7 Signs Your Boyfriend Is Secretly Gay: How to Tell If He's Hiding His True Self
Let's be upfront: You probably wouldn't be reading this article if you didn't already have some kind of suspicious feeling that your boyfriend / spouse / whatever might be gay. We're assuming that you're a woman, of course. (If you're a man, and you think your boyfriend might be gay, then...uh...he probably is.)
The good news is that your boyfriend or husband is likely not gay at all. It's actually pretty common for a woman to question her man's sexuality for reasons that have nothing to do with his preferences, and this could be your situation!
On the other hand, your boyfriend or husband might indeed be gay.
How can you really tell, though? How do you separate the real signs that your boyfriend is gay from the red herrings?
Below I’ll go into details about some false “signs” of same-sex attraction as well as some signs that might actually mean that your boyfriend is into other men. But first, let’s go over some facts about this topic.
You’re Not Alone
Many women are worried that their boyfriends or husbands are gay. According to a book by former Google data scientist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, search results show that women worry about this even more than if their husband is cheating on them. So you’re not alone in wondering whether you and your boyfriend have been admiring the same view at the beach!
What Is Sexual Orientation? (i.e. What Does It Mean to Be Gay?)
A person's orientation is nothing more than the tendency to be physically attracted to males, females, both, or neither. This can be stable over time, or sometimes fluid.1 That’s it, really. There’s nothing else to it. There are lots of stereotypes surrounding gay people, but it really just comes down to the fact that they like the same gender.
Furthermore, though mainstream society tends to paint attraction as something “black and white” and never-changing (i.e. once you are gay, you are always gay; any same-gender attraction means that you’re gay, etc), the reality is that life is just not that simple.
Even having sexual encounters with other men does not necessarily mean a man is gay. In one study, the number of people who had had sexual experiences with people of the same gender were twice as many as the number who considered themselves gay or bisexual.4 Basically, many people experiment, and it doesn’t have to mean anything.
Even having sexual encounters with other men does not necessarily mean a man is gay.
To complicate things further, you can have a mixture of attractions to the same gender, when it comes to both physical and emotional intimacy.1 For example, I’ve met some guys who were both romantically and physically attracted to women, but only physically attracted to men, with no romance involved. It varies. Every individual is a minefield of random quirks and desires.
What does this all mean, though? It means that your boyfriend or husband might have had homosexual thoughts or feelings, or may have even been physically involved with other men, and he still might not consider himself to have a “gay” orientation. Most people don’t consider themselves gay unless the vast majority of emotional and physical attractions they have are towards the same gender.
Stuff Guys Do That Doesn’t Mean They’re Gay
Human desire is not cut and dry. Worse still, there are tons of stereotypes in our culture concerning how gay or straight guys are supposed to act—and of course these don’t apply to all (or even most) people. Here are some things that don’t necessarily mean your man is gay, though you might think so:
He wants to put things in the "back door." Many men enjoy this, even straight men (though few admit it), so it's nothing to be alarmed about. If anything, be flattered that he's comfortable enough to try new things with you. Also, it is a common misconception that all gay men are into this kind of thing or that the act is inherently gay. In fact, a lot of gay guys don't do this at all.5 It's really all about individual preference here.
He wants to get spicy in the bedroom. Again, he might just want to add some excitement to your sex life. This is common, especially if you’ve been together for years.
He has had sex with men. I know, I know! But bear with me here. It’s hard to believe for most people, but getting it on with a man does not necessarily mean that a guy is gay.2 While most straight guys would never have sex with another man, a small percentage will do this for various reasons. For example, it’s usually easier to get anonymous "favors" from other men than from women. In addition, some people have kinks that have to do with same-sex encounters, but they’re not inherently attracted to the same sex.5 That being said, if he’s engaging in physical relationships with other men (or anyone else) without your knowledge, then obviously something is amiss.
Being effeminate or showing interest in his personal appearance. This is just a stereotype basically. Though there might be some nugget of truth in gay stereotypes, they’re still not a good, consistent indicator of someone’s romantic preferences. Being “gay” just means that a guy is attracted mostly to other men. This has nothing to do with appearance, mannerisms, or fashion choices. Western culture unfortunately tends to stereotype gay men as effeminate and image-obsessed, but most of them actually aren’t like that. (Those are just the ones you tend to notice.) Furthermore, I personally know several effeminate straight men. You really can’t know from mannerisms alone.
So those are some reasons that you might think your boyfriend is gay, even if he’s actually not. On the other hand, here are some signs that are better indicators that your boyfriend might actually have a preference for men:
1) He Doesn't Check Out Other Women
You might think it's great at first when your boyfriend doesn't stare at other women, but this is extremely unusual.
Most men frequently think about sex and unconsciously look at attractive people. It's not even deliberate most of the time—it's just a reflex. If an attractive woman with a rack that she can use as a shelf saunters by in a skimpy outfit and your boyfriend simply yawns and doesn't even seem to notice her, this might be a red flag that he's not into women.
Most gay men will also have had “youthful noticings,” or times in the past when they noticed and were attracted to good-looking men. Straight men never had youthful noticings, or rarely had them.5
2) ...Instead, He Checks Out Other Men
Usually, if a guy is closeted, he won't be obvious about this. Even openly gay men know better than to ogle men in public, considering the negative social consequences.
If you're a guy who is interested in other guys, a tiny "look" is enough. Next time you're with your man, watch for this look if an attractive man walks by. Pay attention to where his eyes are pointed. Did a shirtless guy just walk by, and he quickly raked his eyes up and down the guy's six-pack? Did he steal a look at his crotch?
Another thing to watch out for is eye contact. Just as you might look at a man that you like and there's a brief exchange of energy there between you and him, the same is true for a gay (or bi) guy when he interacts with a man he likes, even briefly. Did he seem to meet eyes with another man and it lasted a little too long?
Men who live in Western countries, like those of North America and Europe, usually won't make prolonged eye contact with other men, unless they're about to fight or about to get it on (or both).
According to Joe Kort, a psychotherapist specializing in gender and sexuality, the beach test is usually a good way to sort this one out. At the beach, are women just in the way while he’s trying to catch a glimpse of other men? This is usually how gay men feel. A man who is bi will look at both men and women, and a straight man won’t even notice the men.5
3) He Is Touchy-Feely With Other Men
If your boyfriend seems a little too eager to cuddle with his buddies, or he is very keen on being naked around them, bathing with them, or doing other potentially intimate activities with them, this is a sign that he might be attracted to men.
Now, it could be that he's just very secure in his masculinity, since there's nothing inherently gay with hugging other guys, but the fact that he has to go against social norms to do this speaks volumes. If he gets turned on during these activities, then of course there’s probably some attraction there.
Guys from Western cultures (like the United States) tend to be particularly physically distanced from other guys, so remember to take your man’s culture into account. Western guys tend to show their affection for each other more with playful wrestling or fighting, if anything.
However, if your boyfriend is from a non-English-speaking culture, especially South Asia, East Asian, or the Middle East, it's actually not that unusual in certain countries for men to embrace, kiss, or even walk down the street holding hands. This doesn't mean he's necessarily gay.
4) He is Homophobic or Acts Uncomfortable Around Gay Men
One of the BIGGEST tell-tale signs that your boyfriend is insecure with his sexuality is if he shows unusual levels of homophobia.5
Most straight men have no problem with gay guys. But if your boyfriend actively hates gay men even if they have never done anything to him and never speak to him, then this is extremely telling. You've probably heard loads of stories about anti-gay preachers who were later discovered to be trolling gay hookup sites.
Many times, a man who hates the fact that he likes other men will take it out on gay people and treat them badly. At the very least, it's not unusual for a guy who is denying his sexuality to fear coming into contact with people who are living with their gayness freely.
Watch him closely next time he is around gay men. Does he act weird?
Homophobia is one of the biggest signs that your boyfriend or husband might be questioning his sexuality.
5) He's Obsessed With Other People's Sexuality
Maybe he's not homophobic, but do his ears perk up when you mention that one of your friends is gay? Does he ask a lot of questions about them? Does he seem interested in how they came out to their parents, or what other people's reactions were?
Similarly, does he bring up people's sexuality a lot? Does he talk about how this or that person at his job turned out to be gay? Does he mention gay family members of his a lot?
He may be interested because he himself is gay or bisexual, but may not know it yet, or simply doesn't know how to express it.
Of course, if he only talks about these things occasionally, he could just be a curious guy. Human beings like to gossip about the sexuality of others. The concern here would be if he has an obsession or preoccupation with gay sexuality--that’s rather unusual for a straight man.
And on the other end of things, some closeted men avoid bringing up gay topics at all for fear of being “found out,” so someone doesn’t need to necessarily exhibit this sign to be gay.
6) He Isn't That Interested in Sex With You
This could mean several things. For one, your boyfriend could be asexual or he might just not be attracted to you anymore for a variety of reasons. People change and so do their tastes.
However, if he never really seemed that into touching you, even in the beginning of your relationship when you're supposed to be in a honeymoon period, then something is probably wrong. This sign by itself doesn't mean he's gay, but coupled with some of the other signs, it can be telling.
Also keep in mind that an absence of this sign doesn't always mean he's not into men, either. In other words, he could be mostly gay, but enjoy sex with women to some extent—or he could be bisexual (but more on that later).
Sex in the relationship might have died down for many other factors as well — including other relationship problems, work schedules, boredom, and so on. In fact, not having enough sex is a common complaint of many women in straight relationships,2 and on its own it probably doesn’t mean he’s gay.
7) His Social Media Contacts Are Suspicious
Let's say you take a look at his Facebook profile and notice that there's lots of different men on there. You also notice that a lot of them seem gay. Maybe you notice that a lot of them aren't mutual friends with you, and in fact you had no idea that he knew these people.
Even worse, if you discover that he has more than one account and has been hiding one from you, this is a definite sign that there's something he isn't telling you. If you notice that his second account has a friends list filled with dozens of strange men, then this is extremely suspicious and you should consider confronting him on this alone.
Finally--and worst of all--if you find out that he has a profile on a gay dating site, then this is a glaring, giant, neon sign.
Obviously, this one seals the deal. No man joins a gay dating app or site "just for laughs." He's looking for another man to get frisky with.
No man joins a gay dating app or site "just for laughs."
How do you find out whether or not he's on a gay dating site, though?
Well, you could make your own fake profile and look for him on there or ask your gay friends if they’ve seen him, but avoid catfishing your boyfriend if you can. The paranoia will drive you crazy. If it’s getting to this point, you might just want to talk to him about what you’ve uncovered so far.
More important than even the gay thing, if you’ve found him on a dating site, he’s looking to hook up with someone else secretly. The fact that it is with a man is secondary. He has breached your trust.
Everyone has different relationship expectations and boundaries, so where you draw the line on what “cheating” is depends on what the two of you have established. The fact is, many men don’t consider having sex with other men as cheating if they’re in heterosexual relationships,5 so they might not feel compelled to say anything about it. It “doesn’t count,” basically. You might feel differently, of course.
You Won't Know Until You Ask
No matter how much research you do, you won’t know for sure until you talk to your boyfriend (assuming he tells the truth). Even most “evidence” of a person’s sexuality can be interpreted many different ways because of cultural biases, so you will need to clear this up with him.
The sooner you just talk to your boyfriend about it, the better. This will help establish the difference between reality and the stories that your mind might have concocted.
He Might Not Be Gay, but He Could Be Bi
Maybe you’ve come to the conclusion that your boyfriend is gay, or at least that he likes men. Here’s what that doesn’t mean:
It doesn’t mean you’re right. Again, there’s no way to know for sure the exact specifics of another person’s sexuality. Even that person himself may not know. Chances are, he’s straight, since most men are.
It doesn't mean he doesn’t love you.
It doesn’t mean that he doesn’t like women. (See below, about bisexual guys.)
It doesn’t mean he’s a bad person. There is still a huge stigma against being gay. He might not have the courage to come out or he may even be in denial. It’s possible he didn’t know about his same-sex feelings when he got into a relationship with you.
Bisexual Men: The Silent Minority
Your boyfriend could also be bisexual. Many people dismiss this notion and just assume that any man who likes other men must be gay, but that's simply not true. There are plenty of men who are bisexual. They are just less willing to admit it than women are—for obvious reasons.
If the fact that he's bi doesn't bother you (and he isn't cheating), then there's probably no reason to confront him about it unless you're willing to embarrass him. We all have our random sexual preferences, and you're probably dreaming if you think that those preferences begin and end with you. His being attracted to both men and women is no different than if he was into blondes as well as redheads. As long as he stays true to you, what does it matter?
It doesn't mean he doesn't love you.
Then Again, Maybe He Is Gay
On the other hand, if you did all your research and that little voice inside your head is telling you that he's fully, 100% gay and not interested in you sexually, then it's time to confront him.
Nobody likes living a lie.
Approach him in a non-judgmental way, and you're much more likely to get the truth out of him. Also remember that if he is gay and in a relationship with you (a woman), then it’s no walk in the park for him, either.
He probably wasn’t trying to intentionally deceive you. There are many reasons he might have not told you. Maybe he doesn’t want to hurt you or isn’t ready yet to face the consequences of coming out. Maybe he doesn’t even know for sure whether or not he is gay.
You might be angry, but try to remember that this is someone you care about. If he’s struggling with his sexuality, it’s not really his fault, and he could probably use your support as a friend.
Of course if you bring it up and he completely denies it, but you continue to see glaring signs, it might be time to rethink the relationship.
Reams, Richard H, Ph.D. “Am I Gay: A Guide for People Questioning Their Sexual Orientation.” 2017. Accessed September 2, 2017.
Brody, Liz. “Is My Husband Gay?” How a New Book Uses Big Data to Unearth Women's Secret Obsessions.” May 10, 2017. Glamour. Accessed September 2, 2017.
Barrie, Zara. “Looks Like A Lot Of Straight Dudes Are Watching Gay Porn, Science Says.” October 12, 2016. Elite Daily. Accessed September 2, 2017.
Franke-Ruta, Garance. “Americans Have No Idea How Few Gay People There Are.” May 31, 2012. The Atlantic. Accessed September 2, 2017.
Weiss, Robert, LCSW, CSAT-S. “Is Your Man Gay, Straight or Bisexual?” December 1, 2014. Psychology Today. Accessed September 2, 2017.
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