I recently received a letter from a reader who says in part, “ I have been disappointed so much in my marriage that I am now finding myself considering the possibility of cultivating a relationship with another woman. This feels scary and confusing. What now?” This question has also been coming up frequently in my practice, so it appears a good time to address this issue.
With all the recent publicity focused on normalizing homosexuality as a life choice, many people are beginning to explore this possibility with less guilt and social stigma. This is not so surprising given our desire for more meaningful relationships and given our inability to sustain them. It’s important, however, to explore the reasons why one might venture into same sex relationships and have some understanding of our personal motivation for doing so. What are the right reasons for this exploration and what are some of the reasons that could create even more disappointment?
From a metaphysical or spiritual perspective, those of us who believe in past lives and reincarnation know that we have been both men and women, both homosexual and heterosexual at other times during our soul’s evolution. Knowing that takes a great deal of the angst and judgment out of any decision we might make in the present to explore other kinds of relationships. For those who do not share this perspective, the leap may seem a bit more radical. The bottom line for me personally is that it doesn’t matter who you love nearly as much as it matters how you love. Any relationship that is entered into with integrity, truth and a sincere desire to honor and understand the other will be filled with love and satisfaction and is most certainly sacred.
If you are exploring the possibility of creating a same sex relationship because you feel all the problems you now experience in your heterosexual relationship will disappear – you are in for a big surprise. All the ways in which you find you are not able to connect, communicate or create intimacy will go directly with you into your next relationship, whether it is with a man or a woman. In sixteen years of counseling couples, both gay and straight, I have found that exactly the same sets of problems arise in either situation. We universally have problems respecting boundaries, communicating safely; staying committed and connected to the process, no matter what kind of relationship we are in. These same issues will raise their ugly heads and create division in same sex relationships as well.
In some same sex relationships, there is an element of inherent intimacy because you are looking across at a mirror image of your self in some ways. You may know what your partner wants sexually because you know what you want as a woman or a man. You can better understand what your partner feels from a gender perspective because you also have some of the same feelings and emotions. However, creating a successful relationship that feels nurturing and growth-oriented will present you with similar issues that you faced in a heterosexual relationship because we are still all unique and different as individuals even when we are the same gender.
It may take some of the sting out of feelings of desire that you are experiencing to know that we are all capable of feeling desire for the same sex. Many of our social mores prevent us from speaking about or owning these feelings. Any relationship that is powerful and authentic has an element of sensuality to it. Being fully connected to the Divine or God feels juicy, sensual, rich and fulfilling just as being connected deeply to any other human being also contains the potential for every feeling, including those that are sexual. There is nothing wrong with you if you are experiencing these feelings. You are simply in touch with the fullness of feeling available in deep meaningful connections. How you wish to act on, or react to, that feeling is a separate issue. You have many choices. You can decide to explore what it feels like to become sexually intimate, emotionally intimate, mentally intimate or spiritually intimate depending upon what feels appropriate to your circumstance. Each of those options comes with it’s own sets of responsibilities and gifts.
If you choose to explore any of the options, the over riding principle is to do so with integrity and honor for the other person, as well as yourself. That means open communication about your feelings. It means you have some understanding about what the ramifications of deepening your connection might be. For instance, if you just wish to explore your sexuality with someone you feel connected to, but have no intention of creating an on-going relationship with, that needs to be said up front. That way your partner can make an informed choice about his or her own participation. There is a prevalent and inaccurate assumption on the part of many straight people that gay people seek out heterosexuals in order to “make them gay.” Nothing could be further from the truth. For most gays and lesbians, there is a tremendous risk in entering a relationship with someone who has not yet defined his or her sexual preference, because the potential for being abandoned when the person returns to his or her senses is very high. Most gay men and lesbians would prefer to take this risk with someone who is already clear about his or her preference and choice.
Another inaccurate assumption is that being gay is mostly about what gay men and lesbians do in bed. Gay men and lesbians are still gay men and lesbians even when they do not have a sexual partner. Being gay is a state of being spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically. Any relationship that is entered into must also be respected from all of these different levels of consciousness. Exploring may be a valid option for you in order to better understand and embrace your preferences, but a respectful relationship requires that you make it known that you are exploring and may still be unsure about these issues.
The bottom line is that will find your answers and the result will be that you have created an important relationship that can be sustained whether as a friend or mate.
It is important to first work out whatever problems you may be having in your current relationship and bring them to some resolve inside yourself. If you have committed to monogamy, just because you are about to cheat with someone of the same gender does not lessen the lack of integrity in the act of cheating. Working out your problems first, brings your decision to explore an alternative relationship into a place of individual growth, rather than the illusion that changing the gender of your partner will solve your problems in relationships. If you have reached a point where you are leaving your relationship because your partner refuses or is not interested in growing then resolve that issue first. Let your next choice about a partner be based solely upon the qualities and attributes of that new individual, not about what your last relationship may have been lacking. Meaningful relationships are created from the heart not the body. They are created in the Spirit not in sexual encounters. Again, the ecstasy you are seeking comes from how you love not whom you love. Your choice about gender may have more social ramifications, but your choice about integrity has lasting ramifications on who you are as a spiritual being. If you make your choice with your integrity in place, that choice will not be fraught with fear or doubt. You’ll win either way because you are being true to yourself and those you love.
© Dr. Dina Bachelor Evan 2013