Her boyfriend frequently enjoys gay porn, loves gay-themed cinema, and points out men he finds attractive.
But… he doesn’t want to break up with his long-term girlfriend. (They’ve been dating since they were seventeen, after all.)
Raised in a strict Catholic household, his brother came out several years back, sending the whole family into a state of turmoil.
People often assume he’s gay because of “body language indicators, clothing choice, the tone of his voice” and he’s “always denied it.”
Such is the plight of a certain “Stuck and Confused,” who writes into advice columnist Carolyn Hax hoping for guidance and clarity:
I have often wondered, and asked, why he hasn’t broken up with me to do some exploring, but he insists he would/could never, and he also seems to think no one would really want to be with him. He also has told me he could never break up with me because he doesn’t want to throw away what we have.
I’m concerned I’m lying to myself and hanging onto a relationship with a closeted man, which is not a life I want for myself.
I think he’s tired of discussing it, which is a feeling I share. He has told me he does feel attracted to me. Any insight would be tremendously appreciated.
Carolyn wastes no time offering this troubled woman her two cents.
“If you’ve politically corrected yourself into knots,” she writes, “then make it simple and see the answer in your looking so hard for an answer.”
Happy, healthy, satisfied couples heading in a mutually agreeable direction just don’t agonize over their relationships the way you’re picking apart yours….
This very relationship, exactly as you’re living it, has set off your alarms. Your impulse to stick with it as you dig for and identify the problem is an admirable one; you’re not looking at him or your feelings for him as disposable. However, at some point the exact nature of the problem becomes irrelevant and all that matters is its tenacity.
She closes by asking that she not take her boyfriend’s word at face value when he says his urges have “never been acted on whatsoever”:
“You can love and sympathize with and even trust someone and still be mindful that people in torment sometimes act selfishly in ways they never otherwise would.”
What advice would you offer this woman? Should she run away screaming or settle into a stable, long-term relationship with a gay male in denial?