Tuesday, 19 July 2011

The 40-something Lesbian…

Before I start getting a barrage of abuse, I want to make it clear that I have no issue with anyone’s sexuality.  Unless I’m naked in a bedroom with someone, I don’t really think that their sexual preferences are any of my business. 

The issue I have, is when a heterosexual married mother decides, in the midst of a mid-life crisis (and with little thought for the consequences), to leave her husband for a woman, causing carnage along the way.

I have no doubt that there are occasions where a lesbian couple can provide a happier and more stable home for children, than a dysfunctional or abusive heterosexual marriage.  However, it is the circumstances and transition from one to the other which should be carefully considered.

I know quite a few adults who were adopted as kids.  They variously: got on, or didn’t with their adopted parents; wanted/didn’t want to find their birth parents; had happy/ unhappy childhoods.  But the one thing they had in common was the knowledge that, like it or not, they were adopted. 

They didn’t have to discover, during those fragile teenage years, that they had been lied to all their life.

Is discovering that your mother is not heterosexual, after years of marriage to your father, a similar thing?  I think it is.

I have no doubt that there are women out there who have been so socially conditioned to believe that happiness lies in marriage (to a man) and kids, that they do not even stop to consider whether they are attracted to women.  I can see why, at a later stage of life, they might realize that their sexual interest lies elsewhere.  The luster of early marriage has long worn off, the kids are more independent, and all of a sudden there is an awakening.  It often seems to happen around the age of 40!

From my own personal experience, turning 40 was a crux point in my marriage.  It was the point at which I stood back to assess my life.  And I wasn’t happy with what I saw.  In fact, after a very long deliberation, it was the point at which I decided to leave my husband. 

I did not take this decision lightly.  I was more than aware of the impact it would have on my children.  But I could see that the unhappy situation I was in, if it continued, would be even more damaging than divorce.

By leaving when I did, I was trying to achieve ‘damage limitation’.  It was hugely important to me that things should end before they got ‘nasty’ – ie before one of us ended up having an affair.

It seems these days that 40’s are the new 20’s and anything goes.  But when women change track at this point in life, is it really an awakening, or is it just a mid-life crisis? Are they just ‘trying out new things’, giving in to predatory behaviour, or do they really believe that they are a lesbian?

I do not think that people should be forced to live a lie – but the stakes are high.   When anyone is discovered to be having an affair, it causes untold misery.  But when the “affair” is homosexual, it is even more devastating.  It calls into question everything the marriage ever stood for, and suggests that for one party at least, it was a complete lie.  Again – like a teenager discovering they’re adopted.

If the realization of homosexuality is the issue for your marriage breakdown, then do the decent thing, as I would implore any heterosexual to do.  Leave your husband BEFORE you get involved with anyone else.

No one should have to live a lie – but consider the consequences and don’t leave everyone else thinking that you have permanently deceived them.

And remember, if you go down this path, the damage is done and you can never turn back.


  1. Hi , pleased to meet you

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    I'd love to hear what you think

  2. I completely agree with what you're saying that the revelation that a parents identity is very different tp that which the kids thought they knew must be a very challenging time and may understandably bring up feelings of betrayal. I also agree with a sentiment you have touched upon several times in your blog which is there is always a choice to leave your partner before infidelity occurs, and that I think, is a general point about decency. However, I am of the firm view (which perhaps many people would argue with) that peoples sexuality is far more fluid than we care to think - it has been highlighted in many social studies that most people who would still overall identify as heterosexual have had homosexual encounters or even relationships at some point. Sometimes this is put down to things like experimentation in adolescence but sometimes it's just the case that very few people (whether or not they would choose to share this with others) have a completely linear sexuality. And I guess following from that, it makes sense there will be those, who for a number of reasons, end up bot recognising these sorts of feelings in themselves until say their 40s. So I guess my point is I wouldn't necessarily say that these women have been living a lie - it won't be the case that everyone in this situation struggled throughout their whole life with conflicted feelings - it may just be a natural occurrence later on in life - they have found themselves attracted to a person, and that person just happened to be female too.

    A very thought provoking post!! I'm discovering your blog and it leaves me with something to think about every time!

  3. Thank you for taking the time to comment. I think your remarks about people not recognising their feelings until later in life is very interesting. We are so socially conditioned to think we will grow up heterosexual, that I can see a huge opportunity for women to just tick along until something triggers them to take a different view.

    Over the years I have had a couple of girlfriends tell me that they are not at all interested in sex. They are happily married with children - but who knows whether their lack of interest is just a lack of interest in men?

    Ultimately, that is their very own private business to decide!

  4. Thank you for your post. It's been less than 24 hours since I told my husband I think I'm gay. Our marriage of 21 years is essentially over now. He took it well, all things considered, and just wants to know what my next step is. I will probably move out of state to be near family. Look out California, here I come! :)


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