An average marriage goes through its fair share of turbulent phases. From the seven-year itch to growing out of sync with each other, the pressures of parenting or not being able to become parents, and the constant struggle to manage finances – married couples face many moments when the future seems uncertain, and bleak. None of these, however, come close to the enormity of noticing the signs your husband is gay. Regular marriage problems pale in comparison to coming to terms with this realization: my husband is gay.
One spouse being homosexual in a heterosexual marriage can seem like the end of the road. You both want different things, desire the same, and neither can give it to the other. By all measures, it seems like an impasse, threatening your future as a couple. “My husband is gay, what do I do now?” You may find yourself consumed by this question, as your panic-stricken mind races to make sense of the blow you’ve been dealt.
A survey conducted by Gallup in 2017 stated that only 10.2% or one in ten LGBT Americans are married to a same sex spouse. That’s a fairly small number and goes on to suggest that those still in the closet about their sexuality may choose to enter a heterosexual marriage for the sake of keeping appearances. When this ruse falls through, it can be an extremely confusing and painful time for both partners, especially if you’ve been married for a considerable time. You had no idea that you loved a closeted husband while the latter has been leading double lives on the down low for the longest time. If there are children involved, the situation just gets that much more complex.
How do you find a conclusive answer to the “Is my husband gay?” question, if he hasn’t come out to you. Are there any clear signs your husband is in the closet that you can rely on to ascertain if your doubts about his sexuality are true? Where do you go from here? Does it have to be a death knell for your relationship? Or is there a way to make the partnership work despite your mutually exclusive sexual interests? How do you know if you’ve been living with a closeted husband? What are the signs your husband is on the down low?
We spoke to counseling psychologist and certified life-skills trainer Deepak Kashyap (Masters in Psychology of Education), who specializes in a range of mental health issues, including LGBTQ and closeted counseling, to make sense of these complicated dynamics and figure out a few down low signals or signs of a gay husband.
Is My Husband Gay? 7 Signs That Say So
“Is my husband gay?” “What are the signs your husband is gay?” “What are the down low signals to watch out for?” If you’re asking yourself these questions, then we’re sure there must have been indicators that made you entertain this line of thought. In case your spouse is aware of his sexuality and has embraced it, the writing can pretty much be on the wall.
You may be able to spot some clear gay husband signs in the way he behaves in the marriage. For instance, a young 26-year-old newly married woman, who found out about her husband’s sexuality on the night of their wedding, told Bonobology, “I knew my husband was gay because he made no attempt to hide it and openly went to share the bed with his partner.”
This was a husbands out to wives scenario. However, if living with a closeted husband or if he begins to discover this dimension to his sexuality later in life – perhaps, even years after you’ve been married – ascertaining that he likes men can be tricky. Spotting and deciphering the signs your husband is in the closet isn’t always a linear journey.
“I saw no signs my husband likes men until he initiated a conversation about the possibility of being bisexual a decade-and-a-half after being married. Eventually, he discovered that he wasn’t bisexual but gay. After two years of navigating this curveball that no one prepares you for, we parted ways,” says Jennine. To not be caught unaware and watch your world turn on its head like Jennine, look out for these 7 signs of a gay husband:
Related Reading: When To Walk Away From A Sexless Marriage – Know These 11 Signs
1. He’s not interested in sex
“Is my husband gay?” “What are the signs my husband likes men?” If you’re wrestling with these questions, one of the most telling signs your husband may be gay is an apparent lack of interest in intimacy or sex. There can be many reasons behind marriage turning sexless but, if your husband shows no interest in sex right from the beginning of the relationship, then it must be treated as a potential red flag.
However, if your husband is bi-curious or still confused about his sexual preferences, there may be some semblance of sex life in the marriage. “A couple may still have some sort of sex life because there is a broad spectrum of sexual preferences. He could be sexually bisexual but romantically gay, for instance. One telling sign that a man in a straight marriage is gay, however, is that he will most certainly never initiate sex,” says Deepak.
2. He is secretive about his social circle
How do you know if your husband is gay? What are the signs your husband is on the down low? A rather unusual indicator that your husband is gay could be your involvement in his social life. “If he doesn’t let you meet his friends or his friends don’t come home, it could be because he is trying to protect the secret of his sexuality,” says Deepak.
This could happen if he moves in gay circles, and fears that if you discover that all his friends are gay, you may suspect that he could be too. Or the men he passes off as his friends could be his sexual partners. Perhaps, he has a steady partner that his friends are aware of and doesn’t want to risk one of them inadvertently spilling the beans.
This could be one of the signs your husband is in the closet and leading a double life. If you can identify with this and also see other potential gay husband signs in your marriage, it may be time to plan your next steps and figure out how to deal with this situation.
3. Is my husband gay? The answer may be in his phone
“How do I confirm the suspicion that my husband is gay?” This question can continue to haunt you if you have nothing more than a gut feeling to go on. If you have a feeling that something is off and a reason to think that the cause could be your husband’s sexuality, try looking for gay or LGBTQ dating apps like Grindr, Scruff or Growler on his phone. If he is a closeted husband, chances of leading double lives on the down low are much higher.
Yes, it may seem like an intrusion into his privacy. But a wife has the right to figure out the truth about her husband’s sexual leanings. Not knowing and continually wrestling with the “Is my husband gay?” question can be far more devastating than learning the truth. Once you have a definitive answer, you can finally address the elephant in the room and decide where you want to go from here.
4. He’s into gay porn
“Is my husband gay? How can I get to the truth about his sexuality if he is still in the closet?” You could also look through his web browsing history or search for porn apps on his phone to see if he’s looking at gay porn. If so, it’s a dead giveaway of his sexual preferences. No straight man gets off gay action. This is one of the major signs your husband is gay.
Natalie, who felt trapped in a marriage with a husband who didn’t seem to care much for her, was at her wit’s ends trying to figure out the reason. Her first thought was that he was cheating on her, but she couldn’t find any significant cheating spouse signs to back that up with. She couldn’t think or come up with any other possible explanation for such behavior but the truth shook her to the core.
She was looking for clues that would help her unravel the details of his infidelity when she chanced upon a gay porn site in his browsing history. She felt her world crumble into bits even as she tried to process what had just hit her. “My husband is gay,” she whispered softly as she shut the laptop, her mind caught in a spate of thoughts she couldn’t even begin to sort through.
5. Being effeminate is not a sign of homosexuality
How do you know if your husband is gay? What are the down low signals to watch out for in your husband? Well, knowing what doesn’t constitute as gay husband signs is just as important. Effeminate characteristics, be it talking or dressing a certain way, ‘being sensitive’ or even a man wearing makeup or cross-dressing, are often misunderstood as signs of homosexuality.
“Nothing could be farther from the truth. Femininity or gender expression should not be confused with sexuality. Even the most effeminate men can be straight, and the most macho-looking men, gay. In fact, often closeted gay men hide behind this machismo to keep their sexuality under wraps,” says Deepak.
Don’t jump to the “my husband is gay” conclusion just because he likes the color pink, wears a sari or dress, uses too many skincare products, or likes to wear a tinted lip balm every now and again. Being effeminate is not a sign of homosexuality just like being masculine is not a guarantee of heterosexuality.
Related Reading: Coming Out Of The Closet: 4 Gay Coming Out Stories
6. He displays homophobic behavior
As contradictory as it may sound, if your husband is gay, he may display strong homophobic behavior. This is particularly true in case he is still in the closet about his sexuality or in denial of it. You may notice him make insensitive ‘gay’ jokes or lash out at someone who’s openly gay. People often get triggered when they see in someone the traits they would dislike about themselves.
Hence, this could be one of the tell-tale signs your husband is in the closet. Of course, homophobic behavior can also stem from being against homosexuality. But if his reactions are disproportionately strong, you have to at least consider the possibility that it could be because your husband is gay. This is one of the strongest signs of a gay husband.
7. When his bromance borders on romance
Male friendships are rarely characterized by a strong display of affection or intimacy. However, if you’re confused whether the expectations and emotional attachment your partner has for one particular friend borders on romance more than a bromance, it is fair to wonder, “Is it one of the signs my husband likes men?” or “Is it one of the down low signals I should be careful about?” or “Is my husband pretending to be straight?”
Does he get jealous if that friend spends more time with someone else they’re close to – perhaps their spouse or another ‘close friend’? Does your husband become irritable if he is unable to meet/spend time with this friend? Is that friend the one he shares the kind of emotional intimacy with that you had hoped to have in your marriage? If the answer to these questions is yes, then your cause for concern is legitimate. This could also hold the answer to the “is my husband gay” question you’re losing sleep over.
If you are confused about your husband’s behavior and can relate to a few of the signs of a gay husband mentioned above, then you might want to have a conversation with him and decide the course or future of your marriage. Rarely do husbands out to wives if they are gay since there is still so much stigma attached to it. But if your husband does, the choice to be his ally or enemy is yours to make.
5 Ways You Can Help Your Gay Husband Come Out
So, you’ve seen more than a few signs your husband is gay. Putting that dilemma to rest is hardly the end of your troubles. You now have another life-altering question staring at you in the face: “My husband is gay, what do I do now?” Of course, seeking a divorce and setting yourself and your spouse free can be the first thought, as you grapple with feelings of hurt and betrayal. That is the route most people would take in such a situation.
But it is definitely not the only option available to you. If you don’t want the discovery about his sexuality to be the end of the road for you as a married couple, you can be his ally. “Is there a way to help my husband through this?” “Can I be a part of his coming-out-of-the-closet journey?” “Where do we go from here?” These questions may weigh on your mind. We answer them for you with these 5 suggestions on helping your husband come out:
1. Communicate with him
One of the ways to help your closeted husband is to communicate. Communication is the most effective tool at your disposal to navigate this situation and prevent it from turning into a crisis. First and foremost, take the time to process the “my husband is gay” realization and, at least, have some sort of an idea about where you want to go from here.
Once you’ve wrestled with the inner turmoil, reach out to your husband. “Ask him, directly but without taking an accusatory tone: Do you like men? Do you like men more than women? Or do you exclusively like men? This may lead to a conflict, as the man who’s trying to hide his sexuality from the world may feel cornered. Explain to him your reasons for asking these questions,” says Deepak.
Conrad and Michaela were married for five years before he told her that he was gay. They met each other at university, dated for a while, and then got married. However, Conrad realized that he was gay after he made a new friend at a party and developed strong, overwhelming feelings for him. He wanted to get out of his marriage and, therefore, started pushing Michaela away. It hurt him but he knew this had to be done.
When Michaela found out, she was hurt and upset initially but eventually came around. She had a long conversation with Conrad about it and told him that she was proud of him and that he had her full support. She told him that she felt terrible that Conrad had to live with this for so long and did not feel comfortable enough to come out to her. They have split but continue to be close friends with Michaela always having Conrad’s back.
2. Create a safe space
“I want to help my husband through this and be a partner in his journey” – This is a beautiful thought, but the question remains how are you going to do that? “The best way anyone can help their spouse come out is by creating a safe space. You can begin by making a conscious effort to not be judgmental. Don’t make gay jokes or snide remarks.
“At the same time, don’t be hysterical in your response to uncovering that your husband’s gay. Understand that marriages are forced sometimes, due to parental pressure or the fear of what coming out may do to a person’s life. Don’t make it entirely about yourself, and you’ll be able to empathize with his reasons for doing what he did,” says Deepak.
Related Reading: The Yin And Yang Of The Sexuality Spectrum
3. Educate yourself
As a straight person, whose sexual preferences are legitimized by society, you cannot even begin to understand the struggles of the sexual minority. Not instinctively anyway. Looking for an answer to, “My husband is gay, what do I do now?”, learning more about his struggles and experiences can be a good place to start.
“Begin by educating yourself. Read about the struggles and sufferings of homosexuals over the years, understand the gay rights movement, the legal rights of the LGBTQ community, the prevalent prejudices even in this day and age, and their impact on lives of people from the community,” says Deepak. This is the first step to help prevent your husband from leading double lives on the down low.
4. Seek counseling
“My husband is gay, what do I do now?” The fact that you’re contemplating your course of action suggests that you may not be ready to give up on your marriage. Even so, it may not be easy for either of you to process and get through this jolt on your own. This is exactly why we suggest you seek professional help.
You may be struggling with feelings of hurt, betrayal, and trust issues at the very least. In all likelihood, the gamut of emotions running amok inside you could be well more complicated and intense. He is likely to be unnerved by the possibility of, finally, owning up to his sexuality – something he may not be ready for.
Going into couple’s therapy and working with a counselor trained to handle such delicate situations can be immensely helpful in recovering from this setback and understanding where you want to go next. A third person’s perspective will help you understand yourselves and each other better so you can decide the future of your marriage. If you’re stuck in a similar situation and are looking for help, Bonobology’s panel of licensed and experienced therapists is only a click away.
5. Be his friend and companion
How do I help my husband through this? “If you can, try to be your husband’s friend, but remember the emotional labor of being his friend is not your job. Learning that your husband is gay leaves a deep impact on your psyche, and your own healing and mental well-being should be your priority,” says Deepak
That said, being happily married to a gay husband is not an oxymoron. “By handling the situation the right way, you can build a good companionship and salvage your marriage. If you want to stay married for sake of society or children or whatever other reason, you can develop an understanding as a couple to create an open marriage where you create space for each other’s sexual needs (and partners) and still be great companions,” he adds.
Robert and Janine have been married for almost 20 years but Robert sees other men. He realized he was attracted to men in his late teens but the stigma around the LGBT community at that time was even bigger. He married Janine because he thought she would make for a wonderful wife and best friend, which she has considering they are still together despite her knowing that her husband is gay.
Robert came out to her a few years after their marriage. She was afraid that he would leave her but, at the same time, understood where he was coming from and, therefore, she gave Robert the space he needed. Robert sees other men and continues to be best friends with Janine, who has been his strongest pillar of support since he came out to her.
Knowing that your husband is gay doesn’t have to be the end of your marriage. If you both want to stay married, share a strong bond and handle the situation maturely, you can swerve into a new direction as platonic life partners without necessarily being sexual mates.