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#272440 - 01/24/09 07:45 AM Wondering about my boyfriend's sexuality
boisegirl Offline

Registered: 01/24/09
Posts: 1

I'm new to the forum and to the issue of male sexual abuse.

I have been dating a 28 year old guy for a little over a year. We met through a job and were friends for a few months before we began dating, and I (along with many other coworkers) was not sure of his sexuality when I first met him. He is a big flirt, but he will flirt with women as well as with the openly gay men at our workplace. When we go out to a club, the flirting escalates, and he is more likely to "dirty dance" with men than women. He did not have a girlfriend when I met him and told me he hadn't had a relationship in more than 2 years and that he has never dated a women for more than 6 months.

We began dating when I asked him out. Actually, I have initiated every step of our relationship: asking him out, asking him to be my boyfriend, first kiss, and first sexual experience. He was extremely nervous when we first kissed, fooled around and when we finally had sex. I could tell he was not very experienced, which I was surprised abot given that he is a very good looking 28 year old guy. I asked him why he was nervous and he told me he is just very shy and hasn't had a lot of sexual experience.

Over the next few months, he became more comfortable with having sex with me, but he still rarely initiates it, is always the submissive one and still isn't completely comfortable. I was really beginning to question his sexuality, then one day he told me (when he was pretty drunk) that the reason he doesn't like sex is because his father molested him for several years when he was younger. He said that as a result, he has always felt that sex was dirty and has tried to avoid it at all costs. He said flirting is no problem but any time a relationship becomes physical, he freaks out. He has said the only times he has been able to have sex with women in the past are when he gets extremely intoxicated, and that any girlfriends he has had have ended their relationships with him within weeks because he tried to avoid having sex and clearly didn't enjoy it when they did have it.

I asked him what I could do to support him and he told me to just be understanding and to please not make him discuss the details of his abuse. He also told me that I am the only person he has ever told and also the first person he has actually enjoyed having sex with. He asked me to please keep initiating sex with him because he is actually beginning to enjoy it and no longer sees it as something dirty and shameful.

Things have been going well with us, but I still have questions about his sexuality. For example, everywhere he has ever worked, he has always immediately befriended the gay men who work there. At the job I met him at, his best friend was the most flamboyant gay man in our office. My boyfriend just moved to a new office, and once again he has become best friends with the most flamboyantly gay man in that office as well. He doesn't have any close straight male friends, only female friends and gay male friends. He also makes comments about how he doesn't believe anyone is truly gay or straight.

However, I believe he is genuinely attracted to me. He gets physically turned on by me very easily and realy seems to enjoy everything from cuddling to kissing to having sex with me. I have caught him checking out other women and I know from looking at the browser history on his computer that he looks at female pornography fairly frequently.

My gay friends who have met him believe that he is closeted but that he hasn't come to terms with his sexuality. However, I believe his abuse might have something to do with his apparent confusion over his sexual identity.

My question is, is confusion about sexuality common in male survivors of sexual abuse? And is the behavior I've described typical of someone who has been abused by another man?

Finally, any advice on how I can help him cope?

Thank you!

#272473 - 01/24/09 08:33 PM Re: Wondering about my boyfriend's sexuality [Re: boisegirl]
Ken Singer, LCSW Offline

Registered: 08/24/00
Posts: 5781
Loc: Lyons, CO USA
As your friend might already know, getting this worked out is not a do-it-yourself job. He should be using an experienced, competent therapist to help him. Good place to start is:

If he is not sexual with men at all, he may be choosing to flirt with gay men and certain women because he can maintain a sense of control over the process... in other words, flirting short of acting sexual. His desire for you might mean that you are a safe female whom he allows to take control of the sex when you initiate. This may be a big step for him. His abuse was controlled by another so all sex is contaminated for him. Something about you may have given him some trust and marginal safety.

Going it alone will take a very long time. He can find some support and others with similar experiences around here, if he is willing to come in and share. He could even just lurk for a while and check out what others have written about similar situations just by doing the search feature with whatever topic he chooses.

Good luck.

Blissfully retired after 35 years treating sexual abuse

#272482 - 01/24/09 10:41 PM Re: Wondering about my boyfriend's sexuality [Re: Ken Singer, LCSW]
AndyS87 Offline

Registered: 12/12/08
Posts: 310
Loc: sorry, but I don't say on the ...
Just a thought as to why he might befriend women and gay men. Since he was molested by his father, supposing his father was a manly man type of person, might it be that he feels threatened by people like that and thus decides to make friends with people he feels aren't threatening to him? I mean I think it could be possible that he assumes straight men might be dangerous to have as friends because he perceives these guys as being tough guys, maybe like his dad was. Just a thought though, I'm no professional with this stuff. In my case, I was never molested by any parents or aunts, just one of my cousins.

My Dad and I had a rough patch for a while when I was young though, and it felt like if my Dad didn't think I was cool then I definitely couldn't be cool enough to hang out with the guys at school who were playing soccer or basketball or whatever. But that makes me wonder if there's a link between father/son relationships and peer relationships between men.

As far as sex goes, you say that you have to initiate it. For me and my last girlfriend, this was sometimes the case. Although We would talk about it and often times I was more ready to go then she was, when it came down to doin' the deed, I felt more comfortable with her taking the lead. That might just be a preference thing. Either way, good luck.

Edited by AndyS87 (01/24/09 10:47 PM)

#272499 - 01/25/09 01:18 AM Re: Wondering about my boyfriend's sexuality [Re: boisegirl]
dgoods Offline

Registered: 10/15/07
Posts: 622
Loc: Richmond area
Just thought i'd chime in here-
sometimes it can be a truly daunting task for survivors to clearly distinguish between that which drives us to do what we do, regardless of a history of CSA or not; and what has been irrevocably colored or altered by what we have been through.

All you can do is take what he tells you at face-value; don't worry about what you can't control.

I will reflexively flirt as a self-protective and learned behavior in tense social situations, especially ones that have an emotional echo of when i was abused... sorting that out, from healthy and positive flirtation/social interaction, has been and is an ongoing effort (but well worth it!

Remember- "concern" and "control" are two entirely different worlds ;-)
The ultimate question is:
What's healthiest for both of you in the long run?

Give sorrow words: the grief that does not speak
Whispers the o'er-fraught heart and bids it break.

-William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act IV, Sc. III

#272583 - 01/25/09 06:17 PM Re: Wondering about my boyfriend's sexuality [Re: boisegirl]
king tut Offline

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 2488
Loc: UK
Welcome boisegirl,

I think i feel like i can relate to your boyfriend- i dont flirt with guys but i have found that people often wonder if i am straight or gay- i think it is because i do not fall into the stereotypical image of a man- that false image that gives rise to the myths that plague recovery.

For me also i have had many girlfriends and i have never asked them out, i have never intiated any of it, it is always the girl doing the intiation. That is understandable for me i think- intimate situations can seem dangerous, after all it was situations of perhaps a false intimacy that hurt us so much as children.

The submissiveness you talk about may be a learnt or conditioned thing, when we are young and we are having these things that we don't understand being forced on us we see that we have no control over any of it, not even control over our own bodies. Sexual experiences, like i said, can seem very dangerous. Also being in sexual situations can be triggering for a survivor, there are risks of dissociation and flashbacks. The idea of feeling dirty is also something that alot of survivors express.

You should indeed respect your boyfriends wishes and understand that he will deal with this at his own pace, and accept that he may never talk to you in much detail about these things- that is his right.

The comments your boyfriend has made on sexual orientation do not seem at all unusual to me. His friendships with gay men also do not mean that he is gay. The fact that he was abused by a man sexually does not mean he is gay and that will not make him gay- i don't believe that is how it works. Actually, even abusers who are male who abuse boys are often not gay themselves- abuse is about power over a child.

His apparent attraction to men may be a real attraction, but that is something that only he knows, or it may be about confused sexual boundaries or it may be something more complicated, or it may only be your perception- perhaps your perception is altered by the myths that abuse can make somebody gay (it may have a small part to play). Also, even if he was looking at male pornography that similarly does not make him gay, often porn is used as a way to numb out or to connect to ideas or reach out to different things, perhaps to try to understand the things that were done to him, so that it doesn't have to hurt so much inside.

Yes, confusion is common, his behaviour describes things i have heard before.

I believe the best way to help is just by being there to listen when he needs to talk, and allowing him to do things at his own pace, it is important that he has full control over his own recovery process. You could also direct him to this site.



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