Can a Straight Man be Addicted to Gay Sex?

A Hypothetical Case Example

The following is a hypothetical sex addiction case which presents a number of key choice points for the sex therapist or counselor.  A wife finds out that her husband has been “hooking up” with gay men for sexual encounters.  (We’ve seen more than one political scandal about just this situation.)  Needless to say the wife is shell-shocked since she thought they were relatively happily married and believed they had a fairly satisfying sex life.  This seismic jolt not only rocks her world but shakes her sense of her own identity.  The man admits to a problem and is himself confused about what is going on with him.  He feels he loves his wife but is drawn to these peculiar anonymous encounters.  He knows this is seedy at best and dangerous at worst but he has been leading a double life, fooling everyone and convincing himself that he wasn’t really being unfaithful because it wasn’t with another woman.

So this couple show up in my office, or no, they probably seek out a marriage counselor first because nobody has yet thought of the husband as a “sex addict” and my practice is limited to sex addiction.  After doing an initial assessment, many if not most marriage counselors or other therapists would likely suggest that the husband and probably also the wife be seen separately to resolve their individual issues first before trying to work on their relationship.  So first, the therapist who was treating the husband (the wife’s treatment is a whole other story) would be trying to thoroughly evaluate the husband’s psychological issues as well as his sexual orientation. 

Is He Gay, Bisexual, or Just a Sex Addict?

What should really happen first at this point is that the treating professional should evaluate whether the husband has a sexual addiction to acting out with men.  This is pretty straightforward in that there are a variety of well established evaluation tools which can help sort this out you can find a variety of self tests  online.  The newest and simplest of these tests contains only six questions and is called “PATHOS: A Brief Screening Application for Assessing Sexual Addiction” by Carnes et al.

Assume the husband is pretty addictive with his gay behavior, that he does it repeatedly over time, that he has trouble controlling the urge, that he feels bad about it, and that it results in negative life consequences.  So is he gay? bisexual? We still don’t know.  What we know at this point is that he has an “arousal template” so-called, laid down in early life that he re-enacts in brief, furtive sexual encounters that even he finds rather degrading and shameful.  Since sexually addictive behavior is almost universally believed to be related to early traumatic or formative events such as sexual abuse, the first task would be to treat the addiction and resolve the underlying issues so that the husband would no longer be driven to engage in this self-destructive acting out. 

That still leaves unanswered the question as to what his “true” sexual orientation is.  Well, we could ask him!  “Do you think you are really gay or not?”  Very likely he will not have a definitive answer for this until he knows what part of his behavior is coming from trauma re-enactment and what is coming from a sexual orientation preference. One possible scenario here is that the husband was born straight but was molested by an older male at an early age.   He may have married a woman because he “feels” heterosexual, but gets an unaccountable sexual charge from sex with men he will never see again.

Reaching Self Awareness

OK so now suppose the husband is successfully treated and is free of his addiction to back alley sex with strange men.  Now and only now he can begin to have a really healthy sexual relationship with another person that is based on honesty about who he really is and built on love and intimacy.  Since he has only recently become “intimacy literate” he will be engaged in a process of self exploration and self discovery.  But his underlying sexual orientation will now begin to govern his choices rather than his addiction.  If he prefers to be sexual with women, he may decide to try to make a go of it with is wife, or with another woman.  Or he may decide to be openly gay and seek a gay partner.  The point is now he has the option of a healthy relationship.  Somewhere in the dark reaches of his reptilian brain he may still have traces of the old patterns of warped sexual urges, but they will no longer have the power they once had over his life or his lifestyle.

26 Responses to “Can a Straight Man be Addicted to Gay Sex?”

  1. My exhusband was addicted to pornography and needless to say was addicted to drugs and alcohol too. After years of his own pornography obsession and admitting to multiple heterosexual affairs I believe he was also having gay sexual relations. I believe the fantasizing that goes with the sexual addiction where the addict gets numb to one type of sex w one partner, porni and then his seeking prostitutes and Facebook flings with ex girlfriends from middle school also made him seek any sexual activity possible due to his obsessive compulsive disordered thinking. I think the biggest tragedy is the victim, his wife, me as I struggled with years of fungal infections and then years later UTI infections where the doctor prescribed antibiotics for both of us. The addict also did not care who he hurt physically as my doctor presented to ME the question are you sure you are in a monotonous relationship I said yes, I am very monogamous. When I told my husband this question presented he and I laughed. Never did the doctor make me think my husband was cheating or I would have looked into it.. My husband of 22years was a liar obviously and only after looking into my computers did I see the true darkness and scarey things this man was doing and putting me and my health at risk…my point is the porn for some is a problem and when folks act out it should be stated that sexual addiction leads to multiple partners, std, molestation, rape, gay relations, and even murder…it is devastating to an honest person when another decides to lie cheat and betray and the wounds are lifelong..

  2. I am a straight male who struggles with addictive sexual behavior with men. For most of my life, I questioned the fact if I was gay or not because I received more sexual charge from anonymous sex with men and avoided intimate relationships with women. I struggled with porn and anon sex for 15 years before I finally sought help. Mary is right, sexual addiction evolves and becomes more gruesome over time. Luckily, I am catching it early in life and getting the therapy I need.

    One thing I would like to add. I do not recall any form of sexual abuse from an older male in my life. I have honestly tried to remember, but I do not believe that is the case. I believe I was subject to a disconnected relationship with my father who was suffering from various addictions of his own. As most addicts do, I also developed intimacy issues with friendships and relationships and felt like I lived a life of isolation, even though I was surround by people I knew. Because of that, I formed mutated feelings toward men and sought male approval through sexual contact.

    • Hi JP

      Im in the same situation with you…I become more addicted to gay sex after using drug…Now I want to get out but dont know how to….What did you do to help yourself

    • I believe that you may not be souly addicted to gay sex. There may be a degree of latent homosexuality which causes this charge. The addiction, however is directed at sex as a whole. Our entire lives we are told that love is between a man and a woman. And yes that is the norm. You’ve likely been exposed to heterosexual norms, which is why women are your comfort zone for relationships. Whereas your sexual charge comes from men due to homosexual feelings. You may be only like anonymous flings because you don’t want to face these feelings that don’t seem normal. You should breathe for a moment. Don’t panic with fear that you may be homosexual. If you are, thats a situation you’ll have to deal with one way or another. Just search your soul for the answers. Ask yourself who you want to love past the sex. What will make you comfortable? That’s what matters. Don’t diagnose this. Just search for the truth. Thanks for reading this and blessed be.

      • Good comment, thanks.
        Linda

        • hi there, i was abused at 5 till about 13, family member mostly, anal, oral, groping etc… i am 44 now, have been with my wife for 25 yrs. I am only now coming to terms with what a bad person i am. ive been a alcohol abuser since 14-15, same with pot and same with sex with men. I have always seeked older men, sneaky discrete situations. My wife has just recently found an email address i have used for discrete organisation for meets.
          W are still together, we are in a long limbo time period. I am not gay, very very straight and masculine, so confused and worried that if it all comes out my only choice would be to end it..quickly
          i am scared to death of being found out, my wife has said 100% that she will not tell anybody!, why should she do this seeing i have lied to her , i hate myself for this!!
          i have been seeing a phyc for a while now over a period of about 10-12 yrs.
          Day by day i wonder when someone will bust me…
          my discusting behaviour has gotten really bad, more risky, more often, 10-20 a week, multiple a day
          ?? cant stop this train wreck to be…Dave

          • Hi Dave – Sorry it took me so long to comment on this. You are grappling with something that takes a long time to change. You are right to get some therapy but I think you should be talking to an expert in sex addiction. Also you need to go to Sex Addicts Anonymous meetings where you are or at least to phone meetings. You should be working a program like that. Don’t be disgusted, be patient. Sounds like trauma repetition to me. So I say get all the help you can. Maybe even residential treatment at one of the sex addiction programs. Things can get better.
            Best wishes from
            Linda

  3. hi..i was molested at the age of 12 to 15 by an older man..he did eberything to me short of anal penentratuon..yet i was not able to speak up about it..i was married sometime back..but somewhere along the way i found myself craving sex with unknown men and startedd hooking up with unknown men for oral sex and mutual pleasure..i can now relate to what is being discussed..how can i help myself..i am filled with remoorse and guilt after every encounter but in the heat of it just go with the flow..

  4. Jon, seek counsel from a good therapist and deal with yr feelings & loss of masculine Identification & bonding. Drewgear@gmail
    Feel free to write.

  5. Find a sex addiction 12 step meeting in your area and go to one meeting. You are not alone. I had the same past and have been in recovery for over 5 years

  6. Straight men dont have gay sex. Sexuality is determined byh what you’re sexually attracted to. A straight man isn’t turned on by male genitalia anymore than a gay man is turned on by female genitalia. It is possible you are bisexual but having sex with men, unless you’re a pornstar, isn’t a heterosexual act. Rape, no matter how awful, is not a “gay trigger”. You’re gay or you’re not. But there’s nothing wrong with not being straight. A same-sex sexual compulsion might be rooted in repressed homosexual feelings that we’re bottle up to maintain a “normal” life and the feelings bursting out to “make up for lost time”. you don’t need some sort of reformative therapy. you should talk to other gay men and try to come to terms with your sexuality. I’m a gay man myself. If the sexual compulsion is the problem, by all means, seek therapy/rehab, but if the fact it’s with other men is, come to terms with it before it destroys you.

    • Thank you for posting this, Phil. I am a women that has been with someone for 8 years. I just recently found out he was hitting up people on CL. Then only to find out they are men. I agree that this is not any form of heterosexual behavior. He obviously does not know who he is. I sure as now know that I never did either.

      • Andrea and Schoko says:

        I’m in the same situation, I’m a straight female married to a gay male sex addict and going through a divorce. I found both gay and straight affair evidence, and he admitted to porn addiction. He saved several pictures on his phone. He did not have sex with me for almost ten years, then pretending he had been loyal and reconciling we were intimate once again and I found myself getting tested for Aids and a full STD panel and I’m practically a virgin.

        His parents took him to a strip club in Munich when he was 18 because they thought he was gay. He was abused by his father who left when he was 5, and the family always considered him his father’s son. He was physically and emotionally abusive to me.

        I’m in shock, and he admitted to be gay right after we were intimate that one time after he filed. I was talking about a boyfriend I had that turned out to be gay and he said “Like the Monster.” (monster was his pet name for himself)

        I, in fact met him on Craigslist 13 years ago, and you are right, that closeted gay men go there for anonymous sex. I found phone numbers that I googled that were for escorts from Craigslist Casual Encounters.

        What’s so hard for me, is that he continues to use women as cover. He is texting an Vietmanese asian female who works at a casino, all hours of the night in a different state. He is dating a 24 year old nurse at his hospital in the state capitol. He is online in different cities and is lying about his age by 10 years (39, really 48), now 9 years (40, guess the first number didn’t work) and even lies about his eye color. He has green eyes with light brown hair one month, then this month he has dark brown hair and dark brown eyes. My friend saw him on a site while we were married in another state, with a different name and job.

        He is a doctor, whom obtained citizenship through me, and I worked tirelessly for his career. As soon as he got partnership and realized he had solidified his career, he no longer needed me and I wanted to have a child. He now got attention or validation from everyone for his status and could now play straight on his own. I met him when he was making 30,000 a year and slept on a futon.

        The pain is tremendous, and I wish he would just come out to everyone instead of using females for ego and cover. He wasted my fertile years and I can not get them back.

        I’m from San Francisco and it’s where I met my husband, I believe there is nothing wrong with being gay, just don’t use other people to live your lie. It has destroyed my life.

  7. The spectrum of sexuality hasn’t been mentioned. There are many heterosexual men who do have sex with men. They have no desire to be intimate on an emotional level with men, but want the physical contact non the less. I am on the opposite side of this situation. I am a gay man who before I came out had a lot of great sex with women, but I always desired sex with men. Look sex feels great, and it goes without saying that these are two vastly different sexual experiences. It’s only natural that some men want both. The primary problem here is the dishonesty with one’s partner. If you are wanting to play outside of the relationship without your partner being aware of it, that is the problem. These things have to be negotiated and if your partner doesn’t accept it you refrain or you leave to explore your sexuality on your own. The associated guilt and shame is from years of conditioning that sex between the same gender is wrong, and leading a dishonest life with your partner. This complicated stew of emotions often leads to substance abuse, that leads to unsafe sexual behaviors, that leads to a whole host of other problems. So the answer is accept yourself for who you are and be sexual responsibly; for yourself and others.

  8. I should also say that what I addressed is outside of molestation that has been mentioned in other responses. I came out of the womb attracted to hyper masculine men with hair all over. I have never been able to understand where this desire came from, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

  9. Firstly I want to admit that I am a male early thirties addict and also in recovery for substance abuse, etc.

    Secondly, the funny thing is I am ridiculously attracted to women and have been my whole life even in early childhood. I find it easy to fall in love with women, I am extremely attracted to many women throughout all areas of my life and romantic / intellectual and emotional feelings toward women are a strong part of my personality. I do see 100% wanting a woman as my committed partner.

    However, when I was young I was molested by an older man and I felt this opened a door that I didn’t want to be opened. During my days of substance abuse and even in recovery I have found myself seeking out quick sexual relations with men. For me it is only about sex, I can’t deal with any other type of attraction ie emotional, even physical as I don’t find men physically attractive, intellectual, etc.

    I have found myself in a strange situation and seeking help because I honestly don’t want to do this and I understand that it is a form of addiction. I feel like right after the sexual release all my feelings are guilt and shame and only go back to my actual, true ideal of wanting to be with a woman for the rest of my life. I sincerely know inside me deep down and probably the same way that a homosexual person knows deep down, that I long for all attachment to a woman including emotional, physical and intellectual. However I believe that it is sexual addiction starting off with pornography and leading into attempted encounters. I will state for the record that I’ve never actually fully gone through with an encounter within the last 10 years and I had only done it once before but that was when I was abusing so many drugs and substances I was completely out of my mind.

    I hope this can help someone as I believe your true feelings come from inside, there is nothing wrong with your sexual orientation whatever it is and it seems like addiction is addiction to me and can mask and/or cause grave problems with your ideal functioning in life.

    • Gary… That was the reply I needed to hear. You just hit the nail on the head with my life…. Thanks man!

    • I agree with you. I have always and still am very attracted to women. The very essence of their presence is amazing. I double back in stores sometimes to get a double take of a beautiful woman. Just recently I my mind has went haywire. It scares the crap out of me because I am not gay and have an amazing wife. She is sexy, smart, beautiful and sex was great. We watch all types of porn (including gay porn together. About a year ago, She wanted to start swinging and wanted to see me penetrate a man like the porn movies. I told her I would think about it. I just live seeing her happy. So I made myself come to grips with doing it. Then she got pregnant and we called the swinging off. I thought I was able to shut it off too, but it all started coming back to my mind like a year later. I keep fighting it because it is scaring the crap out if me and interfering with my sex drive. Now I have no interest in sex and am trying to get it back. My wife and I still have sex and it is good, but we use to have great sex and that’s what I am yearning from. I have had an sexual addiction since i was 12 and now at the age of 32 my sexual addiction is ruining my life. I guess I will get some counseling too.

      • I have been married for 30 years with very high sex drive my wife like a lot of women went of sex I found it easier to find men to have sex with after meeting first few guys I liked the attention I was getting because I’m very well endowed and the guys I was meeting of gay bi internet sites most where married men who,s wifes did not have sex with them because they where quite small so at first I loved the sex because I was like a god to them now I’m just addicted to the adulation I get and cannot stop even though after the sex I feel bad

  10. *I didn’t mean I don’t find men intellectual I meant attractive intellectually :)

  11. I have been married to a woman for over 21 years, but my first sexual relationship was with a best male friend in my mid-teens. We loved each other as buddies but didn’t call it love. The sex was great. After I went to college, I had random sex with men–the sex was nice but I wasn’t into the men–until I met a women who was my girl friend and sexual partner for a year or so. When that ended, I started having sex with man again–quite a few men. I continued this until I met another women who I lived with for two years in a monogamous relationship. When that ended, I had more sex with men, but all the relationships were brief and sex driven. Then I met the women I am married to now. I often crave to have sex with men–I love the male body–but I made a conscious decision to get married and I love my wife. My wife is not interested in an open marriage; I tried that and it was a disaster. I am not an unenlightened, closeted homosexual because I have had sex with many men and, for a period, was very open about my gay relationships. But, in order to stay married, I have had to repress my homosexual urges. I am not happy about that, but I know straight married men who struggle to contain their desire to have serial sex with other women. For me, giving up my love of sex with men, is a price I have decided to pay to remain married. Whether you label me straight, bi, or gay doesn’t matter, because the real issue is that I have chosen to have a heterosexual marriage with a woman I love and to deal as best I can with my unfulfilled sexual desire for men. In my dream world, I would have a man and a woman, but I am not living a dream.

  12. I’ve always been attracted to women, not men. BUT women don’t much like me. I started watching gay porn just out of curiosity. I enjoyed watching it more and more. I wanted to do it, but was afraid. I thought about it for many years. When I was 65, I finally went for it. I really liked it. I just turned 67, and I don’t do it that often, But I think about it a lot. I plan to do it some. I still like women, but I don’t see being with a woman again, as much as I would want to. If I only have sex with men from now on, it’ll be okay. I really do enjoy it.

  13. I need some help / advice please.

    A couple of months back I found out my boyfriend of 5 years (we’re in our mid 20s and very much in love) has been having random hook ups with men to perform oral sex on them. He hasn’t ever taken it further and doesn’t wish too (there is no intimacy involved ie kissing. It’s purely that one act). It’s only ever been about being dominated by another man orally and this has been going on since before I knew him. We did break up for a year, a couple of years back, realising we were so young to have met and fallen so in love, and I didn’t know at the time, but a lot of that was do with him getting away and really trying to figure things out. When we got back together he kept it going. A bad habit he calls it, that was too easy to continue with, with these hook up apps.

    Once I found out, he reluctantly told me everything and we went through all the details … he showed me the types of messages sent and all about the encounters because although desperately embarrassed and guilty he says he can’t lose me and wants me to forgive him. It’s almost like he feels it’s forgivable because it’s such a shocking dark secret he’s kept all this time he got used to it and being with other men it’s somehow not cheating in the traditional sense. He has been so appreciative and complimentary about my handling it since. But doesn’t quite realise how hard I’m finishing it all to take in.

    Since opening up about it and telling me the truth, he hasn’t done it since which is the longest time he’s gone. I’m very proud of him for telling me and for no longer cheating. He seems relieved, we’re closer for it and our sex life which was always amazing has changed a lot too. It’s more intimate if possible. But I feel very confused! Can I trust him?! Should I run a mile even though I love him with all my heart and we truly believe we’re made for each other. It’s just I cannot get the whole thing out my head and it’s driving me crazy because I just don’t understand it. I would never and could never cheat on him with anyone! I want so badly to help but he says he’s totally fine now and doesn’t like going over it. He doesn’t crave it now that I know, and explains that before the secret was all part of the excitement and that’s gone now. Of course he’s moving on and doesn’t want to keep going over it. For me it’s still fresh in my mind and I’m now trying to be ok but have no one I can tell (he understandably doesn’t want me to speak about it) or talk to so feel a little trapped.

    Is that really it can I relax and let it go now?
    I love him and know he loves me too otherwise he would never have opened up to me and told me everything. More than he needed to.

    • I’d advise the two of you to get some therapy separately at first, with a certified sex addiction therapist. There is a lot to sort out here and they will know how to help evaluate the situation and advise you. Best wishes,
      Linda

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