3 min

You can have it all

But you have to look into yourself first

Dear Dr Ren:

I’m a straight guy in my mid-thirties, just divorced for the second time. Sex was boring with both of my wives and I found heat with men on the down-low. Now that I’m single again I’m trying to get something going with these guys, but they only want casual sex. Am I doomed to have emotional relationships but lousy sex with women or hot sex but empty relationships with men? Why can’t I have it all?

Unhappy Either Way

Dear Unhappy:

Of course you want it all, and rightly so. The problem lies with how you are trying to find it. On the surface it sounds like your erotic turn-on is with men while your emotional ties are with women. Heterosexual bonding provides you social and romantic fulfillment. You have pursued two of these courtships to marriage, so they must have met many of your needs. It sounds like sex was not on that list.

That brings us to your remedy for lacklustre marital sex: the down-low. You sought simple encounters to accommodate your straight lifestyle. The men you hooked up with were looking for the same straightforward interaction you were. The system worked for you at the time. Now that you are single, you are dismayed that they are responding as they always have. If you want to catch different fish, you have to change bait. Are you behaving differently towards these guys? Since your gay experience has been on the down-low, you’ve not dated these men. Maybe now would be a good time to see if this fits for you.

Keep in mind that even if you do establish a significant relationship with another man you may still pine for the romantic companionship of a woman. Not all questions have either/or answers. Messy? Yes. Unworkable? No.

There are a number of other factors you’ll need to consider as well in determining what is true for you. For instance, is it a different body or a male body that makes you hard? Sex uncomplicated by intimacy is often hot. Wasn’t sex hot in the beginning with your female lovers? Do you just bore quickly? Had a different woman been available, might she have scratched your itch as efficiently as a stroll through the trails?

If you find novelty rather than gender boosts your interest, you would be wise to avoid locking yourself (and another person) into a sexually exclusive twosome. If it is the male/male dynamic that scorches your skivvies, then why have you established fuck buddies but not romances in the gay community? Consider too why you inject sex into your friendships with women if that is not where you want to stay.

Have you been with women until now because of internalized homophobia? If so, deal with it! Waste no more time and explore your options. If you find you can develop deep emotional connections with the men who keep you sexually sizzling, kick open that closet door. You can satisfy your appreciation for the distaff side with friendships with the multitude of women who appreciate gay men.

Now that you are single again, take the time you need to learn who you are and what you want. You may find that you are attracted to personality traits more strongly than to gender. If you learn that you function best with women as your primary partners and men as your sexual outlets (as your history hints), you can make that work, but the down-low is probably not the best model. You have a much better chance of finding women who will accept your penchant for cock than those who tolerate being deceived. You don’t mention why you have two divorces under your belt, but the down-low involves lying and secrecy and you can’t simultaneously undercut and build a relationship.

If you find that you really are a guy who forms his best bonds with women but wants the occasional taste of sameness, learn to set up an honest and open relationship with a (perhaps bisexual) woman who accepts or even celebrates your desires. If you are honest from the beginning, you may find the heat in your marriage burns brighter longer, for secrecy puts a damper on ardour; acceptance has the opposite effect.

Most importantly, you don’t have to choose only one. Once you figure out what you bring to the relationship table, you can learn how to ask for what you want and negotiate how to get it. If your offer is attractive, you’ll have takers. You’ll be entering a realistic relationship based on honesty and agreement. Such expansive and inclusive bonds tend to be strong and happy.

Create a relationship that is uniquely yours. People are more than the sum of their plumbing, after all. It is usually when we believe we can’t have what we want that we steal it. Refuse to settle for less than an open, sharing relationship where your particular needs are accepted from the beginning. Sure, it may take some looking, but it will be worth it.