A woman terrified that her self-labeled bisexual boyfriend might actually turn out to be gay has sought advice from a therapist writing in The Atlantic. In short, the therapist’s advice had a high dose of tough love.
“I’m worried because (a) he’s never been with a man before and being with me means he won’t get that experience (assuming he doesn’t cheat) and (b) he comes from an extremely religious family in the South who would likely not be able to accept his homosexuality (or even bisexuality),” the woman writes. “I once asked him when we first started dating if he was with me to appease his family, whom he’s very close with, and he said “Kind of” but that he still found me attractive.”
The woman goes on to express her fears that her boyfriend is really gay and eventually will leave her, or that he is transgender and will want to transition later in life. “He sometimes acts effeminate and dresses extremely flamboyantly,” she writes. “I have no problem with people who identify in these ways, but I personally don’t have an interest in being romantically involved with someone who does. I have a very strong sneaking suspicion that he’s biding his time until his parents die or until he decides that he’s going to come out to them as gay.”
The therapist of The Atlantic empathized with the woman, but pointed out something more glaring. “What strikes me most about your letter, though, is the amount of emotional energy you’re putting into guessing your boyfriend’s state of mind,” the therapist writes. “The more you ruminate about his potential turmoil, the more turmoil you create for yourself. And even as you worry about whether he might be keeping his thoughts from you, you’re also keeping your thoughts from him.”
The problem for the couple then is not the man’s sexuality, but rather a failure to communicate. The therapist encourages open dialogue about gender, family, sex and what the couple wants from their future. “Now’s the time to have these discussions, and you can start by making sure that you broach the topic as a conversation and not as an accusation…You’ll also want to be mindful not to pressure him to take a stance, especially because he may not know how he feels, or he may not be ready to say. The point of these initial conversations will likely be less about getting answers and more about hearing each other.”
Ultimately, the therapist cautions the woman not to jump to conclusions. Homosexuality, bisexuality and transgenderism are not the same thing, and one does not lead to the other. Therefore, the problem isn’t the man’s sexuality but the woman’s insecurity, and the failure of the couple to have real conversations about love and sex. In that way, the lessons apply to all couples: talk about your fears, your problems and your hopes for the future. Sexuality isn’t the issue: communication is!