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Gay OCD / HOCD / Sexual Orientation OCD


Many people mistakenly think of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) solely as a condition in which people wash their hands excessively or check door locks repeatedly.  There are actually many sub-types of OCD.  In this five-part series, the OCD Center of Los Angeles discusses Gay OCD, also known as HOCD or Sexual Orientation OCD.

So, Am I Gay or What?

Gay OCD / HOCD / Sexual Orientation OCD
Having gay thoughts is not the same as being gay

I sat down to write this blog on Gay OCD while my wife and I had started to watch a movie (It’s been suggested I work too much).  It’s either irony or personalization, but the opening scene of the movie involves a man kissing his lover… another man.  This is the second film in two weeks that I’ve rented which involve men and their male lovers, something I was not aware of when I selected the films.

Or was I?

Gay OCD is sometimes referred to as HOCD, an abbreviation for Homosexual Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  This is an unfortunate abbreviation because it misses the true nature of this manifestation of OCD.

First, it is not exclusive to heterosexuals.  Over the years, therapists here at OCD Center of Los Angeles have treated many homosexuals (male and female) who are plagued by obsessive fears of being “straight”, and who suffer equally when OCD attacks their sexual identity.  Furthermore, the fears that clients with this condition report have little to do with actually becoming gay (or straight).  At its core, Sexual Orientation OCD is the fear of not knowing for sure, paired with the fear of never being able to have a healthy, loving relationship with a partner to whom one feels genuinely attracted.

Similarly, someone with contamination fears may on the surface appear to be overly concerned with dirt, but this fear is indicative of an overwhelming fear of never feeling clean again.  “If I don’t wash my hands, I will feel this way forever and nothing will be right in the world”. For every cry of “does this mean I’m gay?” there appears to be a louder cry of “does this mean I can’t be heterosexual anymore?

In our experience with these clients, it also appears to have little to do with homophobia or bigotry.  On the contrary, these clients are often quite open- minded on issues related to sexual orientation.  In fact, it is their own lack of bigotry that often ends up being a fear trigger.  One notable exception is cultural bigotry in which part of their Sexual Orientation OCD is fueled by the broader societal beliefs of the sufferer’s culture of origin.  For simplicity’s sake, we will refer to “gay” throughout the rest of this article to describe any sexual orientation that is not one’s own.  For those who are homosexual but have obsessive fears of “straightness” please substitute the appropriate word.

One thing that has struck us as bizarrely consistent is that OCD sufferers who obsess about their sexual identity seem notably less “gay” than me.  Allow me to illustrate:

  • Picture a man who loves the arts, has no interest in sports, admires electronic music, doesn’t “pull chicks” at the bar and feels little discomfort in the presence of naked men in the gym locker room.  Obviously gay, right?  But then, that describes me, despite the fact that I am straight.
  • So what is the opposite of me?  A man who loves watching sweaty guys fight over a ball, admires music fronted by long-haired androgynous men singing about love, and showers at home to avoid naked guys… Well, this sounds pretty gay too.

So this is what happens when your OCD locks in on sexual orientation.  Whoever you are, whatever you do, suddenly seems gay.  Just as the selective abstraction found in Contamination OCD makes it appear that dirt is everywhere, so does this same distortion make gayness appear to be hunting you down.

When this form of the OCD is in full swing, sufferers tend to over-attend to any indication that their “sexual orientation of origin” may somehow be “compromised”.  Since anxiety, distraction, and a lack of being “in the moment” are likely to make sexual experiences less gratifying, this often becomes a major trigger.  “If I don’t always want to have straight sex, I must be gay (or bi, or trans, or asexual or…)!”  And the idea that their libido is actually compromised as a result of the anxiety and obsessions that they experience due to their OCD just sounds like an excuse, or even outright denial, rather than a rational argument. You simply cannot win when you play OCD’s game – OCD cheats.

Many people who suffer from Sexual Orientation OCD get stuck on the notion that they may or may not find someone attractive and that this may or may not mean something important about them sexually.  If they see a member of the same sex, they feel it is possible that the “seeing” was really intentional “looking” and that this intentional looking indicates a secret sexual desire.  They will often then attend to and monitor their genitalia to check for arousal in an attempt to prove or disprove the theory.  This often backfires since attention causes sensation.  This, by the way, is true of other body parts as well.  When you consider picking something up with your hands, the brain actually sends a priming impulse to the hand before you’ve even made a decision to move.
Mindfulness Workbook for OCD
It is important to recognize the fundamental error in the line of thinking that pairs acknowledgment of attractiveness with sexual desire.  Attraction is a word we use to describe the feeling of being pulled into something, like a magnet.  We generally conceptualize this feeling of being pulled-in as evidence of our desire to be near someone or something.  This idea is troubling for the OCD sufferer who feels a strong need for certainty about the meaning of attraction, particularly when the false assumption is being made that all attraction is sexual attraction.

I often hear the question, “Am I attracted to this person?” from my clients.  I’m never quite sure how to answer it because it is a loaded question.  The words themselves only ask if the identified object is one they feel compelled to be near.  Furthermore, the reason for the attraction could be any number of things, positive or negative.  But the meaning my clients are hinting at is usually more along the lines of, “Do I desire to have sexual intercourse with this person?” The idea that I personally could even know what another person truly desires indicates an error in information processing.  What is more striking is the fact that their OCD does not allow them to consider the possibility of being attracted to someone, while concurrently not wanting to engage in sexual behavior with that person.

Every person is capable of identifying others as “attractive”.  This means that a person, regardless of gender, meets some set of criteria that is personally and culturally seen as attractive.  For Westerners, this may have something to do with musculature, bone structure, and/or facial symmetry.  But according to researchers, ancient Mayans apparently had a cultural preference for those who were cross-eyed and had flat foreheads.  In other words, “attractive” is not a fixed concept, and has different meaning for different people.

When we look at an attractive landscape in nature, we desire to be near it.  When we see an attractive person, this also compels us to linger.  In some cases it may be envy that draws us in.  Saying, for example, “I wish I had a body like that.”  But in many cases, it’s just giving a thumbs-up to the universe.  “Good one, Universe, you made an attractive person”.  But for the person suffering with Gay OCD, this triggers abject horror.

I often get asked the question, “Do you think I’m gay?”. After the usual therapist-speak of “Does my opinion matter?  Why do you want to know? And what would it mean to you if I thought you were?”, I suggest that my clients study the evidence with me.  The test is not very thorough.  It has one, simple question, with a few optional follow-ups:

“Do you like to have gay sex?”

That’s pretty much all we need to know in order to determine whether or not we should get busy with the work of treating their OCD.

We have seen clients with OCD who also happen to be gay.  They obsess about the same things that other OCD sufferers struggle with, except quite notably that they don’t obsess about their sexual orientation.  The only exceptions to this are gay clients who obsess about the possibility that they might actually be straight.  And I have never had a homosexual client tell me they weren’t sure if they liked homosexual sex.

On the other hand, for straight individuals with Gay OCD, their biggest fear is often that they will seek therapy for unwanted thoughts about their sexual orientation, and that the therapist will tell them that these thoughts indicate that they must actually be gay.  Unfortunately, this often happens when clients end up with ill-informed treatment providers who don’t understand what constitutes Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and illuminates the importance of finding a therapist who thoroughly understands OCD and its appropriate treatment with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

To put it as simply as possible, gay thoughts are not unwanted by homosexuals.   For homosexuals, gay thoughts are what psychologists call ego-syntonic thoughts.  That’s just a fancy way of saying that their gay thoughts are in keeping with their true values and desires.  Conversely, for heterosexuals, gay thoughts are ego-dystonic, which simply means that the thoughts are in opposition to their true values and beliefs.  Furthermore, gay people like to have gay sex, while straight people with Sexual Orientation OCD are terrified of having gay sex.

To take our free confidential online test for Gay OCD / HOCD, click here.

Part two of this series provides an in-depth explanation of how we treat Sexual Orientation OCD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), with an emphasis on Mindfulness, Cognitive Restructuring, and Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). Part two can be found at

Part three of this series provides an in-depth explanation various sub-types of Sexual Orientation OCD, and variations in their treatment CBT, ERP, and mindfulness. Part three can be found at

Part four of this series examines common challenges seen in the course of treating Sexual Orientation OCD. Part four can be found at

Part five: You can click here to read our article “HOCD: 30 Things You Need To Know”.

The OCD Center of Los Angeles is a private, outpatient clinic specializing in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for the treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and related anxiety based conditions.  In addition to individual therapy, the center offers five weekly therapy groups, as well as online therapy, telephone therapy, and intensive outpatient treatment.  To contact the OCD Center of Los Angeles, click here.







  • This article is a terrific explanation of HOCD, appealing to the confused reader or the reader with some knowledge on the subject.

    I learned a lot about my thoughts from this article and I am thrilled to have found it.

    Thank you.

    • hi can u help. When I was younger I was abused. It did feel like abuse I dont know whether it was experiences or not. This went on for about a year or to. I was around 8- 10 years of age. I then had 2 more gay eposides. This was not as bad as before. Growing up going to school I always fancyed girls and considered myself to be hetrosexual. It did affect me with girls as the abuse confused me a bit. I was 18 when I slept with a girl for the first time. I enjoy sex with a girl. I had a few girlfriends after that nothing serious. I was 23 when I got with my fiancee now im 33. I am happy with her. Suppose I have always had some sort of gay thoughts. But the last 2 weeks have been hell constantly looking at men do I fancy them. i have tryed looking at gay porn doesnt turn me it it repulses me. I watch straight porn and lesbian porn i do get horny but when im finished it doesnt feel good. Could I have HOCD or be in denial or bisexual. I love my girlfriend and my family. just cant understand how these thoughts have just come back into my head.

      • Hi Keith,

        These thoughts have recently come back into your head for a very simple reason..because thoughts are not controllable, and they can come into your head any time at all. Trying to to control what thoughts pop into your head is a losing cause, and will likely become a counterproductive compulsion. Likewise, trying to figure out why any particular thought pops into your head is a complete waste of time, and is also likely to become a compulsion. Furthermore, testing yourself by watching gay porn is a compulsion.

        Your many years of being straight provide ample evidence that you are straight. And having been abused as a child does not make one gay – its makes one a survivor of abuse.

        Finally remember this very simple dictum – thoughts are just thoughts.

        • So I am 100% affected by this. But it was not until I took anabolic steroids that I was hit with depression and such. I have never been attracted to the same sex. Ever. There’s never been a time where I felt aroused or sexually attracted to the same sex (the only time I could think of was when I was tricked by a transsexual, who I thought was a woman on a dating site but then was disgusted when I realized and saw close up in a picture.) There’s been no want or urge to engage in sexual contact ever with anyone of the same sex.

          So when all of a sudden one day I was hit with no sex drive and libido, my first thought was somehow being gay. Let me be clear I still have enjoyable sex with my gf and I still have no homosexual urges. What I do have is this over and above anxiety about this issue and I do not have any idea where it came from. I was always comfortable in my sexuality, to be honest I still am. I just have the incessant worry I’ll never enjoy women again (The loss in libido is due to steroid use and hit me clear out of the blue.

          • Brian,

            This all sounds like HOCD to me.

            You say that you have “incessant worry I’ll never enjoy women again”, yet you also say that you “still have enjoyable sex” with your girlfriend. So it seems to me that your fear is contradicted by reality.

            Also, you note that the anabolic steroids have had a negative effect on your libido. I am not an MD, so I cannot provide you with medical advice about steroids. But I can encourage you to discuss this issue of reduced libido related to steroids with a doctor.

        • Hello again sorry to bother anyone but I’m as you probably know from me posting here I’m a 17 year old boy I had hocd for about 3 months and I was terrified that I was gay because I’ve always been attracted to women and seeked relationships with women ect. But I’m even more terrified now because I’m terrified that I’m attracted to women I don’t get it 2 weeks ago I was in love with this girl and she rejected me and now 2 weeks later I woke up thinking about women and now I’m terrified of women,sex,relationships, and that bothers me because It feels like i want a man but at the same time i know I’m straight it’s killing me i want to be straight but it feels like I don’t want women it feels like I don’t want anything straight and it bothers me because gay people with hocd are terrified of being straight and it feels like I’m terrified of being straight I don’t get it I was terrified of being gay avoiding men and seeking reassurance that I’m not gay I had every symptom of a straight person with hocd and I was getting better feeling like my straight self again and now I’m terrified of women I need advice I wish I was still terrified of being gay please I don’t want to be gay help!!!

        • I can’t figure out how to post on here and need help. I was diagnosed with hocd by 2 therapists. I have previously watched lesbian pirn and been aroused. I posted on my ocd Facebook group and someone who is bisexual told me I have ” internalized homophobia” 😭😭😭 I don’t know how to handle this anymore it’s been a year. I’ve never wanted to date a girl or sleep with one. I even looked uo naked pics of ” vaginas” and full blow gagged to my phone screen. I am so lost and need more help.

          • Hi Abbey,

            Thank you for your replies and your patience in us responding back! I am so sorry you are going through this in your struggle with Sexual Orientation OCD (SO-OCD). Having OCD can be so difficult and confusing, especially when it relates to arousal, including groin responses. Because our brains can so quickly make associations to sexual related stimuli, we often can misinterpret those signals/experiences in our thoughts, emotions, body, and even behavior (compulsions). What can be so helpful to someone struggling with this concern, is to just focus on and come back to the treatment, and continuing to grown in understanding of the OCD and the human experience, including its tricks/misinterpretations that can present.

            Wishing you well, and hang in there. This is so difficult and can get better!

    • Hi, I am a 21 year old girl and my whole life I have never ever questioned my sexuality as I have always had boyfriends and have always loved them and enjoyed straight sex. About 2 weeks ago one of my friends came out that she was bisexual and ever since, every single second of the day I am doubting my sexual orientation and it has got that bad I am thinking that it might feel nice to have sex with a girl. But before my friend come out as bi, I have never ever had these thoughts and I always thought about straight sex and had massive crushes on boys. I only ever thought certain girls where pretty and thats as far as it went. I cant stop thinking about this and its driving me crazy ever day! I just want to know what’s happening inside my head. Why do I all of a sudden question my sexual orientation??

      • B,

        What’s happening inside your head sounds to me like textbook HOCD. And the reason you are suddenly questioning your orientation is because that’s what HOCD does to a person.

        I encourage you to remind yourself that human brains think all sorts of unrealistic and unimportant things, and that you do not need to pay attention to such thoughts. Just accept that these weird thoughts exist in your consciousness, without assuming that they mean something important. They are just thoughts that deserve no attention whatsoever.

        • 27 yr old Male
          26yrs Ive been attracted to women, never questioned it
          I went to a doctor for My anxiety, i got benzo. car accident and got tramadol. Then I read that these pills could turn u gay. Then I had a gay dream and after that I cant even look when a guy shows a bit of his stomach without having a groinal respons. The intrusive thoughts about naked men are killing me, I dont want to be gay but how do i know when all these thoughts keeps coming back?
          My interest for sex with Girls has dicreased. I don’t want to be in a rel. W a man. I love m gf
          Is it True that these meds can Change your sexual orientation? do I have HOCD? Or have I just turned gay?

          • Ollie,

            I don’t know where you read that Tramadol makes people gay, but that is utter nonsense.

            Everything else you write sounds like HOCD. I encourage you to find a therapist who specializes in treating OCD.

          • Hi, I’m 18 right now, but my HOCD started when I was 14, when I was sexually harassed by an older man. I remember false attractions and anxiety. I was also sexually exploited by a peer and all of this convinced me I was bisexual. My peer made me feel like I wanted to engage in sexual activities with him when I knew I didn’t. I remember trying to stay away from him because I knew I didn’t want this but i felt like I must be bi and want this. I hated the experience and it caused a series of breakdowns for me. I’ve only ever felt actually attracted to, liked and dated girls. I feel that because I engaged in sexual activities with a male peer even though he coerced me and I was 15-16 at the time that I must still be bisexual. What should I do?

          • Artemis,

            I’m sorry other that you experienced these abusive behaviors. I encourage you to seek treatment with a therapist who treats both OCD and trauma.

            All that being said, I encourage you to read our article “HOCD: 30 Things You Need To Know” at, especially items #9, #10, and #11 in that article.

  • This was an excellent article. As someone who suffered this theme and is now coming out of it, it is one of the best descriptions as to why I suffered. Most people I’ve discussed this with sadly confuse it with internalized homophobia and don’t understand that the real issue is I want to be with women and women only.

    One thing that has always bothered me when reading literature on this theme though is the description of ego-syntonic. Where do people who are gay but in denial fit in with this? Take, for example, a gay person from a religious sect that condemns homosexuality. In this case, he desires to have gay sexual relations conflicts with his values.

    This issue never really applied to me personally, but I would appreciate some clarification on the issue.

  • Hi Anthony, that’s an excellent question. It is sometimes the case that a homosexual person who has rigid cultural beliefs about homosexuality may wish NOT to be homosexual and attempt to suppress their thoughts of homosexuality to avoid what they see as negative consequences. However, the thoughts here are still ego-syntonic, even if unwanted, because they still fit in with a core reality consistent with other thoughts they may have. They don’t look at the homosexual thought and feel that it doesn’t make sense why it is there. They look at it and say it is something they DO feel and simply wish they didn’t.

    In other words, ego-dystonic would be believing you are NOT gay and yet feeling bombarded by gay thoughts that seem alien to you, whereas ego-syntonic would apply to knowing you ARE gay and having gay thoughts that are consistent with your internal reality, regardless of whether the thoughts were ones you thought were acceptable.

    • This is really scaring me I’m a 17 year old male and have suffered from what I hope is hocd and I keep imagining myself with a man but it doesn’t disgust me and to make things I experimented alot with the same sex from 13-16 years old and that has convinced me I’m gay but I don’t want to be I have had crushes on girls and I have never kissed a girl and every girl I’ve asked out on a date they have said no but the thing is when i first woke up the thought I’m gay came into my head and my heart dropped with fear and anxiety I told my gran what was going on and she said she doesn’t have a clue what I’m talking about that was 5 months ago my parents know about this and i don’t have the anxiety anymore but the thoughts are still there along with feelings I am seeing a psychiatrist and psychologist who said I have ocd but I just keep doubting it and I have been prescribed setraline 125 mg but It doesn’t do anything to help that’s another reason why i doubt myself can somebody help me I’m don’t want to be gay I want to be straight somebody please help me

      • Alan,

        You sound like you genuinely want help for HOCD. That said, posting comments on this blog is not an effective means to getting the help. I have no idea if your psychologist truly understand OCD and how to treat it (most don’t). If he/she is an OCD specialist, stick with the treatment. If he/she is not an OCD specialist, then don’t waste any more time and instead find a therapist who specializes in treating OCD.

        • I do want help but i am convinced that I’m gay or at the very least bi because when i Experimented with the same sex i felt pleasure and enjoyed the feeling of that pleasure but I never thought about being with someone of the same gender I always wanted to be with a girl I had fantasies about girls and enjoyed getting attention from girls can someone who is straight feel pleasure from being intimate with someone who is their same gender i just want to be straight and happy with a beautiful woman who I can enjoy sex with but I feels like I can’t and that irritates me can someone please help me!!!

          • Alan,

            Of course your same sex behavior felt good. I am guessing that if you masturbated rubbing your penis against an old shoe that you would enjoy the orgasm. That wouldn’t mean that you are sexually attracted to old shoes. It would mean that your penis responded to masturbating. Not much of a surprise there.

            I encourage you to read our article HOCD: 30 Things You Need to Know, which clearly points out that a history of experimentation with the same sex does not mean one is gay. It means that person experimented with same sex behavior, which is extremely common in kids and teens.

          • I know it was 3 months ago you replied to my comment and thank you my life was fine in July and August I was feeling like myself again and I wanted a girlfriend but know it feels like I don’t want one and it irritates me so much and I’ll give you information on my symptoms when it first began in February this year. I woke up in my grans house and the first thing in my mind was I’m gay I started panicking and felt like I couldn’t breathe after that I paced back in forth trying to make sense of it from then on I couldn’t eat I couldn’t sleep I was constantly crying to myself and to my mom I would avoid going outside because I didn’t want to see a man eventually my mom was really concerned and googled everything and she found something called HOCD and the symptoms were exactly the same as mine at first I felt relieved but like all reassurence it lasted 30 minutes. Also, I have a really bad porn addiction and I masturbate to straight or lesbian porn at least 5 times a day. I need advice please.

          • Alan,

            You ask for advice, so here goes…

            This all sounds like classic HOCD.

            Avoiding going outside because you might see males is a compulsion. It will make your HOCD worse, not better.

            I have a hard time imagining a gay male masturbating 5 times a day, every day, to straight and lesbian porn. Gay men would generally prefer to see two males getting it on.

            That said, if you have a porn addiction, you should seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in treating compulsive sex.

            As for the HOCD, you should seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD.

    • I have gay thoughts and sometimes feelings although they are out of line with who I want to be because I am a happily married man who wants to continue living as a heterosexual. To me, the thoughts and feelings I experience are therefore ego dystonic. Would that be the case? I have managed what I thought to be hocd since I was 23 (now around 33). Thank you for the articles.

      • Greg,

        Yes, when you say that your thoughts are “out of line with who (you) want to be”, that is an almost perfect description of the term “ego-dystonic”.

        • I have history of crushes on girls, and my mind tells me that I had a crush on one guy when I was a kid. When I was 12 I discovered porn, and then I discovered gay porn. First it was fun, but then I got depressed because of it. I had gay fantasies but do not know of ego dystonic or syntonic, I would jerk off, and then cry. However, now I am 22 and married to woman, but I again have these thoughts of me thinking that I am gay, which makes me depressed. I check in my mind would I enjoy gay sex, and two days ago, I had an urge to play with one of my wife’s toy. After that I felt so guilty and again depressed.
          I am thinking about this all day, I even sometimes want to die. Don’t know if HOCD or gay who wants to suppress homosexuality?

          • ScaredDepressed,

            Sounds like HOCD to me.

  • This is a very interesting article on H-OCD, thank you. You have probably dealt with patients who had dreams connected to HOCD while it was at its peak.

    Can you please clarify how those thoughts can sneak up in dreams? Speaking for myself I never had any dreams of such content before OCD struck me. Its now 10 months that I have been struggling with this disorder and I’ve probably had 4 dreams about it in total already. They had nothing to do with sex itself, but mostly with situations which might escalate to sex. I always wake up before feeling that great anxiety.

    I thought that OCD could live only while you are awake. I understand that this looks like reassurance seeking, but it is a really weird moment for me and many other fellow OCD’ers. And I’ve read some articles, which stated that OCD can work only in waking mind.

  • Thank you for your question, and yes, I have seen ocd sufferers with all kinds of obsessions get very upset about their dreams.

    The first step to understanding treatment for HOCD is accepting that we cannot control our thoughts. We can control our behavior, which may lead to thoughts presenting themselves in different ways, but we don’t pick and choose what thoughts happen and what thoughts don’t. Since this is clear in waking life, I see no reason to think the rules are any different when we are asleep. Thoughts happen. Dreams happen.

    An anxious person may recall a small bit of dreaming and they may identify the dream as anxious (being chased, for example). A person spending much of their time compulsively analyzing thoughts about sexual orientation is likely to remember dreams about sexual orientation. Whether they are actually HAVING more of these dreams or just over-attending to them is impossible to know for certain. In any case, I can state with confidence that I have had dreams of all kinds of behavior throughout my life and so far this has provided me with no useful information about who I am.

    I’m not sure what articles you are referring to that state that ocd issues do not appear in dreams. I would be interested to read them as this theory runs counter to what many of my clients have reported.

    • Please I need serious help now I feel anxious about women I’m actually crying as I’m writing this because I just feel like dying right now because i feel attracted to women but why i’m I anxious in my heart I’ve always liked women had crushes on them been attracted to them ect. And now I feel I don’t want a woman and that terrifies me so much because about a week ago I wanted a girlfriend and now I’m anxious about women I still feel straight it’s just I don’t know why I feel so anxious thinking about dating or having sex with a woman up until last week i loved fantasizing about the girl of my dreams and now it feels like I’m to scared I need help badly because I’m driving myself insane because I just want my lust and courage for women to return and it feels like I will never be able to love a woman ever again and I’m so terrified btw ever since I was diagnosed with ocd this is the time I’ve been most frightened in my entire life please someone help me!!!

      • Alan,

        This is the fourth time you have posted comments to this blog, each time asking for help. I have noted in my prior replies that this is not the way to get serious help, and I have encouraged you to seek treatment. Simply put, posting comments on blog articles, is not a substitute for therapy. I STRONGLY encourage you to seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) focused on a specific CBT technique called Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP).

  • Is a pity I can’t link to those articles – there were two of them, both written in my native language (I am not from an English speaking country). The idea was that OCD requires a high state of awareness and brain activity to do its best. And while we sleep, our brain is in a state of activity which is not active enough to trigger obsessions.

    Besides, I am sure I never had any thoughts or dreams like that before, and I am close to 30 years old. On the one hand that signals that there’s no ground behind obsessions, but on the other, dreams are completely confusing. Probably one can feel any type of feelings in dreams, especially obsessing over them all day long, so they might be induced. And Freud theories makes it even more confusing…

  • The theory about heightened awareness having something to do with having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is interesting, but not backed up by any of the scientific research I have seen. The ideas you are alluding to may have something to do with how you are defining the word “obsession” as I can find no rational argument to support the idea that certain kinds of thoughts are prohibited from occuring while a person is alive.

    There are a lot of theories about the mechanisms of ocd, but only evidence-based treatment protocols have demonstrated consistent effectiveness.

    The statement that you have “never” had certain dreams implies that you have memory of all of your dreams, which would make you quite unique indeed. It is commonly accepted that roughly 95% of dreams are not remembered, due in part to the fact that you are not converting short-term to long-term memory when in REM sleep. The fact that you are recently aware of certain dreams only suggests that they are particularly memorable to you.

    I agree that dreams are confusing. I also agree that Freudian theories are confusing. If you take a look at some of what Freud had written about ocd (which he called obsessional neurosis), it is clear that he believed it was essentially impossible to treat. This is because his theories are of no use to the treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

  • Great posts and great comments too. I am struggling/battling this form of OCD and definitely get hung up on the EGO Dystonic stuff too. I can quickly fall into the ruminating side of things trying to “figure out” if my thoughts are truly in-compatible with how I see myself , or if perhaps I have just “trained” myself well from a young age.

    The dream thing also hangs me up. I recently have had dreams with some gay content (sex only once), and also woke up extremely anxious and panicky. I can only think that, like Dr. Hershfield said – I have “flagged” these thoughts/dreams as dangerous and therefore and noticing them.

  • Thank you so much for this article. I have struggled with various forms of OCD for most of my life (I’m a 23-year-old female), and HOCD has been the most recent manifestation of this struggle, plaguing me for about a year now. I have been doing much better in recent months due to some help from new medication and am talking to a counselor, but I still get hung up on certain thoughts and ideas.

    One worry I keep coming back to is that I have, at various points during adolescence, wondered or briefly worried about the possibility of being gay. None of these episodes were as intense or lasted as long as the one I’m currently in, and therefore I’m compelled to think of them not as OCD-related but as actual questioning and fear about my sexual identity. Which then leads to the question: if that wasn’t OCD, who’s to say there’s not a grain of truth in my current worryings?

    My mom would tell me (and has) that even those earlier questions didn’t mean anything given my tendency to worry and over-analyze in many different areas of my life. So I guess my question at this point is, is it possible for a person’s intermittent adolescent fears about being homosexual/bisexual to be symptomatic of OCD even if they didn’t exhibit the intensity & longevity of full-blown HOCD? I guess it’s hard for me to conceptualize the boundaries of OCD, if there are any.

    Again, thanks so much for such an articulate and encouraging article.

  • Thanks for the comments, Elizabeth. I think there are two things to consider here. First, your ocd says that you must be certain as to what is ocd and what is not, so it sends you on an endless quest to know for sure what a thought may or may not have meant at some point in your past. Your current challenge is to confront the discomfort of never knowing for sure if one of your thoughts had some sort of special meaning and you missed it. In other words, don’t be ocd about your ocd or you will be inclined to obsess about everything.

    But if we choose to investigate this thought from your past and try to come up with some sort of explanation, I think it can best be summed up as “so what?” Why is having thoughts with little anxiety about one’s sexuality mutually exclusive from having unwanted intrusive ocd thoughts with lots of anxiety? In either case, the thoughts themselves are normal chemical events. The only thing that sets them apart is the reaction you have to them. The reason your reaction is different now is because now it appears to be working for the ocd. Perhaps the issue of sexuality had a somewhat different meaning in adolescence than it does in young adulthood. That would be normal.

    Having a grain of truth in an ocd thought does not make a difference. There is a grain of truth that I may get a disease from the germs on this keyboard as I type this. This does not mean the thought is rational or worth responding to.

    Ultimately, it is possible that it was ocd and it is possible that it wasn’t (or perhaps it was both!), but knowing this does not provide you with useful information for getting better. Therefore, trying to get a definitive answer should be looked at as a compulsion.

  • Thank you so much for your response. It has given me a lot to consider and absorb. It’s interesting – you say, “Having a grain of truth in an OCD thought does not make a difference,” while my OCD mind says, “Having a grain of truth in an OCD thought makes all the difference in the world and would be reason enough to send you spiraling into despair.” I know OCD sufferers often have all-or-nothing thinking; here that’s manifested as the belief that if I can label all my sexuality-related thoughts as OCD, and therefore not relevant to my true sexual identity, I’ll know I have nothing to worry about. It is hard – very, very hard – to think about it in the terms you suggest. Thanks again for your response.

  • I am delighted to have discovered this article. From what I have researched in comparison to my thoughts/feelings it seems I am suffering from HOCD.

    I have been suffering from this for over four months now. I say suffer because it really is hugely trying. These ‘thoughts’ cropped literally out of nowhere and were HUGELY distressing. I consequently had huge panic attacks, I was constantly anxious and the thoughts were completely alien to me and essentially attacked who I was as I am happily engaged to my Fiance.

    However, the problem I now have is that the thoughts are so constant, literally from the moment I wake to the moment I fall asleep I have almost got used to the thoughts which has led me to believe perhaps I am gay. It seems almost that I have conditioned myself to think I am gay and feel that I am compared to being straight! This OCD feels like it is shifting my outlook on who I am.

    My question is whether this is possible?

    Apologies for the length of this post I just feel really lost as having previously approached a counselor it seemed that I was suggesting I was just in denial.

    Many thanks for your time.

  • Thank you for your comments, Jade. I’m glad the article resonated with you. I have frequently seen what you describe happen before. Since the issue at hand is neither homosexuality nor heterosexuality, but an intolerance of uncertainty, some people find themselves working on a “convincing” compulsion that is the reverse of their original response. The idea is that this will at least relieve them of obsessing, even if it means being something that is fundamentally untrue. It ultimately backfires and leads to more obsessive-compulsive behavior.

    Another related phenomenon is something called a “backdoor spike” in which an HOCD sufferer gets upset by the notion that they are not upset ENOUGH about gay thoughts to still be straight. You can read more about backdoor spikes in our article about challenges to overcoming HOCD.

    In addition to Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) strategies for the fear of being gay, you might also benefit from using the same strategies to confront the idea of missing out on secretly being gay or never knowing for sure.

    Congratulations on being engaged!

  • Hey, I really liked the article. The one thing that freaked me out was the whole one question you ask. I did things when I was younger (even like 13 and 14) with those of the same sex, but it was always because I liked how it felt, yet I never felt an attraction for the same sex whatsoever. I then went on to date a girl and completely forgot about those times until all this started. I have always been attracted to girls, but if I could enjoy gay sex due to the feel but not attraction does that make me gay? I’ve had anxiety for so many years, but this hocd is the absolute worst! Thank you for any response.

  • Thank you so much for your reply, you have given me alot of insight into what seems to be a living nightmare at the moment.

  • Glad you liked the article, James. I think you bring up a good example of how cunning ocd can be. It can take a question like “Do you like to have gay sex?” which I interpret as meaning something like “would you rather be having same-sex intercourse than having this conversation?” and slyly turns it into a question about whether or not gay sex is fundamentally enjoyable.

    This is a trap. Of course sexual stimulation is sexually stimulating, so the issue of whether or not it is enjoyable is separate from whether or not you are oriented to prefer it. Something feeling good is a different concept from being sexually attracted to the person who helps you achieve that feeling.

    Another point worth commenting on is that sexual behavior at the age you describe engaging in it is a fundamentally different experience than adult sexual behavior. It may involve the same mechanisms, but the psychosexual brain development is truly different. In short, experimentation is not orientation. Your OCD challenge is to accept that whatever happened, simply happened, and analyzing it to get certainty about its meaning is a compulsion.

  • I hope I am not being bothersome, but saying that would I rather be having it right now rather than this conversation still not prove it since it can be enjoyable and me still not be gay? Sorry for all the analysis. Also, I’m only 20 but always felt I was straight. You talked about hormones. Could that have changed my sexual orientation?
    Thank you for any answers.

  • James, I think you are missing the point, which is that trying to “prove” your sexual orientation is the problem, not the solution. If you spent this much time trying to prove the sky was blue, it would start to seem green.

    I have not heard of hormones changing an individual’s sexual orientation.

  • I enjoyed your article very much. I agree that calling this kind of OCD, HOCD is a slight misinterpretation. As for me it is better to call it Sexual Orientation Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (SOOCD).

    I’m going through this nightmare since August 2009. My personality seems to change and nothing looks to be the same as before. But in heart I know that it’s a disorder, and that my personality remains the same. I hope.

    In fact, I consider myself to be a gay man. In the past I had problems in relationships with other guys and it may be a real root of the whole matter at hand. In the last month of 2009 I was on the verge of collapse, I had terrible suicidal thoughts – I thought I can’t stand it longer. I wasn’t aware I had OCD then. When I realized it was OCD (in February 2010) I started to use supplements like inositol, B Vitamin Complex, Omega Fatty Acids and some more. I was very exhausted and couldn’t think clearly.

    In fact, nowadays I know that I fear of becoming a straight man and I am doing a (I want to put it in good English) a sort of mind checking and reassuring, i.e. at first I deliberately popped up images of women genitals to find whether it aroused me – but now my mind does it in an automatic manner. But still it is a sort of self-thought-checking. It is as if I was in hell already.

    I also sometimes went to heterosexual pornographic sites (which I hate), as a sort of compulsion for sure. I always admire the guys – but then, the anxiety comes into picture and again pictures of women come to my mind as way to reassure I am still gay. I much more prefered (and prefer) to see women in an unsexual manner. For me it’s horrible, disgusting and out of this world.

    My blood test turned to be ok, with slightly too much sugar (112) for an empty stomach. I’m very reluctant to seek for psychologist/psychiatrist aid as I think I will be misunderstood. I live in Poland and I know that these doctors prescribe only chemical medicine. Sorry for the lengthy post.

  • Hi Luke, glad you liked the article.

    It seems pretty clear that you are dealing with this form of OCD, which involves obsessive thoughts about sexual orientation, and using compulsive strategies in an effort to gain certainty about it. I wish we had a better name than HOCD, but I imagine some people might object to calling it SO OCD! The truth is all of these abbreviations are generally unhelpful since they all represent variations on the same problem (regardless of one’s actual sexual orientation).

    It sounds like some of what you are doing involves exposure (watching straight porn), but not response prevention (you are trying to prove you are gay instead of accepting whatever thoughts happen), so the end result is sensitization instead of habituation. I encourage you to read our article about HOCD treatment in order to get a better understanding of this form of OCD.

    I’m not sure the distinction of OCD medication as somehow being more “chemical” than other things is a helpful one. The world is made up of chemicals, and some of them in certain combinations seem to help to reduce OCD symptoms. Since the issue you describe is an OCD problem, you may benefit from seeking OCD treatment. In any case, without access to a suitable treatment provider in your area, you may have to educate yourself about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for OCD through some of the available books.

  • Thank you for ascertaining me that the whole thing I experience is OCD – as I sensed.

    In fact, as a child I had Tourette’s syndrome, as an adolescent I had major eating disorder, an episode of hypochondriasis and fear of germs (compulsive hand washing) and then I had (for 2 months in 2007 after breaking up with a guy) mild HOCD which subsided and a major relapse of this kind of OCD in 2009 which lasts to this day.

    As for chemical drugs, I had in mind that they may be addictive but nonetheless I know they are helpful. OCD is a real cheater – and it wants one to believe in its lies…

    And yes – thank you for the notion of CBT – I will look for books on it (I’ve read a lot of books on OCD now). But once again thank you very much for your help!

  • Hi there, this is a very nice article…

    I was wondering, does SOOCD make you feel like you like the thoughts?

  • Hi R, thanks for the question.

    Thoughts are normal events that occur in the brain. Sometimes those thoughts coincide with certain feelings and sometimes this develops into a pattern we call “liking” a thought.

    While by and large people experience OCD thoughts as consistently abhorrent, sometimes people experience feelings of ambivalence or even comfort by their presence. This is particularly common when one has spent a great deal of time analyzing how they are “supposed to” feel about a thought. The important point to remember is that evaluating your “liking” or “not liking” of thoughts is, in and of itself, a compulsive behavior that is not helpful.

    Generally speaking, if you are saying you feel like you may like a certain thought, but then experience discomfort over that discovery, then you are still in the throes of an OCD problem.

  • thank you for this wonderful article !
    i fight with hocd for about a year now….there were good but mostly just awful times ( like at the moment)
    i was doing better but now ( i think through the bagdoor spike) i dont know who i am anymore… mind keeps telling me that i like this gay thoughts and that is the actual me and so on…….its very hard but i know that i have to keep strong and beat this disorder….
    but ive a question too….mr. hershfield is it often the case that your clients get better and normal again ?

  • Hi Mohsen, glad you liked the article.

    All of our clients start out normal! They are normal people who also happen to have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder which means certain thoughts appear problematic to them and their strategies for addressing this problem create a cycle that impairs their functioning. But I’ll answer your question in the spirit in which it was intended…

    Yes. In my experience those clients who engage seriously in CBT, do their homework, and challenge themselves to resist compulsive behavior often see significant symptom reduction and relief.

    Many people worry a great deal about the “actual” self being different than the present one. This is an OCD trap. You are a person who has thoughts. This remains true before, during, and after treatment. There is no other self. The issue you want to address is how frequent, intrusive, and powerful some of these thoughts present themselves.

  • Hi,

    I think I speak for everyone when I say that this article is the best article ever written on HOCD and we are all very grateful that you wrote it. It is priceless.

    I myself have been suffering from this disorder since October 09 and have gotten dramatically better, although there are a few things I still struggle with and I’d appreciate your opinion on the matter.

    I’ll keep it simple. When I hang out with my mates I feel gay and think that others think I’m gay because I’m out hanging with males and not females (self esteem issues and I’ve always been quite shy). Likewise, if I’m hanging out with some girls who are friends I feel like people think I’m a “girlfriend” to them, hence gay. I can see how absurd this way of thinking is but I’m not sure how to change it.

    I’m sorry if this is written in a way that can’t be accurately interpreted. It’s a strange situation but I’d like to know how I can re frame my mind and stop worry about this. Thoughts?

    Thank you

  • hi, I would just like to say this is the best post iv’e seen on OCD.

    However, the last few days I have 3 main worries:

    1. I have spiked for nearly 4 days with hardly any moments where I feel straight
    2. This is my only obsession and i only discovered HOCD websites after my first couple of days of feeling this way so maybe I could have given myself this in a moment of denial?
    3. I snooze in a morning with strong feeling i’m actually gay until i wake up enough to freak out

    My mind won’t stop saying i’m rejected it and i’m constantly looking at men and analyzing and sometimes finding some attraction.

    sorry for the long post, but its taken over my life.

  • Reece, wow, that’s some compliment! Thank you for the kind words.

    I think the first thing you need to come to terms with in regards to the situation you described is that you cannot win. It is not possible to win that OCD game because the rules are created by OCD and can change without warning or explanation. So trying to win, which in this case would be trying to spend the “right” amount of time with people of the “right” gender while thinking only the right thoughts, is a strategy that will fail.

    A better strategy would be to hang out with people you like to hang out with and accept that your OCD may also wish to hang out with them from time to time. So if you’re hanging out with girls and your OCD says this makes you gay, just say hello to the OCD and offer it a metaphorical seat at the table without addressing the irrelevant question of whether or not you are gay. Then if at some point you are hanging out with guy friends and the OCD says this makes you gay, you can take an “oh you again” approach and accept that these are thoughts which happen to be occurring at this moment. If you can learn to allow thoughts to arrive wherever they happen to arrive, you will find that they are less likely to demand that they be invited to every party.

  • Hi Andrew, thanks for your comment.

    1. I don’t know what it means to “feel straight” or “feel gay”, but it sounds like you are dealing with a lot of intrusive thoughts and mental rituals right now. If you are trying to feel a certain way, that should be looked at as a compulsion that is fueling the problem.

    2. Late onset OCD is not uncommon, and HOCD being the first major obsession is also not uncommon. However, though it is not always true, I have encountered a lot of people who say they never had OCD before and then come to realize that they just had poor insight about some behaviors in their past which were obsessive-compulsive.

    3. I’m not sure what you’re saying here but people often report OCD being in high gear first thing in the morning.

    You didn’t mention anything about treatment, but it sounds like there is some depression alongside the OCD and this needs to be treated. If you do not already have a therapist, I recommend going to where they have a good list of therapists who treat OCD.

  • I understand I guess im just really wanting your professional opinion on the matter by what you said meaning can you enjoy it via feeling but as long as there is no physical attraction are you straight?

  • Thank you so much for your reply.

    Yes my life is just constant checking and mentally trying to solve the situation, sometimes this takes up around 12 hours a day. This has being going on for four months now and has gradually got worse.
    At first it seemed like textbook ocd, moments were i felt total relief through reassurance to moments were it seemed i had a total mist in front of me and can’t tell whats real and whats not.

    Recently it seems to be more like 4 bad days to 1 good day, for example since i read your article i seem 70% better, not far from being myself again and my female attraction was returning, but tomorrow I could go into total relapse. I have also suffered from panic attacks were I went to hospital believing i was going to die recently, but these seemed to have gone away.

    Before this i was very confident in my sexuality, but overtime lost all confidence around girls, yet had a strong desire to have a girlfriend.

    It may be hard to tell but do you think this is ocd? and i relise i need to see someone soon, i just dont think i can sit in front of my doctor (im english!)

  • James, needing to know for sure that something is OCD is no different than needing to know for sure that you are straight or gay, which is the problem that you have, which is your OCD.

    It would not be helpful for you to have me participate in these reassurance-seeking compulsions. My recommendation is that you check out and get more information on the disorder to help you understand how your analysis is fueling the problem.

  • Andrew, if reading anything I wrote made you feel 70% better, my guess is you have OCD and should be seeing an OCD specialist for treatment. If your doctor is not an OCD specialist, then he is not the one you should sit and talk with about this.

    The UK more than likely has a few therapists who understand CBT for OCD well. Online therapy for HOCD with one of our staff therapists is also an option.

  • what is the difference between internalized homophobia and HOCD?

    after finding out about it. it has brought me so much sadness and i just don’t know who i am anymore.

    sometimes hocd feels so real and i feel as though i am in denial and i really am a lesbian..then i go on to believe i have internalized homophobia because of that and then a few days later i am straight again. i just don’t know how to feel anymore! whenever i say i am straight, it’s as if a voice in my head says no you’re not – you are in denial when hocd is at it’s worse…but when i don’t think about hocd i am attracted to men emotionally and physically. it’s just when i do think about it.. i just think that all those feelings are not real and i’m just in denial it’s so horrible.

  • Hi Kate, internalized homophobia is a term used to describe the experience of being homosexual and hating oneself for it because of beliefs about homosexuality being hateful. HOCD is a manifestation of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder identified by the presence of unwanted intrusive thoughts and mental or physical strategies for addressing them which impair functioning. In other words, one is a theory addressing the experience of the closeted homosexual and the other is a well understood and treatable clinical disorder.

    As you noted, when you are not obsessing on the subject, you appear to feel attracted to members of the opposite sex. When you are obsessing about it, you are trapped in a futile attempt to be sure you feel a certain way about certain thoughts. The best approach would be to resist this compulsion to try to “know how you feel” and instead work on accepting that the thoughts, feelings, and sensations that you experience are not threats or calls to action.

    Many people with ocd report to us that they feel they are in denial or “faking it” when they allow themselves to touch dirty doorknobs and not wash their hands or have thoughts about hurting loved ones and resist avoiding family members. This form of ocd is not unique to the ocd experience. Accept that you feel fake or in denial and that knowing for sure what your feelings mean is not the most important thing in your life just because ocd says it is.

  • I wrote to you earlier. I’ve got one additional question regarding the exposure and response prevention therapy. From your professional point of view how long does it last to become insensitive to the thoughts which appear in one’s mind, which oppose one’s natural and acceptable ideas? I believe hocd is very often caused when a trigger makes us vulnerable and we become oversensitized to a particular idea which we cannot accept and stand. In fact, it may be caused by various factors as you stated before. But is there average time after which EBT ‘wipes out’ the problem. And, as you wrote, in my case response prevention is about acccepting the thoughts – is there anything else to it, or only facing (exposure) and accepting?

  • Hi Luke, the speed at which someone habituates to triggering material is dependent on the consistency with which they engage in the exposure and their commitment to resisting the compulsive response. This can take hours, days, or months depending on how the treatment is being applied and what amounts of anxiety the sufferer is willing to face.

    While mindfulness and accepting your gay thoughts as they are may initially feel like an exposure, effective ERP is going to have to include direct and intentional confrontation with things that will trigger the thoughts (pictures, places, videos, etc.). I encourage you to read our article about treatment for HOCD.

  • Hello, thanks for posting this great article! MY HOCD came out after I broke up with my first boyfriend. When it first started it was really bad, I have sought out treatment which has helped me a bit but my HOCD always comes back when I am having issues with the opposite sex. Once the issues start with a man, the questioning begins “Am I gay? Should I be dating women?” It also hits when I compare myself to my girlfriends who seem to be attracted to so many men. For me, I am attracted to a certain type of man but not every man and most of the time my attraction increases with a man after getting to know him which in turn makes me desire him more. I know that we are all wired differently but I wish that I didn’t have to deal with this. It is frustrating and most likely holding me back from many healthy fulfilling relationships.

  • Hi Jen, thanks for your post. I think this is a very common construct in this form of ocd. Relationships are complicated to begin with, so when you add ocd to the mix, it is likely to promote thinking about relationships in very ocd ways. One such ocd way is jumping to the conclusion that relationships not being perfect must say something about one’s sexual orientation. This is a trap to get you performing compulsions trying to prove that it isn’t. Simply allowing yourself to engage in the debate is enough to get you sucked into an ocd loop.

    Interestingly, you describe your friends being attracted to “so many men” and yourself only being attracted to certain types and this attraction growing with the relationship growing. You sound healthier to me and more “normal” than your friends in this area.

  • Hi there, I wrote to you earlier before

    I know very well my orientation and i know very well that i want a relationship with a girl.

    The problem is that sometimes, i feel nothing towards women and that there is an increased feeling over guys.

    It completly bothers me. There is no fear or anxiety with it but i am just bothered. I dont want anything to do with men, well romantically and sexually.

    Any comments sir?

  • R,

    It sounds like you are over-attending to what you feel about women or men and making a choice to associate this with sexual orientation. Rather than devoting mental resources to assessing how much or little you feel in response to men or women, you will want to work on accepting that whatever you feel is whatever you feel and is not intrinsically important to your orientation or anything else. If you are identifying that you are bothered by it, this suggests a belief that the feelings should not be as they are. My suggestion is to approach them as merely there and let yourself off the hook from needing to determine their value.

    To use your terms, sometimes feeling nothing toward one thing and an increased feeling toward another thing does not merit the special attention your ocd is giving it. The experience of not always being fascinated by something you often are (i.e. feelings toward women), as well as the experience of sometimes being fascinated by something you rarely consider (feelings toward men) – these are normal events.

    • Hey there
      I’m really confused with my sexual orientation. I’ve never been attracted to girls, only guys. I’ve kissed a few girls especially when I was younger but I never really felt a connection with them. I used to watch a lot is straight porn and read male on male all the time and it did turn me on a lot. but over the last year or so I’ve been into lesbian porn and masturbating to it. It started to bother me because I was mainly interested in guys and liked guys I even had a boyfriend who I had feelings for. Soon I started getting dreams of girls and now I’m so confused and worried all the time, my family don’t care if I am gay but it still seems to bother me. Reading your post did help but I’m still worried

      • Hi Isabella,

        I cannot discern via a blog comment if you are gay, and I don’t think you need to know. In fact, I think it is pretty much unimportant for anyone to “know” their sexual orientation with certainty. If you are attracted to guys, then go out with guys. In the meantime, analyzing your porn preferences seem to me to be a compulsion. If your reaction to watching lesbian porn is causing you to be confused and uncomfortable, stop watching lesbian porn.

  • For 8 months I have been suffering from hopefully HOCD. Everyday i am in a constant battle with myself. These thoughts and urges started last June after my grandfather passed away. I am still depressed about my grandfather passing to this day. But this whole obsession started after watching a tv show where my favorite character who was a male found out he was gay. I get this weird feeling when i see a female i can not tell if it is attraction or anxiety. I would never do anything with a female. I am only attracted to men but this whole obsession is getting to me so much that my grades in college slipped from A/B range to D/F’s. Ever since i was little I liked older men like 25 years older than me because boys back then looked to much like girls. Last year I had a huge crush on my professor. So what i am getting at here is this article helped me somewhat understand what I am going through. I have had past obsessions like am I pregnant or do i have diabetes , etc.

  • hello,

    first off, thanks for the article. second, i have all the symptoms of SO-ocd, and have been diagnosed as ocd from a LMHP and psychiatrist.

    i am 41 and have been thru this cycle of hell 4 different times. first, when i was in my late teens twice (lasted for about a week or two). then, after sailing thru my 20s with no problem, when i was 31, i was hit hard by this. i was sure i would turn homosexual. i attempted suicide and was baker acted and put in a mental hospital. to shorten this rather long story, i concluded that i was turning gay and just gave up and said “whatever happens, happens” and lived my life one day at a time. well the whole gay fear (that was 24/7 for 6 months) just faded away over time. i never really asked why, just was glad it was gone. then in late 2007, bang! it happened again. for months i feared i was gonna turn gay. and, again, it faded away over time. but that time i read about OCD and gay ocd. when it happened again in 2009, i went to a LMHP, and she said it was ocd (without me feeding her lies so she would tell me what i wanted to hear); after being baker acted again because of this, i was yet again in a mental hospital and a psychiatrist told me it was ocd. it has been a real problem for me to believe i’m not going to turn gay again lately. i’m just like everyone else symptom wise. life long, raging flaming heterosexual, numerous girl crushes, lusting over them, having sex with girls is always great (unless this is happening then im sexually dead). i’ve NEVER been aroused by gay sex or had a crush on a guy. just this fear that i will like it someday.

    i guess i’m wanting to ask, is this something that can go and come back numerous times? and am i too old for it to be ocd? i have an obsessive personality. it’s been noted to me by friends and family. but i’m getting tired of this happening.

    thanks for any response and sorry for the rambling post…

  • Hi Alexandra,

    It definitely sounds like you are dealing with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and are falling into the trap of over-attending to thoughts and feelings about sexual orientation.

    It’s not unusual for a triggering event that may cause depression (such as the loss of a loved one) to coincide with a flare-up in OCD symptoms. I say “flare up” rather than “onset” because it sounds like your previous avoidance of age-appropriate boys who looked girlish to you may possibly have also been a part of this fear of gay thoughts.

    It sounds like you should be getting treatment if you have access to it. The best treatment for OCD is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

  • Eric, it’s not uncommon for ocd symptoms to wax and wane throughout one’s life, and age is certainly not a factor in this regard.

    It’s worth noting that the first time your symptoms faded away was when you were taking a mindful approach and saying “whatever happens, happens”. It is when you start treating the thoughts as intrinsically important that you start to tumble into an obsessive-compulsive cycle.

    I encourage you to get Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and work on changing the way you think about and respond to your thoughts. People don’t “turn” into anything.

  • This was a great article Mr. Hershfield and I appreciate you writing it for folks like me who have been suffering from this.

    I’ve been dealing with this for 3 years off and on and it has been quite painful. It started out when I was at a Spencer gifts and saw a poster of a girl that was very sexual. I don’t really know if I thought she was attractive/pretty or what but from that point on, I freaked out and have not been able to get this idea that I’m gay out of my head.

    I researched for months on weather I was gay or not but during that time, I also found out that this happens to more people than I thought and that it was called HOCD. I have been to a therapist and although he said he was trained in CBT, his suggestions never worked for me. I just remember him telling me “It’s a sexual picture, of course you’re gonna think about sexual things, it doesn’t mean you’re attracted to the girl.” He would joke about me being gay which made it worse. In fact, I printed out a few articles about HOCD and gave it to him so he can help me better but he always just “talked” to me about it.

    I left therapy and decided that I will do this on my own. After countless books and CBT exercises, the only thing that really helped me was “brainlock” which taught a person with intrusive thoughts to use the four methods and basically change what you are doing and just let the thoughts pass during obsessions/anxiety.

    I have never had this problem before. I’ve always been attracted to men ( I’m a girl) and always wanted the marriage and the kids with them. I would spend hours trying to remember if I was attracted to any girls when I was younger. There are times where I would question that…like was I and didn’t know it?? I started having GAD a couple of months before I was diagnosed with MS. From GAD I had specific obsessions like not loving my then boyfriend or being gay. The thoughts have me so depressed that I don’t even want to get out of bed some days.

    My boyfriend always says that he will not feed into my obsession but I can’t help it, it always sucks me back in. I’ve always been a firm believer that you cannot just turn gay and that people know that they’re gay at a very young age. But again, it’s never enough to help me get over this. No matter how hard I try, more questions come up. Its very frustrating. I’m 27 and was diagnosed with the MS in 2007,do you think that there might be a correlation between anxiety/ocd and MS?

    I know a lot of it is that I don’t want to lose having relationships with MEN.

    P.S. sorry for the long story…

  • Hi RAD, thanks for sharing your story. There actually have been some studies showing a greater prevalence of OCD in people with MS. You may be able to look up some of the research online.

    You mentioned that simply talking about the HOCD was not effective for you. What I didn’t see in your post is any reference to Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), which is an important part of treatment. This will mean confronting the things that trigger your unwanted gay thoughts and resisting the compulsive ritual of trying to convince yourself you are straight. As long as you demonstrate to your ocd brain that you have something to prove, it will present the thoughts to you as debatable ideas.

  • Hello,
    Thanks for your response! I always wondered about that because I used to worry about things ( parents getting sick, not passing a class, etc) but never about this kind of stuff. It started out with one obsession and now it’s this one. I guess I’m trying to say is that I might of had some tendencies of ocd but never like this. I always thought that it might be the leasons in the brain caused by the ms. I’m sure that has something to do with it.

    But when conducted my own therapy, I used a book by Jonathan S. Abramowitz PhD called Getting Over OCD: A 10-Step Workbook for Taking Back Your Life (The Guilford Self-Help Workbook Series) Getting Over OCD: A 10-Step Workbook for Taking Back Your Life and used some of the suggestions like I used to record trigger words such as gay, bi, etc on a tape recorder and listen to them over and over on my way to work which helped a lot. Now I’m trying not to avoid reading or watching things about homosexuality like for example Tyra had a show about homosexuals and people who are just “gay for pay.”Although I watched the whole show, it didn’t bother me at first but later on in the day, it crept up and it triggered my anxiety.Its like when you’re in a panic mode, it’s really hard to apply the the 4 steps of brain lock..but I guess if you’re fighting it, it’s going to put up a hell of a fight. I’ve also been noticing other forms of obsession like being afraid that the OCD ( which I keep questioning if it actually is OCD because my therapist didn’t really do a formal test or anything, he just asked a couple of questions ) can turn in to a mental illness like Bi-polar disorder or schizophrenia…it’s a never ending mental battle. Of course, I was just done with my master’s thesis and stress really triggered this whole thing. Again sorry for the long post but my question is what is considered a compulsive ritual if it’s really almost like pure O?

  • Hi – I wanted to post as I’ve had a lot of anxiety for the past 9 months or so. I used to think that I was bi-sexual, but mainly straight. This was becuase I felt physically, emotionally and sexually attracted to women but from the age of 17 had occasionally had same sex fantasies. Also, from the age of 18 to 21 I had a few homosexual encounters. So… I felt absolutely fine about this and continued on my normal, everyday life. I liked women and never doubted that fact. I had a load of girlfriends and eventually got married to a girl I love. All was well.

    Then one day I woke up and a voice in my head was asking ‘What if you’re gay?’. I thought about it. Started arguing it over in my head. Over and over and over. And unfortunately it’s never really left since. I go round seeking an answer to the question of my orientation almost endlessly.

    I’ve tried self applying some CBT priniciples and they have worked for periods. Unfortunately sometimes something will happen which will cause massive anxiety and set off the spiral of questioning in my head again. I’ve also had various checking compulsions such as looking at guys and wondering if I think they’re attractive. I’ve also seeked reassurance from coming out stories, trying to match my own story to sometinhg else, masturbating to straight porn regularly etc. I feel lost in my own head and all I want is to go back to being me again.

    I wonder if I’m having a sexual identity crisis due to m past experiences. I think it’s a form of HOCD but can’t be sure. Sometimes I think I’m deluding myself and just hoping it is. But the anxiety and thought cycle seem to be inextricably linked. Sorry, I’ve rambled and probably not made much sense. But I was wondering, is it possible to bi Bi or have had same sex experiences and get this form of OCD or is it necessarily denial?

    Thanks, and apologies if I’ve spiked anyone.

  • Sorry, to add to my already long post but I would add that I had a few anxiety issues (panic attacks etc.) prior to this onset of rumination. I also had taken a drug called mephedrone prior to its onset which I think may have helped spark it off. I think I’ve also had the olfactory anxiety thing for a few years without realising it(whereby I thought I could smell myself but no-one else could). I don’t know. Maybe I’m just clasping at straws and hoping it’s HOCD because I love my wife and don’t want to be without her. Again, sorry for the rambling.

  • Hi,Thank you for the article,my issue is this-I obsess about being gay constantly.My feeling is that I am suppressing my homosexuality rather than suffering from HOCD for example when masturbating I start off thinking of women but at the point of climax the image is of a man??!!

  • Hi RAD,

    It sounds like you have gotten some good info on treating OCD on your own. The term “Pure O” is actually a misnomer because there are still compulsions happening – they are just taking the form of mental ritual instead of physical ritual.

    For example, you described anxiety over watching the gay-themed tv show creeping up on you after the fact. What you might not have been aware of was engaging in compulsions called mental checking or mental review. When you dig up the memory of a triggering event and replay it in an attempt to identify if you are responding to it the “right” way, then you are doing a compulsion. If the objective of your mental behavior is to resolve something, figure it out, identify it as ok (or not ok), then you are doing a compulsion.

    The goal should be to accept whatever thoughts come into your head as being thoughts, and not necessary to respond to with analysis.

  • Dang,

    It sounds like you are pretty clear about what compulsions you have engaged in and how they contribute to your obsessions. Lots of “straight” people have gay thoughts and gay fantasies, but whether you are straight, bi, or gay is not really important. You’re saying you don’t want to leave your wife. So don’t. If this means you are in denial of some perceived “true self” then so be it.

    Right now you want to be with your wife, so you sound pretty sure that you’re happy with your wife. So stop doing compulsions and accept that you are going to have gay thoughts and never know for sure if you’d be happier with a man. It’s entirely possible that I’d be happier as a lion tamer, but today I rather enjoy being a therapist.

  • Hi John, I would really like some clarification, specifically regarding my situation.

    I have always been straight my whole life. I have never dreamed or lusted over guys, only guys. I would always get nervous when talking to a girl, and get extremely aroused even when I hugged one or for example if a girl sat on my lap. I have done “gay stuff” with guys before but it was merely just joking stuff such as play humping or calling each other hot. I never got any pleasure from this.

    Is it possible for homosexuality to have been sub concious or dortmant in me? I have lost all my attraction for girls; I can’t get aroused or get an erection over girls or to porn and I have no real experience with one.

    Also, does anxiety always need to be followed up with depression? I have tried to accept the thoughts, however I just cant. Before I would get really depressed and anxious due to the thoughts, however I still get anxious its just really mild. The thoughts are there still but I don’t really get anxious.

    Also, is it possible that I am bi-sexual? I have also been worrying about this. I cannot get aroused over guys or girls even though I try to check (with guys) or want to (with girls). My whole life desire was to be with women, I’ve always had crushes on them. Now when I ask myself this question, I don’t know what to conclude.

    Also, I don’t even know if I have HOCD! I have been obessesing about it for months and suffer from all or most of the symptoms and can relate to other HOCD’ers but I have never been oficially diagnosed and this seems so real to me. It’s not what I want

  • Joshua,

    I’m not in a position to formally diagnose you from here, and certainly not in a position to tell you what sexual orientation you are. What I can say is that it appears you are spending a lot of time checking your response to men and women and this checking behavior is a common compulsion in HOCD.

    To your question about dormant or subconscious homosexuality – I do not believe this exists. If it does exist, it requires a psychological phenomenon I have never seen – to derive pleasure from something while having no idea you are deriving pleasure from it. What is more common is for some people who have homosexual desires to make efforts to avoid or neutralize those desires for cultural or strategic reasons. There is nothing subconscious about this.

  • Can I make the “turn” from being straight to gay? It may sound like a dumb question, but I have been attracted to girls all my life, I don’t see how this can be happening.

    I don’t want to be gay because I’ve always desired women and being with a man wouldn’t be right… Social reasons in regards to my family and society come into play as well but its a very small part, maybe 25 percent of the problem.

    These thoughts are seeming to become more and more real, and causing me stress. I go through mood swings and they are constantly on my mind…

  • Hi,

    I keep reading the responses you give to other people and try to get information about myself. I have three questions. First about the response you gave above to Joshua: How do homosexual desires look like? I know it sounds a bit stupid. But I really want to know. Second, is it possible to find out if I am truelly homosexual but trying to neutralize it or if I am just having obsessions about it? And the third question is really important for me: Is it possible to be obsessing about this issue while it is really true? It is constantly on my mind and causes a lot of distress. But could it be that it is true though?
    I hope you can help me.

  • Hey,

    I’ve been struggling with HOCD for a while now. It started last October and has been coming and going. The initial thought of “I might be gay” came when I tried getting back together with an ex-girlfriend, and I had lost attraction to her in just three days. The main reasons I feel like the HOCD is attacking me is because of that, and also because I’ve never been too into porn. I’ve watched it occasionally (usually lesbian) and been turned on by it, but I usually masturbate to pictures of women I find attractive, and the women I find attractive are usually slightly chubby. I’ve always had sort of a fetish for a girl with a bit of belly (not BIG girls, but not rail thin). I also have never thought vaginas are all that attractive. I would no question have sex with a girl, but the thought of a vagina doesn’t always turn me on. I’ve started wondering why it is that I don’t like heterosexual porn that much, and I’m incredibly confused by it. I’ve always been attracted to girls, and I’ve never gotten hard thinking/looking at a man, but for some reason, that’s not enough evidence for me to shut these thoughts out of my head. I used to have no problem seeing a movie with a gay sex scene, I’d just think it was funny, but now I would freak out if I ever saw one. I honestly feel like if I found out I was gay, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself. I always see articles that say “people with HOCD are disgusted by gay thoughts”, and I used to be, but I’ve had HOCD for so long that I can’t even tell if I’m disgusted by them or not.

    Sorry for being all over the place, I just wanted to try to get my thoughts out there. Thanks for the article. I appreciate any further advice you can give me.


  • Wow, reading the last few posts between April and May sound exactly like what I’m going through. What really sucks is that even though I have every symptom of HOCD, and have been diagnosed with social anxiety disorder and having irrational thoughts (is this the same as OCD?), I can’t help but question and doubt myself. I’ve always loved women. I’ve always been scared of what people think of me, for as long as I can remember, but I’m sure that’s a part of my social anxiety.

    I’ve had little things here and there that are definitely OCD, but I’ve never been fully diagnosed with it. Back in middle school, I had this irrational fear that I was going to kill myself, but I never had any intention of actually doing it. It eventually went away after a year and a half and I have no idea how. I wish my HOCD would do this…

    Perry, Joshua, and Hannah have all said things that I can relate to 100%. It’s horrible knowing that your brain still tries to mess with you even though all the signs point to OCD. I wish I could have my attraction to women back. I just want to be happy again… 🙁

    Also, I took the Pure-O test on this site, and even though it says it’s unofficial, it still has to count for something, right?? It said if you checked off more than 7, than you there’s a high probability you have Pure-O. I checked somewhere between 15-17…. Yikes.

  • Joshua, I don’t know if people “turn” gay. It is not something I have ever seen happen, but the point is you are going to have to live with the uncertainty. You report not wanting to be gay. So whatever thoughts are happening need to be looked at as thoughts and not necessarily mandates to change your sexual orientation. I would look instead at changing the ocd behaviors and getting Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

  • Hi Hannah,

    >>>How do homosexual desires look like? I know it sounds a bit stupid. But I really want to know.

    —It’s not that it’s stupid, so much as it is a question only a heterosexual would ask. What do heterosexual desires look like?

    >>>Second, is it possible to find out if I am truelly homosexual but trying to neutralize it or if I am just having obsessions about it?

    —If you are saying that you really like having homosexual sex and fantasizing about homosexual things, but are afraid of being judged by a hetero-normative society, then I would suggest seeing a an LGBT specialist (someone who works with sexual orientation issues). If you are saying that you are having intrusive thoughts about being a homosexual and you want it to stop, then I would suggest getting CBT for OCD. If you are saying that you need to know for sure which of the two things are happening and won’t rest until you are positive you got the right answer, then I would also suggest you get cbt for your ocd.

    >>>And the third question is really important for me: Is it possible to be obsessing about this issue while it is really true? It is constantly on my mind and causes a lot of distress. But could it be that it is true though?

    —You will not like this answer, but anything is possible. The problem is in your internal response to the question. If it is constantly on your mind, and it is true, then presumably you are telling yourself something about it which is causing you distress. If you are having gay thoughts and they seem genuine and true to who you are, then it would be interesting to know what there is to be distressed about.

    If an ocd sufferer with contamination fears tells me that they want to know if it is possible that they will get a disease from touching a doorknob and not washing their hands, what would be an appropriate response? Certainly it is possible, but since they want to use doors and doors have doorknobs, some acceptance is going to have to take place. This acceptance does not mean they will get a disease from a doorknob. Accepting the possibility that your obsessive thoughts are true does not make them true.

  • Perry,

    The HOCD wants you to explain your experience of heterosexuality, but explaining it only sends the message to your brain that your orientation is open for debate. Not everyone is into porn and many men fail to look at vaginas and think “that looks beautiful.” Frankly I don’t know how women refrain from laughing when looking at penises for that matter. Anyway, it’s irrelevant to your orientation.

    >>>I always see articles that say “people with HOCD are disgusted by gay thoughts”

    —I think this statement can be misleading. There are many different forms of anxiety and discomfort and only one of them is disgust. One of the problems with ocd is tunnel vision, meaning you are looking at this statement in one direction only. If people with HOCD are “disgusted” by gay thoughts, and you are not always 100% disgusted, then you must be gay. This is distorted logic. People without HOCD are generally indifferent to gay thoughts, not disgusted, because they don’t see the thoughts as particularly important. Does this mean that all people without obsessive compulsive disorder are gay? No.

    My recommendation is that you get cognitive behavioral therapy and start treating your ocd.

  • Daniel,

    >>> What really sucks is that even though I have every symptom of HOCD, and have been diagnosed with social anxiety disorder and having irrational thoughts (is this the same as OCD?)…

    —Though technically separate diagnoses in the DSM-IV, social anxiety disorder is essentially a form of obsessive compulsive disorder in which the primary obsession is with being evaluated negatively. This has always seemed a somewhat silly distinction to me since many people who are compulsive handwashers also fear being evaluated negatively for not washing responsibly.

    You describe a lot of common OCD symptoms. Perhaps it is time to seek out a cognitive behavioral therapist who specializes in ocd, get formally assessed, get treated and get better.

  • I have been through this hocd once before and now it is back i am struggling and i feel like i just wanna give up and accept my loses. I dont wanna be gay and i have never had any intercourse with a man and i dont think i could actually go through with it but i have these thoughts and they are not gay sex but they are kissing a man and im constantly asking my self if i find that man attractive. I have a wife and a kid and before all this started back up me and my wife have sex and i didnt worry about it but right now my thoughts are all messed up. can hocd make you think gay things like have gay thoughts. i tryed looking at gay pron and i gaged but then i went into thinking was i gaging becasue i made myself or becasue i was grossed out.and also i find myslef watching how i sit and talk and walk not wanting to do any of that gay but i am not gay or i dont think. im so confused i need help

  • Andrew,

    I don’t know if it can give you any peace of mind but what you are describing is exactly the way dreadful HOCD works. I’ve had this form of OCD for almost 3 years now and I may assure you that watching porn isn’t helpful at all – watching porn is in fact reassurance seeking, that is – a compulsion – and it can cause your anxiety to grow, for example by causing the so called groinal response.

    You cannot stop the thoughts – but what you can stop are the actions, or compulsions which are done particularly to alleviate the anxiety but later on the anxiety returns and is even worse. I know that HOCD is often the “Pure-O” (Purely Obsessional) OCD but even in this kind of OCD there are compulsions but they are covert (in contrast to typical OCD, where the compulsions are overt) mental acts like constant ruminations, mental checking etc. I think one of the most difficult things in HOCD is the fact that very often the obsessions and compulsions mingle and confuse us to a level in which we can’t tell which is obsession and which is compulsion.

    You may find that interesting because I’m suffering from HOCD but am gay myself and because of HOCD (sometimes I call it reverse HOCD) I doubt everyting(although I don’t want to – but the disorder makes me to), question it, fear that I may become a heterosexual guy and my life has become a real living hell. This disorder is indeed kind of ironic – you fear of being/becoming someone you don’t want to be. So, no matter what is the sexual orientation of a person, HOCD will try to question it, confuse a person, put disgusting ideas against a person’s will and so on.

    I wish you good luck!

  • Andrew, the way in which you are looking to the gay porn is backfiring because, as Luke said, it is only reassurance seeking. There is a role pornographic imagery can have in treatment, but it needs to be done methodically and without compulsions. Over-attending to how you sit or walk is also compulsive. Right now the behaviors you are engaging in are designed to convince yourself that you are straight. Since you already appear to be straight, your brain is responding to your behavior as if it is supposed to be promoting debate about your orientation. The best way to get past this is to get cognitive behavioral therapy from an ocd specialist who can help you identify your distorted thinking and stop doing compulsions.

  • Just a question. I’ve suffered from HOCD but it plays on the fact that you can be aroused (or rather remind me of sex, porn, etc) by sexual things/body parts, coming from both the same or opposite sex. It bothers me so much because I know i’m not actually interested in gay sex, being with another woman in any way, nor have I ever been. Is this normal? 🙁 So frustrated with this disease!

  • Nancy, as you noted, it is possible to be aroused by sexual concepts and images that are not exclusively within your own preferred orientation. The awareness of this is not your problem. It is your reaction to these thoughts that makes them threatening. Having gay thoughts or fantasies does not make you gay any more than having aggressive thoughts and fantasies makes you a professional boxer. It is normal to have unexpected thoughts and not wish them to be manifested as behaviors.

  • Although I sit here, depersonalized and having found myself unable to focus or remember well (presumably as a result of having had this anxiety for months), I have painstakingly read the article, each comment, and each of your responses. I am actually in awe. As someone who has been going through this for months, and still dreads the memory of that night in 11th grade that was lying in bed and that first “what if i am…: thought came in with intense anxiety, someone who goes through everything that was described here–and I don’t think I have to further elaborate…anything i can think of has been covered—really, I am in awe. I do not know if you are getting paid to host this forum and meticulously respond to each post or not, but it does not even really matter. Althhough this means nothing, I consider myself a pretty “manly man”…yet, there are tears literally strolling down my cheeks. I am so appreciative of what you’ve done here and I really think I can speak on behalf of the rest of this community that, given the fact that relatively not so much has been written HOCD in psychoanalytic literature, how methodically, how thoroughly, and how sensitively you have responded to each post…it is inspiring. If you do ultimately become a lion tamer…then that is one lucky pride of lions. I do not know if it is a credit to your field, your education, your background, your parents…but you are undoubtedly a remarkable person; someone who so clearly loves being in the business of making another person feel better. There were times as I scrolled through this all that I began giggling, not because something was at all humorous but because the reasonableness, the sensitivity, and the way you addressed things… and because seeing someone else literally type out your symptoms…is quite remarkable…quite elegantly a reminder of how similar we all are…really what an experience. I read this entire thread from top to bottom and felt temporarily launched out of my bout of depersonalization. Of course, I too could have, and do have questions…both gerneral and specific to my situation, but even before I could think of asking, I must, on behalf of everyone, congratulate you for being…above all… an excellent person; a reward perhaps as atypical as it is profound. I used to love writing, and this comment was the first thing I have decided to go venture and write, despite feeling depersonalized and detached, in about 3 months.

    When fielding these comments and mechanically responding to each person’s situation becomes ever exhausting, demanding, and emotionally draining, know that if there is one thing I can be sure of nowadays, one thing I feel it is important to remind you of…it is that you are seriously helping a lot of people.

    And for that I thank you.

  • Dreejk,

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. It is hugely rewarding to know that we are making a difference and we thank you for your emotional generosity in this feedback.

  • Hi I just was wondering if I have hOCD or not. I have only dated men in the past and I’m 34 years old and have felt confident that I was straight up until 30. One former boyfriend noticed that I was attracted to women but said it was no big deal and we were fine. However within the last 2 or three years I’ve had bigger doubts about my orientation and feel that I might be changing. I don;t know what to do about it since I’ve been dating a man who loves me and would probably accept me even if I was really gay. But I don’t know if my problem is I’m having trouble feeling attracted to him or feeling attracted to all men ingeneral. This whole thing is mentally exhausting and painful. I’ll try to accept myself, if I only knew who I really was. The idea of having to look for a woman makes me want to cry. Thanks for all your help.

  • Maria,

    Sounds like ocd to me. First, it’s important to remember that straight people have gay thoughts. Finding other women attractive when you don’t typically identify as same-sex oriented does not make you gay. It makes you a straight woman who also finds some women attractive. The ocd says you have to know with 100% certainty what it means that you have these occasionally conflicting thoughts. You can circumvent the whole thing by letting go of the idea that they are conflicting.

    When you frame the notion of being gay as “having to look for a woman” you pretty clearly identify a distinction here from homosexuality, in which you would YEARN to look for a woman. But this evidence is insufficient for your ocd because all evidence is.

    If you seek treatment for ocd, you will want cognitive behavioral therapy and would likely do some form of imaginal exposure in which you confront the idea that you are secretly in gay denial and will “have to” go find a woman. In the meantime, rather than over-attend to who you feel attracted to when, where, and why, try to accept in any present moment that you are feeling whatever you are feeling and it is not necessary to define yourself.

  • Thanks so much for your response. I thought about something else I’d like to ask you about. I guess it’s just the nature of this “doubting disease”. I’ve heard about women who were married but then realized they were gay all along. Then they left their husbands for another woman or also that men have left their wives after years of repression and then finally found the man of their dreams. Did this mean they repressed that they were gay all along or did they actually shift in their preferences? If they did make a shift this is diconcerting, especially if I have HOCD, because then I feel like if I’m in denial maybe shouldn’t make a commitment to a man for now until I’m sure because wouldn;t want to cause him problems in the future. I feel lately very uncomfortable around female friends, maybe they are spiking the unwanted thoughts and much calmer in the company of men. I’m having trouble commiting in my current relationship with a man and am not sure if it’s the glitchy thoughts and HOCD, real lesbian tendencies or just not in the right relationship all together. There are times in the day when I feel normal like myself and other times very anxious about these thoughts about being with women even worse are thoughts about close friends.
    Thanks again for any feedback.

  • Hi,

    I researched up a article on the internet discussing freudian’s latent homosexuality. And some of the symptoms sound quite alot like hocd symptoms. eg. “fear of being gay…” and etc. I am so depressed after reading that article. Honestly, I have spiked so bad after reading that damn article. I dont know what to do. I have always wanted to be with a girl and I still do, but this article is trying to suggest otherwise that subconcouisly or something that I am gay.

    SO my question is can you have OCD and have latent homosexuality? So is OCD like my defense mechanism aganist this latent homosexuality? Conciously I know I dont want to be with a man. I know that, but subconciously I dont really know, because I am unconcious when I am subconcious. So I guess that doesnt make any sense…? or does it? once again, I am depressed, I really cant imagine living a gay life-style. I would rather kill myself first. But does that make me a latent homosexual? because a non-gay would not be scared to live a gay lifestyle? so therefore I would be latent homosexual? What the hell is wrong with me. I am so saddened. I feel like I cant have crushes on girls anymore…If I had a choice between living with OCD (or latent homosexuality) and with the faint chance that it will turn out to be all a lie or having the definite choice of just being asexual, with a second thought I would choose to be asexual, at least all the pain would be gone. I wouldnt have to worry.



  • Hi,

    A few more details I forgot to include yesterday, first off, I am so terrified of homosexual sex that I am paranoid. What my fear stem from this voice in my head (yeah, I have a voice in my head), that always make me fear my self. For example, when I was younger 7 or 8 years old, I remember going into the kitchen standing on a stool to get something and I see this knife on the counter, and suddenly this voice in my head tells me “you need to take that knife and hurt somebody…” I was totally freaked out, I was terrified that one day I might do what that voice is telling me, and the more terrified I became the louder that voice in my head. So from that day on, I would never dare to look at a knife or handle a knife around other people.

    So you can see where my fear of gay sex comes from, I am absolutely horrified, I am so scared that some how that voice inside my head will cause me to do something I dont want to do. And for some reason, this voice only appears when I am truly, 100% horrified at something. I am scared of that voice. And I dont mean it’s like a real talking voice, but more of a passing thought that tells me to do something I am terrified of, that makes me fear I cant control myself. I am scared that I am losing control of myself. Does this have to do with OCD? I doubt it does, perhaps I am suffering from something else too?


  • Maria,

    You wrote, “I’ve heard about women who were married but then realized they were gay all along.” … Then you wrote, “Did this mean they repressed that they were gay all along or did they actually shift in their preferences?”

    —Guess they were gay all along. Can’t say for sure, but that’s what you wrote and it sounds right to me. It is common in HOCD to fear being “in denial” and to be invested in the distorted idea that it is somehow possible to know “for sure” that you are not something you are afraid of. If you are in a relationship and it is otherwise healthy, I would commit to the choice to be in that relationship and not let something as unreliable as thoughts and feelings influence your decision.

  • Tom, latent homosexuality is a theory. It is not one I agree with. Freud was also well known for not wanting to treat ocd because psychoanalysis didn’t work.

    You mentioned symptoms of another manifestation of ocd which is sometimes called Harm OCD that involves intrusive thoughts of suddenly turning violent or accidentally causing harm. This is another very common and treatable form of OCD.

  • Maria,

    If it makes you feel any better, I heard a radio interview with a guy who was married to his wife for five years and was planning on leaving her because he is gay. He knew very well he was gay (he had two previous male partners) and he was quite comfortable in his gay identity. The problem was that his father was a preacher and so was his brother. He was afraid of what they thought, so he got married to hide it. Another time I saw a similar story on television. So there was no uncertainty there, they were very sure they were gay and just got married to hide or whatever.

    But I think as OCD sufferers, we always fear irrationally. I also have the fear that I will be married with kids and one day I’ll say, “oh no, I’m gay,” goodbye wife and kids. But this isn’t a rational thought. Is it not just as possible or more likely I might leave my wife for another women? Or we just get divorced because of other issues? Or maybe I will die before I even get married. Why don’t I fear these things? Probably because I’ve accepted the uncertainty of these things happening, and said “whatever, I’ll take my chances.”

    Anything is possible. It’s up to us to decide…live our lives happy and enjoy the relationships we’re in and accept the uncertainty that something might happen down the road, or….we can live in fear the rest of our lives obsessing and cringing in fear. I’ve made up my mind, I’m going to get some therapy.

  • Dear Frank,
    Thanks for your comments. I think you’re so right about worrying about marriage, that there are so many issues and we HOCDers are just too focused on that one issue that is proabbly much more unlikely than others. It’s a weird condition because it comes and goes. There are days I feel my normal straight self. There are days when I feel my weird HOCD self. I think we all do perhaps have underlying fears about not being who were really are.
    Take care.

  • I am stuggling at the moment, when i go out with friends i see attractive women , and know that they are but do not get the arosal only a numb feeling and disapointment , depression, anger, then i see a guy and i get the feeling (i think) i wish and used to have for women. I then have to check and test myself to see if i would sleep with this person.usually that means panic and quick retreat home to test.

    I watch gay porn, i dont know if its ego syntonic , or ego dystonic which leads to the compulsion, it feels like i have to do it and maybe there is a little pleasure i dont know, if i dont touch myself i dont get an erection, but then my mind drives me to carry on. i have orgasmed and have found it pleasurable but most of the time its like a cold wave of shame and why did i do that.during my teens i did masterbate once to same sex thoughts and got the same feeling and knew that it was not for me, and carryed on thinking alot about women now my mind says i like this feeling of weird anxiety shame Thats without cognitive thinking intiating the feeling.i tried to call my bluff by trying to say that its really what i want and i am gonna really enjoy it one time and i didnt,now i think that because ive done that ive blocked my true identity and i am in denial.

    I also had same sex experience when i was younger 13 and think i orgasmed which made me feel terrible at the time. But all this seems to add up that ive been in denial all the years cos of the guilt or something This also rings true when i go out and do not feel anything towards women, and then without thinking ive seen a guy which causes anxiety , low self esteem. With this comes paranoid that someone will notice ,also I have heard women espically comment on my orientation, which never used to happen. Although i have never been good around women need to get to know them but dont have that chance.

    I have had 3 major gf spanning 9 years 14 – 23 and a few inbetween and i did enjoy them alot and was in love. Now being around any women makes me very anxios because they might out me, and i feel that i cant talk to them and the can mind read me.Also this block which feels like it stops my attraction. i have suffered for 7 years now ,dont have a job,sleep all day, watch films all night cos its the easiest way to live, but its not, my last gf told me i was camp when i smoked alot of weed, and we tryed stuff with the finger which i did enjoy. This is when it all started. with this as well my mind pushes that i must now be that way. im 27 this all started around 21.

    i did go to the priory in U.k, they didnt think i was gay and prescribed citrolapram 20mg and seroquel 200mg. I did feel better but it did nt last and they never diagnosed me with ocd. It feels like it evovles i read someone comment on this. Its like the longer it has gone on ,the more distorted i think about stuff its still the same topic but my mind makes the outlay different, which inturn starts the cicle again.Its the same cicle but always feels different ( more personal), and my mind says to that your in denial.

    i need to get help for me and my family espically my mother is tired on the never ending arguments and reasurrance seeking, but what if its not hocd i dont think my frenids would accept me and i dont wont to prove all this ppl right who judge me. I dont really know what im asking – i just had to finally air myself and your site is the one that has helped me the most. I hope i can turn my life aound and help people like you are and be a good person instead of rotting away from being a carefree cheecky chapie to a complete wreck.

  • I posted on this wall months and months ago. For a while, my HOCD dimmed alot and most of the time I knew who I was (straight) and ignored the thoughts.

    However, recently the thoughts have come crashing back with twice the strength and feel that not only am i losing my mind, but also that the longer this continues the more my orientation is being turned.

    My most horrifying experience occured this morning. I had a gay dream. Prior to this, I’ve only dreamt of men. However in this dream I got intimate with a woman and I think I actually wanted to do it and enjoyed. Whats worse still, when I woke, I felt a groinal response.

    I am beside myself. I have been in tears this morning as I really feel this must mean I’m gay. Is this my sub concious revealing my inner desires? I just dont know.

    I feel like I’ve truly lost my Fiance now. Before this HOCD started, I was madly in love with him, desired him, I desperately wanted to get married to him and have children. Now however, when I look at him I feel nothing – it makes me cry because it feels like my happiness has been stolen from me. I no longer want to marry him because I’m worried years down the line I’ll realise I am in fact gay, and leave him and destroy his life. I longer want children, they just annoy me.

    I cant ever win or come to a conclusion. Every woman I look at, I think I ‘fancy’ her – this includes young, old, literally *any* female. I have this compulsion to look at women’s breasts now which I hate. Prior to the onset of HOCD (if that’s even what I’m suffering from) If I looked at a woman’s chest it was because I was envious of what they had as I’m small busted.

    I keep thinking I must be gay, but being straight feels normal to me and the thought of having to go to a ‘gay club’ to find a woman distresses me.

    Maybe i should note that I had this when I was about 13 – 18 which began because a girl at school asked if me and my friend were lesbians because we were really close.

    I apologise for the length of my post, but I would so greatly appreciate a response. I feel like my mind is a prison and I’m trapped in these thoughts 24/7. I have no one to turn to and feel so alone.

  • Hi Anon,

    Thanks for your post and for demonstrating bravery in letting it out. Since you have not asked a particular question about your treatment, I am assuming you are not currently in treatment. This is very important. Whatever the “meaning” of your gay thoughts, it is clear that you are responding to them in an obsessive compulsive way and engaging in behaviors that are interfering in your tolerance of uncertainty. It also sounds like your current lifestyle is a guarantee for depression, which is likely to exacerbate your ocd symptoms. It’s time to get professional help and put your life back together.

  • Hi Jade, sorry you’re going through a rough time. I can’t recall from our previous posts, are you in treatment? You have HOCD and would likely benefit from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Over-attending to your feelings about your fiance is compulsive and making it hard to be in the moment. Not being in the moment is making you obsess about not being right together.

    Straight people have gay dreams. You may enjoy it or not. It’s irrelevant. If you enjoy it, it’s because in your dream, you are gay. I can fly in dreams sometimes, but I won’t be jumping out of windows any time soon.

  • First of all i have had anxiety attacks (social anxiety) since the age of 18. On that note, I have been doing great with it for the past 2 years and pretty much off of my medication (only when needed) and I am in a relationship with the girl i love and want to spend the rest of my life with, we have been together for almost 3 years. All of a sudden the other week the word gay started popping up in my head and would not go away…I am not attracted to guys and never have been, but i cannot get the thought out of my head, its not like fantasizing about it, its just a voice saying everything you are doing is gay and i am gonna lose everything i have because i am gay, why did you look at that guy? is it because your gay?…when i know i am not. This is ironically happening right as i am thinking of proposing to my girlfriend and buying a house and these thoughts are ruining my life. I feel like a prisoner inside my own mind, and no matter how many times i remind myself that its only thoughts and thoughts can’t control me they still come right back, to the point where i can’t concentrate on anything but the thoughts and just thinking of me being with another guy makes me sick. I have never felt like this before so I did some searching online and found this forum which has been helpful in the most part and i also made a dr’s appointment because of the thoughts and them causing severe anxiety attacks. I just wish these thoughts would go away so i can concentrate and live my life that i am grateful for. Please help me with any advice you may have for me…Thanks

  • Ricky, for some people with this form of ocd, it doesn’t have much to do with sex at all, but with words. So the word “gay” pops into your head and then you get stuck compulsively analyzing why the word “gay” is there. Of course, the word was always there, since it’s just a word. You have lots of words in your head. But one day your ocd targeted the word “gay” as a potential threat, something that could ruin your relationship or sense of self. From what you’ve written, you sound very invested in trying to get these thoughts and words to go away. This is a trap. You need to be doing the opposite, which is allow the thoughts to be there and stop treating them as threats. Whenever we tell the brain that something normal (i.e. a word) must go away, the brain assumes this is something that should be debated and pursued. So if you are having the thought that everything you do is “gay” (whatever that means) then accept and even agree with it. The hyper-awareness of the thoughts will fade when the over-attending and over-responding stops. By the way, it’s no surprise that this is coinciding with thinking of proposing to your girlfriend and buying a house. People with nothing to lose are probably less likely to fear losing their minds. Sounds like you are pursuing a medication treatment, which could be helpful for the anxiety. I highly recommend also seeking out a therapist who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for OCD, as this would be the most effective part of your recovery.

  • Yes i have started medication zoloft but the dr. said it takes several weeks to kick in. But currently i am so miserable like a prisoner trapped in my own mind, i can not get it out of my head and it is causing anxiety attacks every hour almost. I am terrified that I am gonna lose everything if the keeps up because I can’t continue living like this everyday. I have lost interest in everything i do on a normal basis. I just don’t understand how all of sudden this all started happening, everything was going great with me until last week. I have lost my appetite and energy and fear that this is going to last forever…i just wish i could wake up and the thoughts be gone, my mind has always got stuck on something and takes a while to get out of my head but never anxiety attacks with them (unless thinking about going somewhere with a large crowd). I plan on seeking therapy this week to maybe help with this. Thanks for your time, I really appreciate it.

  • Thanks for your quick response, your words seem to help me a little… The Doctor started me on Zoloft which takes several weeks to start helping, but currently i am miserable and have lost interest in everything i usually enjoy and i have not been able to eat due to my anxiety attacks. I am also seeking therapy this week to try to help this situation be resolved. I am scared to death about how long this can or will last and if i will ever be normal again? I feel that I can’t perform daily task because my mind will not slow down. Thanks for everything and taking time out of your day to help others who are not your patients.

  • I cant tell you how much this article and your responses to all the comments have helped me. I thought i was losing my mind and turning completely insane and more than that the fear was that i was turning lesbian or realizing that i was one and how could i live like that with a woman. You said that homosexuals fear societal oppression and how their family would take this more than the fact of being lesbian. I just wanted to tell you that i have felt both. I have felt very anxious about just being lesbian and having to give up my bf and life as i know it but part of it was also fear of how the world would take me. I felt constantly scared of how i would face myself and tried imagining in my mind how life would be after that. I have felt similarly to what almost all the people have said above but i have also felt strongly about how the world would take me. What would that mean.
    Secondly, of late i have been feeling as if i really enjoy that feeling and want to think more of it.When i try doing it and my fears are validated i again freak out. Then i go into the entire exercise of rechecking in my mind again. is it possible that there are moments when you dont feel disgusted by the thought at the outset and think that it would not be too bad like this and i should see how far it leads to really check whether i would be comfortable with it or not. My final problem is sometimes the thought crosses my mind that im using this problem of OCD to again be in denial and give up in between. I purposely avert all logical arguments that disprove my fears and focus on new ones that validate it. I sometimes feel im faking it by being attracted to my bf and have to try too hard which just shows its not real. I feel henceforth i will naturally gravitate towards women and try feeling happy about it. But i instantly panic. Please show me a way out and please tell me whether i am in denial. I

  • goodly, glad to hear these articles have resonated with you.

    You ask if it is possible to sometimes not be disgusted by the thoughts, or even like them. I think the question overlooks the fact that the thoughts themselves are normal events which are being distorted by ocd responses. Having a gay thought and liking it is not the end-all-be-all of what makes a person homosexual.

    For example, I consider myself a non-violent person. However, I really do enjoy a good horror movie. I may get thoughts of a violent nature when someone cuts me off on the freeway. Perhaps I will think of them driving off a bridge. At times this thought will appear as an intrusion and I will respond to it by thinking that this is an image I would rather not contemplate. And at times that same thought will make me chuckle. In either case, it has not made me cut anyone’s brake lines.

    You mention worrying about whether you are somehow faking your attraction to your boyfriend. I would challenge this by asking, so what if you are? If you want to be with your boyfriend, be with your boyfriend. If this involves acting like you want to be with your boyfriend, then so be it. If your energy is invested in trying to be CERTAIN that you are having the right thoughts and feelings at the right time, then things are always likely to feel a bit off.

    The “way out” is to stop checking, stop analyzing, and stop treating the issue like it is an issue of sexual orientation. It is an issue of ocd and that is what should be treated, with an ocd specialist, with cognitive behavioral therapy.

  • Dear doctor,
    Thank you so much for the prompt response. I live in India where mental health problems are still stigmatized and though i am undergoing CBT now with a college counsellor, im still not sure how effective it is. If you could please send me any information about OCD specialists in India. And, since im going through hell i would just like to share something more with you and il be really indebted to you if you could help.
    On the day all this happened in January, this year and i broke down fearing that i had been attracted really to a woman because i was always in the process of checking and felt that im actually attracted, i ran away from class and started going through my bfs pics to reassure myself that im really fine. But, as soon as i saw his pics in that state, i felt that a lesbian woman could also look the same and behave in the same way( just like a man) and what if i am attracted to her. His image was completely distorted in my mind till then and whenever i was with him i used to ‘feel’ that i am with a woman and in a lesbian relationship. Every minute the thoughts in my mind replaced his image with that of a woman and i became disgusted with these intruding thoughts and everything he said or did seemed just like a lesbian doing it. it was not that i was in doubt of who he is but i felt people must be thinking im talking to my gf instead of my bf and the thoughts just kept replacing him with a woman and i could not stop it. For a long time i thought i was schizophrenic or delusional but the truth was that i knew its my bf and not some woman. It was just my mind telling me this could also be happening between a woman and you and i hated it. After CBT, i learnt not paying attention to this and it certainly improved our relationship but just slightly. I still get the same thoughts that this could also be happening with a woman and when i dont pay attention to it i sometimes feel i have accepted being in a lesbian relationship and will probably seriously start thinking of him as a real woman and lose my mind. This is the most distressing part of my problem where my mind does not allow me to see the man i love the most, in the way i like him and keeps bringing in the thoughts of it just being the same with a woman. I hate it,despise it. This is also a reason i am suddenly petrified of masculine looking women. and the moment i dont react to it, i feel that i have accepted being lesbian and freak out. Is this also a manifestation of the OCD or something more acute.

  • I went out the other night with friends and decided to be more positive. I felt anxious and with that came the want to check.Even with this problem occuring i decided to act confident and talk to people and focuses on the then and there. There were still mind niggles but they did not envelope into full blown panic.
    I did then see someone who i know, hes is in the army and is good looking, also i have thought that he thought i was gay. I get the feeling and start to worry. Is this a missed placed feeling of admiration,expectancy wave because i have logged this in my brain as a dangerous situation or attraction?
    I do have groinal responses to men and women. when its to women it does feel nice when natural and not forced. But when it does feel right i dismiss it because it is right and i dont need to think about it,which inturn feels like it is all just a bluff.
    When with men its not something i want ( i think i m so confused now) and it needs to be analzed which creates the cycle.
    For most of my evening out i did concentrate on the positives and did chat to a girl and felt underlying sexual tension which felt nice and boosted my confidence. but i still had two mental zones, one when i felt good and nothing of hocd nature bothered me. one that caused anxiety inturn paranoid and hocd related though patterns.
    i dont know if people who dont suffer from hocd go through this mental change but not relating to hocd.
    After the evening i felt invigorated and know that three meals a day,exercise,diversion from hocd thinking and positivity would be good steps to follow to help recover, yet monday morning, been awake all night again i feel anxious , been on forums and now writing to you. when i feel like this i have no motivation to change and the problem is , if i have anxiety i have no motivation so how do i change its called tough love and discipline but i cant muster it never really had to do it(things are comfortable there not because of the low hum of anxiiety ,depression but to jump out and have more anxiety just seems to much) if the world was going to end tomorrow would i do anything about it then.Its pathetic ,really pathetic .
    Its like because of a positve event ive done enough or my mind is trying to sabotage me from talkinhg the next step.or maybe its all denial .Ive researched the hair whorl,finger index ,certain smells are giving off by homesexuals and women could tell with a high percentage someone was gay from just looking at a picture, gone on forums who say hocd is non existence and read storied about people who say they could be okay one day not thinking about homesexuality, and they next they could nt and in the end they have come out.
    Also now i worry that i dont find female anatomy down there attrctive anymore so i watch spercific porn to see i do or do not like it, this happens from time to time in the cycle. I mean what straight man would think that??!??! i never use to.( all scarry)
    It does not matter but it does, i just want what i had but i question feels sometimes like my soul or god is trying to push me on journey to becoming gay, I did take your advice and have looked into therapy and hopefully will be starting soon. I realise that its all about changing cogntions but i worry that if i did follow through would i just be thinking myself straight and in the end just being indenial and not happy, again uncertainty, but before all this happened i was certain and never thought about the things i do now, i just cant understand why that would be without some phychoanylsis answer.

    sorry again for the long post john this must be exacerbating.

    My questions are do you think i have spectrum hocd, sexual idedntity crisis ocd, schizophrenia,hocd,bisexuality or a gay man stuck in denial?

    Also can people maintain recovery i read alot on boards about people who relapse and never break? through but i suppose people dont post positive things.

    How can i get motivated to change my life?

    any help would be greatly appreciated, sorry for poor grammar

  • Great article. But I have one question, hope you’ll find time to answer.
    I get aroused by gay porn (something I just discovered, I never liked it before), I notice good looking men in the street(actually I notice them, and I would think “damn that’s nice body, wish it was mine, I hate him for being hot”) , but I just can’t imagine myself with a man, I don’t like how they smell, I don’t like the fact that after all it is mans ass you have to…”touch”, I can’t imagine myself dating men, going out with them, just spending my life with a man is horrible idea, and something I am scared, like I will find out that I am gay and that everything I ever dreamed about is just some big fat lie.
    I get arouse by staright porn (watched it all my life), I like girls anatomy, I am extremlly aroused by thought of being in love with a woman and having a family with her, I always dreamed of finding my princess, and I am fine with a role of a prince. I should say that those homosexual thoughts and feelings (if an erection is a feeling)makes me extremley anxious, like I want to puke whole day, i can’t eat, i can’t study… and everything started when a friend of mine asked me if i was gay, and he cane out to me saying he was gay. I am open minded, I said that it is ok for him, but I am not gay… after that I felt like I didn’t do the right thing, like I should have punch him, I should have call him names and leave, not be nice to him, and profing myself that in fact I am gay, but I just live in a lie… This is frustrating, I am terrefied of these thoughts, because I see myself only with a girl. I should mention that I never had any gay contacts (like lovers, boyfirends,sex) but I never had sex with a girl either, and I am 22. sorry for disturbing you with a loooooong comment, but I just had to gett this off my chests….

  • I am sorry to write again!!
    I have been reading alot about gay men who are married and dont know their gay and find out they are gay futher down the line.i dont understand how this is possible unless they went through something like hocd before. Or men who knowingly are gay and in denial and still marry due to social reprecussions. If my experinces with women were all false due to being uncounciously brainwashed that homesexual is not acceptable, then the outcome could be as above, but i dont want to do that to someone so even if i do naturally want women, this is always gonna play on my mind so i cant be confident around women which in turn could drive me to being gay.

    Also i have compulsively masterbated to straight porn and enjoyed it. this is also a problem. If i find women attractive and natural fantazise about it feels good and because it cuts out ocd it becomes a compulsion. this in turn i dont know lowers my testorene? and inturn i notice women less and men more, is this biological or a cognition ive weaved into my phsyche, is it distorted if a cognition,i keep compulsive masterbate untill i check gay porn and masterbate to that, which makes me feel angrey,fustrated and annoyed.

    But some men have said that this is what they did and somewhere along the line things changed,, this is all very troublesome. It seems from what ive read that this is a growing trend that people are commenting on. sometimes i think that this does nt bother me as much and that i should just except the inevaitable. Also all these gaydar studies that are proving it is very much a sixth sense for gay men and women, it just makes me think the times after this started (ocd?) that women have commented means i have turned gay?

    Please reply to the above comments with any insight and then BAN me from writing on this forum. I am using this as an outlet and i not questioning your medical opinion( i am very greatful for your opinion but as i am not paying you and this is out of your kindness) but it sort of sparks creativity from a fear to argue why i am differnt and not suffering from hocd, which i worry greatly i am not,

    also maybe i should of put spike warnings or somethng,

    thanks and sorry

  • Anon,

    You write: My questions are do you think i have spectrum hocd, sexual idedntity crisis ocd, schizophrenia,hocd,bisexuality or a gay man stuck in denial?


    You write: Also can people maintain recovery i read alot on boards about people who relapse and never break? through but i suppose people dont post positive things.

    —–You are seeking certainty about the future success or failure of your future therapy which has not happened.

    You write: How can i get motivated to change my life?

    —-This is not a question I can answer. Though I can tell you that waiting for a certain feeling to overcome you before you do something about your ocd will keep you waiting for a very long time. Better to start now and have faith that motivation will come with improvement. Depression may be the culprit in your motivational issues, so that may need to be addressed.

    The only other thing to comment on in your first post is the obsessional fear regarding the attractiveness of female genitalia. I’ve heard this from a lot of male ocd sufferers. It needs to be understood that people in general find genitals to be a bit silly looking and we find them arousing only within the context of the person we are with and what we are doing with them. Some people have fascinations with genitals on their own but I think it is somewhat less common. The HOCD sufferer is likely to think they are gay because they have a thought about vagina looking odd. Well, everything looks odd down there, make or female, and it looks even more odd when you burden it with analysis.

    As for your second post, I can’t give you a satisfactory answer regarding what is going on with married men who “find out” they are gay. I comment on it in part 4 of this blog, but in the end you have to live with the uncertainty that this scary thing, whatever it is, could happen to you (you could also be struck by a meteor and telling me that gravity is a premonition).

    Regarding the use of straight porn, consider that you are basically sacrificing something that could be a healthy and fun part of your sexual world for something compulsive and self-destructive. Better to set rules for yourself that involve NOT masturbating to straight porn as a response to an hocd spike.

    In the end, you are not going to get the guidance you need from online forums. The best option for you is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with an OCD specialist. Get that and you have every reason to believe you can get your freedom from ocd back.

  • Drake89, if I told you that a woman who identified as straight found lesbian porn to be arousing, would you assume she was a lesbian? Being aroused by a sexual thought, whether or not it is the sexual activity you would generally pursue in real life, is a normal experience that has nothing to do with defining one’s orientation. You can read more about gay fantasies and HOCD in our article about challenges to overcoming HOCD.

    I think punching your friend is not an appropriate response for a person who is secure in their sexuality and not threatened by thoughts. It sounds like what you experienced with your friend coming out was a sort of “backdoor spike” in which the ocd says you’re gay because you didn’t act freaked out enough about your friend being gay.

    Ultimately you need to allow yourself to have whatever thoughts and feelings (and urges and sensations) you have without judging them or trying to shut them down. If the idea of being with a man for the rest of your life sounds “horrible” then you should go ahead and pursue women. Maybe you will continue to have gay thoughts, maybe you won’t. This is not about sexual orientation, but is really about you trying to control your thoughts.

  • Hello, I need a bit of closure, okay this is the situation, pretty much everything that the main article is exactly me, I know that I am straight and to be honest if I was gay or bi I would admit it, I have that kind of personality. But those kinda of thoughts give me discomfort and I walkways check down there if I get turned on. I even tried to masterbate to homosexual themes. It felt horrible, it doesn’t feel good but the first time I did it, the orgasm was short and not satisfying. I did it a second time, because I have to do everything in even numbers, hence my OCD, and same result, for me I feel like I ejaculated because of the mechanics, in other words because I was touching myself. And I looked all over the Internet and found it is normal that a straight man can tell if another man is attractive but not have any sexual attraction to that person. Aesthetics essentially. And for me I do like “girly” stuff like taking care of my looks sometimes, gardening- or as I call it botany lol, and interior design and stuff like that but people like my sis tell me that doesn’t make me gay what makes you gay is well being gay lol person who wrote the article can you give me a bit of feed back on my comment sorry lol

    • Hi JKL77,

      Having an interest in gardening or interior design isn’t evidence of being gay any more that than playing sports is evidence of being straight. The recent rash of pro athletes acknowledging that they are gay is ample proof of that.

      I am guessing that the average guy could masturbate while thinking of paint drying and still have an orgasm. As you noted, “the mechanics” are such that you are likely to ejaculate regardless of what thoughts you are having when you masturbate.

      And yes, it is normal and OK for men to recognize that other men are physically attractive.

      Finally, allow me note that you don’t actually need “closure” on this issue, and that your attempts at finding closure may actually prolong your discomfort. My recommendation is that you instead accept that you are a guy who likes gardening, interior design, and taking care of his appearance, and who is able to acknowledge that some men are physically appealing.

  • Hello,
    I am a long term OCD sufferer, I have had OCD since childhood from different topics from cartoons to religion. However, I have always been comfortable with my sexuality and my thoughts on girls and women. As well, as being accepting of gay people and other minorities.

    This was until, I had a rectal examination, which was unexpected as a family friend took me to see a doctor for a urinary infection. I was caught off guard as I was not expecting this, my body language refused but the doctor insisted and I just let him. In the upcoming months I felt frustrated and angry as I felt that I was raped.

    I felt i was unable to stand up for myself like any man would and I just started to have nightmares and I was unable to sit on a chair as I felt I was going to get raped.

    I felt I could no longer qualify to be a heterosexual man. I truly felt ashamed as this was before I had had any sexual experiences with women. ThIs got worst as I remember, there was a gay guy at my workplace( although I am not sure if he was gay or not but he displayed many effeminate mannerisms) who I thought was thinking I was gay.

    Then I thought, maybe he is thinking I am a hypocrite, how can I still call myself straight after this has happened. This just got worst as I read on the internet that so people had unwanted thoughts when they are trying to masturbate. So now, each time I am trying to masturbate to the women I like I see this individual’s face pop up or hear his name. All with the intention of making me doubt myself wondering was I masturbating because I liked the women or because of this person .

    I feel like if the OCD is like the bullies at my workplace who used to hit me, trying to do me harm and trying to take away something I truly cheerished. This coming from negative self-talk. I could go on and on but I would like recommendations as to which therapies could help me as this last 5-6 years have been the harshes in my life from social isolation, racial discrimination, death of family members and issues with my parents. I feel emasculated.

    • Hi Tim,

      Your comments strongly suggest OCD. It is important to remind yourself that just because you think something doesn’t mean it is true. Ultimately, there is no connection between having a rectal examination and being gay. Likewise, it is important to remind your self that your co-worker is not able to read your mind. And even if he could, what he (or anyone) thinks of your sexuality is not particularly important. I strongly suggest you seek out Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with an OCD specialist who can help you address your OCD symptoms, as well as the negative self-talk you mentioned. Take care.

  • I am a straight person who never thought of boy to have sex etc. in my past. I had porn addiction and i have been suffering from hocd for last 4 months and these days your website helped me a lot bcz I knew what the hell is problem with me and your website almost reduced my depression and anxiety but still I am confused bcz I don’t know why I am loosing interest in girls but still not attracted to men. so please help me what the hell is happening with me. I am still looking for my sexuality ‘who am i’. but I don’t want to become gay or bi. please help .

    • Hi John,

      Thanks for your comment. Losing interest in women and being gay are not the same thing. You say you are not attracted to men, and that indicates that you are not gay. Your loss of interest in women is an entirely separate matter. Perhaps your porn addiction is a factor. There has been some research that indicates excessive porn reduces libido. Click here to read a a good article about the impact of porn on libido.

  • So for people in these conundrums, how do know you’re NOT repressing yourself? Does a repressed person enjoy gay thoughts, but even if they might feel ashamed about them later?

    Also, I tested negative for OCD, but I do have a generalized anxiety disorder and have had what I can only describe as HOCD before. I haven’t dated in a year and haven’t had sex in three. I’ve never been particularly interested in sex in general anyways unless I am approached by a girl first. Anyways, my lack of interest often causes me to think that I must be gay, since I evidently am not really that into girls. I get horrendous distracting panic when that happens though, and as far as I can tell, it is not an enjoyable thought to have.

    So for instance, there were certain things that happened to me when I was very young. I didn’t talk about those things until I was 20, even though I always knew what had happened to me, but I just told myself it wasn’t a big issue and figured it would work itself out over time. Still, I knew what had happened. Is that repression? Or does repression make you completely forget all of that ?

    • Unknown,

      You note that you have an overall lack of interest in sex, and wonder if that makes you gay. That’s like saying you don’t like ice cream at all, so you must like chocolate ice cream. Perhaps your lack of interest has nothing do with being gay or straight.

      On the other hand, you also indicate that you like sex just fine when women approach you. That sounds pretty straight to me. I’ve yet to meet a gay guy who suddenly likes straight sex just because a woman shows interest in him. You may also want to make note of the whole “horrendous distracting panic” you experience when you have gay thoughts. That doesn’t sound like any gay guys I know.

      As for wondering how you “know” you are not “repressing yourself”, the short answer is that you don’t get to know. Neither do I. Maybe I’m gay and don’t know it. That’s just one of life’s many uncertainties one must accept. But not knowing if you are repressed is not the same thing as being repressed. And the whole “repressed sexuality” thing is a bit of a paper tiger anyway. I have been treating HOCD for close to fifteen years, and have had exactly one client who was actually a closeted homosexual. It took less than one session together for us to realize this, after which she eagerly accepted that she was a lesbian (because she actually knew it all along).

  • Hello everyone,

    I’m a 28 year old male from Switzerland. Please excuse my poor english skills.

    I’d like to thank you so much, because I find your articles about HOCD so interesting and helpful to me.

    Since elementary school I had always romantic feelings for girls and at the age of maybe 11 or 12 years, I started having also sexual fantasies about girls/ women.

    So, since then I had so many times crushs on girls in my school, but every time I was too shy to ask a girl for a date or something.

    At the age of 21 I was very hard in love with a girl I knew from university and asked her for a date. So we had a couple of dates but I was too reserved to kiss her or say her I was in love with her. A few months later she had a boyfriend (not me).

    Last summer I was again in love with a girl and this time, everything went fine: I kissed her after our second date. We spend a wonderful time together. And maybe the most important thing: A lost my virginity to her and realized that sleeping with a girl I’m in love with is the most beautiful thing on earth for me.

    Unfortunately, she ended our relationship after two months. In the first nights after, I cried during hours in my bed.

    At the start of this year I was on a party in the appratment of a friend. I was sitting there on a sofa with some guys and suddenly I was thinking about one of the other guys “why does he not have a girlfriend? he is an attractive and very friendly man” and just a second after this thougt I was scared to death because I thought: “oh may god, am I gay?”

    And since that moment, I spend almost every free moment with thining about the question if I’m gay or not. It would be very strange for me to be gay, but maybe it could accept it. I don’t want to be gay but if it’s the truth, I’m going to live as a gay man.

    I look at every man on the streets an check myself, if I find him attractive. I had a couple of times crushs on attractive and friendly men which scares my to death every time. I read in the internet about coming out and homosexuality. I know that many people with HOCD look gay porns just to check for arousals but I didn’t so far because the possibilty of feeling arousal scares me too much.

    The strange thing is, I’m absolutely not homophobic. I even have one or two gay buddies. I see beeing gay as a natural, normal thing which is in my opinion of a high degree genetically related.

    I also started thinking about my past. In the last few years, I met maybe two or three times other men which triggered in the first moment a sort of crush or attractivness or amorousness in me that was very frightening to me. But after I knew them better, the feeling disappeared and I realized, I just wanted to be good friends with them.

    But now I reflect very often on these situations if they meant that I’m a latent homosexual. Or maybe it were beginnings of a HOCD which were cancelled for some reason?

    In my sexual fantasies I sometimes imagine of seeing a straight couple having sex, and then I sometimes imagine of beeing not only the man having sex with the woman but also beeing the women having sex with the man. So far this fantasies were a normal part of my sexual fantasies and I never refected much about it but now, I fear that they are an indicator of latent homosexuality.

    But at the same time, I think I’m straight: I NEVER had a sexual fantasy of having sex with another man in my whole life. And I was so often in love with girls and never with a man. In all my romantic and sexual dreams and daydreams appeared only girls.

    The most shocking thing for me woudn’t be beeing gay. What I fear the most is the possibility of never falling in love with a girl and never have sex with a girl again.

    I’m under medical treatment by an psychiatrist now since three weeks. He said he doesn’t think I’m gay and that I’d be a very good example for an OCD-sufferer.

    And since my youth I have a long history of anxiety disorder, dysmorphophobia and eating disorder. All kind of problems which are related to OCD.

    But the problem is: These homosexual feelings feel so REAL…very often I’m convinced that I AM gay and I denied it so far during my whole life.

    It’s all so corrupting…but thanks for reading folks.

    Greetings from Johannes

    • Hi Johannes,

      Sorry for the delay in replying. Your comment was originally diverted to our spam file.

      I’m not sure how having a random thought about a guy at a party being attractive makes you gay? I’m straight and I think there are lots of attractive guys in the world. The problem is that you are over-valuing this thought and spending way too much time trying to figure why you had the thought. The ampunt of time this thought deserves is exactly zero.

      You note that you have in the past had “crushes” on a few men for a “moment”. But you also note that you were frightened by this thought each time. That doesn’t sound gay – that sound like HOCD.

      Your fears of never having sex with a girl again and never falling in love with a girl again are extremely common in HOCD.

      It sounds like your psychiatrist has accurately identified the problem as OCD. I encourage you to continue treatment, but be sure he understands how to appropriately treat your OCD using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

  • As I was growing up I never knew what gay was. I was a curious from about 12 to 27. I had gay moments but never slept with a dude or had sexual incounters. At the age of 27 I decided that this was not for me but consentalty battle with what if I was gay battling my thoughts, action, the way I talked. My core values and desires do not aline with my thought process. I been anxious about the thoughts, searching constantly online for hope of this going away, It freaked me out that I can never love a woman again, I am going to lose my way with sexual arosal with a woman and the thoughts are going to become me. I fight with them all the time and it has become demoralizing and debilitating. I am not gay but I feel like I am, my thoughts never go to sleep, they are constantly intruding my thought process not of sexual thoughts but what if I’m gay. All of a sudden every dude is triggering anxioty what the heck is that.

    What I am saying is , I desire to love one woman, i get arosd by women, my desire is to marry a woman and make love to a woman. I can’t see myself hand and hand with a dude. My past is one thing but who I am today and what I want is another. Yet I can’t break this anxiety thinking if I am gay or not. My brain is flooded with unwanted thoughts and emotions and it is killing me. I just want to be normal and think clear. I feel weak and not masculine. What is this sound like to you.

    • Alex,

      You note that, in the past, you “had gay moments but never slept with a dude or had sexual encounters”. I have no idea what that means. If you weren’t having sex with men or having “sexual encounters” with men, what exactly were the “gay moments”?

      That said, you ask, what this sounds like to me, so let’s break down your comments:

      My core values and desires do not aline with my thought process

      Your core values sound pretty straight to me.

      I been anxious about the thoughts

      Sounds like HOCD to me.

      …and serching constantly online for hope of this going away

      Sounds like a compulsion to me.

      I can never love a woman again

      I see no evidence that you cannot love a woman just because you have had some unwanted thoughts.

      I am going to lose my way with sexual arousal with a woman.

      That sounds like you are afraid you will no longer be attracted to, or sexually aroused by, women, which is a classic HOCD thought.

      The thoughts are going to become me.

      Not quite sure how that would happen. We all have goofy thoughts, and our thoughts don’t “become” us.

      I fight with them (the thoughts) all the time.

      Sounds like a compulsion to me

      I am not gay…

      Sounds pretty straight to me.

      …but I feel like I am

      Sounds like HOCD to me.

      My thoughts never go to sleep, they are constantly intruding my thought process not of sexual thoughts but what if I’m gay.

      Sounds like textbook HOCD.

      I desire to love one woman, I get aroused by women, my desire is to marry a woman and make love to a woman.

      Sounds really straight to me. I’ve yet to meet a gay guy who has any of these thoughts.

      I can’t see myself hand and hand with a dude.

      Sounds pretty straight to me.

      I can’t break this anxiety thinking if I am gay or not. My brain is flooded with unwanted thoughts and emotions and it is killing me.

      Sounds like textbook HOCD to me.

      All in all, sounds like you are straight guy, who just happens to have HOCD!

  • Hello there, interesting articles!

    I have been in therapy for a while, but still there are some days that I can have a short relapse of my compulsion which is to come online and ask, and bla bla.

    Is it possible to have HOCD and Harm OCD at the same time? I’m living a very stressful family situation and seem to have developed these two. As for the HARM OCD, well in the past I was a bit impulsive and angry person and could shout my mum in a bad way, even sometimes slammed her and felt like shit afterwards. So the fear remains there that I might be violent and do some horrible (which I don’t want, as I love her) ironically, such thoughts lead me to have bad mood and even reply bad to my mum.

    As for the second, well man.. I’m 23 years old. Have been deeply in love twice with girls. I’m virgin but when I madeout with this girl it felt really like heaven. I have only thoughts of girls all my life. But as for the last year or such I have these stupid thoughts, even can find myself uncomfortavle around a handsome man, as I fear that recognizing he is handsome is practically admitting I’m gay lol.

    I have even come to the point that since such thoughts can be recurring I say to myself, “ok I’m gay” but then I think… wait a moment I become a Casanova whenever I see a pretty girl and can’t prevent flirting with her so maybe I’m bi” and such, an entire rumination until I come back to the point of not knowing who I am, but simply that a pretty girl specially Russian hypnotizes me!

    So yeah my question goes to the grain in the sense that, are all this OCD’s exchangable between them and can you have different kinds of them at the same time? Oh, I should also mention the lesser one sometimes of thinking I’m going crazy 🙂

    • Hi Bob on the roof,

      Thanks for your comments.

      First off, I’m glad that you can recognize that one of your compulsions is to go online and ask questions about your OCD! That said…

      There is nothing unusual about HOCD and Harm OCD at the same time. They are not separate conditions, just variations on a theme. Or to put it another way, one is chocolate and one is vanilla, but they are both ice cream. In other words, they are both just OCD. And yes, thinking you are going crazy is also very common in OCD. We have treated many clients who have had all three of these obsessions at the same time.

  • when i was 11 i did something kinda gay it wasn’t sex or anything like that it was just like a touch (not in a pedophile way) i didn’t like it at all and I’ve been straight all my life since that happened and i regret doing that i don’t even know why i would do it and im sure im not gay and i always have to repeat myself that im not gay i get images in my head i dont want and i cant go out because i feel someone might see me gay or that i would act feminine i cant look at people of the same sex at the face i had sex many times i enjoyed it all the time. And im not scared that i wouldnt be accepted by people im just scared of being someone im not wich is straight so can you please help me and tell me if this is a type of HOCD

    • Hi Frank,

      If I have this right, you had minimal, one-time, same sex experimentation as a child, but:

      a) it was just a touch, not sex

      b) you didn’t like it

      c) you regret it

      d) you don’t even know why you did it (hint: you were a child)

      e) you’ve been straight all of your life

      f) you are sure you are not gay

      g) you have enjoyed straight sex many times and have enjoyed it

      That sounds very straight to me. And yes, all of what you wrote sounds exactly like HOCD. Especially when you note that your real fear is that you will somehow be someone you’re not, which is essentially impossible (but also a fairly common fear in HOCD).

      Your goal is to stop doing compulsions and avoidant behaviors (repeating to yourself that you are straight, not going out, not looking at men in the face, etc.), and to accept that your brain likes to lie to you about your sexual orientation. But you don’t have to believe or even pay attention to that lie.

      Finally, allow me add that, if someone thinks of you as being gay or feminine, that’s their concern, not yours. I am quite confident that some people have thought I was gay, to which the only reasonable response is “so what”.

  • I don’t know if its strange but I have been obsessed with gay people, gay stories, gay stuff overall and I constantly talk about it. Now I’m wondering if I might be gay because of the obsession. I always been attracted to men not women. I know I’m straight but the thoughts are killing me, and Im reading other forums for reassurance

    • Hi Lola,

      Thinking and talking a lot about gay stuff doesn’t make one gay. If, as you note, you’ve always been attracted to men, and as you also note, you find these thoughts to be really uncomfortable, then you are likely to be a straight person who just happens to have HOCD.

  • Hi. First of all, I’d like to congrat you on the excellent article! it’s really helpfull.

    I’m 23 years old and as long as I remember, I have always been attracted to men. I’m currently on a relationship for about a year and a half with my boyfriend.

    My story started about 2 months ago, when I went on a party with my friends (all female) and sudennly i felt some kind of physical attraction towards the one i consider my best friend. This thougt scared me to death!
    She is a relationship with a girl, so i don’t know to wich point this has triggered the situation.

    Since that night I’ve never been the same person. I’m always anxious, nervous about the possibility of being in love with her and that thought just freaks me out.

    When i hang out with my boyfriend i’m anxious all the time, thinking i’m “cheating on him” because of this thoughts that seem to never leave my brain!

    This thought slowly turned to something like “Can i be turning lesbian?” and i started to search on the internet and everywhere about how someone starts to be gay. Of course, all of this led me to feel even more anxious, till I found your article, wich seems to fit my symptoms.

    However, I still have a lot of doubts. Some days I even doubt the way I feel about my boyfriend. I know i love him, but somehow things have changed and when he gets closer i can’t feel aroused, only anxious. All of this is worrying me a lot. I can’t picture myself on a relationship with a woman and don’t want to lose him!

    When i’m watching tv or i’m walking on the street, i seem to focus my attention more on women than on men! I find myself thinking “this girl is so much more attractive than that man” and I’ve clearly become obsessed with the female parts. I don’t remember to have noticed them so much as I do now, and this makes me feel bad…

    I have a few questions:

    1. All i’ve been feeling for the last 2 months seem to fit in the HOCD thing, except for the lack of attraction towards my boyfriend.. i mean, i don’t know, can this be a consequence?
    2. What can i do to stop feeling guilty about the thought of mentally “have cheated” on him, because of what I felt towards my friend on that night?
    3. The last night I had a dream about her, and on that dream we were kissing each other. I woke up feeling very anxious, thinking it might prove that i’m actually in love with her. Can this, as well, be a part of the HOCD?

    I feel so helpless, i’d give anything to get back my old “me”! I used to be happy with my boyfriend and life in general.. now all i can think about are doubts and more doubts.

    • Hi Tina,

      To answer your questions…

      1) The feeling of diminished attraction to one’s partner is extremely common in HOCD. Part of this is that anxiety is a very powerful feeling and it may be overwhelming your experience of attraction. But more importantly, you are over-attending to your feelings and and over-valuing your feelings. Most people without HOCD don’t spend any time at all analyzing their attraction to their partner.

      2) You haven’t cheated on your boyfriend just because of something you thought or felt. It would only be cheating if you actually acted on those thoughts and feelings, which sounds like something you have no interest in doing. Simply put, if thoughts and feelings about sex with (or attraction to) other people is “cheating”, then every person who has ever had a boyfriend or girlfriend is a cheater because everyone has thoughts and feelings about other people.

      3) There is nothing unusual about people with HOCD (or people without HOCD) having sexual activity in their dreams which doesn’t match their waking life. I am guessing that you have had all sorts of weird dreams in your life, and this is just one more example of that. It doesn’t “prove” anything except that you, like everybody else on the planet, have dreams that are flavored by the content of your daily thoughts, feelings and experiences.

      You state that “I’m 23 years old and as long as I remember, I have always been attracted to men”, which does not sound like any of the lesbians I know. The feeling of “doubt” is the core experience of HOCD. I encourage you to accept these unwanted thoughts and feelings as just being a normal part of HOCD, and to resist the urge to analyze them.

      Take care.

  • Hello,

    I have been dealing with HOCD for a few years and I am just on the edge of finally extinguishing it. The only issue I have left are these physical sensations.

    Whenever I see a man who is slightly attractive, I get extreme anxiety and feel like I have to throw up. Accompanying this is my obsession about NOT getting an erection or any bloodflow in my penis. I critically analyze my penis to check for any signs of movement (I know, this is bad). Sometimes, it goes on for many hours (as much as 7 hours).

    Is it possible that simply putting this much attention and anxiety around not feeling my penis getting larger COULD be the reason that this happens.

    I need to know if my theory is correct, because if it is, I can simply stop giving it so much attention.

    Thank you, your articles are amazing.

    • Hi Jeremy,

      Your comment brings up one of the key things about OCD – when people over-attend to thoughts, feelings or sensations, they make these things seem far more important than they actually are. In other words, your over-attending to your penis sensations (both mentally and physically checking for arousal and blood flow) is making things much worse for you.

      You are spending waaaaaaaay too much time thinking about your penis. Let it do whatever it wants to do, without analyzing it and without checking it for signs of arousal or blood flow.

  • Ok so a few months ago i thought I was bi because i admired some guys’ looks and body (Althought now I know that I was never a bi because I never thought of going out with them or kissing them or having sex with them). I only THOUGHT I was bi and I didnt mind it because I had STRONG love for girls. And one day my friend told me that gays are always bi first but lose interest to girls and finally become gay. And that day was the start of my nightmare. I was so scared that I will lose interest in girls and now it seems like I almost did lose interest in girls. Sometimes I dont feel arousal to girls at all and sometimes I do. When I dont, I get freaked out so bad and i get so anxious and I start thinking whether I am gay. But I have loved, been attracted to girls my whole life for 18 years. I try to convince myself that I cant just suddenly turn gay but this only lasts for a few days and hocd comes back.

    When ever I am anxious I try to check whether I am attracted to guys and whenever I see dicks and six packs I dont get hard on my private area and I am not aroused but my mind tells me that I am trying to deny that I like it and I get confused whether I am just denying that I like them or whether I actually dont feel anything.

    I also saw from the internet that real gays fear the consequence of coming out whereas hocd people fear being gay. At first I was fearing being gay but now my mind tells me that I am really gay and I am fearing because of consequence of coming out not becuase I am scared of being gay. This freaks the hell out of me and makes me so anxious and scared that I might be really gay. ANd then I dont even know whether I am attracted to guys or not.

    The worse thing is when I am successful convincing that I am not attracted guys but then I feel I am not attracted to girls anymore and this makes the cycle continue, thinking I might be gay cuz I feel I am not attracted to girls anymore.

    And recently I have the fear whether I am hocd or really gay becuase although I dont feel any sexual, romantic arousal from gay sex and hot males, I dont feel disgusted either and I get SOOO scared of this. What if I am gay now because I am not disgusted by the though but I just dont feel anything.

    Last night for the first time i had a wet dream where I was looking at a guys dick which was moving (and it was covered because he was wearing a sportswear), there was no sex or me sucking his dick or anything, it was just looking at it moving and it was a wet dream. and I got so scared after the dream i started panicking. Can you please help me?

    Is it possible to suddenly lose interest in girls after all the 18 years of loving girls? I really dont want to be gay. I keep thinking I am denying that I am gay, I am so scared and I cant stop thinking about being gay.

    And now, my anxiety level went down a lot in the last week but it came back badly last night because of the thought that I am not fearing and am not terrified and I thought this meant that I am not terrified by gay sex/gay stuff anymore and thus I am truely gay now. I became so scared. I also read an article saying HOCD people are terrified and disgusted by gay thoughts but I dont feel terrified or disgusted anymore (i used to until a few weeks ago) but i just dont feel anything AT ALL just no arousal and no terror. SO I am scared that I might really be gay now. Is that possible? PLease help me.

    • Hi Jack,

      Everything in your comment sounds like HOCD.

      You wrote: “Recently I have the fear whether I am hocd or really gay becuase although I dont feel any sexual, romantic arousal from gay sex and hot males, I dont feel disgusted either and I get SOOO scared of this. What if I am gay now because I am not disgusted by the thought but I just dont feel anything.”

      That’s like saying “I have always liked broccoli. But I noticed today that I am not disgusted by brussel sprouts, so now I am concerned that I don’t like broccoli and secretly like brussel sprouts.”

      Have you considered the possibility that you can take your lack of disgust as face value. In other words, maybe your lack of disgust doesn’t mean that you are gay – maybe it just means that you are not disgusted by homosexuality.

      The bottom line is that you are overanalyzing your thoughts, feelings, and sensations, and now even your dreams. So you had a wet dream last night. There is nothing unusual about this, and it says absolutely nothing about your sexual orientation. People dream about all sorts of things that are far more bizarre than seeing a guy’s penis move.

  • Hi Tom,

    So at this juncture, the thing that really throws me off and into mini anxiety attacks is every time I read about Freud or Psychoanalysis and homosexuality. You did handily debunk the “latent homosexuality” theory, but then I heard about Reaction Formation, where something that causes you distress or anxiety causes you to act the opposite way. For instance, if I was afraid that I was gay, I might try to cover it by being homophobic or by acting like I was more interested in girls than I actually am.

    I am 26 and spend inordinate amounts of time dwelling on this topic. I have gotten to the point where when I panic, I can say to myself “stop panicking, and if you’re actually gay, just enjoy the thoughts”. This usually works well, but I feel like it’s just another way of checking/reassurance. Upon hearing about reaction formation though, I thought “uh oh, what I just pretend to be interested in women because I am trying to fool other people or myself”?

    The only logical explanation I have is that due to some sexual abuse by another male in my childhood, I associated what happened as “gay”, and now constantly worry that because of the various things that happened and the fact that I was complicit in them, I was either gay or afraid that people would find out what happened to me and would think I was gay. Now the question is “Am I reacting the way I am because I’m insecure from what happened to me as a child, or because I’m actually hiding something”?

    Still, I feel like after five years of going around in circles with this idea, if I was gay I would have figured it out by now given all the time I spend thinking about it. I am just plain confused…would love any insight you might be able to offer. Thank you!

    • Hi Drew,

      Reading about psychological theories in an effort to better understand your unwanted thoughts about your sexual orientation is a compulsion that will only make your OCD worse. I strongly encourage you to stop reading such things immediately.

      That said, as for your concern that your interest in women is just a reaction formation, I would like to suggest an alternative theory – maybe you just like women! There is simply no reason to search for complicated explanations of why you find women attractive. After all, do you question why you like chocolate or movies or sports or whatever else it is that you like? Of course not. To use a quote often attributed to Freud, “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar”.

      Finally, allow me to note that you needn’t tell yourself to enjoy your unwanted thoughts about being gay. All you need to do is allow them to exist. Take a neutral stance towards the presence of your unwanted thoughts – they are neither good nor bad, they just “are”.

  • Could you please help me with this? Although as I have mentioned, I have always loved girls, now I dont get aroused by looking at girls or i barely do (barely erection) and this really makes me panick but when i see gay stuff i am not aroused that much either which relieves me. But then when i look at attractive women again and i dont feel aroused that scares me again and makes me think that I am gay but I am denying. And this scares me so much. Help me please.

    Is this just anxiety making me feel not aroused by women’s areas?

    • Hi Jack,

      The most important thing you can do to address your OCD is to accept the discomfort of your unwanted thoughts (i.e, accepting that your brain produces the thought “OMG, what if I no longer find women attractive!”), without doing compulsions in an effort to blunt the force of the thoughts. For example, you have submitted some variant of this question to us eight times over the past 48 hours. This is a compulsion that will never result in relief. A better course of action would be to allow the unwanted thought about your sexual orientation to exist without seeking reassurance about it.

      I encourage you to seek Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with an OCD specialist. Take care.

  • Thank you for your response. Is this the same thing as “mindfulness”?

    • Hi Drew,

      Yes – when we talk about accepting unwanted thoughts and paying them no heed, we are talking about mindfulness and acceptance. A good resource for better understanding these concepts in terms of their application to OCD and anxiety is here. You may also want to read a wonderful article about mindfulness written by one of our staff therapists, Kimberley Quinlan.

  • I regretfully want to go back to my past and fix my mistake of watching lesbian porn and lesbian and yuri manga. I only watch/read out of curiousity.Now my mind is playing with me with the uncertainity. I don’t want to be a lesbian or bisexual. I never been attracting sexually or emotionally. Now feeling guilty or denial but deep down I know I’m straight. I constantly checking/reassurance. I tend to spike when it comes gay couple, or rainbow, the L or G. When I approach female, I either want to be like them or wanted to be their friends. Does it sound that I’m a lesbian or do I have hocd

    • Hi Lola,

      Going back to undo the past is not an option that is available to us. But accepting the past is.

      You watched lesbian porn out of curiosity, but you don’t find the idea of being with a woman to be sexually or emotionally satisfying. That sounds pretty straight to me.

      I encourage you to accept that you are a curious person who found lesbian porn and Yuri Manga to be worth exploring. That doesn’t make you a lesbian. I enjoy reading detective novels in which people get killed on a regular basis, yet I am not a killer, and have no interest in being a detective. I assume there are many things in life that you have explored only to discover that they were not that interesting to you, or didn’t fit who you are. That’s OK.

  • hi sir i’m a 20 years old girlplease help me
    i’m really confused i can’t live anymore !!! i suffer from hocd from 6 years !! i always had straight dreams but from 3 months i had 2 gay dreams and i can’t live with any more i’m despreate ..!!! i’m with my boyfreind from 2 years i looooove him !!!! but this dreams kills me !! ok the first dream ( i dreamed that i’m surrounded by two naked girls but i didn’t saw their faces and they proposed me to have sex and it excited me and i woke up extreamly scared.
    the second is even harder i dreamed that a women i don’t know came to our house than she went out but suddenly i was like rubbing my body on a body without seeing her body or seeing what i’m doing exactly i was happy to be arousal and i said to myself ( finally i’m not cold any more because of this hocd but why i don’t get excited like this with my boyfreind ) and in this minute i realise that she is a women and say to my self ( but what are you doing she is a women ) and in this moment i saw her body because i didn’t see it before in the action and i’m not excited any more !!!!! and i woke up terrified
    PS : in my straight dreams persons that i dream of really like in reality and excite me in the dream because they are beautiful and sexy or …. but in those dreams i feel like not excited for them or whatever …. i don’t know what to do help me pleaaaaaaaaaaase i can’t live any more

    • Hi Julie,

      Dreams are just dreams and they have no meaningful connection to reality. Humans dream every night when they sleep, so I am assuming you have had thousands of dreams which have contained images and situations that have been unrealistic. Think of a dream as a piece of fiction. It may be compelling, but that doesn’t mean it is actually happening.

      Your goal is to accept that human brains think up all sorts of wild things – even when we sleep! Much of what we think, including dreams, is unimportant an doesn’t merit any attention.

  • thank you sir but in the first dream i concluded that i wasn’t excited for the girl in the dream i was excited by the action not by her it self and i’m sure of it !!!! is this possible ??
    thanks sir

    • Julie,

      It doesn’t matter if you were excited by the girl or by the action – it was just a dream.

  • but how to say it’s just a dream when some nights i have some straight dreams about guys that i saw in the day and really liked or excited me and get erotic dreams about them !!! that’s why i told you that i conclued that this 2 dreams were about action ::!!!!

    • Julie,

      I say it is a dream because…it is just a dream. You are over-valuing the content of the dream, as if dreaming something makes it true.

      As I noted in my earlier reply, people dream about all sorts of things. Dreams are inherently bizarre and unrealistic, and there is no reason to believe that this particular dream has special meaning. And if your dreams are of particular significance, then the “straight” erotic dreams you report having must be “proof” that you are straight.

  • So i had classic hocd before and then for a while the ocd theme switched.. and now im back to the fear of being gay..thid time i focused more on the romantic feelings rather than the sexual ones…its been hell…. cuz i kinda know sexually i want women and thats really how it all started…. but the romantic attractions feel so real…..i feel lik i want men romantically and its the worst. I wud be ok with beig bisexual as long as i didnt fall in love with men….thats my only thing…..i feel lik im not ocd and its horrible…i feel so gay and please help

    • Hi Lee,

      I wouldn’t get too concerned about changes in the theme of your OCD. It is extremely common for the theme of one’s obsessions to morph over time, and to cycle back to specific themes that the individual finds particularly upsetting.

      It sounds like you are over-analyzing your thoughts and feelings in an attempt to differentiate between “sexual” feelings and “romantic” feelings. This attempt to figure out what your thoughts and feelings are, and what they mean, is a mental compulsion.

      The bottom line is that you don’t need to analyze your thoughts and feelings at all, and doing so will only fuel your obsessions. Just allow whatever thoughts and feelings you experience to exist and make no effort to understand them or categorize them or control them. Accept that your brain, just like everybody else’s brain, will continue to come up with weird, unwanted thoughts and feelings. The key is to not pay attention to them and to not value them as being “important” – to not give them fuel.

  • Hi. I think I may be sufferring from HOCD. I am 25 years old and am diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. For all my life since I was a child I was attracted to women. 3 years ago I was psychotic, and i was also masturbating. Then I realized that I masturbated to the thought of a man. After that I felt like i turned gay but it felt so unnatural. I felt like I had compulsive sexual thoughts about men but I didnt want them. I felt miserable. I tried to prove to myself that I wasn’t gay by going to a club and dancing sexually with a woman. I’m not sure how long these unwanted thoughts lasted. Unfortunately later that year i became more psychotic and was hospitalized. The doctors put me on risperdal and it completely blunted my libido. For a long time I just assumed that I was straight and that i was just going thruogh some kind of phase. Recently, the thought that I might be gay popped up into my mind again because i started to think about what i experienced before. The thing is I dont ever remember having gay dreams. Ive only had heterosexual dreams my entire life until now. When I talked to my parents and my brother and one of my closest friends about this they all told me that my supposed gay feelings were a delusion. For example, Ive had delusions that I was from a different religion and thus going to Hell, that I’m evil, etc. They say that me thinking im a homosexual was a delusion like those. My mom says that me having only heterosexual dreams are a proof that I am straight. Is this true? I’ve also tried to pursue a girl romantically recently. but im wondering if its due to me subconscioulsy wanting to prove to myself that im straight. And I also feel sexually aroused when i see pictures of naked women or women dressed provactively. But Im still afraid that those feelings that I had before might still be there since i can’t tell due to my blunted libido. I read some places that sexual orientation can change spontaneously. Is this true? Im afraid that mine did and i wont be able to go back to being straight. Any help would be appreciated.

    • Hi John,

      Regardless of what you have heard, people do not spontaneously change their sexual orientation. Furthermore, just because you masturbated to the thought of being a with a man doesn’t make you gay. In fact, it sounds like you had an emotionally negative response to having done so, whereas a gay man would almost certainly have a positive response. And gay dreams do not mean one is gay. People dream all sorts of things that have absolutely no relationship to reality.

      The most important advice I can give you is to discuss your thoughts with your therapist and psychiatrist. Take care.

  • hi can you help me please
    i suffer from hocd from 7 years i havea huge probleme i’m going die
    one day i was watching a movie suddenly a men kisses his wife’s toes , i suddenly remembered that when i was 8 and my brother 6 he always kissed my toes ( childhood games ) so i said why i don’t try to imagine a woman leg and star kising her toes and see if i’m excited or not just to be calm and this idea won’t hunt me ..
    so i started and trying to do the exact moves that my brother were doing to me while imaging the toes where in my mouth and suddenly i feel arousal whyyyyyyy please ??? i never liker women legs never want to do it !!!! i feel that i’m going to die ….

    • Hi Kate,

      As you note, what you did with your brother was a “childhood game”. In fact, it does not sound like that experience was even remotely sexual. That said, it may have been fun and pleasurable.

      You also note that you have OCD, and for many (most?) people with OCD, the content of their obsessions tends to focus on things that they find unacceptable on some level. It sounds like you find the idea of being a lesbian unacceptable. That certianly doesn’t mean that you are a lesbian, or even that you dislike lesbians. It just means that you are very uncomfortable with the idea of you being a lesbian. Now add to that the fact that you have OCD, and you have the perfect recipe for obsessions about being a lesbian.

      The real problem here is that you decided to test yourself when you had an unusual, unexpected thought. A better approach would be to accept that, just like everyone else, you sometimes have unusual, unexpected thoughts, and that these thoughts do not merit testing. In fact, for people with OCD, testing is the worst possible thing to do, as it is likely to lead to a spike in obsessions (as it did for you).

      The bottom line is accept the existence of the weird thought, without testing yourself to see what the weird thought means. It doesn’t mean anything, other than that you are a normal person who has normal, though sometimes unexpected thoughts. And being someone with OCD, you are likely to then obsess about some of these thoughts.

  • Please help me im 16, my first experience with HOCD was a few months ago, i woke up from an HOCD dream about a male person, i was terrified and traumatized from it, i got the ‘groin sensation’ as well from it. I spent hours looking on the internet and finally realized this was to do with HOCD. This made me feel a lot better and i felt back to normal within a few days. However a few months later when i got my depression and this is when things get really confusing for me. I slowly began to obsess over whether or not i find people of the same gender sexually attractive or just simply attractive. But now i have Bi-sexual OCD i believe. I used to have an un-shakable belief that i was straight, never would i have thought that i could possibly become bi-sexual, i simply loved women so much. I began reading story’s of how people who had been straight for most of their life, realised that they were in fact bi-sexual all along but didnt know it. At first this scared me very much, but i have got so used to these bi-sexual thoughts that i cant tell if i really am ‘discovering’ my true sexuality or not. The thoughts are so frequent that i have become used to the thought of gay sex and it isnt even repulsive anymore, its almost as though i like them, but i just dont know if i do or not.

    • Hi Zakk,

      I don’t think you had an “HOCD dream” – I think you had a gay dream. There is nothing unusual about a straight person having a gay dream. People dream all sorts of stuff that has no relationship to their life.

      Also, when people dream, they naturally have increased blood flow to their genitals. It is completely normal for men to have erections when they dream, regardless of the content. You could be dreaming about paint drying and you would have a hard-on.

      The problem here is not the dream, but your compulsive reaction to the dream. You report spending hours researching a dream that probably lasted just minutes. That math is a pretty good indicator that you have OCD. You are also reading stories about people people dealing with their sexual orientation, which is another compulsion.

      You don’t need to analyze your dreams or your thoughts, and doing so will only makes your OCD worse. I encourage you to stop doing compulsions, and accept that your brain, just like my brain and everyone else’s brain, comes up with some thoughts that are not of your choosing. Let the thought exist without giving it so much attention (preferably no attention at all).

  • Well i can sort of understand what caused the dream. I was walking home with a mate who is a probably a closet gay. He was saying all sorts of weird stuff about gay sex, i thought it was quite weird and kept ignoring him. The next day i woke up from this quite scary ‘gay’ dream. I was absolutely terrified, but read up about HOCD and i felt fine and back to normal after a few days. Then i got depression not long after, and that is when i began to analyze almost every thought i have.Surely if the thought of gay sex doesn’t provoke a huge amount of disgust, i will be more inclined to turn bisexual later in life?. I like bodybuilding and do it myslef, and i admire the physiques of people have created these amazing bodies.I and others agree that there are some ‘beautiful’ bodies that people have created, but i feel uncomfortable that i may begin to not only look at the male body as something that can be beautiful, but something that is sexually attractive also.

    • Hi Zakk,

      You wrote “surely if the thought of gay sex doesn’t provoke a huge amount of disgust, i will be more inclined to turn bisexual later in life”.

      Well, I completely disagree with that statement. I am not sure how or where you learned that a lack of disgust with something means you are likely to want that thing at some undefined point in the future. I am not even remotely disgusted by the idea of gay sex, and at the age of 56, I have yet to become gay or bi. A lack of disgust doesn’t mean you somehow want that thing. I am not disgusted by turnips, they just aren’t something I care for. And I doubt I will want them in the future.

      You also wrote “i began to analyze almost every thought i have”. And that is exactly the problem. Your analysis is a perfect example of a mental compulsion. I encourage you to stop analyzing your thoughts, and to accept that you have all sorts of thoughts, some of which you would prefer not to have (like turnips).

  • I was just wondering if it’s normal to have one or two gay thoughts before the onset of hocd? And also is it normal to start noticing men more than women while suffering with hocd? sometimes I feel as if I like these thoughts but I have next to anxiety except when my heart starts beating fast

    • Hi G.,

      It is completely normal to have any amount of gay thoughts. They are just thoughts. Gay people don’t spend their time trying to figure out what their gay thoughts mean, just as straight people don’t analyze their straight thoughts. As for “noticing men more than women”, that sounds to me like you are checking to see whether you are noticing men, which is a common compulsion in HOCD.

  • Great article mate .. I will be brief with my story just very very lost at the moment.. I’m a 29 year old male who I believe has OCD hocd I hope .. I have been in a relationship with my girl for 9 years which has had some very rough times and caused some high stress levels.. I believe this started for me a year ago where the classic am I gay question came up over a weekend but went away 2 days later . About 3 months ago my girl left me and I was lost . I have had anxiety my hole life and believe I have rocd as well.. My first obsession was over my heart I even took myself to hospital over it . Then after a panic attack one night after talking to a girl I shouldn’t have this hit .. It hit me so hard I didn’t know what I felt.. I constantly check for arousal check websites I just don’t know what to do it feels so real… Please help

    • Hi Luke,

      Thanks for your comments.

      The first thing I want to note is that gay guys don’t have nine-year romantic/sexual relationships with women. So the evidence is pretty clear that you are straight. You are overvaluing some random thoughts you had about being gay and giving them more weight than they deserve (more weight than a nine year heterosexual relationship). It is also worth noting that HOCD quite frequently accompanies ROCD. Think of them as two sides of the same coin.

      Checking yourself for arousal and checking websites to verify your sexual orientation are bound to backfire. I encourage you to seek Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with an OCD specialist, as this is your best bet in addressing these thoughts.

  • this is destroying me now, after this started I’ve tested my self with gay and recently got an erection, and it’s come to the point now where I have even masturbated to it,but I didn’t freak out that much afterwards which made me think I am gay. does this mean I’m gay? or could still be ocd?

    • Hi G,

      If I understand this correctly, it sounds like you “tested” yourself to see if you would get aroused by masturbating to a gay thought or image, and were upset to discover that you got an erection. But you would get an erection if you masturbated to anything. If you doubt that, try this experiment – masturbate while envisioning something neutral – perhaps a car driving down the road or an open field with some trees in it. I predict you will have an erection in no time flat…because you are masturbating. You could masturbate to paint drying on a wall and get an erection. And you say you didn’t “freak out” afterwards, while at the same time saying this is “destroying” you. That sounds like a bit of a “freak out” to me.

  • Hey doc im so happy to say that my hocd has reduced thanks to your article.Yesterday i was watching kids all right movie and while watching it a gay scene poped up in the movie and it had no effect on me nor did i felt aroused which i never did at first place , no excitement and the sensations were reduced drastically.

    Which makes me understand that groin sensations are nothing and it ought not be confused with erection or arousal , fear or concentrating on one particular object causes it.Doc please keep on writing such articles so people may learn more about it.

    • Hi Nando,

      Thanks for your comments. I’m glad to hear that you have found our articles helpful.

  • sorry to bother you again, before this ‘hocd’ started I had a 6 month obsession with having some form of illness or disease despite doctors telling me numerous times I was fine, now recently I have read that with ocd you have a different obsession every other day. So is it still ocd where I am obsessing over the one theme for months at a time with no other fears?

    • Hello again G.,

      I’m not sure where you read that with OCD, one will have a different obsession every day. While that is possible, it is also possible (and far more common) for a person to have one consistent theme for an extended period of time. Likewise, it is quite common for people to have multiple concurrent themes, or themes that change every so often. For example, in your case, you had health obsessions for a period of time, and now your OCD has morphed to be more focused on HOCD. Your experience is extremely common, especially for those with the more obsessional (i.e., Pure O) types of OCD such as HOCD, Harm OCD, and health anxiety.

  • Doc one thing i know is that prior to hocd i never use get this sensations in my groin while seeing guys , but since hocd has striken me this sensations have started.Can you give insight on this.

    • Hi Nando,

      The problem is not that you have sensations in your penis, but that you are over-attending to those sensations, and over-valuing them. Penises are designed to have sensations. I am confident that, prior to the onset of your HOCD, you didn’t spend much time focusing on your penis in an effort to discern if it was experiencing sensations. And you probably didn’t analyze penis sensations in an effort to discern what they meant. Simply put, your penis has been having sensations on a regular basis since you were born, but you just didn’t notice or analyze those sensations.

      If you doubt the above, then I encourage you to try this simple experiment. Go into a quiet room, and focus all of your mental energy on your baby toe. Try as hard as you can to take note of every sensation your baby toe has – every itch, tingle, sensation of warmth or wetness or whatever. If you do this, you will quickly discover that you can notice all sorts of sensations that you previously had no idea were occurring. Your baby toe isn’t suddenly having new sensations – it has always had these sensations, but you never noticed before. You are only noticing them now because you are over-attending to them.

      Penises, like little toes, do not deserve so much attention. Just let your penis exist without attending to its sensations, and without trying to figure out what those sensations mean.

  • Hello from Greece. I have these thoughts for about 2 years and I am seriously considering to act. I mean I will not kill a man, I will just kiss him etc. It is scary but the pursuit of women is scary too. Which one is real? I really am at the bottom right now. I cant enjoy flirt anymore. Maybe i should give it a try.

    • Antonis,

      Thank you for your comment. There is no way for me to know “which one is real”, as I have never met you nor performed a formal assessment of you. I encourage you to seek counseling with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD. If online therapy with one of our therapists is an option for you, we can be contacted at (310) 824-5200 (ext.4). Take care.

  • Thank you for all of the help that you have given me through your blog. I am having so much trouble with transsexual OCD. I first developed harm OCD last December and sought help. ERP did not help and I ended up in a severe depression. The theme has changed frequently but for the past 6 months, I have had first gay and now the transsexual OCD. I have a few things in my past which are making this one seem so real. I once tried a dress on in the 7th grade but did not feel anything, I have gone to websites which deal with body swapping since the 7th grade and initially found them interesting. Now when I go I am bored with them but my mind tells me to go there and when I do, I end up depressed and my transsexual thought are worse. When I stay off of them, my thoughts are better. I have always liked women and when I am out with one, my thoughts decrease.My mind tells me that I am transsexual and I need to transition but I do not know what to think. I cannot even look at pictures of transsexuals. Do you think this is OCD or might I be in denial? How would you help me? I am so tired of trying to find the answer to this.
    Thank you so much.

    • Sam,

      There is no meaningful difference between gay obsessions and transsexual obsessions. In both cases, the individual is experiencing unwanted thoughts related to their sexuality. And while I cannot provide a diagnosis via a blog, everything you report indicates that these symptoms are likely to be OCD.

      The evidence-based treatment for all variants of OCD is Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). I do not know why ERP did not help you, but the most likely reason is that the therapist did not really understand how to provide ERP effectively. I say this because most therapists are utterly clueless about OCD, and even more have never even heard of ERP.

      If we were to help you, ERP would be a large component of that treatment. We would also integrate the ERP with Mindfulness. If you are interested in treatment at our center, please call or email us through our website at

  • Doc yesterday i searched for nude female gif on Google and instead of a female there was a gay sex gif which had no effect on me but it had started my obsession again.For the past 1 month i was doing great but thanks to this gif my obsession has started again.What to do when such thoughts are surrounding you.

  • Hi,
    i am 18 years old (first year at uni), when i was around 14 someone asked me if i was a lesbian and i remember getting really anxious and freaking out, after that i didnt stop thinking about it, and eventually broke down in tears to my mum; and i cant really remember what she said but she was okay with it, i did go to a therapist (not for this, but for other reasons) and i refused to talk to her about being gay because i was terrified she would tell me that i was. Eventually the thoughts of being gay just left me, i started to really like this boy, and for three years he was all i really thought about (i had liked boys previously to this, i remember my first crush at the age of 9-10 – it was a boy). anyway fast forward four years and i got my heart broken (i think, not sure if i was in love, but i have never been so hurt by someone before), and on top of that i was on youtube one day and randomly clicked on a coming out video (i dont have a problem with gay people, although i did when i was 14 – i wouldnt watch films with gays in it etc. although this went away when the thoughts about being gay stopped) and he started talking about how he knew he was gay, and my heart dropped and i started feeling anxious believing that this was what i had thought when i was 14, and maybe i am a lesbian and have been lying to myself since (i then remembered how when i was making out with my ex i asked myself once if i was really attracted to him). After this youtube video i felt sick, and since then (its been 3 months) i spend almost all day asking myself if i am gay, i didnt know about HOCD until i started typing into google ‘is it normal to questions one sexuality’ etc.

    I still have moments of clarity where i believe i like boys and it makes me smile, but then i wonder if my mind is making me think i like boys when in fact i dont. Anyway – i know this writing isn’t very clear but i am having a mini panic attack while writing this, i havent spoken to anyone about this – although i do read a lot of forums and go on tumblr etc.
    What i really want to know is if i am gay or am suffering from HOCD – i feel sick with worry thinking that you may say i am gay.

    The reason i am speaking about this for the first time is because this morning i woke up and started thinking about this girl i hardly know, (two nights ago i dreamt about my ex, and the next day by anxiety wasnt as bad), but today its been horrendous, this girl is bi – i am not attracted to her, and she kissed a boy that i was thinking about kissing the other week, and now i cant stop thinking about her, and because of my anxiety i connected thinking about her as maybe liking her – which i really dont want to be the case. Maybe i am thinking this because i read on a forum where a girl knew she was a lesbian because she thought about a girl all the time and wanted to spend all her time with her. THis is not what i have been thinking!
    Basically, i just want reassurance – i used to be so confident and always wanted boys to notice me and want me, now i feel like i have been living a lie and that i am someone who i am not. I feel like i have lost myself.

    The reason i doubt if i have HOCD is because i dont get groinal responses, i get anxiety – like my fast flushes and i feel sick when i think about other girls who notice an attractive person – also i am consantly asking myself/wondering why i am not attracted to attractive boys i see on the street.
    I also keep having the thought ‘maybe you always knew you were different’ – is that normal, oh gosh i am really scared.
    Sorry for the Rant – but please reply i am really panicky.

    • Hi Paige,

      I am not sure where you got the idea that all people with HOCD have a “groinal response”. That is a symptom for some people with HOCD, but certaunly not all.

      Everything else you write suggests you are straight. Simply put, gay girls don’t crush on boys, don’t have three year relationships with boys, and don’t get their hearts broken by boys.

      You note that you just want reassurance, and I more than likely played into that by writing the above sentence. But a far bigger problem is all of the self-reassurance you are doing. That will anly increase your anxiety in the long run.

      You also have a giant cognitive distortion going on when you write “because of my anxiety i connected thinking about her as maybe liking her”. By that logic, you are sexually attracted to anyone (or any thing) you think about. In reality, you are entitled to have whatever thoughts happen to wander into you mind.

      Finally, let me note that just because someone asked if you were gay doesn’t mean you are gay. There’s a great quote that I think is from AA which goes something like this: “What other people think of me is none of my business”. Keep that in mind the next time someone says anything about you that leads you to question your sexual orientation.

  • Doc there s an article by an hocd sufferer and he wrote that sensations in groin are signs of arousal.I always use to thought that erections are sign of arousal and not sensations

    • Nando – The semantic line between “sensation” and “arousal” and “erection” is a gray area. No good can come from trying to parse the difference between these terms, and I encourage you not to spend even one second trying to determine the difference between them.

  • Thankyou for your wonderful articles, the most insightful I have found. So nice to find someone who actually gets this stuff!
    This all started for me about 7 months ago. But, now that I come to see things more clearly, I think I have had very obsessional tendencies for my whole life, pretty much. My son has aspergers and is very obsessional also, I wonder if I have traits. My psych thinks so. I had an eating disorder as a teen, and have always been very conscientious and hard on myself, so this seems to be a breeding ground for developing OCD!
    I have been married for 16 years and we have a lovely family of 3 kids. When I was courting with my husband I started to have very obsessional, intrusive sexual thoughts about men and women. They have returned, mostly about women, for a few periods in my life which always made me feel deeply depressed and almost suicidal. It started again about women 7 months ago.
    I have dealt with this in the past by “fixing” my mind on my husband. I did this by looking at photos, praying, or flooding my mind with images of him. I have felt, for our whole marriage, that I need to “carry” a sense of my love for him wherever I go, to counteract the lesbian images or tendencies, or whatever. I can now see that this is a compulsion and a ritual, which I have become hugely dependent on.
    It is like without this sense of being “connected” to my love for him, I feel like I am betraying our relationship, my faith, my love for my family, and I feel like I am not being true to myself. I also feel deeply depressed and miserable being without that sense of “connection” to my love for him. I know that I just need to stick with it to rid myself of this need for certainty and this constant pressure I put on myself, and to learn what love really is, ie so much more than a feeling.
    As I continue with this sense of giving up the ritual of mentally hooking into my love for hubby, I feel like I am falling without a parachute! It is truly terrifying and I am so scared I will lose this love. What if I do turn into a lesbian? What if deep down I am just a deeply selfish person who is not even capable of real love anyway?
    PS I am 42 and have loved being married. But being without this ritual, it feels like it is discounting every good thing in my life, and every good thing I have ever done. I feel like a horrible betrayer and an adulteress being like this, but I can’t go back to rituals. Let’s hope this feeling passes before too long.
    Thanks again for all your great work.

    • Hi V.,

      Your comments highlight the connection between HOCD and what is known as Relationship OCD (ROCD). I encourage you to read our article on ROCD.

      You say you feel like you are betraying your relationship, your faith, and your love for your family if you don’t experience the proper feeling state of connectedness to your husband. It seems to me that betrayal is a function of one’s actions, not their thoughts or feelings. To define yourself as an “adulteress” or a “betrayer” just for having intrusive, unwanted thoughts or feelings is being brutally and unrealistically hard on your self.

      It is unreasonable to expect anyone to always have any particular feeling, as feelings are innately transient and out of our control. And as you note, your attempts to fix this feeling in your mind is a compulsion that you have been doing for your entire marriage, and this strategy hasn’t really been effective over the long-term. I encourage you to stay strong in not doing any rituals that are aimed at fostering any specific feeling towards your husband. In the short term, you will likely continue to feel like you are “falling without a parachute”, but over time you will be weakening OCD’s hold on you. Freedom lies in challenging your fear, not in capitulating to it.

  • Im spending less time on it now , but since i read an article i felt little confused.It doesn t feel like an actual arousal ,but these sensations are so annoying , i tell you that prior to hocd i never had them and even know when i see a female bang i get a erection with no sensations.I read people with hocd getting these sensations in other parts of body to.

    • Nando – It is counterproductive to analyze your thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Just because a sensation is annoying doesn’t mean it deserves analysis.

  • The thing that bothers me is the theory of the continuum, where we all fit in between homo and heterosexuality, and we go up and down on kinsey scale through life. it means that there is some part of me that is gay. im 18 and had hocd for 2 months and this theory just fueled it. i also read on wikipedia that bisexuals have more desire towards women that heterosexuals, and masturbate more, but have low rate of succesfull relationships, which described me. i feel my world collapsed, nothing makes sense anymore

    • Hi Filip,

      First off, the Kinsey scale is a theory about an abstract, thoroughly subjective concept (a scale of one’s sexual orientation, going from really gay to really straight). It sounds like you have gotten way too caught up in the idea of this scale. I encourage you to stop analyzing where you fall on this scale.

      Also, you should take anything you read on Wikipedia with a giant boulder of salt. I don’t know if bisexual men in general actually have more sexual interest in women than straight men do, but I doubt it. But I’m absolutely certain that bisexual men in general have more sexual interest in men than straight men do. And from what you write, you don’t seem particularly fond of the idea of sex with men, so it seems implausible that you would be bisexual.

      Finally, if masturbating a lot and having a history of failed relationships with women is a sign of bisexuality, then just about every guy you or I have ever met could be described as bisexual!

  • Ok thanks. It is just hard to get used to the idea of perfect straight and gay people, rather than just straight and gay. I cannot imagine myself with a man, but i got hooked up on analyzing emotions with men to confirm they are unpleasant or non sexual. Then, from time to time, i get some feeling that i cannot explain and dont know if it is sexual. Once i said, just for checking “i need man” and i kinda disgusted myself, but when i repeated it for a few times, i didnt felt anything. Anyway, i dont really think i can become bisexual, im just affraid that ill become less straight(or more gay), and thats what makes me anxious. Wish i never saw that scale

  • Me again, sorry for bothering, i just need someone to talk to 😀 I always had weird obssesions, like becoming gay because i spend too much time with mom and sister. Or avoid buying groceries because it will stunt my growth. Hocd started when i saw some cool guy saying hello to everyone and then i was picturing some scenes just in case to make shure i dont have any gay side in me. It was hard, and i found nothing, but i couldnt get out of my head: “why did i found him cool(or attractive in some way)?” Then i was constantly imagining kissing all guys arround me for reassurance and questioning my actions in the past. I would think logically and calm down, but then some need always driven me to find reassurance again. I was thinking of gay relationship and try to imagine it very happy and with lots of smiles to see if i will feel something. i didnt, but i thought i figured out gay relationships and will soon become more and more gay. then i found about continuum theory and it scared me to death and i felt regret and guilty because i started it all and set it in motion. I went to therapist who told me she can’t tell me if i am bisexual and doesnt know if straight man can become one. Then i found about hocd and felt huge relief. Still it went on and on, and i was thinking of gay sex and penises and felt disgust, and said:”ok, i am 100% straight”, but then felt scared that i will develope perversion towards pennises. Later i thought that continuum only counts for bisexuals and that straights are just that, until few days ago when i read it all out. Now everything seems much more real, and i dont know what i am. Even when imagining gay relationships i feel something, at night i feel like im in love( with no one particular, i feel like i am going towards having gay fantasies and liking them, like i created some gayness and non ERP will make me make my peace with it. I was happy when i watched movie “Kinsey” and felt repulsed when to guys started flerting and making out, but then i saw sam men in bed and i felt some attraction. I looked it again to see if it was something less and i couldnt decide. I’m thinking if i get to like these thoughts, they will become the part of my routine, because i feel there is something(more then before) and i will have gay fantasies. I never had single one before and dont want them now either. I feel like this is no longer hocd, it is real problem. All that talk about sexual fluidity and conversions in forums make me sick. I feel now is different than before. Like my problem isnt hocd anymore, its accepting my gay side, which i never knew it was there.

    • Filip,

      You are spending waaaaaay too much time thinking about your sexual orientation and analyzing how you think about it. This is a hallmark of HOCD. The only people who spend a significant amount of time trying to figure out if their thoughts mean that they are gay are people with HOCD. Guess how much time people who don’t have HOCD spend analyzing their thoughts in an attempt to discern their sexual orientation?

      None. Not one second.

      And BTW, people don’t “convert” to being gay.

  • Thanks. I started with classic ocd, gay thoughts scared me very much. Then i read that gay people enjoy their thoughts and try to enjoy them to make sure i dont. I wouldnt like gay sex. I wouldnt like to be held by a man. Well, I was pretty sure before that i wouldnt, imagining it would make me feel..well gay and wrong, but now i dont know. I guess I am just not scared by the thoughts anymore and i got used to them. I am sure as hell i dont want to be in a gay relationship. But the fact that i can find a man attractive and sometimes get attracted in non-sexual way make me a bit gayer than 0 on scale is depressing, and hard to get used to. Not discerning my orientation to me means that i am on the edge of being bisexual. 😀 Anyway, is homeopathy doing any good for my problem? Or ACT therapy?

    • Filip,

      I must emphasize again that you are spending way too much time analyzing your thoughts and feelings. This analysis is a compulsion, and will not get you anywhere except deeper into OCD.

      You say “I sure as hell don’t want to be in a gay relationship”. That sounds pretty straight to me.

      You also note that you have not been able to “discern” your orientation, and fear that this means you are “on the edge of being bisexual”. But not discerning your orientation has absolutely nothing to do with being bisexual. Humans do not need to evaluate or classify or figure out or discern their sexual orientation. I have not spent one second of my life trying to figure out my sexual orientation, and nor should you.

      Finally, allow me to note that the only treatments that have consistently been found to be effective for OCD are CBT and certain medications. ACT is essentially a type of CBT (what is sometimes called “third wave CBT). We integrate ACT into our CBT program, and it has been very helpful for many of our OCD clients. On the other hand, homeopathy is an utter waste of time and money.

  • Hi,

    My husband, who is suffering from hocd as far as I can see, is getting angry because I don’t believe he might be gay.

    When we embrace, he gets aroused instantly and although he attended a coming-out workshop at a gay/lesbian centre, he says that he was never in love with a real man actually. He joined the workshop to know how, when it’s going to happen one day in the future. This seems absurd to me.

    He thinks, I’m in denial of his homosexuality and I think he is suffering from several types of hocd. His thoughts seem completely real to him, so naturally I can’t convince him that they are part of a depression (that’s the diagnosis he got from his therapist) and will go away with appropriate professional treatment. Being possibly gay seems like a duty to him, which he has to fulfill.

    Do you think I should go on insisting on my point of view (we quarrel about all this every two or three weeks) or is it getting worse by that? He insinuates, my stubborness is making him more depressive. My husband is taking serotonin reuptake inhibitors for a few months and is seeing a therapist once to twice a month.

    I’d be very glad, if you give some advice to me and perhaps there are more partners of hocd sufferers out there, waiting for it.

    Thank you.

    P.S. I was so relieved, when I found your text on hocd and it’s subtypes in the first place. Before that, there was only my distinct feeling, that my husband did not turn gay all in a sudden after a panic attack overnight.

    • Sina,

      Thank you for your comments. I’m glad to hear that you found our articles helpful.

      While I cannot provide a diagnosis of your husband, I can say that the symptoms you describe sound very much like HOCD. People do not suddenly “turn gay”, and gay men do not generally like the idea of sexually embracing women. In fact, they are generally repulsed by the very idea of sex with women.

      That said, I don’t believe arguing with him about it is going to help the situation. I suggest he seek Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with an OCD specialist. Most therapists know virtually nothing about HOCD, and the fact that his therapist made a diagnosis of depression suggests that the therapist may not really understand HOCD.

  • Doc yesterday had a dream of me sucking a guys dick and ended waking up feeling to vomit it was so bad and terrifying.Now even in dreams hocd irritating me .The thoughts of sucking dick disgust me.

    • Nando,

      You had a dream of having a gay sexual encounter. That is entirely different from being gay. I assume that if you had a dream of flying that you would not come to the conclusion that you are able to fly. The bottom line is that we dream all sorts of irrational, unbelievable stuff, none of which needs to be taken seriously.

  • Doc i got tingling sensation while watching a lion lick a deer carcass while watching discovery i m a gone crazy.

    • Nando,

      Whenever you analyze your thoughts, emotions, urges, physical sensations, dreams, etc., in an attempt to figure out what they mean about your sexual orientation, you are doing a compulsion. People have sensations for all sorts of reasons, and I encourage you not to analyze your sensations or try to figure out what they mean in any way.

  • Doc i read that sensations are a common theme for ocd sufferers in general,so could it be applied to hocd as well.I read dr philpson article and he mentions that sensations are tricks played by mind and are not be confused with arousal.A really good article, like yours.

    • Nando – Yes, as I noted in my reply to your previous comment, unwanted sensations are quite common in HOCD. And just like the unwanted thoughts and feelings, the best approach is to accept that they exist, and to make no attempt to figure them out or control them. Just let them exist and get on with your day.

  • Lately I got used to my thoughts, but i got in to this terrible state of feeling empty. I no longer have any feelings, no motivation to push me. I am just moaning for my old life when i knew who i was and had some vison of future, plans and had some perspective. I want to know if this is common for ocd. All i know is I´m not the old me, when i say things like: “I want him”, I don’t get that ugly feeling, instead I feel that there is some emotion to it. Gay images sometimes gisgust me, sometimes don’t. I guess HOCD lost it’s fuel because i lost sense of myself. I can’t believe this is happening to me, I feel detached from myself, from the person I was.

  • Hi, thankyou for the post, it’s really good. I’m posting as I’m so so panicky right now and can’t see a way out.

    I consider myself to be a straight girl and have always had relationships with men. I have a beautiful daughter and an amazing partner who I’m sure that I love with every bit of me. We’ve had a three year relationship, never argued and click so well. In my clear moments I could never imagine being with a woman, I’ve tried running scenarios through my head but can’t picture myself involved. If I force the thought I just feel guilt and disgust. I want to feel better, I don’t want these thoughts.

    • Hi Amy,

      You wrote the following:

      ~ “I consider myself to be a straight girl”
      ~ “I have a beautiful daughter and an amazing partner who I’m sure that I love with every bit of me”
      ~ “I could never imagine being with a woman”
      ~ “I just feel guilt and disgust” when you think of being with a woman

      That’s a pretty compelling argument that you are straight. I encourage you to accept that you are a straight girl who happens to have unwanted thoughts about being gay, which just so happens to be a perfect description of HOCD. You don’t need to eliminate the thoughts – you need to accept that they exist, and pay them no attention.

  • Hello,

    I believed, or hoped that I was suffering from HOCD. I am so anxiety ridden and lost at the moment that I don’t know what to believe. I am currently pregnant and unable to take medication. I have obsessed about my sexuality from a very young age although my background boasts that I was a boy crazy heterosexual girl since as far back as I can remember. I have gone over the gammit of related triggers with this form of ocd. I have obsessed about being a tomboy, I have obsessed about finger ratios, I have obsessed about the current relationships I was in etc. All of these things have seemed huge at the time until my focus shifts onto another facet of the obsession. Currently I am thoroughly convinced that I must be a lesbian because of sexual arousals I have been experiencing in association with the thoughts. I was fine for a while assuming that they were just groinal responses but I have a hard time believing that they are now. They seem a lot stronger and accompanying them is this thought like I have to act on them, that i.e this is so hot that I won’t be able to take it and the arousal will never go away until I do. Embarrasingly I have masterbated to these thoughts, compulsively to either straight or gay things to test if they were real arousals. It feels almost like a self destructive twisted urge to ruin my life. No matter how much I masterbate the groinal responses won’t go away, they just feel stronger and stronger. I felt the need to test this especially because I keep having dreams about doing lesbian things, and enjoying them. I would initially wakeup and think it was ridiculous, but there is this pulling thought in the dream that this is something so stimulating you have to act on it. That I can’t run away from it anymore and I have to wear the arousal like a dunce cap of shame on my head. It feels corrupt and very shameful. Meanwhile, I have enjoyed sex with men and have felt attractions to them in the past. The lesbian stuff on the other hand feels so much stronger and intrusive. I read that it is okay to have same sex fantasies and to be aroused by same sex thoughts. Therapists tout to enjoy them more if you enjoy them. I didn’t enjoy these things in the beginning, I tried to force myself to. Now I get these thoughts and urges that I enjoy them, and I have to enjoy them or else all hell will break loose. I would prefer that they didn’t exist period. But thanks to all the experiences of checking and watching gay porn, I get these gay images now and probably what is accompanied by geniune sexual arousal which is horrible and humiliating. Then the urge to have to masterbate to make it go away or punish myself. At this point I don’t feel like I deserve to be straight anymore which is terrifying because I love my husband and want to be with him, all along with a baby on the way.
    I also don’t feel this instantaneous groinal responses with men, which seems to strengthen the case for being a lesbian. I have felt these responses over people I definitely didn’t want to have sex with though. Usually I remedied the feeling by forcing myself to really think about doing those sexual things until the prospect no longer felt taboo or intrusive. This would relieve anxiety until a new thought would pop into my head again out of no where accompanied with a stronger arousal. The cycle will just continue. This especially happens before I fall asleep at night and in dreams. The thoughts seem hotter and less egodystonic until I actually become aware of what I’m thinking about, which makes me think of latent homosexuality. I am rambling and am probably not making sense. I am just so lost and if it weren’t for my baby I’d rather just disappear. Should I even being doing therapy? Thank you for your time.

    • Scared,

      Thank you for your comments.

      Everything in your post screams HOCD. Allow me to note the following:

      Analyzing things like your experience as a tomboy, finger ratios, groinal responses, and the nature of arousal is a compulsion. Doing compulsions only makes OCD worse.

      Testing yourself with masturbation is also a compulsion, and will only make your OCD worse.

      Sexual arousal, regardless of the trigger, needn’t be “horrible” or “humiliating” – it is just arousal, nothing more, nothing less.

      You are spending an enormous amount of your time and energy on something that warrants neither. You don’t need to figure out anything about your sexual orientation. Can you provide me with one single reason why your sexual orientation must be clarified?

      The issue is not your sexual orientation – the issue is that you are obsessing about your sexual orientation, and doing compulsions in an effort find some absolute certainty about something that doesn’t require certainty. A far better approach would be to accept that, as a human, you have an interest in sexuality, and to then do absolutely nothing to figure out or analyze or resolve anything about your sexuality. Simply put, you don’t need to pin down if you are gay or straight, any more than you need to pin down if you prefer chicken or beef. I encourage you to read our article on Mindfulness Based CBT for OCD.

      Life is full of ambiguity and uncertainty…and that’s OK.

  • Thank you so much for your response!
    I especially appreciate your asking why I need to clarify my sexuality. I suppose it is a combination of hyper responsibility, feeling like I don’t deserve the nice things that I have and a regular dread that my life is set up for failure. I’ve had a lot of things go wrong in my life, (not to turn this into a pity party) and now I naturally expect things to go wrong.
    I think I have a hard time with sexual arousal period because I was also molested by an older man when I was 14. I remember being aroused at the time and told myself that I must be enjoying what was happening. Any hint of unwanted arousal, real or imagined, terrifies me.
    Lastly, I just don’t enjoy these thoughts! I want them to go away and it looks like I have to not fall for these compulsions no matter what. It’s hard to sit there and feel like I am aroused by something unwanted and not do anything about it, and honestly I haven’t had the courage yet to not do a compulsion. Thank you so much for clarifying on what I have to do. I am so grateful for the time you put in to helping myself and everyone else on your blogs.

    • Scared,

      Actually I didn’t ask why you need to clarify your sexuality – I asked you for evidence as to why you need to clarify it. Feeling hyper-responsible, and feeling like you don’t deserve nice things, and feeling dread about your life possibly being a failure all have one thing in common – they are all feelings. But feelings are net evidence of fact. Just because you have these feelings doesn’t mean you need to clarify your sexual orientation. In fact, I suspect there are millions of people with similar feelings who don’t spend one second of their lives trying to clarify their sexual orientation.

      Please know that I acknowledge and appreciate the suffering you have experienced. That said, I do not believe you need to clarify anything about your sexuality. Nobody needs to clarify their sexual orientation, and attempting to do so is not only unnecessary, but a waste of your valuable time and energy.

  • Hi , first of all I think that you article is excelent.
    I am 20 years old and i’m a female, im in a relationship with a guy that i love very much for almost 5 years.
    I think i always had problems with OCD but never went to teraphy, I had a really bad time obesessing about diseases and that i was going to die, always searching in google for syntoms and thank god that is over. I also had obsessions about other things that take a while to disapear.
    Now, i think i’m suffering for HOCD. I was in college a month ago studying with my friends , and one of my friends said something and I thought “Maybe she’s a lesbian” and then I don’t know why I started thinking “what if i am?” “omg could I be”?
    Started freaking out, was break time from college, I was at home didn’t watch TV, didn’t go out, then when I saw a girl i keep thinking do i feel atracted to her ? And it is really horrible , then i would try to imagine how would it be kissing a girl and i thought that i wouldn’t like it all. I kept searching on the web and then I decided that it has to stop , so i started to go out with my friends and at first i was really ansious and was always checking but then i relaxed and started to get better.
    Now , i started freaking out again because college is going to start again and the face of my friend that I thought that was a lesbian keeps popping in my head saying “you’re a lesbian” when i Know i’m not , it’s horrible , it’s almost like i’m beggining to be scared of her. I talked to my mother and my boyfriend about the subject and they’re being really supportive since I’ve already been through something like this with the diseases. But it’s really scary seems like you have a battle in your brain, it’s like i know i’m not a lesbian and i’m not atracted to women but the toughts keep coming to my mind. I would really like to know your opinion about this

    • Hi Andrea – thanks for commenting.

      You had a random thought about someone else potentially being gay, and now you are worrying that you are gay. But there is no legitimate connection between a thought about someone else’s sexual orientation and your sexual orientation. The only connection is OCD.

      The fact that you have a boyfriend (hint: lesbians don’t have boyfriends), that you don’t like the idea of kissing girls (hint: lesbians love the idea of kissing girls), and have a history of having OCD, strongly suggests that you have OCD. I encourage you to accept the existence of the thoughts. We all think all sorts of things, many of which are not based in fact. Accept the presence of these unwanted thoughts in your head, and do nothing about them – don’t check, don’t analyze, don’t do anything except to live your life exactly as you would if you had never had these thoughts.

      I encourage you to read our article on Mindfulness and CBT for OCD and Anxiety.

  • I use to associate everything that happens to others to me I dont know why, and I get obsessed with a lot of thoughts that I have, I never knew that was OCD until I researched recently.
    So I need to accept the thoughts even if they cause me great anxiety? Will they eventually go away ? Also, is it normal for me to start being afraid of my friend?
    Thank you very much for you reply , I already talked about this with my mother and my boyfriend and they’re being really supportive since I already had this problem with other things
    p.s. sorry if my english isn’t the best is not my native language

    • Andrea – Yes, the best long-term strategy is to accept the unwanted thoughts. That doesn’t mean accepting they are true. It just means accepting they exist. Life is full of unpleasant things that we can either accept or resist. The best approach is to accept reality as it is, and in this case the reality is that you have these thoughts.

  • I’m sorry to bother you again
    So I stopped with the checking around girls and it’s seems that I finally realised that I’m not a lesbian
    I stopped with the thoughts but know the face of my friend keeps popping into my head like constantly it’s horrible, like torture, and then i started thinking “does this mean that i’m like in love with her? but i’m not even atracted to her and I don’t want a romantic thing with her at all, and also I still love my boyfriend”, it seems that when I’m distracted she goes away but she always comes back, it causes me great anxiety and gives me a headache. Do you think that is the OCD?

    • Andrea – Yes, the unwanted images sound like OCD. These images that are popping into your mind are no different than the thoughts that were previously popping into your mind. Your goal is to accept these images rather than resisting them or fighting them or trying to get rid of them. All sorts of images come into our minds every day, and their existence does not automatically mean that they are significant.

  • Thank you so much for the reply
    My anxiety has decreased a lot and the face of my friend disapeared which is a relief, but I remembered that when I was a little younger I had something like this, when I was about 12-14, I can’t remember the exact age, one day I don’t remeber why the thought “can I be a lesbian” popped into my mind, and I was really worried about that for a while, but then one day I just stopped thinking about it and I came back to normal , and crazy about boys again. But now that’s worrying me because I keep thinking ” could I be in denial since that time”
    And the worst thing about this is that now is making me doubt about my love for my boyfriend , I know I love him but my mind keeps telling me ” you don’t love him he deserves someone better” but I don’t want to be without him, and this is all really crazy
    But I can say that I’m not anxious like I was before I started to accept the thoughts , but now this thing about my boyfriend is really not helping
    Is it possible to have HOCD more than once in life? And is it possible that the OCD is making me doubt about my relationship ?
    And once more , I’m really sorry to bother you

    • Hi Andrea,

      OCD is a chronic condition that tends to wax and wane over time. Your recent thoughts are not evidence of having HOCD for a second time, but rather of having a spike in your symptoms. This is nothing unusual, and I encourage you to frame it in mind as nothing unusual. We all have all sorts of odd thoughts that pop into our minds, and the best response is to not take these thoughts so seriously.

      Also, it is quite common for people with HOCD to have thoughts in which they question their relationships. This variant of OCD is colloquially known as Relationship OCD (ROCD), and like HOCD, the best approach to treatment for ROCD is CBT.

  • Hi Dr , I’m really,really sorry for posting so much and for bothering you, but I feel like I always need answers.
    Now when I have the thoughts I just let them be and don’t do nothing about them , and I experience less or almost none anxiety, but the thing is the thoughts are still there and everytime I look at a girl it feels like attraction and when I look at a guy feels like I have less attraction it’s really weird. Also I still worry that I had this when I was younger , and after that time sometimes when I saw or heard something that reminded me of that time I would get nervous that I would start to obsess with that again, so I worry that I was like repressing feelings or like in denial.
    I feel like I will never be the same again, this is so hard for me because I was always so crazy about guys since ever, I love the way they make me feel, when they smile , when they look at me , and I miss that
    Another thing is that I read that when people have hocd they lose their sexual drive, but I still get aroused with my boyfriend and I enjoy having sex with him, sometimes I get nervous at first because of the gay thoughts but I still enjoyed it, does that mean I don’t have HOCD? I’m so confused
    I feel a lot better, am able to smile now and being around my boyfriend without feeling guilt for having these thoughts , but at the same time I just want clarity in my head and I can’t get it because the thoughts don’t leave my head, feels like a trap.
    I looked for therapy, and where I’m from they don’t mention treatment for this type of OCD, they just mention the washing and checking types, and it’s really really expensive, and I’m affraid that I will get worse.

    • Hi Andrea,

      Thank you for your comment.

      I’m glad that you have been able to reduce your compulsions. That said, it is worth noting that reducing compulsions doesn’t guarantee a reduction in obsessions. The simple truth is that the human brain is very creative, and one of its main jobs is to think thoughts. And for those with OCD, their thoughts are going to be more obsessional than those without OCD. Your goal is not to reach a state in which you have no obsessions, but rather to develop your ability to accept the existence of these unwanted thoughts without getting so upset by them.

      As for the impact of OCD on sex drive, it is important to note that everyone is different. Just because others report a reduction in sex drive doesn’t mean you will have that response. And as long as we are talking about sex drive, it is also worth noting that you report that you still get aroused by, and enjoy sex with, your boyfriend. Lesbians do not enjoy sex with men, and the fact that you do is a far greater indicator of your sexual orientation than some unwanted thoughts that you have.

      Finally, you note that you want “clarity” and that you “always need answers”. This discomfort with uncertainty is a key aspect of OCD. But achieving a sense of certainty about your sexual orientation is unlikely to occur, and further seeking certainty will only make your OCD worse. As an alternative, I encourage you to try accepting the existence of your unwanted thoughts. That doesn’t mean accepting they are true – it just means accepting they exist and doing nothing about their existence. Let the thoughts be.

  • Hi, I’ve read your article and allot of what you say makes complete sense to me. I feel I’m currently in a loop and have been for the last 6 months since I turned 30. I’m in a relationship with a woman at the moment which I care very much for. My concern is thinking of my future with her, I very much see her as someone I want to spend the rest of my life with but this creates all sorts of questions…if I am internalised homosexual and we marry and have children what the affect will be then, I’ll not just be ruining my life and hers but bringing children into the situation makes it so much more complicated. I want to be sure that it is HOCD and not internalised homosexuality. Where do I begin to look to seek out my answers? I very much obsess about this way of thinking and check myself constantly, I don’t live in the moment as a result but when I do I’m released. I have had engagments with men to test things out, it didn’t do anything for me but this could be anxiety, I’ve had many engagements with woman which I’ve enjoyed but ultimately I feel like I’m missing something. it’s all so confusing and its affecting my work and will possibly affect my relationship. I just need to be pointed in the right direction. Can you help?

    • Hi Graham,

      Thank you for your comment.

      You are engaged to a woman with whom you want to spend the rest of your life. How many gay man do you think would say that?

      I don’t know where you got these ideas of being an “internalized homosexual”, and everything you write sounds like textbook HOCD. You enjoy being with women, and have even gone so far as to test your sexual orientation by experimenting with men, which predictably didn’t provide you with the sense of certainty you were seeking.

      The direction I would provide you is simple – find a therapist who specializes in treating HOCD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). If you would like to discuss treatment options at our center, please call our client coordinators at (310) 824-5200 (ext. 4). Take care.

  • Hi,

    So my first encounter with this disorder was in grade 12 where out of nowhere after never even considering it once I asked myself, What if im Gay?. This caused me lots of stress and I would have many mental obsession and compulsions. However, after a few weeks I told myself, hey you like both genders if anything. This was my mindset, not just a phrase and a week later I never questioned my sexuality again. Three years later i would look back and laugh, wow you really thought you were gay, that’s funny. But a month ago out of nowhere it hit me again. I would play mind games with myself that are never ending. I know how stupid I sound and i know i’m not gay, but I tell myself what if you were in denial the whole time. My anxiety decreased after a few weeks and I would say, does this mean you are accepting the fact. There are many other things I do but that will take hours to write. My question in the end is can the thoughts turn me gay, that’s my deepest fear. If i keep asking myself these things will I become gay one day? Am i bound to lose control and do something I will terribly regret? I took your test on your website when I was at the peek of my condition and I checked almost every single box which put me at an almost certain case of having this disorder. My last fear is what if HOCD doesn’t exist, and i’m just suppressing my homosexuality?

    Thank you very much for your time. I just hope I lived in LA to meet with you guys personally.

    • Hi Jamie,

      Thanks for commenting.

      First off, your thoughts will not turn you gay. The problem here is that you are over-analyzing mundane thoughts that don’t warrant so much as a minute of your time. If you suddenly had a thought “what if I am a tree, not a person”, would you analyze that thought? Of course not – you would just write it off as a silly example of your mind’s creativity. All of us have all sorts of weird, unexpected thoughts, and these thoughts do not deserve your time and energy.

      The fear that HOCD doesn’t exist is common among people with HOCD, and is in fact nothing more than another HOCD obsession (i.e., “OMG, what if HOCD doesn’t really exist and all of this over-thinking is really just me being in denial that I am gay!!!!”). If you are repeatedly asking your self “what if…” questions about your sexual orientation and about HOCD, then you almost certainly have HOCD. And if you checked off most of the items on our free confidential HOCD test, then it’s a pretty good bet that you have HOCD.

  • So I’m not sure what to do – I have heard about HOCD before, but recently have been having questions about my sexuality and doubts as well. I am almost 27 and have had sex with women before, but have never dated or had a strong relationship. It was enjoyable and I did want to have more of it, but I never felt compelled to go after it like some friends of mine. It’s been 4 years now since the last time I slept with a girl, is it weird that I don’t have a stronger drive to go out and try to have sex more often?

    I’ve never felt like I’ve been in love either, although I have had crushes on girls. I seem to find out that whenever this happens though, the girls are unavailable (engaged or in relationships). I have sexual fantasies about them, but now I feel like don’t know if they’re legitimate or if it’s something I’m doing subconsciously to try and convince myself I like girls. I also don’t date – part of me feels like it’s because I’m too old to know what to do and don’t want to be embarrassed, but then I read that sometimes gay people will not date so that they won’t have to acknowledge they’re gay if they don’t like women, or will put it off because they don’t want to date men.

    Today though I was speaking to a friend and got a strong urge to kiss him, as in the thought popped in my head, I thought “Wait, do I want to kiss this guy right now? Yeah, I feel like I do, if we weren’t in public I probably would have. Why am I having that thought?”. I just let that one pass, but as you might guess from me writing this, it psyched me out quite a bit. I just felt a very strong physical urge to just get up out of my seat and plant one on the guy, and then I got this sinking feeling in my stomach and felt kind of flushed, like when you were a kid and somebody embarrassed you in front of a lot of other people. I tried seeing if sexual fantasies about the guy got me excited, but they haven’t. I just feel strange and kind of upset by the whole ordeal. I don’t know why I felt that way, but it really bothered me.

    I’ve played sports before and been in locker room showers, have seen other naked guys, and thought absolutely nothing of it other than “wow, so and so is ripped, wish I had a six pack like that”. I feel like I can at least say that while I didn’t feel attracted to them, they are some very good looking individuals. I’d think that if I was gay, I’d at least be a little attracted to them.

    I am trying to just let this thought go, but I know I’m going to be thinking about this tomorrow when I see that person as well, and I feel like from now on it’s just going to be a cycle of me checking all the time to see what happens when that person is around. I’m not otherwise attracted to men, at least I haven’t felt that way before, but this has me wondering if I just somehow discovered I was gay or if I’m just chasing my tail on this. What kind of therapist do you talk to about something like this?

    • Hi Andrei,

      Thanks for commenting.

      Just because you don’t have a strong sex drive and don’t date does not mean you are gay. It means you don’t have a strong sex drive and you are not comfortable dating (which you acknowledge). You have enjoyed sex with women, so it is a pretty good bet that you are straight. Conversely, you appear to not like the unwanted gay thoughts you have had. That sounds like HOCD.

      It sounds like you are looking to connect with a therapist, and I want to encourage you to seek treatment only with one who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This is the treatment that has consistently been found by researchers to be the most effectove method of treating OCD. If treatment at our center is an option for you, we can be reached via our website at

  • Hi Dr, thanks again for the reply , I was doing fine , I thought I did , I don’t feel anxiety anymore only sometimes and I don’t feel that urge to check like I used to. The problem is my attraction to men still haven’t returned and that is really starting to freak me out. Since I thought I was getting better I decided to try facing the fear so I went and read coming ou stories , and it wasn’t such a good idea,in most of the stories they found ou at a really young age like 5 or 6 but there were some stories there that freak me out and I had a panic attack, specially this one it was a guy who was straight all along and at 18 started to question his sexuality and even had a girlfriend, he said that he was trying to convice himself that he was straight and then he found out that he was bisexual and broke up with his girlfriend and that he was suffering from a sexual identity crisis. That really bothered me , how do I know that I’m not suffering from a sexual identity crisis? What’s the difference between that and HOCD?
    And now I’m starting to feel like I don’t love me boyfriend anymore it’s a horrible feeling.
    Also I thought that if ther anxiety decreased my attraction for men woul return and it hasn’t is it normal?

    • Hi Andrea,

      You say you are having a problem with a lack of interest in men, yet you have a boyfriend. Perhaps there are other issues in the relationship that are impacting your sexual interest in him. Or perhaps you are experiencing some depression that is lessening your sexual appetite. Also, keep in mind that sexual interest in a specific partner varies over time – many (most?) people are more sexually interested in the beginning of a relationship than after an extended period of time.

      When one does an exposure (such as reading “coming out” stories) one of the goals of the exposure is to purposely make you uncomfortable so that you can learn over time that you are able to tolerate the discomfort. I encourage you to read our article on exposure therapy to get a better idea of what to expect when doing these exposures.

      I encourage you to seek out Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with an OCD specialist to help you challenge the OCD and to help you sort through whatever issues exist in your relationship with your boyfriend.

  • Hello! I’m going through OCD (or at least that’s what my psychologist and psychiatrist said but I even doubt about my diagnosis) I’m 26 years old and I had my first sexual obsession at the age of 13. I was watching a tv program and there were these two girls that said they were lesbians and I started wondering if I was a lesbian myself. At home, the sex issue was and keeps being tabboo. So whenever I saw a nude girl I felt like a sort of groinal response or something like that, or whenever I watched a sex scene on tv (very quickly because my parents would change the channel) I would focus more on the girl than the boy and all those things made me doubt a lot. All those factors made me really believe that I was a lesbian. I felt really upset, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I thought my life was useless there was nothing to live for. I spent a year or so like that until I had my first boyfriend and my concerns seemed to have vanished. I’m in a relationship now. I really love my boyfriend, but I realized I have no sex drive (this has always happened to me)and I started trying to find answers… why is it that I’m not aroused by my boyfriend? He is really attractive and I really want to be with him. So I thought maybe I didn’t love him so much… I got obsessed with that idea. I suffered a lot… how much do I love him? How do I know it’s love? What if I’m not in love? And after that…. I reconsidered the idea of being a lesbian. Maybe I’m a lesbian and I don’t know it… maybe I deny it and that’s why I don’t feel sexual attraction for men. I am really depressed, I ended up in an endless chain of doubts. I can’t see a girl because if I think she’s pretty I feel a pressure in my chest and in my stomach… I think all the time, I can’t enjoy anything with my boyfriend. I cry a lot. I’m really scared of what may happen. It’s as if there was something inside me that I don’t know… and it’s about to come out at any second. I really don’t want to be gay! I don’t have anything against them,it’s just that it goes against my wishes: my future with my boyfriend, I really want to build a future for us! And now I feel it’s all coming down to pieces. I don’t know what to do I can’t stop it my life is being destroyed by thoughts…

    • Hi Beatrice,

      Actually, I’d like to suggest a small change in your phrasing…

      You note that “my life is being destroyed by thoughts”. I think a more accurate way of viewing this would be that you life is being impacted by your reaction to your thoughts. The problem is not the thoughts – it is your taking the thoughts so seriously. They are just useless bits of nonsense that your brain has created, but you are valuing them as if they are somehow important. If you looked at the sky and thought “the sky is paisley”, you would most likely think “what a silly thought”. That’s what you need to do here. They are just silly, unimportant thoughts. People without OCD spend virtually no time whatsoever analyzing and questing their thoughts about sexual orientation. In other words, the issue is not your orientation – the issue is your OCD.

  • Thanks for the reply. I understand what you say. The thing is that thinking I may be gay cannot be compared to a thought such as “the sky is paisley”. The possibility of being gay represents a threat to my identity and knowing who I really am and the doubts lead to great confusion and distress. I know that thoughts are just thoughts… but when the thought is about a topic which involves my own identity I just wonder if there might be some meaning or reason why I’m thinking about that. I may be in denial or it could be related to a repression mechanism. I also know that uncertainty fuels the fire of OCD, but why does everybody else know for sure what they are (straight/gay) and I have to cope with the uncertainty of my identity? I hope you can get my point. Thanks in advance for your help.

    • Hi Beatrice,

      I do get your point – I just disagree with it.

      I think that your thoughts about your sexual orientation are exactly as unimportant as the thought “the sky is paisley”. Both thoughts are completely unimportant thoughts that brains manufacture. The only difference is that you are currently capable of recognizing that the paisley sky thought is unimportant, but you are attributing great meaning and importance to the sexual orientation thought. The thought is not a threat to your identity – it is just a thought that you are grossly over-valuing.

      Also, you note that “everybody else knows for sure” whether they are straight or gay. Again, I disagree. I do not “know” if I am straight or gay. I am 56 years old and have never been with a man, so my experience suggests that I am “straight”. But for all I know, I will wake up tomorrow and decide to have sex with a man. Based on what you have written, I suspect you have a similarly heterosexual history, and yet you are obsessing about a thought that completely contradicts that history. The only difference between my thought about being gay and yours is that you take your thought seriously, while I don’t even remotely care about my thought. In other words, it is your interpretation that the thought is important that is causing you problems.

      Finally, allow me to note one more thing – uncertainty does not “fuel the fires of OCD” – it is the fire of OCD. Uncertainty cannot be avoided – again, I don’t know with any “certainty” that I won’t wake up tomorrow desiring sex with men. I have no certainty about this, only conjecture based on experience. But if I were to demand certainty, I would be setting myself up for great misery. Accept the innate uncertainty about your sexual orientation and it will cease to be worrisome.

  • We’ll I’ve had different forms of OCD to harm ocd, health related ocd, pedophila ocd, there’s others but I don’t really want to get into them. I’ve had HOCD since June 2013. I know that it all started when I was watching a show on MTV called Guy Code. I was looking at the tv and I said to myself “I wonder watch HOCD IS? And I know it’s better than what I’m going thru now.” Than that night I had a gay dream and I kid u not, I woke up with so much anxiety, and I woke up gasping for air. It was horrible. And ever since then I suffered from HOCD, but I thought things were getting better but they weren’t. I started to get groinial response and I lock myself in my room and cry all day, for hours. I try to avoid things that will cause me to freak out. Like the show Glee which has a lot of gay ppl in it but I loooove glee and I hate that I can’t watch it bc it will trigger me, I avoid women, rainbows, rainbow flags, cutting my hair short, acting in a gay way etc. but sometimes that dosent work bc if I look at any female picture I get a groinial response and that just makes everything worse and makes me believe that I’m hiding my true self and I’m really gay but I hate it! I’m not homophobic I love gay ppl it’s just that that’s not who I am. I try to tell myself that but then there’s something in my head saying “you’re gay, stop trying to say ur not.” I love men I’ve always loved men. I never found any women attractive at all. Whenever there’s images of gay things come to my mind I cringe bc I don’t like them. There’s more but I don’t want to bore u. But great article!

    • Hi Jeri,

      All of the avoidant behaviors you are doing are compulsions that will only make things worse. As an alternative, I encourage you to do the opposite. Watch Glee, look at women, get a rainbow flag and hang it on your bedroom wall. If you run from the OCD by avoiding things, you will be running forever.

  • Hello Tom, thankyou for responding to my posting on 25/12.
    I stuck with ERP, it really does work wonders! I wanted to say that I found a type of freedom that I have never had before, where I wasn’t worrying or controlling every thought, and it was wonderful. I felt NORMAL and it was great. Thankyou!
    I have had a relapse, but not as bad as before. Last time I ended up in hospital, things were pretty bad. At the moment I am very anxious and caught up in thoughts again related to my sexuality and my marriage, but I am still able to function, albeit a bit robotically and not really feeling authentic or in the moment when with my family.
    Part of my ERP homework last time was to record a “worst case scenario” onto my phone and listen to it. I stopped because I began to improve and felt that I didn’t need to anymore, but I have recommenced this over the last couple of days since feeling an increase in anxiety and obsessiveness. It is extremely painful to listen to it, but I have to stick to it, I know.
    My current obsession is that perhaps last time I improved because I was still deep down controlling and supressing my “big gay secret self”(sounds so dumb), but just doing it a bit less. This time, I am telling myself, I have to REALLY let go, and I feel gay and feel like I am enjoying the fantasy!
    I need to stress that it is not so much a gay sex fantasy per se, but more like a “sexual energy” or uncertainty, that I COULD be gay (feel like puking with fear as I write).
    Like before I felt I needed my mind permanently welded to hubby, now it is like it feels all over the place.
    Then feeling like I am hurting my husband’s heart by even contemplating this awful thing…how could I even let it cross my mind….and the beat goes on….blah blah over this right now…yada yada yada.
    Yesterday I had to go into the City, and I passed many women on the street. When I was really bad, last time, I would turn away. This time I allowed the thoughts to come, even invited them, and enjoyed them! I was next to a woman at the traffic lights and had an impulse to wink at her. I didn’t of course, but it really does feel like being on the edge of a precipice. I don’t WANT to enjoy those thoughts! It feels like I am not being true to the deepest part of myself. Sometimes when I pass a woman on the street I feel compelled to look and let my eyes linger, almost addicted to needing to have that thought. It’s not even a sexual thought though, I know this sounds wierd, very difficult to put into words.
    I wonder sometimes if I don’t really have OCD but I instead have an addiction to having these thoughts…nah,that’s crap, just another silly thought.
    Feeling ashamed of what I have written, because I love my husband very much, but it is wonderful to be able to write to someone who actually gets it. That in itself is a powerful thing.
    Take care, and thankyou for your support and care for all of us.

    • Hi V.,

      Thank you for your comments and your kind words.

      I am glad to hear that you have stuck with ERP, and are learning how effective it can be in managing your unwanted sexual obsessions. Keep in mind that doubting one has OCD is in fact a very common thought for many people with OCD. It’s just another way your obsessing mind tries to convince you that you are a lesbian.

      Keep up the good work!

  • This post pretty much sums up my situation perfectly:

    “For the past few months I have been experiencing hocd like symptoms. Checking for arousal, anxiety and instrusive thoughts. I always had crushes and relationships with females. I’m a 24yo male. I never have any kind of an erection at all when checking. I have said before that I even shrink or lose an erection when I see these videos or images But the thing that’s throwing everything off for me is whenever I’m half alseep (kinda waking up) or dreaming, I can actually get a semi/erect. If I try to fully wake up and focus on these thoughts from the dream or that half alseep waking up state I shrink. What’s the deal with this? I’m really lost on the situation. Please help? Why does this happen?”

    As I said before my situation is extremely similar. My anxious thoughts will present themselves like a movie when I am in this half dreaming half conscious state, and I will check for arousal. This is kind of scary because although I know I am checking, I have no control over my actions because, as I’m still half dreaming. I remember I got an erection from this situation and am worried about it. While I’m impressed with how creative my mind is, I want to know why I would have an erection to gay thoughts in half-consciousness?

    • Hi JJ,

      Having an erection when dreaming is normal – all healthy adult males experience erections when they are dreaming. It doesn’t matter if they are dreaming about sex, or trees, or paint drying – they will still have an erection. For more on this topic, check out

      Furthermore, women experience a similar increase of blood flow to their genitals when dreaming.

      Keeping this in mind, and noting that many people awaken from REM sleep (i.e., during or just after dreaming), we can conclude that it would be odd if you didn’t have an erection related to this dream.

  • Hi Tom:

    Thank you very much for your quick reply. Appreciated!

    I don’t think I have expressed myself clearly. I know about night time erections and how the dreams don’t necessarily have anything to do with them. But the instance I referred to in the last post feels different: I was sort of having a dream (I say sort of because I knew I was dreaming but was not actually awake, is this “lucid” dreaming?)in which my male friend touched my genital area jokingly (no one was naked). I immediately woke up, and instead of waking up TO an erection I woke up to EXPERIENCE one. In other words I wasn’t erected during the dream, only “as a result of it”.

    Is this my HOCD mind talking? I am actually not really bothered by this (or at least I try not to) and I know these things don’t make me gay (I especially like your phrase “there is no secret self”). But I am still interested to know why this happened. Was I suppressing my intrusive thoughts or anxiety too much that they have to be “released” during half-consciousness? It felt like I’m doing the checking ritual during sleep. The fact that I wake up just to see my erection take place makes me think that HOCD is inventing new traps. Can HOCD really be this tricky?

    Thanks for your patience, I really like your articles. I kind of self treated my HOCD and got to a point where my everyday life is not affected by it anymore. But I’m by no means anxiety-free and am very much looking forward to reaching that stage.

    Thanks again, looking forward to your reply.


    • Hi JJ,

      The line between being asleep and being awake is not like an on/off switch – many people wake up gradually. So what you perceive as an “after sleep” erection, may actually have started while you were asleep (after all, you acknowledge being “half-conscious” at the time).

      That said, I think it is important to stress that it is ok for you to have an erection after having had a gay dream. This doesn’t mean you are gay – it means you were sexually aroused by a fantasy. People get aroused by all sorts of fantasies that they have no intention or desire to fulfill in real life. The problem here is not the dream or the erection – the problem is that you are analyzing the dream and the erection. You don’t really need to know “why” your erection happened. Erections just happen, and they do not require or deserve any analysis whatsoever.

  • Hi Dr.Corboy, I hope you’re doing well, I don’t know if you remember me, I posted here a few months ago. Anyway I was doing fine, I was getting back to my old self without doubts and then I heard something that made me spike, a gay person said that people who are gay might not know they’re gay but fear that they’re gay and not know of it when they’re young, was basically this and that freaked me out because I obsessed about being a lesbian when I was 13 just because I had lost interest in my current crush at the time and started to think why did I stopped liking him and then bam “omg does this mean I don’t like boys anymore” it was just that and I obsessed about it over a few months and then when it stopped I continued to love boys but after that sometimes if I remembered that I used to obsess about that I would fear that I would get obsessed about that again and that I was indeed a lesbian. What worries me is that I had this obsession before and that that could mean something and I know ocd tends to wax and wane over time, because I have many obsessions about my health, my relationship , natural disasters…which sometimes come back again, but I don’t know I think I’m asking for reassurance here maybe
    Anyway, I know that this don’t make a lot of sense because I enjoy sex with men a lot and I don’t have sexual interest in woman, but if I see a pretty woman I freak out because it’s like my brain is trying to convice me that I must be a lesbian to think that other woman is attractive which I know it doesn’t but I still think about it. What bothers me is that I was starting to get normal again whithout this thoughts until that thing happened and I spiked and made me think that if I obsessed about that before must mean something.
    Thank you for the attention , and sorry for my bad english

    • Hi Andrea,

      As you mention, OCD symptoms tend to wax and wane over time. You appear to be experiencing a temporary increase in your symptoms, which is normal.

      Also, you mention that you were happy to be getting back to your “old self, without doubts”. It sounds like you perhaps became a little too comfortable when your OCD was less active. It’s important to accept doubt rather than resist it. I encourage you to accept that you will sometimes have unwanted thoughts that lead you to have doubts about your sexual orientation. That is the nature of HOCD.

      Also, when your gay friend made comments about gay people, you jumped to the conclusion that this somehow applied to you – despite the fact that your life experience strongly suggests that you are not gay. Just because somebody says something doesn’t mean it is true, and it also doesn’t mean it is true about you.

  • hiee sir great article.i think im also suffering from same but some doubts.i have obsessions sex with family members children etcthat made me felt guilt.i was so terified by it.i remember i have one same sex experience in my childhood.which made me think im gay and my friend commented are you gay.i then started doing mentally checking am i aroused by men.whole day i used to search net learning about gays.i was terrified by chilhood experience also made me terrified and feared that i might act upon it again.i had gronial responses seeing movies i was terrifies and went into depression.then i read your article and found that it is hocd.
    but i have 2 thoughts two thoughts discuss
    1st-i admire mens look like nice hair style cool look smart.
    is this attraction i just admire them just thoughts
    2nd-i got sensation in mouth i was disgussted by it but i felt i enjoying it.but then i think its totally illogical why am i thinking myself as gay.
    ive alaways loved girls girls are attracted to me im attracted to them.ive always been mad about them whole day i used to think about them.i always fantasy girls.i cannot imagine myself with guys.nor sex.but i read the word homophobia and denial now i doubt am denying or am i bisexual or me sir i waste my whole day serching net to reassue my self.

    • Hi James,

      When you say “ive alaways loved girls girls are attracted to me im attracted to them.ive always been mad about them whole day”, that sounds pretty straight to me. And straight men can find other men attractive. For example, I can see a photo of George Clooney or Bradley Cooper and recognize and appreciate that they are both very attractive. I see no reason why that should automatically indicate that I want to have sex with them (or any other men for that matter).

      As for the sensation in your mouth, I am not really clear what you are talking about. But regardless of that, I am pretty confident that it does not mean you are gay. Mouths have lots of nerve endings and thus, lots of sensations. The only thing that makes those sensations seem sexual to you is that you are over-attending to them and assigning sexual value to them.

  • Thank you very much for the response. So the fact that I had this obsession before doesn’t mean anything right? That it’s really what fuels my anxiety because I keep thinking that if I had this before it must mean something and the fact that I had this at young age 13/14, as I said before I contiued to like men and I never had a crush on a girl or something but since that time I feared that one day I’m going to find out that I’m gay or something and that I’ll never be able to be with or appreciate men again.
    And now I just read so much stuff about HOCD and sexuality that I can’t forget and now I’m thinking that I shouldn’t had read anything , it only made thing worse. I have this problem , I think that everything that happens to others will happen to me. I read a girl’s story that had HOCD but was affraid to be straight and she said that she used to like boys and at 13 started to like girls and that freaked me out since I had the obsession at that age.
    I just feel sad , I really wish I could be like I was a few months ago , happy and without doubts

    • Hi Andrea,

      When you ask “So the fact that I had this obsession before doesn’t mean anything right?”, you are asking me to provide you with reassurance. But as I noted in my prior reply to you, it is important to accept doubt rather than trying to resolve it. So rather than answer your question, I am going to suggest you read our article on reassurance seeking.

  • Hi Dr Corboy. Thank you, I guess you’re right I was seeking reassurance, and I understand that I do it a lot which is not good, when I thought that I had AlS I was constantly asking the doctor “do you think I have it? Are you sure?”, and with HOCD is the same I’m always asking my mother “Is it normal for girls to look at each other?” or “is it normal to not find all guys attractive” things like this. I’ve been reading brain lock and it talks a lot about compulsions so I should apply that to asking for reassurance right?
    Thank you for the attention

    • Hello again James,

      I cannot provide you (or anyone) with certainty that you are straight or gay. And your question is a great example of “reassurance seeking”, which is one of the main ways that people act compulsively in response OCD obsessions. If I answer your question, you would only get short-term releif, and soon enough, you would again be plagued by HOCD thoughts. Instead, I encourage you to read our article onreassurance seeking, to accept that you brain has certain unwanted thoughts about your sexual orientation, and to go forward with your life while experiencing uncertainty, which is a common experience for virtually everybody, including those without OCD.

  • Thank you i want to date girls so i should continue without responding to any thought,

    • James – That is correct. Continue with life without responding to the thought.

  • Thank you Dr, I wish I could work with a therapist but right now I can’t afford it I’m having some financial problems and it’s impossible right now. I know that the theme of the obsession is completely irrelevant but why do some are harder to deal with than others? I think that the only one that was worst than this one was when I thought that I was actually dying, this is the worst, it’s so hard I feel like nothing is the same. And I keep trying to accept the possibility that I might be a lesbian but I just can’t because I like liking men , I know that this obsession about being a lesbian is not rational but I just can’t get it out of my head.
    So you think that the book is helpfull but not in the way I need?
    Thank you for the attention

    • Frank,

      By definition, HOCD is anxiety about unwanted thoughts related to one’s sexual orientation. I’m not convinced that you have no anxiety related to your thoughts. After all, you have taken the time to search the internet for information about HOCD, and to post a comment on this blog about it. If you had no anxiety about these unwanted thoughts, then you probably wouldn’t do either of these things.

  • up until march of this year my sexuality was never even a question i just knew i was straight always yearning and having a lust for women, but in march i got this fleeting thougt “what if i was gay” i was so freaked out i coulnd’t eat for a week and after a month or so of dealing with this i learned what HOCD was and i thought “thats what i have”.

    i have been to a pysch and she basically says i have OCD. what freaks me out is that the anxiety comes and goes and sometimes i feel like i don’t know myself anymore. sometimes i think i’m losing the person who i once was. the anxiety comes and goes, so it worries me me that i’m accepting being gay, as i’m writing this i’m spiking. sometimes i’ll think i’m just in denial, but then think no i am not. i’m at a point where i even doubt that it’s even ocd and that i’m just a weird case of those people who just turned gay after being straight their whole life. i can’t imagine seeing myself with a another man,kissing them or having sex with one, to me thats just disgusting. i even accept being gay, but sooner or later i start doubt myself once more and i’m stuck once again. doc does this sound like HOCD or am i just in denial?

    • Hi JHS,

      Everything you write sounds like textbook HOCD, including:

      ~ you’ve always been straight
      ~ you yearn for and lust after women
      ~ you had a fleeting thought about being gay and “freaked out” about the thought
      ~ you are disgusted by the mere thought of kissing a man or having sex with a man
      ~ you doubt that this is HOCD, and fear that you are secretly in denial

      Can you imagine a gay man having the above traits? I can’t.

  • Hello Mr Corboy I would like to say that this website is possibly the best place on the internet to learn about HOCD and the steps to conquering it.

    One week ago I was losing my obsessions. I was nearly done doing compulsions, checking and avoiding triggers and I felt awesome. One of my main compulsions that I perform is masturbation. I did it and checked. And I felt a weird feeling of pleasure when thinking of a gay image. Now I am caught up in a cycle of checking because whenever I masturbate I have this weird feeling in my prostate area. This feeling in my prostate area really has little in common with actual arousal but my mind keeps telling me to check. I’m caught up in this unbreakable cycle and I would like to know, is this weird feeling in my prostate and these doubtful thoughts due to excessive worrying and fear or was I suppressing my real orientation this entire time? Also when I tried to tell myself let the thought flow and masturbate to it. All of my anxiety goes away. It doesn’t feel good but the anxiety goes away. Is this normal? Or was I repressing these thoughts this entire time and I am accepting the fact I’m gay? Please help.

    • Hi Franz,

      Of course you felt pleasure when you masturbated…you were masturbating. You could have thought about a tree or a telephone or a car or whatever, and you would have felt pleasure.

      Step #1 – Stop compulsively masturbating in an effort to check your sexual orientation. If you’re going to masturbate, do so with the goal of pleasure, not reassurance that you aren’t gay.

      Step #2 – Unless you are a urologist, stop analyzing the sensation in your prostate. Your analyzing is a compulsion, and will only make things worse.

      Step #3 – Seek out treatment with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). That will lead to far better results that compulsively checking and analyzing.

  • Thank you. I just wanted to ask a couple of questions, can hocd make you feel or believe you are actually attracted to the same sex even though you know deep down your not? Also can hocd be the first theme of ocd?

    • Hi JHS,

      Yes, HOCD can lead one to feel or believe they are gay, even when deep down they know they are not – that is practically the definition of HOCD. And yes, HOCD can be the first manifestation of OCD that one experiences.

  • Thankyou for the response. Do you think it’s possible that the ocd could be tricking me into believing that I’m getting pleasure because I like the thought even though masturbation feels good in itself? Because the only way I can feel pleasure is when I masturbate really hard and I feel force myself to have an orgasm. If I feel any pleasure my ocd makes me believe that I am getting these feelings because I like gay thoughts. I try doing it thinking of objects such as a book shelf and these feelings are there but they are not as strong. Is it because when I think of gay thoughts I focus a lot more on my groin area? I am trying to break out of this obsession but now because I have started checking with disgusting thoughts I have developed obsession about a lot more than homosexuality and if I feel pleasure thinking of these thoughts my OCD tells me it’s because I enjoyed them. Please help this has made everything worse.

    • Franz,

      I think you are spending way too much time analyzing your thoughts, feelings, and sensations. When people without HOCD masturbate, they don’t analyze their thoughts, feelings, and sensations. They just enjoy it and get on with their day. Your hyper-analysis is a mental compulsion, and will only make your HOCD worse. If you masturbate, don’t analyze anything about it.

  • Hi Tom,

    I was wondering if people discover their sexuality in the later age. For example straight since birth then suddently in the mid 20, they turn lesbian or gay.

    • Akari,

      It sounds to me that what you are really asking is “do you think I might possibly just be finally realizing my true sexuality”, which would be a reassurance seeking question, which is a common common compulsion seen in OCD. That said, my experience has been that people don’t generally “discover” they are gay in their mid-20’s. I’m sure there are some gay people who, due to an upbringing in strict families, religions, and/or cultures, have suppressed their true sexual desires. But people don’t just wake up one day in their mid-20’s and say “oh, I think I’m gay and never had any clue until now”.

  • Thank you doctor for your reply, it has helped me. But now I am obsessing over being transgender and it feels so real like I am losing myself and becoming a totally different person and it is really depressing. First it was HOCD then it was TOCD, then it was HOCD again and now I find myself worrying about being trans again, only this time it feels alot more real and convincing, and sometimes I don’t even have any anxiety so that worries me that I am truly feeling this way. I have never thought or have wanted to be a girl in my entire life ((I’m 19). Have always been comfortable and loved being a dude. I serioulsy don’t want to be transgender. I just want to be me again.

    • JHS,

      Fears of being transgendered are not significantly different from fears of being gay. In both cases, your obsession is “what if my sexuality is not what I would like it to be”. All of the treatment concepts described in this article and in our entire series of articles about HOCD apply just as well to obsessions of being transgendered.

  • Thanks Tom, I just have a couple of questions. Sorry for bothering so much. Anyway I am very worried I might be trans, I have never felt any desire to do girl things so or to be one. Never felt like I was in the wrong body or anything like that. So my questions are, can OCD specifically TOCD or trans OCD as some people call it make you have false feelings and make you you think that you are trans? Also, what about the people who discovered they were trans later in life? These two thoughts/questions are the ones that make me really anxious and upset.

    • JHS,

      As I noted in my prior reply, fears of being transgendered are not significantly different from fears of being gay. In both cases, your obsession is “what if my sexuality is not what I would like it to be”. Your questions about things related to the possibility of being transgendered are compulsive efforts at reassurance that you are not going to somehow become transgendered.

      Your goal should be to accept the presence of these unwanted thoughts, without doing anything in an effort to rid your self of them. Let the thoughts be, and live your life.

  • Sorry for posting again. I have started therapy but now I have developed obsessions about animals and this scares me. The worst thing that is when I pet my dog I use to get does “I just want to pinch him, he’s so cute,” emotions and “I want to kiss him to death feelings,” but now they feel like they have a perverted aspect to them and this leeds me to believe I have always had these feelings but did not realise it and this feels so real. When i dont check for these feelings they arnt there and this should be enough evidence to tell me it’s ocd not genuine attraction. Last year I use to get intrusive thoughts about bestiality and they bothered me so much I lost nights of sleep and had to see a psychologist to handle them because they were so distressing. Can ocd make me believe I have always had perverted feelings without realising and make it seem like the truth and give my very strong emotions of plutonic love that I have for my dog a perverted feel to them when I am checking for it? Please help.

    • Mark,

      These thoughts are no different than other unwanted thoughts related to sexuality. An unwanted thought is an unwanted thought is an unwanted thought, and your question “can ocd make me believe…” is just a variant of previous questions you have asked here.

      You noted “when I don’t check for these feelings, they aren’t there”. I think that speaks volumes. Stop the compulsive checking and you will likely see a significant reduction in the obsessions.

  • Hello, Tom. Again I have some issues, regarding day-to day stuff in my life, and I would appreciate a response. (even though I could probably do without it)
    I’m probably just sneakily looking for reassurance, but should my approach to homosexual thoughts remain consistent for different situations? Because today I walked past a very attractive man, and what instantly frightened me was the thought that went through my brain, which could most simply be interpreted as ‘Damn, he’s SUCH an eye candy’.
    This doesn’t happen often around men, but is a thing that consistently fuels my fears and anxieties. I often fear it might happen around men, and when it does, I feel horribly confused. At such moments I really start to question myself.
    One of the worst fears triggered by such experience is that one day I will feel such an irresistible attraction to a man that it just might ‘seal the deal’ on my sexual identity. Like I might start pouncing on random hot guys. These encounters also hinder any attempt to distinguish between admiration and actual sexual attraction, if the distinction is relevant in the first place. I’m also unsure is it relevant where I fit on the Kinsey scale, but events like these seem to prove I actually do have some degree of homosexuality within me. I suppose this observation wouldn’t upset me so much if I wasn’t so hung up on everything I think and do. As it is, it just feels like a threat to my overall sense of self.

    • Joe,

      You are absolutely correct…your post is a way of “sneakily looking for reassurance”. These questions are just variations on a theme, and if I answer them, I would be doing you a disservice.

      BTW, you don’t need “to distinguish between admiration and actual sexual attraction”. How many people without HOCD spend significant amounts of time trying to discern whether their thoughts are admiration or sexual attraction. None. The same goes for trying to discern where you fit on the Kinsey scale – a compulsion that will only make your OCD worse. And a complete waste of time.

  • I’ve married my true love and am really happy with her. We’ve got two great kids. Got a great job. My life is going great. Been in love with more girls in my younger years. Never thought of being gay actually, and I’m sure that I’m ‘as straight as can be’.
    Now my job is asking more and more of me, the family life is really busy and I’m experiencing my first depression I think. And I’ve just bought my first house and began a mortgage. This is a heavy load on my shoulders. And all of a sudden there it was, the idea of being gay. A, in my case ridiculous thought, but it is bothering me for weeks now.
    Could this HOCD start after having a lot of stress, tiredness etc?
    Thanx for your great article which gives me a relief already. But now… Get the idea out of my head.

    • Hi Marten,

      Thanks for your comment.

      While I cannot provide a diagnosis via a blog comment, I can say that the symptoms you describe sound very much like HOCD. I have no idea whether stress and exhaustion triggered these thoughts for you, and frankly, I don’t think it much matters. What does matter is how you respond to them. Your goal should be to accept that your brain is producing some unexpected thoughts that you don’t much care for, and to do absolutely nothing in an effort to control them. In other words, accept their presence, don’t take them seriously, and don’t do anything compulsive about them. Think of them as rain on a day that you had planned to go to the beach – hardly ideal, but not catastrophic either. Just inconvenient. I encourage you to read our article Mindfulness Based CBT for OCd and Anxiety to help with this.

  • Hi there, wanted to first mention how helpful this site is (including the other parts of the article).

    I have been suffering from HOCD for about 10 months. Since the time it started, I am way more capable of dealing with these thoughts. They are a lot less intrusive on my life and I don’t feel like the thoughts are destroying me anymore. I occasionally still get them, but I feel that I can brush them off easily. I realize that the disease could come back when I am stressed out in the future, but I am wanting to just deal with that when and if it comes up. (Is that a good idea?)

    My problem now is that it seems that my attraction to men is not what it used to be. That’s been confusing for me because I feel like I’ve made a lot of progress with the OCD, and I am worried that it has somehow damaged my ability to like men? I doubt this can happen permanently but is it something I should seek help for or something that will come back to me in time?

    Thanks so much

    • Hi K.,

      Thanks for commenting.

      You point to an often under-reported aspect of HOCD – namely that many people report a reduction in sexual interest (which in turn leads many to incorrectly assume that this is further evidence that they are experiencing a change in their sexual orientation). Some of this may be a function of anxiety and depression, both of which are extremely common for people with HOCD. But many times it is also related to the over-attending to sexuality that occurs in HOCD. In other words, you have spent so many hours analyzing your sexual feelings that they have become less about pleasure and more about fear. Sexual chemistry requires a certain amount of letting go, which is the opposite of OCD. Simply put, over-analysis doesn’t improve sex.

      If there is a special man in your life, I encourage you to act how you acted pre-HOCD.

  • Hi Tom,

    I’m a 25 year old lesbian and I knew this since I was little. I have a relationship with my girlfriend for now 3 years. I love her with all my heart but about 4 months ago I started having straight thoughts. The thoughts about what it would feel like to do sexual things with a guy but I feel gross, guilty, and confused by them. I have watched naked guys online just to verify that I don’t get turn on. I repeatedly try to imagine if I would like to sexually be with a guy but I don’t like those thoughts. They have been bothering me so much and I over think everything so much I get headaches. Now just recently I see guys and I don’t find them attractive but it’s like I try to find something attractive about them to make me feel bad or something. I’ll try to explain…it’s like when you go up a roller coaster then go down and you get that feeling in your stomach like a fluttery feeling of fear. I get scared that whenever I see a guy the thoughts will come back or when they tap me on the shoulder or get close to me I get that feeling again but at the same time uncomfortable. I just want to know if this could be from ocd? N what I can do to stop it… what steps can I take?

    • Hi Mary,

      I am so glad you are commenting. We often receive emails and blog comments from people who think this condition is all about people being closeted homosexuals, and I have repeatedly explained that there are many gay people with this same fear…only their obsession is that they are secretly straight. So welcome to the conversation.

      That said, there is no reason to view this as any different form traditional HOCD. Let’s just call it “Straight OCD”…an obsession that one is secretly really straight. Either way, the treatment is the same. Accept the existence of the thoughts without doing anything to combat them. Think of these thoughts as an unwanted fly in the room that just won’t leave and keeps buzzing around your head. Annoying? Yes. Catastrophic? Not at all.

      Never forget that these are just thoughts. Pretty much everyone asks themselves about their sexual orientation at one time or another. For most, this is just a passing thought that they instantly write off without any distress whatsoever. But for people with OCD, this thought becomes overwhelming in it’s insistence.

      If you are unable to move past these thoughts, I encourage you to seek out treatment with a therapists who specializes in treating HOCD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

  • I was able to resist all types of compulsions and rituals until the night. In the night, I started to research on a little further and found some articles that said that one homosexual experience did not define you. This got me thinking: “oh, maybe I do want to experiment, but then I’ll want to experiment again, because I am really going to like it; thus, I’ll live my life just saying I am “experimenting” while I say to the others that I am straight.” Even though I felt really anxious at the moment, I also felt like it was real; like if I really wanted to experiment, and that this would actually feel good, and that it would be something that I would enjoy. Couple of minutes later, after the anxiety subdued, I realised that I would probably not be capable of experimenting; however, in the time of the “thought” I felt like it was something that I truly wanted to do and would truly enjoy. Is it normal for these intrusive thoughts to be positive, meaning that they didn’t cause me “disgust” but instead triggered a sentiment of enjoyment??? Does it have to do with homosexuality?? I am very confused and haven’t been able to concentrate on anything for the last 12 hours…

  • I wish I had found this years ago.

    I’m not sure if my case is different or not, but I would LOVE your insight into this. I’ll try to keep it as quickly as possible …

    Been married for 12 years, have had 3 romantic relationships with women, all which have felt pretty genuine and authentic for the most part – except that in terms of physicality, I have never found a woman’s body to be terrible arousing. I can get aroused for sure, but I have ALWAYS preferred the male form much more – hence which has caused me so much confusion over the years. I have a crazy fetish for men’s underwear, always look at guys at the beach with shirts off far more than woman, and almost always masterbate to fantasies involving the male body in one way or another. This persists even when I’m not in the ‘throes of OCD questioning,’ and they usually do not pose a ‘significant’ problem except that they are persistent as a hard-wire to my sexuality – then once every year or so, I get caught up in this orientation crisis because my fantasies are so consistently ‘homosexual,’ almost exclusively, really – so it’s liked mixed signals all the time. I’m also not afraid of being gay – I used to be terrified of the idea when I was much younger – now I’m sort of in the place where if I’m gay, fine, let me be gay and stop the ruminating – just be it. Sometimes that thought even excites me – to finally ‘be’ something. But that hasn’t felt right, either. The thought of kissing / cuddling / or even some sexual activity turns me on ( with the right male fantasy model ), but the reality of being with another man is oddly off-putting when I ‘try it on’ in my mind. Still, the fetishes and fantasies remain in the forefront of my sexuality. So frustrating.

    What do you think?

  • Hi Clara,

    It is quite common in OCD that a person will have an unwanted thought, will not be freaked out by that thought, and will then freak out that they weren’t freaked out by the thought. This called a “backdoor spike”, and is especially common in the more obsessional variants of OCD such as HOCD, ROCD, and Harm OCD.

    The good news is that you are able to see that after a few minutes, your belief in the accuracy and legitimacy of the thought lessened. Your goal is to accept and tolerate the presence of the thought, which may at first be difficult, especially during that “few minutes” to which you refer.

    But if you just let the unwanted thought sit there, with no effort on your part to alleviate it, it will decrease. You have the evidence from your own experience that this happens. Now you just have to remind yourself of that evidence, and do nothing when the unwanted thoughts re-appear (and they will almost certainly reappear…but they are just thoughts).

  • Hi Mark,

    Human sexuality can be a strange and wonderful thing! You report not being turned on by women, having almost exclusively homosexual fantasies, being turned on by the idea of homosexual activity, being ok with the idea of being gay, and that your heterosexual relationships have been authentic…except in the area of sexual arousal. Perhaps you are gay, or bi or…whatever.

    I cannot speak for your sexual orientation, but I don’t think it needs a label or any rules for how you act with consenting adults. What I can say is that you appear to be more distressed with the possibility of being gay than you let on, or else you wouldn’t be struggling with these issues so much. Ultimately, I don’t think you need a label, or even an answer to the question “Am I gay”. I think you would be better served by accepting the presence of the thought “I might be gay”, and then choosing to love whomever you love.

  • Hello, thanks for the article. It was truly helpful.

    The one thing which caused me some anxiety was the question: do you like to have gay sex? This got me imagining certain scenarios of having sex with women, although many times they were unpleasant, sometimes I felt that I would actually like to have them, and would enjoy them. However, this thought then caused me more anxiety. Is this the mind playing with us or would this be an indication of homosexuality??

    I saw in a post from above that you said that what you were trying to say was more like “would you rather be having same-sex intercourse than having this conversation?”. Although I know that in reality it would be very hard for me to engage in same- sex intercourse, i doubt if I would want to do it; if whether I would prefer having sex intercourse with a friend than this conversation… My reaction varies. How should I handle these thoughts?

    In part three it says that homosexual fantasies can be enjoyed by heterosexuals. Would imagining oneself with a female (I’m a female) having intercourse be a homosexual fantasy? Does accepting it and enjoying it indicate homosexuaity?

    Thanks for your help!

    • Hi Melania,

      Yes, this constant obsessing about whether you would enjoy sex with other women is your OCD playing tricks on you. You say that you doubt you would want to have sex with women, which is a pretty good indicator that you are not gay. And yes, imagining your self having sex with a woman would be a typical homosexual fantasy for a woman.

      As for how to handle these thoughts, the answer is to do nothing. Allow the thoughts to exist without analyzing them in any way. They are just thoughts and they do not deserve this much of your time and energy. In fact, they deserve no time or energy at all. I encourage you to read our article Mindfulness Based CBT for OCD and Anxiety.

  • Thank you very much Dr.Tom,

    It’s Melania from the previous post. I forgot to mention that I am only 18, and will be turning 19 in February, hope this doesn’t change your response/ (outcome of the question).

    So basically, what I have to focus is just accepting the thoughts as they are without analysing them even though they might sometimes tell me that I would enjoy a homosexual experience?

    Also, although I have had many crushes on men, I remember a particular attraction (I don’t think it was sexual), to certain women/ girls throughout my life. Although I might not have wanted to have a romantic relationship with them, there was something that I found in them which was maybe something else beyond being beautiful. For example, a mexican friend in first grade, or my pilates teacher in tenth grade (these are just some examples). Are these attractions normal? Is it a way of sorting through out the emerging sexual feelings? I can’t seem to stop analyzing my past history.

    Thank you!,

    • Hello again Melania,

      You wrote: “So basically, what I have to focus is just accepting the thoughts as they are without analysing them even though they might sometimes tell me that I would enjoy a homosexual experience?”

      Yes, that is exactly correct.

      You also wrote: “I can’t seem to stop analyzing my past history.”

      And this analysis is exactly the problem. You are analyzing thoughts and feelings from years ago in an attempt to get clarity about something that doesn’t require clarity. So you found some people of the same gender interesting and appealing. That doesn’t make you gay. It just means that you found them likable.

      The key is to accept that you liked these people (who just happened to be females) as human beings, and to stop analyzing what this means.

      Likewise, stop analyzing your thought that you might enjoy having a same-sex experience. You are analyzing something that hasn’t even occurred.

  • Hello. I am a female. Quick question, can HOCD thoughts cause you to think at times that you are (or doubt) having an emotional crush on a female friend? Even though in reality you would doubt pursing a romantic relationship with them.

    Regards, Louise

    • Hi Davis,

      HOCD, or any sub-type of OCD for that matter, can occur at pretty much any age. It is quite common for HOCD to begin in the teen years.

  • Hey doc

    I really didn’t want to say this, but sometimes i literally sit down at work and say “you know what, i’m gay, i can accept it, my friends and family may never speak to me again, i’ll find new people that will, my ex girlfriend will probably go mental thinking she was dating a guy who in all honest didn’t know he was in the closet, but she’ll just have to accept that” and then like 5 minutes later its like i’m telling myself “you’re not gay, how can you think that, when was the last time you thought a guy was hot or you wanted to do something with a guy, stop being stupid” and then the endless cycle continues.

    Yesterday I contemplated ending my life, but i’m sure that’s just the anxiety talking, because 20 minutes later as crazy as it sounds, it’s like i forgot about the situation and enjoyed my life. I know i’m a generally anxious person, today i caught myself wiping my office table of dust and crumbs and stuff, and picking lint off my wool jumper on numerous occasions (OCD-esque). I do other things that point to this condition, but i wish i didn’t have it, i’m scared i won’t overcome it, it will possibly destroy my life, and i’ll probably end up ending it (i come from a very very uptight family, but i myself am very accpting of a lot of people, I don’t really care about anyone else’s sexual orientation or anything but i care about mine)

    it’s getting to the point where i get mild erections and i go “shit was i thinking about guys then”.

    But thank you for these blog posts, I gave one stupid dream way too much attention, now i’ve ruined my life, becuase i don’t want to be gay, i was very happy chasing after and falling for women, and now things are upside down.

    I’m not going to seek proffessional help, because quite frankly, i’m completely independent at 23 in the UK and i simply cant afford it.

    Time to sleep off todays anguish and deal with tomorrows anguish when i wake up (also thanks for not replying, i know you’re really busy)



    • Hi Charles,

      The “endless cycle” you refer to is typical of all forms of OCD. And for those with HOCD, this endless cycle focuses issues of sexual orientation. In other words, the symptoms you present sound like textbook HOCD.

      You note that you aren’t considering treatment, which frankly, makes no sense at all. You live in the UK, and the NHS will provide you with free CBT for OCD.

      Finally, if you are considering ending your life, I implore you to go to an emergency room immediately.

  • Hey Doc,

    I think I was just having a really bad week looking for answers when I couldn’t get any reassurance as to what was actually going on with me (because ultimately only I really know whats going on, so only i can ultimately help myself, and i get it now). The NHS have a 2 week waiting list and I work a stringent 9 to 5, so there is no way that therapy with the NHS will work.

    I’ve realized that these thoughts have sort of subsided a little since the first 2 weeks when I would go into panic attack mode after thinking about the weird dream and now I know that they were just thoughts. They still seem to pop up every now and again and manifest in different ways, for example in the first couple weeks I would see a random guy and get a shock to the system, because I’ve seen this person as a threat to my sexual orientation or something and get really weird homo-erotic thoughts, and react to it. As soon as I stopped reacting (forcing them out of my mind, or trying to neutralize them with thoughts of women which actually never worked cause the women morphed back into men which really made me feel like i was trapped, they literally stopped occurring alot.

    Now, it seems to have become more and more real. I used to go to the gym alot (not so much anymore because of this condition), and I was fixated on getting bigger and everything, so when I would see super fit guys, it was admiration more than anything else. Now when i see super fit or muscular guys, it’s like i get that shock to the system and i want to look away. This is also occurring when I see attractive men in real life now. Whats even worse is that i cant look at any of my male work colleagues in the eye anymore, because of this.

    A couple weeks ago i was really uncomfortable watching tv because of attractive men, sports too, because i’d get that weird shock, but this seems to be getting better now.

    I don’t know if these are signs of me getting better or my HOCD finding a new way to present itself.

    Have you ever com across this before when dealing with HOCD?

    And also, when will i get my attraction to women back that suddenly went missing after i started panicking and checking?
    because there’s this one woman I just met that i’m trying to connect with, but HOCD is making it hard!!!



    • Charles,

      The good news is that when you stopped resisting the thoughts, they decreased. This is to be expected. Now your job is to accept their presence whenever they arise. Resistance is futile. I encourage you to read our article OCD, Anxiety and Resistance.

      There is no legitimate reason your HOCD should be a barrier to pursuing a relationship with a woman. You can have these unwanted thoughts and pursue her, or you can have them and not pursue her. Either way, you have the thoughts. And that is all they are – thoughts.

      Also, IMHO, a two-week wait list is not a very good reason for not seeking help. Your initial comment here was almost two-weeks ago. As for the 9-5 bit, I am confident there are therapists in the UK who work evenings and/or Saturdays. I encourage you to visit the website of OCDUK at for information about treatment providers in the UK who specialize in OCD.

  • I am a teenager and have had many crushes on men, but the last months I believe I’ve been absorbed by HOCD.

    Talking with a female friend of mine, she commented that a friend of ours had just had a boob job and that her boobs looked so nice and perfect that she even wanted to touch them. When she showed me the pictures, this got me thinking that I wanted to touch them as well because they do look appealing and attractive. Would wanting to touch another girl’s boobs and thinking they look nice/ attractive be an indication of homosexuality?

    Moreover, I’ve been tormented by other situations where I am a place (example: gym) and I see a girl which I would label as attractive and I feel some sort of impulse to be her friend/ or more close to her. This gets me thinking that it is probably because I have a sexual/ emotional/ homosexual attraction towards her. However, I would not want to be with her in a relationship (or would I?)

    What should I do with these thoughts (boobs and finding the girl attractive)? Could these be indications of homosexuality or could they just be results of being a teenager and “having a brain”? Should I just accept them? (I’ve seen this is your primary recommendation)

    My mind then starts to go to greater extents and makes me even start to question if I would enjoy licking her boobs. Sometimes I believe I would enjoy licking them although in reality I would say that I wouldn’t be able and wouldn’t want to do it (at least I think). Sorry if I’m being too confusing or too specific, I just feel very anxious and wanted to ask if these are homosexual characteristics.

    I’m very very anxious,

    thank you very much,

    • Hi Amanda,

      You don’t sound gay to me. Gay women like the idea of having sex with other women. You are so anxious and uncomfortable with these thoughts that you are researching the internet in an effort to figure out why you are having them.

      I don’t think noticing that another girl is attractive makes you gay. Why shouldn’t you notice beauty in the world, regardless of whether it is in the form of a sunset, or a work art…or an attractive woman? I also think it is normal to want to be friends with an attractive person. That doesn’t automatically mean you want to have sex with her?

      As for your friend’s newly-enhanced boobs, my answer is essentially the same. Why shouldn’t you be curious about them. And your brain is going to come up with all sorts of thoughts about those boobs, including “would I like to lick them”.

      Everybody has weird, unexpected thoughts about sex. If everyone who had unexpected thoughts about being gay, virtually everybody on the entire planet would be gay.

  • Hey Doc,

    One last question before i stop going on message boards. Is a sudden loss of attraction to women a symptom seen in HOCD?


    • Hi Charles,

      Many people with HOCD report a concern that they are suddenly less attracted to the opposite sex. My experience has been that this is not a genuine loss of attraction, but rather a variation of the HOCD obsession. In other words, the obsession becomes, “OMG, what if I no longer find women attractive – that would mean I am gay!!!” And just like other obsessions, the more you over-attend to it, the more likely you are to over-value it (i.e., you start to believe it is true when it was just a thought). This is just one more HOCD thought.

  • Hello Tom,

    Thank you for all your patience. In a previous comment, you responded to me that it was a common experience in HOCD to start doubting if you are having an emotional crush on a same sex friend. What should I do in these cases? I feel that id accept the possibility of being attracted to her than I would then want to pursue these actions. I don’t want to feel like im living on denial.

    Thanks again,

    • Hi Louise,

      What you should do is this: Accept that you are having unwanted, unexpected thoughts that are common in OCD, and get on with your day.

      Your job is to accept that strange and unwanted thoughts sometimes pop into your head, that you tend to sometimes take these thoughts far more seriously than they deserve, and to stop analyzing those thoughts.

      Also, you suggest that if you were to accept the possibility of being attracted to a female that you would want to pursue a relationship. But just because the possibility exists that an individual finds someone else attractive does not mandate that the individual act on that attraction.

  • Hi Tom-
    The idea of being a lesbian has plagued my mind for the last 2 months.
    I have all the symptoms of HOCD that have been discussed within the many comments, as well as this article. (I.e. Checking state of arousal around same sex, monitoring groinal responses while looking at same sex pictures, experiencing intrusive thoughts of the same sex)
    Recently, I had accepted that thoughts are thoughts. Like I’ve read in some of your replies: Thoughts don’t make you who you are, your actions do.

    Recently though, these intrusive thoughts have progressed to the intimate setting of the bedroom.
    I will be having sex with my fiancé, who is a male. I try very hard to focus on him during intercourse; however, whenever my eyes are closed, the image of a random woman will pop into mind. I begin to imagine that now, I’m actually kissing that girl. Or it is that woman that I’m getting intimate with. I grow increasingly disturbed, because I can feel my body responding to those thoughts in a state of arousal.
    Are these thoughts manifesting so strongly because I’m trying to focus solely on my fiancé, and trying to force the thought of women out of my mind?

    I feel I should note that while I am having thoughts of having sex with women, I do not desire to have a relationship or future with a woman as my partner, which I always tell myself whenever intrusive thoughts occur.

    Also, if during high anxiety times or “spikes,” I find comfort in reading your responses to these comments, has it become a compulsion?

    • Hi Amy,

      While I cannot provide a diagnosis in a blog, I can say that everything you write sounds like HOCD. The problem is that you are doing compulsions in response to the thoughts, specifically:

      ~ trying “very hard” to focus on your fiancé when having sex
      ~ trying to force the thoughts of women out of your mind
      ~ telling yourself that you “do not desire to have a relationship or future with a woman” whenever you find your self experiencing unwanted thoughts.
      ~ reading our blog for comfort at times of gay panic.

      The bottom line is that your thoughts are going to go wherever they want, and if you try to force your thoughts in a certain direction, you will make things worse. Your goal is to allow these thoughts (or any thoughts) to appear while making no effort to conrol them. So what if you think about a woman when making love with your fiancé. It is just a thought.

      It is also worth noting that, when you find yourself aroused by thoughts of women while having sex with your fiancé, you may be giving the thoughts more value than they deserve. I suspect that your body is doing what it is designed to do – i.e., to respond to sexual stimulation. If you were to think about paint drying while your fiancé is stimulating you, you would likely still get aroused. Would you then assume that the idea of paint drying turns you on? Of course not.

  • Hi, I have some quastions. I am 17 years old male. I think I have HOCD. I just started reading about internalized homophobia. And that gave me a huge spike. I have always been thinking about girls. And had many crushes on them. I always felt sexualy attracted to them, as soon as I can remember. I never felt sexualy attracted to guys or anything. It all started about 2-3 months ago. I had anxiety every day, I started check and check and check. One week I just stoped thinking about it. It was hard, but it slowly started to go away! My attraction to girls came back even stronger! But it came back again after some days… And now, I am reading same things 30 times a day, just as I used to. Go to same forums. And I came across Internalized homophobia. Can you explein to me what internalized homophobia is? Do gay people feelt sexualy attracted to girls? I have been a little homophobic….. Please help me!

    • Hi Christopher,

      Everything you write sounds like HOCD to me, specifically:

      “I have always been thinking about girls.”

      “And had many crushes on them.”

      “I always felt sexualy attracted to them, as soon as I can remember.”

      “I never felt sexualy attracted to guys.”

      So long as you continue to do compulsions (i.e., checking , reading things over and over, going to online forums, etc.), you can expect that your OCD will get worse.

      I will elect not to answer your question about internalized homophobia, as this would be accommodating your OCD. You don’t need reassurance about internalized homophobia – you need to read about the futility of reassurance seeking.

  • Hello,

    My name is Brenna and I am a 21 year old college student. I have been in a relationship with a man for over two and a half years, and have been very content up until a couple of days ago. I started reflecting on myself growing up and thinking about how I used to be attracted to certain girls and that I would always tend to want to be close to them and know them on a deeper level. It was up until the point that I would get jealous if they talked to other girls or guys. At the time, I never really even considered it to be sexual at all, and never wanted to have sexual intercourse with any of the girls (yet I felt very attached and liked them it seemed). However, now that I reflect and think about it I feel sick to my stomach because I don’t know if my past thoughts make me a lesbian. I want to be in a relationship with my boyfriend but now I am even questioning if I still love him and it’s making me sick to my stomach. I just want everything to go back to how it was before these thoughts were in my head so I can go back to loving my boyfriend like how I used to.

    • Hi Brenna,

      You note that your feelings for girls when you were young were never sexual, and that you just wanted deeper relationships with them, even to the point of being jealous of their closeness with others. That doesn’t sound like a lesbian to me – it sounds like you wanted closer non-sexual relationships. You also note that, as a result of your anxiety about your sexual orientation, you are now questioning your current heterosexual relationship. This is a very common symptom of HOCD. Finally, you note that you want to be in a relationship with your current boyfriend. Well…you are in a relationship with him. Relationships are not about the various thoughts swimming through our heads – they are about what we choose to do. Pay no attention to the unwanted thoughts about being a lesbian, and go about the business of having your already existing heterosexual relationship. Actions speak louder than words…and thoughts.

  • Hi

    I’m 26 years old and believe I am suffering with this HOCD. I have a boyfriend and child and everything started a month after I stopped my birth control. My mind tells me that I am a lesbian and want to engage in lesbian stuff but I know in my heart this is not what I want. When I have these thoughts or think of them I feel distress. I want them out of my head and I either stand there screaming at myself or hit my head against the wall or back of the sofa. I normally end up in tears because I don’t understand why these thoughts won’t leave me.

    I’ve always been interested in men,always wanted a boyfriend but I’m now starting to think maybe I’m indenial and I’ve been a lesbian all along or have suddendly become one. When I’m with my boyfriend it feels right, I like his arms around me and stuff and kissing him and having sex with him,but my mind tells me I want a woman and I start talking to myself in my head or out loud and reassuring myself that I am straight and my boyfriend is what I want. If I say I am a lesbian I feel nothing, I look at pictures of women in their underwear and feel nothing so I don’t understand why my mind won’t let me rest. When I think of my future with my boyfriend I feel so happy and know that is all I want. I feel this doesn’t last for long before another thought or image enters my head.

    I feel physically sick at the prospect that I’m a lesbian. I really don’t want lesbian sex or anything remotely to do with being gay. Whenever I cuddle my partner my head tells me I wish that was a woman and I don’t. I want to cuddle my partner without these intrusive thoughts,I never had them before in my life. I’m now convinced they are real and I’m so distressed about it.

    This is taking over my entire life. I’m obsessed, can’t sleep. I just want my partner forever but I’m constantly doubting myself and these wishing thoughts are the worst because I don’t wish that but I must because my mind tells me so. I’ve looked up pictures of lesbians and I really don’t want that. I feel nothing but this doesn’t do anything to reassure me for long. I’ve got therapy treatment but it’s not ocd. Do u think I need this. I’ve never questioned myself in my 26 years until a few months ago. Please help me understand what is going on.

    Sometimes I feel,suicidal because of these thoughts.

    Please get back to me. Please please please.

    • Hi Emma,

      All of thoughts you are describing are consistent with HOCD. You note that “it feels right” with your boyfriend, that you like his arms around you, like kissing him and having sex with him, and that you “don’t want lesbian sex or anything remotely to do with being gay”. That sounds like a straight girl with HOCD, not like a lesbian.

      If your therapy is not directly addressing your unwanted thoughts, your symptoms will not improve. You would likely benefit from seeing a therapist who specializes in HOCD treatment using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which numerous studies have found to be the best approach to managing OCD.

      Finally, allow me to note that I am concerned about your banging your head against the wall, and that I am even more concerned about your suicidal thoughts. If you are genuinely suicidal, please take your self to your local emergency room immediately.

  • Hi, this is me again. Thanks for your answare. For few days ago my HOCD started to fade away, really slowly. And I was happy, but something happend that got me into the circle of HOCD again (But I still try not to react to the thoughts) I went through diffrent stages, i felt gay and so on. And about 4 days ago, I found a girl really attractive. I loved that, but I thought about the message i got from one of the people who beat HOCD. Here is the link:
    He wrote to me that it is impossible for me to fear the opposite sex no matter what. And boom, I got really anxious. And back to HOCD circle. I felt need to check it again, and another burst of anxiety. I am very worried that I will not like opposite sex anymore. (And try not to react to the thoughts.) Now this is stuck on my mind, and I can`t let the thought go. When ever I try to think about a girl, it happens. And it never happend befour. I read that some people also experianced it. But is this another game HOCD plays on me? I would appreciate your anwsware about this.

    • Christopher,

      People say all sort of things on online forums. The issue here is not what the person wrote, but rather your compulsive reaction to it. I encourage you to immediately stop checking comments on online forums, as they appear to lead to an increase in obsessions and compulsions for you.

  • Hello,
    I’ve been diagnosed with OCD and what I hope is HOCD for a few months on and off. I have been in a great relationship with a guy I love very much. I had very bad ROCD which began after we tried to have sex and it didn’t work out. Then all of a sudden, bam I was hit with the thought “what if i am gay?” This upset me very much. I obsess about it all hours of the day and mentally review and check. I do not want to be gay but the worst part is I couldn’t tell you why. I, unlike so many HOCDers am not repulsed by the thought of lesbianism, I just do not want it to be me. And because I do not have a reason that I so badly do not want it to be me I can’t seem fight the nervousness and the pressure on my chest and the thoughts that say, “oh come on you would like it.” Are they real or not? Ever since i can remember I have thought boys were cute and have liked them, but now when I try really hard to see myself with a boy in the future its like my brain replaces it with a woman and says “you would like this more” and then I feel gay. Please help me. Does this sound Like HOCD or am i kidding myself?

    • Hi Emily,

      Yes, this sounds exactly like HOCD. You are in a great relationship with a guy you love, and you are having OCD thoughts about your sexual orientation and your relationship. Just because you are not repulsed by the idea of lesbianism doesn’t mean you are a lesbian. It just means you are straight without being horrified by lesbianism.

  • Ok so im a woman and I have 3 kids and everything. But the thing is, regular sex, woman on woman or men with women – does not turn me on at all. But watching guy on guy action does gets me excited. What does this mean? What am i? What is the label for this? Is this bad?

    • Hi Meekaboo,

      People get turned on by all sorts of stuff, and your predilection for gay male porn doesn’t necessarily mean anything. If you saw the movie “The Kids are Alright”, you likely remember the scene in which two lesbians are watching gay male porn. On the surface, that makes no sense whatsoever, but apparently a fair number of lesbians enjoy gay male porn, and they obviously are not gay males. (You can read more about this at

      The bottom line is that people can and do get turned on by all sorts of stuff. I don’t believe you are bad for what turns you on, and I don’t believe you need a label other than “human”. So long as nobody is being hurt, enjoy whatever it is you enjoy.

  • Hi,

    I’ve read this article multiple times and I feel like it really describes me. But the HOCD cycle just doesn’t end. It makes me keep questioning and checking and asking/googling for reassurance.

    All my life I’ve been attracted to guys and wanted relationships with guys. ( I am a 20 year old girl) I’ve been with my boyfriend for three years now and I love him and being with him but there are times that I feel bored with the relationship. We don’t have sex often and that’s because of me. I enjoy doing sexual things with him when I am in the mood but having sex just doesnt always feel good for me. I just read something online where a girl said she would have sex with men but never really care for it or be into it and would just lay there. And now she realized she likes girls and loves having sex with them because it feels more natural. I’m just panicking because that’s what I do during sex but I never wish I was having sex with a girl or want to date one.

    Also, the girl from the article said that just because she was “wet” from her boyfriend it must mean she was enjoying the sex. Even though she felt like she wasn’t and eventually realized she was gay. I also think this sometimes too so that makes me really nervous. A lot of times I do get anxious because I’m a little shy and uncomfortable during sex so maybe that’s why I feel this way. Even though I know I like guys, when Im spiking from Hocd I feel like I can’t even like guys.

    I love my boyfriend and the ocd drives me crazy. I always have to picture myself kissing random girls or friends to mentally check if I’m gay or not. The thought of having to like and date and do sexual things with girls makes me sick to my stomach and gives me EXTREME anxiety. But I’m worried that because I don’t enjoy sex that I’m just forcing myself to be straight and that Im secretly gay.

    I just want to know what’s wrong with me?? Do I have hocd or would I really just be happier with girls even though I don’t want to be and don’t have any feelings towards them? I am just in deep denial? She also said she had sex with guys to try to fit in and would talk herself into thinking it will be fun and she’ll enjoy it but she never did until she was with a girl. I feel like I try to talk myself into making sex fun but it just always leaves me feeling anxious and just wanting it to be over. I love pleasing my boyfriend and doing it for him but it makes me feel like something is wrong with me because I don’t always want to have sex with him.

    Ive never had a strong sexual desire with anyone but I love kissing guys and dating them gives me butterflies and it just feels right. But this has just been giving me a panic lately.

    And also, when my friends talk about sex I feel better when I fit in and talk about it too because im self conscious about not enjoying it and not having it too much.

    I’m sorry for ranting but when reading that article my ocd really spiked because I act the same way as someone who realized they are gay and now I just feel so confused. Since I was a little girl I can remember having crushes on boys. I do find girls attractive but I don’t want to kiss them or anything like that. My mind does make me think about all of these situations though. I just want you to know a bit about my life before you assume I don’t actually have ocd. I know I need help but I don’t trust talking to any therapist that I don’t know. To be honest I really trust OCDLA and want your opinion. Thank you.

    • Gabrielle,

      Just because somebody writes something about their sexuality that matches some of your experience doesn’t mean you are gay. Everything you write strongly suggests you are straight and that you have HOCD, especially

      “The thought of having to like and date and do sexual things with girls makes me sick to my stomach and gives me EXTREME anxiety.”
      “I love kissing guys and dating them gives me butterflies and it just feels right.”
      “Since I was a little girl I can remember having crushes on boys. I do find girls attractive but I don’t want to kiss them or anything like that.”

      Different people have different sex drives, and your relative lack of interest in sex may simply be that you aren’t as sexual as some other people. Also, you may have some discomfort with sexuality that could possibly be addressed via psychotherapy.

  • Can sexual orientation change? Since early childhood have I had crushes on boys and been in love with boys, been attracted to them etc. But since summer 2014, a vicious cycle has begun. I had a gay dream and woke up in panic. I then started to obsess about my sexual orientation. I don’t know what is wrong with me, how can something so fundamental just change? Please help me I’m getting severely depressed and have so much anxiety…

    • Jane,

      People don’t just wake up one day with a new sexual orientation, and nothing you write suggests that you have changed – you merely had a dream which you mistakenly assumed meant something about your sexual orientation. We all have dreams that are full of fantastical ideas and images that have nothing to do with reality. Nothing fundamental about you has changed, and the only thing “wrong” with you is that you are obsessing about something on the basis of a dream.

  • Thanks for great articles-they are so helpful for people who suffer through ocd.

    I am 21 and I never really thought about orientation until all of this-I guess I mean I always assumed I was straight. I was always attracted to men and had straight relationships. I’ve currently been with my boyfriend for 3 years.

    I guess my main problems are I pick through my past and ruminate trying to find meaning. I once had a friend that was a female who I always wanted to impress and I really enjoyed talking to her. Prior to hocd I once thought “maybe I had a crush on her…but how weird, that doesn’t seem like me. I love my boyfriend”.

    I also once thought a lesbian was pretty. Additionally I’ve always kind of been turned on by pregnancy; something about a pregnant belly seems appealing. I don’t think I look at these women sexually or romantically, just aesthetically pleasing. I’ve always imagined myself being pregnant and being married to a man; it feels right, I love my boyfriend, and I like straight sex. I can definitely tell when a woman is beautiful which also freaks me out. So I guess a combination of all of these things are what fuel my ocd. At the worst I wasn’t even able to leave home, I would constantly check for attraction, I read about hocd all the time, and so on.

    Do you have any thoughts or insight based on what I describe? Does it sound like ocd? I’ve been to two therapists who have said its ocd but they dont practice ERP or CBT.

    • Hi Brittany,

      Picking through your past thoughts in attempt to find evidence about your sexual orientation is definitely a compulsion, which will only led to more obsessions. Besides, why shouldn’t you find some lesbians attractive? Some lesbians are attractive, just like some straight people are attractive. One’s sexual orientation is not dependent on being attractive or unattractive. The same goes for pregnant women.

      I’m glad you have found therapists who understand that this is OCD, but I am not surprised that they don’t know how to provide ERP. Unfortunately, this is quite common. I encourage you to find a therapist who specializes in treating HOCD with ERP, as this is your best bet for recovery. Take care.

  • I’m an 18 years old straight male and currently dating a girl and I’ve never really doubted my sexuality until seeing a movie where the main character turned out to be gay (the imitation game). I’ve always loved girls, been sexually attracted to them and had crushes on them, but now that i’ve been having a lot of unwanted thoughts that I might be gay, it’s very difficult for me to be aroused about straight sex. I love my girlfriend, and still i think about the chances of being gay and hurting her feelings. I don’t want to be gay, i’ve pictured myself being with men and even believing that I could be aroused by gay sex, but i feel uncomfortable and repulsed by the idea of it and somehow still think I could enjoy it. All of a sudden i just feel less attracted to women. Can you please advise me on how to get rid of these unwanted thoughts?

    • Hi Sid,

      If seeing a movie with a gay character can make one gay, then pretty much everyone in the world is gay. On the other hand, everything you write suggests that you are not gay.

      I can’t advise you on how to get rid of unwanted thoughts because it is impossible – everyone has unwanted thoughts. The key is to not take these thoughts seriously. They are just thoughts. I encourage you to accept the existence of the thoughts (note I did not say you need to accept the accuracy of the thoughts – just their existence). Resistance of the existence of any thought is a ticket to trouble.

  • Hi
    This OCD is killing me. Well the situation goes like this:
    I had a foreign friend who called me for a dinner and out of nowhere I thought was there a possibility that he might…you know….be asking me out on a date or something. I got nervous but later on when we met I felt no worry then.

    However, I got freaked out by the thoughts above when returning to my home and the suspect of me as a gay was kinda lingering on my mind. I attempted to remember and oh once in a car I kinda wanted to kiss the male driver who was my best bud but i realized that was stupid and I didn’t even take it as a big deal.
    But when connecting that story with this really made me feel awakard. I mean I do not wanna be a gay but my stupid mind always says why not but oh there’s no chemical thing whatsoever between me and the same gender even I checked out the relative sexual images and did the picturing. But this why-not-and-you-are voice in my head really drove me crazy and I even got a PE during my sex with my girlfriend and it damaged my libido as a result.

    I am almost certain that I do not wanna be a gay cause that really freaks me out but I just can’t stop the mind. I tried the method in part 2 but it strengthened that you-are-a-gay psychological hint as I question myself:”see you are accepting the used-to-be nasty things in your mind so that you must be a gay(oh I don’t wanna see that word GOD!!)

    So what am I supposed to do? Save me doc!

    PS sorry for my bad English 🙁

    • Hi Chandler,

      Nothing you have written sounds unusual for HOCD, which can be triggered by seemingly minor events such as seeing a friend and suddenly having an unwanted sexual thought about them. It is also not unusual for exposure assignments to provoke an increase in anxiety in the short term, as you experienced. I encourage you to take a longer-term approach to recovery, which includes accepting the short term spike in discomfort that comes with exposure. I encourage you to read our article about how exposure therapy works, and to seek out a therapist who specializes in treating OCD.

  • i have a boyfriend of 5 years and i love him, but i cant get these thoughts out of my mind.

  • Dear Doc,

    I have been dealing with HOCD for a few months now, which, during an intense episode of anxiety and panic some time ago, i developed intrusive visual thoughts regarding a friend.

    Although now the visual thoughts are largely gone (I recognized them as a result of my mental checking compulsions and hence could stop them), I still face the challenge of feeling incredibly awkward and anxious around that person.

    By simply being around him and trying not to do any mental checking and compulsions, I’ve managed to bring down my anxiety quite a bit, but I still can’t help but exhibit a lot of awkwardness and body vigilance around him. For example, I try very hard not to look at him during mealtimes, and when he is talking, I will suddenly shift my attention to him to try to appear normal. I can’t help but mentally review – things like did i look at him more longer than a nornal person should? I am afraid that he will pick up on all this awkward body language and actually think that am I gay or what. I know I shouldn’t, but ruminating over this train of thoughts freaks me out and continues to feed on my OCD.

    Will this awkwardness in his presence ever go away? What if he notices my awkwardness and actually thinks I’m gay or what? This can spike me all over again. I am just afraid that this awkwardness will last forever, and I will never be ‘normal’ around this person again. The fear that he might think I’m gay really torments me and I still get a sick feeling in my stomach whenever I have a fleeting thought of this person.


    • Hi Roger,

      The best solution to feeling awkward around this person is to spend time with him. You have already seen how spending time with him has reduced your anxiety, and I believe you will experience a similar reduction in awkwardness if you continue to spend time with him.

      Conversely, if you continue to focus on trying not to feel awkward, you will likely continue to feel awl award. Attempting to control how you feel and think is fruitless and will actually make things worse for you. If you find your self mentally reviewing, then choose not to answer the questions you brain comes up with. Let those internal questions about your sexual orientation remain unanswered.

      As for whether this person might think you are gay, my response is simple…so what? What he thinks of you is up to him. There is no reason to devote even one second of your time to questioning what others think about your sexual orientation. Let them think whatever they want.

  • I wrote on a here a few months ago and explained my background a little bit and being concerned that I didn’t care for having sex with my boyfriend but was always attracted to boys even as a little girl. Well, months later that boyfriend and I broke up. It just wasn’t working out.. After 3 years I realized I wanted more out of a relationship and he wasn’t the one. Of course that spiked my OCD but I dealt with it. Now I am talking to a new guy and my OCD has been out of control. I have really been enjoying my time being single so I don’t want to rush anything with this guy so I’m thinking maybe that’s why I’ve been so anxious? it all comes back to not wanting to have sex with him. it’s not that I don’t want to but it just makes me very anxious and nervous.

    Maybe Ive never liked guys even though that’s what I thought. The thought of being with a girl makes me sick and I spend the majority of my day thinking and obsessing about it. Ironically, I’m concerned about being with this new guy because I met another guy months ago who I fell head over heels for. I know that should be enough to tell me I’m not gay but I just feel like I’m so far into the ocd that I can’t tell what are my real thoughts and what is ocd in my head. Please help

    • Hi Gabrielle,

      Everything you write sounds like HOCD to me. People without OCD do not spend any time at all analyzing their thoughts in an effort to determine their sexual orientation. They just have whatever thoughts they have and live their life with out trying to figure out what their thoughts mean about their them. And the fact that you already have a history of OCD about this same issue suggests that there is nothing new about what you are experiencing now.

      I encourage you to seek out therapy with a treatment provider who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for OCD. Take care.

      • Thank you so much. Also, today at the mall I noticed a girl and for some reason I just made myself think about kissing her. I do this sometimes when I am really stuck in this OCD cycle. But when I thought about it I didn’t completely hate it.. It was kind of like I thought I might like it but didn’t want to. And then I couldn’t picture myself actually doing it without feeling sick and anxious about it, but is that because I actually would enjoy kissing a girl or because OCD makes me feel that way? I just don’t know if its normal for people with HOCD to think like that.

        • Hi Gabrielle,

          Yes, all of these questions and concerns are quite typical of HOCD. Your goal is to make no effort to answer these questions – to make no attempt to get certainty one way or the other. You don’t need certainty as to what these questions mean about you and your sexuality.

  • Hey! I’ve had anxiety since I was 6 or 7, Since then at about the age of 14 or 15 (when I entered my first relationship) i experienced major anxiety which seemed to focus on relationships and later my sexuality. Since then it has ‘waxed and waned’ as you call it.
    I have the same symptoms as many people on here and I seek a lot of reassurance both from Google, family and friends.
    My issue atm is that I’m scared I have a girl crush on this one certain girl I work with. Many people on here seem to worry about the gender itself but mine is recently about one person. I randomly once thought she was pretty (which I know is normal) and since then I’ve had absolute torment in my brain about it. When I’m not with her I force myself to think about her etc and test how I feel. When I’m with her at work I get scared that I’m attracted to her and fancy her and this makes me very anxious. I tend to have a bit of a twitch or shake my head to myself when I think of anxious thoughts. Another example is that I was invited to stay at hers after a party and declined as I was scared I’d feel attraction. I even said her name to someone at work earlier 🙁
    Do I show signs of HOCD or am I in denial? 🙁

    • Hi Hannah,

      I see nothing in your comment that indicates you are “in denial” (which is a spurious notion at best anyway). You are giving undo importance to a thought which you acknowledge is quite “normal” You have a pretty friend, and you noticed it. That is all that happened. If you were a lesbian, you would not be tormented by the idea of finding your friend attractive – you would be happily thinking of ways to develop a romantic and/or sexual relationship with her.

  • Thank you very much for responding!
    Although I am grateful for your reply, my anxious brain won’t settle with your reply and I have continued to over analyse it all. For instance, I am now panicking that you said to Danielle previously that she ‘shows signs of HOCD’ and because you didn’t use them words for me, I am now worrying that I don’t show signs of it and that must mean that I am gay!
    The issue regarding my friend has subsided.. and is onto a different thing now!
    One thing I can absolutely say is that I don’t ever yearn to be with a girl- its definitely a fear based thing. All my thoughts I have is a hindrance on my life. However, I know this girl who dated boys before (which she said she enjoyed) but is now is way happier with a girl. And I know a few people who did the same! This panics me a lot, because although I love my boyfriend and I really enjoy our relationship more than I have in any previous relationships, I fear that ‘what if I am a lesbian but I just don’t know it yet because I’ve not experienced a female?!’ However no part of me wants to do that! That thought fears me a lot. I never feel 100% ‘right’ and I’m scared this the is the reason why!

    • Hi Hannah,

      Parsing what I wrote in a previous comment to another person and comparing the language to a comment I made to you is a compulsion.

      The fact that you know a few people who dated heterosexually, only to discover that they preferred to be with people of the same gender does not mean that you are gay for merely thinking about this possibility. And in any case, I could find you thousands (millions?) of people who experimented with homosexual activity and ultimately decided that they preferred to be with people of the opposite sex. You say that you love your boyfriend and that “no part” of you wants to be with a woman. I fail to see anything gay about that.

      You do not need to be “100% right” about your sexual orientation. In fact, trying to gain certainty about sexual orientation is the central theme of HOCD.

  • Hello,
    I am hoping you might be able to give some insight to whether this is OCD related. I am a 40 year old lesbian. 4 years ago, I had an affair w/ a married straight woman whom I had known in college (she was flirtatious w/me then.) We rekindled our friendship after many years & 1 night, she instigated sex. 4 months later, she said she loved me. Fast forward..she divorced & we became serious, even buying a home together. Unfortunately, she was afraid to be “out.” She did tell only a few close friends & her ex husband but no family & no other acquaintances. 2 months ago, she said she needed time & space & wants to end our romantic relationship because she needs to know for sure about her sexuality. She said she recently has gotten aroused when seeing men & I am the only woman she wants (she insists she does not look or think about women at all except me.) She doesn’t identify as lesbian because I’m the only woman she has had a relationship with (although had sex w/ women in college.) She is giving this recent arousal for men a lot of weight & is concerned that she has been w/me only because of past sexual trauma/bad male relationships.Throwing away our 4 years seems drastic. OCD?

    • Hi Sherree,

      Thanks for commenting.

      There is nothing in your description of your partner that suggests OCD. Her behavior suggests to me that she is bisexual and conflicted about her attraction to women. The only thing that even remotely hints at the possibility of OCD is her statement that she needs to be “certain” about her sexuality. But considering that there is nothing else here to suggest OCD, this sounds more like someone who is conflicted than someone who has OCD.

      An alternate possibility is that your partner simply wanted out of the relationship, and this approach seemed to her to be a pretty rock solid exit strategy. People often come up with extreme exit strategies to justify that they want out. So it is possible that your partner’s approach is just a variant of “It’s not you, it’s me…”.

  • Yeah I totally see what you’re saying by it being a compulsion- now it’s written to me I can see how I’m being irrational!
    My main issue is over attending to how I feel, or what I’m thinking. I’ve noticed a clear pattern that when I’m not over attending to anything, I don’t feel as anxious, and the whole thing lessens- however the thoughts are still there slightly which is when I begin to feel sort of in a ‘limbo’ state? Have you ever heard of this being a thing? As soon as I remotely think about what something meant, or why I thought that etc.. The whole thing begins to worsen again. The compulsions start like mental checking, googling etc and then I’m back in that loop hole of ‘needing’ to know!
    I’ve also realised how if I’m feeling anxious in general, I tend to associate that feeling with worrying about my sexuality/relationship and then the thoughts begin again purely due to that initial association.
    I’ve been far too scared to get a therapist about this incase they somehow make it worse, and I haven’t found any OCD therapists that focus on HOCD locally. Is there anything I can do until I find a therapist who can help me?
    Thankyou for your replies, these articles are great!

    • Hi Hannah,

      As you note, when you don’t over-attend to your thoughts and feelings, you are less anxious. This is not just a “thing” in OCD – it is at the very heart of OCD. If you stop over-attending, over-valuing, and over-responding to you thoughts and feelings, your OCD will likely decrease significantly. You don’t need to know why you had a particular thought or what it means about your sexual orientation. This idea that one needs to know these things is also at the heart of OCD. You do not need to know.

      Likewise, the fear of getting into therapy is common for people with OCD. If you had broken arm, would you fear going to an orthopedic surgeon to have the bone set? The only reason you should be afraid of therapy is if you seek treatment with a therapist who does not specialize in treating OCD, as they will not have a clue how to treat your symptoms. I encourage you to seek treatment with an OCD specialist.

  • I don´t know if I’m gay or bi or whatever. I am 26 years old and I’m a virgin. I think I never felt really in love with no one.

    I visit gay porn websites for many many years, since my early adolescence. I get very aroused and I feel a terrible urge to go there. I also get aroused with straight porn and even lesbian porn but I feel anxious if I am near the porn world because I know the gay porn is a click away (and straight porn has men in it, so that makes me anxious).

    I think I am addicted to gay porn and that I think that I could get some answers from there (although I now know I can’t). I feel very upset, angry, guilty, sad and depressed after watching gay porn because I know I shouldn’t. The consequences are terrible. Besides the emotional consequences I described, I feel like I don’t want to leave my house, connect with people (specially males) or do anything, basically. In my real life, I was always closer to women, and I sometimes am called gay for my mannerisms. I think I am afraid of men because of the judgements they could make (I was bullied – not harshly though – when I was younger).

    I hope you could help me figuring out what I could do to stop watching porn.

    • Hi Pedro,

      I also don’t know if you are “gay or bi or whatever”…and I don’t think it matters. You do not need to have a label or a category for for your sexuality.

      As for being aroused by gay porn, it is worth noting that you also report being aroused by straight porn and lesbian porn. The bottom line is that humans get aroused by pornography. We like to see other people being sexual. Yet you only get “upset, angry, guilty, sad and depressed” about being aroused by gay porn, and report that you know you “shouldn’t” watch gay porn. Who says you shouldn’t? There is nothing innately wrong with gay porn as opposed to straight porn. It sounds to me like the real problem is not that you are aroused by gay porn, but that you have a preconceived notion that gay porn is “bad”, or that being gay would be “bad”.

      As for whether you are “addicted to gay porn”, it seems quite possible that you may have a problem with sexual compulsivity. As for how you can stop watching porn, I believe you have more control than you think. You can choose not to go to porn sites. You are not powerless in this matter. Yes, you may initially find it difficult to resist the urge to watch porn, but I am confident that you have the ability to choose to feel uncomfortable rather than watching porn. If you do not feel you can do this on your own, then I encourage you to seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in compulsive sexuality.

      • Hi Tom,

        It’s Pedro again, 6 months later. I have been seeing a second therapist for the past year, who is specialised in sexuality. I think she is very good but I many times question the efficacy of the therapeutic process.
        Well, I would like to have your opinion on what she said to me on our last consultation, which left me very confused. She said that I have been training to become homosexual through the heavy visualisation and masturbation to gay porn. She thinks that its much more probable that I feel sexually aroused by men in real life than by women, although that doesn’t imply also feeling passionate about or in love with those men or women.
        I recon my sexuality is all messed up. On the one hand, I don’t want to go against my natural instincts but, on the other hand, I don’t want to fuel more HOCD-related issues. Do you understand what I mean?
        Thank you for all your help and for helping others that are dealing with these issues. You are amazing at what you do!

        • Pedro,

          Since I have never met you and have not been the therapist who is treating you, I do not feel it would be appropriate for me to judge the accuracy of your therapist’s comments. That said, if you have HOCD, seeing a sex therapist is a probably a complete waste of time that is likely to create more confusion. The chances that your sex therapist understands HOCD are slim at best, and I strongly encourage you to seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), as this is the therapy that has been found by research to be the most effective treatment for OCD.

          • Hi Tom,
            It’s me again, sorry for bothering you again.
            I feel stuck in life. “All” my friends think I’m gay and I feel like i have to come out somehow someday. I am always looking for men on the street and sometimes I feel sexual attraction always accompanied by fear. I don’t know which came first and originated the other. All I know is that I have a fear for men because they mean judgement/bullying/non-acceptance to me.
            I am still watching gay porn in a compulsive way (looking for answers) and feel depressed afterwards. Professionally, I also feel lost and I don’t know my purpose in life and have no goals.
            I don’t feel comfortable wearing fashionable clothes because I think I will show off (in a gay manner) and grab others’ attention. I am very inside my head and fell very hopeless regarding my life in general.
            I think I have internalised homophobia but I am totally fine with others being gay. I don’t feel passionate about people or most things. I think I have built a defensive wall.
            What do you think I should do?

            Thank you so much in advance.

          • Pedro,

            You asked for my advice, so here it is:

            1) Stop watching gay porn. You admit you are doing it as a compulsion in an effort to get “answers”. This is making things worse, not better. If it worked, you would have found the “answer” by now. It isn’t working and it never will.

            2) If you are still seeing a sex therapist instead of an OCD therapist, I encourage you to stop wasting your time and money. A sex therapist is unlikely to have any understanding of how to effectively treat HOCD.

            3) Stop caring about what other people think of you. If others think you are gay, that is not your business.

  • Hello Tom:
    I am a female in my early 20s, who had never questioned my sexuality until last October. I began watching pornography for the first time last summer and found that I enjoyed/was aroused by heterosexual, gay and lesbian porn. This didn’t bother me for months, and then one day, I began wondering if I was a lesbian.
    I have never had same sex attractions or “crushes” on any females, but now, the majority of my fantasies are same sex. I enjoy these fantasies, which causes great anxiety. I wish that I did not.
    In addition to the fantasies, I now get anxious whenever I hear people say, “Be who you are.” or “Do what makes you happy.” Those phrases make me so uncomfortable/anxious, because what if I’m “denying” myself happiness by looking for a male as my spouse. What if I’m actually a lesbian, and I’m not being “true to myself” or being “who I really am”?
    I took the HOCD quiz and scored a 17. I want to believe this is OCD, and that I’m not a lesbian. I’m just so scared that I’m actually a lesbian. After introducing pornography to my life, it’s like the lines have been completely blurred.
    I just desperately want to know my sexuality.

    • Alex,

      Human beings (especially human beings in their early 20’s) are really interested in and turned on by sexual information. The fact that you get turned on by lesbian porn does not make you a lesbian. You mention that you also get turned on by straight porn as well as gay porn (by which, I assume you mean gay male porn). Hence, if merely getting turned on by a particular type of porn were an automatic indicator of one’s sexuality, you would apparently be a a straight woman, a gay woman, and a gay man all at once! That would be quite an accomplishment.

      The fact that you checked off 17 items on our HOCD test strongly suggests that you have HOCD. Likewise, being afraid of being a lesbian suggests that you are not a lesbian, but rather a straight woman with HOCD (lesbians are not afraid of being lesbians). And your analysis of your thoughts and fantasizes is itself suggestive of HOCD, as straight and gay people without HOCD spend exactly zero minutes analyzing their sexual orientation.

      Nobody needs to “know” their sexual orientation with certainty. Accept uncertainty and you will be rewarded with far less concern about something that does not require analysis or certainty.

  • Hi,

    Reading and comparing the ‘symptoms’ from the comments here, plus checking this website to see the advices whenever im having an anxiety attack, I can say that is my need for compulsive rechecking, and further clarifies that I have HOCD. Plus I scored really high on the test.

    I get reassurance and feel relief from having the same symptoms with other posters here. To be honest, im so scared at the prospect of being a Lesbian. At the mere sight of the word, I get scared and thus anxiety begins. I’ve done a lot of things to avoid being associated with the word. I cant even type it again. Even the word Bisexual. Anything that has got to do with ‘Bi’ I got fear and its really intense. As I am majoring in Psychology I know the importance of seeing a therapist, having someone to help you. But the thing is now, I cant do that because im afraid it might get worse. My country is quite conservative and im afraid I might just get branded with being a ‘L’ or a ‘Bi/. God, by the mere thought of it im scared.

    Can you please help with an alternate way? Please

    • Hi Kim,

      I can’t provide a diagnosis via this blog, but I can say that the symptoms you describe sound very much like HOCD. I’m not sure why you think you will get worse with treatment, but I certainly understand that there are some cultures around the world in which homosexuality and bisexuality are completely unacceptable.

      As for “alternate” forms of treatment other than seeking care in your home country, we can offer you online therapy via webcam. I encourage you to read the section on our website about online therapy for OCD.

  • Firstly, this is the best article I have read about HOCD. And it`s also great you have included gay people who suffer from it. Thank you so much. I’m a gay woman engaged to my girlfriend of 3 years, and HOCD makes me feel so sick and anxious most of the time.

    One month ago, I woke up after having a dream with a guy that was flirting with me. I kept thinking about it, and thinking, and my anxiety was building up. I felt so ashamed and checked out literally every guy to check my reactions. Soon I could not listen to any songs, read, watch a film or leave our home due to my fear and anxiety.

    I started initiating kissing and sex more with my girlfriend to check my arousal. I don`t want to be bi/hetero, I don`t want to hurt my girl and I don`t want to be with a man and have a husband. These thoughts make me sick.

    I expose myself everyday and try not to engage in any mental or physical compulsion. But what would be the best method when a spike comes up? Should I keep looking at the guy or hetero couple and do/think nothing? Should I look at them once and do nothing? Should I tell myself that I may be bi and that I will never know for sure? Even if I don`t want to be? Should I tell my gay girlfriend about this?

    • Hi Rachael,

      The first thing you should do is stop analyzing your thoughts, as this will only lead to more doubt. Our brains come up with all sorts of unwanted thoughts, and the best option is to accept their presence without doing anything about them. That includes not trying to figure out what they mean, and it also includes not changing our behaviors. In your case that means that you should return to listening to songs, reading, and watching tv/movies. It also means that you should stop initiating sexual contact with your girlfriend for the sole purpose of testing for arousal, and that you should stop checking out guys and hetero couples in order to see how you think/feel.

      As for telling your girlfriend about what you are experiencing, you need to base that decision on whether or not you believe she would be able to handle the information. Nobody likes to hear, “Honey, I may not really be all that into you because I am doubting my sexual orientation”. If you elect to discuss the matter with her, you should initiate a discussion about HOCD so that she understands the context of your concerns. Perhaps a good part of discussing the issue would be to show her our series of articles on HOCD.

  • I’ve been suffering since I was a teenager with intrusive/unwanted images. In my 20’s, the OCD wasn’t as bad as I was enjoying being single, attractive, guys/dating. There were always strange images in my mind, but none that took over my whole world as w/ my teenage years and now currently in my early thirties. As a teenager, I was haunted with thoughts of being violent and being gay. Now in my early thirties, I’m worse than ever. The OCD kicked in after the birth of my daughter 2 years ago. Thoughts that I was a horrible mother, or that I would harm my daughter played over and over again. HOCD seemed to kick in after a period of verbal abuse from my husband. Being gay became the reason feelings for my husband went down the tubes. These thoughts occupy 90% of every day and every woman I see, my mind tells me, “you’re attracted to” and I feel shamed and gross. I avoid TV, facebook, hate going to the store, avoid interaction with other females. I’m in complete misery!! When I think about being in a relationship with a woman I just can’t, but still I can’t let the thought go. I live in a rural area, and my therapist doesn’t seem to grasp that I might have ocd. Thoughts?

    • Hi Erin,

      Thanks for your comment.

      It sounds like you have been experiencing a number of Pure O subtypes, especially HOCD and Harm OCD. Unfortunately, it is extremely common for people with OCD to struggle with more than one variant.

      Also, you suggest that your HOCD thoughts are the reason your feelings for your husband “went down the tubes”. While it is quite common for HOCD thoughts to interfere with a relationship, there may be additional factors for your loss of feelings for your husband, specifically his verbal abuse.

      It is also worth noting that avoiding TV, Facebook, going to the store, and interactions with other women are all common examples of compulsions, and these behaviors will make things worse for you.

      The bottom line is that you appear to be facing various OCD thoughts, along with relationship issues that would upset most people, including those who don’t have OCD. Unfortunately, as you have already learned, many therapists (most actually) are pretty clueless about OCD and how to treat it effectively. I encourage you to seek out treatment with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD. If you are comfortable with online treatment, we can be reached via our website at

      Take care.

  • Hi I don’t know if I have hocd or not, I done the free test and checked off around 23-24 items , still I’m not sure though I can’t live like this anymore I feel tormented and feel I have to be alone forever. I keep feeling stressed out all day everyday and can’t get peace at anytime I just want to be happy, I’ve suffered this since a young age I am now 26 , the thing that really confuses me is I get thoughts that I start thinking I enjoy these fantasies so I stress more and repeat the ritual in my head over and over to see if I get aroused by it in which I always end up feeling worse, I only fancy women and don’t fancy men but seem fixated on penises and that I must enjoy the thoughts but on the other hand I love women and don’t want to spend my life with a man and would never ever want to hold hands or kiss one, I’m sorry about going on about this but I just can’t stop thinking about it, I worry about everything and I mean everything from health to money to being like this forever but it’s the hocd if it is that that gets me down the most, I want to be with a woman but I feel with these thoughts that I am going to just have to be gay to somehow have a life that I don’t want

    • Andrew,

      A few thoughts…

      This all sounds like textbook HOCD, including the part about stressing out that you may actually enjoy these thoughts. If you enjoyed these thoughts, they wouldn’t be causing you stress – you would be enjoying them!

      Doing mental rituals to test for arousal is a classic HOCD compulsion. Gay guys are not afraid of being aroused by men, and they don’t mentally test themselves to see if they are aroused by men.

      You say you only fancy women, would never want to kiss or hold hands with a man, and that you want to be with a woman. That sounds pretty straight to me.

      You scored 24 out of a possible 28 on our online HOCD test. That sounds like HOCD to me.

  • This is an excellent article.

    I’ve had this form of OCD for nearly eleven years. Prior to this, I had various other forms of OCD. It’s a strange one, since I’ve never had anything against homosexuals and have always been very supportive of gay rights. Prior to this triggering, I was always convinced of my heterosexuality. This OCD triggered after seeing a naked man and having an unusual panic attack and then thinking that I may have turned gay. Also, not long after, some girls asked me at school if I was gay. Ever since then, I’ve had the fear that others may think I’m gay as well as doubting the confidence in my heterosexuality.

    I’ve watched gay porn every day for over a year and regularly measure my groin. My penis is usually always flaccid and I’ve never been aroused by it, but I keep feeling the need to check. Unfortunately, watching so much gay porn caused me to become triggered by oral sex thoughts. I constantly have the fear I will lose control and perform oral sex on every man I come across. Such thoughts are alien to me and I never had them before watching so much gay porn.

    Is the solution to stop watching gay porn? Every time I watch it, the oral sex thoughts get worse

    • Craig,

      First off, let me note that people don’t “turn gay” when they see someone naked. If that were the case, then every man at my gym would be gay, as we all see each other naked in the men’s locker room. And all the women would also be gay, as they see each other naked in the women’s locker room.

      Second, it is important to note that what other people think of your sexual orientation is irrelevant. Someone thinking you may be gay doesn’t mean you are gay.

      Third, allow me to note that your daily habit of watching gay porn and measuring your penis in an effort to test for arousal is the exact wrong thing to do. This is a compulsion that will only perpetuate and exacerbate your obsessions. I’m not surprised that you now have have obsessions about oral sex as you have likely watched an awful lot of male-on-male blow jobs over the past year.

      That said, I am sincerely surprised that you have never once experienced any arousal / penis enlargement while watching gay porn every day for the past year. I would think that at some point you would experience some arousal / penis enlargement regardless of what you were watching. Even just watching paint dry or clouds moving across the sky every day for a year would likely be paired with some arousal at some point, just out of chance if nothing else.

      So yes, I think you should stop watching gay porn and stop doing any other behaviors which you are doing in an effort to ascertain if you are gay.

  • Intrusive thoughts have been plaguing my mind for the past two months, and one of the more recent ones as well as the one I am most afraid of is the thought that I might actually be a lesbian. I have been in a committed relationship with my boyfriend for almost two years now and I have never questioned whether I was gay, and I have never had a problem sexually with him until I started stressing over whether I might be gay or not. We are in a long distance relationship right now and so I try to not pay attention to other guys at school, and one day it just hit me that I might be a lesbian because I have gotten so used to not noticing guys and now I am utterly terrified that that is true. I have always had crushes on guys since the time that I was in middle school. Now I have convinced myself that I do not have HOCD, but that I am just secretly gay and I can’t come to terms with myself, no matter how many guys I have liked in the past or that I love my boyfriend. What can I do? Am I really gay? It is really taking a toll on my relationship and I don’t want to lose the one person I care about the most and I am terrified and hate myself for even wondering if I am gay.

    • Hi Alyssa,

      You mention numerous things that strongly suggest you are straight, specifically:

      ~ You are in a committed sexual relationship with a man
      ~ You have always had crushes on guys
      ~ You are “utterly terrified” by the idea of being gay
      ~ You hate yourself for even thinking you may be gay

      The only thing you can say that even remotely suggests you might be gay is that this unexpected thought just popped into your head one day. But all sorts of weird thoughts pop into our heads everyday that are not true. The appearance of thought doesn’t mean that the thought is accurate or meaningful. It just means you had a thought.

      You ask what you can do about this issue, and my suggestion is simple: seek out help with a therapist who specializes in HOCD treatment.

  • I don’t know if I’m gay or in denial. I have had harm ocd right before HOCD kicked in (thought this might be important) I think this “HOCD” started when I was a child. I vaguely remember once I was riding on the same bike as my friend and my penis touched his back/butt and I thought to myself “did I just enjoy that?” and that’s where I think it started. I remember sitting in my 4th grade class being filled with anxiety unsure if I was straight and wishing I had the answer (I had harm ocd back then too). Recently my Harm ocd acted up, then cooled down and “HOCD” ensued. I remember reading about my Harm ocd and saw something about HOCD and though to myself “How could you question that? If you were gay, you’d just know” and here I am now, how ironic. I don’t know if I have ever had a crush on a guy, I have had strong feelings of admiration, but not like “crushes” I’ve had on girls. I have always wanted a girlfriend and all gay thoughts scared the hell out of me, but I feel like deep down I might be just be fighting how I really feel. I don’t think I find gay porn arousing, it usually triggers alot of anxiety but my mind tells me that this is what I want. I have love a girl in the past

    • Hi Very Confused,

      If you read the comments posted in response to our various articles about HOCD, you will see that many people write that they are concerned that they don’t know if they have HOCD, or are just in denial. I see nothing in your comment that suggests that you are in denial (which is a specious concept to begin with). You are not “fighting what you really feel” – you are fighting OCD.

      I encourage you to seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in the treatment of HOCD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

      • Thank you for the reply Dr. there is just one thing that I fear may have some importance. I have always been curious as to how I “measure up” to other guys. I think the majority of this stemmed from a rumor my ‘friend’ spread about me in 9th grade about how I have a small penis (ever since then I have been extremely self-conscious and became deathly afraid of becoming intimate with a women for fear she’d laugh at me), but I think there might have been some underlying curiosity before that. Whenever I would see an image of an erect penis, I would become aroused. At first this did not bother me because I thought that I was becoming erect to look at the differences in sizes or I was becoming erect because, well that image is a sexually stimulating image that we associate with sex (I don’t mean gay sex). But now looking at this problem I had through an HOCD lens, I fear that the only possible explanation for my arousal is that I am in fact gay. After reading your work on how some guys just find penises as “conceptually activating” (I think those were your words) this calmed me down but I still cant help but worry that there was an underlying homosexual intention.

        • Very Confused,

          As with your previous comment, I see nothing in here that suggests anything other than HOCD. You list a number of reasons why your penis might sometimes get hard, and then state that you can only think of one reason. Trying figure out why one gets aroused is a compulsion and a waste of time. You do not need to figure out why your penis sometimes get hard in unexpected situations. Stop looking for reasons and just accept that your penis is doing what penis are designed to do, which is to get hard.

          • Hello Doctor,
            While I was researching topics related to HOCD and sexuality, I came across this. “Homosexuality is seen by Freud as a genital fixation.” I feel absolutely devastated. Considering I have been curious about other peoples penises before and to some extent maybe even now, I feel like this is proof that I am gay. I have heard that a lot of Freuds work was proven untrue. Is this example true? I know I don’t want to ever be with a man but I can’t help but feel like this is definitive proof that I am not straight. I am so upset that he used the word “fixation” because I feel like that may be an accurate word to describe my situation. I have hit almost all symptoms of HOCD and have had a long history of OCD related issues in the past, and this fact has been helping me so much through this “HOCD” I have, and this single sentence has just destroyed me. Please help me I don’t know what to do anymore, I feel as if one of the most influential psychologists in history has just told me that I was gay. Do you have any input doctor, I am literally looking for any piece of information to be my saving grace and prove that I am suffering from HOCD. I don’t know what to do anymore.