Q: I’m having a bit of personal crisis, I need some comfort and maybe a bit of support.
I’m a male. I’m sexually attracted to men. I don’t have a problem with that part. I don’t like it really, but I understand and accept it. However, I am not emotionally attracted to men at all. I have no desire to be in a relationship with a man. I am emotionally attracted to women, I want to have a wife and children and have a female life partner. The problem is I’m not sexually attracted to women. I don’t know what to do, I don’t know how to be in a relationship with a woman and I don’t really want to be in a relationship with a man. I want to be happy, but I don’t know how.
A: I am going to encourage a little soul-searching. Though you say you have no problem with being sexually attracted to men, you go on to say that you don’t really like it. This makes me wonder if your desire to have a wife and children is based on societal or family expectations that you’ve internalized without really questioning them. You have “no desire to be in a relationship with a man”; why? Are you uncomfortable with the idea of being gay or perceived as gay? With creating a family with a male life partner? Could internalized homophobia be the barrier to your experiencing “emotional attraction” toward a man?
Because you’re very clear about the fact that you’re not at all sexually attracted to women but are to men, I’m going to encourage you to experiment. Try dating men (not just hooking up). Do you know any happy couples who are traditional in every other way except being same-sex? If not, I’d suggest you meet some. Join a gay running (or softball or book or dinner) club. Go to coming-out support groups. If your own family members are closed-minded, go to PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) to meet accepting “surrogate” parents and other family members. See a therapist knowledgeable about gay issues and relationships if you need extra help to sort out your identity issues. And remember, you can have emotional intimacy with female friends without sexually partnering with them. Whatever you do, do not go to the altar with a woman for whom you have no sexual attraction. That’s not fair to her or to your potential children or, frankly, to you.
Lisa Griffin, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the State of North Carolina. With nearly 30 years of clinical experience, Dr. Griffin specializes in gender identity and sexual orientation issues, working primarily with gender-variant, transgender, and queer people (children, adolescents, and adults) and their families.