I am a man in a monogamous heterosexual marriage of more than a dozen years. My sexual interests have grown over time and I now find myself aroused by both men and women where I was previously only attracted to women. The idea of a romantic or emotionally intimate relationship with another man has no appeal to me, it is all about the hardware. I am curious.

My wife would be threatened by this if she knew (or a little freaked out) so I have kept it to myself. It’s not a desire she could really satisfy, our marriage is not open, and it’s not what she married into so it will remain both unspoken and unexplored.

How common is sexual fluidity (if that’s what this is) for men in mid-life? Should I feel like I’m betraying her trust by not being open about my new curiosities?

– Brad

Cassie Wolfe LSW, MEd
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Great question and kudos to you for being familiar with terminology like “sexual fluidity.” Yes! There is such a creature and an awesome person, Alfred Kinsey, did a whole study on it (I recommend watching the movie). Essentially, Kinsey created his famous “Kinsey Scale” which rates people’s sexual orientation based on their experiences along a spectrum that flows between exclusively heterosexual to exclusively homosexual. His results indicated that not only can a person’s sexual orientation shift throughout the course of their lives, but that many people fall somewhere in the middle. Dr. Fritz Klein is another person who researched sexual orientation, creating the Klein Sexual Orientation Grid (KSOG). Feel free to google both!

Now, moving right along to wifey…never assume; always communicate! Change is one of the few constants in life (we change our minds, our clothes, our sexual positions, and even our sexual attractions)! I don’t believe you are currently betraying her trust in recognizing new interests and trying to process them for yourself; however, if you should act upon them; well then, that’s a whole other ball game. Also, many people have attractions and fantasies about various things/people and never actively pursue them. Here are some questions to consider: Is this something you are honestly contemplating pursuing? How important is this to you? Is it possible to expand your sexual repertoire with your wife to include the use of strap-ons or dildos? Have you ever talked about other sexual likes/dislikes or sexual activities like threesomes, together?

Perhaps you can watch Kinsey together and use that as a springboard for discussion about sexual fluidity to feel her out. Who knows, you may learn something new about your wife, like maybe she’s attracted to other women. Nonetheless, feeling a “little freaked out” is WAY better than feeling really fucked over by an affair (i.e. McGreevy, Schwarzenegger, etc.).

Lanae StJohn
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Sexual fluidity throughout the life span is something that is indeed common yet one of the many parts of a person’s sexuality that is not discussed. Dr. Alfred Kinsey wrote about this when he created the Kinsey Scale over 60 years ago(!); it indicates a person’s sexual history at a given point in time. Another scale is the Klein Sexual Orientation Grid, developed by Dr. Fritz Klein. It expands on Kinsey’s scale with the 7 variables and but adds 3 points in time: past, present and ideal.

As for feeling like you are betraying your wife’s trust, I understand. However, I would ask you, “do you share all of your sexual fantasies with her?”. Most couples are not at the level of comfort to even discuss the most basic sexual needs, wants, and desires let alone something you sense would threaten or freak her out. Lots of people have sexual dreams that have to do with sexual behaviors they would never want or really desire in real life. Sometimes, when folks have these sort of thoughts or dreams, they tend to ruminate on them and then they cannot get the thought out of their head and it becomes a bigger issue. It’s at this point that it begins to disrupt what’s typical for that person. Perhaps, it’s best for you to acknowledge your thoughts and feelings then see how you feel.

Meanwhile, you could also start a sexy conversation with your wife and ask her if she has any fantasies she would like to share with you. This is best achieved when the two of you can have this conversation with 100% love, acceptance and zero judgement. Over time and with practice sharing your fantasies, the two of you may enter a completely new, deeper level of love and understanding for each other. You never know, you two could get so used to talking about your fantasies and thoughts that you might be comfortable sharing this one with her.Wishing you success!

<3, The MamaSutra

Mark A. Michaels and Patricia Johnson
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This kind of awakened sexual interest is not at all uncommon in men in mid-life. Sometimes it’s an urge that has existed for a long time and been denied, and sometimes it’s something new. Leaving it “unspoken and unexplored” is a risky approach. If the desire is strong enough, suppressing it can easily backfire and could potentially lead to acting out in secret, something that is often both emotionally and physically very risky.

As we see it, some measure of privacy is a good, even necessary thing, no matter how intimate the relationship, but keeping secrets is generally toxic. You may be right to assume that your wife will feel threatened and/or freaked out, but she may respond differently. On the other hand, if she discovers your interest and that you’ve been keeping it from her, the chances are that her reaction will be considerably more intense and negative.

While we don’t think not discussing your curiosity per se is “betraying her,” it may not be the best choice. We are not therapists, but we do have some familiarity with this type of situation. If it is not something you can easily discuss with her, it might be best to find an open-minded therapist who has worked with couples on this very issue. If you go that route, shop and around and select the person carefully.