I think the guy I’m dating might be gay, or possibly bi. We’ve been dating for about two and a half months and we’ve never had sex. We’ve never done anything but kiss. At first I thought he was just being gentlemanly, but now I wonder if it’s because he doesn’t know he’s into guys yet. I’m trying not to let myself be influenced by the stereotypes of gay men, but now that my friends are starting to meet him (and I have a few gay male friends) they all say he seems gay too. We have a great time together and he’s really nice, funny, smart, and sweet, but the physical part just doesn’t seem to be there, at least for him. Should I ask him if he’s gay? Or end it? The only problem is, I like him and I don’t want to end it. Please help. —JG, New York, New York
The straight woman’s perspective: Rebecca Brown
There are a few questions in our culture that can really put the kibosh on an ego and a relationship in one fell swoop. “Is it in yet?” “Is that your real hair or are those plugs?” And now, “Are you gay?” You’re quite the wordsmith, JG.
I’m a little confused. You think he’s gay … but you like him? It would seem that the behavior he’s exhibiting to make you think he’s gay would be the very behavior that would also turn you off. Talk of handbags, peep-toe pumps, and cucumber facial masks has never gotten me all hot and bothered, but that’s just me. If you’re attracted to him and you want to take the physical part further, why don’t you just make a move? You don’t have to wait for him. As I’ve said before, it’s not 1956; it’s perfectly acceptable for you to make the first move, or at least try. If your hand gets batted away, it’s time to have a talk. Tell him that you like him, that you’re interested in getting a little more physical. Ask him if that’s something he’s interested in doing too. But for the love of Dolce and Gabbana, don’t ask him if he’s gay, woman, and don’t end it without talking to him about how you feel. If he’s as fantastic as you say, he at least deserves a chance to talk it through with you.
The gay man’s perspective: Darren Maddox
Well, JG, you’ve come to the right source. Let’s review and you tell me if this makes sense to you: you think he might be bi, yet even as a “bi” man he has yet to make the first move on you after almost three months. Suspicious indeed, unless he’s a man of the cloth or a Boy Scout. Could he be gay? Your friends who meet him think he’s gay and his favorite colors are lavender and periwinkle. (Okay, I made that part up.)
Here’s what I suggest. Grab his iPod or his CD collection and start looking. Do you see Cher? Is there a Madonna overload in there? God forbid he has the new Britney album (which is a masterpiece, by the way) or Anastasia. Next, what does he drink? Cosmos? He’s gay! No straight man I’ve ever met would be caught drinking a Cosmopolitan in public. Those are all dead ringers that you’re dating a queen in my book, and it gives your free reign to say something like, “Is there something you need to tell me?” You say the physical part just doesn’t seem to be there for him. Maybe it isn’t. Maybe he just wants a new friend. Bottom line here is chances are your gut is not steering you in the wrong direction. In either case, all kidding aside, I think you may crush his ego if he’s not gay and you question his masculinity. Tread lightly.
The gay woman’s perspective: Jody Fischer
As a gay person myself, I always wonder when someone says, “Oh, he/she seems gay.” What does that mean exactly? Did he hit on one of your gay male friends? That would be a clear indicator. Is it just that he acts out some gay male stereotypes? That tells you very little. I know straight men who fit that bill and are definitely into women.
Here are other possibilities: he’s asexual or is dealing with an illness, a past abuse, or who knows what. The only way you’ll know for sure is to ask him. You say you like him, so why would you end it without getting the story and seeing if you can make this work? It concerns me that you’d be willing to consider ending it without a conversation. Ask yourself, what are the qualities that make this man great? Focus on what you enjoy about your connection. If you approach this situation with genuine care and concern, you may get to keep a great guy in your life. It sounds like even if he’s not boyfriend material, you have a real connection here. It’s time for you to make the first move toward honesty and trust. Talk with him soon.
The straight man’s perspective: Chris Kennedy
Do you really care what his orientation is? You say you do, but I say you don’t. Your friends say he’s gay, you hope nay, but he won’t give you a roll in the hay. (The bad poetry is over now.) What you really care about is why he’s not attracted to you.
What matters about anyone you’re dating—straight, gay, or bi—is how he or she treats you and makes you feel. He’s making you feel unsexy and undesirable and that’s not acceptable. What you really need to ask him is if he’s attracted to you, and if so, why isn’t he showing it? His answers will give you all the material you need to decide if you want to continue dating him. If he’s gay, you get the explanation you want and you can continue your platonic friendship without any expectations. If he’s straight, then he needs to straighten out and start showing you some love. I’m concerned that you put up with this even for a few months, but I’m glad you wrote to us. It shows that you’re ready to do something about it. Your doubt can’t go on any longer and you know it.
To me, this issue is universal, gay or straight: go out with someone who wants you and makes you feel good about yourself. That’s the only kind of orientation that really matters.