New study: Sexual behavior changes but not sexual orientation

Media have been all over the Bachmann clinic story this week with lots of related discussion about how much, if at all, sexual orientation changes. As a part of this discussion, I noted that a study I am writing up found that over all married gay people assess themselves as growing more same-sex attracted over time.

Along the way, colleague Mark Yarhouse wrote to remind me that he found something similar in a study recently reported in the new issue of the Christian journal Edification (check out the entire journal for background on the whole arena of evangelicals in the study of sexual identity).

The study Mark referred to was authored by his team at Regent University and titled, “Characteristics of Mixed Orientation Couples: An Empirical Study” (start reading at page 41). The sexual minority participants had been married an average of just over 16 years and the average age was 45. While it was not a study of efforts to change, one could reasonably assume that if a group had participants who had shifted orientation very much, then this would be the group. However, that is not what they found, at least not at the level of attraction. See Table 5 below:

You will have to click the table to see it more clearly, but the table  demonstrates that the Kinsey scores shift more toward the heterosexual side when the participants were asked about their sexual behavior but when asked about their attractions, fantasies, and emotional attachments, there was no change. The Kinsey Expanded scale included an average of participant Kinsey assessment of behavior, attractions, fantasies and emotional attachments.

The authors summarized the results:

The mean score of the Kinsey behavior scale before marriage was 3.60, which falls in between the Largely heterosexual, but more than incidental homosexual and Equal amounts of heterosexual and homosexual categories. The mean score of the Kinsey behavior scale currently was 2.80, which falls in between the Largely heterosexual, but incidental homosexual and Largely heterosexual, but more than incidental homosexual categories.

On the Kinsey Expanded version, the mean score for both before marriage and the current assessment were 4.33 and 4.57 respectively. Both of these scores fall in between the

Equal amounts of heterosexual and homosexual and Largely homosexual, but more than incidental heterosexual categories.

I need to ask Mark, and perhaps he can comment, what the Expanded Kinsey result would look like if the behavioral Kinsey score was removed from the average of all Kinsey scores. Perhaps, the attraction, fantasy, etc., scores would rise moderately.

At any rate, the results are consistent with what I am finding as well. People adapt their behavior to their beliefs and commitments but their orientation does not shift, on average.

In all of the bluster about change therapies and clinics, I think evangelicals need to face what evangelical academics are finding in research. Also, a word to the media, both Christian and mainstream, quoting advocacy groups will get you two sides for dramatic tension, but if you want to know how research informs the questions you are asking, please consult those who, despite their religious loyalties, will report accurately.

  • David Blakeslee

    Is it harmful to suppress your natural drive to express your homosexual attractions?

    or…

    maybe that is what has been done for many for millenia with mixed results.

    Does SOCE or reparative therapy or ACT assist in this process?

  • StraightGrandmother

    I started on page 41 of the research by Yarhouse and read the whole thing. I got down to the very end and read the first note where he gives thanks to the Straight Spouse Network for advertizing his survey on their website. If memory serves me, I do recall Warren that this group was mentioned by you as well as a good source for mixed marriages of a sexual minority marrying an opposite sex spouse. So it is not surprising your results are lining up with his results.

    The other thing I noticed is he sure does reference himself a lot, meaning he points to other studies of his. Next a question I do not believe I have a firm understanding of “Peer Reviewed” Would you consider this Yarhouse study to be peer reviewed?

    Finally since Yathouse’s study included the hetrosexual spouce even though they are not currently married to the sexual minority I wonder what the results would have shown if the study was advertized on websites like Truth Wins Out or pro-gay type websites. Point being that Exodus and perhaps Straight Spouse Network is not really representative of, oh lets call them mixed sexual identity marriages. Yarhouse opened the door and let people who are not currently in a mixed sexual identity marriage participate but I question if he should have done that. Aand if he did then he should have perhaps gone to other more pro-gay type of websites to advertize for respondents as long as he opened that door.

  • Pingback: Box Turtle Bulletin » Mark Yarhouse needs to decide between honesty and anti-gay activism

  • Jayhuck

    This is troubling:

    Mark Yarhouse, professor of psychology at Regent University, frustrates me.

    On the one hand, he has been willing to conduct research and produce results that have called into question long held presumptions about orientation change efforts. In much of his current writing, Yarhouse has distinguished between experiencing attraction, identity, and behavior and seeks to move away from the affirmation vs. reorientation dichotomy and to focus on reconciling values with a structure of behavior.

    But on the other, he has utilized selective language that encourages confusion and has allowed others to mischaracterize his work in ways that he knows to be dishonest. He has allowed, if not encouraged, political positioning that well serves anti-gay activists but which is in direct contradiction with his own endeavors.

    And today we have an example of each.

    As noted at Dr. Warren Throckmorton’s site, Yarhouse released a study in Edification (aChristian psychology journal published by the American Association of Christian Counselors) that found that same-sex attracted men in heterosexual marriages experienced an increase rather than decrease of such attractions over time. (Actually, the entire journal is fascinating in how it illustrates the way in which some within the most conservative end of Christianity are struggling to make sense of conflicts between doctrine and observation.)

    But also today we have Yarhouse speaking to the Christian Broadcasting Network in defense of the Bachmann clinic’s prayer and promise about complete reorientation:

  • StraightGrandmother

    First the numbers: Actually they followed 98 people, of which 37 dropped out of the program. While in testing drug efficacy it might be appropriate to ignore drop-outs, in testing whether one can change orientation, it’s pretty relevant whether they stick around.

    After all, if Mark is going to say that “change effort sustained over time” is evidence of efficacy, then surely not sustaining it over time is evidence of inefficacy. Dr. Yarhouse simply cannot have it both ways.

    Taking the 37 dropouts into consideration, we come up with a different calculation:

    Success: Conversion – 14 (14%)

    Success: Chastity – 18 (18%)

    Non-Success – 29 (30%)

    Drop-Outs – 37 (38%)

    But this deception goes beyond numbers. It presents definitions of “success” that are laughable outside of hard-core anti-gay conservative Christian circles.

    I don’t know of a secular person or a moderate to liberal Christian who would characterize achieving celibacy as a change in sexual orientation. We all know of a few gay people who have “achieved celibacy” who would much rather than they hadn’t and such an “acheivement” says nothing about their orientation.

    The above is from the Box Turtle Bulletin link, thank you Mr. Kincaid for this analysis.

    From a Christian perspective is remaining celibate a “goal?” It seems odd to me that Christian Leaders would think that it is right to simply tell people, “Well no love for you then” that this is an acceptable response.

    According to Yarhouse, only 14% over 6 years was able to live a, hetro on the outside gay on the inside, life and when they married according to the Characteristics of Mixed Orientation Couples: An Empirical Study” Yarhouse study out of that 14%, 43% of the sexual minorities starts cheating with a same sex person on their hetro spouce starting right around year 7. So you kinda have to question even that 14% don’t you? Pastor, would you want your daughter to marry a person who sexual orientation is to the same sex? Would those be good odds for your daughter Pastor?

  • Teresa

    Could we all step back here a moment, including me in that stepping back?

    There is another voice here, and I’m part of that voice. And, it bothers me to hear someone say of my life

    Well no love for you then

    I’m probably older than many of this Blog, and I’m same-sex attracted. I’ve led in most part a chaste life, and a life of commitment to a family member of the same gender as I. That life had nothing to do with sex, but helping one another, and transforming me in the process. I was the proverbial care-giver near the end … but, I received far more than I ever gave. I learned what a giving heart can do, and the difference it can make.

    Frankly, as David B., has mentioned, this is what many of us did throughout the centuries. And, again, I’d venture to say most homosexuals still live life as most single str8 persons do: no fanfare, no wedding bells, sometimes lonely, most times not. We mostly don’t differentiate ourselves from other single persons, unless it’s for purpose. No, we’re not out and we’re not proud … but, we’re here. We’re part of the great tapestry of life, most threads being families, but are threads matter in the whole of that tapestry.

    Our Faith is of paramount value and concern, and we’ve chosen to live a life in congruence with that Faith. And, no, I”m not a self-hating gay. In fact, I’m personally quite happy that I am same-sex attracted. It’s given me opportunities and gifts that str8 persons don’t have, as they have gifts and opportunities that I don’t have.

    I’m not a victim in all this, and I dislike others treating me like I’m a victim or that I’m someone’s project … that I need some special handouts because I’m a homosexual. Certainly, I would wish to be treated with respect and dignity, as I try to treat others … but, I ain’t a saint in any of this. I’ve screwed up my share of stuff, just as all of us have. I can yell and scream with the best of them, but at the end of the day, it’s to no purpose.

    Is this really so hard to understand that the vast majority of homosexuals live life pretty much on life’s terms? We’re not out to upset the current social fabric of a str8 world. We lead quiet lives … and, I might add, are not quiet lives of desperation. For the most part, as with str8 persons, they are lives of fulfillment and joy, sadness and grief, laughter and tears; without all the fanfare of husbands, wives, or children.

    We’re the ‘silent majority’ in the minority. We have no voice. We’re not the Michele Bachmann’s and we’re not the Wayne Besen’s. We’re simply your neighbors. We’re not anyone’s enemy, and we don’t want to upset anyone’s apple cart. We’re here, and we matter … even if you don’t know it. The One I’m in love with does. And, that’s all that matters to me.

    Sorry, for the diversion. On with the games.

  • David Blakeslee

    Poor Timothy Kincaid,

    Again, as the activist, he projects his activism onto others in an attempt to dismiss the hard work of others.

    Even when you were rigorously to get all the data, Timothy focus’ on words and phrases that do not satisfy him.

    If he could only address his concerns about word usage and distortion to Wayne Besen and TWO.

  • David Blakeslee

    Let us not forget why Yarhouse is doing this work.

    Major universities, and professional organizations have been completely uninterested in asking these questions.

    When main stream Researchers explore this data they are hounded and humiliated into the margins: See Spitzer and Bailey.

  • David Blakeslee

    StraightGrandmother,

    Infidelity for males with SSA appears to be a challenge as well in Same Sex Relationships.

    In that regard, you would have to assess if the incidence of infidelity was higher in SS relationships or Mixed Orientation relationships.

  • Jayhuck

    David B -

    Poor Timothy Kincaid,

    Again, as the activist, he projects his activism onto others in an attempt to dismiss the hard work of others.

    Your ability to completely miss the point is, at times, astounding!

  • stephen

    Teresa, well said. Thanks.

  • Jayhuck

    Very well said Teresa! )

  • Mary

    Jayhuck,

    You still don’t value the lives of those who have changed?

  • http://funfrotfacts.blogspot.com Throbert McGee

    If I’m not mistaken, the original “Kinsey Scale” was purely about behavior, and reflected the average number-per-year of real-life, “consummated” homosexual acts with another person. (Thus, there was no attempt at all to quantify fantasy life or feelings of erotic attraction.)

    So, a “Kinsey 1″ was a NOT a guy who was predominately attracted to woman, but occasionally had solo masturbatory fantasies about other men — it was a guy who had an actual homosexual encounter with another man maybe once or twice per decade!

    I understand that a substantially revised version of the Kinsey Scale is now used, but I just found it a little ironic that the original one actually served to promulgate the exact same confusion we deal with here in every single “change” thread — about whether homosexuality is defined by outward actions alone, or by internal desires!

  • Jayhuck

    Mary,

    You still don’t value the lives of those who have changed?

    What makes you say this?

  • http://funfrotfacts.blogspot.com Throbert McGee

    According to Yarhouse, only 14% over 6 years was able to live a, hetro on the outside gay on the inside, life and when they married according to the Characteristics of Mixed Orientation Couples: An Empirical Study” Yarhouse study out of that 14%, 43% of the sexual minorities starts cheating with a same sex person on their hetro spouce starting right around year 7.

    I wonder if they ever did a comparative study on how cheating by the SSA spouse affects divorce rates in mixed-orientation marriages?

    Obviously, from the perspective of Christians and other religious people, extramarital cheating can never be an acceptable “pragmatic solution.”

    But I can guarantee you that a lot of married SSA men either have or seek to have homosexual affairs based on the belief (or rationalization) that doing so will stabilize their marriage, and decrease the likelihood of divorce, by satiating their desire for homosexual contact.

  • StraightGrandmother

    Theresa, I am happy for you if you feel that you have lived a good life, and that you feel you did the right thing by adhering to your faith and living for the most part a chaste life even though you are a lesbian. I really am truly happy for you. If you are happy, I am happy for you.

    Perhaps you are writing from a different generation than today. Your generalizations of most people living like you, could be true for the eras in which you have lived. I have no data to back it up, however my hunch is most early middle aged and younger Fundamentalist Christians don’t live like you. I am guessing that they move away from their Fundamentalist church and find more accepting and affirming churches which there are now, and that they seek to find true love with a same sex partner. And now with same sex marriage being legal in some places, many if not most, would desire that as well. I think the internet has been a game changer. Gays and lesbains are no longer living in isolation. There are gay pride parades that attract 10,000 people now. Gays, Lesbians, Bi-Sexual and Transgender people are able to connect with people via the internet and to learn about their big wonderful varied community, the internet provides positive reinforcement to them that it is okay to be gay. I am thinking times have changed.

  • stephen

    SG, Teresa writes from the human vantage that most of us enjoy: homosexuality is not a choice it’s an adjective. (It makes me crazy when it’s used as a noun to define us but that’s only because I make my living writing)

    It describes an aspect of one’s life.

    The most important aspect is that of affection. As a gay man I relate to men in an affectional way that I don’t to women. Not that I don’t value and cherish and respect women: but I don’t make the same emotional connection with them as I do with my own gender. This is why the cure the gay racket is so destructive. It attacks the very heart of our being. By making this dispute be about who or what one does naughty time with (folks around here seem to lead way sheltered lives so I will skip the more accurate sex language so I don’t cause terminal shock) our enemies, which includes the ex-gay racket- seek to devalue our lives and loves.

    This dispute is not about sex. You must understand that gay people have been so traumatized by the society at large that many of us have embraced an outrageous sex life as a means of defining our personhood. Plus, in the US men are bred to be pussy hounds. Translate that to gay.

    Let me be clear: any kind of change therapy is a racket. It is the recovered memory of our time. Have we forgotten what damage that did? You want me to show you on a puppet? To my great despair, the only Catholic priest actually to go to jail was sent there on ‘recovered memory’. The man was a prickly thorn in the side of the Boston establishment. A gay man who renounced his sex to service disadvantaged youths who got too caught up in his role as savior.

    W Throck’s posting on his review is instructive: it told me what I already knew from experience. Will a thoughtful exploration of the evidence make any difference to our teabagging fundies? They don’t believe in evolution, they don’t believe in global warming, they don’t believe in the Republican devastation of our economy, they don’t believe in empirical evidence as it contradicts their world view: anti science, anti fact.

    Conservative evangelicals (I still don’t understand how such a construct is possible) are going to have to start explaining to the rest of us how up is down and right is left. And I, for one, will not be forgiving.

  • StraightGrandmother

    Stephen

    This is why the cure the gay racket is so destructive. It attacks the very heart of our being

    .

    Let me be clear: any kind of change therapy is a racket. It is the recovered memory of our time.

    I don’t know if I agree with you on these two thoughts. But then I don’t know if I disagree with you either. I follow this website to learn and I still haven’t figured it out.

    What concerns me is that the big organizations doing SOCE do not provide credible research on their success percentages, with a clear definition of what a *success* is.

    I am also concerned about the mixing of psychology and religion, that concerns me, and for the most part these cure the gay outfits are religious based. I think it is a lot easier and probably better for you to change your religion (don’t forget religion is a choice), and there are many churches now that accept and affirm people who are gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender, than to teach you how to suppress your natural sexual orientation, or alternately go through life celibate.

    But say there are a very very few people who put their religion ahead of their natural sexual orientation, there should be research and help for them, shouldn’t there be? And if so is that then a racket?

    The problem is, because these SOCE organizations are religious based they are only directing people to the Change Your Behavior plan and that is where I have a problem, because that is only the best plan for a very very few people.

  • stephen

    SG: There is no discussion of ‘change’ unless Jesus is involved.

  • http://funfrotfacts.blogspot.com Throbert McGee

    This dispute is not about sex. You must understand that gay people have been so traumatized by the society at large that many of us have embraced an outrageous sex life as a means of defining our personhood. Plus, in the US men are bred to be pussy hounds.

    Pffft. I would venture to say that men at all times and in all cultures probably have an instinct to perceive casual sex as having “low personal cost,” for the obvious reasons that we can’t get pregnant and our sperm production doesn’t rise and ebb according to a monthly or seasonal cycle. So it seems logically predictable that male homosexuals across cultures would tend to be relatively more promiscuous than other demographics, without placing superfluous blame on American culture or societal homophobia.

    Moreover, let’s be honest about the effects of how sex is marketed by gay men, to a consumer audience of other gay men. For example, I would argue that pornography has historically played a hugely disproportionate (and distorting) role in the “sexual education” of homosexual males, in part because PG-rated movies* and shows about the emotional aspects of gay relationships are a rather recent phenomenon made possible by cable TV and Internet broadband.

    Also, in pre-Internet days, even non-pr0n “gay news” publications like the Advocate and the Washington DC Blade were hugely dependent on “adult ads” (for triple-X VHS tapes by mail order, and escort/massage services) in order to cover their printing costs.

    * Speaking of PG gay movies, one of the best I’ve seen recently is The Back Room, a 15-minute short about a nerdy used-bookstore owner trying to close up for the night (and telegraphed as gay from the very beginning) and a Pabst-Blue-Ribbonish last-minute customer who has been haunted for years by memories of a semi-obscure Italian Renaissance church mural he saw just by accident while trying to escape a rainstorm in Florence…

    Is there mutual physical interest between them, or just a shared fascination with old art, or is it all about the mythic power of the Crucifixion drama to move even non-Christians?

  • StraightGrandmother

    Back to that Yarhouse study. When it comes to the sex, I think the heterosexual spouses are telling the truth and the sexual minorities exaggerate. The answers of the heterosexual spouses make more sense to me, people don’t lie about “never”. I reformatted the data and did some totals to make it easier to read.

    Page 49 Data-

    “Frequency of Intercourse Heterosexual Spouses 155

    Never had sexual intercourse with their partner (n=69; 44.5%)

    Less than once a month (n=25; 16.1%)

    About one time a month (n=23; 14.8%)

    Total = 74.4%

    Greater than 4 times a week (n=8; 5.2%).

    1-3 times a week (n=30; 19.4%)”

    Total = 24.6%

    So the heterosexual spouses say they aren’t getting any. Now let’s ask the sexual minorities if they are happy with their married sex life.

    On a happiness scale of 1 being Terrible and 9 being Great

    the sexual minority scored 6.02!

    6.02 (SD=2.53), which falls in between the two labels Not pleasant, not Unpleasant and More Pleasant than Unpleasant

    I guess that indicates that they are VERY HAPPY not doing the horizontal bop with their opposite sex spouse.

    I guess while they were not doing it with their spouse they were getting it from somewhere, because the sexual minorities said that 44.2% had cheated on their spouse and had an average of 3.14 same sex liaisons.

    And this page 41

    “The research suggests, however, that many mixed orientation relationships do not survive. It has been estimated that only about a third of couples even attempt to stay together after disclosure (Buxton, 2004). Of that third that attempt to stay together, only about half remain intact for three or more years (Bux- ton).”

    So out of the 1/3 that even attempt to stay together, we are studying half of them who remain together for 3 or more years and of that half almost 75% have sex at the MOST about once a month, as reported by the heterosexual spouse. Success is not screaming out at me.

  • Teresa

    “Frequency of Intercourse Heterosexual Spouses 155

    Never had sexual intercourse with their partner (n=69; 44.5%)

    Thank you, StraightGrandmother (SG) for looking at the stats in a different way.

    So, what the stats show that for almost half of these marriages, they were never consummated. Astounding! What did these str8 spouses think about the state of their marriage?

    The almost 25% of mixed orientation marriages seems pretty remarkable … that’s a lot of sex … even for str8 couples, only my guess, though.

    The rest of the stats may actually be somewhat consistent with str8 marriages. My opinion, knowing little about married persons, is that after sometime, frequency of sex may diminish substantially.

  • http://funfrotfacts.blogspot.com Throbert McGee

    Frequency of Intercourse Heterosexual Spouses

    How did the Yarhouse study define “intercourse”? The answer to that might seem obvious in a heterosexual context, but I don’t think that it necessarily is obvious.

    For example, suppose that one night, a husband and wife have REALLY HIGH-QUALITY foreplay that is fun for both of them and produces an orgasm for the wife, but the husband has trouble keeping it up (because he’s secretly more interested in men), so they never “achieve intromission,” and eventually they both tire out and fall asleep cuddling without the husband having an orgasm an ejaculation.

    Did they “have intercourse” on that night?

    A researcher might say “no” because there was no penile-vaginal penetration, and that’s that.

    One husband might say “yes” because he did his marital duty by pleasuring his wife sexually (and maybe he had pleasure later by wanking to gay pr0n after she was asleep).

    Another husband might say “no” because he is distressed and embarrassed by his inability to maintain a sufficient erection for vaginal penetration.

    One wife might say “yes” because she remembers the foreplay and cuddling as highly satisfactory, and in her memory she conflates foreplay and intercourse under the rubric of “lovemaking.”

    Another wife might say “no” because they’re trying to get pregnant, and thus it “doesn’t count” if insertion and internal ejaculation fail to occur.

    P.S.:

    MARGE: Homer, a trip to Japan sounds like fun!

    HOMER: There’s nothing entertaining about the Japanese, Marge.

    MARGE: Hmm, but you liked that movie _Rashomon_!

    HOMER: That’s not how I remember it

    :D

  • stephen

    Wow. Welcome to the 60s.

  • James

    Just want to thank Dr. Throckmorton for continuing to deal with this issue with integrity. We should look at the data and let the chips fall where they may.

    The results of this study are consistent with the prior report from Yarhouse in which he tracked participants in Exodus over a 7-year period. This was a small, self-selected, highly motivated group of participants. All of the data were self-reported and all drop-outs were discounted from the results. In sum, you could not create a data set more skewed in favor of reorientation that the one Yarhouse used.

    The result was that, after 7 years of Exodus and with the treatment still ongoing, there were no conversions gay to straight (Kinsey 5 or 6 to Kinsey 0 or 1). On average, there was a self-reported/recollected shift of 1 point on the Kinsey scale. (In other words, a participant who recollected being a 6 would now self-report as a 5.)

    Notably, even this was dubious, as it was not a result reported on a long-term follow-up; the participants were still in Exodus. I can tell you from personal experience that when you are spending a lot of time each week talking about “the problem,” it can artificially suppress or distort your sense of attraction. But as soon as that exercise (1, 2 or 3 times a week) stops, the distortion goes away. I suspect even this average recollected 1-point shift would vanish if the participants ceased attending their meetings for a while.

  • StraightGrandmother

    Yarhouse Study

    Page 48

    Q. Future Potential of Marital Relationship

    Sexual minority group 95 responded,

    Extremely Positive about their relation ship’s future (n=37; 38.8%)

    Positive (n=21; 22.1%),

    Total = 60.9%

    Neither positive or negative (n=18; 18.9%)

    Negative (n=12; 12.6%)

    Extremely negative (n=7; 7.4%).

    Total = 38.9%

    Heterosexual Spouses 113 individuals responded

    Positive about their relation-ship’s future (n=29; 25.7%).

    Extremely Positive (n=23; 20.4%)

    Total = 46.1%

    Neither positive or negative (n=23; 20.4%)

    Extremely negative (n=22; 19.5)

    Negative (n=16; 14.2%)

    Total = 54.1%

  • StraightGrandmother

    From the heterosexual spouses point of view things don’t look that rosy to me. I kind of interpret an answer of “neither positive or negative” as a “Lukewarm.” Certainly you can’t claim anyone who is lukewarm is in the category of a “Happy” marital relationship. I’ll eat a steak at room temperature but I would much rather it was served to me hot, I like it better hot.

  • StraightGrandmother

    In the area of sexual fidelity, sexual minority spouses reported a higher than average number of extramarital relationships (44.2% indicating an extra- marital relationship), whereas national averages are at about 10% of women and under 25% of men (Laumann et al., 1994).

  • Mary

    SG,

    I looked at those tables, too. From the totally straight spouse perspective things look grim to me.

  • Jayhuck

    But I can guarantee you that a lot of married SSA men either have or seek to have homosexual affairs based on the belief (or rationalization) that doing so will stabilize their marriage, and decrease the likelihood of divorce, by satiating their desire for homosexual contact.

    I can back you up on that from personal experience.

  • http://wthrockmorton.com Warren

    David – ACT does not call for suppression, but rather defused acceptance. Oh look there I am attracted to men again. How interesting that my brain does that, now what do I want to do about it?

    Values drive the ship.

  • Teresa

    SG,

    I looked at those tables, too. From the totally straight spouse perspective things look grim to me.

    Thanks, SG, for the str8 spouse stats. And, I agree with both you and Mary about the str8 spouse dissatisfaction.

    The Straight Spouse Network (SSN) calls the str8 spouse in the mixed orientation marriage as the ‘beard’. The str8 spouse is essentially being ‘used’ as cover for the gay spouse to look ‘normal’ to the outside world.

    SSN publicly posted comments, experiences are also grim, shocking, and extremely painful to read. The old-timers on that website are firmly convinced of “once gay, always gay” … we don’t change, in their opinion. Many of the str8 persons have reported they’ve done everything they could possibly do to allow the gay spouse to ‘change’, work through issues, etc. It only got worse.

    The old-timers’ view on same-sex marriage is rather humorous. Most seem to think it’s an OK thing. “If we let them marry each other, then they’d stop trying to marry us.”

  • Teresa

    Values drive the ship.

    Warren, don’t values drive the ship in SITF?

  • http://wthrockmorton.com Warren

    Teresa – Yes, on that aspect of things, they are very similar. I practice along an ACT paradigm, which might explain why they are lot alike )

  • StraightGrandmother

    Warren, let me ask you something. Is what you propose SIT, and I’ll go find that comment where someone explained it to me very nicely, a purely psychology approach? In other words there is no prayer during therapy between the therapist and the client? There is no quoting of Bible verses by the therapist and so on.

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe Brain

    Defining penile-vaginal penetration as the only criterion for sex… seems a bit limiting.

    If ejaculation is required, then I guess I’m a virgin. Or was, all the time I looked male. Or mostly male.

    Now my situation is rare – the original diagnosis in 1985, 4 years after my marriage, was “undervirilised male syndrome”. There were certain physical difficulties, though if I’d had the usual neorological wiring, not insuperable. But the combination of female gender identity, and physical under-development, meant that while penetration was *just* possible, that was all from my viewpoint. I was able to please my partner, that’s all I cared about. Not being able to climax had certain advantages there. Erection wasn’t a problem.

    On the other hand, despite the difficulties, I am a biological father. It took “technical help” of course, but from my viewpoint, that was the really important thing, being able to have babies with the person I am in love with. Or *a* baby anyway – after 13 miscarriages. Yes, I should have given birth to my child as my instincts screamed at me to do, but I made the best of things under the circumstances. I think it was harder for my partner than for me. I did, after all, miss out on the back pain, the bloated ankles, and the ordeal that is childbirth.

    After the first 5 years of marriage, I don’t think we attempted penetrative intercourse more than about once a year.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m even more atypical than I thought. Not just physically, the Intersex condition and all, but psychologically. Or was.

    After the change, and now I have approximately normal female genitalia, I “get” sex now. Not just orgasmic, but multiply so. All the literature about instincts, and sexual response etc now make sense, it’s not something you think, it’s something you feel. Chemistry. There or not. Instinct.

    It would be far more convenient if my partner and I were both lesbian, so we could have sex as well as love. That doesn’t appear to be in the cards though. Neither of us are.

    I’m an outlier – but perhaps the study of Intersex and Trans people might help understanding of the more general case here.

  • Teresa

    Zoe, it’s hard to wrap my head around my own homosexuality; but, your descriptive life experience leaves me … well, my head spinning. I think I understand, at least in general outline what’s occurred in your situation, as uncommon as it is.

    But, you must well understand how a homosexual woman doesn’t quite get the ‘chemistry’ thing for a guy. Zing Went the Strings of My Heart, just ain’t happenin’ for us. As much as I like men, and I do … that ol’ black magic hasn’t worked her spell.

    I remember in another Comment of yours, how one day that chemistry between the sexes just happened for you, after the change. You could feel it, smell it … you knew it.

    Those of us same sex oriented can assuredly work to modify our same sex behavior; but, that is in the realm of personal choice. As more and more data become available, it’s becoming clearer that changing one’s orientation is possible but quite uncommon, negligible, in fact. Living in congruence with one’s values and faith beliefs, whatever that happens to be and whatever side of the aisle we fall on, is ultimately what is in our control.

  • Kyle

    Hey Warren -

    I appreciate how credible you are as a voice on this issue. The New York Times article in which you are quoted says that you believe change in homosexual orientation is impossible. Is this your view on the topic of re-orientation?

    Is this a fair summary of your views: complete change of orientation (in the sense of replacing a homosexual one with a heterosexual one) is very rare, perhaps impossible, but some people who seek traditional marital relationships experience developed attractions for their spouses in addition to their homosexual attractions?

    It seems like there are two extreme positions on this, from the left and the right wing: change of any kind is impossible, and complete change is common. Both seem wrong to me from what I’ve been reading of your work. What would you say?

    Thanks!

    Kyle

  • David Blakeslee

    Warren,

    David – ACT does not call for suppression, but rather defused acceptance. Oh look there I am attracted to men again. How interesting that my brain does that, now what do I want to do about it?

    I Iknow…

    Suppression, in part, is the goal of ex-gay programs (Evergreen, Exodus, Courage).

    Such a coping style, although intuitively recommended, may create and intensification of the attractions.

    In this regard, it may prolong or intensify SSA.

    Paradoxically “acceptance” by these groups (neutral reactions to unwanted SSA) lessens the preoccupation and allows them to move forward with their lives; in many cases according to their values.

    With no harm? Seems so for many in these studies by “anti-gay” researchers.

  • http://wthrockmorton.com Warren

    I have seen no harm from ACT based interventions, although I have seen struggle with letting go.

    One key feature of SIT is that if we see any indication that any intervention is not working or if a person becomes more depressed or anxious, we stop the sexual identity work and focus on the symptoms. We do not interpret the depression or anxiety as some necessary or derivative experience of dealing with father/mother wounds or whatever. I know clients who have been with reparative therapists for a long time, limping along in depression because the therapist interprets the depression as working through or some such thing (grey zone). There is where some harm could be.

  • http://wthrockmorton.com Warren

    Kyle – That seems fair although I would be a bit more agnostic about how frequently someone might change and to what degree. All research is suggestive that people change behavior and their values. However, I don’t see much indication that basic desires change much as the result of therapy. Spontaneous change happens, especially for women, and there are libido changes with age. The latter i think is mistaken as change for ex-gays as they age.

    I do think extremes are often well too extreme to encompass the largeness of human experience.

    Thanks for stopping by…

  • Kyle

    So full spontaneous change happens sometimes. That’s very interesting.

    Are those gay men who marry sexually attracted to their wives? Have they developed any desires consistent with heterosexual sex? Or have they only changed their behavior and values? I imagine life would be pretty hard for them if they had NO attraction to their spouses. Of course I’m sure if this is true, they would still say that, on the whole, they are basically gay, because that’s where most of their attraction lies. But if they develop some other-sex attraction in addition to behavior change, enough to be pretty sexually satisfied with their wives, that still seems pretty remarkable, and something many gay-advocacy groups would want to say is impossible.

  • Kyle

    Oh, perhaps you are saying there is not much evidence that change in desires happens as a result of *therapy* (do you include your SIT therapy, which is not geared so much at change as resolution) – but sometimes people experience new heterosexual desires spontaneously, when they meet their spouse for instance – even though again, they still identify as gay. Was this a finding of some persons in your group?

  • Stuart Kenny

    I have same-sex attractions. I don’t want to have sex with men. What I have done is develop friendships which are on a level which meets my emotional needs. Am I a self-loathing queer? I can’t pretend I feel anything all that deep about women, and my feelings for men are much more profound. I’ve had lots of chances to have sex with men, but when confronted with the possibility, I back out. Should my goal be to just suck up and start liking gay sex? (so to speak?) Or can I, please, can I, fulfill my emotional needs through friendships? I realize I won’t get a float in the Pride parade for selling out that way, but I would be happier.

    • http://wthrockmorton.com Warren

      While I can’t give personal advice in this forum, I can say that what you describe is a fairly common situation which is addressed by sexual identity counselors. No easy answers, and none that a SI therapist would provide as a matter of course.

  • StraightGrandmother

    Stuart Kenny, if I might offer a little advice from a grandmother. Take sexual orientation out of the picture. All you are saying is you have not found someone you deeply love. When you do Kenny, when you find that connection, that spark, what’s the word I am looking for (?), adoration, when you adore somebody and they return it and feel the same about you, trust me you won’t be able to keep your hands off of him. Take your time, don’t rush, make your first time be with some one you are deeply deeply connected with and that you love. It.Will.Be.Beautiful.

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe Brain

    Theresa wrote:

    But, you must well understand how a homosexual woman doesn’t quite get the ‘chemistry’ thing for a guy. Zing Went the Strings of My Heart, just ain’t happenin’ for us. As much as I like men, and I do … that ol’ black magic hasn’t worked her spell.

    Of course I can understand! It’s there or it’s not. If we had our druthers, both my partner and I would be 100% lesbian, attracted to each other sexually as we are in all other respects.

    But we’re not.

    The only reason we were able to marry was because I looked, smelt etc male. Mostly. Neither of us had anything in the way of Sex Ed, we didn’t realise just how much my body differed from the norm.

    Love is a powerful aphrodisiac – but it can’t substitute for instincts that are built in to our neurology. Either the smell of the breakdown products of testosterone cause involuntary reflexes, or those from oestrogen, or both, or neither. “Chemistry” quite literally, and the molecules are very similar – testosterone aromatises to oestrogen after all.

    Neither did anything for me until 2006. Oestrogen still doesn’t.

    I have difficulty understanding why some people are so distressed about their sexual orientation. My partner and I have good reasons – the one person we want to partner with in the world is the wrong sex. But others – I just don’t see it. Or rather, I see it, I acknowledge its existence, I just don’t understand it.

    I hope you find happiness, and mutual joy, and completion, Theresa. You’re a really nice person, and there are plenty of girls out there who are kind, lonely, fun, and deserve someone like you. If that’s what you wish. I don’t see why it couldn’t be, no matter what your religious belief.

  • Jim H

    One thing I’ve not seen addressed at all in any of the reparative therapy literature I’ve read, and perhaps I’ve simply not looked around enough, is how the field of sexual addiction and the experiences of people in sexual addiction programs such as SLAA or SAA inform or line up with reparative therapy work. I am deliberately not mentioning SA because that program’s sobriety definition only permits sex within heterosexual marriage. You can no doubt find same-sex attracted individuals in this program who are managing to live chastely, or primarily chastely, and a lazy researcher who simply wants to confirm a cherished personal belief system about same-sex attraction and how to overcome it would find many individuals, no doubt, to support such opinions.

    I am a gay man from a very Catholic family who has been over 10 years sexually sober (monogamous, no cheating, masturbation or pornography, etc.) in a relationship with another man. At the same time, my experience in program has allowed me to meet many people whose homosexual behavior and feelings were very tied up with their addictive patterns, and as those retreated, their fundamentally heterosexual orientation was clearer to them, and they seem to be functioning perfectly fine in heterosexual relationships. I have also met many fine same-sex couples who have no apparent issues with sexual addiction and who seem to have no problems with monogamy at all, male and female.

    Early in my recovery, I had to wonder if my homosexuality was somehow tied up in my addiction, and that I just needed the “courage to change what I can”. And I realized that anxiety had been something I’d lived with for a *long* time. I think that anxiety is why so many gays and lesbians are defensive over any discusion of “change”.

    One of the major steps in my recovery from sexual addiction was when I felt I could handle equally well any answer to the question “am I straight, gay or bi?”

    One gift of sexual sobriety was the ability to have a long period of complete abstinence, and the dreams that occurred confirmed for me how I was wired both sexually and romantically. And as a friend in recovery helpfully pointed out, dreams are NOT something I have a lot of control over OR an ability to change. And so I move forward from there.

    My experience may not be very common, but I believe a lot of people are tortured with some uncertainty over their orientation, and the religious/societal pressures that make only a narrow set of answers permissible are doing tremendous psychological and spiritual harm. If less emphasis were placed on orientation and more emphasis placed on fundamental virtues of modesty, chastity (not to be confused with celibacy), honesty, fidelity and patience, we’d be a lot better off. Let the fundamentally gay be gay, let the fundamentally straight be straight, and let those in between be OK being somewhere in between with no value judgement.

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe Brain

    Kyle wrote:

    some people who seek traditional marital relationships experience developed attractions for their spouses in addition to their homosexual attractions?

    Or in my case, heterosexual.

    If that term has any meaning for someone so biologically Intersex. I think it does, for while many Intersex people identify as neither M nor F, the majority do.

    StraughtGrandmother wrote:

    Take your time, don’t rush, make your first time be with some one you are deeply deeply connected with and that you love. It.Will.Be.Beautiful.

    What she said.

  • Teresa

    Zoe said:

    I hope you find happiness, and mutual joy, and completion, Theresa. You’re a really nice person, and there are plenty of girls out there who are kind, lonely, fun, and deserve someone like you. If that’s what you wish. I don’t see why it couldn’t be, no matter what your religious belief.

    Thanks, Zoe, for the kind words. And, I certainly agree that are some very real possibilities for life arrangements that include another, that are perfectly compatible with one’s faith beliefs.

  • Michael Bussee

    New study: Sexual behavior changes but not sexual orientation.

    All research is suggestive that people change behavior and their values. However, I don’t see much indication that basic desires change much as the result of therapy. ~W. Throckmorton

    Critics and survivors of reparative therapy/ex-gay programs have been saying this for decades.

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  • http://www.comingout4christians.net Dave

    Stuart Kenny# ~ Jul 18, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    I have same-sex attractions. I don’t want to have sex with men. What I have done is develop friendships which are on a level which meets my emotional needs. Am I a self-loathing queer? I can’t pretend I feel anything all that deep about women, and my feelings for men are much more profound. I’ve had lots of chances to have sex with men, but when confronted with the possibility, I back out. Should my goal be to just suck up and start liking gay sex? (so to speak?) Or can I, please, can I, fulfill my emotional needs through friendships? I realize I won’t get a float in the Pride parade for selling out that way, but I would be happier.

    You might consider checking out the Gay Christian Network. They have an online community there. Most of them are affirming but they have a subgroup called: “Side B” whose members believe in celibacy many of whom are also looking for what you describe.

    Just a thought,

    Dave

    P.S. The link is http://www.gaychristian.net/ (it is also linked in the side bar of this site)

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