Sex + Dating

What Happens When Your Exes Turn Out to Be Gay?

Why did this happen? Why now? Why me?

They're the first questions we ask ourselves after a breakup. And usually, the answers change every time. Unless you're me; in which case, all your exes would have one thing in common: they're all gay. "Complicated" is too simple a word to begin to cover the confusion heaped upon me, a heterosexual women, when I found this common thread among my past boyfriends. Forget the emotional "roller coaster" -- this was a fucking avalanche.

The good news? I'm so familiar with the post-breakup-with-a-gay-ex process I can recite it by heart. Here's a cheat sheet for escaping the minefield of post-breakup self-doubt you'll undoubtedly be in after finding out that special someone you used to get naked with actually prefers a different set of parts to your own.

You want to hate them. Don't.

The problem in this situation seems pretty obvious at first glance. Your ex is gay, and you are not. That is just the dash of rainbow sprinkles on top of the breakup ice cream cone. After all, if you had known they weren't into your assigned gender, you probably wouldn't be in this situation in the first place.

The actual problem, to be blunt, was this: your relationship was based on a pretense. You have every right to be upset, even irate, about this. But before you curse them out or call names, stop and think for a minute. Ask yourself that one simple question: why would someone lie to you about his or her sexual orientation?

Generally, the answer boils down to one of two possibilities. One, they were genuinely unsure of their preferences; or two, he or she felt the need for "straight" camouflage. In the former, the lie was unintentional. There’s not much either of you could have done to avoid the outcome. And to a certain extent, this person liked you enough as a human being to find out if things would work... and actually, that's the whole point of dating.

Try to be grateful about the breakup, which in the long run saves you from any additional heartache. Breaking up is hard no matter what... and is only made more difficult when one of you has the added challenge of coming out of the closet.

What if your ex knew his or her sexual proclivities before the two of you started going out? In such cases it is about 9,000 times more difficult to be understanding. It might take everything you've got not to think of this person as a horrible, lying, backstabbing so-and-so. But again, try to consider the motivation. Nobody hides out in the closet for kicks. Maybe she was afraid her parents would disown her. Maybe he worried his social circle wouldn't accept him. Maybe she didn't want to be the next victim of a hate crime.

Despite the leaps and bounds modern civilization has made in the realm of civil rights, it’s still not easy for an LGBT person in an all-too-often unforgiving world. Lying to you was wrong. Still, the situation wasn't designed to hurt you.

You want to blame yourself. Don't.

Telling yourself that the reason you've ended up here is because something is inherently wrong with you is an easy trap to fall into. But no matter how many relationships of yours end with an ex in the arms of someone sharing the same combination of parts as him or her, remember this: someone's sexual orientation has absolutely nothing to do with you. You don't have the power to "turn" someone gay, despite whatever stupid jokes people might make about your situation.

You are not cursed. You are not unlovable. You are a human who has been experiencing some bad dating luck, and that's all.

People might try to tell you that changing your personal preferences will change your luck. But I don't think that’s much more helpful than telling a gay person they should be straight because it's easier. While it's important to know yourself and what you really want, if you happen to be attracted to masculine women or effeminate men, go with it. You know why? Because in spite of all the stereotypes, NOT ALL people of any orientation act the same way. Sexual orientation and gender identity are two very different things. And stereotypes are just stupid.

You want to give up. Instead, move on.

After a while you start to wonder if maybe this whole dating thing just isn’t for you. It just doesn't seem like it's worth the effort, considering how badly things went in the past. You see a pattern and you don't like it, and it might seem like the only way to stop it is to never go out with anyone ever again. Let me repeat myself here: YOU ARE NOT CURSED! Don't give up on yourself or your love life just because all your practice has yet to lead up to "perfect." Instead, take responsibility for your own happiness and get back out there. As the saying goes, there are plenty of fish in the sea -- and not all of them are attracted to the same sex. Just keep swimming!

While you're at it, try navigating new waters. Whether it’s as simple as trying out a new Friday night hangout spot or moving to an entirely different county, city, or country altogether, a change of scenery might be just the thing to change your luck for the better.

Of course, if you really want out of the dating game, that's up to you. But if you do decide to stop actively seeking a partner, whether just for now or forever, make sure it's for the right reasons. Taking a break to focus on personal growth and following your dreams is a good thing. Finding happiness in your own company and letting go of being preoccupied with finding a romantic partner (while still being open to opportunity) is even better.

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Kim Berkley is a freelance writer who would like everyone to know that yes, she is pretty darn sure her boyfriend is straight this time. Follow her misadventures on Twitter: @dreamwarrior13.