When You Think Your Boyfriend Is Gay

Is Your Boyfriend Gay?

Young woman working on a laptop beside a young man using a mobile phone
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Dear Gay Man:

I'm a straight female living with a man who I think is in denial about being gay. I want to talk to him without a confrontation. I don't understand his feelings, but I don't want to hurt him like I'm hurting. I'm angry because of the deceit, but if he can't tell me, then he is living in his own hell on the inside. I have been with him for five years and I have seen some signs, but I don't know where to begin.

I honestly don't want to ask him about his sexuality. I just know that I can't live this lie with him anymore. Maybe he doesn't want me sexually, but he needs me for more like a cover. How can I talk to him about this without making him feel like dirt?

Dear Chick on the Side:

When we're itching to get information out of someone, our natural tendency is to use the intervention method: launch a full frontal attack. This method might work for an alcoholic friend who's been passed out naked on the street corner for the fourth time, but it sucks as a tool to get someone to disclose their sexuality.

If your boyfriend is indeed gay or bisexual, you're absolutely right - he is probably in hell! Confronting him in the wrong way will only put you on the negative side of his already pent-up emotions. Getting the information you're looking for will require a more subtle approach.

It sounds like you're OK with him being gay/bi as long as he's honest with you.

Of course, this doesn't lessen the pain, but it will allow you both to move on with your lives. Here are a few suggestions. 

Know His Fears

If your guy is gay or bi, it's very possible that he either knew that before he got in a relationship with you and was too afraid to face it, or he just recently discovered his same-gender feelings – which happens a lot.

In either scenario, he's probably terrified of his feelings and your anticipated reaction to them. He's afraid that his world will crumble if he comes out. He may even be afraid that you'll hate or reject him. You know your man best, so assess what his fears could be. Think about how easy it's been in the past to discuss difficult situations together. Reflect on how you communicate. This will be important in determining what approach to take when you have your "gay" talk. If he hasn't been receptive to you in the past, he won't be now.

Set Aside Your Emotions... For Now

Sure, you're hurting inside, but you'll need a clear head if you're going to get the information you're looking for. There will be plenty of time for the "Why did you lie to me?" argument later. You must be rationale and quick on your feet because the goal here is to change the way your guy sees you.

When was the last time you spilled your emotions to someone who accused you of something? Probably never and the same holds true for your boyfriend. Understanding him and communicating in a positive manner doesn't negate any wrongdoing or hurt feelings, but it does ensure that you can have a rational discussion as adults.

This method has proven way more effective than a yelling match.

Reaffirm your Friendship

Right now, your boyfriend sees you as a girlfriend or wife. No offense, but if he truly is gay or bi and if he's closeted, you're the opposite of someone he would feel comfortable confiding in. If he has pretty much put the brakes on sex and intimacy, then he is definitely distancing himself. At this point, he's already realized he's screwed up. Yeah, he loves you, but he didn't have the guts to tell you the truth – either that or he's just discovered the truth himself. Now he sees that being gay will change his entire life - his relationship with you and everything else that he's dependent on.

Try to be the friend he knew when you first met. You say you're OK with homosexuality, so give him some subtle signs that you are.

Figure out a way to tell him without just coming out and saying it that being gay is OK in your eyes. But careful how you do this. You don't want him to get angry or think he's being accused. Comfort equals disclosure. You have to be patient. He will only tell you when he's ready.

Have a Heart-to-Heart 

Up until now, he's been running the show. You're in this relationship, too, and you deserve answers. I believe in getting them with as little friction as possible. Try to develop some sense of comfort before having the discussion. Sit him down and let him know how his behavior makes you feel. Let him know that his well-being is important to you, but you need to know if he's being honest with you. Tell him that you are not looking for an argument and you're not making false allegations against him. You just want honesty in your relationship.

He May Not Be Ready 

If your talk fails, he may not be ready – or maybe he's simply not gay. Know that you may never get a definite answer from him. You can't force a disclosure. All you can do is play nice and see if he is willing to be fair. If not, it may be time to loosen his dependence on you and protect yourself emotionally and physically. 

Yours,
Gay Man