When do you cross the cheating line?
Emotional, physical, and intimate disconnects often lead to infidelity. So does hiding in the closet. But who's to blame for the "hidden agenda?"
In my five years as The Coming Out Coach, I've worked with a little over 100 people from all walks of life, who have finally taken that brave step forward to be honest with themselves about their sexual orientation. In the moments right before coming out to a parent, sibling, friends or spouse and children, you might be thinking, "dead person walking." The person you have always presented to the world is about to be buried in the past, and the real person you have always been is about to be birthed for a second time.
One of the most common reactions to hearing to someone's coming out is to accuse the person of being a liar, cheat, and having no integrity. Rather than get up on my soapbox and unleash my wrath, I prefer to let them vent and then quietly say, "What would you do if the tables were turned and being a heterosexual was not the acceptable sexual orientation?" That usually stuns them into silence for approximately 3.5 seconds before the tired and true retort arises from their lips, "That's not the same. Heterosexuality is normal!"
Therein lies one of the most common reasons that homosexuality gets buried in the closet with Dust Bunnies, Dirty Laundry, and Wire Hangers (hint: That's the title of my forthcoming book!). Honestly speaking, those of us who come out of the closet after driving on the heterosexual freeway of love didn't intentionally set out to hurt anyone, cheat or wear the crown of infidelity. Yet I question whether it's truly cheating and infidelity to be in the closet and married to a heterosexual.
Let's step back in time to the Clinton/Lewinsky sex scandal. Remember the hubbub about, "Is a blow job sex?" Similar questions arise when you start exploring the complicated world of mixed orientation marriages. At what point has the person cheated? Is it when they get married? When they look at gay porn? Or is it when the person actually acts on their sexual orientation?
Roll back the clock to the moment a couple meets, starts dating and falls in love. There are a multitude of prevailing thoughts the hidden homosexual is often processing. Here's the top three:
- It's just a phase and I'm past that same sex attraction so this relationship is going to work.
- I really love him/her and know that this relationship will keep me from exploring the temptation of a homosexual relationship.
- I know who I am but I cannot disappoint my family so I'm just going to pull up my bootstraps and go forth into the world as a heterosexual. I can do it!
The haunting question, "Are these feelings real or just fantasies?" get jumbled up and lost in the raging emotional currents of homosexuality vs. heterosexuality. Add a good dose of societal pressure and before you know it you have a:
- Mixed orientation marriage where only one partner knows they're in a mixed orientation marriage...maybe. Oftentimes, the gay partner can't even openly admit to themselves that they are in a mixed orientation marriage.
- Closeted homosexual who on the surface appears to have no dating or relationship interests whatsoever. They've created a fabulous persona often caught up in work and other life reasons as to why they're not in a relationship of any kind.
- Individual who goes through relationships more often than they change their underwear touting the lame excuse, "I just can't find the right person to connect with!" Duh, because you're trying to connect with a person of the wrong sex!
Given this type of unsettled foundation, is it any wonder some people end up pretending to be heterosexual for the sake of saving face? It doesn't surprise me one bit! Think about the peer pressure you faced in high school and apply it to being an adult, and you'll get a really clear picture of why mixed orientation marriages happen.
Caught up in self-doubts, worry and living a double-life, gay people in straight marriages often end up in a state of living numbness. Of course, onlookers who consider themselves the experts in normal relationships call these individuals cheating, lying adulterers because of the lives they lead. On the other hand, is hiding in the closet in a heterosexual marriage any more adulterous or duplicitous than:
- A man who blatantly ogles a woman's body while his wife stands next to him. Is that different than a closeted gay man ogling the hot male Adonis lifeguard at the beach while his wife stands next to him?
- The woman who decides the pool guy is much more interesting to talk to than her husband because he really gets her. Very similar to the woman who decides that Sally in accounting is much more interesting to talk to than her husband because Sally is an out and proud lesbian that really gets her.
- Clearing the cache on the computer so that your wife doesn't find you've been looking at porn. No different than clearing the cache and history on the computer to ensure your wife doesn't know you've been looking at gay porn.
- Discovering that you and your husband have nothing in common now that the kids are gone and the type of guy you're really meant to be with is someone who is sexually adventuresome. With this new insight, you make a conscious decision to explore this side of yourself, knowing full well the consequences could lead to the break up of your marriage, but could also lead to a feeling of inner fulfillment in a way that you've never experienced. This isn't just because the sex rocks the mattress off the box springs, it's because you're connected to someone who is totally in sync with your needs. Sounds like a coming out story, only the players happen to be heterosexual rather than homosexual.
- Marrying because this is what I'm supposed to do to keep the peace in the family, even though the thought of being with the same person for 5, 10, 20, 50 years simply doesn't interest me. I'm a free spirit and I don't need the same someone in my life to feel complete. I like to have spice in my life. Yet, this same, stereotypical thought process gets laid on gay men and they're assumed to be male whores who only want sex, sex, sex!
Homosexual, Heterosexual, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer; it doesn't really matter the orientation or sexual preference. Infidelity, cheating, lying and adultery are all in the eyes of the beholder. The two people in the relationship each have to define infidelity for them as individuals and as a couple. Which pretty much means, the rest of us need to stay out of their relationship and their bedrooms and let them work it out in a manner that is in their best interest.
Struggling with your own version of infidelity? Trying to make heads or tails out of a relationship gone bad? The Gay Life Coach isn't just for gay people. Take a walk on the wild side and schedule a "Let's get this mess cleaned up" session. It's free and could be the best 30-minutes you've spent on yourself. And that's no lie and you won't feel cheated!