Happy New Year, Man
By Ron Exler
While we often hear about women learning about their husband / boyfriend is gay, men also have wives / girlfriends that come out. Straight Spouse men face many of the same issues as women, and there are also different challenges.
According to Amity Pierce Buxton in Straight Husbands Whose Wives Come Out As Lesbian or Bisexual: Men’s Voices Challenge the “Masculinity Myth” – “Numbers of straight men seeking help from the worldwide Straight Spouse Network have increased, and differences between their experiences and that of straight wives have become evident. Most important, straight men themselves say they want their collective voice to be heard.” The Straight Spouse Network estimates that 30 percent of inquires originate with men.
Men need our voices to express our experiences and be heard. While it’s not politically correct to say so, research shows that men are different from women in more than physiology.
- What women do in pursuit of their self-awareness is often different from gay men.
- How the women tell men they are lesbians is unlike how gay men disclose to their women partners.
- How we handle finding out that our wives/girlfriends are lesbian is usually different from how women handle learning their man wants other men.
- How men might fare as a result of our circumstances differs from how women might fare.
- Men and women grieve differently.
Masculine grieving is different, as expressed so well in Swallowed by a Snake: The Gift of the Masculine Side of Healing . The genders sometimes differ in their perceptions of life’s events, as discussed extensively in Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. The emotional recovery for many men is different than it is for most women. It’s not that one way is right or wrong; we all must take our own journey through partner’s disclosure.
When we get the news of our woman being gay, many of us experience great sadness, anger, feelings of betrayal, and maybe even disgust. Men want to get past the emotional messiness as quickly as humanly possible and deal with the logistics. As men, we want a roadmap for moving forward. A shortcut. A formula. That doesn’t mean we are avoiding our feelings — of course we feel intense pain.
Whether she’s with another woman in reality or whether she wants to be, it doesn’t matter. Your role as her sexual partner is in the best case diminished and ultimately eliminated. She might have never wanted you, or something changed so that she stopped wanting you. The two of you can still perform the physical acts of sex, but she’s likely thinking of her, not you.
You’re also no longer her protector, which you’re likely slow to accept. She might still want your protection, and sometimes she’ll beg you not to change how well you treat her. Yet you cannot protect her from herself, and figuring out she’s gay is not a thing you should work to prevent anyway. The inevitable changes in your roles in her life are a huge blow to your masculine ego.
Sometimes men need to talk with other men about what’s happening. The Straight Spouse Network is for women AND men seeking support. If your local group has no men, or you aren’t near a group, and you’re a man who wants to talk with another man who understands, there are many of us available
Ron Exler is the Vice President of the Straight Spouse Network Board of Directors.