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 email@example.com.
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 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
I am a mid-20s, gay male from [East Asia]. I have not come out. I have found the love of my life and he is in his mid-60s. I am from a higher caste than he is, but neither of us see that as a problem. I think he considers me his son. I have met his family and they accept me. We speak to each other about very personal things, but we have never spoken about our love for each other or my being gay. I think he knows that I love him. I want to tell him that I love him, but I am afraid to for fear of losing this relationship. What do you think I should do?
Everything you’ve written points to the fact that you love this man and that he loves you. Although the words haven’t been spoken, your behavior toward each other suggests this is true. It now appears that you are at a turning point where you wish to take your relationship with him to another level. Is it time to say “I love you”? Continue reading
I have been with my partner for 24 years and we still have a good relationship, but he has lost all interest in sex. He treats me well and really seems to care about me, but we haven’t had any sexual intimacy in almost three years. When I want to talk about it, he casually dismisses the subject. I miss having that physical intimacy and wonder if it’s okay to experience it outside my relationship with him.
For a variety of reasons, all couples, gay or straight, travel through sexual deserts, but a three-year trek through this desert is an unusually long period of time. First, let’s examine male sexual functioning in general terms. (You can get a copy of my handout on self-esteem on my website.) Continue reading
Hello, Dr. Olson.
I am a man in my early thirties, and I’ve only recently realized I’m gay after having unexpectedly fallen for a man who rocked me to my core. It was incredibly hot, sexy, and intense, but we connected in so many other ways too. I am not currently seeing him because I must work some things out. I’ve now come out to my wife whom I love. She believes that if I work hard enough on this, I can change, but deep down, I know I don’t want to change. How can I help her understand that being gay isn’t something I can change and because of it I can’t ever give her what she really needs?
Imagine being in a jail cell and standing at the door looking through the bars, wondering how you can escape. After struggling at the gate for a long time, you look to your left and then to your right. There are no walls there, only ones you imagined. You discover you can escape, but only by changing the directions through which you’re trying to escape. That is where you are now. Continue reading
Hello, Dr. Olson,
I am a thirty-year–old man who only recently realized that I am gay. I come from a very, very conservative Christian background, so every sense of being attracted to other boys was shut down until recently when I met a guy who rocked me deeply to my core. I have come out to a few family members who’ve told me that Satan has found a breach in my soul and entered, and he is now trying to destroy me and my family. I am reading the Bible and praying that God can change me, but I know deep down that I don’t want it to work. Do you think that I can be changed?
First let me say that I cannot counsel you about your religion, but what I can tell you is that dealing with the conflict between religion and sexual orientation is often the most difficult issue we must confront. Fortunately, one of the advantages of growing older is that we can think for ourselves. Continue reading
My best friend recently told me that she thinks my husband might be gay. My initial reaction was to tell her she’s crazy and to mind her own business. But now that I’ve had some time to think about it, I wonder if she could be right. I’ve seen the signs for some time but always made excuses for Daniel since he’s a good husband and great father to our kids. What’s the best way to bring up the subject with him? Should I be blunt and just ask him if he’s gay?
If you ask your husband directly if he’s gay, he might automatically deny it, just as you initially denied the possibility when your friend suggested it. Then you’d be left wondering if he’s being truthful—either with you or with himself.