My boyfriend kissed another man: does that mean he’s gay?

Illustration by Lo Cole

/Pahichan – I found out two weeks ago that my boyfriend had kissed another man. The next day, he texted the same man inappropriate messages, asking to meet again and proceed further than kissing (the messages were apparently sent while my boyfriend was very drunk). When we spoke about this, he said he did not enjoy the kiss, but wanted to see if he enjoyed other activities with men.

When we discussed his cheating, he said he was planning on proposing within the next year, but was worried about committing to me when it may turn out that he would eventually prefer men. He doesn’t want to realise this 20 years down the line, when we are married with kids.

His excuses for the kiss were weak at best: he was under incredible pressure and stress at work, and going through a family upheaval, all of which produced a cocktail of emotions that, when this man instigated a kiss, led to him kissing back. What do I do?

If your boyfriend didn’t enjoy his kiss with this man, why would he want to do more? And, you know, lots of people cope with stress, and manage to get very, very drunk, without changing their sexuality. What would happen if you had a baby together, or had money problems? Would he go out and kiss an entire boyband?

What you’re trying to do is ignore very clear evidence, to “make it OK”, thinking that if you can just get over this patch, everything will be fine. And that’s unlikely to happen.

While many people have fantasies that don’t mirror their real-life choices, these don’t make them act differently. I like the way he says he doesn’t want to realise this 20 years down the line, with little thought of what impact that would actually have on a family situation.

I consulted Kirstie McEwan, who is a sexual and relationship counsellor (cosrt.org.uk). “You’re obviously heartbroken,” she said, “but you’ve always known he was curious, haven’t you?” She wondered what’s keeping you together. “Is it more than just a relationship? Is there further entanglement, shared finances? Do you still want a relationship with this man and, if so, what sort?” She also pointed out that the ball is not in his court but in yours.

You ask how trust can be rebuilt but, given that he’s very probably lying to himself, I think this is going to be a long, hard journey for you. It does seem you have had suspicions for a while (you don’t mention your ages, nor how long you’ve been together). “Some people,” McEwan says, “may suspect something but don’t want to see the truth. Now it’s squarely in front of you and you have to deal with it.”

You may have been avoiding your suspicions because of insecurity: maybe you feel he is better than nothing, or better than other men out there. But what you’re doing is cheating on yourself if you put up with this. You’ll be forever wondering and suspicious, until you end up a shadow of yourself.

There is nothing wrong with someone being bisexual, or exploring their sexuality – but not on your time, and not if it hasn’t been agreed. I think his claim that he’s going to ask you to marry him within the year is his way of trying to convince himself.

Relationships, and marriages, are hard work. What you absolutely cannot do is enter into them with suspicions, or in a situation in which you are not someone’s number one.

Yes, your boyfriend needs to work out his sexuality, but he needs to do it on his own. If you stick around to “help him” through this, you will see his actions as a reflection of you and define yourself by them. And really, this has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with him.

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