Is Your Spouse Gay or Bisexual?

Why Straight Spouses May Be the Last to Know

Male-female couple, with female holding hands behind her back with another female.
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Straight spouses of gay or bisexual partners are sometimes the last to know about their mate's sexual orientation. These partners may not share their sexual orientation for many years. Sometimes, though not always, infidelity is part of this pattern.

This article will talk about the reasons why someone may delay coming out to their partner, how you can approach a conversation with your spouse, and when to decide if it's time to leave the relationship.

Is Your Spouse Gay or Bisexual?

Unless your mate shares their sexual orientation with you, there is no way for you to know for sure. So-called "signs" that your spouse might be gay, such as the way they dress, talk, walk, or look, are not indications of sexual orientation.

Neither are behaviors such as a preference for anal sex (or other sexual practices), erectile dysfunction, watching porn, homophobic behavior, being evasive or secretive, or hanging out with friends of the same sex. All of these can and do occur in people who are straight.

Why Straight Spouses May Be the Last to Know

Coming out can be a stressful event, both for the gay or bisexual spouse and for their partner. A person may avoid coming out due to their love for their spouse or because of their sense of dedication to their children and family. They may also feel uncertain about how their sexual identity fits within different contexts of their life.

Some married couples do choose to stay together even after one partner comes out as gay or bisexual. Navigating this new relationship dynamic can be challenging, but couples may be successful if they:

  • Lean on friends and peers for support
  • Emphasize the love they share for each other and their family life
  • Seek counseling
  • Utilize honest and open communication

Of course, staying in the relationship may not be the right choice. It's important to consider your own needs and to determine if you both can feel happy and fulfilled in your marriage.

Recap

Coming out is a difficult process for both partners. Seeking external support from a therapist and friends can help both spouses determine their next steps forward.

How to Start the Conversation

No matter what has led you to wonder whether the partner you thought was straight might actually be gay (infidelity is just one concern), take a careful approach.

Avoid Jumping to Conclusions

Don't assume your spouse is gay simply because you're experiencing problems in your marriage. For example, if they don't want to have sex with you, there could be many other reasons for a lack of sexual desire.

Instead, approach the situation with an open mind and listen to the reasons they offer for their behavior.

Choose the Right Time and Place

Try not to ambush your partner with a difficult conversation. Instead, choose a private, neutral location during a time when neither of you are distracted by children, work, or other responsibilities.

Be open to the idea of introducing your concerns and then having the conversation later. This approach can give your spouse enough time to collect their thoughts and return to the conversation calmly.

Maintain Honest Communication

Talk with your partner and express your concerns and fears. If your mate won't talk with you about infidelity, low libido, or other issues in your marriage, you may benefit from seeking couples' counseling.

Deciding to Leave a Relationship

Regardless of your spouse's sexual orientation, if any of these statements describe your marriage, you have some difficult choices to make. You may have lost the ability to trust your spouse. And your spouse may not be interested or invested in continuing with the partnership.

Some red flags may include:

  • Criticism: You both seem to be picking at one another, causing frequent arguments. You can't see anything but your spouse's shortcomings and ways you want them to change.
  • Disconnection: You feel disconnected from one another.
  • Fear: You walk on eggshells around your spouse to avoid conflict.
  • Keeping score: You are both keeping score about who did what when.
  • Lack of sex: Your sex life with one another has ceased to exist and it's a problem for one or both of you.
  • Lost romance: You have stopped having dates or enjoying time alone together.
  • Mistrust: The trust in your marriage has deteriorated to the point where you are considering spying on your spouse (or you already have).
  • Unwillingness to change: Your spouse refuses to admit there is an issue, make an effort to make positive changes, or see a counselor with you.

Recap

If you can't see any light at the end of the tunnel with your spouse, it may be time to follow a new path. This may be one of the hardest decisions you will ever have to make, but a counselor—either one you see alone or as a couple—can help you navigate your way through this difficult process.

A Word From Verywell

If your spouse has come out to you or if you have concerns about their sexuality, try taking a careful approach. Communicate openly and honestly, try not to jump to conclusions or make accusations, and don't hesitate to seek professional help if you need it.

Learning that your spouse's sexual orientation is different from what you thought is a difficult, stressful experience, and dealing with past infidelity can further complicate things. If you're struggling, a trained marriage counselor can help you and your spouse deal with the changes ahead and come to a resolution that benefits both of you.

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4 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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