Ask the Doc
Dr. Olson welcomes your questions and comments about your sexual identity, coming out, sexual functioning, relationships, and how to face aging with optimism. Feel free to write him about any of these or related topics at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Olson will always respect your privacy. Although he may use the content of your message in a blog post, he will never disclose your identity, age, or specific location in his responses. Any information that might reveal your identity will be altered in such a way that it protects your identity. All questions have been edited and abbreviated for publication.
His responses are not to be considered medical advice.
The following was written by someone who’d read an essay I wrote about younger gay men who are attracted to older men. I frequently hear from younger men who are questioning why they are exclusively attracted to significantly older men, but this subject isn’t frequently addressed. This type of relationship is also often misunderstood even by those of us in the LGBTQ community. I wrote about it in Finally Out: Letting Go of Living Straight in a section called “Men with Rounded Corners.” Here are “Jim’s” comments (edited to protect his identity and used with his permission).
I just read your essay “The Curse of an Attraction to Older Gay Men” in Psychology Today, and it was strange to read something so personal, insightful and very close to my own thoughts. I have read it a few times and have shared it with friends. I will order your book when I get back to Ireland. Continue reading
My husband is having an affair with a man. We have four young children. He moved out quickly after I discovered the relationship. I am worried about him and I don’t know how to make this better for him and for us. His kids miss him. I honestly thought we had a happy and loving marriage. Do you have any advice for me? Or for him?
Thank you for sending your question, and I’ve written a lot about how the gay spouse proceeds through this process. I only occasionally hear from women or men who have been left behind. So in this response, I’m going to focus on you and them. Continue reading
I am a naturist, and some women in our community claim that a “real” naturist man would not get an erection without being sexually aroused. I believe spontaneous erections happen without sexual arousal. I remember multiple daily erections during my elementary and middle school years. What in the world causes an erection in math class? Aren’t spontaneous erections the sign of a happy, healthy male of any age rather than a sign of sexual arousal?
An erection is a complex physiological process involving the brain, nervous system, hormones, and muscles. It makes sense why women who are naturists might associate erections with a desire for sex; many of them may have only had experience with an erect penis in a sexual context. Continue reading
Dear Dr. Olson,
I was married to a “bi” man for over twenty years. We never told our son until we separated and were divorcing. He wanted to know why we were divorcing, so his dad told him. Our son was a teenager when my ex-husband disclosed this. How does keeping the sexual orientation of a parent secret from a child affect a child/teen/man psychologically? My ex had sex with only men besides me before and during our marriage and identified as openly gay after our divorce.
You have asked a good question that does not have an easy answer. First of all, it depends upon the child’s level of maturity and experience in the world. Continue reading
There appear to be plenty of novels regarding the coming out process for gays in one’s teens, but are there any that focus on the coming out trials of the much older man? I have yet to find any such invention. Do you know of any? If there are none, wouldn’t a skilled novelist articulate our difficulties and form a powerful commonality among those I imagine you encounter? Now in my sixth decade, I find myself most times in lonely despair.
Thank you for your nice comments about Finally Out. Many people share our story or something very similar to it.
I am concerned about your lonely despair. Even at your age, you can still successfully get through this process of coming out. In my research, the oldest man I came across was in his nineties when he came out, and he was living with his gay lover when I met him. The most important thing for you to do today, however, isn’t to seek out a lover but find friends, gay or straight, who accept you as you now have revealed yourself to your wife and, more importantly, to you. Continue reading
Hi, Dr. Olson,
I am a middle-aged divorced man, and since my divorce I have been struggling with my sexual identity. Perhaps I have always been in denial or confusion with my sexuality. Growing up I had female friends but felt intimidated by them sexually. My first sexual experience was with a childhood friend, but I felt sick, ashamed, and guilty. This increased my need to always have a girlfriend to suppress this shame. Following my divorce, I felt incredibly lonely and started flirting with guys online. For the first time, I felt attractive. Who am I?
Your story is very familiar to me and not much different from my own. Some find it hard to believe that a man could reach middle age before questioning his sexual identity, but in my research, I have even interviewed a man in his nineties who, having lost his wife of over fifty years, began to explore his same-sex attractions. Seeking an answer to the question of who I am led me to write Finally Out: Letting Go of Living Straight. Continue reading
I’ve been openly gay for decades but have failed to create a fulfilling personal life for myself. As I age, the opportunities to continue trying have faded away. A life of interacting with shallow acquaintances, attending inane social gatherings, having casual/anonymous sex, and tending my garden quietly doesn’t appeal to me. Why should I continue to exist if I can see no purpose and take no pleasure in it? I’ve thought about joining a religious community. I’ve failed to realize my potential as a gay man and cannot face the hard work of learning how to live without kindness, affection, trust, and intimacy. Is suicide a reasonable choice for me?
One of the most critical issues for each of us, as we approach our later years, is for us to have a sense of meaning, a feeling that our lives have mattered. Many older people think they have failed in one of life’s critical dimensions if they have not found a life partner or do not have a family. For others, though, a sense of meaning can be obtained through belonging to a community that they can commit their time and money to and feel that they are adding value to. Continue reading
I recently received an email from the child of a parent who came out when this child was fourteen years old. In preparation for writing an essay about the experience, the child asked me a series of questions. My answer follows each question below.
- What was the aha moment that you had when you finally decided to come out to your family? To yourself?