Dilemma: Straight Female Attracted to Gay Man

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Q. I am a senior in college and during the second semester of my freshman year, I met a guy in my chemistry lab. Initially, I hated him because he seemed to act somewhat pompous. But at the beginning of my sophomore year, we began to develop a relationship. Initially, we were just friends and I never really felt any kind of intimate feelings for him. As with any other attractive guy I’ve met, however, I was somewhat shy around him at first but started to feel more comfortable as I got to know him better. But still, we were strictly friends. It wasn’t until the summer between my sophomore and junior year that I realized that I had feelings for him. We spent a lot of time together, as we were both taking the same summer school class. During this summer, I found out a lot about him. I noticed that he didn’t speak about his dad a lot, if at all, and he liked to garden, cook, and was very meticulous about how he looked. I attributed these qualities to the possibility that he was a very proper gentleman, as he surprisingly turned out to be due to the fact that I used to hate him. One of my good female friends met him and immediately told me that he was gay. I disagreed with her. I had remembered him telling me about a girl he dated back in high school, so I assumed him to be straight. But then he had also mentioned that the reason why they broke up was because he told her that they got along better as friends. I’ve heard this excuse from other guys, so it didn’t hint to me that he was gay. During my junior year, he told my abovementioned female friend that he was gay, and she relayed the information to me. My first reaction was denial. I think that I had so severly developed feelings for him, almost on an unconscious level, that I couldn’t bear to believe that he was gay. Later that week though, he told me face-to-face. After that, our friendship didn’t fall apart and I wasn’t distressed. In fact, our friendship strengthened and for a while things were great. I have told him several times that I have feelings for him, and he just laughs it off. I’m not sure if he realizes that I’m serious.

Recently, my feelings for my gay friend have become more pronounced. I have never been in love before so I’m not sure what it feels like, but I do know that I have never felt this way about anyone before, including the straight men that I have dated in the past. This past summer, my gay friend started dating another guy. I didn’t really seem to mind this, and they are still together now. However, a recent event has troubled me enough to the point that I occasionally dwell on it. My gay friend recently told me that he finds his boyfriend’s roommate, who is a girl, to be very attractive and he even made out with her on one occasion. He also mentioned that he would not mind having sex with her. My gay friend and I have kissed several times, but there was nothing behind what we did that was purely motivated by sexual attraction, at least not for him. However, I really do feel that he has some kind of deeper attraction to his boyfriend’s roommate. I am extremely confused about all of this, especially by the fact that I am focusing more on the girl than the boy that my friend is dating. I do not understand how my friend can say that he is gay but then also say that he is sexually attracted to a female. He has mentioned several times that he is strictly gay, not bisexual, and that he is absolutely turned off by females. We talk quite often about his relationship with his boyfriend, and he tells me that he will probably never have sex with a man because the thought of anal sex disgusts him. He has actually had sex with a man (not his current boyfriend) and he told me that he didn’t like it and will probably never do it again. At the same time, he recently told me that he wants to have sex with me and as I mentioned above, he wouldn’t mind having sex with his boyfriend’s female roommate. I just don’t understand any of this. It’s all very complicated and I remain to be attracted to him, even though he’s gay. I have told my mom and friends about this, and they all say I need to forget about him. My feelings for him though are so strong that I don’t think I can. Is it possible for a gay man to be physically attracted to men and sexually attracted to women, but not want to admit it? And what should I do about my feelings for him?

A. The message he is sending you is unclear but that may be because he is confused or in denial about his own sexuality. There are many men who deny they are gay, go on to get married to a female, have children and many years later, admit or realize they are gay and leave their spouse for another man. You could imagine how devastating this type of scenario might be to the unsuspecting spouses and their families.

There are many reasons why one would deny that they are gay or be confused about their sexuality. One reason is discrimination and prejudice. Unfortunately, being gay in many cultures has negative consequences. Many people believe unfair and incorrect stereotypes about gay individuals and gay males in particular. For this reason, people may not be able to admit that they are gay and find it easier to keep quiet or try to “fit in.”

Another reason an individual may not be able to “admit” that he or she is gay is because they are not fully aware of their true sexuality. An individual in their late teens and early twenties (and even later) may experience confusion about which sex they are attracted to and some people are attracted to both. There are people who have homosexual experiences but do not consider themselves gay. The opposite can also be true, that some people mistakenly believe that because they had one homosexual experience that they are gay. Generally speaking, about one third of males have had homosexual experiences but studies show that only approximately 10 percent are actually gay.

With regard to your specific scenario, your male friend may not know if he is gay and it may be a while before he is sure of his sexuality. What is good is that they two of you seem to be very good friends. One of the fundamental qualities of a solid and sustaining relationship, whether it is platonic or romantic, is compatibility. Based on your account, your relationship has this quality and thus it may serve as the basis for a future romantic relationship if and when your male friend becomes certain of his sexuality. Until then, you may have to be content with being good friends. I know this may not be easy but no other type of relationship with him may be possible at this time. In the meantime, try not to overlook the fact that the two of you have developed a genuine connection to each other and that these types of relationships are truly rare. Most would consider you lucky because true friends are difficult to find.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 13 Oct 2008

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2008). Dilemma: Straight Female Attracted to Gay Man. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/10/13/dilemma-straight-female-attracted-to-gay-man/