that I gradually realized that happiness comes from within, not from without.  Someone else cannot MAKE me complete.  I'm as complete (and thoroughly imperfect) as I'll ever be, whether I like it or not.  I was born alone and I will die alone, no matter who loves me, how deeply or for how long.

That may seem like a depressing sentiment, but for me, it was a liberating one.  By thinking that I was destined to be incomplete unless another man made me feel whole, I made my happiness and fulfillment someone else's responsibility - and that someone was a mystery person who I'd never met, nor knew if he even existed.  As a result, I was chasing a dream.  And that's all it was, a dream.  Now that I "get" that I'm already as complete as I can be, chasing men just isn't that important.  What is important is living life in the present and connecting with the people around me, including my wife.

So there you have it, "the secret" to straight monogamy when you're a bi or gay married man.  It's what  worked for me, at least, even though I never really tried to get here.

Can it happen for you?  I have no idea.  But you can tell me your thoughts on the subject in the comment box below.  Thanks for reading.


  1. Cameron, this was brilliantly stated. I've tried to articulate what you've written many times and couldn't.

    I've heard guys idealize and romananticize the most mundane and ordinary bumbling sexual encounter when, if they were honest, they would admit they were a hell of a lot of work to arrange, took a lot of time and effort and often ended in crushing disappointment. Especially for the married guy who intends on staying married. Even the rare real "connection" must of necessity be of the shortest duration.

    And yet, because the "connection" is so idealized, out of all proportion to reality, once the sting of disappointment has faded, it's back online to repeat the whole sorry episode again and again.

    I've never seen hetero people do this. Sex can be great or bad. Great sex, sans connection, is recreation. It doesn't "complete" anyone unless they are looking for something not found with sex alone. Now sex with someone you love is a whole other experience. But hookups do not bring "completeness". And those seeking to use them to do this are attempting to fill a void that no amount of casual sex will ever fill. Same holds true for the serial hetero adulterer. They are seeking something other than sex....affirmation, validation, a "conquest"....something to make them feel better about themselves.

    The repression only serves to amp the desire to heights all out of proportion to the satisfaction achieved by an endless string of anonymous body parts. And yet, once the memory has faded of what REALLY happened, it's back to idealizing the hookup all over again.

    In order to achieve a true "connection" with another human being, regardless of gender or orientation, we need to get to know that person and develop a relationship. Hardly likely to happen for a married man on the DL. And if it does, it puts the married relationship in jeopardy. Catch 22, no?

    1. Anonymous - We're very much on the same page.

      Closeted men believe their behavior is no different than their straight married peers, who have affairs, or their single, gay peers who are assumed to have lots of casual sex. Comparing themselves to those two other groups makes it easy to rationalize their own behavior as normal, but the reality is that they are uniquely self-destructive. No other group of mature men combines a desperate need for sex with such emotional emptiness. This is not a natural, default behavior; this is not something most men their age want or seek.

      I blame denial and compartmentalization, which are the same behaviors that develop in other extremely stressful situations, like war. Someone should do a study to see if men who live in the closet for most of their lives show signs of PTSD. At a minimum, I know both groups struggle with depression and moodiness, so on the surface, the correlation is there.

      I think most closeted men are so stuck in their own head that they're unable to be self-aware, and as such, they keep running like hamsters in a wheel, never getting anywhere. That's sad. It's also what keeps me motivated to write these kind of posts.

      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts!

  2. This is interesting background information that I didn't know. It's a bit surprising that you had a fairly active gay sex life before you got married. But she convinced you to overlook all that and get married.

    Your fourth para from the bottom - Happiness comes from within. Ok I can agree with that. I don't need anyone else to make me complete? Sure about that? Being alone can be no fun, and I take notice that people who are with someone (you, me, and others) are noticeably more upbeat about life.

    I agree with your points on hookups -- there's no long term satisfaction from that.

    I'm left somewhat confused by this post. Are you trying to convince us that you're happy with your life as it is now? I'm not sure I believe that. You probably do need someone.

    In these latest posts you seem to be reaching for closure or acceptance of your present situation. I say reaching because I'm not sure even you truly agree with that.

    1. Correct me if I'm wrong and missed the point entirely but I think what Cameron was referring to is the quest for the mythical "connection" to another human being without wanting a "relationship" in the classic sense with that person. He was talking about the down lo guy who wants to stay married.

      Most people feel better being with someone they have strong feelings for. Hell, most people are happier just being with SOMEONE, almost anyone, rather than being "alone". And a lot of people settle for a less than satisfying relationship because they'd prefer that to being alone.

      That's the whole point. Is the relationship with ones wife, for a married guy who is attracted to men, enough, imperfect though it may be? Is it worth staying in a relationship that meets many needs but not all? And is a a fools errand to throw it all over in an attempt to find a relationship that "completes" them knowing that "completeness" comes from within. It may be that happiness is found in a relationship with a man rather than their wives. But looking to another person to fill a void rather than be a companion and lover is asking too much from another human being

    2. "I don't need anyone else to make me complete? Sure about that?"

      For me, there's an important difference between being lonely and feeling incomplete. I think the two can easily be confused, especially when you're young.

      Enjoying the company of others and being happier because of others is one thing but feeling that your self-satisfaction is largely dependent on others is very different. The latter is neediness. It's also a classic sign of a co-dependent personality. I don't want to be either of those things and I'm thankful that I'm gradually out-growing them.

      "Are you trying to convince us that you're happy with your life as it is now? I'm not sure I believe that. You probably do need someone.

      "In these latest posts you seem to be reaching for closure or acceptance of your present situation. I say reaching because I'm not sure even you truly agree with that."

      Wow. Good questions. I'm not consciously aware of trying to convince anyone of anything. Wouldn't seeking validation from others be needy and co-dependent?

      Posts like this are almost always inspired by comments I read or hear somewhere, usually outside the blogosphere. This particular post came from a question sent to an online listserv for bi and gay married men. Paraphrasing, the question was, "My wife demands that I be monogamous. How do others find happiness in that situation?"

      That said, I'm working to accept that I will likely be single for the rest of my life. I never expected to be in this position so it's a major adjustment. I feel like I'm making progress but I'm not there yet.

      As always RB, thanks for your thoughtful comments and concerns.

    3. Anonymous is correct. The post was written from the POV of a closeted married man, which is what I was for 20+ years.

      Because men don't need an emotional connection to enjoy sex, it's SO EASY for closeted men to compartmentalize sex and emotional fulfillment. On an incidental basis, that can work, but in the long-run emotional fulfillment and sex are (pardon the pun) intimately linked.

      It's the unnatural ambition of closeted men to keep them permanently separate, which probably explains why so many of them are neither monogamous nor fulfilled.

  3. Cameron, Very powerful, poignant and perceptive posting. I think you are definitely right about the compartmentalization contributing to an endless quest of gay married men on the DL. However, I think it may not be easy for a lot of men to break the cycle. You have provided a blueprint that worked for you, but others may get different results or need to adjust. Still this is a great contribution to this topic.

    Thanks so much for sharing your perspective.

    1. Hi Paul - Thanks for reading and commenting! I'm sure you're right that it's not easy for many (most?) men to break the compartmentalization/desire vicious cycle. I'm also sure that what works for one person won't necessarily work for someone else. I like to write about these topics because no one else really talks about these things. I certainly don't think I have all the answers nor do I expect anyone to follow my footsteps, but I hope others find it helpful to consider my experience and evaluate their own.

      Thanks again for taking the time to comment.

  4. I have enjoyed reading this post, and feel that it parallels my life in many ways. I appreciate that you understand your experience is yours, and it doesn't mean it is for everyone. Having been out to my wife for close to a year now, and dealing with all that entails, it hasn't made things easier. In fact until I read about the compartmentalization, I didn't realize that was the piece that was missing. However, I have made commitments to my wife and family, and need to understand my own personal fulfillment has to come second to those commitments, at least for now.

    Thanks for the insight.

  5. Just thought I might lend my perspective to this line of discussion