I am a thirty-two-year-old man. I was born and raised in India but now live in Canada. To please my parents, I married a woman in a religious ceremony in India after she became pregnant. Now we have an infant son. We are in a de facto or common law relationship.
When I was young, I was short and fat, and I was bullied a lot. I thought women would never like me because I am short. I regained some confidence after losing weight.
When I discovered man-on-man porn, I began to fancy being a receptive partner in anal sex. But I was afraid that if I bottomed, I would lose my attraction to women or even become a woman.
I lost my virginity in my midtwenties with a female sex worker, and then I had sex with a few other female sex workers, but I never enjoyed it.
When I moved to Canada, I discovered apps where I could meet older men. I never allowed penetration, but the foreplay turned me on. The first kiss I ever had was with a man.
When I have had sex with women wearing a condom, I have had some difficulty with erections. After I met my wife, we began having unprotected sex, and I had strong erections.
I cannot accept that I have sexual desires for men, and I struggle with the idea of being a receptive partner. It never ends.
Let’s look at the facts you have related to me:
- You were raised in a country with strong religious traditions and where family is deeply important.
- You are now living in a new, more liberal culture.
- You have had body image issues and were bullied for it.
- You discovered an attraction to men and fantasized about being the receptive partner.
- You have had a successful relationship with a woman, and she conceived your child.
- Condoms interfered with your erections.
Now let’s look at some of the feelings:
- You lacked confidence in yourself as a sexual partner and that became exaggerated when you struggled with erectile problems using a condom.
- You believed being the receptive partner would make you less of a man, something you had already struggled with.
- You cannot accept your attraction to men.
While feelings provide useful information, you need to separate facts from feelings. Feelings can become distorted, exaggerated, and misunderstood. I believe the origin of your conflicts stems from your feelings more so than from the facts.
First, you have moved from one culture to another. Canada is a more liberal culture with different values, and parents have less of a direct influence there. This alone is a significant challenge. But as an adult, you can choose which values to adapt. Religious and cultural differences present the greatest challenges. But my question to you is this: Would your parents stop loving you if you don’t live the life they expect of you?
Next, we have very little understanding of what leads to our sexual desires. You were raised to believe same-sex attractions are unacceptable. I believe that our attractions are innate and immutable. We have no control over our desires, but we do have control over how we act on them.
While condoms are essential for protection from pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, they are also a mechanical intrusion into lovemaking. They also interfere with pleasurable sensations. Stopping sexual pleasure to apply a condom intrudes on sexual passion, and this distraction can increase the likelihood of erectile problems. Many men experience this issue.
What makes us men? Our bodies? Our sexual desires or functioning? What role we take in sexual activity? We are fed images of ideal masculinity: having 10 percent body fat, only being the “top,” always being sexually available, and consistently being successful. If we accept this as the ideal, many of us fall short. It is up to each of us to define how we want to be a man.
Some men perceive kissing another man as a slippery slope that means we are gay. Many of us consider kissing another man as more intimate act than other sexual activities. Fantasies of being a receptive partner in anal sex takes us over the edge. We must also recognize that the anus is a sex organ. Many very masculine--heterosexual and gay men--experience intense pleasure in being the receptive partner and may identify as a total or exclusive “bottom.” Anal pleasure and masculinity are not related except in our prejudices.
The Urban Dictionary defines pegging as “When a woman fucks a guy with a strap-on dildo.” Although this act isn’t talked about much—it’s just too gay!—many heterosexual couples introduce this into their lovemaking. Some women enjoy taking on a more dominant role in sexual activity. You may want to have this conversation with your wife. Many men use dildos to experience self-pleasure while masturbating.
But the bigger issue here is your fear that wanting to be the receptive partner in anal intercourse makes you “less than.” This idea may come from cultural beliefs that women are “less than” men and the desire to be the passive partner is relinquishing male privilege. You may need to reconsider this value and adopt a new one.
Finally, I think much of this conflict is based on a fear that you are gay. If you say, “I must be gay,” it leads to a series of automatic thoughts: “If I am gay, I’m less of a man. I must leave my wife and child. I must tell my parents. I will lose everything I love.”
I don’t like labels very much: they are unnecessary. The truth is you are a man who experiences attraction to other men. That’s it. Your desires will persist, sometimes more intense than other times. Your attraction to men never ends, but you have a choice in how to respond to those desires.
But this is where you are now. Stay in this moment. The future will unfold as it will.