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Question:

I am a 35 year old straight guy and I love my wife and kids. But I've always had sexual feelings towards men and still sometimes hook up with guys. Then I end up feeling feeling guilty, frustrated, and unhappy. What can I do?

Answered by: Robert Kertzner

Like many adults in this situation, you will likely need time and a non-judgmental frame of mind to figure out what to do: how to reconcile your needs that are pulling you in different directions. You might first want to try and understand your sexuality: what is your attitude about being attracted to other men or having sex with them? How vital do you think this is to your happiness? What are your fears and hopes about this being a bigger part of your life? What are your concerns about how your wife and children would react to knowing that you have sexual feelings towards (and have sex with) men?

And, of course, there are practical considerations that come with the territory of being intimate with someone outside of a primary relationship. These include managing the “secret” of such intimacy and the psychological hazards that come with this, protecting the health of your main partner (e.g., from sexually transmitted diseases including HIV), understanding other forces that have led to outside sex, and, perhaps most difficult, trying to understand the emotional effects of keeping things as they are versus talking with your wife about your feelings or figuring out what this means for your marriage.

Psychotherapy could be helpful to you in several ways: by providing a safe space to talk about these feelings and better understand their meanings, and by helping you live with whatever decisions you make. You might find that the question isn’t so much “what can I do?” as much as it is “what’s the best way for me to live with the feelings I have?”