SETTLING FOR STRAIGHT CRUMBS
I know this issue may be painful to read for some of you, but if I keep it in, I will feel that I am not responsible for the thousands of you who trust me and my opinions.
I will start with this. Many of you have or had been in failed marriages for many years--10, 20, 30, or more years. These were years of losing yourself and not developing to you greatest potential. Sometimes this was because after being battered by your gay husband for so long, you questioned your ability to do anything for fear it would be wrong. Other times you were so busy trying to keep things together and trying to make your husband feel better from his looming distancing, that you didn't have the time to pay attention to yourself.
In my second newsletter back in 2001, I wrote these words that summarize what happens to us:
Those words ring just as true today as they did then.Who could we have become with the right sprinkeling of love?
There are different variations of gay husbands--but one thing is for sure:
THEY DON'T BELONG IN A MARRIAGE TO A WOMAN!!!
They will tell you that they feel trapped in the marriage, but THEY set the trap--not you. They wanted to marry you. I sincerely doubt any of you held a shotgun to their heads to get them to marry you. These men married you hoping that their "love" for you would turn into the "in love" that you wanted and felt for them. Well we all know the end of that story. Gay man meets woman...gay man marries hoping that his feelings of love for you will stop making him think of male attractions..gay man has sex with you believing that he will (or rather sex will) get better as more time passes and he gets "used" to it...gay man realizes you don't turn him on so he looks for something that will....that something will be another man...etc. etc. And of course, once he understands his unhappiness, will he still try to do better by you and repress those feelings? Of course not. He wants his "authentic" life, and you are "trapping" him to stay with you even though you may have no idea that he is gay.
That's what I find so interesting. They feel "trapped" after trapping us into a marriage that they were clueless about. I do believe they thought they could remain faithful husbands if they married you and forget about those past sexual "experiements" or desires. After all, you were now their salvation on the road to "Straight." And for those men who marry us, they believe that on some level we have the power to "cure" them. They want the same American dream that you want--but they are deluding themselves in order to keep fooling you.
Eventually , most of us end up divorced from our gay husbands. They want to live their lives as it was meant to be. Either the kids grew up or are growing up, so he doesn't have to pay his "dues" for staying there anymore. He was a devoted father and a "pretty good" husband (without the sex), so he feels it is his turn to go and live his authentic life.
After you have a matter of months or a year or two of mourning your marriage, it is now your time. You have decided you don't want to be alone. You want a new husband--a partner--someone who wants to ravish you for being a woman. And now you venture out on the dating scene looking to meet the right guy. You THINK that you are ready to find that man, but in most cases, you haven't really worked on rebuilding yourself.
This is not to say you haven't become Superwoman--raising the kids, working one or two jobs, taking care of the house, and doing the day-to-day chores that used to take two but now requires you to do both jobs. Yes, you have been thrown into the role of super-achiever overload and haven't skipped a beat. You keep running as fast as you can to do everything possible to make this happen. This is not called "rebuilding" yourself, but rather this is called "recreating" yourself. And this is not remotely this same thing.
Rebuilding yourself takes time--and help. Moving from the trauma of your marriage and divorce to your new role as Superwoman has left you little time to even think about what you need to do before you are ready to meet someone new. Some women think that all they need to do is meet some nice guy who will help them find the little happiness they want and deserve.
When the search begins, some of you will find that you are going with someone who is certainly not the right man, but you'll think he is "good enough." After all, he's nice, he's funny, and boy, is he different in bed!!! I can't tell you how often I've been told by one of our women, "Bonnie you were right!! Sex with a straight man is so different. I never realized how beautiful sex could be until now." And please note, not every straight man is great in bed. But at least he wants you, and sometimes just being desired makes you feel good.
Although sex is certainly an important part of a relationship, it isn't the only part. You'll find out that plenty of straight men can have great sex, but are they who you really want or need? Most women after their marriages are like fish bait to the sharks. Sharks are predators. They are looking for you because they know you are vulnerable. They know how to recognize it within moments of meeting you. We may appear confident in our professional lives, but we certainly lack that confidence in our personal lives--AND IT SHOWS. Predators sniff it out by your body language and conversation. That's natrual after coming out of a marriage where your self and sexual-esteem has been ripped away.
The dating scene is foreign to you. You've seen commercials from Match.com ad Eharmony assuring you that they have your soulmate on their website. You're not quite sure what you're doing or how to behave. When the first man who slips you some beautiful compliments flatters you, you feel good for the first time in a long time. You listen attentively to see if there is really a "connection," and even when there isn't, you'll tell yourself there is. After all, he spoke some lovely words to you. He noticed things about you that your gay husband never noticed. He complimented you in a way that made you feel like a woman for the first time in years. Okay, he's not perfect, but who is?
Now you start dating him and even start falling for him, and although you notice there are some cracks in the wall, you decide to ignore them. They are not that important compared to the good things like being told you are wonderful and the desiring your body. You start to justify it by saying things like:
- No one is perfect
- I have lots of baggage too
- At least he really cares about me
- He finds me desirable and wants to have sex
- There aren't many men out there who would want a woman with children
- He has a job, so I won't have to support him
Again, these are all good statements, but they aren't good enough to make a relationship work. Just because a man is nice to you and has sex with you doesn't make him the right man for you or your soulmate. Aren't you being nice to him? Aren't you fulfilling his sexual needs? Why wouldn't he be nice to you?
When you are on the "restart mode" of your life, never feel as if you have to "settle" for someone not good enough for you just because he wants you in bed. That's a part of the package--and an important part--but there must be more. Remember that straight men will want to have sex with you you because straight men want sex--with women! For those of you who were only married to a gay man, you might think this behavior is so magical. Trust me, straight men will want you for more than a companion or cook.
Many of these new experiences can be chalked up to "starter relationships" to teach you what you want and don't want in a permanent relationship. Don't feel obligated to stay with the wrong person. Don't linger because "at least someone is interested in me." Instead, take that time and get help either through counseling or coaching on who you want to be and the steps you will have to take to get there. Learn how to dislodge the insecurity of the past so you don't carry it with you into your future.
Within our Straight Wives network, I have some of the most incredible coaches and therapists. If you need help, write to me, and I'll be happy to provide the help you need. Ignoring the pain that you went through over the years won't make it better when you start your new relationship--it will only ruin any good possibilities and send you flying into someone's arms where you don't belong.
Sometimes it gets discouraging looking for your soulmate--but don't give up. It can happen to you like it has happened to so many of us in this network.
MAILBAG - I receive numerous letters each week from women who inspire me. Sometimes I ask them if I can share their letters with you to inspire you! All letters sent to me are confidential.
This letter is long overdue so please accept my sincerest apologies. I've meant to write you the last few years but it was hard for me to get around to it and finally put it on (electronic) paper.
I found you in 2011 when my (now ex) husband told me he was gay and had been cheating on me. He told me because he had found a man with whom he wanted to be. I can still remember that day like it was yesterday; the horror that overcame me as I realized what he was trying to tell me, the disbelief, and the confusion. The worst part of it wasn't that he was gay; the worst part was his betrayal - that he had been unfaithful and was lying to me, instead of being open with me about his sexuality. My whole world crashed down around me that day.
We met in college in 2006: it was my final year and he was studying abroad. We knew each other only for three months before he went back to finish school at the University of Edinburgh. After he finished school, he moved back to his home country. It wasn't easy because we were long distance (Germany and California) but we made it work. We would see each other for three or four weeks at a time, about twice a year and it was a fairy tale romance to me: we got along so well, he was so loving and supportive, he was my other half.
In 2009, he was able to secure a job in Fort Worth, Texas, which made it easier and we saw each other at least once a month. For five years, we had the most amazing relationship and friendship I could have ever dreamed of. The long distance was difficult but I couldn't imagine a life without him in in. My parents had gone through a divorce but he convinced me that we were different and that we were meant to be together. In 2010, we got married and he moved to San Francisco while I was still in San Diego. Six months later, in 2011, I was able to move to San Francisco and for the first time, we were living together! And it all went to hell.
Outwardly, we were a perfect couple. It felt good to be admired and to know that people aspired to be like us but that was only on the surface. Those six months of living together were a nightmare - I knew something was wrong but he wouldn't talk to me and he refused counseling. He stopped touching me other than a platonic kiss on the cheek and he distanced himself emotionally. All our conversations became superficial: "How was your day?" or "It was cold today!" We no longer talked about the things that mattered.
I became someone I didn't know: I turned into Betty Crocker trying to be the perfect wife, I turned to alcohol to help me cope with the alienation I was feeling. I cried myself to sleep in our bed, or I slept on the couch, or in the guest bedroom. I didn't know what was wrong and he kept telling me that everything was fine. He knew and he saw what he was doing to me but he was too much of a coward to deal with the problem head on. He finally told me in November 2011 because he finally had a boyfriend and within a week, we had filed for divorce. I didn't go to work for nearly two weeks; I was like a zombie and I couldn't function. I cried every day for eight months after our divorce.
I kept rehashing our entire relationship, looking for a clue that I missed. How could I not know that he was gay? Intellectually, I knew it wasn't my fault but I couldn't make myself understand that emotionally. I was so embarrassed and ashamed for having been so completely fooled. I kept asking myself, "How could you be so stupid? How could you not have seen it?!" Alternately, I kept wishing that he would come back to me and say that it was all a big mistake but knowing it would be a lie. It was a very dark place to be.
It's taken me nearly five years to heal. The first few years, I thought every man was secretly gay and if there were heterosexual men out there, I felt I wasn't desirable as a woman. But this year, I've started dabbling my toes in dating. I'm not in a committed relationship and I don't know if I want to get married again, but I'm starting to see that I will be okay. It's not easy being single but I'd rather be single than living that awful life of lies and betrayal. I think that's the worst part because being in a dysfunctional relationship kills your spirit and your sense of self.
I am so thankful that I found you. You were the lifeline that kept me afloat when I was drowning in a sea of grief and pain and bewilderment. I waited every month for your monthly newsletter because it made me feel like I wasn't alone and there were women out there going through the same thing. I never knew or fathomed that there was a segment of society such as this, where gay men married straight women. Even now, it upsets me to know that this still happens. Why do they keep involving unwitting women in their shenanigans?! They can be gay and stay single if marrying another man is something they can't or won't do.
If there is one thing I would tell those women, it is that in order to starting healing, you have to remove the source of the injury. You have to get out of the damaging relationship so that you can begin to recover and move on. It's going to take time to heal but that's okay. As someone once said, "It's not easy but it's worth it."
I'm writing to thank you for the work that you do. What you have given me these past years has been priceless. I'm sure there are many women out there who have never written but feel as I do. Thank you, Bonnie.
Thanks, Kim, for your kind and encouraging words!