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.
I’m in my mid-60s, and I’ve been out since my mid-20s. I’ve never been in a long-term relationship. In fact, I’ve had relatively little sexual activity during my life, but not for lack of desire.
In looking over the occasions when I have had sex, I can’t think of one that was a positive experience. I’m fearful, anxious, and self-conscious to the point that I (and probably the other guy) do not have a good time.
I’m grateful that I’ve never had erectile dysfunction, but I typically stay hard for a long time without having an orgasm.
The first time I had sex, I caught gonorrhea. Another time, I had a panic attack the day after sex because I was so scared of having been exposed to HIV, but I wasn’t.
I want to have an enduring, romantic, and monogamous relationship with another man. For me, that means I have to first establish a substantial emotional connection so that I can feel “safe” enough to have sex with a guy.
But how realistic is that at my age and with my sexual history?
I’ll answer your last question first: you are never too old to have sex. Men can remain sexually active well into late life, and your life expectancy is at least fifteen years, possibly much longer. Your age and sexual history should not discourage you from seeking a satisfying sexual relationship with a partner. So let’s talk about your other concerns.
My name is A, and I am a twenty-eight-year-old Arab Muslim Palestinian. I come from a society that will never accept I am gay. I am well educated, successful, and I speak four languages. Social media has made it easier for me to chat with friends from all over the world. A few months ago, I met a sixty-five-year-old Jewish man from Israel online, which further complicates our relationship. I have fallen in love with him. I have never felt toward another man the way I feel toward him. We have managed to meet a few times, but it is very hard. I don’t want to get married to a woman.
I have three problems: (1) I am from Palestine and he is from Israel; (2) I cannot tell my family about this relationship, and it would be difficult to meet him in another country without some explanation to them; and (3) I have been thinking of ending my business to move somewhere so I can be with this man. I would like to hear your opinion on my situation.
Thank you for sharing your story with me. I know that even telling me this involves some risk to you. I frequently hear from others who live in cultures hostile to homosexuality, particularly Muslims and Arabs from the Middle East; however, your situation has some unique circumstances. Even here in the United States, where same-sex marriage is legal, some men are caught in the crucible with the volatile elements of culture, religion, and sexuality.
Thank you for your article on age discrepancy in gay relationships. I am in my mid-forties, and until recently I had a partner who is twenty years younger. For most of our relationship, the age difference was never an issue; we accepted each other and were bound by love. Some of our friends and family commented on and questioned our relationship, but eventually they felt the love. Unfortunately, our relationship ended. He asked me to let him go so that he could take charge of his life. We still care for each other and will support each other, but being in a relationship now is not going to happen. I am seeing a therapist, meditating, eating well, exercising, throwing myself into my work, and leaning on my friends. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
All relationships are U-shaped and go through difficult times. I believe that fidelity is based on trust and loyalty rather than sex, so I would ask, If loyalty and trust are still there, can other things be done to save it? Don’t let go of it too soon.
I’m a twenty-five-year-old openly gay man, and I’ve always liked older men. Many of my gay friends who are close to my age are critical of me and suspicious of my motives. My gay friends don’t understand it, but I don’t understand it myself, so I can’t explain it to them. I feel like I’m the only one who has this problem. I’d like to understand this better. Can you refer me to anything I might read about this?
A young man once said to me, “If I see a handsome gay man my age, he might as well have a vagina. I feel nothing.” Another said, “I don’t get aroused if I see some hot young man, but if he’s with his grandpa, I get excited.” This phenomenon is more common than most people realize, but it is rarely talked about and almost never researched. You are not alone. Continue reading
I don’t know how to ask this, not even sure if I should, but I will. Given that there is a difference in sex drives between younger and older men, and you are significantly older than your partner, did that ever create conflict for you and/or him, and if so, how did you resolve it?
You may ask me anything—my life’s pretty much an open book—but I also suspect that you are more interested in your own sex life than mine, and I’m guessing you are concerned about differences in sexual desires between you and either a much older or younger partner. Continue reading
I feel a bit lost. I’m in my late twenties, and I have been trying to date women quite unsuccessfully for years. As a teenager I didn’t know if I liked women or men. I didn’t get aroused by looking at women in erotic materials most of the time, but I didn’t have much response looking at erotic materials of men either.
One day I found a website and thought this woman looks like the type of woman I would like to have sex with. Scrolling down, I realized she was a nonoperative, transgender woman—a woman with a penis—and I had a stronger reaction than I have ever had. I avoided it for years. Now I find that when I see a woman who was born a woman, I feel there’s something missing, and I have a recurrent fantasy of being with a woman with a penis. I have avoided it because I feel it’s something wrong, but now I think that maybe I would like to have a girlfriend who is transgender, and my arguments against it are becoming less and less good.
Now the only things that are nearly stopping me are what my family, friends, coworkers, or neighbors would think; how it would impact my job; what risks I would experience in defending against others’ hate; what God would say; and whether there’s a “cure” for this.
You are not as alone as you feel. A book called Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us about Who We Really Are gives us some insight. The author argues that the best way to learn what people are really thinking and doing isn’t to look at research based on surveys; what people are doing is best considered by looking at big data like Google and Pornhub searches. Continue reading
Dear Dr. Olson,
Several months ago I met my boyfriend at a party and we really clicked. He asked me out and we’ve dated since then. He treats me very well. A few months after we started dating, he told me he thought he might be bisexual. He said he’s never been in a sexual relationship with a man, but he admits to having erotic fantasies when in the presence of attractive men our age. He admits those attractions are growing stronger. He vacillates between wanting a relationship with me and exploring his same-sex attractions. He doesn’t want to commit to me “until I understand my sexuality better.” Should I try to encourage him to stay with me or set him free to explore his sexuality? Am I being too old fashioned?
First let me say that most people who are bisexual will tell you that just because they’re bisexual doesn’t mean they cannot be monogamous. If you read through the comments on my essay “The Messy Realities of Bisexuality,” you will find many who say that whether you are bisexual or heterosexual, everyone experiences attractions to people outside their primary relationship. But we also have a choice: to control those desires or act on them. Bisexual people are no more promiscuous in their sexual behavior than heterosexuals. But heterosexuals aren’t all that good at monogamy either. Continue reading
I just read your comment that concealed sexual orientation is like an abscess begging to be ruptured. Can this be true about women also? I work with a lady who is late middle-age and I think she is struggling with this. Her looks are gay or androgynous. I cannot imagine being that terrified of my sexuality. I feel like I have fallen in love with her.
First let me say that most of my work has been with men, and I don’t want to attempt to mansplain women’s experiences. Women need to do that for themselves. I did ask some women to read my book, Finally Out: Letting Go of Living Straight, to see if they felt their experience paralleled my own. Continue reading
Thank you so much for your essay on loneliness. It felt like the story of my life. I am currently seeking ways to free myself from the closet. I am older, not young. Maybe it’s beginning to happen now. I have read much about liberating myself from what I call “the shackles of lies and hypocrisy.” For me, religion has been a big difficulty. I’m trying my best to overcome my religion’s expectations and living a lie in the closet.
I was raised a Lutheran and at one time thought I’d always be a Lutheran, but when I came out to my mother, she went to her pastor, who told her, “Loren is going to hell unless he changes his ‘lifestyle.’” I left formal religion for the next twenty years but returned after I discovered an open and affirming church where I felt at home as an openly gay man. Lutheran churches are not all the same, and many have since moderated their stance on sexual orientation. But the point here isn’t about one religion or another. The point is that religious beliefs vary even within a church umbrella, and religious beliefs also evolve. It appears there is no “One Truth.” Continue reading
I am a gay-leaning bisexual man, and I still love my wife after being married for forty years. I’m struggling with the morality, risks, and benefits of “coming out.” There doesn’t seem to be a good way to do this as a bisexual without harming my wife, damaging our relationship, and complicating her relationships with our mutual friends and family. My wife and I are monogamous, and I have no interest in changing that. What is to be gained by being publicly open? Did you ever consider coming out as bisexual? Perhaps it’s a generational issue.
Coming out is not an event but rather a process. Some people believe that unless you make a public declaration of your sexual orientation, you haven’t completed that process. I disagree. Continue reading