Loren A. Olson, MD

AUTHOR

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 askthedoc@lorenaolson.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.

Children of Gay and Bi Fathers

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

I Love my Wife but I Think I’m Gay

I frequently hear from gay men, “I love my wife but I just can’t shut off the attraction I have for men. What should I do?” As I was working on an essay for Psychology Today, I got an email from my ex-wife, whom I divorced 32 years ago, asking me to have lunch.  “Nothing serious.  Just haven’t caught up in a while.” I quickly accepted the invitation. My experience is unimaginable to some straight spouses, and for us, it didn’t come easily or quickly.
Sometimes we’re left with the choice between a bad decision and a worse decision, but things may not be as bad as they seem.  Click here to read

Are All Gay Men Narcissists?

Since my essay, “My Husband Is Having an Affair…With a Man,” was published, I have received many, many comments. Although some of the comments were supportive, many of them were challenging, such as this one: Sadly, most married, closeted gay men are manipulative, narcissistic con artists who only think about themselves with only occasional feelings of guilt and remorse. Their decision to leave or stay in their marriages is never out of consideration for the wife.
To read Digging Deeper with Straight Spouses – Part I, click here.

Literary and Other Resources

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

The Shame and Guilt of Same-Sex Attraction

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

Suicide Is Not Rational

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

My Dad Is Gay

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.

  1. What was the aha moment that you had when you finally decided to come out to your family? To yourself?

Although the process of accepting my sexual orientation took place over many years, as I wrote in Finally Out: Letting Go of Living Straight“I just suddenly went gay.”  Continue reading

Alcoholics Anonymous and Honesty about Same-Sex Desires

I’m very conflicted now. I am in my midsixties and have been married since I was in my early twenties. I’ve struggled with depression, alcoholism, and drugs most of my life. The first twenty-five years of my marriage were a complete nightmare for my wife—infidelity, alcohol and drugs, and all the lies and false promises I made. For several years, I have been clean and sober with the help of AA.

My wife and I haven’t had a sexual relationship in several years. I have always had a high sex drive, and one day while surfing Craigslist I decided to try having sex with a man. I did, and I liked it. Honesty is a big part of AA and for staying sober. I am hiding this, and now all I feel is shame and guilt and it has ruined my sex life. Any advice?

Thanks for contacting me. First, congratulations on your sobriety. I know how difficult that struggle is. Substance use disorders are chronic conditions, much like diabetes, that can never be cured but must be managed on a day-to-day basis. Continue reading

Despair and Loneliness after Coming Out

Dr. Olson,

I grew up in the 1950’s – 60’s. FINALLY OUT resonated with me because I grew up in the insularity of a rural environment. I was ignorant of homosexuality also. I am now in my sixties and I feel lonely and in despair.  After 30 years of marriage, I came out to my wife. I have struggled to find a good therapist who can understand what I’ve been going through. 

Most of the gay literature focuses on the coming out process for young gay men and women.  Are there any that describe the trials of coming out as an older man?

I am concerned about your “lonely despair.”  Even at your age, it is possible to 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 be seeking a lover, but finding friends, gay or straight, who accept you as you now have revealed yourself to your wife, but also, more importantly, to yourself. Continue reading

Bisexuality

I don’t know if I’m gay, straight or bisexual. How can I decide?  Kinsey saw sexuality as a continuum, with homosexuality on one end and other-sex attractions on the other; bisexuality fell somewhere in the middle. But where? How much bisexual attraction and/or behavior does it take to make a person bisexual? How do I know what I am?

You’ve asked a complicated question, and one that frankly has gotten me into some trouble in the past.  I was attacked (with some justification, I might add) by some members of the bisexual community who considered my comments in an essay on Psychology Today to be very “biphobic.” Never the less, I’ll stick my toe in that water again. Continue reading

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