Thursday, March 14, 2013

Men Who Are Sexually "CONfused"

CONFUSION In any given week, I receive between 60 - 100 letters for help from women who are questioning their husbands' sexuality. The majority of women who write to me are not quite sure. They suspect, but they don't have actual "proof." Well, what "actual proof" means is that they haven't had a full confession from their husband or caught him in the act.

Of course, the first thing I ask those who write to me is why they suspect that "gay" is the issue in their marriages. More often than not, I hear these words: "My husband says he is 'CONFUSED'." As soon as I hear the "C" word, I know the hopes of these women are about to be shattered--first by me, and then by their husbands.

The "C Word"-- "CONfused"- is one step before the "B word" -- "Bisexual." You remember that "trendy" word that makes women feel they have "a 50/50 chance" of winning their husbands' love and affection if only they are better wives....better cooks....better housekeepers....lose excess pounds....devote more of their time to recognizing their husbands' needs and frustrations....shut up more than express their feelings....etc.

I've come to learn from all of the mail I received from women that "confused" is much better than the word "bisexual" because it can mean a "random fleeting thought." triggered by some post-traumatic stress experience. It is usually followed by a standard story explaining the "confusion" comes from the husband's sexual abuse in his childhood by an man....cousin.....neighbor.....or teacher. Almost every account explains that it was a "one-time thing." One- time things can happen to anyone. But after one time, well, that could raise suspicions. One-time abuse stories jump starts the straight wife into action knowing that she can "fix it." After all, a one-time indiscretion is nothing more than a scary "confusing" memory from childhood that can fade just as quickly as it appeared. Right? Wrong!

It's taken me many years to find a way to explain this to women in a way that makes sense, but I finally can do it. Here are my thoughts. I know it makes you feel better to think that your husband is having gay thoughts because he was molested as a child. This certainly explains things away. And I mean "away" because you believe if you love him enough he will bury those memories--if it really is just because of the experience--and it will be gone forever. You truly believe the horrific sexual molestation is making your poor husband question his sexuality 30 years later.

Sadly, that logic makes no sense at all. Why would an experience as painful as sexual molesting make a man desire a penis? If anything, it would repel him. And if it wasn't a bad experience, and he's thinking about it now in your marriage to him--well, it's gay. Period. To say that a man who has been molested is now turned on by gay sex is the same as saying that a woman who was molested in childhood is going to want to find a man who will engage her fantasies of being raped, beaten, and chained. If molestation creates gay desires in men to be with men sexually, why not women to be with abusers?

It is said that one out of every four women will be abused at some point in her life, and I know that includes a number of our women reading this newsletter. I hardly think that you will look for men who are into bondage and discipline because you were molested. The same goes for men. One out of six men may have been molested as children. Why would they now as an adult fantasize about it? They wouldn't. I know men who have been molested when they were children who would try to kill a man who approached them in adulthood. They are not thinking about how sensual it was.

I'm not saying that all gay married men who claim they were molested as children are lying about it. Some of them are telling the truth--but not all. Some of the men I work with have told me they use that excuse to tell their wives because they think it will be easier for the wife to accept. In fact, a few men have told me that they learn about using this from other gay men's married groups which I won't mention here. Regardless of the reason, it doesn't matter. What does matter is that YOU understand that "confused" means you are doomed. You can spend years trying to "un-confuse" your husband, but it won't happen. Straight men are not confused--ever. They don't question their sexuality. They aren't fantasizing about a penis.

I always hate to be the bearer of bad news--but inevitably, it seems like I'm one of the only professionals who likes to tell it as it is. Save yourself years of hurt, frustration, sexual and emotional rejection, and money while you find therapists who promise to "fix" your husband. If your husband is confused, it means he wants a man. By the time he tells you, chances are he's already acted on it. At that point, he's not really "CONfused"--he's just trying to "CON you."

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

ManReaders Blog Posted on Yahoo!

This article appeared today on the Yahoo blog by Kimberly Dawn Neumann. Kimberly interviewed me utilizing the launch of the book ManReaders: A Woman's Guide to Dysfunctional Men. The book can be seen and ordered on Five dysfunctional relationship clues

It’s like your heart’s starring in the movie Groundhog Day: You’re nuts about this person, so you let all kinds of red flags and other bad signs slip through your radar… until the day you decide your self-esteem has had enough, and it’s time for you to do something about it. So, even though it hurts, you decline an invitation or try to pull away from the person you’ve been seeing, because you know that you deserve more than you’re getting out of this relationship. Then,whammo — Mr./Ms. Elusive-and-Noncommittal suddenly notices you’re beating a hasty retreat and launches a charm offensive filled with compliments and loving gestures designed to win you back. For a moment, you wonder if the object of your affection has finally come to his or her senses, so you cautiously crack open the door to your heart again. And for a brief time, it’s bliss… but before you know it, you’re right back where you were before, stuck in the status quo. Then, the cycle starts anew.

Sounds exhausting, right? Unfortunately, many daters find themselves trapped in a similar pattern that literally sucks them back into a relationship that isn’t fulfilling their basic needs. That’s why it’s called “the Hoover maneuver” in some self-help/group therapy circles (yes, it’s in reference to the brand of vacuum cleaner). And unless you make a conscious choice to stop the cycle from repeating itself again, it can go on for years — if not a lifetime.

Why do so many people settle for less-than-happy relationships? So what’s a fed up (but heartsick) person to do? The first step is simply recognizing what’s happening in your relationship. “I think that all of these situations start out with the potential cycle-breaker feeling flattered by the attention and promises of change, but the reality is that these kinds of manipulators — or even ‘abusers,’ if you will — don’t change, but their partners have to,” says relationship counselor Bonnie Kaye, M.Ed., author of Man Readers: A Woman’s Guide to Dysfunctional Men and founder of “The cycle-breaker needs to set boundaries quickly before getting sucked in again and again.”

The problem with being manipulated this way (and one of the reasons it’s so difficult to spot) is because it feels good to be pursued by someone who didn’t appreciate you before. Being “Hoovered” makes you feel vindicated because this person finally seems to have realized the error of her/her ways and saying all the right things to you. Your needs are being met, and you’re happy… for a little while, anyway. Unfortunately, the reality is that a “Hooverer” will give you just enough attention to keep you hooked, though this person may not even be cognizant that he or she is doing this to you. Your on-again, off-again partner just wants to keep you in his/her life — on that person’s terms, of course — and to somehow maintain the connection. But here’s the question you must ask yourself: Is this a healthy relationship for you to be in? It takes two people to let this pattern happen in the first place (i.e., the victim has to be open to getting sucked back into the relationship…which isn’t hard to imagine if you truly care about someone). That said, if you realize that the situation is wearing you down more than it’s building you up, it may be time for a change. Think you might be a victim of the Hoover maneuver? Check out these five clues you’re getting sucked back into a potentially unhealthy situation — and how you can get back on the path towards breaking the pattern.

Clue #1: You ask for some space and your date suddenly changes his/her tune This is practically the definition “pulling a Hoover maneuver” on someone, because it only happens after you’ve already tried to pull away from the relationship. You see, the “Hooverer” essentially panics and realizes that losing you could be a reality. To combat this, your not-quite-ex may suddenly shower you with gifts, compliments, promises, and demonstrations of love and affection in order to persuade you to keep the relationship going a little bit longer. Even if this person won’t commit to you long-term right now, he or she can’t commit to not having you, either. So, the “Hooverer” will try to keep things going with you on an even keel (only because it makes him or her feel more stable… it really isn’t about your happiness). What usually happens next is you start hoping that maybe things will be different this time around, and eventually, you allow yourself to get back in contact again. However, if you’re looking to break the cycle, this is the exact moment when you need to call the person out on making a commitment to you. “Is this person introducing you to his/her family and friends and acting like you are someone that will be part of his/her life in the future, or are you never at that point?” asks Kaye. “If the person isn’t willing to even do that, you have no chance of being that special one.”

Keep in mind that this person may not be consciously trying to manipulate or deceive you. Your love interest may sincerely be trying — even hoping — to make things “better this time,” which makes promising to change and taking steps to make things better even more convincing, because this person believes what he or she is saying could actually be true this time around. In this case, it’s best to take a “wait and see” approach, because peoplecan change — but it takes time for them to do so. Ask yourself how long you’re willing to wait and how many chances you’re willing to give before it’s in your best interest to move on.

Clue #2: You’ve broken up and gotten back together five times (or more) already Is your relationship on a rollercoaster trajectory? If you’re on, then off again so often that you spend most days confused and exhausted, that doesn’t sound like much fun, does it? Love is complicated, but it really doesn’t have to be that hard. “Too many people take the song ‘Break Up to Make Up’ too seriously,” says Kaye. “No one deserves five the third time this happens, say ‘goodbye’ instead.” Make a list of the reasons you keep breaking up with each other, and you’ll probably notice that whatever’s written there doesn’t change very much over time. This person can’t do whatever it is necessary to keep both of you happy, so move on and find someone who’s able to give you the emotional support you need in a romantic relationship.

Clue #3: You find yourself waiting for the other shoe to drop after getting back together with this person Walking on eggshells isn’t emotionally healthy in any relationship. If you’re not feeling secure, it’s most likely because your mate is doing things that don’t make you feel safe in your relationship. “If you have a fragile ego (like many people do), this type of personality will drag you right down,” says Kaye. “A person like this may just be running back to you as a security blanket because you are always there, and codependency can often form in this type of relationship.” People who become codependent don’t know how to set healthy limits or boundaries with their partners because they’re too afraid of losing them altogether. If you find yourself feeling this way, try reading some books on the subject, or seek out a codependency support group where you can learn to stand up for yourself and find the strength to leave this cyclical relationship for good. You deserve to feel like you and the one you love are equally invested, and that it’s OK to speak your mind without worrying that your relationship will end if you do.

Clue #4: You realize that this person’s taking up all of your free time and energy A “Hooverer” will constantly ask when you’re free so you can spend more time together. At first it might be flattering, but that’s because this person doesn’t want you to be with anyone else — and will even start guilt-tripping you for wanting to be with friends or family. “This person is a control freak, and though it feels like the person really wants you, he/she really just wants to control you,” advises Kaye. “Soon, your life will no longer be your own, because these people are emotionally manipulative… get out of the spider’s web before you are sucked in again,” she warns. Kaye also suggests trying to create a “recovery map” for your own life and your interests if you feel that you’re losing your sense of self by staying in a relationship with this person. Write down which things you enjoy doing, the people whom you really want to spend time with, what makes you happy (beyond your relationship), and then schedule those things into your life. Also, speak to the people who act as your support system — i.e., friends and family — so they can validate your instincts about why this relationship is so toxic. These steps can help you regain a life that isn’t totally monopolized by the “Hooverer” in question.

Clue #5: You have experienced this extreme make-up phase before with this person… and know that it won’t last All good things must come to an end (or so they say). Perhaps that’s not always the case, but when it comes to Hoovering, it definitely is. Much like the initial “Honeymoon” phase of a relationship (which wears off after a couple gets to know each other and settles into a routine), a Hoovering phase is also limited in scope and duration. And if you’ve gone through it all before, somewhere in the back of your mind you know that eventually, all this extra attention and affection will fall back to “normal” levels once more. If somebody who treated you poorly before starts treating you well, there’s no harm in letting this person max out his or her efforts to win you back. But no matter how thick this person lays on the charm, do not change any boundaries that you have set out of self-preservation. In other words, do not settle for less than you deserve, do not stop doing things that are healthy for you or stop exercising your own independence in this relationship. And don’t assume that a Hoover phase will last forever — or use it to bargain for things that you know this person isn’t willing to give you (because you’ll only be setting this person up to fail, and setting yourself up for yet another heartbreak). “The only chance a person has of surviving these relationships is to take control and set very strong boundaries,” says Kaye, who adds: “Start thinking with your brain instead of your heart!”

Kimberly Dawn Neumann ( is a popular New York City-based freelance writer