6 Signs Your Husband Is Not Gay

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Over the years I've received numerous questions from wives and girlfriends who wonder if the men in their lives are gay. I can understand why there is suspicion. In the last few years, gay rights have skyrocketed from a hush-hush subject to an everyday topic. You would be hard-pressed to find a young person or adult that does not either have an openly gay family member or friend or know someone who does.

Read the news at any given moment and there is bound to be a gay topic or public figure talking about something related to homosexuality. Flip on your favorite show and surely, front and center, is a gay character, either in the script or in real life.

The fact is more people are open about their sexuality today. But with so much talk about gay life (and so much still not talked about), it can be difficult to distinguish between what information are merely perceptions and which experiences reflect real life. This confusion has some women running for the panic button, especially if their partner behaves in ways one might think is 'gay'.

There are a ton of gay figures and conversations going on, but few actually address what gay life is really like. Far too often most of the representations that are present make caricatures of gay men either for entertainment value or to make a political statement.

So, how can we sift through this mess to get to the gist of what seems like your husband's or boyfriend's not-so-straight behavior? I warn you that the answer isn't what you expect.

So, let's get to it. Is your man gay or not? Let's start by separating the myths from reality:

  • He likes gay porn. Porn isn't a gay thing; it's a man thing. His new obsession with the red screen can be rooted in many things and is not a clear sign that he's struggling with his sexuality. However, if you discover that the porn he's watching is guy-on-guy action, this may pose a red flag. "May?" you say! Yes, may. Sexual curiosity doesn't just go away once we move beyond puberty. It's not uncommon for heterosexual-identified men (i.e. straight men) to have same-sex fantasies or curiosities. However, a fantasy does not mean he desires to put them into action.
  • He loves the mirror. It's odd that we associate things that have nothing to do with gender, like vanity or sportsmanship, with our sexualities. It's odd that we actually associate gender with sexuality at all. Most of the time the way we behave in our gender 'roles' is not because we are men or women, but because that's how we have been taught to behave. Along these lines, we continue to reinforce these roles every day, not because that's the way that it actually has to be. If we all took a moment to count how many times we are 'taught' how to act out our genders in a single day, we'd be astonished by the number. For instance: 'Women are from venus; Men are from Mars"; "Women take forever to get ready"; "The game is no place for a girl"; "Only gay guys wear pink"; etc. The fact is, these ideas are no more than how we think people should behave. The same applies to sexuality. Using vanity as an example, take into account that in 1965, men spent $435 million on beauty products. Last year, American consumers alone spent over $4.8 billion on men's products. You man's affair with the mirror is more of an indication that he's feeling confident about himself than a sign that he's gay. Need more proof, just go to the free weight section at your local gym during rush hour. Chances are you'll see just as many straight men as gays gazing at the muscles of other guys in the full-length mirrors. So, the next time your man brings home an expensive face cream for himself, don't wonder if he's gay. Start picking up on other clues that he's caring more about how he presents himself most likely for both him and you.
  • He wears a 'gay' jewelry. I was asked once by a suspicious wife if her husband was gay after he ran out and bought a bracelet and jeans he saw a gay-identified fashion designer wearing on Oprah. A sure sign, right? Wrong. The designer may have been one of Oprah's gay favorites, but his fashions are not exclusive to gay men. Common perception may be that gay men have a higher sense of style than straight guys, but there is no gay dress code. Dressing nice(r) does not mean a man is gay. A good way to think about his shopping habits is to think about your own. Do you associate your sexuality with the products you buy? Surely not. You buy a product because you admire the person presenting or because it's specific to your gender. But you do not buy a product because you are straight. At least I hope you wouldn't. Martha Stewart's summer table setting may appeal to you because you resonate with her style. But, I doubt would you rush to the nearest home design store because you connect with her as a straight woman. Give your man the same credit. Style is an expression of the self, not sexuality.
  • He's not the bull he used to be in bed. Sex in relationships is tricky because our sensuality is more fluid than we allow. It's understandable not to leave any stone unturned while trying to figure out what's happening with your man's sex drive, especially if he used to be eager and is now sleepy under the sheets. Does this mean men are his new best thing? No. Attraction is only one of many factors that contribute to sex drives. Stress, fatigue, drinking, and medications all affect sexual desire and performance. Some experts even claim that spousal anger can be a major contributor. It may be true that your husband or boyfriend is more attracted to men than women, but we should also consider that sexual attraction isn't the only driver of sexual performance.
  • He has new sex habits. If your husband has gone from cornbread to kink in the sack, chances are you may be surprised, but his new sex habits aren't new to him at all. He's always wanted to try but never felt comfortable enough to ask--until now. Contrary to first reactions, this is a good sign for your relationship. Sex is about comfort. As Mark Epstein, MD, author of Open to Desire: Embracing a Lust for Life suggests, "the paradox of sex is that you have to totally become yourself. But it also strips your 'self' away." Epstein goes on to remind us that "safety is a big factor" in sex. If your husband is introducing new things, more than likely it means he's built a higher level of comfort with you, which translates to sexual safety. Ultimately, when your man's sex habits change, he is really attempting to explore new things that you can do together. Go on this journey with him before rejecting it outright. You may be surprised what you might discover!
  • He's a little effeminate. I love using the old TV show Will & Grace as an example of cultural thoughts about gay people. One thing that typically stands out is what most people remember about the show. For instance when I ask who the main character was, typically the first person that comes to mind for most people say "Jack", even though his character was the supporting role. The main character was the more masculine man, "Will". So, why do many of us remember Jack and not Will? Not only was Jack a riot in the series, but the way he carried himself is how people too often envision gay men to behave. As we know, gay is most often associated with a lack of masculinity, weakness, or something "not straight" acting or looking. To the contrary, as in the show, we dismiss masculine gay men (the "Wills") in our lives as if they couldn't be gay. This relates closely to the performance of the gender "roles" we talked about earlier. Masculinity and femininity are qualities that are specific to the individual and only placed on certain sexual identities because of mass generalizations (which is why many assume masculine gay men have something to hide and feminine gay men are just being themselves). What this implies is that your husband or boyfriend's level of masculinity is no more than how he expresses himself. His sexuality might be expressed differently, which is how he can be straight and still be what is perceived as feminine. The difference is only as subtle as you allow it to be.

    In all, before jumping on your suspicions that your partner might be gay, through both caution and mass stereotypes to the wind. Consider what his behavior, dress or other actions might be really saying about your relationship. Of course, he could be understanding same-sex feelings that he's always had but not recognized, but it also highly likely that his seemingly new expressions could be a sign that he is more comfortable being himself around you than most of society will allow.

    I can also say that I've met and corresponded with many gay men in my professional life and for the number I've met is the number of different demeanors and personalities I've seen, from the cigar smoking investment banker to the parade marcher on roller skates. So, ask yourself, is your husband's display of masculinity really a reflection of his sexuality or are you looking at it through the eyes of the stereotypes we see?

    How Do You Know If Your Husband Is Gay? 

    Many of the wives that I speak with have gut feelings that propel them to a search for answers. What they all have in common is searching for signs instead of dealing with the root of the problem. Unfortunately, this is the hardest part. Instead of stressing in a sea of possibilities, go to the source—your husband. However, I'd suggest not leading with the gay card. This may immediately put him on the defensive. Try addressing your concerns one by one and give him space to open up to you about what's going on.

    Are your suspicions about him being gay unfounded? Not always. Some men do discover their sexual and emotional attraction for other men later in life and some men come out to their wives on their own. Either way, understanding what's happing in your marriage takes a face-to-face conversation that's nonconfrontational and based on more than common stereotypes.