Dear Mary: I thought I was gay but now I know I’m not. How do I get ‘out the other way around’?

I am a male in my early 30s. I came out as gay to my friends and family when I was in my late teens and early 20s. I’ve never been in a gay relationship, but I’ve had a few sexual encounters with other gay men, either through dating apps or through casual encounters while going out.

I have always left these encounters with a sense of shame and regret and have not really enjoyed them.

Over the past few years, I’ve found that I’m more attracted to women than men. I’m afraid to say anything to my friends or family. I feel like I’ve locked myself into being someone I’m not, so for the past few years I’ve just stayed single and haven’t bothered to find a girlfriend.

Eventually I would love to have a girlfriend and kids but I can’t get over the fear of what I call ‘reverse coming out’ and what would I even say to the girl if she asks about previous partners or relationships, or if did she hear about it from others?

Your perspective would be greatly appreciated.

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Maria answers: I am sorry to hear that you are so unhappy and having trouble coming to terms with your sexuality.

It must be difficult for you to still question this as most people in their early 30s have already determined their sexual orientation. But that’s not a criticism — it shows a tremendous level of self-awareness that you’ve questioned over and over again until you’re satisfied.

Each person is unique and travels different paths to discover who they really are. You took a slightly different path than most people, coming out as gay relatively early on, but then discovering that you’re actually attracted to women and not men.

I like your term “reverse coming out” which I hadn’t come across before. I’ve mentioned a continuum in previous columns, with heterosexuals on one end and homosexuals on the other. Some people stay at one end or the other all their lives, but some move and you are one of the movers. It’s a pretty simple concept, but it can help you understand what’s happening.

You should start by talking to a close friend or family member about how things are going for you, who you feel most comfortable with. You’ll find that after this conversation, it’s easier with the next person you confide in.

When you meet a girl that you are attracted to, she will most likely be in your age group and as such will have a story just like you. But she won’t go into that story until she is sure she can trust you and also feels that the relationship is worth investing in.

So don’t worry about talking about previous relationships in the beginning – you can just answer truthfully that the right person hasn’t come along yet and therefore you haven’t had any serious relationships.

As the relationship develops and the question of previous sexual experiences arises, which it most likely will, then hopefully you feel safe enough to explain that you used to explore your sexuality and thought you were actually attracted to men feel. but it turns out it wasn’t you.

This can be quite a difficult conversation, but the alternative is how you fear someone will say something to her. This might be a deal breaker for some women and not for many others, but it’s far better to live in fear that she’ll hear something.

This is all for when you actually meet someone special. In the meantime, please go out, have fun, hook up with some women without expecting them to become your life partner. Above all, try not to worry too much about what lies ahead. Live in the moment and relax. You did nothing wrong and you don’t deserve to be punished, but it seems to me that you are the one punishing yourself right now.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by going to or by emailing her at or by writing to c/o 27-32 Talbot St, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated confidentially. Mary O’Conor regrets that she cannot answer questions privately. Dear Mary: I thought I was gay but now I know I’m not. How do I get ‘out the other way around’?

Fry Electronics Team

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