Originally published on May 9, 2012.
I am a 26-year-old straight guy. My straightness and guyness are recent revelations, and it feels amazing to be able to confidently state this. Here is my trouble: I've had gender issues for the past five years. My now ex-girlfriend of three years said she couldn't be with me anymore due to these issues. Our breakup was a result of my apathy in the bedroom, which was tied to my gender issues, and her fears of me transitioning into a woman. I can see now that my insecurities about myself caused me to be a selfish partner in many ways, but mainly in the bedroom. I now realize I was allowing my sexual kinks to get the best of me. I get very turned on by the idea of giving head to a guy, but in reality it is not something that I enjoy. I also find lingerie to be very arousing. I allowed myself to focus so heavily on those aspects of my sexuality that I became insecure in my masculinity inside and outside of the bedroom. I also ended up ignoring the majority of my sexual desires as a result of my insecurity in my gender identity. I have now stopped repressing my lust toward women in general, something I had been doing that negatively affected my ex.
I am asking you, I suppose, for some advice. I am still in love with my ex. I am prepared now to be the boyfriend that she wanted me to be. But how do I prove to her that I am no longer the apathetic, distant, and repressed lover that she was with for three years? I find myself overwhelmed with regret. She saw me as someone who couldn't do the things she needed, when in reality I was just paralyzed by my insecurities.
Found Myself Lost
You're not asking me for some advice, FML. What you're doing is handing me a dog with a bloody, torn-up ass and saying, "Hey, Dan, I totally screwed the pooch. Unscrew it for me, wouldya?" Some days, half the mail is from remorseful pooch-screwers, and I do what I can to unscrew their pooches. That's part of my job. But not every pooch can be unscrewed, FML, and your pooch looks eternally screwed to me.
It wasn't your gender issues or kinks or anxieties that screwed that pooch. You don't have to apologize for your gender issues. You were working through some serious shit. What you can be faulted for, FML, is your thoughtlessness, your inconsideration, and your neglect. You were so wrapped up in your own drama that you could barely perceive, to say nothing of meet, your girlfriend's reasonable sexual and emotional needs.
We don't have to be perfectly healthy or issue-free before entering into a relationship, of course. If that were the standard, no one would ever be in a relationship. However, we do have to be in relatively good working order, and you were not. Your girlfriend wasn't looking for an issue-free guy; no such animal exists. But she wanted a guy who could have his issues and still make an effort to meet her needs. And your poor, neglected, taken-for-granted girlfriend stuck it out for three long years, hoping you might turn into that kind of guy-with-issues, before finally calling it quits.
And damn her timing, right? Because everything magically fell into place the moment she walked out.
So what can you do now? You can tell your ex that you've come to a couple of big realizations: You know yourself to be a straight man now, and you can see that you were a terrible boyfriend then. You were so wrapped up in your own anxieties and kinks and insecurities that you couldn't meet her needs then, but you can now. The only way you prove this to her, of course, is if she takes you back. Considering the price she paid when you were struggling—inconsiderate, selfish, thoughtless, neglectful boyfriends are no fun, gender issues or no gender issues—she's likely to pass. Because life is basically one big issue after another, and she may have concluded that you're incapable of having an issue and being a decent boyfriend simultaneously.
If she doesn't take you back—if that pooch can't be unscrewed—resolve to learn from your mistakes, FML, and refrain from screwing the next pooch that comes your way.