This is my first post here, although I recognize names from some of the other forums (e.g., Stuck in a Doorway). Apologies in advance to those of you who've read my lengthy story elswhere for subjecting you to it again. It's just that I came across the "Can You Trust Your Johnson" article, and it's the closest explanation that I've ever found for what may have happened to me. So, here's my history...
I’m a 38-year old male, married with two small children. As far back as I can remember, I was exclusively and unambiguously attracted to and interested in girls. I remember each year of grade school and middle school, and I could name every girl I had crushes on for each year. When I reached puberty, I spent several years masturbating while fantasizing about girls at school, girls in Playboy, girls in the SI Swimsuit issue, girls in music videos — you get the picture. I don’t recall any attractions whatsoever to males. I don't know how much other guys masturbated, but I had a powerful urge to do so, and I did it virtually every day, and sometimes more than once per day. The urge was so powerful that I would get bathroom passes and masturbate in the stall in the school bathroom. After school, I'd sit in front of MTV and watch videos for hours looking for the right shot to climax to.
I wasn’t the luckiest in the world in real life with girls, although I had hooked up (kissing, feeling up) with a few girls and absolutely loved it. The one time (when I was 14) that I had a chance to have sex with a girl, I got very nervous, lost my erection, and couldn’t perform.
In my early teen years, I was a pretty anxious kid. I had some OCD symptoms about physical health issues, and also had what I later read some call "existential OCD" (i.e., constant ruminations about such questions as "who am I?" "why are we here?" "what is reality?"), which caused me significant anxiety. These OCD symptoms became very bad in my early 20's, and still exist to some extent today.
Shortly after my 16th birthday was a particularly down-and-out time for me emotionally, principally because my two best friends essentially "dumped me" without explanation (i.e., they wouldn’t return my phone calls, they avoided me), which left me alienated from the rest of the social fabric of high school. One day during this very lonely period, I was masturbating to a picture of a hot girl in a Muscle and Fitness magazine (I started lifting weights when I was about 15, trying to address what I think were some lack-of-masculinity issues), and right before orgasm, I turned the page to look at a bunch of muscle bound guys. I didn’t think too much about the fantasy right after it happened. I remember thinking, "I'm just into weird stuff."
However, over the next few weeks, I started to notice attractions to guys at school, but continued to masturbate thinking about women, although I think I sensed that the orgasms were not quite as good. Then one day — and this all occurred over the span of about 3 weeks — I realized that I had all but lost my spontaneous visual attraction (more in a minute on what I mean by that) to girls. All I would get when I would look at a hot woman would be at most a "flicker" in my penis, and it would not grow into an erection.
In place of the visual attraction to women that I had lost, there was now a visual attraction to guys. In addition to these same sex visual attractions, I also started to have masturbation fantasies about men, although they were fantasies about straight sex in which I became "the woman" touching and doing other things to the guy. It was never actually me in these fantasies. (Sometimes I worry that transforming myself into a woman in these fantasies is just a denial mechanism to let me avoid the conclusion that I’m gay.)
This all obviously scared the living hell out of me. I talked to no one about it at the time.
I took some reassurance in the fact that I learned that I was still able to get aroused by looking at a girl if I really concentrated on staring at her body and imagined touching or kissing it, although it would take awhile before the arousal would come, but it would be strong once it came. If I actually touched a girl (especially her breasts, ass or legs), or kissed a girl — forget about it, I became instantly aroused and wanted to have sex with her. Once I actually did start having sex with girls later in my teens, I absolutely loved it. I also get aroused by lesbian porn, perhaps because it’s not merely a visual of a woman, but they’re also touching each other, which I guess I fantasize I wish I could be doing given that it’s one of the things that turns me on in real life. In addition, I continued to be emotionally attracted exclusively to women, and not to men. Finally, I’ve never had a gay sexual experience, and the thought of me actually having sex with (or even kissing) another man doesn’t really cross my mind, or even enter my dreams, and when I do think of having sex with another man, it alternatively disgusts me or is unarousing to me. (However, I worry that if I let my attractions to men go, I could potentially discover that I like gay sex. I’ve always avoided watching guy-on-guy porn for this reason.)
So, I've gone on in life like this since then, with visual attractions on the street to men, and with these "semi-gay" masturbation fantasies in which I fantasize that I'm the woman being with a man (which, until recently when depression/anxiety have caused me not to masturbate nearly as much, I would indulge in almost daily). I have virtually no spontaneous visual attractions to women on the street, but I "remember" what was visually arousing about hot girls, and once I actually touch and otherwise become intimate with the girl, I become wildly aroused and am able to have fulfilling sex with her. I had sex with dozens of women in my 20's. I got together with my wife when I was about 30, and sex the past few years has been very rare given our two small children.
I have spiked at various times in my life with the fear that the state of my attractions/masturbation fantasies mean I'm gay. It's never been so bad as it's been the past year. I've been to various therapists over the years to talk about this issue (as well as generalized anxiety), and I started with a CBT therapist in September. She says that, regardless of what my sexuality is, I'm suffering from OCD because I'm obsessing and experiencing anxiety over it. The ruminations go on and on: "How could I be gay if I was so unambiguously attracted to women, and not men, so late into adolescence?" "What could have possibly happened to me at age 16 that ‘changed’ my sexuality so severely?" "Am I fundamentally heterosexual on a biological level, but the change in attraction at age 16 had some sort of non-sexual psychoanalytical meaning, perhaps as a coping mechanism because my friends dumped me in high school, or because of some feeling of lack-of-masculinity?" "Could I have been afflicted by HOCD at age 16 so severely that it actually altered my attractions?" "How could I — and this is the most spiking — not be gay if I get sexually aroused seeing a guy on the street but not a woman?" "Maybe my focus on ‘visual’ attraction is too superficial of a way to define sexual orientation, and the arousal that I get when I touch and/or have sex with a women ‘counts’ toward my heterosexuality?" "What truly gay guy gets aroused by lesbian porn, like I do?" "Although I’ve never had gay sex, maybe if I just let these attractions to men go, I would realize that I like it and should go be gay?" "Maybe the right label for me is ‘bisexual,’ but one who has chosen to lead a heterosexual life?" "No — You have no real choice in the matter, and these attractions to men fundamentally dictate who you are who you have to be — which is a gay man — and that’s who you’ll inevitably become." On and on and on it goes every day of my life. I just switched my SSRI to Prozac, and I take Zanax every day now to keep myself from panicking over this issue.
I recently came across this site, and the "Johnson" article, and it got me wondering whether -- although the internet was not invented in the late 80's when this happened to me -- I could have desensitized myself to women through all the masturbation in my early teens, and created new pathways through that initial fantasy involving men when I was 16 that gave rise to these same-sex attractions. Do you think I'm fundamentally hetero-oriented? The "Johnson" article talks about who you first climaxed to (for me, women), and who you enjoy deep kissing with (for me, women), as better indications of true sexual orientation. If that's the case, could the rebooting process restore my sexuality to what it was prior to age 16? Is it too late for me given how many years have passed? If I could rid myself of these same-sex attractions, and get back the raging opposite-sex attractions I had until I was 16, it would be life-changing beyond belief.
My CBT doctor says that it's a "fantasy" that I could go back to who I was sexuality-wise prior to this happening to me at age 16. She would call my post "reassurance" seeking, which is destructive because it feeds the OCD. Her therapeutic approach is that I need to accept that I have same-sex attractions (because they likely will never go away), reduce my anxiety over them through ERP, and accept that having these feelings does not mean I ever have to act on them. Rebooting would seem to be somewhat at odds with her approach, under which she wants me to expose myself to good-looking men and eventually to images of gay sex. Do you think ERP and rebooting are inconsistent with one another?
I would appreciate any thoughts anyone might have on any of this. Thanks for listening.