The OCD Center of Los Angeles discusses common challenges seen in the treatment of HOCD, also known as Gay OCD or Sexual Orientation OCD. Part four of a five-part series.
In our previous article on HOCD, we looked at some of the potential sub-types that appear in this condition. While they are all treated with various Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) strategies, crippling fear can lead people toward beliefs that impede therapy. Here are some thoughts about treatment issues we commonly hear from HOCD clients.
My Big Gay Secret Self
Many HOCD sufferers, regardless of sub-type, become preoccupied with the idea that other people might think that they somehow “appear” gay. As a result, some men with HOCD may over-attend to the way they dress, opting for baggy, neutral choices rather than fitting, stylish choices that they might associate with homosexuality. They may pay special attention to the way they speak or even the way they hold a drink, trying to eradicate any possibility that a person may mistake them for being gay. Women with HOCD may over-attend to the length of their hair, or whether their clothes are “feminine” enough. Both men and women with HOCD are likely to obsess about their body type and whether there is something inherently “gay” about it.
Some of this distorted thinking comes from limited or erroneous information they have collected about homosexuals, which leads them to compulsively avoid stereotypes that really have little to do with homosexuality. Still the HOCD persists with the notion that the sufferer has some clue of what gay “looks like” and then compels them to avoid that. For most, this appears not to be a fear of negative evaluation, but more a fear that this imagined person who may somehow identify them as gay will actually be seeing into their soul – that if another person calls them gay, this person is seeing their “true self” and this will confirm their worst fear… gay denial!
There is no gay denial.
There is no latent homosexuality, there is no hidden self. Denial of your subconscious sexuality is something someone made up one day. It does not exist. There is no secret version of yourself waiting to be discovered (yes, we anticipate lots of angry emails from your psychoanalyst).
It is important to recognize that people often choose to modify their behaviors to fit with what they think society expects of them. In some cases this results in people of one sexual preference choosing to live the lifestyle of another sexual preference as a way of avoiding what they see as the negative consequences of accepting themselves as they are. This could be done in order to avoid professional, cultural, religious, or other consequences. Of course, there may be a small percentage of the population that somehow is not conscious of what their preferences are, and appear surprised when they “come out” as gay. We are assuming these people exist because we have seen them on television, but then we see a lot of rare and bizarre things on television. You can learn more about this alleged “denial” and its relationship to OCD at https://ocdla.com/doubt-denial-ocd-5342/.
In all seriousness, there are people who claim not to have known their sexual preference until they met the right person. This concept is very disturbing to an HOCD sufferer. Yet it cannot be referred to as “coming out” since it is really more like “waking up.” And this real “coming out” doesn’t begin with fear, but with yearning.
Get Out of the Way
The most effective treatment for all forms of OCD is a type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) called “Exposure with Response Prevention” (ERP). The most common impediment to ERP treatment for HOCD is the continued practice of compulsive behavior throughout the exposure itself. Usually this comes in the form of self-reassurance. For example, many HOCD sufferers may attempt to overcome their fears by exposing to gay pornography, gay neighborhoods, or other things that are likely to trigger their discomfort. Among the most common self-ERP attempts I hear involves reading online “coming out” stories. All of these may be good ideas for ERP work, but they can easily backfire for the following reason: trying to prove you don’t like the porn, or that you don’t belong in the gay neighborhood, or that the person in the coming out story is nothing like you will never work.
ERP only works if the person resists doing this mental ritual, and instead accepts whatever thoughts and feelings the OCD may throw at them without protest. In more intensive ERP, you are not only accepting the thoughts, but actively agreeing with them, diving head first into the fear instead of tip-toeing around it. Any effort to analyze the exposure for evidence of your sexual orientation results in the brain confirming once again that your sexuality is up for debate. If instead, your behavior indicates to the brain that the presence of triggering material does not result in mental rituals, then your brain will begin to recalculate its position on the importance of knowing the certainty of your sexual orientation. In other words, if you stop doing mental compulsions aimed at finding certainty about your sexual orientation, your brain will learn that it is not necessary to have that certainty.
A common fear related to ERP treatment is the distorted idea that accepting the presence of gay thoughts in your mind somehow leads to a likelihood of acting out gay behaviors. This OCD logic has the sufferer in a double bind in which doing compulsions feels like a way to protect oneself from becoming gay, but at the same time actually fuels the obsession about one’s sexual orientation. When someone with HOCD stops doing the compulsions, they often see this as dangerously opening the door to unwanted gayness. This is not unique to HOCD, as it is an identical frame for the Harm OCD sufferer who worries that accepting harm thoughts will lead to violence, or the contamination OCD sufferer who worries that not washing will lead to contracting a terrible disease. It is important to remember, then, that ERP for OCD always feels like you are doing something wrong. This is because what you thought was right (compulsive behavior) is actually the source of the problem.
Feeling Gay and the Backdoor Spike
As the ERP work intensifies, the OCD fights for its own survival by leading the sufferer to fear that they are “feeling” gay. Feeling gay is an interesting phenomenon because it is oxymoronic. A truly gay person does not over-attend to gay feelings, but sees them as a normal part of their existence. It’s no more conscious than the feeling of me having brown hair. A gay person doesn’t sit around “feeling gay” any more than a straight person sits around feeling straight. It’s the OCD that makes someone over-attend to their feelings, and it’s that same over-attending that distorts these feelings into something to obsess about. An HOCD sufferer is likely to report feeling gay when they do exposure work and being terrified by this. But the fact that they report “feeling” gay actually means they don’t have any idea what it is like to actually be gay!
An additional challenge to ERP treatment often presents itself when a person starts to initially see the benefits of the treatment. At that point, the person habituates to things that would previously have triggered a significant spike in their anxiety. As this habituation takes place, the person’s thoughts and feelings become more congruent with those of non-HOCD sufferers. In other words, the individual becomes less upset by the presence of the unwanted thoughts and feelings they experience related to the issue of sexual orientation. At this juncture, some with HOCD then begin to obsess that they are not “bothered enough” by the trigger, and then use this as evidence of their homosexuality. This is sometimes referred to as (awkwardly enough) a “backdoor spike” because the OCD goes from identifying the fear as evidence of being gay, to now identifying the lack of fear as evidence of being gay.
What often goes unnoticed in HOCD and similar obsessions is that demonstrations of disgust and terror can also be compulsions, which are essentially behavioral strategies for avoiding or reducing discomfort. This does not mean they always feel good to do (often they do not). By actively causing oneself to be repulsed by gay thoughts, a sufferer can then avoid the discomfort that comes from thinking that the gay thoughts are acceptable and then inferring that this makes them gay. It’s enough to make anyone dizzy.
Whether the OCD is using fear or ambivalence as its threat, the goal of treatment needs to remain firmly focused on accepting whatever is going on inside as simply going on. Thoughts happen, feelings happen, sensations happen, and nowhere in this does anyone have certainty as to what it means. We guess and we tolerate whatever discomfort we imagine could come from being wrong. Life without OCD is lived in the present, making choices based on current preferences, not predictions, and choosing labels based on patterns in those preferences.
The Fear of Not Having HOCD
One of OCD’s more sinister sneak attacks is the threat that having HOCD is just a cover for not accepting that you’re gay. Of course, sufferers of all types of OCD obsess about not having OCD. Those with Scrupulosity OCD may see OCD as a way of denying they are sinners, while a “contamination” OCD sufferer may debate whether they are just inherently lazy about cleanliness, while someone who obsesses that they might be a pedophile or a murderer will worry that identifying their problem as being OCD is just a way to avoid accusations of being a monster.
All of these people miss the larger point, which is that non-OCD sufferers do not obsess about having OCD. To be clear, virtually everyone has some obsessions and compulsions, but roughly 2-3% of the population has them to such an extent that it impairs functioning and is diagnosable as a disorder. So a non-OCD sufferer may be disturbed by an intrusive thought or may engage in a pointless ritual, but they do not get so completely trapped by this cycle that their quality of life is affected, and they are unlikely to be concerned with whether or not they have OCD.
HOCD sufferers often seek reassurance from their treatment providers that they do indeed have OCD. This is really the same reassurance-seeking compulsion that they engage in elsewhere when trying to gain certainty that they are not gay. Just as the HOCD sufferer must learn to tolerate uncertainty related to their orientation, they must also learn to tolerate uncertainty related to their diagnosis. If somehow they managed to be in such denial that they convinced an OCD specialist to diagnose them with a disorder they didn’t have, then they must have been obsessing over that denial to such an extent that they compulsively sought reassurance from a treatment provider who would tell them they weren’t gay. That sounds like OCD.
Gay Fantasy and OCD
Some people have gay sexual fantasies. Some people have OCD. Some people have both and none of this has to do with one’s sexual orientation.
Sexual fantasy in itself is a healthy thing. While there are ways in which it can be used compulsively or destructively, for the most part mindfully observing arousal thoughts is an activity we should all be able to enjoy as one of the perks of having a brain. Most, if not all, sexual fantasy involves taboo. It is this state of actually allowing ourselves to entertain and fully embrace and accept “wrong” thoughts that is so stimulating and freeing. It is good because it is oh so bad. For example, a heterosexual man may conjure up in his mind the fantasy of cheating on his wife. This man is not necessarily interested in cheating on his wife and in all likelihood he would run awkwardly away from an opportunity to actually do so. If he walked into a room and a beautiful stranger were laying there saying “take me,” he would probably not be comfortable. “This is a real person,” he thinks, “someone’s sister or daughter! Plus, are they disease free? When was the last time they showered? What will they think of me afterwards? What will I think of myself? Will my wife find out? Would this hurt my wife? Will I be able to live with the guilt?” He can accept the fantasy, but not the reality, because the fantasy appears wrong and the reality to him actually is wrong. The appearance is exciting, the reality is distressing.
For many heterosexuals, gay fantasies are not technically unwanted thoughts themselves. They are taboo, and while the reality might be unpleasant, the fantasy is undoubtedly stimulating. But a gay fantasy should not to be confused with an HOCD obsession, which is an intrusive, unwanted thought about the fear of being gay. For people with actual gay fantasies who also have HOCD, the obsession is not about the existence of the gay thoughts, but about the fear that enjoying their fantasy element means they are engaging in the reality of it.
This is very painful for heterosexual men who, to put it lightly, simply have a dick thing. They are attracted to women, choose women for their relationships, but simply happen to find masculinity, and penises in particular, to be conceptually activating. Maybe a penis is a narcissistic reminder of one’s own beauty, or maybe it represents control, power, submission, any number of things. Maybe it represents freedom from having to always perform as the archetypal strongman in control. Who knows. In any case, it is not important. What is important is to live in the present and allow yourself to value the things that are presently in your life. If that means today you love being with your wife, but tomorrow you will spontaneously choose to be with a man, then deal with tomorrow when tomorrow comes. Across all forms of OCD, the energy spent trying to sort out a thought in order to preempt it from creating a catastrophic future is nothing more than a mental compulsion.
Some may note that there appears to be slightly more acceptance of lesbian fantasizing in Western culture and media (note I said fantasizing, not necessarily practicing). This may be because our patriarchal society promotes the fantasy of men with multiple women to pleasure them, so thinking of them pleasuring each other creates the implication that a man would be happily welcomed to join them. It’s a chauvinist cultural flaw, but it exists nonetheless. But women with HOCD tend not to allow this patriarchal loophole to give themselves permission to enjoy gay fantasy. The OCD mind distorts the pleasurable thought into one being grotesque, sexless, and unlovable. So the challenge of living with HOCD is both easier and harder as a woman because this perceived acceptance for straight women having gay fantasies can equate to a greater fear that being gay is a tangible truth.
All this being said, it is normal and healthy for straight people to sometimes have gay thoughts. Whether or not these thoughts are enjoyed or hated is somewhat beside the point. As therapists specializing in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, some beliefs will always seem inherently distorted to us. The belief that simply having a gay thought and liking it makes you a gay person is one of these beliefs. Remember, our lives are defined not by the content of our thoughts, but by the behaviors we choose when responding to them.
To take our free, confidential, online test for HOCD, click here.
To read part one in our series on HOCD, click here.
To read part two in our series on HOCD, click here.
To read part three in our series on HOCD, click here.
You can click here to read part five – “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 six weekly therapy groups, as well as online therapy, telephone therapy, and intensive outpatient treatment. To contact the OCD Center of Los Angeles, click here.
Congratulations on another great article! I am so glad that you discussed the fear of not having HOCD! As I have written before, this is the fear I am currently experiencing. I spoke to an OCD specialist and asked him if it was possible for those with a sexual orientation crisis to have the same checking compulsion, and the urge to seek reassurance like those with HOCD. He answered that both groups experience compulsions in response to upsetting thoughts , however those with OCD experienced relief from doing compulsions while those with a true orientation crisis did not I was somewhat confused about this because after doing extensive research on HOCD and being gay to my understanding those who are gay don’t perform compulsions in order to “figure out” their sexuality. But I guess anything is possible.
The current problem I am facing with OCD is that it is negating my heterosexual attractions. About a year ago I was looking at some old diaries and yearbooks I had from middle school where I had written about the boys I liked, I also remembered making a “love box” for a boy in 8th grade I stole a picture of him from my friend and put it in the box with a note I had written him along with some cologne he used to wear haha and also performing a love spell to make this boy like me. My mind started negating this saying “lesbians will do anything to be straight” which didn’t seem right . In my rational mind I think would a lesbian in the closet do these things, but again anything is possible.
Is this common for HOCD patients to go through?
I’m an 18 year old female and I suffered from HOCD last year. The obsessive thoughts of questioning “what if I’m gay” or what if i become gay had gone away but when i moved to College in August they came back SOOO bad. I’ve been with my boyfriend for over a year and i question what if i don’t love him bc I’d rather be with a girl, what if i look like a lesbian, what if I’ll realize I’m a lesbian in the future, and it just never stops and i get nervous that I’m using HOCD as an excuse and that i don’t love my boyfriend and i am a lesbian. It’s such a scary distressing thought. I am in therapy and she said she thinks i have adjustment disorder with obsessive thoughts but not specifically OCD. Is it still possible to have HOCD without actually having OCD?
HOCD is not separate from OCD – it is just a slang term for OCD in which the focus of the sufferer’s obsessions is on their sexual orientation. The symptoms you describe are classic HOCD thoughts, and it sounds to me like your therapist really has no idea what HOCD is. I strongly encourage youth find a therapist who has a better grasp on HOCD, and who specializes in treating OCD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
I also encourage you to read our article “Doubt, Denial, and OCD”.
I know this is old but I would like to know if I have HOCD or I’m in denial. It all started about a month ago. Ever since I can remember I’ve been boy CRAZY. One night, I was in my phone just scrolling through and fantasizing about the boy I like. Suddenly I came across a video of a homosexual coming out and in the video they explained how they where sure they used to be straight. This scared me and I started thinking about it myself. I’ve never had a crush on a female or ever thought that way about females. Since that day I just got worried for no reason. I couldn’t sleep and had trouble calming myself down. There is literally no proof I’m homosexual but I keep worrying. This caused me trouble in school. When I first found out what HOCD was I felt relief that I wasn’t alone. My parents are very open minded (so am I) so it’s definitely not that. I feel uncomfortable about the thought of me dating a female. What should I do to get over this?
You do not need to “know” if you have HOCD or are in denial. This urge to “know” things is at the heart of OCD. Instead, accept the presence of the thought in your mind without taking it seriously, and without reacting to it. It is just a thought. Besides, as you mentioned, “There is literally no proof [you are] a homosexual”.
That said, don’t seek proof. That would be a compulsion that would only make your OCD worse.
I encourage you to read our article Doubt Denial, and OCD.
Hi Gaby – The cognitive distortion that is influencing how you respond to thoughts is “discounting and minimizing the positive.” It’s common in various manifestations of ocd. For example, a hypochondria sufferer may get test results demonstrating that they are not sick – then they quickly find themselves over-attending to thoughts about the test being done inaccurately. I encourage you to read our second article in this series, which addresses the issue of cognitive distortions in HOCD.
As you said, anything is possible, including that as a child you tried to bury your lesbianism by pretending to like boys… or that I have died between writing this comment and you reading it. Neither are worth as much attention as they are getting in this moment.
As for someone in a sexual orientation crisis doing compulsions, I think the more significant issue is that trying to draw a concrete certainty between the HOCD sufferer and the confused gay person represents a compulsion itself. Hang in there.
I am 17 years old and all my life I’ve been attracted to females. I’m a virgin and do have a very low self esteem but I always knew one thing if nothing else – that I was straight. Sure I think their are guys attractive as in the sense that I wouldn’t mind looking like that.
But ever since about July I’ve been battling this hocd. In one dream I thought I was about to have sex with a female but instead her male best friend came out naked. I wasn’t attracted to that and really I don’t even like when friends have their shirt off around me. I feel like I look at females the same way other straight men do and since I’m not the best with females it scares me to think what if I am gay, but I know I’m not. The only person I’ve really talked to it about is my mom and showed her articles about HOCD and she says it makes complete sense. I love hanging out with my friends because I just like having fun but am sometimes scared or have unwanted gay thought like very unwanted sometimes I just want to vomit
You wrote “it scares me to think what if I am gay, but I know I’m not”. This, along with the rest of your comment, strongly suggests that you are not gay, but rather have HOCD.
Also, you should know that people have all sorts of dreams that have no significant relationship to reality. If you dreamed you were a flying purple turtle, would you think “OMG – what if I am a turtle”. Of course not. A dream is just a dream, and you needn’t view its content as meaningful.
Hey I’m 23 years old I have a two year old son a beautiful gf whom I love having intercourse with but idk If I have hocd or if I’m just gay, bc I judge dudes all the time whether or not they look good just as much as I do women I’ve never wanted to have intercourse with a male, sometimes I just tell myself I’m gay and then I think no I’m just psycho idk what’s going on, I don’t wanna be homosexual it’s just freaking me out, stuff like this has bothered me for years, I would really appreciate some help
You say you love having sex with your girlfriend. I’ve yet to meet a gay guy who loves having sex with women.
Judging the attractiveness of guys and wanting to have sex with guys are two different things. It sounds to me that you are judging guys, but not wanting to have sex with them. I don’t know why you are doing judging them, but it doesn’t sound like it has anything to do with wanting to have sex with them.
when i realised that i was suffering from an HOCD the thoughts calmed down and i was fealing better because i knew it wasn’t real. But now when i think about it, i’m saying to myself if i was suffering from an HOCD does this mean that i was mentally ill and get a stress attack but not as much as before.When i thought i was gay i couldn’t sleep well,i was puking,had hemmoroids and an urge to go to sleep very early.I feel better when i do activities outside of my house or when i’m with friends,should i continue to act like this because i don’t feel comfortable going to a doctor. thnx in advance
1) Yes, you should continue to do activities outside the house and activities with friends.
2) You say you don’t feel comfortable going to a doctor. Go to a doctor anyway. You have a psychological issue, and you would be best served by seeing a therapist who specializes in treating OCD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
I had a old spike when someone made said a gay slur at me online. I have had intrusive thoughts before, but I was able to brush them off. This time I couldn’t get it out. The thoughts involved very inappropriate things jumping up my mind. I imagined what would those people who thought I am cool think if they knew I had these thoughts, and that fueled it. Now I have a new fear. You see I always liked to see depiction of straight oral sex. This excited me immensely. And this new fear is, that if I were to see gay oral, maybe I might get aroused. Things are jumping up my mind and I have no control over my mind. I worry about this literally 24 hrs a day. Basically what I loved and enjoyed has turned into a nightmare. But my most haunting questions are, WHAT IF? And DOES THIS MEAN?
If you saw porn with a gay blow job, you might get aroused. That doesn’t automatically mean you are gay. If you saw porn of a woman going down on a woman, you also might get aroused, yet I doubt that would indicate that you are a lesbian. My point of course is that human beings are innately interested in and aroused by sexuality in general. If that were not true, porn would not exist.
I fail to see how being aroused by watching a gay blow job would automatically mean that you are gay. You have apparently been aroused by lots of straight blow jobs in porn, so why would one gay blow job outweigh all the other blow jobs. If you are aroused by a gay blow job, then it probably means that you find sex to be arousing.
Your job is to accept that your penis will do whatever it wants to do, without evaluating what it means when your penis gets hard.
Hi I’m not sure if this is the right place for me to post my comment but I hope someone sees this and can help me, I am 14 years of age (female) and when I was 12 I watched another girls coming out story the things that scared me where the fact that she didn’t know she was gay, she had had boyfriends in the past and she just never felt the desire to kiss them. I suddenly became obsessed that I too was gay because I had kissed boys and not felt ‘a spark’ or butterflies. From that moment until now I have obsessed over my past especially when I was around 11 I would have gay fantasies and even now I think as a young child having gay fantasies is that not an obvious sign I’m gay?? I have never had a crush on a girl but I always question times I have admired certain girls and it really bothers me when I think a girl has a nice voice. I’m obsessed with the number 5 and do many actions in a sequence of five to almost be reassured ‘ if I can turn off and on the tv 5 times without someone saying anything I’m straight’ ‘ if I can tap that pole five times I’m straight’ I have been to therapy but I was told that it was only anxiety and that made me freak if I didn’t hv hocd I must b gay?
A few thoughts…
Having gay fantasies is not unusual for straight people. This does not mean you are gay.
Admiring women does not mean you are a lesbian. It means you admire certain women. Are you only allowed to admire men? That would be ridiculous.
All of the behaviors related to the number five are compulsions that strongly indicate OCD. They are only making things worse for you.
The idea that you can prove your sexual orientation by turning off a tv with certain criteria being met while you do so is “magical thinking”, which is very common in OCD.
The fact that your therapist did not use the term “HOCD” is likely because they have never heard of HOCD. Unfortunately, most therapists are utterly clueless about OCD. I encourage you to discuss this matter with your parents and to get into treatment with a therapist who specializes in OCD treatment.
God, I’m tired of these thoughts already. Everytime i hear the word gay, see anything that involves guys kissing each other, or anything sexual with guys, i have a weak really weak erection like the start of one. Everytime that happens it freaks me out and then i spend the whole night thinking about that thought and feeling i just had. What do I do, what does it mean? Please help.
What you describe as a “really weak erection” sounds like what many people with HOCD call a “groinal response”.
You ask “what does it mean” and “what do I do”, and the simplest answer is that it means nothing, and you should do nothing. In other words, stop paying so much attention to what your penis is doing when you are exposed to certain words or images. Stop analyzing your penis, and stop over-valuing what your penis is doing. Let your penis do whatever it wants in these situations, without trying to figure out what it means. The problem is not your penis, but your attention to your penis and your analysis of your penis.
I know this article is old but am hoping someone still checks comments. I feel that my situation is somewhat unique. I have been straight my whole life had only girlfriends and only had sex with girls. I would occasionally have gay thoughts when having sex with girls or when masturbating (sometimes even to gay porn) and I guess I enjoy the taboo aspect of it? I never thought much about until lately and now I am questioning why I would imagine having sex with a guy when I’m with a beautiful girl. It never affected me until recently but now I am concerned. Now I everytime I’m with my girlfriend I constantly ask myself if I am turned on by her or if I would rather be with a guy. I don’t want to be gay and love my girlfriend so much so I’m very conflicted. Deep down I am hoping that if I were really gay, I wouldn’t have ever had sex with girls or looked at straight porn and enjoyed it. I just don’t know what to do from here. Thank you
Actually, nothing you write is even remotely unique. A cursory review of the comments posted above will show you that many people with HOCD have similar stories.
You say you “don’t know what to do from here”. The answer is simple – get into counseling with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD.
I am a 27 year old female and I have been diagnosed with OCD since I was in the 5th grade. I’ve had so many types of OCD. I too am experiencing similar symptoms and I am having such anxiety. I often have sexual fantasies of girl on girl acts while having sex with my boyfriend. I constantly see on the internet that people with HOCD don’t have gay fantasies and then that makes me question that I must be in denial. I am distressed that these fantasies during sex mean that I must be gay if I am getting off to the girl on girl fantasies while being with my boyfriend. I also analyze the past when I am not having any type of OCD flare up and would prefer girl on girl porn and get wanted gay fantasies during sex. I have been on Zoloft for 11 years, which hasn’t helped my sex drive and I get anxious for getting off to gay fantasies. I’ve also has ROCD of cheating. I am so worked up over because I have gay fantasies and enjoy them I must be gay. It’s consuming my everyday life. I have avoided tv for fear of feeling attracted to a woman or a lesbian. I even analyze if my clothing looks gay. And have the magical thinking. Then on top of it I question if it is even OCD or denial! HELP.
I don’t know where you heard that people with HOCD never have gay fantasies, but that is utter nonsense. People with HOCD are just like everyone else in that they have can have fantasies about anything. In fact, the line between a “fantasy” and an unwanted OCD thought can be quite vague. Furthermore, people have all sorts of sexual fantasies that they have no intention to actually act on in their life, and the “forbidden” aspect of these fantasies is often a major part of what makes them so compelling in the moment. Also, it sounds to me that, while you may “enjoy” the lesbian thought in the moment, it does not sound like you enjoy the prospect of acting on these thoughts in real life.
You say that you have had many variations on your OCD over the years, and I see no reason to believe that this is anything other than yet one more variation of that struggle. I encourage you to read our article Doubt, Denial, and OCD to get a better handle on this issue.
Hi there — I’m 27 and while I’ve been worrying all my life, I’m only now realizing that I’ve had OCD spikes since I was a kid.
I completely identify with the above habit to negate heterosexual tendencies. I’ve been struggling with HOCD for about 5 months. It all started when I noticed a change in my sex drive (which was already worrying me) and the abrupt thought I’d wanted to make out with one of my best friends (female). The moment the thought entered my head, I was nauseated, but brushed it off — only to have a panic attack later that evening.
I’ve been boy crazy as long as I can remember and am in my first serious relationship with a man I love. However, even on my best days (where symptoms seem to have subsided), I’ll now question if “I like something enough” during intercourse with my boyfriend. HOCD has been killing me. I want to enjoy my life and this relationship. Do you know of any resources available in the Bay Area?
A few thoughts…
1) An “abrupt thought” out of the blue is normal. We all have all sorts of weird thoughts on a regular basis. The thought does not mean anything important – it is just a thought.
2) It sounds like your reduced sex drive was already an issue prior to the “abrupt thought” that led you down this rabbit hole. My guess is that you added two and two together and somehow came up with five. In other words, you added “reduced sex drive” and “weird thought about making out with friend”, and somehow thought this added up to “I must be gay”. I would argue that these events (low sex drive and weird thought) are almost certainly unrelated and have nothing to do with being gay.
3) All of our ten staff therapists provide online therapy to people with HOCD pretty much every day (it is amongst the most common conditions we treat). If you would like to discuss treatment, please feel free to contact us directly through our website at https://ocdla.com.
Hi my name is matias i am 14 and male. Ive had hocd the past 5 months and its been a nightmare. I have always been attracted to girls but my brain tells me i havr never. Ive had many crushes on girls never on boys just the past 4 years i havent becuase the right girl hasnt come around. The things that usually trigger me are past memories before hocd for example when i was st my friends house a friend pulled down his pants to show his pubes and i felt a huge erection and i got hard in less than a second. I have no idea why this happened but 2 weeks ago my other friend started masturbating and i felt nothing. I could see his genitals and everythings but i didnt get anything. Im not totally aroused by gay porn, like yesterday i saw a gay porn clip for reassurance and my penis shrinkred and today i saw the same clip and i got a little hard maybe 25% hard. Another wierd thing is that i have a friend who ivr admired alot and i got hocd before the summer and after summer in the first day of school when i shook hands i felt something wierd i dont know how to explain it but since i got hocd everytime i look at him i feel something and with girl not much. But before hocd i never felt that.
This all sounds like textbook HOCD. I encourage you to stop analyzing things like hand shakes, and to stop checking for arousal by watching gay porn. These are compulsions and making your HOCD worse.
I also encourage you to discuss these fears with your parents and ask them to find you a therapist who specializes in treating OCD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
Finally, I encourage you to read our article “HOCD: 30 Things You Need to Know”.
Thank you SO much for writing and finishing these article about HOCD. Im 30 now and suffer (on and off) since my Teenyears from OCD, though thoughts about beeing a lesbian arent the only obsessions I have, they are surely the hardest to dismiss.
Mostly because i was untreated and than misdiagnosed and because of that mistreated. Ten years ago the Professor of a clinic and then another doctor shortly after diagnosed me with severe OCD. That was THE breakthrough in my healing-process. The only problem was that here in Germany arent that much Therapy Options for people with OCD and especially with HOCD. So I had a hard time finding proper ambulant treatment. Also the self-help books arent that informative than in America.
So I printed your articles and bought the “OCD- Workbook” for my “Private” Therapy at home.
But even when I give myself (and my poor boyfriend, hahaha) a hard time when my OCD kicks in I know with hard work I eventually will make progress to life a life (mostly) free from OCD.
BUT (hahaha) I have a question too: What can I do about my sexlife with my boyfriend. Because Im always afraid that when Im not aroused enough or have an obsessional thought or worse – a fantasie HELP, hahaha) that that must mean Im a lesbian. I know thats silly but it keeps me from enjoying sex and most of the time I avoid having sex out of that fear. Do you have an good advise for enjoying sex again (like I did when Im in OCD free phases)? What can I do when I start obsessing during sex? I dont want to waste that lovely part of my relationship to OCD.
After you will hopefully answered my question I (made a promise to myself and a contract with my boyfriend and best friend) will also keep staying away from this site, because even it is really helpful its also a compulsion/reassurance trap for me. As I wrote I printed all, now 4, parts of your articles + the other relevant and my boyfriend keeps them for “hard times” as my allowed reassurance.
Now I finally come to an end writing and say again: THANK YOU!!! You did a great job and helped (surely not only) me really A LOT!! (sorry for my bad english, I hope you get my point anyway)
All the best to you,
Thanks a lot for your series of articles.
It took me several weeks after the beginning of my symptoms to actually find out that such a thing as HOCD existed and it basically brought me back to reality (and that I was not the only person having that kind of problem).
I went to see a therapist (which I don’t think is specialized in OCD) who almost immediately figured out that I was suffering from OCD and bought some books related to OCD. I really recognized myself in 3 of the types you described in your previous article – (all of nothing/experimental/groinal). What actually helped me a lot was to realize that the mere fact that I was trying to answer the question (of being gay or not) was the main problem here. So I started just letting the thought come and not make a big deal out of it.
I’m slowly fixing myself and now in the phase that you explained in your article: The mere fact that I’m thinking less about HOCD is a sign that it might not be OCD. That’s very sneaky but again, your article really helps and hopefully, I’ll be able to put myself back together.
Straight folks sound crazy.
Actually, Sexual Orientation OCD is not experienced only by straight people. As noted in our first article on this topic:
“Sexual orientation OCD is sometimes referred to as HOCD (an abbreviation for Homosexual Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) or Gay OCD. 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.”
You can read the full article at: https://ocdla.com/sexual-orientation-hocd-gay-ocd-treatment-1969/
Hello. I was portraying a lot of these symptoms such as checking out girls for several hours of my day and picturing engaging in sexual activities with them to see if I liked it and then would be very distressed. I googled the issue and HOCD came up and I automatically felt relief knowing I portrayed tons of these symptoms and was sure this is what I had. Then after I googled HOCD I wasn’t spending a ton of time having these obsessive intrusive thoughts and then I worried why did the thoughts stop? Did they stop because I don’t really have HOCD. Then I’d think if I really had HOCD I would still be having thoughts all the time. Now I keep trying to find answers in why I’m only occasionally obsessing and keep looking up HOCD to see if I still meet the criteria
Your concern that you are no longer having obsessive thoughts about being gay is a perfect example of the “backdoor spike” described in the article above. Not being anxious about being gay does not indicate that one is gay – it indicates that that one is not anxious about being gay. I encourage you to stop looking up HOCD articles – you don’t need to figure out why you are experiencing fewer obsessions.
No doubt. I’m a gay man (I fully accepted my sexuality, even though I was greatly abused, stigmatised and laughed at by peers from schools I attended to, etc.) who suffers terribly from this kind of OCD, questioning my sexuality, monitoring/analyzing thoughts, actions, having incessant intrusive tormenting thoughts and so on.
The fact is that HOCD causes living hell to any sufferer no matter if gay, bi or straight. It’s been more than two years since HOCD began to wreak havoc in my life 🙁
I’m ashamed of looking for a psychologist/psychiatrist for treatment as I find my case may look strange or weird to them… I wish I was the person I had been ;( I read a great deal of books on the subject, mostly English books (I’m Polish). They helped me a little bit.
I feel compassion to any sufferer of HOCD and OCD no matter what orientation they are. This disorder is really a living hell to its sufferers. Questioning just everything, even the plainest truth 🙁 All the best to you!
Thanks for your comments. It is great to hear from a gay man who can describe from his personal experience how Sexual Orientation OCD impacts him. As noted inour original article on the topic, the issue is not actually whether one is gay or straight – it is the obsessive focus on uncertainty, combined with the fear of never getting to live the life you envision for your self. Anyone, gay, straight, or bi, can have obsessive uncertainty about their sexual orientation.
Sara, my apologies for the delayed response to your post, it sometimes takes me a bit to catch up!
Any form of ocd can interfere in a person’s sex life because good sex requires the people engaging in it to be “present” and aware of themselves and each other. OCD by definition steals that awareness and compels you to do battle with unwanted thoughts and feelings. Therefore the key to keeping ocd from commandeering your sex life is mindful acceptance. This means allowing yourself to be aware of whatever thoughts happen to be intruding and approach them without judgment and without any effort to change them. This, of course, is very difficult to do at first, but gets easier with practice.
In the case of HOCD, this is going to mean engaging in sexual behavior while making no effort to block gay thoughts. This might cause discomfort when it appears that you are enjoying sex and gay thoughts are occurring at the same time. Be mindful and accepting of that discomfort as well and choose instead to allow your attention to return to the physical sensations of sex, independent of the words and thoughts in your head.
Another, somewhat more aggressive strategy is to purposefully think gay thoughts while having sex. Let the gay thoughts not only be present, but be motivating. The fear is that this will somehow turn you gay, even while you are having straight sex, but that fear is an illusion caused by the ocd. Thinking the taboo while having sex is actually a normal and rather common mental behavior. And while your boyfriend may or may not be having gay fantasies, he is most certainly thinking things that are out of character during sex. This is how the sexual mind works and it normal and healthy.
Sometimes for the sake of maintaining a healthy physical connection, you may have to employ a “fake it till you make it” approach. In other words, don’t rely so heavily on the sexual experience being purely brilliant, but simply being. When you stop focusing so heavily on enjoying things and allow yourself to simply experience them, joy returns on its own.
I just wanted to say, that this is a fantastically and incredibly accurate article.
May God bless all of you that help people with OCD. You are truly doing an honorable thing that deserves the highest reward possible.
My prayers go out to all who suffer from this particular disorder, and I suspect that it is A LOT of people.
Thank you for your kind words. All of us at the OCD Center of Los Angeles greatly appreciate that you and others respond so positively to our articles.
I want you to know that your articles on HOCD are simply amazing! It’s like I read my own story between your lines. I’ve been stucked with HOCD for about five months now. Two weeks after my really ”first” spike I was already seeking help from a psychologist because the thoughts of me being gay and losing my beloved girlfriend were unbearable. That same professional understood my problem, saw it as an OCD (I thought she would thought that I was in the closet but fortunately no). The therapy is going OK yet although not really satisfying for now. Anyways here’s my question: is there any link between the theory of ”Cognitive dissonance” and HOCD?
I’ve always felt heterosexual. I was flirting with girls at the age of 3, I can remember! Of course I’ve had same-sex experience in my teenage years but it rather scared me to death for the rest of my life more than anything. I think my OCD feeds on the memories of those experiences, like you said in part 2. So is there anyway of reversing the negative mental pattern implemented by HOCD? Even though I know I have OCD (and it’s a really big help), I’m still fighting against the voices that say ”You are not attracted to girls anymore, look for guys now”. I’m also having the same problems as Sara during my sexual intercourses. Thanks again for your article!
(I feel like I would be the luckiest guy in the world if I was to be heterosexual…!)
I have HOCD and Recently in an Attempt to Prove to myself that im not gay I tried a little bit of my own semen (sorry if this is gross) but I guess now Im afraid to masturbate because I think I wont be able to not try it, I didnt really like the taste but I guess my mind is messing with me,This is like a ritual right? once again sorry If this seems nasty.
Louis, that’s great that you’re in treatment for your HOCD. Know that progress can be slow at first and the improvements may appear subtle until you look back and realize some things don;t trigger you anymore. That being said, don’t look back.
The key to answering your specific question is in mindfulness. The thought is “you’re not attracted to girls.” We don’t know if this thought is a misfire or a message from above. What we do know is that it’s a thought, and as a thought, it should be treated as a normal, unimpressive non-event. What the thought “means” is unknowable.
Part of your challenge in treatment is to learn to tolerate your thoughts and feelings not always being congruent with one another. You may think about being gay but feel straight or you might be thinking about women and somehow “feel” gay. In any case, they are thoughts and feelings, not mandates to ritualize.
Nigel, it appears to be some sort of ritual, but it’s not clear what kind of distorted beliefs it is based on. Is it the notion that gay people like the taste of semen? I don’t think there’s any evidence to support this. Anyway, if the objective is to prove you are not gay, then it should be considered a compulsion and should be resisted. The present problem seems to be that you think you are unable to resist an urge. My recommendation would be to engage in your usual behavior and not taste your semen and expect to feel discomfort when the thought occurs.
thank you for this exhausting article in 4 parts. I’m deeply grateful for being informed with such important things. My inner self was completely broken, damaged, ruled by OCD, HOCD later. The 90% of your text is the description of my mind. The rest of 10% just have never occurred.
I feel like I lost my sense of safety because I feel like I lost my heterosexuality. Heterosexuality felt like a sense of home. I feel like I abandoned my home and I suffer.
Thank you so much for this article. I have read it several times now. I have had contamination OCD for many years, which got better, and then sort of switched over to Gay OCD. I am in therapy but still really struggling with monitoring my feelings of sexual attraction. I am a woman, happily married since 2004, who has within the last months been obsessing about the possibility of being gay. I have no desire for a female partner but keep freaking out when I see pictures of beautiful celebrities, etc, and then I get what I assume is a groinal response. Being bisexual would be ok with me, although I hadn’t ever thought of myself that way before, but what I am really afraid of is that I am not attracted to men at all. It’s good to know that I am not alone.
Peter, this sense of loss is experienced by all ocd sufferers, whether it is an obsession with sexual orientation, or intrusive thoughts of another nature. The key is to remember that feelings of loss are exactly that, just feelings. The ocd wants to con you into doing compulsions and it does this by flooding you with feelings of loss, even when it is a thing that cannot be truly lost. Confront the ocd with cbt treatment and you can feel like yourself again.
@SK, I have pretty the same thing. I can’t remember what’s it like to be attracted to any other men, because I love my boyfriend 🙂
SK, you express a common sentiment among HOCD sufferers. The thing about beautiful celebrities is that they often are quite beautiful. Your ocd says that if you recognize that, either intellectually or alongside some physical sensation (i.e. groinal response) that this is somehow a threat to your sexual orientation. It is not. It is normal and healthy.
When we over-attend to our level of attraction to a person or a kind of person, we make it impossible to experience attraction in the moment. This results in us being deceived by the ocd into thinking we are no longer oriented the same way. Recognizing and a challenging the behavior of over-attending to attraction is therefore an important part of CBT treatment for HOCD.
Thank you so much for this article. It has kept me greatly informed. I have been battling HOCD on and off for the past 3 years. This article provides some great insight.
We’re glad to hear our article helps you.
Please help. Im 16 and always thought i was straight. I touched boobs and pretty much orgasmed. I have a crush on this girl and wen im with her i dont feel gay at all. But sometimes i want to kiss a guy! Idk but the thing is when i try to imagine a guys face getting that close to me it weirds me out. I feel like i just wanna kiss something. And if i kissed a guy i know its not because i love him. like i want to kiss a girl to show how much i like her. When i think of kissing a guy i get like an urge its really primal and it doesnt feel like love. I also feel like if i kissed a guy i woudnt enjoy it but this urge would disappear. help?
Thank you for your comments.
All of the concerns you describe are consistent with Gay OCD / HOCD. The best suggestion I have for you is to seek treatment with a psychotherapist who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) specifically for OCD. Your thoughts are quite normal for OCD, and a qualified therapist should be able to help you. Take care.
this article is just amazing . i write before about my story , i was abused in childhood , one of my worries is that i can t be normal , and that abuse had changed me into a kind of deviant, i want to live normal life , and i can t believe that i’m normal , and i can live the life i want , the pure O is just like cobweb , i try to identify my compulsions and rituals and to accept the worst scenario , it s really difficult , but if it is the best way to go free from the pure O , i’ll do my best
Thanks for your comments.
I like your metaphor – that Pure O is like a cobweb. I have had client say the exact same thing!
All of the thoughts you mention are typical and expected in HOCD, specifically:
Since I was abused, I have been changed into a deviant
Because of the abuse, I’m not normal
I can’t live the life I want
Years of experience treating people with HOCD have confirmed that the key to managing these thoughts is to mindfully accept their existence – to stop fighting them. If you allow them to exist, without over-attending to them and without trying to eliminate them, they will become like any other unwanted thought – uncomfortable and annoying, but not particularly important or time consuming.
First off, let me just say thank you so much for these articles, they have helped me more than anything I’ve read. Unfortunately, I have very bad depression that goes along with this hocd. I know it has to be hocd. I’m 19 and never felt this way before. I even remember the exact time and place it started. For the last several months it has been all I’ve thought about, all day every day. It didn’t seem fair. I didn’t want to give up women, I’ve always liked girls and the ideas and thoughts scared me and caused severe anxiety. Once I finally worked up the courage to do some research I was overwhelmed with joy to find it was hocd. I knew it had to be. I felt so much better for a little while, until it came back. This turned into a series of learning about OCD in general, hocd specifically, and reading up on other people’s experience, only to feel better for awhile then have the doubts come back stronger than ever. Once I found these articles, I went the longest time without worries I have since it started and felt great. But since then I’ve felt so depressed I can’t tell what’s real anymore.
It has to be hocd, but it feels so real. I feel so alone and I don’t know what to think anymore. I can’t remember being happy, I can’t imagine being happy. I don’t care anymore, and it makes the hocd just feel so real. I can’t remember my past and can’t think about the future. I don’t know who I am anymore. I just need to know if you can be so depressed that the hocd seems real. That you can be so defeated that you don’t know who you are anymore. I need some hope that I can get better. It feels like the ocd has changed my past and made everything seem wrong, but I’m too depressed to question it. I can’t question anything. I don’t know who I am anymore and my anxiety won’t kick in when I have the thoughts. I know ocd can make you think you never had it, but I don’t feel anything. Even the thought of someday having a healthy relationship for once, even though I’ve felt happy recently when I get some relief and have been sexually and emotionally attracted to women when things seem good… It’s just still there. None of it helps. The reassurance is wiped away and left with worse ocd and worse depression. I feel defeated. I don’t know what to do. Is there hope for me?
First off, let me note that it is quite common for people with OCD to become depressed. After all, it is depressing to feel powerless about anything, especially your own unwanted thoughts.
While it is great that you initially did some research in an effort to figure out what was going on, it is pretty clear that your research has become a compulsion. You are no longer using research to gain knowledge (you have gotten that knowledge already), and instead, you are now using it in an effort to reduce your anxiety. But, as you’ve noted, it isn’t working – the reassurance-seeking provides you some short-term relief, but that gets “wiped away” when the thoughts come back. Then you feel more OCD and more depression, and you research some more, and the cycle continues.
The key is to stop researching, and to accept the existence of these thoughts. That doesn’t mean you need to accept that the thoughts are “real” or “true”. It just means you need to accept that the thoughts exist. I encourage you to seek out treatment with therapist who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for OCD. This is your best solution for OCD. Take care.
please help me I’m 16 years old and hocd has been the worst time of my life. As a kid I always knew I liked girls, however it was when 3 peers of mine and my mom called me gay and my mom said I acted alot like her gay boss that I overly analyzed my behavior and habits. I was never homophobic and even till today I have no problems with gay people I just don’t want to be gay. I know if I were my family would accept me but thats not who I am. Please help me.
Hi Scarf, – Thanks for your comment.
I’m sorry to hear that you are struggling with these issues. Like yourself, many people with HOCD get stuck when they over-analyze what others say. As I’m sure you know, teens often tease each other using gay slurs, and unfortunately, those with HOCD take those words to heart. But what others say has absolutely nothing to do with your true sexual orientation.
Your goal should be to let others say whatever they choose without analyzing it or giving it any extra attention. Just like your thoughts are just thoughts, others’ words are just words. As for getting help, I encourage you to check out the searchable database of OCD specialists at http://www.ocfoundation.org. That is your best resource for finding help near home. Take care.
hi , just question , my first crisis starts at my 20 , few months and every thing was after ok for years , a second and a third one , and after for 6 years without using any medication and with out knowing that it was pure o i lived normal life , every thing was ok , and i m in my 4 crisis , and i know now that s a pure o , so is that normal that pure O disappear for years and come back , 6 years was the longest period that i did not have any kind of worries
Freezer – There is nothing unusual about OCD thoughts going into hibernation, only to reappear at a later date. It is also not unusual for the focus of one’s OCD to change – today someone may be obsessing about cancer, and next month they may be obsessing about murder, or sexual orientation, or contamination. Ultimately, the content of one’s OCD thoughts, and the frequency with which they arise and recede, is essentially irrelevant.
I have gotten a ocd regarding transsexual. i fear i will fall for one who look like a beautiful women , i get groin response with lots of anxiety no erection though and its diff from actual arousal. am i confusing with arousal.I fantasied about having sex with them to check my arousal but i don t feel aroused.I m not aroused by gay stuff but this thing is bothering me.I would like your take on it.
Thank you for your comment.
Unwanted thoughts about attraction to transexuals are no different than any other unwanted sexual thoughts. In fact, they are no different from any of the other unwanted thoughts commonly seen in OCD. The content of the particular thought is not really the issue – what actually matters is that you are paying a lot of attention to an unimportant thought that doesn’t deserve so much attention.
When you have an unwanted thought about transexuals, remind your self that it is just a thought. Don’t check your self for arousal, as that is a compulsion that will just lead to more obsessions about transexuals. Allow the thought to be present in your head, without giving it any extra attention. Think of it as an unavoidable irritant like a splinter, or an itch, or a small pebble in your shoe. Irritating, but not really important, and certainly not catastrophic.
I’ve dealt with HOCD for 11 years. In testing myself, I found I could have arousing fantasies with many gay thoughts. I learned to live with and ignore them, and have never acted on them (no desire at all). But 4 months ago I had a relapse. I had turned to trans porn for like 8 years now (daily). Now my HOCD morphed into me thinking I’ll have an attraction (in real life) to transexuals, which had never crossed my mind. Since it started, is like if I became hypersensitive to transsexual content. One day I felt I could get aroused (I’m sure I could) by just reading the words (tranny or shemale, etc.). Then I started to have intrusive thoughts (even during sex), and later to compulsively think stuff in very sexually charged ways (Like “I will have sex with a transexual”). Many of this thoughts were mentally “stimulating” and arousing, and it hurts so much because they started with fear; I don’t want them. My question is: why everyone says ALL OCD thoughts are “repulsing, horrible, etc.”. Mine are unwanted, but in testing myself many are “stimulating”. Makes me feel alone.
Of course you are going to have thoughts of being attracted to people who are trans – you report having had HOCD for 11 years, and watching trans porn on a daily basis for eight years. I am quite surprised that you did not develop a concern that you might be attracted to trans people far sooner.
Furthermore, your porn addiction (let’s be honest and call it what it is) suggests that on some level you are attracted to trans people. After all, you have been watching trans porn on a daily basis for eight years.
Please know that I am not passing judgement on your sexual proclivities. I am merely stating the obvious – you appear to find trans people sexually appealing on some level. Otherwise, you would not watch trans porn every day for eight years.
Finally, allow me to note that that you are over-analyzing the difference between “repulsing” and “horrible” and “unwanted” and “stimulating”. Lots of people with various forms of OCD report being concerned that they experience thoughts and feelings that are simultaneously some combination of unwanted and horrible and stimulating and repulsing. You are not alone.
I’ve had HOCD on and off for years. It first started when I had a really bad bout of ROCD which set me off . I was watching a movie whilst really anxious and it was about sexual predators, I thought “I could be like that “, which scared me and I started obsessing (POCD). Then I said to myself I’d rather me gay than a monster.
All the thoughts hit me , they went away for a few years but always resurfaced everytime a relationship fails.
I never had gay fantasies growing up and I’ve always liked girls (even before I knew what sex was).
I’m currently going through a bad seperation and HOCD seems to of flared up pretty badly (Came our of no where ) making me believe I’m gay when I’m not
As you have learned, OCD can cycle between various subtypes. Your experience with having HOCD, ROCD, and POCD obsessions is not unusual. Additionally, OCD tends to spike when going through stressful times, and relationship breakups are very stressful, especially during a once-a-century pandemic. I encourage you to seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD.
Tom, I’ve got the same type of thing after my HOCD morphed into this after finding out someone I matched with on tinder and talked with was post op trans. I politely declined but after my brain went down the drain with “why not” “whats the difference if you couldn’t tell and she had surgery?” and coming up with scenarios of me being in love with one and then them saying they are actually trans to see how I feel. Is it a preference not to be with a post op trans and just OCD or am I being transphobic and I need to open up and accept it. I can’t stop the thoughts.
A few thoughts…
1) A computer algorithm matched you with somebody who is post op trans. That says absolutely nothing about your sexual orientation or desires.
2) You did not realize that the person was post op at first because you had very little data to go on. When you learned that the person was post op, you elected to “politely decline” pursuing a relationship with the person. I fail to see how the indicates that you are gay.
3) You are entitled to have your preferences about the people with whom you develop sexual/romantic relationships. Preferring not to be with someone who is post op does not make you transphobic, just as preferring not to date people of the same gender as your own does not make you homophobic.
4) Analyzing your thoughts on this matter is itself a compulsion, and will only make your OCD worse.
Thanks for the reply. I know it doesn’t make me gay but HOCD has been a theme before. The talk was sexual as such as Tinder is, but after I was informed of her truth I was turned off and politely declined as I said. It makes me feel like I am transphobic for that because I was attracted at first. I think of women I’ve been with or attractive women in general, and then try to imagine them telling me they’re trans (they aren’t, but my mind is telling me to test this) to see how I feel. Is this a compulsion as well? I’m lost.
Testing to see how one feels is a compulsion. As you have learned, it does not result in certainty, but rather leads to more obsessions, which in turn lead to even more compulsions.
The better option is to accept that you were attracted to someone who is post op female. I’m sure there are plenty of post op females who were born with male gender characteristics, yet pass as having been born with female gender characteristics, and are attractive to many straight guys who have no idea that the object of their affection is post op.
I also think it would be wise to accept that you prefer not to be romantically/sexually involved with a post op female. As I noted in my prior response, you are entitled to your preferences. Your preference does not mean that you are “phobic” or “anti” trans. It just means you have your preferences.
If this issue continues to vex you, I encourage you to seek treatment with therapist who specializes in treating OCD.
Question: if an unwanted mental image just pops up in my head that is caused (maybe) by me because I’m resting my mind or checking if I still have hocd, do I just keep on thinking about it (obsessive thinking) suppress it or change it with a different thought?
I notice that these thoughts come up when I’m not thinking or I’m not focused on anything.
Also, is it possible to have weird sensations on my lips/mouth for no reason at all? Because my mind automatically links it to a gay thought which gives me a lot of anxiety and distress.
my mind feels heavy after repeatedly thinking about these things. Its like a mental loop. How does one stop checking and doing a mental response? Thank you.
I would argue that unwanted thoughts that pop up in your head are not “caused” by you – they simply occur. There may be some reason that particular thoughts come into our minds, but it is fruitless to try to figure out what that reason might be for any particular thought. Furthermore, there is no value in knowing why a thought comes into your head – it wouldn’t change anything. Simply put, you don’t actually need to know why thoughts pop up – you just need to accept their existence and move on with your day.
What is most important is how you respond to such thoughts. Any attempt to “suppress” or “change” an unwanted thought is doomed to failure (as I am guessing you have already learned first-hand). I would add that trying to determine the “reason” for lip sensations is equally fruitless. Just as brains think, bodies feel. If you over-attend to your lips (or any other body part), you are bound to notice feelings that would otherwise have passed unnoticed. Your best bet is let your lips feel whatever they feel.
Two words that may be of benefit to you are these:
If your lips feel a certain sensation…so what? If your brain then makes an association with being gay…so what? I am not trying to be dismissive here, but I am suggesting that you would benefit by being dismissive of any thoughts or associations that your brain creates related to sexual orientation.
what about unwanted thoughts of transvestic fetihism or autogynephilia .. can they be considered a kind of sexual orientation hocd?
There is no fundamental difference between unwanted OCD thoughts about sexual orientation, and unwanted OCD thoughts about transvestic fetishism or autogynephilia. The key word here is “unwanted”. The bottom line is that they are all unwanted thoughts about one’s sexuality.
hello , i want just to think you for your answers and for your help
Thank you freezer.
Sir these groin sensations are very different from actual arousal,when i get erection there is excitement but no sensations but when im watching anything gay , sensations occur with no excitement and no erection.What are these sensations because they are very scary but very diff from erections.
These “sensations” you refer to are just that – sensations. Penises and the area around them (i.e., the groin) experience sensations. Lots of sensations. They are only scary to you because you are over-attending to them and over-valuing them. They are just sensations, and they have no special meaning. They are evidence of nothing except that you have nerve endings in that area.
I’m a 24 yo female with a history of OCD/anxiety. I had eating disorders, fear of death and disease, etc. I have always considered myself straight. I always dated men and have been with my fiance for many years. i couldnt wait to get married and have a family. I don’t have any prejudice toward gay individuals and my few trends who are gay I value very much. What happened was I got very very drunk (while taking low dose ssri) and my guy, myself, and this bisexual friend of mine (girl) had an experience. I admit to bring curious as to what sex with a girl would be like but I didn’t have an overwhelming desire to act on it. Even tho drunk, I remember not like the experience and considering I don’t have threesomes I didn’t know what to do. Either way I didn’t find it pleasurable. Perhaps the idea of doing something taboo was erotic, but I didn’t like actually doing it. Yuck.
Needless to say its been 3 months and I’ve been in constant distress. I don’t know what would have made me want to do that. I keep looking at every woman and checking if I’m attracted to her. I’m scared of being yet another individual who will leave her husband for a woman. I am looking at lesbian pictures to analyze my responses. I am worried about even being bisexual. I can’t picture myself setting long down or dating a girl. I never felt this way before towards women and now I’m scared of them. It’s like I’m losing my attractions for men and gaining them for women but when these gay intrusive thoughts come I have to defend against them and it gives me great stress. My therapist said I’m not gay or bi that’s its just anxiety and OCD. I don’t see anything wrong with being gay or bi it’s just I’m scared because that would throw my world upside down. I wish that night never happened. I admit to being curious but I was never so curious that I would’ve sought this out. I hope this doesn’t mean denial. I heard its a similar process for closeted individuals. I can’t stop checking and googling things and all I want to do is have fun and plan my wedding but I can’t do that if by what I did that night says something about me. I have to reassure myself all the time it is terrible. I just want to feel attracted to men again. Someone please help 🙁
You note “I don’t know what would have made me want to do that”, but you answer that question twice – you were curious. That doesn’t mean you are gay. It means you experimented (once), while drunk (big surprise), and the experiment produced very clearcut data (you didn’t like it). End of experiment.
This sounds nothing like “denial” or being in the closet. This sounds like a straight girl experimented with her boyfriend and another girl. Again, not much of a surprise, as this is just about every straight guy’s biggest fantasy. And again, let’s not forget that alcohol was involved.
In the short-term, I encourage you to read our article on the denial obsession in OCD. In the long-term, your goal is to stop doing all of the compulsions that you noted you are doing, as they are only making the unwanted thoughts much, much worse. That means you need to stop all of the following:
~ looking at women to check if you are attracted
~ looking at lesbian pictures to check if you are attracted
~ googling things related to sexual orientation
~ reassuring yourself about your sexual orientation
That night says nothing about you other than that, while drunk, you let your inhibitions down and experimented. The only thing it says about your sexuality is that you are straight, because if you were gay, you would not be having this response. Simply put, when gay girls have sex with women, they don’t think “yuck”.
I forgot to mention that another particularly distressing thing is that I have watched lesbian porn in the past and found it erotic, primarily because it is relatable, taboo, and sensual. I feel it contributed to my curiosity but I would’ve gone through life just fine without trying this. I feel like this experience changed me for the worse. I realize one cigarette doesn’t make someone a smoker, but in general, one crime tends to make one a criminal (at least in my realization). In others words, we are what we do. But even when I try to accept being gay or bi, I can’t I get repulsed and scared. Is that denial or repression, or ocd? I saw how some people use HOCD as a veil for denial. But I don’t want to be gay or bi, but I don’t understand how a straight person would have wanted to do that, even when under the influence. I really didn’t enjoy the experience. Watching it was not as good as doing it. But now I keep watching lesbian porn to make sure I don’t want to do it and my mind is playing tricks on me. Please help.
You note that you have found lesbian porn erotic in the past because you fund it to be “relatable, taboo, and sensual”. Those all seem like very good reasons why you have enjoyed it. But when you tried it in real life, you did not like it all. That sounds pretty straight to me.
As you note, “one cigarette doesn’t make someone a smoker”. So, you tried smoking, and you didn’t like it. You don’t need to try to figure out if you secretly enjoyed the cigarette, and secretly want to take up smoking. You are not “in denial” – you have HOCD.
although I’ve had OCD for 3 years(HOCD being one of my obsessions) I saw my CBT psychologist for the first time today. ive been going to a psychiatrist for months though. It was hard because she had to get to know me and I had to tell her all my OCD symptoms which were hard. After that I felt pretty good all day and didn’t have much HOCD symptoms until I drank a bunch of caffeine which gave me anxiety and I started researching on the internet on forums about HOCD which some of the peoples responses were ignorant and caused spikes. Finally I found this article and it made me feel so much better especially the part about no such thing as latent homosexuality or gay denial. I no im straight and get turned on by girls. I’ve done stuff with a good amount of girls and I get arousal and never had a thought about being gay until of course the OCD came out. it came out when I was 18 btw. I knew there was something wrong all along. I knew you cant just turn gay all of a sudden when you had no doubt before. I just didn’t no what was going on until I finally got diagnosed with OCD. I cant wait until I go to more therapy sessions.
Thank you for your responses. I feel reassured by what you’ve said. When I resist the compulsion to google, over time I start to feel better. Then I find something triggering in society and I’ll have to google the same thing, or check, whatever I can to prove that I’m not gay despite what I’ve done. Is HOCD something that comes and goes, or is it a passing thing? I was doing so well, planning my wedding, feeling straight (mostly, some invasive thoughts here and there). Then BOOM its back and I’m full of anxiety, especially reading about a couple that was married for 22 years and the husband was really a gay man.
Researching that theory led me to find an online opinion that sexual identity and orientation is something that develops over the course of a lifetime. This scares me completely because what if via further development I all of a sudden no longer prefer men, not want to be with my fiancé, etc etc. It’s so distressing.
I appreciate all of your help.
Yes, HOCD (like all forms of OCD) tends to wax and wane. You should expect that it will tend to increase when under stress, and decrease when stress is reduced. That said, it is important to remember that we cannot control what thoughts pop into our head, but we can control how we respond to them. I encourage you to accept that your brain will continue to throw these (or other) unwanted thoughts at you, and that your goal is to not take the them so seriously.
As for your sexuality developing over your lifetime, it is important to note that this doesn’t mean you will become a lesbian. You have provided no evidence that you are actually a lesbian or likely to become one. From your comment about the married couple, it sounds to me like the husband was always gay, and that it just took him 22 years to come out of the closet. I could also find you millions of couples who were married for 22 years, and neither person was secretly gay or had a sudden change of orientation. If you focus on one case out of millions, and then assume that you are like that one case, you will make yourself miserable. As an alternative I encourage you live your life with the assumption, based on your experience up until now, that you are straight, while at the same time accepting the extremely remote possibility that you, just like anyone else, could somehow become gay at some undefined point in in the future.
Thank you so much for your help!
Where does “Ego-Dystonic Sexuality” play its role in everything? After reading about it, (of course, since my compulsiveness created such an intense desire to google, google, google)- that is, ego dystonic homosexuality- I felt like sinking straight into the earth; as if, like everybody else, everything was over. This article, after having also been the target of immense pain and inability to focus academically, myself, has helped me a great deal. Of course, given my OCD, the reassurance (this article) only made me feel *great* for so long. So is Ego-Dystonic Homosexuality real? What distinguishes ones having HOCD from Ego-D. Homosexuality if it is real?
I think you may have a misunderstanding about the term “ego-dystonic”. People do not have “ego-dystonic homosexuality” – rather they sometimes have ego-dystonic thoughts. The term “ego-dystonic” simply refers to thoughts which are counter to an individual’s true beliefs and values. One can have ego-dystonic thoughts about numerous things, of which sexual orientation is just one. For example, and ego-dystonic thought about sexual orientation could be a straight person having a thought that they might actually be gay, or a gay person having a thought that they might actually be straight.
I’m 19. I wonder, when I complete cbt treatment, will I be able to say: “I am straight for sure”, as someone without hocd can say, as i could say before i was having hocd. The problem is that thinking of me with a man no longer disturbes me as before, and i went too far figuring out what do women like at men, and i am afraid i am realizing it. So in some way, i am more gay than before. When HOCD started i was just checking my reactions on men, but only physically. Now i mixed it up with sense of man(Big, warm, heavy body). I dont really like it, or i do, i just dont know, but i feel some intimacy. i am afraid that i will eventually have seek for man because i understood gay feelings. Lately, my pennis hurted and pulsed when i had feeling i am surrounded by that “man sense” (but i never had erection on gay thoughts)
There are two fundamental and related flaws in your thinking that are likely to interfere with your CBT.
First, you are hoping to have 100% certainty about your sexual orientation. 100% certainty doesn’t exist for anything in this life except that we will all some day die. And even that could change if science develops a way to stop death.
Second, you think people without HOCD can say “I am 100% straight for sure”. No – they can’t. I am 56 years old and have never had sex with a man, yet I cannot guarantee that I won’t wake up tomorrow and decide to go to a gay bar, pick up a guy, and have sex with him. The reason I cannot guarantee this is that nobody can guarantee this! I can make a guess based on my past experience, but that is not that same thing as being “straight for sure”.
Being afraid of what you might feel in the future is a total waste of your time – you cannot control what you will feel in the future. Stop checking your reactions to men, and you will likely see a decrease in your anxiety. Simply put, the more you over-attend to your reactions, the more likely you are to over-value what you think you are experiencing.
I don’t know if I have HOCD, but I feel that something is not right. I’m constantly scared, uncomfortable, and unhappy about the gay thoughts I have. I tell myself I’m gay all day and every female I see scares me so then I start checking to see if I’m attracted to her. It’s a cycle and it’s taking the joy out of my existence. I keep wondering if this is just me resisting my homosexuality, and I’ll feel better if I just let go and be a happy gay person. I don’t know what to do, but I feel like a different person.
Every time I try to remove the fear, ignore it, calm myself or change my way of thinking it seems to morph into something else. I’m so scared and feel trapped. I’ve lost all desire to do anything since this started about 5 months ago. I just don’t know what to do. I’m uncomfortable with myself. Therefore, I’m uncomfortable all day.
Can a therapist really help me return to a more comfortable state of existing? I just feel like I’m so extreme about women, and I don’t know if this is normal for gay people or what but it doesn’t feel right. I don’t feel right and nothing feels natural. I’m reacting to women I’ve been around in the past in a totally different way now, and I even have uncomfortable thoughts about family (hate this the most).
In my heart, I don’t believe homosexuality feels like this because love is love…no matter the orientation (but maybe I’m making it feel like this). I’ve never had an issue with homosexuality, quite the opposite, but now I’m scared of the words gay and lesbian, and I try to avoid certain movies, articles…and rainbows lol.
I just don’t know what to do. I know therapists say ERP helps but I guess there’s the concern that my case is different, and I can’t be helped because as much as I want this to end I just don’t know how to end it.
Thank you for your comments. Everything you write sounds like textbook HOCD, including the compulsions you are doing in an attempt to rid yourself of your unwanted thoughts. Most specifically, I am referring to your avoidance behaviors related to certain movies, articles, and even rainbows.
Also, you note that “every time I try to remove the fear, ignore it, calm myself or change my way of thinking it seems to morph into something else”, and all of these behaviors are compulsions. Your gay thoughts will continue to morph so long as you fight them. Your goal is to accept the presence of the thoughts, without trying to control them in any way. They are just thoughts, and they mean nothing except that you have OCD.
First of all,Thank you for the helpful article.
My name is Lena and I am currently 16,I have always been attracted to boys, I had tons of celebrity crushes and crushes at school (on boys), but for about a year and a half or more,I have been getting these obsessional thoughts about being gay,I worried A lot, I would obsess for hours trying to figure out if I was gay, I would think about it almost all the time. A lot of time in which I had to ‘find ways to convince’ myself that the thoughts were not real. It stressed me a lot.
After I had the obsessional thoughts for about months, I decided to search for a reason to why I was getting these thoughts.At first I didn’t have the guts to search,but I did .. And I found out there was such a thing as HOCD,it totally relieved me and for few months I didn’t think about it as much since I kind of knew I had pure o and assumed I had it!So I did not obsess over it as much.
Until These past few weeks, my thoughts have been somehow getting bad,not as obsessional and little upsetting. I am on a holiday (no school) at the moment so I have time to think and time for these thoughts to come back and Fill my mind. I watch a lot of tv shows and when I am I don’t think about it so much(I repeat a certain sentence in my mind and I’m ok). Somehow I am not worrying about it so much and that scares me, it makes me feel like I don’t have HOCD since I read before that you ‘must’ have obsessional thoughts to have HOCD. What I mean is that now that I don’t think about it so much and obsess over it so much I feel like I do not have HOCD at all,and that I am just gay. I don’t know what’s true anymore , HOCD is making things feel so real and it scares me. Like I said I have always liked boys, I never thought twice about my orientation.
I have nothing against gay people, and never have. But these thoughts are uncomfortable and it’s just not me – these thought just somehow came and started when I met my teacher, I thought that she was gay,I questioned myself about her orientation and suddenly the person I questioned was myself, out of the blue!
Also, I have read that straight people with HOCD know deep down that they are straight. I feel that I am straight because of the feelings I have experienced with the opposite sex but I don’t know for sure..
I am so scared, I feel like I have to know or I don’t have HOCD, and that I am really gay. It makes me freak out sometimes.
Please help and sorry if this is messy. I would really like to understand what i am going trough more…
Please reply! Thank you for your time.
Thanks for commenting. Everything in your post suggests that you have HOCD. What you describe as being upset that you are no longer so worried about your unwanted gay thoughts is what is called a “backdoor spike”. This phenomenon is described in the article above.
BTW, keep in mind that you actually don’t need to know if you have HOCD or are gay. Can you provide me one reason why you “must” know your sexual orientation with 100% certainty? I am a 56 year old man and I have never been with a man. So, am I straight? Based on my past experience, it seems that way, but I cannot guarantee that won’t change today. For all I know I will have sex with a man today. Either way, I don’t need to know what my sexual orientation is. Your sexual orientation is what it is, and it merits not one minute of your time trying to gain certainty about it.
I think that I have hocd but I’m just not sure anymore. A few weeks ago I started having this unwanted thought about potentially being gay. At first I was able to make it go away by reminding myself that I’m in a very happy heterosexual relationship. Then I was watching a movie with female nudity in it and the thought popped back into my mind and caused a great deal of anxiety. I started googling it and freaked out more because all of the things I read talked about having feelings for the same sex and I had never had these feelings. So then I began to wonder why am I having these thoughts even though I have never had the feelings. Eventually I came across a website that talked hocd and it brought me emense relief at first. Then I started wondering if it was just a form of denial. Again researching brought some relief.
Now I just feel very depressed. I used to look forward to marrying my boyfriend and having kids. I don’t want to leave the house and avoid watching tv. The anxiety comes and goes and it affects my sleeping and eating. I used to be extremely sexual towards the opposite sex and enjoyed being attracted to men. It was just a part of me that I didn’t have to think about. I feel like my life has just been thrown into this grey area and I hate it.
Thanks for commenting.
Let’s look at the facts, as you report them:
1. You are in “a very happy heterosexual relationship”.
2. You describe the gay thoughts you have had as being “unwanted”.
3. The unwanted thoughts reappeared when you saw naked women in a movie (no surprise there).
4. When you started to compulsively search Google for info about gay thoughts, you initially became more anxious (again, no big surprise).
5. You have “never” had same sex attraction.
6. You are now worrying that you are somehow “in denial” about your sexual orientation, despite all of the above.
This all sounds like textbook HOCD to me…
Thank you very much for your prompt help, I appreciate it a lot!
I have a long history of counselling, medical treatment using antidepressants (currently only Venlafaxine) and anxiolytics (currently only Lorazepam). I am on antidepressants since Sept 2004. I tried many, many drugs hoping to get better with (Paroxetine, Trimipramine, Citalopram, Escitalopram, Mirtazapine, Duloxetine, Quetiapine, Olanzapine, Alprazolam).
I’m now only on 150 mg Venlafaxine, all the other antidepressants, as well as Alprazolam, had been completely ceased.
My therapist says that I’m not gay when I can get an erection/erected/aroused with girls and it would show a very straight aspect at least. Is this true? Would I have been able to feel true sexual arousal in presence of my ex-girlfriend if I were a hidden gay (and surpassing the point when the drop of precum appears)?
I don’t like the imagination of being gay, I don’t like to be perceived gay, I’m anxious that people will think that I were gay, I don’t like to think that I am gay, I just hate it and the longer it’s going on like this, the less I know who I am. It’s dreadful. On the other hand I seem to experience/feel (truly feel?) moments in which I don’t know exactly whether I REALLY (I mean really) don’t want to be gay. This scares the hell out of me, because then I FEEL gay. Okay now my sick brain kicks in telling me “hold on, yesterday you’ve read the article about feeling gay and that one isn’t gay when he reports to be feeling gay since this is an oxymoron. Gotcha, you’re just asking this to reassure the doc will tell you that you’re not gay. ha!”.
Sometimes any man seems gay to me, no matter whether that’s because of haircut, hair dye, perfume (odour), clothing, earrings whatsoever. I can’t stop thinking about that crap. I call it crap, because it really drains away most of my energy, vitality and will to live. It just won’t let me go. Do I have to surrender and shout out loudly “I am GAY”? Will it stop then?
The thing is I have absolutely no clue anymore what I am, what I want and what not. Yet my therapist says otherwise, he claims that I would know exactly what I want. I really don’t know it anymore. Am I supposed to be gay? Am I happy with a man rather than a girl? Is this it what I really want deep inside? Why did I always date girls, fell for some of them then? Why did I encounter erections with girls then? I am 26, not 15, so I don’t understand why this whole issue with being gay won’t let me go.
You ask “why this whole issue with being gay won’t let (you) go”, and the answer is simple…because you have OCD. This is the nature of OCD.
Having thoughts about being gay is not the problem – attempting to get certainty about your sexual orientation is the problem. You don’t need certainty about your sexual orientation, and your entire comment is a compulsive attempt to get certainty.
I strongly encourage you to seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for OCD. Traditional talk therapy (which is what it sounds like you are doing) will just spin you around in circles and waste your time and money. You can learn about our online therapy program for OCD at https://ocdla.com/telephone-online-therapy-ocd-anxiety/.
Thanks a lot for your help – again.
Do you think HOCD is what impales me for eight months now? It is haunting me 24/7, sometimes even during the night.
I would spend hours of checking my groin for response (Imaging heterosexual vs. homosexual thoughts).
How about I am a real homosexual? This is no possiblity?
Neither I nor anyone else can provide you with absolute certainty that you are not gay. Checking your groin at all is a compulsion, and doing so for hours will almost certainly worsen your OCD. As for your questions, I will not answer them, as it clear that you are seeking reassurance, so answering them would actually be counter-productive. Instead, I refer you to our article on reassurance seeking at https://ocdla.com/reassurance-seeking-ocd-anxiety-1952/.
I’m sorry to follow up since already commented like two hours ago. There’s a question that I would like to be answered once and for all.
Why do I feel most unsuitable “inner arousals” (it’s not directly groinal) often when I’m around males e. g. family members? It is unclear to me if this is anxiety, over-attending, true sexual arousal or insight. It is quite a blurred and unclear feeling. I tend to identify this as sexual arousal, for example when I can smell the body odour of a male. This had never happened to me before the anxiety started.
I just wonder, because I find it very embarrassing and most unsuitable to think like this when it comes to family members, e. g. stepfather (who is 47), brother, etc. It makes me sick to face the possibility to could find them sexually attractive.
Please advise if I do too many postings here, I do not want to spam. Thanks a lot for your valuable help. I will consider CBT and speak to my therapist about it.
PS: It is a very helpless feeling when someone comes so far that he can’t quite believe his own therapist, not even after 36 hours of counselling. It is a very helpless feeling. He says I’m not gay and I would think maybe he’s got it all wrong….
As I noted in my earlier reply, you are experiencing these thoughts and feelings because you have OCD.
If you continue to ask your therapist if you are gay, and he continues to answer, then he probably doesn’t have a clue about how to treat OCD.
I am a woman dating a man who suffers from HOCD. I have scoured the internet to learn more about HOCD so that I can be a better partner to him, and have found a ton of information that has been really helpful. I have not, however, found any advice from the point of view of the partner of someone with HOCD.
My boyfriend and I have been on and off for years now, and I only recently learned that our break-ups were largely motivated by his HOCD. He would become convinced that he was living a lie and in denial about being gay, and then he would break up with me and attribute it to something else, like the challenges of long distance dating. A few weeks or months later, we would be together again.
We love each other and are very emotionally attached and intimate, and we finally got to a point where he felt comfortable being open about his OCD and has explained it to me as best he can. The hope is that since we are now being more open and honest with each other about how we are feeling, we will be able to have a successful relationship.
He recently relapsed into one of his OCD-periods and worries that our relationship is bs and that he has been lying to himself for years. This is the first time he has told me explicitly what he is thinking when he is going through one of these dark periods. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how I should act, or what I should say. Does my saying “I love you” make him feel more secure, or instead make him feel pressured about potentially not being able to continue this heterosexual relationship?
Because I love him and want the best for him, I wonder if being with a heterosexual partner while working through therapy for HOCD is helping him or harming him. Does he just need to be alone and unattached while he is going through this? Or does my support and our relationship help? He is currently not in therapy, and never has been in intensive therapy for his OCD. However, he is planning on seeking treatment. Will the therapist be able to tell him what is best for him in terms of being in a relationship versus being single while he is trying to work through this? I am committed to him and this relationship, but I don’t want to be an obstacle to his overcoming HOCD.
Please help, thank you.
PS. If you are a partner of someone with HOCD, I would really appreciate it if you shared your experience!
The obstacle is not you or how you act towards your boyfriend – it is your boyfriend’s HOCD. You report that he has had HOCD for years, yet it sounds like he is not in treatment, and has never had significant treatment for his HOCD. The best advice I can provide you is that your boyfriend would almost certainly benefit from getting appropriate treatment with a therapist who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) specifically for OCD. I strongly encourage you to discuss this with him.
I’m seeing my clinical psychologist soon for what I believe is HOCD.
However, I now worry I have Trans OCD too.
I am a straight female, and in the past I have become aroused by imagining myself with male genitalia.
However, I identify strongly as female, and have no desire to transition- but you know OCD. Is it normal to fantasize as such? My OCD is really not letting me forget that I have found that arousing. I recognize that much of this is my OCD, but I’m worried because I’m not sure if such fantasies are normal for those who are not actually trans. Help?
Hi Really Worried,
There is no significant difference between HOCD and Trans OCD. In both cases, the individual obsesses about unwanted sexual thoughts, and the treatment for both is identical.
As for fantasies, I don’t think there is any clear definition of “normal” or “abnormal”. Humans have really great imaginations, and can think up just about anything. The bottom line is that there is no reason for you to be concerned about your sexual fantasies. They are just fantasies, and I assure you that everyone over the age of puberty has had equally unexpected sexual fantasies at some time or another.
I don’t think I have a history of OCD, but can I still develop one? The only OCD-ish thing I’ve had was something akin to hypochondria (more specifically, with appendicitis) and this constant checking of any meat I ate (if I saw pink, I wouldn’t eat it, and if I ate it because someone reassured me that it’s fine, then I wanted to throw it up and I’d get freaked out about getting ill).
I also really worry because I don’t have as many as the compulsions I used to have. The constant need for reassurance from my mother is one of those things. I do the self-checking to see if I’m aroused thing sometimes, but I ultimately think it’s silly to do so. The thoughts are persistent and intrusive, however, and cause me a lot of distress. I hardly want to eat because of the anxiety I feel.
I used to think I was the only one worrying about this back when this all started in 7th grade, but when I found that other people were experiencing the same thing, I was very relieved. I matched a lot of the mental worries and compulsions described, and even related to a lot of what is written here, which was relieving for a little bit.
But I have to admit that I’ve also been avoiding certain situations and things for years for fear that this would make my fear come back and somehow prove it right. This is all very distressing.
I have to admit, I am a bit confused. You say you don’t have a history of OCD, and then proceed to outline your long history of OCD symptoms going back to 7th grade. You even note that you don’t have as many compulsions as you previously had. So allow me to note the following:
Having “persistent, intrusive thoughts” that cause you distress suggests OCD.
Your “constant need for reassurance” from your mother suggests OCD.
Your “self-checking” for sexual arousal suggests OCD.
Your “avoiding certain situations” for “years” out of “fear that this would make (your) fear come back” suggests a long history of OCD.
Keep in mind that HOCD is not separate and distinct from OCD – it is merely a colloquial term for a manifestation of OCD in which an individual obsesses about sexual orientation. In other words, HOCD is just a type of OCD. HOCD is to OCD as oranges are to fruit or broccoli is to vegetables.
Your article has been of great help to me, but as you said, an HOCD sufferer needs some sort of reassurance.
I’m a 17 year old guy and have been suffering from HOCD for about 2 months. It started during my health class when we were showed a 30 min video about homosexuality. That video really messed me up because it represented a world in which most people were homosexuals. By the end of the video, I remember thinking to myself “Oh shit this is gonna mess me up”. Ive had these unwanted gay thoughts before too but they lasted for a few days and i could easily dismiss them. When i was 12, i came across a video that said that puberty would bring about your true sexuality and stuff. This really creeped me out and i remember being scared about turning gay. Just for the record, i have nothing against gay people. I even suffered from health anxiety for 3-4 months before my hocd. So i guess i have an “OCD prone mind”.
I always remember being attracted to girls. E
Hi Desperate for help,
I agree – it sounds like you have an “OCD-prone mind”. You have struggled with health anxiety (which is really just a form of OCD. And it sounds like you initially had concerns about your sexual orientation five years ago, but that your fears were mostly dormant until being triggered by the sex education video at school. But it is worth noting that straight people don’t “turn” gay from watching a video, just as gay people do not “turn” straight by watching a video.
I encourage you to seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for OCD.
Is it normal for OCD to sort of “die down”? I’ve had months where this wouldn’t bother me at all, but then something would trigger it and then it would all be down hill from there.
What really bothers me is that now I’m over-analyzing every little thing I did in my childhood that relates to the HOCD. It’s like my brain is picking out those experiences and making me doubt myself even more. Those are the same worries I had when this all started.
Also, what about “fake” crushes? They’re not like the legitimate ones I’ve had on boys before, as in they bring me absolutely no joy whatsoever. In fact, they’re very distressing and fuel the doubt. My brain keeps making me notice these certain people, or “fake crushes” and sometimes I’ll get leaps in my stomach from seeing them and I’ll get nervous, but I wonder if that’s just the anxiety? Again, they’re nothing like the crushes I’ve had on boys. I over analyze ever little feeling that goes on in my body and perhaps that’s part of the OCD?
I go to my mom for reassurance, and mind you, she doesn’t know that much about OCD, but she tells me that if I have it, it’s very mild. I didn’t display any OCD tendencies when I was a younger; not to my recollection at least, but I was a fearful child (mostly about sleeping in the dark and dolls coming to life to the extent that I had an extremely difficult time going to sleep).
The only time I recall doing anything OCD related when I was younger was when I was walking to the park one time, and out of nowhere, I became extremely fearful that I was walking like a man, so I corrected my walking pattern. I also tried changing my voice and acting way more girly. I can’t remember how young I was, but I remember being overwhelmed with fear.
It’s just that my mother raised me, so she was always observant of me and if she didn’t notice anything “off” about the way I behaved, then how can I call this OCD? Not everyone with OCD displayed those behaviors in childhood, right? Can people develop it at any age?
Hello again rabbitsea,
It is extremely common for OCD symptoms to wax and wane, and for symptoms to increase at times of stress. This is the norm, not the exception.
What you are calling “fake crushes” sound like HOCD to me. You notice someone, you think she is appealing in some way, you then compulsively analyze your thoughts and feelings related to her, and then you get really anxious about noticing that she is appealing.
The analysis of “every little feeling that goes on in (your) body” is a textbook HOCD compulsion that will only make your OCD worse.
The analysis of your childhood behaviors is a classic mental compulsion that will only make your OCD worse.
Changing your style of walking or talking are also compulsions. In fact, trying in any way to act more feminine out of fear of looking gay is a compulsion.
Your mother is completely incapable of being objective about you or your childhood. Furthermore, unless she is trained in the treatment of OCD, she would be completely incapable of providing anyone with accurate advice regarding the nature of OCD. Besides, even the most observant of parents misses things about their children’s behavior. The bottom line is that it is crucial that you stop asking your mother for reassurance. I encourage you to read our article about reassurance seeking.
For about a month or so, I’ve had unwanted thoughts about women – I’m a female. I feel disgusted even typing that. I’m married and have been for 2 years.
I’ve always been attracted to men. The way the smell, their body hair, their voice – everything. I’ve never crushed on women. I find it unbearable that I have these thoughts. I’m afraid to be around women because I’m afraid I’ll think think they’re attractive. Although I’m not attracted to them, if I see a pretty lady, I know that she is pretty. I will often envy the beauty and feel inferior as well for some reason.
My compulsions are as follows:
– What if I’m turning gay?
– If I see an attractive man, I’ll think “Do I REALLY think that’s attractive or am I just in denial?”
– I’ll have unwanted images randomly pop up in my mind about women and I don’t know how to deal with them.
– I’ll have sex just to try and convince myself that I am, in fact, straight.
– I’m repulsed by the thought of me being homosexual and sometimes, I cry because I think I am.
-Try to avoid seeing women.
I have panic disorder anyway, and this doesn’t help. I just need some steps to help me through it and know that I’m not alone.
Thank you for the link. It was very insightful. 🙂
Though, I’m still worried that this isn’t OCD. It’s just that my worrying started in 7th grade and before then I had not had any crushes on any real guys (all of them had been on guys from cartoons, video games, etc…). What’s even more distressing is that there were a few times in childhood when I questioned whether or not I liked girls, but I can’t remember exactly why I was wondering about it. I didn’t have any crushes on any girls. Those thoughts were uncomfortable to me, however. I feel like I’ve always had a thing for guys even though I didn’t have a real crush until 9th grade.
This fear actually hit me in 4th grade, but it was just a brief period of obsessive worrying. I’m not sure how it went away, exactly.
It’s just that my questionable past makes this all very confusing, or perhaps I’m still just over-analyzing past transgressions and thoughts? This is actually what worsened my fear in 7th grade. I remembered all of the questionable things I did as a child and that’s how it officially stuck to me. A lot of people with HOCD can look back on their childhood and feel reassurance, but I can not. I remember my crushes on fictional characters, but I’m not sure if those count for anything, which makes me think that me having OCD is dubious.
I have one question regarding intrusive thoughts, though. Can they manifest themselves as “voices”? They’re not the sort of voices that a schizophrenic would probably hear, but they say things like “You’re gay” or for some reason it changes the personal pronoun to, “I’m gay”, etc…Do those count as intrusive thoughts? They make me anxious and sometimes they come out of nowhere.
I bought your Mindfulness book, it’s great. I am determined to stop doing compulsions, which have been as subtle and as natural as breathing, for many, many years. So it’s really hard and scary too.
I now feel like a lesbian. I know I just have to accept this thought mindfully, just let it be there, that’s all. It doesn’t have to mean anything, it’s just a thought. That is really, really hard as I feel a lot of guilt for feeling this way as I love hubby very much, and I know it’s not really me, but I can’t go back to being sick. I deserve more. It’s an extremely confusing phase to be in.
I feel that if I continue allowing myself to feel this way, that it will become habitual, and I will be unable to control it and I will end up losing everything. That’s all I will say. I’m sure you have heard it ALL before!!
Onwards and upwards!!! Let’s push on!
I am a 34-year-old woman and feel like in a nightmare – as if I was not any more myself. Everything has begun two years ago. I was in the sports course and found out suddenly out of a clear sky that I found the trainer attractive! I was absolutely panic and considered from then on 24 hours on the day whether I was lesbian. I felt only better if I could “neutralise” my thoughts. Before I have enjoyed only affairs with men and this also very much.
I found out on the Internet that it had to concern HOCD. This calmed me and after a few weeks the compulsive thoughts became better. I fell in love round Christmas with a man, but it came to nothing because he did not want it. Nevertheless, it was a wonderful feeling to be in love and I have enjoyed it very much.
I wasted no more thought to be lesbian or bisexual, but now my nightmare began again during a group journey two weeks ago. I made friends with a woman of the same age and we became friends. I must admit that I found her very attractive. Sometimes I have considered like it would be to kiss her and would have found it maybe even nice! I admired her for her appearance. Again at home I have almost gone crazy. In the morning when I wake up it is the worst. I think all the time what if I am suddenly lesbian? Then I must confess it to all people and am an outsider. Then my dream of a family does not come true!! I think a lot of this woman and I would like to have a friendship to her and I miss her because we have now no more contact, but am I suddenly lesbian?? Am I allowed to miss her although I am hetero? I feel quite foreign and not at all like me myself, but like I am in a film which hopefully is soon to an end. What is wrong with me? Is the HOCD again?? I desire only that this state goes past… that I wake up from this dream and be again myself. Sometimes I can neutralise the thoughts and talk myself that I can be friends normally with her and I am not lesbian and the contact will not break off. Then I feel better for a short time. At the same time I have the feeling that I lie to friends and family, moreover, I have to tell the irresistible urge to tell everything to my mother or a friend.
While I cannot provide a diagnosis based solely on your comment, I can say that everything you write sounds like HOCD. It is completely normal for symptoms to wax and wane – to sometimes be more severe than at other times.
That said, it is worth noting that it is OK to find your friend attractive. I find Bradley Cooper attractive, but I do not want to have sex with him.
It is also quite normal to have unwanted thoughts about sex. So you thought about kissing your friend. It is just a thought. And even if you were gay, there would be no requirement that you “confess” anything to anybody. This is your life, and you can be with anyone you want. Why would it be necessary to “confess”. Being gay is not a crime. Do you need to confess what you had for dinner last night, or what shoes you wore to a movie.
The bottom line is that you are taking this unexpected thought about your friend way too seriously. It is just a thought. Brains produce unexpected thoughts. These unexpected thoughts do not automatically mean anything. Accept the existence of the thought and do no compulsions. And don’t avoid your friend, as that will only reinforce that this thought is important and scary.
Thanks a lot for your comment! Well, I wonder why my anxiety and my horrible feelings are always worse in the morning…in the evening I feel better.there is really a big difference..Is there a reason for?
So and I have one more question: I don´t feel like me anymore-I feel like a different person; like a stranger…. just very, very strange:-(I feel like playing a role in movie or in a nightmare. Is this typicical for HOCD?
Well, I am writing to you from Germany. It is very difficicult to find a good therapist who is familiar with HOCD…do you have an ieda where I can find a good one?
I have no idea why some thoughts are worse in the morning, and I don’t think it matters one bit. I have treated other people who report that their OCD thoughts are worse in the evening. I see no reason why this would mean anything important.
Your report that you don’t feel like your self anymore is extremely common in OCD. I think this is a result of the constant over-analysis that one does if they have OCD. Instead of experiencing your life, you are compulsively analyzing your thoughts and feelings, and it seems to me that this would naturally lead to a certain amount of feeling disconnected from your life.
Unfortunately, there are very few therapists who understand OCD, and even fewer who know how to treat it appropriately. I do not know of any therapists in Germany who specialize in treating OCD. If you would like to discuss online therapy with one of our staff therapists, we can be reached via our website at https://ocdla.com/.
I am 20 year old female who has always liked guys. I have always been a real girly girl and have never questioned my sexuality until I realized (or at least I hope)I had HOCD. I believe I have a history of anxiety and use to convince myself I was sick and really wasn’t. I would take extreme measures and constantly make sure everything was clean. It kind of went away and would come back now and then but wouldn’t be as bad. I would constantly feel the need to ask people if I was sick or look up the symptoms on the internet. I would often look at pictures or stare at women only to be like wow I wish I was pretty or something. I would never have sexual feelings towards women. One day I was on Instagram and felt like I got a “gronial sensation” and have been freaking out ever since. I have reviewed past events in my life. I have taken like 40 quiZzes to see if I’m straight. I have read coming out stories. You name it I have done it. I just don’t understand if I was actually lesbian wouldn’t I know by know? Like I have had a boyfriend for 2 years. And I’m pretty sure you can’t just wake up gay. But these feelings are making me depressed and not feel like I love my boyfriend anymore and I know deep down I do. I don’t want to be lesbian and just don’t understand why they won’t go away. I literally have a gronial response everytime I see any girl. I am also convincing myself I have crushes on girls which makes me all feel extremely uncomfortable. I have told my boyfriend and my mom and they are just like shut up your not lesbian. Which I know I think but why are these thoughts happening. I have even had a gay dream for like two seconds and liked it in my dream but woke up cuz I didn’t like it in my awake mind. And I sometiems freak out if I look manly or not. Sorry this is so long. I’m just scared if I’m actually in denial if I marry a man that it would all be lie cuz I’m lying to myself and then I would have to explain to my kids that I’m a lesbian. Please help.
You report the following:
~ You have always liked guys
~ You have never questioned your sexuality
~ You have a boyfriend
~ You have a history of anxiety, including health anxiety (which is really just a variant if OCD), including taking “extreme measures” regarding cleanliness (very much a textbook symptom of OCD), and compulsive reassurance seeking, and compulsive internet checking
Then one day, your brain/body produces a stray “groinal sensation”, which leads to:
~ compulsively analyzing your past
~ compulsively taking online tests to check your sexual orientation
~ compulsively analyzing whether you look “manly”
This sounds like classic HOCD.
Reading between the lines, I am guessing you have also been compulsively comparing yourself to women you see on Instragram, on websites, in magazines, etc. – not just to see if you are “pretty”, but to analyze your sexual orientation.
BTW, we all have groinal sensations, but people without OCD don’t check for them, and they don’t pay attention to them on the off chance that they notice them. In fact, the average person without HOCD spends exactly zero seconds per day analyzing the sensations in their groin in an effort to determine their sexual orientation. Furthermore, everybody has all sorts of unexpected dream content. If gay thoughts or dreams mean a person is gay, then pretty much the entire adult population of the planet is gay, because virtually everybody has had a random gay thought or dream at one time or another.
I am 25 yrs old female who I guess suffering from hocd since 5 yrs on and on. From the childhood I was boy crazy girl. I used to love the attwntion gwtting from them I wantwd to be where they were. I fantasized about them. I had crush on different guys till I remember. Now also I m in relationship with a guy for 4 and half years. We love each other so much.
The problem sstarted 5 yrs ago when I suddenly woke up panicking from the sleep and unwanted thoughts of being gay popped up. I dont know how it came. At that time I didnt know it was hocd or what. So I said it to my mother and father and they said it is only thought. But that didnt help I fighted it for 3 months and gradually it went on its own.
I then made a boyfriend with whom my relationship disht ladt longer. The thoughts occasionally used to popped but I could shrug it off easily. Then I again mwt a wonderful man whom I have loved the most in the world. But now since 2 month I am being bothered by this thought again. Now I researched on internet n found out hocd. It was a huge relief forme. But since 1 week its been a constant worry. I now doubt in my love. I camnot sleep. I now feel hocd is fake n I m actual gay but I cant accept this as I know I had always dreamt about being in love with man n have family.
Thank you for commenting.
Everything you write suggests that you have HOCD. Also, you should know that it is very common for people with HOCD to question whether or not they love or are even attracted to their partner. Likewise, the fear that one doesn’t have HOCD, but that they are secretly gay, is a typical HOCD obsession.
Unfortunately, the mere knowledge that you have HOCD doesn’t make it go away. You will need to find help with someone who understands how to effectively treat HOCD. If you would like to discuss online therapy for HOCD with one of our staff therapists, we can be reached at our website at https://ocdla.com/.
I hope that you can help me as I spend another sleepless night wondering about my OCD. I have a history of Pure-O. But never, HOCD. I am a female and have never questioned my sexuality. I have always had heterosexual relationships.
There have been a few times that I have felt attracted to a female coworker. I don’t know if it is admiration or actual attraction.This co-worker is a lesbian, and has some manly features. I didn’t think anything of it. However, the other night I thought about how lesbians must be good lovers because they know the female anatomy well. Well, that sparked my anxiety. At first I tried to tell myself: this is just your OCD, because I’ve dealt with terrible obsessions before. But the feeling just got stronger. I couldn’t understand why I would find a female attractive, and I never have before in my life. I have had a great deal of anxiety about it. What really gives me anxiety is that I try to picture myself kissing women, and I don’t feel repulsed or disgusted by it. I don’t know if I just know that that’s not who I am. But the thought that I may actually like it, sends me into a panic.
So, I’m going on a couple days of this, and it’s been a terrible downward spiral. Is it normal for OCD to make you doubt things? For example, if someone asked me if I liked women, I’m not sure that I could give a resounding “No”. The thought that I do not feel so strongly against all of this, again sends me into a panic.I feel like I should feel disgusted when imagining these things, but I’m so confused by my own thoughts, I can’t see clearly. I feel like I am a lesbian or bi-sexual, and again the thought of this sends me into discomfort and panic. Prior to the sudden onset of this thought, I’ve never questioned my sexuality. I’ve known that I like men and have always seen myself married to one. Never a woman.
Could not being repulsed by these mental checking compulsions and getting anxiety to my lack of a response be a backdoor spike?
Also, can HOCD make you have other reactions, rather than just groinal responses? Sometimes when I’m checking to see if I’m attracted to a girl, I FEEL like I am, and this bothers me. Another aspect that really bothers me is that I’m not sure if these thoughts are “unwanted”. Like I said, I don’t feel repulsed by some of the thoughts I have, like kissing a girl. So then I get terrible anxiety because I can’t tell if these thoughts are wanted or unwanted. I really don’t want to be a lesbian or bisexual. But that seems like a defining characteristic of HOCD, is that the thoughts are unwanted, and in my case, the thoughts themselves don’t bother or repulse me so much as the fact that I am not getting anxiety from them. This in turn makes me think that I must be a lesbian that is just afraid to come out, because I would feel repulsed by these thoughts. ugh. Help.
Thanks for commenting.
You wrote: “What really gives me anxiety is that I try to picture myself kissing women, and I don’t feel repulsed or disgusted by it”. This is a textbook backdoor spike, a concept which you appear to understand, as you mention it later in your comment.
You wrote: “I feel like I should feel disgusted when imagining these things”. Why. There is nothing innately disgusting about sex with women. Straight men and lesbians think about sex all the time. I don’t see why you should view it with disgust. It may sound like I am being flippant, but I am being 100% serious. Further, I am a straight man, and while do not have any interest is sex with men, I don’t think it is particularly disgusting. It is just different.
You ask: “Also, can HOCD make you have other reactions, rather than just groinal responses?” Of course – a groinal response is just one thing that can be experienced by those with HOCD. Your experience of “feeling” gay is a perfect example of something that many people with HOCD report – despite all of the evidence that they are not gay, but rather are over-analyzing an altogether unimportant thought (“Am I gay?”).
I encourage you to stop analyzing the thought. It is just a thought. I am having the thought “Am I a tree?” right now, but I don’t think that thought deserves attention. It is just a thought.
I honestly don’t even know where to start but im a 15 year old girl and I’ve been questioning my sexuality for about 3 months now. it is constantly on my mind 24/7 and this all started when one of my friends nominated me for the ice bucket challenge and then I remembered that the friend that nominated me thought she was a lesbian in 6th grade and the thought “what if im gay” popped up in my head. my heart dropped and I felt sick to my stomach and I repeatedly said “no no no no” in my head and ever since then there has not been one day where I don’t think about it. I have never liked a girl before and I never wanted to do anything sexual with a girl before, but literally ever since that thought popped up my brain is making me think I have a crush on EVERY girl I see, even strangers on the street. it is telling me that I want to do things with them, things that I used to think were disgusting. I never had a boyfriend before and I never kissed anyone before, which didn’t really bother me because I had no desire to be in a relationship with anyone. I was pretty content with being single and hanging out with my friends. and I’ve always been the type of girl to obsess over celebrities like Taylor Lautner, zac efron, justin bieber, one direction eric etc. When I was little however I was a really sexual child, I never did anything with some one else, just looking at the ACT of sex interested me, maybe because I was curious? I have no idea, but I remember watching a video of girls kissing on youtube when I was about 8 or 9, I literally do not know why I wanted to watch it but since I don’t remember my mind told me “because ur a lesbian”, even typing that out makes me a little anxious and worried. In 5th grade, I honestly thought sex was just kissing and stuff, but one of my friends who was a girl knew A LOT more than me. she told me that guys put their parts in a woman’s parts and I remember saying “why would they do that?” To be honest im scared of using tampons, masturbating, and I’m terrified that when I get older im gonna have to go to a gynecologist and get tested down there and have something inside of me.
Everything you write sounds very much like a classic case of HOCD. Don’t waste your time trying to figure out why you have these thoughts – everyone has unexpected thoughts that pop into their mind. You’re just getting stuck on your unexpected thoughts. The best response in this situation is to seek out a therapist who specializes in treating OCD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
As for your childhood interest in sex, there is nothing unusual about that. Kids are innately curious about many things, and sex is often at the top of the list. And I’m not sure what you mean with that last line about a gynecologist finding something inside of you. You are at an age when you should have already been seen by a gynecologist, and if you haven’t been, I strongly encourage to schedule an appointment. You need to be the best advocate for your own health and well being.
Well im a mess i think i have HOCD but what is scaring me and confusing me is that when i was 7 or 10 years old (cant remember) i had a same sex experience i was playing with some friends and we decided to play to “mom and dad” that stupid things… and i came the part of sex , i do oral sex to my friend (sorry the words) and know my head is saying that i liked , if i try to remember all the thougths say me that i liked , but i know that i never wanted that again , but why i liked in that moment ? just why ? im 22 now im suffering from HOCD (i think) at an year and half.
I have girlfriend and always have girlfriends , and never happend to remember the situation and now this :((( and of course the DOUBT is the word that rule my world . but i dont want to be gay 🙁
It is extremely common for young children to be curious about sex and relationships, and to “experiment” with others of the same gender as part of their normal childhood play. This is not the same as “experimenting” with same-sex behavior as an adult. You were a child, somewhere between 7 and 10 years old when this happened, and you would be best served by accepting that you, like millions of children around the world, had some normal same-sex game-playing as a child.
This article has helped so much. I have been in therapy for about a few months now, and have had OCD ever since I was young. My exact worries/ triggers vary. But in my youth, around 18, I was drunkenly dared by my guy friends to kiss a girl and I did. And I found it fun because I enjoyed the male attention- I’ve always been boy crazy. But I still obsess and analyze now that maybe this means I am gay and subconsciously it was more. It’s all I can think about.
At the time I thought nothing of it in fact I thought it was like kissing a dog. But now I worry that the fact that I did not reject the dare means I am gay. But at the time and for the years to follow I thought nothing of it and had no desire to do it again. In fact during the kiss I thought of the attractive boy I wanted to be with- and later dated him. Also, I am concerned by the fact that I was not repulsed by the kiss ( like I said it was like kissing a dog- I had no feelings either way) makes me gay.
I have been trying to not give these thoughts power… But I am afraid if I don’t, it will mean I am gay, or I will discover that I am if I stop with the fear. I never worried about this before, and I wish I could just return to my old self.
You were drunk and, on a dare, kissed a girl. You thought of a boy you liked when you were kissing this girl. Also, you had “no feelings either way” about the experience, which you liken to being “like kissing a dog”.
I see nothing here to indicate that you are gay. The only problem here is that you are analyzing a brief, drunken moment as if it deserves special attention. This was not some special moment that shined a light on your secret, subconscious desires. This was a moment of drunken silliness.
Hi again thanks for the answer. But I saw a guy on tv that is gay, that makes me not want to look, but then i start to feel something like “growing” and i became worrried and sad. Then hot girls appear and “nothing” :((
Another question when i look to goodlooking guys my feelings make me think that “I’m atracted” and “in love” this is só annoying !!!
Hello again Kunspracy,
This all sounds like text book OCD. I encourage you to seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
I appreciate the effort in that amazing article, but let me get to the point.
I have been suffering from OCD since 4-5 years (33Y man), but it seems now am stuck some how.
What I am facing here is the “sneak to other guys sexual part of the body”.
I do this just a few seconds after I look to any guy anywhere (market, office, hospital, etc.
Please help ASAP
Your comment indicates that you have had OCD for 4-5 years, and that you are lately concerned that you are noticing males’ sexual body parts. This is a very common symptom of HOCD, which is nothing more than a sub-type of OCD in which an individual obsesses about their sexual orientation. I encourage you to find a therapist who specializes in treating OCD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). If you would like to schedule an online appointment, please contact our client coordinator Sara at (310) 824-5200 (ext. 0).
You mentioned in one of your previous articles how people respond sexually to sexual things. My hocd began, or flared up, when watching a tv show which included a lesbian hook up scene and I felt turned on by the scene. I have only ever been attracted to the boys, and am in a year long long distance relationship. I did not feel a desire to hook up with the girls I just felt aroused by the taboo nature and the fact that I myself missed sex. But now I am afraid that this means I am gay. At the time I thought little of the thought, and have never in real life been attracted to a woman. I just cannot escape the worry over these thoughts. I know straight people have many gay thoughts in their life but I just feel as though I am alone in this and that this thought for sure means I am gay.
There is nothing unusual about being turned on by a sex scene, regardless of whether that scene is gay or straight. Did you know that a lot of lesbians like to watch gay male porn? Now that intuitively makes no sense – after all, why would professed lesbians want to see two guys going at it? You’d think it would be a total turn off. But it’s not. Does this make them secretly straight (or secretly male???)? People are hard-wired to be turned on by sex, and there is no reason to analyze this matter any further. You got turned on watching people have sex. Join the club!
I have these thoughts all the time. I don’t know whether or not i’m really gay or if it’s just the ocd.It disturbs me and scares me so much that I may be gay and I just don’t know. I need reassurance.
Actually, the last thing you need is reassurance. It would only be a temporary fix, and in the long term it would only worsen your OCD. Besides, there’s no way for me (or anyone else for that matter) to provide you with reassurance about what goes on in your head. I encourage you to read our article about the problem with reassurance seeking (and what to do instead).
1)I have had HOCD for almost a year now, and at first is was bad but now I think the problem is that i’m not necessarily a “lesbian” but I think I’m scared that other people will think I am when I’m not.This scares me because I don’t want anyone to have that feeling about me, because then I even start to doubt that I am straight.
2)I’ve always liked boys, but I don’t necessarily hate the idea of gay or lesbian. Like I see those people and I know their normal human beings just like everyone around they have those feelings about another person, and I don’t have a problem with that. Just when it comes to me I don’t want to have those personal feelings about a girl, because i don’t like girls. So I just don’t have a problem with gay people I just personally do not want to be gay. Is that okay?
3) Lastly I think some people may think I’m a lesbian, because I’m a tall girl and that to me is what I hate most, because I have sort of a boys height and it’s probably the number one thing I’m most insecure about. So what do I do? Do I tell them I’m not a lesbian, that I don’t like girls because it’s bothering me so much that people think I do? I think that’s the #1 thing that drives me crazy about HOCD, that people will think I am and I just cannot live with that.
To answer your questions:
1) It doesn’t matter what other people think of you. I am quite confident that there are people in this world who, for whatever reason, don’t like me. That is their prerogative. If someone thinks you’re gay, so what!
2) Yes, it is ok to be comfortable with the idea of homosexuality, while at the same time not wanting to be homosexual. I am ok with the idea that asparagus exists, but I don’t want to eat asparagus.
3) I don’t know where you got the idea that height is somehow a marker for homosexuality. In my 57 years I have never once looked at a woman and thought “Hmmm – she’s tall, I bet she’s a lesbian”. And if you start approaching people and telling them out-of-the-blue that you are not a lesbian, they will likely be either confused or uncomfortable.
Your sexual orientation is nobody’s business but yours. Regardless of your orientation, nobody else has to like your orientation, and you don’t need to explain it.
Today i watched gay porn and one more time , that didnt make me feel sick or disgusted , just worried and affraid of having and erection , because with groinal feels like im geting and erection :(((( i feel like i was liking about what i was seeing and i wanna to do that to :((( i dont feel the anxiety rush just worried :(( what is scaring me (but im calm ) 🙁
I dont know if is HOCD anymore i just wanted to feel disgusted !!!!
Also i feel like a urge to look to guys body like my mind IS telling me i will look and feel excited , and really feel like that 🙁 i just don’t know if THIS is hocd anymore 🙁
Thank for this article.
Can HOCD make you think you want to have gay sex when in reality you don’t or is me telling my brain “no” when it says “you want to have gay sex. you are bisexual. You would not mind it” denial? I am so scared.
Thinking you want to have gay sex when in reality you don’t is pretty much the core thought in HOCD.
Hi, I’m a 14 year old boy and very worried. About 4 months ago, my older brother came out that he was gay, I was shocked and started think about: What if I might be gay? Am I gay? Because when I was young, I had experiments before, before I knew what sex is, I regret it alot and that’s why it haunts me back when I knew my brother was gay. I had multiple girlfriends before, many girl crushes and imagining sex with them makes me get erection. After my brother’s story, I began to question myself because of my past( which I regret). I started to look for questions like: Am I gay? Can someone turn gay? … I constantly having these thoughts that I just wish I had I gun to blew these thoughts off and be who I am again. Because I was so worried and anxious, my desire for girls drove down and I’m terrified. I constantly “zone” myself whenever I get anxiety. I wake up every morning at 8:30 because the anxiety just covers my whole body. I don’t want to be gay or have these thoughts. I want to have desires for female and live my life again. Please help, Am I gay in denial or HOCD?( I have never looked at a guy with anxiousness until now, I try to get those things off my mind) please reply
A few thoughts on your post:
1) Everything you write sounds very much like HOCD.
2) You and your brother are separate people. Just because he is gay doesn’t mean you are. His sexual orientation has absolutely nothing to do with you.
3) Sexual experimentation is extremely common in children, including same-sex experimentation. It doesn’t mean you are gay, it means you were a child who was curious about sex.
4) You are only 14 and yet you report having had “multiple girlfriends”. That does not sound even remotely gay. But it does sound pretty straight (and pretty impressive for 14).
I am a 22 year old male who is suffering badly with what i hope is HOCD. I cannot get rid of the fear of being or becoming gay. Some days are worst than others but i often spend the majority of the day ruminating and sick with fear. This is killing me. The thoughts of being gay disgusts me and sends me into a deep depression. I have no desire or fantasies what so ever to be with a man. I have always been attracted to women but now my attractions have disappeared and im doubting they were ever real. The only relief i get from this agony is reading through articles like this. The constant ruminating makes me think of times in the past where i thought a man was attractive looking and i cant even tell if these are real or made up situations.
I think this all started when i was 16 and suddenly got a thought that i was attracted to a gay guy. Fear ran through my body and i thought i was going to die right there. I have always been very uncomfortable around gay people scenes in films or anything to do with it. I have had serious relationships with women and loved them.
But Now i notice every single male around and this terrifies me. Even a mans name on a page can spike me. I even got afraid i was attracted to a male lego character in the lego movie. but the loss in attraction for women is making me think i am just in denial about the whole thing and need to accept it. But i cant. I can never except this. I hate these thoughts. They are completely against who i want to be or thought i was.?
I carry out all the typical compulsions mentioned in these articles and get very short term relief from these. I cant understand how what i have felt for girls before could all have been a lie and that this is now what i am!?
Everything you mention (unwanted thoughts related to being gay, and compulsive responses to those thoughts) indicates that you have HOCD. Your job is to accept the presence of those thoughts without reacting to them with compulsions. I encourage you to seek out treatment with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD with Mindfulness Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Take care.
My HOCD consists that I feel overwhelmed by a “voice” that says “You´re gay, tell everyone that you´re gay”(even to the girls I like!!)
Or when I talk to a girl, a thought says “If she knows that I am gay…” and then I thought “What the heck?, I’m straight!! why I had that thought?”
I´ve had a lot of girlfriends, and today I´m in a relationship with a girl, but that disgusting idea makes me unhappy…
I don´t know, it´s like a virus on my mind…
I like your idea that your unwanted thinking is like a virus. Everything you write suggests that you are straight. What you describe as a “voice” in your head that tries to convince you that you are gay is just the typical thinking of someone with HOCD.
Accept the presence of the thoughts instead of resisting them. That doesn’t mean accepting that the thoughts are true or accurate, but rather merely that they exist. I encourage you to accept these thoughts like you would accept the presence of a virus if you were sick with the flu. Resistance never works.
Hello! Thanks for the extremely helpful articles. I have been suffering from HOCD for about two months, but I live in a rather conservative society, and thus I never dared to look for proper diagnosis or therapy.
It would be invaluable for me if you would hear me out:
I have always had crushes on boys, and I almost engaged in a sexual act with a boy, too. (but never had a chance for a proper romantic relationship) Well, my attraction towards men never faltered even going through the obssessive fears of being bisexual.
It started when I was on a trip to overseas with one of my best friends(who is a girl). She recently lost a lot of weight and became really pretty. And of course i am jealous, but when we were just chilling out in the hotel room, this thought just popped into my head, going ‘what if I feel sexual attraction towards her?’ . And I was instantly terrified! I don’t know what caused that, it’s not like I actually wanted to do anything with her!
I initially thought it must be just a fleeting thought and tried to shrug it off, but it didn’t go away. I started looking for pretty girls on street and checking if I feel attracted to them. Every moment I found them good looking, it gave me spikes. If I ever came across pics of female celebs or any pretty female individual, it was just horrifying.
I am also not homophobic. But when I get instusive images of perfoming sexual acts with that girl over there, I start panicking and go all ‘i must be bisexual after all’ and ‘if i didn’t feel outright disgusted by it, i must be bisexual’.
I really couldn’t discuss this in the open, so I stared googling. That’s how I got to know I could have HOCD, and it was just… astonishing because the description fit with everything that I have been through.
And I also have another kind of sexual intusive thought, and when this one takes hold of me I can take it because this one is just nonsensical. The behavior patterns (checking, past-experience analyzing, overthinking, reassuring, etc) are quite similar to those of ‘bisexual panics’.
I think because the possibility of realizing bisexuality seems a lot more plausible, the bi-fear is not going away.
Anyway, this is what’s bothering me the most recently. There was this girl in my University, and she was, well, quite pretty. My seat was next to hers and initially I was glad to sit with her and thought it would be nice if we became friends. I kinda wondered if I was developing a crush on her, but then I didn’t feel anywhere close to my past boy-crushes, so that one was actually a fleeting thought and it went away. (Moreover, she stopped coming to class for some reason and never met her since)
The thing is that this particular experience has been bothering me so much, that I must have had some sort of crush on her and thus Iam bisexual. I do think that because this experience is a perfect trigger, I am reviewing it over and over so much, trying to dig up the vague memories, that I am giving it too much importance.
I sure as hell wouldn’t date that girl if I ever met her again, but my brain keeps doubting me. Maybe I’m even guessing that I felt feeling I never actually felt back then. My two worst fears that I would someday in the future actually fall for a girl and being concluded a bisexual petrifies me, and won’t let go of me. The doubts are playing with me all day long.
I took your self HOCD test, and it came out as very highly likely that I have HOCD. I practically checked almost all the boxes. The doubt and fear is so stifling. I want to go back to my old self, confident in heterosexuality, wanting boys yet admiring pretty girls. Even as I write this I fear that you might think I am actually bisexual. I want this terrible anxiety to go away. I hope that someday I will again be able to actually go outside relaxed, without performing compulsive checkings.
Sometimes I try to just blindly accept that I am bisexual, but all I get from it is feeling of alienation(from my own self), pain and despair. I just can’t. I just wish I never went to that cursed trip..
Also I would like to ask, recently I try not to perform checkings – compulsively looking at attractive women repeatedly and seeing if I feel attracted to them, or still feel anxious about them (the fact that this anxiety isn’t going away is starting to exhaust me).
So I keep my eyes fixed on someting else, and try not to look back. Of course I have to go against my compulsion to accomplish this.
What I would like to ask is, can this be avoidance? Can it backfire?
And about ERP, will I be able to practice it by myself?
Please could you give me an insight on my situation? I apologize for the long, messy post.
Thanks for your comment.
1) Everything you write suggests that you are a straight girl who also happens to have HOCD.
2) Checking to see if you are attracted to pretty girls you see on the street is a compulsion that will make things worse for you.
3) If you took our online HOCD test and checked most items, this is further indication that you have HOCD.
4) Your goal is not to accept that you are bisexual, but rather to accept that you have unwanted thoughts about being bisexual. Make no effort to understand or resolve these thoughts. They are just thoughts, and the key to recovery is total acceptance of their existence. Note that accepting the existence of these thoughts does not mean accepting that they are true or accurate. Resistance to the presence of these thoughts will only worsen your symptoms.
5) Yes, not looking at women on the street is avoidance, and it will backfire (it sounds like it is already backfiring).
6) ERP can be done by one’s self, but it is very difficult. If you would like to discuss online therapy via webcam with one of our staff therapists, please contact us via our website at https://ocdla.com/.
Ive have been experienceing EVERYTHING that u have said but instead of gay its been with changing my sex to be male all of a sudden,ive had these intrusive thoughts for a week i love y female self .it is possible instead of it being orientation,identity?
People don’t just suddenly change their sexual orientation or identity “out of the blue”. Concerns about becoming a transsexual are fairly common in OCD, and are sometimes describes as “Trans OCD”, or TOCD, and it sounds like that is what you are experiencing. This is just another variation of sexual obsessionality, and should be treated the same way one treats HOCD.
Hello, my name is Felipe, I’m a boy brazilian. I’ll try to write this message in Inglês, so if I commit a mistake I apologize now. I am 17 years old. I’ve always been a happy, sociable, heterosexual guy, lover of girls and just having physical and sexual attractions for girls. Never had anything of homossexual.
Last year a friend of mine told me he was gay, and said that there are people who discovers late. Out of nowhere came a doubt in my mind about my sexuality. Since then my life became hell, I started having obsessive thoughts about it, I was testing me all the time to see if was getting horny, and never was. Still doubt only grew and worsened gradually. I began to observe my actions, thinking they were effeminate. I avoided talking to people who are gay. I avoid looking at men, for fear of having a reaction, although I’ve never had any indication of homosexuality. At the same time, I have a beautiful girlfriend, I love her, I feel horny for her, and when we’re together I forget the problems for a few hours. But I’m afraid that one day, when we have our first sexual intercourse, these intrusive thoughts come to my mind, and I do not want my first time to be marked by OCD. I am in treatment, but I am very afraid about that, what should I do?
Just because your friend is gay doesn’t mean you are gay. And just because your friend says some people discover late that they are gay doesn’t mean that you will discover that you are gay. If you told your gay friend that some people discover that they are straight, would he suddenly become straight? Of course not!
You mention numerous behaviors that are compulsions, including:
~ testing to see if you get sexually excited
~ observing your actions to see if they are effeminate
~ avoiding people who are gay
~ avoid looking at men, for fear of having a reaction
Doing these behaviors will only worsen your OCD.
If your therapist specializes in treating OCD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), then I encourage you to continue with treatment. If not, I encourage you to find a therapist who specializes in CBT for OCD. Take care.
Thank you for these articles. They have been very helpful to me. I’ve been practicing mindfulness and over the course of a couple months, my anxiety has diminished a great deal, however, I do still occasionally have spikes.
You mention that for people who actually have gay fantasies, it is not about the existence of them, but rather the enjoyment making it seem like being gay could be a real possibility. I fall somewhere in between this and the existence of the gay thoughts being the issue. It’s true that sexuality is not black and white and before HOCD struck I knew that and didn’t have an issue accepting whatever thoughts I had, and could even enjoy them without threatening the truth of my heterosexuality. The allure was temporary and rare, but when they were there they were there, and when they weren’t they weren’t, and I didn’t care either way.
Do you have examples of how a person reacting to the enjoyment of such thoughts would practice mindfulness and/or be treated for this strain of HOCD? What sorts of things would they do to force HOCD into remission?
You cannot “force HOCD into remission”, and attempting to do so defies the very goal of mindfulness, which is to to accept the presence of whatever thoughts come up, regardless of the content of the thoughts, and without taking the thoughts seriously or reacting to them. It doesn’t really matter what the thoughts are. The thought “what if I actually enjoy these thoughts about being gay” is just another thought, and is in fact a very common thought in HOCD. Your goal is to accept this thought without giving it much mental energy. It is just another mundane thought, no more important that other mundane thoughts such as “what’s for dinner”, or “which brand of toothpaste should I buy”.
As you noted yourself, in the past you were able to have gay thoughts without caring either way about them. That is the best perspective to have.
Thank you. I imagine that HOCD will “try harder” to get my attention as I successfully accept each “tier of intensity” of thoughts.
One fear that is very hard to not give much thought is that several times I’ve read that people coming out will have symptoms of HOCD. What are the main differences between the two groups? I can see people that aren’t 100% straight having problems with this, since all I’ve really seen in answer to that is that with real gay people, the thought is actually wanted, which may also be the case with people that are not 100% straight.
Now, it seems for someone with HOCD the goal is to accept that thought as well – that they *might* be gay – but how do you go about diagnosing someone with HOCD who isn’t 100% straight as opposed to someone who is actually gay?
Trying to figure out the difference between “coming out” and HOCD is a common HOCD compulsion that will get you nowhere. The issue is not your sexual orientation, but rather your discomfort with uncertainty. Likewise, asking about how one diagnoses HOCD vs. actually being gay is a reassurance-seeking compulsion.
Your goal is to accept whatever thoughts your brain produces, without analyzing them or trying to find an answer. The bottom line is that sexual orientation is not a particularly important question. If you doubt this, I ask you a simple question: How much time do you thing the average person without HOCD spends trying to figure out their sexual orientation? The answer, of course, is absolutely no time whatsoever.
These types of questions do not need answers – they need to be left hanging. If you truly accept the presence of these obsessive questions in your head, accepting them as unimportant, and making no attempt to answer them, they will have no power at all.
You’re right…. It’s so easy to keep asking questions without even realizing it.
Ive felt like this for 6 months and could get through it since all of my thoughts were just sexual images and not actual feelings for guys…. It seems that my obsession attached itself to a friend of mine who is gay and also has ocd and for some reason I can’t get him out of my head… I can’t have sex with my gf because I start thinkingweather or not I like it and gay things will pop into my head…. I can’t be around any of my guy friends aspesialy if they are gay… I had a weird thought of me leaving my gf for a gay life and I had to go bomit outside and I kept thinking of why I had the thought…. I have fallen into a deep depression and don’t know how I feel… Before this I was obsessing about god but still loved my gf but now I feel empty…. I keep question ing my relationship and how I feel about my dude friends… I have never been gay and never actauly cared about my sexuality in the past I just naturaly liked girls… Can I ever be my old self again?
The fact that you are literally vomiting from your unwanted thoughts about being gay suggests that you have a significant case of HOCD.
Your “old self” is still there – it is just hidden from your view by the HOCD. I encourage you to seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in treating HOCD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This approach has consistently been found to be the most effective treatment for all forms of OCD. Take care.
I appreciate all of these articles a lot. In fact, the thoughts about whether my voice is sounding gay or not and what does it mean if I am finding a guy attractive followed me since I was a teenager, but at the same time, I never wanted to give up on being with a girl. What bothers me the most is that sometimes I do get sexually aroused by some things that, in my mind, wasn’t supposed to happen with a heterosexual man, but I guess that’s just another trap of HOCD, right? I mean, there are a lot of strange things, besides some kind of homosexual behaviors, that may cause unwanted erections too and don’t have to actually mean anything. It’s not uncommon for me also to get “attacked” by mental images of men I saw on the street and anxious thoughts, which are really awful. They’re even messing with my studies.
I realize I need to get a treatment in order to stop looking for reassurance as a compulsion and simply accept the thoughts, but I can’t afford a therapist right now. Do you think I could do some steps of ERP, mindfulness and resistance of compulsion on my own? I am reading “Brain Lock”, a CBT book, and I think it’s being helpful. I thank you a lot for all your answers.
As you note in your comment, a lot of things, other than homosexuality, can lead to unexpected / unwanted erections. Some (many?) men have experienced erections as a result of exposure to warm water, a cool breeze, or any number of other seemingly benign stimuli. You also point to the source of the problem when you note that you sometimes have erections in situations that, in your mind, aren’t supposed to happen. Your penis doesn’t really care about your mind’s preconceived notions about erections. It gets hard whenever it feels like it.
You are correct in wanting to use Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), as it has consistently been found by researchers to be the most effective approach to managing all forms of OCD. It is especially helpful when combined with traditional cognitive therapy and mindfulness. And while Brain Lock is a good book, it in many ways rejects ERP. If therapy is beyond your current financial means, I encourage you to finish Brain Lock, and then read a few other books on our reading list, specifically, our book, The Mindfulness Workbook for OCD, which has an entire section on HOCD, and Lee Baer’s excellent book, Imp of the Mind.
I’ve never been diagnosed with OCD or HOCD, but I have always felt like I’ve had it. When I was younger and would compulsively check the weather because I was afraid of tornadoes, then I feared the death of my loved ones, to comfort myself I would obsessively repeat religious mantras in my head, and if I got it wrong I would feel incredibly anxious and had to start over. Then I obsessed with my health and now I fear that I am gay. I am a straight 22 year old woman, and I do have gay thoughts from time to time, sometimes they’re welcome and I enjoy it but sometimes they’re not welcome and I don’t enjoy it. Up until recently I actually watched lesbian porn sometimes and enjoyed it. I would have these thoughts and watch the porn, but I never thought it meant I was gay. Lately I’ve been worried that I’m actually just gay but in denial and I’m constantly telling myself I’m not gay and checking to see if I’m attracted to men or women, and I feel like I can’t even look at the word lesbian without freaking out. I don’t feel like I’m truly gay or would have sex with a woman but I’m worried that these thoughts mean that I am and that I just can’t admit it to myself. I don’t know what to do!
It is quite common for people with OCD to experience multiple variations or themes, so it is not unusual that you have had both health obsessions and HOCD. Also, your fears of loved ones dying and your praying to prevent that from occurring could be a function of Harm OCD or even Scrupulosity.
The most important thing for you to do is to stop trying to get certainty about your sexual orientation. Simply put, you don’t need to know your sexual orientation with certainty any more than you need to know exactly which pair of socks you will be wearing tomorrow. It is simply not important to have certainty. When your brain comes up with questions about your sexual orientation, make no effort to answer those questions. Let them sit there in your head unanswered and get on with your day. People who do not have HOCD, regardless of whether they are straight or gay, spend no time analyzing their thoughts in an effort to prove their orientation. In other words, your questions are not really a function of your sexual orientation – they are function of your OCD.
Finally, allow me to note that checking your self in order to ascertain your sexual orientation is a compulsion that will only make your HOCD worse. If you are unable to stop doing these analyzing and checking compulsions on your own, I encourage you to seek out a therapist who specializes in treating OCD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
Hello, I’ve just bought The Mindfulness Workbook for OCD and I found it really helpful in understanding HOCD. However, I’m already freaking out about ERP treatment. I tried to look at some male celebrities photos and got turned on by them several times. I’m really worried that’s solid proof that I’m gay or bisexual. Also, I’m trying to do the script about me discovering being gay but I’m not as anxious as I thought I would be. Does that mean I’m starting to get okay with the idea of not being straight?! I fear so much engaging in a behavior I don’t want to, but even my mind lately is telling me that’s what I actually want. I would appreciate a lot an answer (and I realize this could be a self-reassurance compulsion I’m doing right now, but I’m really confused).
Everything in your comment is textbook OCD. Many people “freak out” about ERP because they assume it is going to be horribly uncomfortable. But many people with OCD discover that the exposures are not nearly as scary as they anticipated. I encourage you to read our article Exposure Therapy for OCD and Anxiety.
Your concern about not being anxious enough when doing an imaginal exposure is a perfect example of what is known as a “backdoor spike”, which is described above.
And yes, you are seeking reassurance…
I know I have HOCD, and things right now are just so bad that I’m looking for help over something I feel weird about, but anyway: I’ve never kissed anyone. One of my compulsions is imagining what it would be like kissing a guy, and usually there’s so much anxiety involved that it tells me squat–but even though I’ve never been attracted to guys or wanted to kiss one, I’m convinced that if there’s opportunity, the want will show up.
Recently, I went through a really bad spike, and stopped focusing on whether or not I wanted it and started focusing on what actually goes into the physical act of kissing, concentrating on how the guy’s lips would feel warm and lip pressure and such. That was kind of pleasant, and even though the thought of fantasizing about it or it really happening makes me ill, and I know intellectually that finding an imagined kiss sweet and harmless is… actually harmless, the all-or-nothing side won’t let me forget that for a second, it was kind of nice.
My head keeps trying to say that since it can feel nice in my head, it will feel nice in real life, so despite my lack of interest, responding physically is inevitable. And that makes me feel sick.
You are correct – finding an imagined kiss to be sweet and pleasant is harmless. Why shouldn’t you find an imagined kiss pleasant. I suspect that most (all?) people would find most kisses pleasant if they were blindfolded and had no idea of the gender of the person doing the kissing. After all, lips feel nice when pressed against lips.
Similarly, we often have clients with HOCD tell us how horrified they would be if they were to enjoy receiving oral sex from someone of the same gender. Our stock answer is that they would almost certainly enjoy it if they had no idea of the gender of the person providing the oral sex. If blindfolded, and you thought you were getting a blow job from a girl, and it was actually a guy, your penis would respond exactly the same as if the blow job was being delivered by a girl. Your penis and your lips are not very picky, and they will respond to pleasant physiological stimulation exactly the same, regardless of gender.
This sort of obsessing that one would like something that hasn’t even occurred is extremely common in HOCD, and attempting to rid yourself of this thought will not work. Instead, I encourage you to accept that kisses feel good, that your obsession about this issue is your OCD at work, and that analyzing your thoughts is a mental compulsion.
I’ve had HOCD for 3 years, always straight before. It’s been awful the last month. I’ve also got a bad pegging/role reversal fetish. When I masturbate, I’m addicted to thinking about receiving anal from a woman. It’s the perfect storm. I worry about how it could feel the same from a man.
I’ve even had gay fantasies, and I wonder if I’m meant to be a gay bottom. But they’re unwanted. I get aroused, but I’m horrified. Does your logic apply to receiving anal? If I was blindfolded, would I enjoy it from a man? Would it still feel good? My brain tells me the logic doesn’t work, back in caveman days if you wanted that you’d need a man. I’ve always been disgusted by dicks. This is torture. It’s like I’ve turned bi somehow
Sick and tired,
You’re overthinking this, so let me make this as simple as possible for you.
The human brain comes up with all sorts of thoughts.
Some of those thoughts are unwanted and uncomfortable for us.
If you obsess about the meaning and import of those thoughts, you will make yourself miserable.
A better option is to recognize that your brain has produced an unwanted, uncomfortable thought, and to accept its presence in your consciousness without taking it seriously.
If you find it difficult to do that, then you should get into therapy with a treatment provider who specializes in treating OCD.
Thank you for this article. I am completely exhausted. I have always enjoyed sex and my sexual fantasies. I am married to my wonderful husband and this has sucked the life out of me. I have always had really bad ocd with my health and I also obsessed about my family member dying. Then this happened. I did not know what was going on I felt so sick and scared until I finally broke down and searched online and found this term HOCD. I have always been this boy crazy woman and then one day I was hit with a baseball bat. I have always enjoyed my sexual fantasies that range from threesomes, strangers, and I have even watched lesbian porn and it didn’t bother me until NOW! I keep questioning myself is this really HOCD? I feel so helpless and alone. My mind is 24/7 on this and I can’t switch gears what so ever. Please any advice helps on how to move forward!
Helpless and exhausted.
The first thing to note is that prior to the onset of this particular obsession, you already had OCD related to issues of health and death. It is important for you to know that for many people, the theme of their OCD morphs. For some people this can mean frequent changes in their obsessions, while for others the changes are quite rare. Either way, this is a common experience for those with OCD.
Feeling like you “can’t switch gears” with your thoughts is at the heart of all OCD. My suggestion is that you seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in OCD treatment with a specific type of therapy called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This approach has consistently been found by researchers to be the most effective method of managing OCD.
I just came back to thank you again for your help with all these articles. My anxiety around boys and situations that triggered me have really dimished a lot with just three weeks of ERP! I just wanted to make a question about the treatment, apart from trying to get self-reassurance. Although I experience less anxiety now, the unwanted thoughts, feelings and physical sensations are still really present, most of the time. In terms of ERP techniques, should I focus more on mindfulness now and just let them pass through my mind, even if I’m forced to do it all day? Or should I do something else? The imaginal exposure I did and the imagery aren’t triggering me much now. I just wanted to know how I should behave towards the thoughts, because they still try to get my attention, especially when I see good looking guys on the street (which, because of OCD or not, seems to happen quite often), and if I should expect for them to diminish as long as I keep doing mindfulness. I thank you again for all your support!
Unwanted thoughts, feelings, and sensations are a normal part of life. The goal of mindfulness is not to eliminate them, but rather to accept them with equanimity. In other words, when the unwanted thoughts, feelings, and sensations show up, let them be present, without reacting to them.
While mindful acceptance is the best overall strategy, you can (and should) do ERP exercises on a daily basis as well. The idea is not to focus on doing one or the other, but on doing both.
Dear OCD LA,
I’ve started seeing a therapist about my worrying in general and I have learned that it is anxiety fueling my sexual obsessions.
My worst has definitely been my obsession about HOCD which I have had since 17 and now I am 20 and I am slowly getting over it. I might ask about CBT for it.
Since I’ve started seeing my therapist, I have started to work things out and I know this is all an obsession, however I still have testing compulsions.
– Testing myself by looking at guy’s bodies (e.g. Bums/nipples)
– Comparing thoughts about girls and guys.
– Looking at my past when I was 13/14 when I became obsessed with masturbation which resulted in gay fantasies as it bizarrely made me climax faster (I don’t know why?)
Also I decided to masturbate the other day and it was going fine until I was trying to climax to this fantasy of my girlfriend, my friend messaged me and his face kept intrusively coming into my head and I couldn’t get it out and I had this horrible burst of arousal.
What can I do about these compulsions?
Apart from that, I have been reading a lot about anxiety to better understand my brain and how it works.
You mention three very clear compulsions that you are doing:
~ Testing yourself by looking at guy’s bodies
~ Comparing thoughts about girls and guys
~ Analyzing your past thoughts related to masturbation
The most important thing you can do is to stop doing these compulsions, as they will only provide short term relief.
It sounds like you have a therapist and i encourage you to discuss your obsessions and compulsions with him/her. Your therapist should be assigning you structured exposures as the key component in treatment . If not, then you need to find a therapist who specializes in HOCD treatment.
Thank you for your answer! I’m starting to realize how hard mindfulness can be for someone with OCD. Could I ask one more question? I know HOCD wants me to keep obssessing, but I’m finding it difficult to know for sure what my compulsions really are.
– I noticed that when I walk by a good looking man on the street, I experience some discomfort and I have kind of an urge to look at him again or parts of his body for some time, and when I don’t do it, I get a strange feeling, like I’ve left something incomplete, and my mind tries to make me mentally review his looks until I achieve an appropriate feeling of some kind of indifference.
– When I see a beautiful girl on the street, I almost instantly start imagining fantasies with her like a checking mechanism to see if I am still being aroused by women.
– I also noticed that I’m paying more attention to the guys on the room, and not the girls, like I’m always analyzing the environment to see if there are any “threats”, and then I worry about the reasons why the guys caught more my attention than the girls next to him.
Are these compulsions? How could I know I’m doing one before I’m fooled by another HOCD trap?
All of things you mention are compulsions.
To be specific, checking out guys on the street to mentally review until such time as you have an allegedly “appropriate feeling” is a compulsion. Likewise, checking whether you are still aroused by women is a compulsion, as is analyzing your thoughts about guys in the room. You do not need to analyze or understand or figure out any of this. You just need to accept that your brain/body produces some unexpected thoughts and feelings, and to do absolutely nothing about them.
Hello, I’m a woman from Poland, 21, virgin. I’ve always felt attracted to men. I like their attention and try to hit on them. But for a few days I feel some anxiety about my sexual orientation. I was always considered (among my friends and family) as a very tolerant person toward gay people. However, I’ve never questioned my orientation. I’ve always felt straight. Now, all I can think about is straight people – me – gay people. Where am I? Who I am? I feel like I’m loosing my mind. That’s started with me looking at videos on youtube about gay people. And then it hit me: what if I’m gay? It was just a nightmare. Why me? What did I do wrong? I’ve always liked boys, not women. Yuck. These thoughts I have till this day and it’s very disturbing. They are unwanted thoughts, but it just pops up every time I try to stop it. I’ve never watched lesbian porn because it was not what I wanted. I wanted men and their closeness. Now I just don’t know what to think. I feel anxious and fearful of me becoming suddenly gay. Every women I look at seems attractive but I don’t want to have sex with them. It’s weird. I’m scared, that I won’t be able to fall in love with a man. Is it HOCD? What can I do?
While I cannot provide a formal diagnosis via this blog, I can say that everything you describe sounds very much like HOCD. There is nothing you write that even remotely suggests you are gay. You have done nothing “wrong” – you are simply experiencing unwanted thoughts. I encourage you to accept that your mind comes up with unwanted thoughts, and to pay them no attention whatsoever.
Thank you for response. I would like to ask you if HOCD can question whole past life? Because I could have a boyfriend, but I simpli didn’t want to because had no feelings for him. Also I’ve read some comments here and you wrote, that there’s no latent homosexuality. But I’ve read some man’s story and he said he doesn’t believe in hocd, cause he always liked girls, had tons of girlfriends but in his 20ties he suddenly realized that he’s gay and it’s written on the wall. That scared me and I started thinking about me, because I have no sexual encounters and I don’t know if I like it, but I’ve always imagined myself with a man, having sex with them and even dreaming about sex (lol), on the bus or in school or wherever looking at the guys etc. and now it’s a lie? Also can HOCD take all the attraction to the opposite sex? Because I feel fearful and anxious like all the time, but when I calm down I still can’t come back to my “previous life” – I haven’t finished reading a book and I’m so scared to read it when I calm down. It’s weird. How can I come back to my life? Is it even possible to feel like “before”? And one more: What’s the difference between sexual identity crisis and hocd?
All of your questions strike me as being attempts to get certainty that you are not gay. I encourage you to read our article about the futility of reassurance seeking. I also encourage you to stop reading about sexual orientation and identity. It seems that you are reading these articles in an effort to get certainty about your sexual orientation.
You note that “I’ve always imagined myself with a man, having sex with them and even dreaming about sex (lol), on the bus or in school or wherever looking at the guys etc.” That sounds like a straight girl to me.
I experience majority of the HOCD symptoms discussed (I.e. Looking at the same sex to judge arousedness, visualizing sexual situations and gauging reaction, seeking reassurance, etc.) but I find myself wondering if it truly is HOCD or something I’ve just tried to convince myself it is because I do not want to be gay. I’m afflicted because my past indicates to me (or my OCD mind) that this is latent sexuality trying to come out: in my preteens I experimented with other girls; I watch lesbian porn exclusively (though envision it with a man); most troubling, in sexual relationships with past boyfriends I have had sexual desire, but as the relationship wore on I would be less inclined to have sex, sometimes avoid it. I’m not sure now if this is because I was not into the relationship or was a result of the lack of sexual satisfaction (them not taking time to get me off) or, again, latent homosexuality. This all began when I drunkenly kissed a girl. I have previously toyed with the idea of a lesbian experience, but never felt so compelled to actively seek it out. I have always been attracted to men, but now I’m so confused/scared bc being gay is just not what I want for my life.. HOCD?
A few thoughts…
If you have always been attracted to men, and these same-sex thoughts are so uncomfortable for you, and you have been doing all of the typical compulsions of HOCD that you mention (i.e. looking at the same sex to judge arousal, visualizing sexual situations and gauging reaction, seeking reassurance, etc.), then you probably have HOCD.
MANY preteens and teens experiment with their sexuality with others of the same gender.
MANY straight people watch gay/lesbian porn.
MANY (uh, almost all…) people find themselves less interested in sex with the same person after an extended period of time. The novelty is gone, and often the spontaneity is as well. This can actually be an opportunity for couples to move their relationship beyond being primarily sex-focused to something that is deeper, and in so doing, the sex often becomes more important and interesting again.
MANY people think about having a sexual experience with someone of the same gender.
That said, you do not need to have certainty about your sexual orientation. It is simply not something that requires certainty. I am a 58 year old man who has never had sex with a man, but for all I know, I will decide tonight to have sex with a man. I also don’t know if my house will burn down tonight, or if I will die of a heart attack tonight. Uncertainty is a fact of life. I encourage you to accept that you don’t have 100% certainty about lots of things, and to love whomever you love (which, based on your past, is likely to be a man).
Mines got to the point where I’ve started to question everything about myself, its stopping me from doing everything I like. Its made me question whether I should actually be a boy and not a girl. And I now feel like I have a split personality one where I’m really feminine when I’m with my boyfriend and then the other where I feel more masculine and because I have a deep voice this makes it worse. I hate it when I feel like I go into these different personalities I analyse which one i prefer and whether that means that I should be with a women or a man. When I’m not feeling as feminine it makes me feel like I should be with a woman that I would suit it more. Even though I don’t want to, I love how I feel when my boyfriend holds me and how sexy he makes me feel. I’m from England and have gone through two therapists one who turned out to not be trained in OCD and the other who turned out to be a councillor and not a therapist like advertised. I’m now trying to go through the NHS for free treatment but the waiting list is 8 weeks, and I don’t think I can wait that long. I’m so confused and miserable now. Is any of this normal.
Rest assured, everything you write is par for the course for people with HOCD, including your experience of ineffective therapy with therapists who don’t specialize in treating OCD. If free treatment through the NHS is an option, then I encourage you to go that route.
If you are unable to find effective treatment in the UK, and would like to discuss online therapy with one our staff therapists, we can be reached through the contact page on our website.
Hi, My hocd has latched onto girls I know and makes me worried I’m attracted. I feel so uncomfortable around girls. But recently I had to find a new house mate and me and my two male housemates were thinking of looking for a girl so that I wouldn’t be the only girl, we met up with a girl and she was ok probably not someone I would usually get on with and I was feeling uncomfortable on and off throughout the conversation with her and avoided eye contact due to my ocd, then we left and everyone was thinking about letting her move in but I started to get more and more uncomfortable about her moving in because of all of the thoughts I was having in the end she didn’t move in. But recently one of my best friends who is a guy has started seeing her, I never hangout with her but I don’t think it would be a good idea if they got together as she is a lot younger and for other reasons as well, because of this and then the intrusive thoughts I’ve almost got to the point of hating her + not wanting to go near her. But I worry that the reason I hate her is because I’m attracted. Even though I’m not. If theres already an emotion there can ocd latch on and make it seem like something it isn’t?
Thanks for your comment.
There is absolutely nothing in your comment that suggests you are attracted to this other woman (or any women for that matter), and I don’t think your OCD is “latching on” to your “hatred” of her. Actually, I think the exact opposite is happening – your OCD is causing you to hate her.
It sounds like you are doing numerous OCD compulsions, namely, not looking her in the eye, not hanging out with her, trying to avoid living with her, etc. All of these strategies are likely to worsen your OCD.
I encourage you to read our article on exposure therapy for OCD, as it will provide you with a foundation for responding to these anxieties more constructively by facing them directly.
Thanks for replying.
I’m just finding it hard to distinguish between attraction, dislike, friendship everything really. Sometimes I feel like I’m not attracted to my boyfriend anymore. I used to get so upset by it and now even though I still do, I don’t get as upset as I used to. I don’t have the clear cut sudden moments of oh this is who I am anymore. Its just like its all one big foggy mess. Before this I was so happy with my boyfriend, and I want to have a future with him. I’m just scared that I’m so deep in it what I hope is still OCD that I can’t find my way out anymore.
A few thoughts…
1) You note that before this, you were so happy with your boyfriend. In other words, before you started obsessing about your relationship and your thoughts about your relationship, you were happy. That suggests that the problem is not the relationship, but the thinking about it that is making you unhappy.
2) Your attempt “to distinguish between attraction, dislike, friendship everything really” is the problem. Nobody actually needs to know these things. Healthy intimate relationships are actually based on how two people act towards each other, not on having constant and completely “clear cut” feelings. Of course you sometimes doubt your feelings – everybody sometimes doubts their feelings.
3) The “foggy mess” is a direct result of your attempts at certainty. Give up seeking certainty and the fog will lift.
Help me. I know for a fact that I am straight and I absolutely want to stay the same but when I convince my mind that I AM STRAIGHT and I do not ever want to be gay, it starts telling me that you secretly do want to be gay in the future and I am afraid that I will become one. This stops me from moving on and makes me really anxious and scared. Can I really become gay in the future? I don’t want to. I want a perfectly happy heterosexual life but this is killing me! Please help.
Hi Knight Wing,
Everything you write suggests you are straight…right down to your declaration that you know for a fact that you are straight. Yet you respond to these meaningless thoughts by attempting to convince your mind that you are straight, which is a compulsive behavior that only make things worse for you. A better option is to accept the presence of the thoughts without taking them seriously, and without trying to counter them by convincing your mind that you are actually straight.
The bottom line is that we all have many weird and unexpected thoughts that pop into our minds , and there is no reason to assume they are all true or in some way a reflection of deep-seated desires. They are just thoughts.
I’ve been dealing with I hope with all my heart is HOCD. I haven’t been diagnosed actually because there’s any OCD specialist in my city (I live in a pretty small city in Brazil) but reading others people stories and symptoms and reading articles about the subject I saw the similarity. Just classic HOCD, I never had same-sex attractions/crushes (I’m a 20 years old girl), never questioned my sexuality, only liked/fantasized/daydreamed about boys. I WAS straight, I know this.
The problem right now is that I keep seeing the word gay everywhere, like, I’m scrolling down quickly an article and the there’s the word Day for example and my brain just automatically reads Gay, sometimes the word don’t even look like Gay, could be any word, big or small, my brain keep reading Gay. I never saw anyone with HOCD saying they had this and it makes me sadder.
Could this be because I’m obsessing with my sexuality and the fear of being Lesbian or could my brain trying to send me signals about who I’m?
I really don’t want to be gay, I have nothing against them, I actually support them, they have the right to love whoever they want but I don’t want to be.
I see no reason to believe that your brain is sending you some sort of “signal” that you are secretly gay. As you noted, everything you write sounds like “classic HOCD”. It is not unusual for people with HOCD to be triggered by words that make them think about the possibility of being gay, and words that sound like “gay” or rhyme with “gay” certainly fall into that category.
I’m not surprised that you have been unable to find effective help in a small town in Brazil. Unfortunately, most OCD treatment specialists are located in major urban areas. If online therapy is an option for you, feel free to contact us via the contact page of our website.
Could someone that’s experiencing HOCD be convinced that their sexuality changed because the thoughts/feelings feel so real?
Can they confuse real attraction to false attraction? I fear that I’m attracted to every damn woman I see.
Can they feel/worry that they will never get attracted to the opposite sex again?
What’s the probability of someone who had HOCD come back to normal and be straight again? And the probability of they changing or finding they sexuality to gay?
What was the difference between them?
I have so many questions and fears right now, but these are the most consistent. I’m really confused and scared that maybe I’m different from the others suffers and ending up changing. I really feel I won’t be able to ever have a straight relationship. (Never had one)
All of the questions and comments that you say are upsetting to you are quite common for HOCD.
As for the “probability” that you will become straight again, the question is moot, as there is no evidence that you have ever been anything but straight. Having HOCD doesn’t mean one has changed their sexual orientation, only that they are afraid they have changed or will change their sexual orientation.
If your thoughts continue to plague you, I encourage you to seek treatment with a therapist who specializing in treating HOCD.
Hello. Its been a month now since I struggle with this hocd/denial issue.
It all started when a guy I liked and had chemistry with went to another country to study.I was so depressed. Later on I went out with some of my friends and started drinking,and we played truth or dare and made out. At that moment kissing a girl felt like nothing because I believed I was straight and that doing it was out of curiosity.
Then a question popped out in my head,are you a lesbian? I couldnt sleep that night trying to look at my childhood and later on my teens to catch any “gay” moment in order to figure out things. Now whenever I see a girl, I feel so weird in my chest area. Also,seeing my aunts,mother,besties and sister started getting pretty tough. Just letting them hug me is a hell. I get these unwanted images in my head and cant get rid of them. I dont want to be gay, the image of me growing old with a woman makes me sick. I’m so scared. Help me please.
Everything you write sounds exactly like HOCD. Trying to “figure out” what your thoughts mean is a compulsion and will only worsen your obsessions.
If you feel “sick” at the prospect of being with a woman, and if it feels like “hell” being hugged by women in your life, it’s a pretty good bet that you are not a lesbian, and that you have HOCD. I strongly encourage you to seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for HOCD.
I just don’t know what to believe anymore. My brain keeps bringing up memories, normally involving girls and requiring an explanation, and I can’t give it because I don’t know if they are real or not. It keeps saying to me that I notice girls more than boys in the street, and maybe I did but because I found them pretty and wanted to be like them, or dress like them… things like this. Or that I looked more to the girl’s body while watching porn, some has really nice bodies. Or that I never knew myself for real, like every crush/attraction that I had was actually obsessions and society forced it in my mind. I used to be confident that I just admired girls and loved boys. Never really wanted to be with one. I used to love everything straight and now I don’t even know if what I felt was real.
Today I stumbled upon a text about heteronormativity and it said that some girls can’t recognize attractions to girls because of it and this is what I’m fearing at the moment. I’m questioning all my past crushes and worrying that they weren’t true,
I don’t think that there is anything unusual about noticing attractive people of the same gender. There is no reason to question what this means or to have any sort of explanation for it. In other words, just allow yourself to have whatever thoughts you have about these other women without analyzing the thoughts.
Likewise, there is no reason to analyze if what you feel is “real” or if past thoughts or feelings were “true”. All of this analysis is compulsive and it makes your obsessions worse.
Finally allow me to note that reading articles about “heteronormativity” sounds very much like a compulsion.
The bottom line is this: you would benefit by spending way less time (ideally no time at all) trying to understand your sexuality. It doesn’t require analysis, and in fact the analysis makes your OCD worse.
Thank you very much for these articles.
For the past 8 months I have been dealing with the constant anxiety caused by HOCD. And as though it was not enough, recently the “The Fear of Not Having HOCD” kicked in. Even now, as I am typing, I am scared that I am in in some sort of denial. As you emphasize in your article, the uncertainty is the hardest part to deal with. Do you have any book or video recommendations to have more insight on the therapies proposed? Is it safe to practice them alone?
Also, I feel I have passed the stage where my HOCD follows me everywhere. It is more triggered by events that my mind can interpret for hours, if not days. What do you recommend facing “triggers”?
As our article points out, the “fear of not having HOCD” is a common obsession for those with HOCD. You will not benefit by taking this thought seriously, nor by analyzing your thoughts for evidence of “denial”. I encourage you to read our article about the denial obsession in OCD.
As for book or video recommendations for dealing with uncertainty, I think you would be far better served by finding a therapist who specializes in the treatment of OCD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
As for facing triggers, my suggestion is quite simple: face them directly, with no attempt to ameliorate the discomfort you experience.
Hi. I am 22 year old girl that has struggled with hocd for 3 years. I am just finally going to therapy. I used to freak out and have panic attacks thinking i was gay and check constantly but randomly one day, i did not feel anxious anymore. It’s as if my mind was tired but it feels like i’d be happy being gay, but i dont want to.
I also have a voice telling me to come out all the time. And recently it feels like i like i actually like girls and would like to do sexual things with them and i would like to be gay but i really don’t want to be.
Is it just denial? I hope i still have hocd but cant even tell the difference anymore im so exhausted. My mind keeps saying if I did this with a girl, i would probably like it, but i dont know if i would. i hope not, but it feels like i would. I hate this. Please help me . i hate this hoping its not denial.
Everything you write sounds like HOCD. It is quite common in HOCD to have a fear that one is actually just “in denial” about their sexual orientation. As for no longer feeling anxious, this is what is sometimes called a “backdoor spike”, which you can read about in the article above.
I am a 15 y/old girl and have been dealing with confusion for about 4 months now. I have a boyfriend and have liked boys my whole life. I am a very jealous and competitive person. My boyfriend’s ex is someone I don’t care for much, but I was very obsessed with making her jealous that I won-I have the boy now. One day I had this terrible thought out of the blue that I was attracted to her and I have been a wreck ever since. I can’t look at girls because I think I am attracted to them and I absolutely don’t want to be. The thought that I am lesbian or bi makes me sick to my stomach, but I can’t stop thinking about it. If I hear anything about a gay/lesbian/bi person I get rocked with anxiety. I love my boyfriend and we have an amazing connection (even for 15 year olds) I am very intelligent. I have identified past events in my life where ocd was probably present and I suffer from intense panic attacks and fear or having other panic attacks. I have never been to a doctor. My parents don’t understand what is going on, but I need answers! Please help!!
Everything you write suggests you have HOCD, and nothing you write suggests you are gay or bi.
Because you are only 15, you have limited options for seeking help. I strongly encourage you to show your parents our four articles on HOCD, as this will hopefully help them to better understand what you are going through. They need to take your suffering more seriously, and to get you help with a therapist who specializes in treating HOCD. Take care.
Hi there i have been struggling with this type of OCD for about 4 months now I’ve been diagnosed and have started treatment. My obsessions have evolved over time they started with what if I was gay which I obsessively tried to find the answer to. Mentally looking over all my past attractions to my wife and other women for reassurance, searching the internet for evidence, mentally checking when im around male workmates or when watching tv. All of this has made the doubt worse and worse.
Now the doubt makes me obsess over if i really love my wife or not, if i still really want to be heterosexual or not, if its ocd or just denial. Sometimes the thoughts come in like statements. Like “stop wasting everyone’s one time” specially when people are being helpful. I also have a fear that maybe the reason im not attracted to men is cause I’m not letting myself be attracted to them because of some type of internalised homophobia or something. Its like the ocd keeps trying to find a way to convince me that im gay also keeping the anxiety going as I said earlier evolving. I still am having and enjoying sex with my wife when im not full of doubt and anxiety. Is this still hocd?
This all sounds like HOCD, and you are absolutely correct – HOCD keeps keeps evolving and trying to find new ways to convince you that you are gay. That is exactly what HOCD does.
That said, you present a virtual checklist of compulsive behaviors that you are doing which will only make your HOCD worse, specifically:
~ Mentally looking over all your past attractions to your wife and other women for reassurance
~ Searching the internet for evidence
~ Mentally checking when you’re around male workmates or when watching tv
~ Trying to determine if you still really want to be heterosexual
~ Trying to determine if this is ocd or just denial or internalized homophobia
Also let me note that HOCD often goes hand-in-hand with a type of OCD that is sometimes called ROCD, in which people doubt that they really love their spouse / partner. It sounds like this is happening in your case, which again, is not unusual.
Thanks for the article, it was a big help.
I am 18 years old and have enjoyed one particular gay fantasy for a while. I have had OCD my whole life. I consider myself a heterosexual and always have. I relate to mostly every “symptom” that HOCD sufferers suffer from.
However, because I often fantasize about a taboo fantasy, I am always concerned that I am gay and just in denial.
Are HOCD sufferers more likely to enjoy these gay fantasies? Because I feel like a big reason why I enjoy them so much is because doing it feels so wrong.
Lots of people are turned on by things that they would never do in real life. And as you note, the forbidden nature of certain fantasies often makes them all the more exciting. All of this is addressed above in the section titled “Gay Fantasy and OCD”.
What are your thoughts and usual treatment for compulsive staring , be it chest staring or crotch staring?
It seems like a completely different obsession than anything else, and is not commonly mentioned within the OCD community.
The fear of looking at someones crotch/chest to the point of compulsively looking or having very little control over looking seems to have taken over a few lives, including my own.
Obsessions about the thought/desire to stare at people’s crotches and/or breasts are not unusual in OCD. That said, it is not necessarily a symptom of HOCD. We have treated numerous men with this concern who were uncomfortable with thought and/or desire to stare at women’s crotches and breasts. We have also treated straight woman who obsess about the possibility of staring at men’s crotches. The bottom line is that the fear is of doing something that the person doesn’t want to do, regardless of whether the object of the staring is the same gender or not.
The most appropriate treatment for this type of OCD is the same as for any type of OCD – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with a focus on Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP).
Quick backstory I am a 20 year old male and ever since I can remember I have crushed on girls, however I have been very shy around them. Sorry if this is a lot of information but I have turned down sex on a few occasions and am still a virgin because of a persistent fear that I will get a girl pregnant. I have had a few very short relationships and remember enjoying them, but the last 6 months have been terrible. I have no sexual attraction anymore to them and find myself doing checking behaviors constantly. I have been seeing a therapist and I think it has been helping but I feel like I am having a backdoor spike now because the thoughts do not gross me out anymore I just know that I do not want to do them. But my brain keeps telling me I do! Do you have any advice for me on how to cope with these backdoor spikes? I really felt like I was getting better but then I had a thought that did not make me sick to my stomach like it used to and I feel like I regressed. I just want to go back to the way I remember myself being because I was happy and care free. I appreciate your articles and all the insight you provide on this website.
Yes, your concern about no longer being anxious or “grossed out” about gay thoughts sounds like a back door spike. Generally speaking, if you are anxious about no longer being anxious, then you are experiencing a back door spike.
Why should you or any straight person be grossed out about the idea of gay sex? It is just sex between two people who happen to be the same gender. Not being grossed out is not a sign of regression – it is a sign of not being grossed out.
My advice for more effectively responding to these back door spikes is two-fold:
1) accept that these thoughts exist in your brain and don’t analyze them or assume that they mean something important. They are just unwanted thoughts.
2) Stop the checking behaviors that you say your are doing “constantly”. No good comes from compulsive checking (including mentally checking your thoughts).
Hello.Im wondering,even though I know this looks like reassurance seeking,is it normal for HOCD to change obssesion?At the beggining it was the worst ever,waking up every morning with the same “am I gay or what” question.
Now when Im calm I can almost behave like my old self..Its been a month or so since I started obssesing about a lesbian friend at the uni.I know that theres no general attraction or anything,but I just cant seem to brush her off.I panic whenever I talk to her,and my mind is filled with questions.The worst part is that I can recongize the obssesion but I cant control the spikes and anxiety. It makes me remember everything I ever did with her,even the stupidest friendly things.I was always curious and asked her questions about her coming out and stuff and now these memories spike me.
What do you suggest for me to do? What kind of exposure? Im afraid of telling all this to my therapist because she may tell me that its the real attraction when I know its not,its never been like this with the guys I liked.Thank you for answering these questions,you really are amazing,doing all this for a bunch of strangers
Nothing you write suggests you are gay. It’s quite natural for people of your age to to be interested in just about anything sexual, including a friend’s sexual orientation and how they came out.
You don’t need to “control the spikes and anxiety”. You need to accept the thoughts and stop giving them importance. As for exposures, I do not suggest you try to do exposure therapy on your own,. Instead I suggest you bring these issues to your therapist. If she automatically assumes that these thoughts mean you are gay, then find a therapist who specializes in HOCD treatment.
I’m a 22 year old semi-closeted gay male currently battling with another form of OCD (Hypochondria).
Long story short, I came out to my best friend 2 months ago. He reacted very positively towards it and I honestly couldnt have envisioned a better response. Still, I struggled for the next few days feeling strange and kind of sad/scared for the life changes that I assumed would follow for being out to somebody. It took me about a week to get through this and feel positive again and then 2 days later I faced a horrifying cancer scare. I had to wait 3 weeks for a surgery to rule out cancer and in those three weeks I started googling horror stories relating to my cancer scare excessively. I didn’t end up having cancer but have realized that ever since this happened I’m investing a whole lot of time into researching any weird sensation/symptom I have which scares the hell out of me. Part of me thinks that this hypochondria is a coping mechanism that is keeping me distracted from facing my initial fear: dealing with the change that comes when you come out. Because of my hypochondria I’ve avoided addressing my homosexuality to my best friend and to others. Any thoughts?
I have no idea if your Hypochondria is a means of avoiding the issue of your sexuality. Perhaps you just have Hypochondria and simultaneously are struggling with coming out of the closet. It sounds like your physician suggested surgery in order to get a conclusive answer as to whether you had cancer, so some of your health anxiety seems quite reasonable (the key word here being “some”, as compulsive googling of cancer-related matters is a very common symptom of Hypochondria). I think for most people, having a genuine cancer scare would take priority over discussing their sexual orientation.
All that said, I think it is important to note that you have already come out to your best friend. Despite this, you say you have not addressed the matter. But you clearly have, at least with your best friend. You are not required to further discuss it. In fact you were never required to discuss it. Your sexuality is your business, and you are not obligated to come out to anyone if you don’t want to.
I’m not quite sure how any of this fits in with HOCD. You don’t have HOCD – you are gay. The bottom line here is that you would be best served by accepting yourself as you are, and being friends with those who accept you as you are. This is the 21st century, and the only closet that matters is the one in your mind.
Hi I’m a 20 year old guy and I just had my first serious girlfriend, although I’ve made out with lots of other girls ive just never had a relationship. It lasted about a month and I lost my virginity to her, but I was really nervous and lost my erection the first time we tried that night. I eventually was able to do it the next morning but then she avoided me for the next week and broke up with me when she finally agreed to meet with me. Ever since then I’ve been freaking out thinking I’m gay, and I’ve never had sexual thoughts about guys before and as far back as I can remember I’ve had crushes on girls since grade school. I don’t think I’m gay and the thought of gay sex does not appeal to me. Ive been second guessing myself a lot since all of this happened a month ago. I just want to know if this is a sign of HOCD. The thought of being gay scares me a lot and I wouldn’t want to be gay, and for some reason gay guys hit on me occassionally. People try to assure me that they just do that because I’m good looking but I am skeptical. So I also keep thinking there has to be a reason for that and maybe it’s a situation where everyone knows except me. Is that a real thing that happens?
If sometimes losing an erection when having sex with a woman were evidence of being gay, there would be a lot more gay men in the world. By your logic, if (as you report) you had and maintained your erection the following morning, then you now have evidence that you are straight. But this logic would be equally absurd. The bottom line is that erections do not prove or disprove sexual orientation.
The simple truth is that it is not even remotely unusual for men to occasionally have difficulty sustaining an erection. This could have happened because you had been drinking or were tired, or simply because you were anxious about keeping your erection. And it is quite common for men to be very anxious the first time they are have sex.
As for gay guys hitting on you, that is what gay guys do – they hit on men (just like straight guys hit on women). It doesn’t mean you are gay – it means they are gay.
Hi again. I must say, almost 2 months I was literally “healthy”. I had no gay thoughts, I could finally normally live and also met a guy. Thanks to him I forgot about all my issues, I fell in love with him (I think) but our romance ended and I haven’t seen him for a while. The whole problem is back. I have so much anxiety now. I make a project with a girl (I barely know her) and we have meeting on Saturday. She is pretty, but earlier I didn’t see that, because I was with a guy and it was pretty amazing. Now i’m freaking out, because I don’t want to see her and my mind says I want to. It’s depressing. I’m scared, that all what I felt for this guy wasn’t true and my ocd tells me I’ve never liked men. And this is absurd. I felt amazing in this man’s arms and I miss him so much, but then again. It feels pretty strange. It’s not like the last time. This time is much more intense. I try to imagine myself with a woman and I’m like wtf it’s not me. But my other part of mind says “You have nothing against it” and it’s awful feeling. Is this still Hocd? And I don’t really know lesbian feelings and I don’t want to know, because I’m scared that this would be my feelings too.
t is quite normal to be straight and to find others of one’s own gender attractive. Just because you think a particular girl is pretty doesn’t mean you are a lesbian. Nor does it mean that all of your feelings for your ex-boyfriend weren’t true or real. It just means that you find the girl to be pretty. Nothing more, nothing less.
I am having a ton of trouble living with my HOCD. I often have gay sexual fantasies regarding people I even know in real life, and it really freaks me out. Then I see these people in real life and I always start thinking, “What was I thinking? I can’t believe I would ever fantasize about being with this person.” Every time I finish having a gay fantasy, I feel ashamed. It makes me not want to even look or talk to my family, and my family is plenty accepting of gay lifestyle.
I spend a lot of time on the internet researching HOCD and it seems like nothing I read on the matter makes me feel better, and I continue to feel worse. I have read all about the intrusive thoughts, but what I feel like what separates me from a lot of other sufferers is that I actually enjoy these fantasies.
It is tough to look ahead in my future with this on my mind. I feel like if I ever got married to a girl one day that I would just feel too ashamed, and I feel the same way about having kids one day. I don’t think I would ever feel like I am “man” enough for them and that I am a disgrace.
Please give me some advice, I am being eaten up inside and have less motivation to do things than ever. Thanks.
You say that you “actually enjoy these fantasies”, yet it sounds like just the opposite – that you see yourself as a “disgrace” and “less than a man” for having these thoughts. I assure you that everybody has at some time thought about being gay, and many straight people have sexual fantasies that involve people of the same gender.
My main suggestion is that you immediately stop researching HOCD on the internet. As you point out out, doing so only makes you feel worse. I also suggest that you consider getting into treatment with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD.
I first had an intrusive gay thought when I was 19. A celebrity came out and I suddenly found myself questioning my sexuality, even though I never had before and had a bf. I briefly went to a therapist who concluded pretty quickly that I was straight and not to overattend to thoughts. I honestly didn’t give it much thought for years, and had lots of lovely straight experiences. I started dating my now-husband when I was 26. I saw an Oprah episode about women coming out later in life, leaving their husbands. I felt those old feelings/worries come back immediately. I tried to deal w obsessions on my own w some success, I’ve had good years and bad, but the last year has been rough, after reading an article about a newlywed coming out. I’ll have a few good weeks, but then the constant questioning starts. Particularly disturbing is feeling like I have a crush on female co-workers. I run lines of coming out stories through my head to compare myself to them, often searching online for reassurance, though I know that it doesn’t ultimately help. I’m terrified to go to therapy and find out I’m gay and will have to leave my husband who I love very much, that is the biggest fear. Any advice?
Just because a celebrity is gay doesn’t mean you are gay. There have also been celebrities who have committed murder – does that mean you are a murderer? Or how about celebrities who like certain foods – does that mean you like those foods? Of course not!
Likewise, just because Oprah talks about women coming out later in life doesn’t mean you will suddenly come out as gay. I assume that Oprah talks about all sorts of things that don’t apply to your life.
When our brains are exposed to ideas from the mass media, it is quite normal for us to process those ideas, including to think about how those ideas may relate to our personal experience. But that doesn’t mean that those ideas reflect who we are. It just means we have been exposed to certain ideas and have had thoughts about them.
Unfortunately, many people with HOCD are afraid to enter into treatment for the exact reason you mention – a fear that they will suddenly learn that they are secretly gay. My suggestion is that you enter into therapy with a treatment provider who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for OCD. This will help you realize that you are struggling not with your sexual orientation, but with OCD.
Hi! I’ve been suffering with trans-ocd for 8 or 9 months, but the trouble is that lately I am more and more certain that it’s not TOCD and I am actually just realizing i’m transgender, which is so not what i want, but I think that maybe I do, I am just so confused about this issue lately. Just now I remembered someone saying a good way to see if you’re trans is to ask yourself how would you like people to remember you after you die, and I can’t tell if the answer is as a guy (which is what I thought of myself until this all started) or a girl.
I don’t even know anymore and I’m sure I will realize I’ve been trans all along once I start doing ERP, because whenever I try and accept the thoughts, I’ll feel better and my anxiety will go down, but then I’ll start feeling weird, like something is wrong and that I’m just lying to myself. And I look back on my life and I can pinpoint all these “signs”, like having more girl friends and relating to girls better and being gay and it usually brings me relief when I research stuff that seems to suggest I just have ocd, but that never lasts and soon enough I’ll start believing I’m trans again. 🙁 How can I know if it’s ocd or real?
There is nothing in your comment that even remotely suggests you are secretly a transexual. All I see is a whole lot of fear of being transgendered, which is the primary obsession in Trans-OCD.
That said, neither you nor anyone else on the planet gets to “know” if their thoughts are a function of OCD or a reflection of some deep truth about their desires. Certainty doesn’t exist. Stop seeking certainty, and instead accept that your brain (like all human brains) produces all sorts of strange and unexpected thoughts. The problem is not the thought, but rather your belief that the thought is important and meaingful. It is a just a thought.
Hello, I’m not sure if I’m suffering with HOCD or not but I figured that commenting on this page would be a good start. I’m a 17 year old male who has been going through this phase since around aug-sep.time. When I was a child I was somewhat sexually taken advantage of by a boy the same age as me. Even with that experience, I remained straight. In Nov/2014 I feel for my recent ex and due to anxiety I broke with her in Feb/2015. Ever since then I haven’t fallen hard for a girl and haven’t felt like myself. Then around Aug/Sep time, I was thinking about my girl problems and then all of a sudden I think I thought about my childhood experiences and BAM, I just instantly curled up in a ball in a state of panic. I found out about HOCD after research and I looked at the symptoms and just said “oh my god, that’s me”. After a few months I’m starting to doubt this kind of and Im just so lost and confused. I don’t know what has gotten into me… I really hope to get s reply asap.
There is nothing in your comment that suggests you are gay. You have a history of being attracted to women, and no history of being attracted to men. Then one day you have a thought about being gay and it inspired panic rather than desire. That sounds pretty straight to me.
Having of history of being sexually exploited by someone of the same gender does not mean you are gay.
Having not fallen for a girl for the past 11 months does not mean you are gay – it means you haven’t met anyone that you have fallen for.
Hi again, thank you for replying! I just have a few more questions, if I may.
On the idea that thoughts are just thoughts, what is the difference between those who suffer from ocd and those who are what they fear and just fear whatever that “it” may be? Because their thoughts should also be just thoughts, no? Yet they are those things as well, and I think that if you keep having these thoughts then that must mean something, no? Whenever I try to accept the thoughts it’s with the assumption that once I do that, I will never think about them again, but that’s not the case so it makes me wonder if that means I’m transgender and just scared of it because of the social implications. It makes me feel as if it’s time to say that “okay, you’ve tried thinking it’s just ocd, but clearly the thoughts are still here and this means they’re real”.
And also, during the past 2 nights I’ve had two different dreams in which this subject came up. I know dreams don’t mean anything, but in all my months of worrying about this, it never crossed into my dreams before so I’m worried that because of this, it must mean something…
Thank you again for answering…
A few thoughts…
Everything you write in your comments is textbook OCD. You are compulsively analyzing your thoughts, and convincing yourself that these unwanted thoughts mean you are secretly a transsexual.
Simply put, you clearly do NOT like the idea of being a transsexual and are horrified by the possibility. That is not how transsexuals think. They WANT to change their sex – you clearly do not.
You wrote “I think that if you keep having these thoughts then that must mean something”, to which I say that the only thing this repetitive thinking indicates is that you have OCD. Thinking something repeatedly does NOT mean that you want to be that thing.
You wrote “Whenever I try to accept the thoughts it’s with the assumption that once I do that, I will never think about them again”. And that is a major part of the problem. Just because you accept something doesn’t mean you will never think of it again. You need to let go of your attachment to never having these thoughts again.
Your continuing analysis of your thoughts and your attachment to the hope that they will somehow go away is evidence that you have NOT accepted these thoughts at all. If you truly accept these thoughts, you will no longer care if they are present. They will be no more important or time consuming than the lint in your pocket.
The fact that these thoughts are “still here” means nothing other than that you have OCD.
Having dreams about transsexualism does not make you (or anyone) a transexual. I have dreamed of flying and being dead, yet neither of things has been an accurate reflection of reality. I am still alive and I still can’t fly. Dreams are just weird thoughts that happen to occur while you are asleep.
People who are transsexuals do not fear being transsexuals.
Hi I have been suffering from HOCD for a years now, and really related to the paragraph on this page written about “Gay Fantasy and OCD.” I feel terrible every time I enjoy fantasizing about being with a man and can never see myself actually being with a man so I consider myself straight.
Like many HOCD sufferers, I do a lot of research in order to try to find my “true” sexual orientation. Everything written above makes sense, but I have been particularly bothered by what I stumbled across on an ABC news article about HOCD; where a doctor specializing in OCD says about his patients:
“If he is not actually attracted to people of the same sex, does not masturbate to fantasies of people of the same sex, is not really aroused by same sex pornography, then it is hard to make the case that he has a homosexual orientation.”
That statement really bothered me and made me think that I am different than other HOCD sufferers because I DO masturbate to fantasies of people of the same sex.
Thanks again, I really appreciate that is written on this website.
People fantasize to all sorts of things that they would never actually do. Jerking off to gay fantasies does not make you gay – having sex with men does.
As for the expert on ABC, I have not seen the clip, I do not know the context of the quote you are providing, and I have no idea who the expert is. My only thought is “just because he was on TV doesn’t mean that the is the uncontested expert on HOCD”.
It’s really simple – if you are gay, then you would not be so stressed about being having sex with men. You would want to have sex with men. You say that you don’t want to.
I encourage you to seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for OCD.
Sorry for my English.
I have thoughts about almost everything: sex, harming people, blasphemy etc. When I was a teen I used to wonder if I wasn’t a lesbian, I didn’t want to be.
Now I have this thoughts again. I don’t want to be gay but sometimes I have these thoughts and it feels like I enjoy them. But I don’t want to have them! I read about mental checking and I do it all the time. Is it possible that I have HOCD and it creates illusion that I like them or that I’m aroused during them (I know what it’s like to be aroused, and it feels different but I know it only when I analyse my feelings)? Or am I in denial?
I also have some thoughts about straight sex that I find inappropriate. Again, during them I feel something like sick enjoyment and this strange feeling like arousal that in fact is not arousal. I’m worried that I might actually enjoy these thoughts. Does the fact that I don’t want to have this thoughts because they are perverted mean that it’s OCD? I’m worried that these thoughts are in fact voluntary, that I create them in order to experiment with my sexuality. Maybe I really want to experiment but I just suppress it because I think it’s bad (I’m religious)?
While I cannot provide a diagnosis via a blog comment, I can say that everything you write sounds like HOCD. I encourage you to do the following:
~ Stop mental checking.
~ Stop analyzing your feelings in an effort to figure out what they mean.
~ Accept the existence of these unwanted thoughts. Everyone has weird, unwanted thoughts, and they do not deserve even one second of analysis.
Hi, I have just read your article and it has put my mind slightly at ease, for now anyway.
I had experiences with the same sex around age 11-13 and I am thinking that I have hocd now. I am now 22 and in a relationship with my significant other for nearly two years. I keep getting these reoccurring thoughts/images that I can’t get rid of, and I feel like my younger experiences back up the fact that I might be gay. I have never thought of myself as gay but I am finding it so hard to distinguish between the ocd and reality. I can be watching t.v and a gay scene comes on and I suddenly feel anxious and start to feel slight movement in my groin area, but it is uncomfortable.
I took your test and ticked 17 boxes. Please help me, it is beginning to ruin my relationship
If you ticked off 17 boxes on our HOCD test, then you most likely have HOCD. And if experimenting with same sex behavior when young were an indicator that one is gay, there would be way more gay people in the world. The simple truth is that many people have sexual experiences with people of the same gender when they are young. It is a fairly common part of the process by which we learn about sexuality.
The reason you are anxious and uncomfortable when a gay scene comes on the television is not because you are gay, but because you are uncomfortable with what you are seeing, and this discomfort is likely due to HOCD. Gay people are not uncomfortable with gay scenes on TV – they like them. As for your groinal response, you are likely over-attending to your groin. Let you groin do whatever it wants without paying attention to it and without attributing meaning to it.
I took your HOCD test and scored pretty high on it (19). I’ve been diagnosed with OCD in the past, but not with HOCD specifically, so of course I’m doubting that that’s what’s really going on. (For the record, I’m now 27, and I went through a similar period of fearing I was a lesbian as a teenager).
Anyway, all my fears about being a lesbian in the past have come back recently, and they’re worse than ever. The biggest “proof” to me is that I rarely develop infatuations with “real” men; pretty much all my crushes over the years have been on celebrities, fictional characters, etc. I’ve been in relationships with men that I was happy in at the time, but I can’t say I was ever as attracted to them as I was to any of my crushes, which scares me (maybe I don’t really want to be with a man). There’s a whole long list of other “evidence,” but the thing that sent me into a tailspin today was having physical therapy for a leg injury from a female therapist and feeling like I might be turned on.
So, two questions. First, does this sound like HOCD? And second, my insurance won’t cover CBT (I’ve checked): is there any way I can get relief from this anxiety without seeing a professional?
A few thoughts…
Yes, this sounds like HOCD.
If you scored a 19 on our HOCD test, then chances are extremely likely that you have HOCD.
Likewise, if you had a prior experience of having an HOCD episode, then it is even more likely that your recent experiences are evidence of having another HOCD episode.
If you have been comfortably attracted to males throughout your life (even unobtainable celebrities and fictional characters), without having similarly comfortable attraction to females, then I doubt you are gay or bi.
It makes sense that you might feel turned on (or be afraid of feeling turned on) when a female was working on your leg. I encourage you to read a good article about this at http://www.ocdonline.com/#!i-think-it-moved/c1n7y
If you live in the US, your insurance provider is required by law to provide mental health care. The Affordable Care Act (i.e., Obamacare) made mental health parity the law of the land. In other words, your insurance company cannot refuse to cover CBT. In fact, insurance companies prefer CBT to old-fashioned talk therapy because it is far quicker and less expensive.
Hi there !,
i have been treated and cured of hocd ( it was triggered by a really bad break up )but it has slightly come back or the fear of its return was triggered ( by my boyfriend telling me he was confused about our relationship ) as well as when i had taken the morning after pill ( i react horribly to the pill in any form i was under the influence when i had hocd full force ), at first it was just intrusive thoughts about my boyfriend cheating, then when he didn’t and i got over it i still had the bad feeling and i had an hour long panic attack and then felt like hocd was returning, now i’m researching about it all like i did last time and i feel better then i just feel even worse after research, plus my libdo is so low and i’m scared that i’ll lose my partner over this, im back at therapy though but just cant seem to stop researching and trying to fight the thoughts :”( Last time i had never slept or ate and was in a horrible place i don’t want to do it again
A few thoughts…
There is no “cure” for OCD. The goal of treatment is to learn to more effectively respond to the intrusive, unwanted thoughts.
It is extremely common for symptoms to wax and wane over time, and thus quite common to experience a return of one’s OCD symptoms.
Researching is a very common OCD compulsion, and it will almost certainly make your OCD worse, not better.
Fighting the thoughts will never work. The better solution is to accept the presence of the unwanted thoughts without taking them seriously, and without responding to them.
hi I’m an 18 yr old girl & I have had a phobia of being sick since I was 5 yrs old & when I was 15 I developed contamination OCD where if I didn’t wash my hands right after touching something I would count 48 hrs and if I didn’t get sick in that time frame I would be safe. I was hospitalized for anxiety & depression and OCD & went away for treatment for 3 months & I’m currently doing much better w/ it. Now I’m hoping this is HOCD. I used to be scared when I was 11/12 that ppl thought I was a lesbian but I never actually liked a girl I don’t think. I’ve been boy crazy since I can remember. I had crushes on boys since I was 5. 2 months ago a girl hit on me and I panicked & thought what if I liked it or what if she knew I was gay and I didn’t. the thing is I don’t think I want to be with a girl at all. the thought makes me panic but since that night it’s all I think about. I constantly research to see if I’m just in denial &I’m always analyzing my past. it’s so stressful & I used to love flirting & having sex with guys & now I’m scared to bc I’m afraid i might not like it & that proves I’m bi or gay. I never considered myself bi/gay until that girl hit on me now i’m scared.
First off, it is important to note that a girl hitting on you means nothing about your sexual orientation. Lesbians hit on women for one simple reason – they are lesbians. They don’t have some secret insight that you don’t have about your sexual orientation. They hit on other women they find attractive.
Second, all of your research and analysis of your past is a compulsion that is making your discomfort much worse. Your goal is to stop researching (it hasn’t worked, right?) and to stop analyzing your past (which also hasn’t worked).
Finally, avoiding sex with males because you are afraid you won’t like it sounds to me like an avoidant compulsion, which has the same impact as research and analysis – it makes your OCD. If there is a guy that you want to have sex with, then have sex with him. If you stay in the moment instead of analyzing how you are feeling, I suspect, based on your report of previous enjoyment, that you will enjoy it.
Hello, I am a seventeen year old male that has always felt attracted to females until about five months ago when my HOCD started. I have used porn since I was twelve and first started masturbating. I was always fine with the regular hetero/lesbian videos or pics. However, I now realize that I abused porn (masturbated on average twice a day everyday for five years) and believe that has contributed to my HOCD. The tipping point came about five months ago when I went through a pretty nasty break up because my girlfriend cheated on me. This lead to even more porn use than usual. I used porn because of my frustration and it started to feel more like a chore than pleasure. Eventually I got to the point were I did not feel much, if any, arousal to porn and thought, “this must mean I’m gay,” which I realize was stupid, because I never found myself attracted to guys in life, or in the videos before. So I quickly self diagnosed myself with HOCD and tried erp. this backfired and failed miserably. I thought erp meant watching gay material and this did arouse me because of my porn escalation. I am well on my way to recovery, but would love your opinion on my case and what I should do for erp?
Your reduced arousal / pleasure likely has more to do with masturbating twice a day for five straight years, or with being somewhat depressed after your breakup, or some other real-life factors. In any case, it makes no sense that your recent reduced arousal / pleasure would indicate that you are gay.
As for your failed attempt at ERP, the reason for that is simple – you have absolutely no experience or training with ERP. My opinion is quite simple – find a therapist who actually does have training and experience with HOCD treatment with ERP.
Thanks for the response! I guess I wasn’t clear enough–my insurance will technically cover psychiatric treatment, but it doesn’t cover any kind of office visit until I’ve met my deductible, which is very high. So the effect is pretty much the same–it’s not something I can afford.
I do have one other quick question, though. I’ve heard a lot about straight women who have same-sex fantasies, but since I don’t fantasize about other women, that’s not something I worry about. In the past, though, I’ve read and enjoyed erotica where men are “feminized” in some way, and I feel like that’s abnormal for a straight woman; I’ve never heard any other straight woman say they enjoy that. I know this is reassurance-seeking and I apologize for that, but I was just wondering whether you have any thoughts? I’m terrified about what it might say about me.
Who’s to say what “normal” is. You are entitled to whatever fantasy you have. Why pathologize your fantasies?
I suspect that lots of women have similar fantasies, and that the only reason you haven’t heard other women talk about it is that most people don’t go around advertising their fantasies.
Hello there. I scored a 19 on your test and I have to admit I am deathly terrified about the possibility of being gay and ending up with a guy. I have had numerous unsuccessful relationships with women and that was the original trigger. I also have not had sex. However my fantasies and fetishes all have to do with women and I enjoy them.
What really set off the panic was when one night I couldn’t get off to my regular fantasies or girls. I switched to thought of being with a guy and was able to orgasm. This terrified me and I freaked out. Ever since I’ve been engaging in all sorts of behavior- avoiding men, or anything associated with homosexuality. Checking my reaction around men, measuring groinal responses, mentally picturing gay scenarios to see if I like them, checking out pictures of gay erotica to see if I get a response, seeing if I react to any gay fantasies, researching the internet. It’s been a nightmare.
The past couple months I have not been able to stop thinking or analyzing this issue. I keep trying to look at it logically but it never works. I do not desire or want sexual contact with men. But I’m scared I’ve been secretly gay in denial and haven’t realized it.
You could have masturbated while thinking about a stapler or a toothbrush, and with enough time, you probably would have gotten off. Just because you were thinking of men does not mean you are gay. It means you were indulging in a fantasy, which is totally normal.
The problem was not the gay fantasy, but your over-reaction to having an orgasm in response to it. You have written a veritable checklist of all the things one should not do in response to unwanted gay thoughts, specifically:
~ Avoiding men, or anything associated with homosexuality.
~ Checking your reaction around men.
~ Measuring groin responses.
~ Mentally picturing gay scenarios to see if you like them.
~ Checking out pictures of gay erotica to see if you get a response.
~ Checking if you react to any gay fantasies.
~ Researching the internet.
Stop these behaviors and you will likely see a vast reduction in your obsessions. If not, seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
Thank you very much for these articles, they have been very helpful. I have been dealing with HOCD for about a year, before which I knew I was straight, and the start was rather jarring. While I mostly managed it myself I began looking for information and others who have experienced it after a winter of some really bad spikes. While I currently feel that my HOCD is waning, the one aspect that still bothers me is that from the beginning it has felt like the origin of the thoughts holed itself up and took hostage of my creativity and imagination, forcibly inserting gay imagery where before there was none. I was recently reading a book that contained a straight sex scene, however after a few moments of picturing the characters as described, imagery of myself in a gay situation forced itself in. I could not finish the chapter, and had to put the book down and deal with the spike, the first in a few weeks. If any advice on how to conquer this forced imagery.
Everything you write sounds like textbook HOCD.
That said, when you write “the one aspect that still bothers me is that from the beginning it has felt like the origin of the thoughts holed itself up and took hostage of my creativity and imagination”, I have no idea what you mean. It sounds like a bunch of over-analysis to me.
Analyzing your thoughts is a mental compulsion which will only make things worse. Ditto on the researching and on the avoidance of reading books that trigger unwanted thoughts. So long as your fear of unwanted thoughts guides your behaviors, your OCD will continue to plague you. A better option is to do whatever it is you actually want to do (i.e., reading a book) regardless of whether unwanted thoughts appear in your mind.
You cannot “conquer forced imagery”, but you can learn to not pay attention to it, and to not give it meaning.
Hi, I need help, I am starting to get tired hocd thing, please I feel things much worst now, atm I have nobody to help me surpass this, please help. Anyways, allI remember is that all of this started when I started to feel unworthy and hopeless to someone I really like & now I am trying to accept but, it seems like things get worst. I was raised & born straight, now I am 14 this type of ocd hits me like a truck. I need serious help, please reply, thanks
The best treatment for HOCD is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with an emphasis on a specific technique called Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). As you are under 18, the best suggestion I can offer is that you discuss this issue with your parents and ask them to find you a local therapist who specializes in treating OCD.
Hello, I am a sophomore in college and am a 19 years old girl. I actually did not know HOCD was a thing until I looked it up recently when I was having really bad anxiety about the thought of being gay. I have liked boys since birth, every thing about them and have had my first love when I was in 6th grade. He and I were crushes on and off until freshman year. When I first freaked about about the possibility of being gay, I was in 8th grade (12/13 years old) when I was watching Glee and saw lesbians kissing. I was with one of my best friends and had a really bad anxiety attack and began gagging at the thought of me being gay, even towards her. After that, I never invited any female friends over, and never spent the night because I was terrified I would fall in love with them or something ridiculous like that. My first boyfriend turned out to be gay and I always feared that when we became intimate, I would not like his private parts and end up liking girls instead. When we did get closer though, I realized that I do love male genitalia. Now I’m having HOCD thoughts but in a loving straight relationship. I’m scared!
Many people with HOCD experience their first spike when they see others exhibiting gay behavior (i.e., seeing lesbians kiss), or when they see this depicted in a tv show or movie. If you gag at the thought of being gay, and you are in a loving straight relationship, then it is highly unlikely you are gay. I encourage you to seek treatment with a treatment provider who specializes in treatment for OCD.
Hi, I’m having this HOCD thing I think maybe almost a month now. In the first weeks it’s been vicious and brutal. To the point that I am having suicidal thoughts because everywhere I go it’s on my mind and it spikes my anxiety so I just only sleep and I have a lost of appetite. Watching tv, hearing something about a guy, hell I can’t even watch NBA and any other sports which for me is my life I always followed it from analysis and games. I never in my life had a man crush and always hated them or ridicule them but there are some that I idolize and I am saying to myself I would model my self to them I always like girls but hadn’t have a girlfriend because I am a very shy person and have a massive eczema on my legs( now healing). My dream is to be successful one day marry a girl and have kids and personally trained them basketball. Now I feel that my life is taken out of me and I don’t know who is inside me. I didn’t realize until now what OCD is but I now knew that I got it because I always need to type “Healthy” in google to make me feel good that I am healthy. I have consulted with a psychiatrist and gave me medications and it help me a lot. Need to say more hope we can talk.
I fail to see how admiring certain males (i.e., basketball players) would make you or anyone else gay. Why is not not OK to admire people who possess qualities that you see as admirable, regardless of their gender?
If you really want to master your OCD, then I encourage you to seek out treatment with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD with Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). Simply put, the meds will only help so long as you take them, and ERP will provide you with actual tools that you can use whenever needed. Besides, you say the meds are helping, but you also say that your current level of OCD is “vicious and brutal” to the point of being suicidal. That doesn’t sound to me like the meds are helping all that much.
Finally, allow me to note that if you are indeed feeling suicidal, you should go to your local emergency room immediately.
I’m 16 and a junior in highschool becoming a senior. I used to be a happy guy until this hocd came along around the end of August last year. I’ve been depressed and now the same since, I always have a saying going on in my head like ” I’m not gay I’m straight” ” I’m gay or I’m straight, I’m straight” I’ve watched gay porn before and never got aroused I don’t find it appealing either. But since the hocd always messes with me I thought of sucking dick and started to get hard so I watched gay porn and nothing happeneD. Then watched straight porn with a beautiful girl and I got hard almost instantly. I was homophobic in middle school around 7th and 8th grade but I think I did it cause people were also cause I don’t have a problem with gay people now I just don’t want to see them doing stuff. The only “gay” thing I can Remeber is calling a good friend of mine cute in second grade (male) to my dad and bro and my brother laughed and called me gay and I said “no not like that I mean baby cute” I don’t know if I said that to cover or if I didn’t know the full meaning to cute. From reading I’ve learned to stop testing and just relax. I know I’m not gay but this hocd is trying to mak me help
Nothing you have written even remotely suggests you are gay, and everything you have written strongly suggests HOCD.
Also, please note that repeatedly saying “I’m not gay, I’m straight” in your mind is a perfect example of a mental compulsion, and doing this will only make your OCD worse. Your goal is to allow the thought of being gay to be present in your mind, without trying to combat it in any way. It is just a thought, and it requires no action or response from you.
I am 34, with two beautiful children and a loving partner. I have had significant anxiety since I was young. Scared of everything. I developed ocd about 10 years ago. The themes change from Heath to sexuality to anything inbetween. I am currently in a horrendous spike about being gay. I was always naturally attracted to men. Romantically. But my sexual fantasies often involve older women and I am turned on by lesbian porn. However I have always been sexually attracted to men also. I’m worried that I’m truly a lesbian and I need to leave my wonderful partner. Would the anxiety go if I was with a woman? Is me being a repressed lesbian fuelling the anxiety? I google constantly, can’t sleep or eat and I just feel gay. While I have never really had romantic feelings for a woman, I cant reconcile with mostly masturbating or achieving orgasm by thinking of women. Now I’m so confused that I can’t think, my whole past feels like a lie. It’s horrible.
Hey I’m 18 and I’ve had these thoughts before but they went away on there own then I went to Mexico on a vacation and saw a guy and my head said you think he’s attractive it’s been about 6 months now and I feel like it’s getting worse I just recently started doubtin my past my head is telling me stuff didn’t happen or I felt a different way then I did and it feels real. I’ve had girl friends always wanted to fall in love with a girl and now everything is being doubted I’m currently in a relation ship and I love this girl and I want to have sex with her whenever I’m with her I enjoy the blow jobs and when she jerks me everything but my head says I don’t unless I’m in the moment I’m scared I saw some where that there is a small percent of people who find out they’re gay through this and that’s when the doubtin got bad. I’ve never seen guys like that and I’ve always got hard off girls and still do with my girlfriend I got hard holding a girls hand I got hard and excited off a girl tellin me she’s givin head and then asked for a ride home thinkin she’d give me road head I also stopped gettin hard off porn I use to only watch solo girls cause I didn’t wanna see any dick. Im freakin out
So you have a girlfriend you really love, you enjoy sexual activity with her, and you have always been aroused by girls. And the only “evidence” to support the idea that you are secretly gay is that the thought popped into your mind that a particular guy was attractive. This sounds like textbook HOCD to me.
I encourage you to accept that some guys are attractive, and that your brain is going to try to fool you into believing that just because you can accept that some guys are attractive, that you are secretly gay. This is how HOCD works.
Your articles are amazing and so helpful.
I’ve been having this intrusive thoughts and images for the past 5 months. They’ve been hell on earth. At first i couldn’t sleep, i couldn’t eat. I was in my head analyzing my thoughts and actions 24/7.
I would get a spike from every girl i’d see. The questions would occupy my mind and i would analyze everything. I’ve gotten to a point where i get this feeling of pure fear when i see a girl because i know what’s coming next. I’m married and I love my husband, but somehow this bloody thing makes me doubt even my love for him. It’s really hard to find words to describe everything i’ve been through this past 5 months but i do find myself in most of this stories and articles.
I have moments(although brief) when i think about all of my fears and find them so stupid that i could laugh. But then the thoughts find their way back again and i find myself doubting everything i do or say. And the worst are the urges. Like someone pushing me from behind, trying to make me do something i don’t want to do. I hate this. I can’t recognize myself anymore. I just want it gone.
While I appreciate that you would “just want it gone”, it is unlikely that your unwanted thoughts will just vanish. A better option would be to accept the existence of these intrusive thoughts without taking them seriously or responding to them as if they matter. They are, after all, just thoughts. If you find it difficult to accept your thoughts, I encourage you seek out a therapist who specializes in Mindfulness Based CBT for OCD.
I had all the symptoms of hocd, repetitions of prayer, research, testing, but spent a few months and decreased anxiety. One of my concerns is that I have not hocd and also thoughts about my friends, denial of topics that gets stuck in my mind. I had other types of OCD. This can be spike backdoor?congratulations on the very good article. (sorry for my english)
If you have experienced “all of the symptoms of HOCD”, then you likely have HOCD. Also, the fear that one does not really have HOCD (but is secretly gay), is extremely common in HOCD.
Hello I’m 19 and I’m female, my life has changed so much there just two months when questions about my sexuality with emotions and bad feelings arose in my mind, I have many similar symptoms with the hocd, but I can not guarantee really is hocd because I think I can be in denial and recently I think it can be internizada homophobia, never had any prejudice against homosexuals, but my mind goes against me constantly, because the fact has not wanting to be lesbians may seem a prejudice, I think in past cases and more than knew it was not prejudice the feeling now does seem to me that yes, it was, and in many thoughts she contradicts me to feeling really lost, the idea of being hocd makes me excited to do treatment and be happy, but at the same time bad because the phrase “important and be happy” and as if accepting, always had heterosexual relationship and do not want to even be gay, what do you think will be even hocd?
Everything you write sounds like HOCD to me.
My English is not that good so i hope that what i write is clear:).
Can ”normal ” people also respond with a groinal response at unwanted intrusions?
Second question: I have only groinal responses (no real erection, just that feeling down there and sometimes a little more blood flow, or i only think that i’m erect but i am not).
But i read online that ocd can come to a point that men can also get pre cum? I read this a lot! Many people with OCD wrote about this problem. How come?
This is what i also read: You can get erections, pre cum or arousel from ocd because your mind can copes it (intrusions/thoughts) as sexual. Is that possible?
I mean fear because of intrusions can do that but also because you are so obsessed that your brain makes associations with sex that are unwanted?
I mean i can feal ”false arousel”!. It feels real but unwanted and i would never act on it or get really aroused by it like i can get from a women.
The true arousel that i get from a women feels different. The ”arousel ” from OCD feels strange and not me.
If by “normal” you mean people without HOCD, the answer is “yes”, people without OCD can experience unexpected groinal responses. That does not mean that all people with HOCD have groinal responses in reaction to unwanted thoughts. A good rule of thumb is that penises and vaginas can do whatever they want, whenever they want.
That said, it is clear that you are spending altogether too much time analyzing your penis for arousal, erection, pre-cum, etc. I encourage you to stop reading about HOCD, and to stop paying so much attention to your penis.
But i read online that ocd can come to a point that men can also get pre cum? I read this a lot! Many people with OCD wrote about this problem. How come?
Can ocd create “fake arousal” because your mind is not clear?
Or how can ocd gets otherwise to a point because of thoughts you do not want?
As I noted in my reply to your earlier comment, you are spending way too much time analyzing things that do not require analysis. There is no reason whatsoever for you or anyone to analyze whether or not they have arousal and pre-cum in response to certain thoughts. You are seeking reassurance, and if I were to provide it to you, I would be doing you a disservice. I encourage you to read our article on reassurance seeking at https://ocdla.com/reassurance-seeking-ocd-anxiety-1952/.
Recently (for the past month or so) I have had bad anxiety of being gay. I have always had crushes on guys and thought that I would marry a male, so I don’t understand why I am having these thoughts. Sometimes I am positive that I am straight – no internal conflict at all. However (more often than not), I go back and forth with “Maybe you are gay” and “There is no way you are gay, but maybe you are”. I cant stop thinking about it! I have been getting stomach aches and migraines from the constant worrying. I am looking back through all of my childhood trying to look for “signs” that I may have been gay and I dont see any but it still makes me worried. I think this is HOCD but I am not sure (I scored a 14 on your test)- and if it is, why is it happening and when will it stop. I just want it to stop.
A few thoughts…
You are having these thoughts because human brains have all sorts of thoughts, including unexpected thoughts that are upsetting to us.
The problem is not having the thoughts, but assuming that the thoughts are meaningful and important. Lots of our thoughts are just mental chatter.
You don’t need to “stop thinking about it” – you need to stop attributing meaning to the thoughts and stop analyzing the thoughts.
You also need to stop looking back at your past for “signs”. This is a compulsion that will never lead to anything except more obsessions and compulsions.
If you scored a 14 on our online HOCD test, then what you are experiencing is almost certainly HOCD.
Male, virgin at 24, new problem, couldn’t look away from the breasts of a female clerk. Then watching TV with a male friend I started peripherally staring at his crotch. The staring jumped genders and went to family members. Couldn’t maintain eye contact and would crotch stare. I got scared so I wore sunglasses for 1 yr. The sunglasses reduced my problems because I felt they didn’t know I was going to look. 1 yr later had my 1st sexual relationship with a female and my crotch problems went away. The sunglasses came off and all interactions were normal. The relationship lasted 2 yrs and it’s been 6 yrs since it ended. Problems are recently back. They are slightly different and more voyeuristic. Sitting across from an attractive woman at another table while reading the newspaper makes it very hard to read and I start to look at them. I sit at tables facing walls now. Bowling alley, mom with her teen daughters in the next lane, I couldn’t stop staring/ worrying I would stare at their legs and provoke a confrontation by the mother or father sitting behind us. In a waiting room I crank my neck down hard and look at a magazine in my lap so as to remove all peripheral input.
A few thoughts…
1) It is quite common for those with OCD to obsess about the possibility that they are looking at, or want to look at, body parts of others especially body parts related to sexuality, such as breasts and crotches.
2) Wearing sunglasses is a compulsion that will worsen the obsession in the long run.
3) Cranking your neck down in order to avoid looking at others is also a compulsion, and will almost certainly lead to a worsening of the obsession.
4) Your job is to accept the existence of the thought, without responding to it. In other words, do exactly what anyone would do in these situations if they didn’t have OCD.
What do you say to the fact that my problems completely subsided once I lost my virginity and was in a regularly sexual relationship? Are there sex surrogate scenarios where I could get healing to replicate my past success with stopping crotch looking because I was in a relationship?
What do I say to someone who says “why are you staring at my crotch?” “Please stop.” And if I can’t stop myself from looking what then? Like, at a friend’s house playing a 2 hour long board game? The only thing I can think of aside from staring downwards is maybe completely unfocusing my eyes and staring blankly at a forward, kind of checking out.
You ask for my thoughts, so here goes:
You are spending way too much time over-attending and over-valuing your thoughts and urges. You don’t need a sex surrogate you need a therapist who specializes in treating OCD. Your symptoms are not unusual for OCD.
Hi. Im a 17 male. When I was a kid I played with friends of touching private areas. So i always think I was gay as child because I “played”. Since then I never went to places that I could see naked guys because of the fear of being attracted to them, that little fear and that play started at the age of 5-6 to 8. I was always afraid of being gay when I was a child. Soo I grew up having crushes on girls. At the of 12+\- i decided to tell my mom i did that, she said its okay and normal. But then I Started to check if i was gay or not. I get hard with girls, i get sexually excited with them. But at 12 to15 i Checked it all the time and never get hard with men,but i started to notice all good looking man and feeling like i want kiss them or somenting,but i always knew it was fake because i enjoy fantasy with girls and not man! Now im 17 and things get better! No more panic and anxyti at the most part of yhe time. I still notice guys and feel like i want do kiss or something but I DON WANT TO! I had many years of suffering and now the most part is gone but the thoughts are still there. I started to go psychologist but shes Just trying to make me come out of the closet n im not there!
A few thoughts…
1) Sex play is extremely common amongst children and does not indicate anything about sexual orientation.
2) Avoiding situations in which you might see naked meant (i.e., locker rooms) is an avoidant compulsion that will only make things worse.
3) “Checking” to see if you are gay is also a compulsion that will also make things worse.
4) Your psychologist clearly has no idea what OCD is. Find a therapist who specializes in treating OCD.
Hi, I am 18 years old and I have been in love with women and girls from a young age. Ive had nothing but success when having sex with girls and I love doing it. Once When I was young I saw a movie about 2 gay men and I worried one day Id grow up to be gay then those thoughts passed shortly after. Ive had crushes on girls since I can remember and sexual thoughts about women since I was at very young age and Ive always loved those thoughts. Ive been with my girlfriend for 9 months now and I lover her so much and having sex with her is amazing. But we went on a trip after graduation and after having sex countless times I couldn’t get an erection. Before this i guy i knew came out and when he did i thought “oh no if hes gay does that mean i could be” and when my erection didn’t happen my first thought was, ” does this mean I’m gay” since, i obsess over these thoughts and i feel they’ll hurt my relationship I’m also always checking my groin to see if I’m attractred to men. And trying to see if i like anything about men like checking them out to make sure. I have thoughts about it and I feel uneasy and grossed out. Also Ive never been aroused by a man. but these thoughts worry me.
You write “this i guy i knew came out and when he did i thought ‘oh no if hes gay does that mean i could be’”. How is it that someone’s else’s sexual orientation would indicate something about your own. Someone else coming out has nothing whatsoever to do with you.
You also note that you were unable to get an erection after having sex “countless” times while on vacation. If a gay man was unable to sustain an erection with a man after a lot of sex, would that mean he was straight? Of course not. The point here is that your lack of erection likely had nothing to do with sexual orientation, and everything to do with having had sex countless times.
Finally, allow me note that checking out men to see if you find them appealing is a compulsion that will make things worse. Ditto for checking your groin for arousal.
Also lately it’s like I’m noticing more males being attractive and that freaks me out because before all of this I never really noticed or payed attention. I notice when girls are attractive but less lately and it’s like my sex drive is going down hill. I constantly have the thought what if I’m gay. Also I keep having these gay thoughts and I hate them but sometimes I don’t get the anxiety from them and that makes me worry if what if I’m gay. And it’s not cause I hate the thoughts because I “like them” I just don’t find them appealing. And I worry if I have these thoughts now what if they become more than just thoughts later in my life and I become gay after being married to my girlfriend and starting a family…
Everything you write sounds like textbook HOCD. The only reason you are noticing more attractive males is that you are over-attending to men because of your OCD. If you were to start looking for all the Toyotas on the streets of your town, you would be amazed how many you see. They were always there, but you only realized how common they were when you started to over-attend to them.
Also, the fear that you are not as anxious as you think you should be is a common sign of the “back door spike” described in the article above.
Hello, I really hope someone is going to see my message. It is kind of stupid, but I watched a TV series in which one of the main charachers is gay. Since then ( one month) I have been obsessing about how I will be gay too, but I know I am straight. I’ve always been straight, always liked boys and thinking about the possibility of being otherwise drives me crazy. I read so many articles about Hocd and I actually thought I got rid of it because I exposed myself to the thoughts not trying to check my reactions and not trying to battle them. But a few days ago the thoughts came back and I don’t know what to do anymore bc I have so many other things to do, and why think about this when I could think of something else?
Yup – sounds like HOCD.
I just recently moved to Japan to start graduate school and have been here for a year. When I first arrived, despite knowing less about my field than I do now, I had a lot of confidence. I was attracted to many girls on the street: I don’t know if it was sensory overload or what, but I wanted to have a relationship with a girl. I’m not to the level of being able to converse like a native speaker, which was a big disconnect for me. I had a relationship once, but it went very poorly.
Work in the lab is stressful and, over several mistakes, I lost a massive amount of that initial confidence. The HOCD worry all started when I saw a youtube video where someone said “I realized I looked at the men more in porn than I did the women,” which hit me. Sure I looked at men, and was turned on, but I think if it really came down to it I wouldn’t respond to a man’s approach. I know this, but at the same time I get this obnoxious tingle in my mouth when talking with guys that makes me think I want to kiss them. I feel like I could get over these issues if this tingle wasnt there, but i’ve been fighting it for the past few months and I feel like i’ve somehow “given in.”
It sounds like you have HOCD, and that you are analyzing the sensation in your mouth way too much. I doubt that anyone on the planet who does not have HOCD analyzes the sensation in their mouth in an attempt to determine if they are interested in people of the same gender.
Also, just because some stranger says something on youtube doesn’t mean it applies to you.And unless you’ve kissed a guy, you haven’t “given in” to anything.
Stop analyzing your thoughts and sensations, and start accepting their existence without making any effort to control or eliminate them.
Hi im , 21 years old male,im sure i have hocd.that started cause i had sex five times in my life mostly with prostitutes and never finished(cum).tha created the fear inside me.by that fear i started the compulsion to check what i feel about guys and about girls and compare.i never had gay thoughts before.when i could get arousal thinking of women i would relax for sometime but that could not convince myself.for guys i only felt that groinal response but not true arousal.all this made feel so bad and i needed to know for sure what i am.one day i did so many compulsions and tried it so much i finally got arousal thinking a man and that freaked me out so much i had suicidal thoughts.i felt my whole life changed and i had to be someone else.i never felt worse before on my life.i couldnt sleep from anxiety.i had crazy thoughts that i have to live like woman and felt so bad.i kept doing the compulsions and started feeling aroused by women again and feel some relief but my mind would always made up something to freak me out again.i feel lost and ill never be normal again.feel my mind is against me.i like girls i ve been aroused just by touching them or watching them.can that be fake?help!
Everything you write sounds like textbook HOCD to me.
I’m a 16 year old girl and I think I’ve been dealing with what I honestly hope is HOCD. My biggest problem is my “gut feeling.” What I do over and over again is repeat that, “I’m gay, I’m biexual, I’m straight.” Out loud over and over to see which one feels right. But sometimes they’re just all mixed up and I’m scared. I’ve always remembered liking boys, if I’m honest I like everything about them. With girls, I can honestly think they’re pretty, but not much else. When I think of doing something sexual with a girl I feel sick and parts of my body, such as an arm or leg, twitch. But my brain tells me that I’m just in denial and that if I come out then it’ll all be different. I’ve also never had any real close friends who are girls. I’m so scared. I have literal break downs and my parents ask me if I’m okay, I don’t want to tell them in case they think I’m gay/bi. I don’t really have a problem with gay people, I even have friends who are gay. But now I’m scared being around them in case I turn out to be like them. I always make sure I look girly as well cause I don’t want to look mascualine and have people mistake me for being gay/bi.
Repeating “I’m gay, I’m bisexual, I’m straight” and then analyzing which sounds “right”is a testing compulsion and will only make you more “mixed up”.
If the idea of sex with a girl makes you feel “sick”, it is unlikely that you are gay or in denial. I encourage you to read our article “Doubt, Denial and OCD”. You may also want to read our article “HOCD: 30 Things You Need To Know”.
Hello, I am an 18 year old girl and I think HOCD is taking over my life. Even though I feel a little better knowing there is a name for this and I’m not actually in denial of my ‘true self’ I don’t know where to go from here. I have been obsessing over the possibility of never likening a guy again for the past year or more. I still find guys cute and attractive but for no more then a few days. Even celaberty guys don’t appeal to me for long and this only makes me worry more that I was will never find a guy and be in a long term relationship with one. Which makes me wonder if I will only find that ‘connection’ with a girl even though any time I think about the idea of dating a girl I get sick and start to panic. I have tried accepting that I could be gay or bi like LGBST ‘comeing out’ cites tell you to do and a few seconds later I have to take it back and say ‘no! I am straight!’ or I will start to feel afraid and panicked. Basically I feel like my world would end if I had to spend my life with another girl. I live in fear that me becoming friends with a girl will lead to me developing romantic feelings for her even if I know in my heart that I am attracted to guys…
You say “I feel like my world would end if I had to spend my life with another girl.” Well two things about that
1) No, your world wouldn’t end. Lesbianism does not mean the world changes one iota. Sex is not that important in the big scheme of things.
2) If you were a lesbian, you would like the idea of being with a woman. The fact that you are so appalled by the idea is pretty good evidence that you are not gay or bi or anything other than straight.
You say “I don’t know where to go from here”, but the answer is simple – to a therapist who specializes in treating OCD. There is no reason to suffer when you have a condition that is so treatable.
Okay this is my whole story i am not hiding anything. I am a 17 year old male. Ever since i was a little kid i always looked at and noticed girls whether it was in the classroom, my teachers, or models. I discovered porn in like 5/6 grade and loved it. All straight and lesbian stuff. Gay stuff would always gross me out. I never even thought it was possible that a guy could be good looking. I always used to say wow if i was a girl id be lesbian because guys are gross. In MS i dated two girls one i dated for a year and a half and loved her so much. It was ready for that to end and when i was around 16 i was with another girl. This is when it all started. She talked about a guy being attractive and I said how can a guy be attractive i dont know what you mean. Then all of the sudden I saw a guy and said yeah i guess hes a good lookiing dude and this is when it all began. i would constantly go on websites and look at guys and see if i was attracted to them. Then i would walk around school (all boys school) and get high anxiety whenever i saw a decent looking guy.
Noticing that some guys are attractive does not mean you are gay – it means you notice that someone is attractive. There are plenty of good looking guys in the world. Stop checking websites to see if you find guys attractive, and accept that it is fine to notice that, yes, some guys are attractive.
Hey, can you help me with something because I have a few questions. Is it normal not panic at the thoughts as much, because I continuously panicked at the beginning now I lose the sensation of feeling any panic. Is it normal that my thoughts change I worry a lot about suddenly liking women and getting older and dumping my boyfriend for a women but now I’m starting to worry about what people thing and make scenarios up in my head telling people I’m gay. Is that normal? I’m just a bit confused right now because I have moments where I know I’m straight but suddenly I feel hopeless, hopeful someone can get back to me
Everything you write sounds like textbook HOCD. Worrying that one is not worrying as much as they used to, and what that might mean, is often a prelude to what is sometimes called a “backdoor spike” in which one believes that their reduced anxiety is evidence that they are actually gay. I encourage you to read about this in our article HOCD: 30 Things You Need To Know.
I’m confused now bc I started a relationship months ago and I got what I thought to be ROCD. I started obsessing about my bf getting bored of me, about cheating on him, about having an unwanted pregnancy that ruined everything, about not loving him, then about being lesbian, back to not liking him enough and being a lesbian. The last obsession hit me hard this time, bc I remembered that in my childhood my girl neighbor made me make out her without clothes, and I did the same with my sister, and since then I started getting clitorial stimulation by friction with objects like my pillow. Through my adolescence I started combining this habit with lesbian porn/lesbian fantasies. I always dreamt about men romantically, I’ve never been sexually/emotionally interested in a real woman in my life, and I also had straight fantasies, and the gay fantasies always felt quite controlled and imaginary to me, but lately I’ve been terrified of being gay and had incestuous thoughts/dreams about my sister and it seems I’m unconsciously always looking at women, I think I’m less aroused by straight porn/fantasies than by gay ones, I can’t orgasm through penetration, I don’t love giving oral sex.
A few thoughts…
Everything you write sounds like classic OCD.
Clitoral stimulation via friction with objects is bound to cause arousal, regardless of what you are thinking about.
Many women cannot climax via penetration. This does not mean you are gay.
Many women dislike oral sex. This does not mean you are gay.
I’m a 23 year old female & I’ve been dealing with anxiety for about 5 years now. It all began when I started dating my current & also first boyfriend. A few weeks into our relationship I suddenly had a thought about not really loving him. I panicked, couldn’t eat or sleep for more than a week, I didn’t know what was happening to me & I was devastated.
Due to my anxiety, I could never really enjoy being sexually intimate with him & started avoiding it altogether. Even when I know that despite being nervous I enjoyed fooling around with him when we first got together, I’ve been unable to enjoy it since the onset of my fears. Over time I kinda became numb to it all – I still avoided intimacy as much as I could cause I was scared & as a result wasn’t happy but I dealt.
My “new” fear is the fear of being a lesbian, mostly of no longer/not truly being attracted to men. It has stuck with me for 2 years now & is feeding off my past, porn preferences & relationship/intimacy issues. Before THAT I also had fears related to my health & of being attracted to a relative. I’ve been on meds for 2 yrs & been going to therapy weekly since January but I still feel hopeless.
The fact that you have had other anxiety and OCD issues prior to the arrival of these issues strongly suggests that have OCD, and like many people, your symptoms tend to morph over time. It sounds like you are currently experiencing a combination of HOCD and Relationship OCD (ROCD). This is actually a very common combination of symptoms.
You say you have been in therapy, but you “still feel hopeless”. I am guessing you are not in therapy with a treatment provider who specializes in treating OCD. I strongly encourage you to find a therapist who does specialize in OCD, as most other therapists, while well-intentioned, have no clue how to treat this condition.
Hello, I’m female, great articles, but I identified myself, with the above
On the possibility of being in denial, so I avoid homosexual people, articles about them, because I’m afraid to identify myself and I found myself contrary to my orientation, my confused mind does not let me be sure with what characteristics I identify more, with a A real denial, or a hocd problem, but what really happens is that I’m too scared to discover myself as someone I do not want to be, and that thought makes me believe that I’m in denial, I’m too scared to seek help because I have a lack of self-knowledge, and sometimes I believe that if I know myself intimately, I will find myself in the opposite direction, what advice would you give me? Thanks for listening
It is quite common for people with HOCD to fear that they don’t really have HOCD, but are actually “in denial”. I encourage you to read our article on this very topic, Doubt, Denial and OCD. Other than that, my best advice is to get into treatment with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
Hi in December a guy who I believe is gay came up and talked to me at a work event. He didn’t directly come on to me but he tried to have small talk to basically develop interest I suppose. He basically asked for my number to talk about different business ventures and I figured he was somewhat gay so I just gave him my work number so he couldn’t text me or anything. At the time I didn’t think much of it because I’m just a nice guy. It bothered me mentally later on that week and had me second guessing my sexuality. Ive also been a straight guy that loves women and I’ve been in a committed relationship with a woman for about 5 years now. The thing that’s bothering me is that me and my girlfriend recently had sex and while she was giving me oral that thought of him popped up in my head for some reason and my penis wouldn’t get erect anymore which hindered our ability to have sex and now my self esteem is messed up and I’m scared to have sex again with my girlfriend because I don’t want those thoughts again. A man has never aroused me or made my penis erect and it still hasn’t since this has happened but it’s fucking with my mind so bad that I can barely eat, sleep or enjoy life.
A few thoughts…
1) By your own description, you don’t know for sure that this guy is gay. Maybe he isn’t.
2) Even if he is gay, a gay man talking to you does not even remotely indicate anything about your sexual orientation.
3) He may have just been interested in the business issues he mentioned when speaking with you.
4) You don’t mention anything about him calling you with the number you provided.
5) All of the above strongly suggests that you are spending way too much time postulating about what he was interested in, and what that says about you. This is classic HOCD obsessing.
6) Avoidance of sex with your girlfriend is also a classic HOCD symptom, and it isn’t working – you are still thinking about your sexual orientation, even though you aren’t having sex with your girlfriend.
7) If you continue to avoid sex with your girlfriend in an effort to avoid having unwanted thoughts about possibly being gay, you will actually make the gay thoughts worse.
Your two goals are simple:
1) Allow these thoughts to exist without taking them seriously.
2) Have sex with your girlfriend.
I think I am suffering from HOCD. It all started abut 2 weeks ago when a thought came in my mind “What if I am gay”.After that I only think about the consequences of being gay. After that when I see some man, i try picture himself with me but I feel disgusted. When I learned about this disease like 2 days ago so I started to calm down and thoughts were there but not that much it used to be. Although, now I have another fear “what If I don’t have HOCD”. I m a college student and do really well in my studies. My finals are coming up. I really want to focus on my studies. I cannot afford a therapist but I can get a Psychiatric consult in my school. Will that help or any medicine or any besides the therapy.
At last, do I have HOCD or not.
I cannot provide a diagnosis via a blog comment, but I can say that the symptoms you describe sound very much like OCD. That said, it has only been a short time that you have had these thoughts, so treatment may not be required. If you do elect to seek a consult, I encourage you to see a therapist who specializes in treating OCD, as your school counselor is likely to be woefully misinformed about OCD and its treatment. In the meantime, I encourage you to read our article “Doubt, Denial, and OCD”, as it directly addresses your fear that you may not actually have OCD.
Brave statement about ‘no gay denial’. Respect. I’ve had varying degrees of this problem most of my life and while not struggling to the degree of many of the other respondents with respect to homosexual fantasies, I have been consumed in fear of being seen as gay, or thought of as gay as a result of a childhood experience from a rumor spreading around as well as being the youngest of an all boy family I suspect. There’s one thing that I see as unique with this compulsion that doesn’t seem to be addressed as much as I’d like. Its the stigma associated with it as compared to other kinds of OCD. I could survive being publicly outed as a compulsive hand washer, but being judged as gay as a result of a visible emotional reaction and discomfort to the relatively innocuous throw away gay quip can be professionally and socially damaging. I can’t just say to someone, please stop bugging me in that way because it in particular bothers me. That would be akin to a PTSD soldier doing another tour in Iraq. How does one proactively deflate the power of the fear, when the only way to do that is in secrecy? Bravely facing fears in secret seems self defeating. Clarification?
I am not convinced that HOCD has more stigma attached to it than other variants of OCD. It sounds to me like you are over-valuing HOCD as somehow being more deleterious than other forms of OCD.
Also, I don’t think you need to respond in any way when someone makes a comment about homosexuality. Verbally challenging someone who makes a comment about homosexuality does not “proactively deflate the power of the fear” you experience. In fact, I think it validates that fear. Let others make whatever judgments they want, without investing anything in those judgements. In other words, ignore the comments, as they are not worth your time or energy.
I am a 39 year old woman who has had hocd since I was 11 years old. I have been through ERP for five months straight at a well known ocd clinic, but the treatment made me worse (I have poor insight ocd). I am currently on medication too. I’ve only ever dated men and only want to be straight. I have been doing well with the hocd until last November when I had a dream where I asked a dream figure “am I a lesbian?, and he said “yes, you’ve been in denial…you’ve been too scared to admit it.”
This dream has terrified me so much that I attempted suicide a month ago. I am so scared that this is definitive proof that my subconscious is saying I’m gay and that it must be true. I realize that sexual content dreams are symbolic and don’t mean what they appear, however my dream was not symbolic with sexual content but they were actually TOLD they were gay directly and I am terribly concerned that this might not be ocd. Have you ever heard of this direct type of dream with ocd where the person is actually TOLD DIRECTLY they are gay?
Dreams are not messages from your subconscious. This is a ridiculous myth that has been perpetrated by psychoanalysts for 100 years. Dreams are just weird thoughts that occur when we are asleep. And the notion that sexual content in dreams is automatically symbolic or important is nonsense. If the figure in your dream told you that you were a toaster, would you assume that meant you were actually a toaster. Of course not!
Committing suicide because of one’s sexual orientation makes no sense. How is it that being dead is preferable to being gay? And let’s not forget that there is not a shred of evidence that you are gay (sorry, dreams and unwanted intrusive thoughts are not evidence).
I know I may be coming off a bit strong here, but somebody needs to challenge the cognitive distortions that you have about dreams and sexuality. That said, if you again find yourself seriously contemplating suicide, please take yourself to your local emergency room immediately.
I was watching a bizarre movie that envolve a relationship and sex between two women. It scared me and after that came the fear of being a lesbian. I’m 22 years old and it never crossed my mind, I always had desires and relationships with men. Before that obsession, I also had some others, like the fear of being pregnant, being fired, having a disease in the head. At first, I only had the “gay feeling”. Then I began do mental tests to every woman I saw. It gave me a lot of anxiety and fear. After do it so many times, its doesnt cause me more agony, which scares me even more. I know I’m not open to that possibility. I do not know if it’s a wish I’m denying, or just an attraction or a fantasy. I only know that this is very disturbing cause feels so real, feels that i want this for me.
Thanks for the article, it’s great.
A few thoughts…
1) You say have never been a lesbian, and have always had desires and relationships with men. That sounds pretty straight to me.
2) Seeing a movie with a lesbian relationship does not have the power to turn you gay.
3) These are just thoughts.
4) Your prior history of multiple periods of obsessionality strongly suggests that you have OCD, and that HOCD is just the latest iteration of your OCD.
5) “Testing” yourself to see if you are gay is a compulsion that only makes HOCD worse.
6) Your fear that your reduced anxiety is evidence that you actually are gay is a called a “backdoor spike”. You can read more about this in our article Doubt, Denial and OCD and HOCD: 30 Things You Need to Know.
Thanks for the answer. It seems that I live in a cycle that has no end. As I let go of one fear, another comes. I thought I was gay, but I know I like men. I have boyfriend for 2 years and i love him. So, after all these months for fear of being gay, now I’m afraid of being bisexual. Worst of all is that I keep seeing celebrities claiming to be bisexual. My fear only increases. I’ve always seen movies with gay scenes, I’ve lived with gay / bi people and it never hit me. Out of nowhere, after seeing this movie, this idea stuck in my mind. It’s like I’ve become gay. As if everything I’ve ever lived has changed from nowhere. I never saw a woman that way, no matter how beautiful I found her. Never. But now I always check if I’m attracted to them. It’s all very confusing. I spend many hours of my day with this. Am I bi and never knew? Will I come out of nowhere bi?
A few thoughts…
1) There is no significant difference between a fear of being gay and a fear of being bi. In both cases the obsession can be boiled down to “What if my sexuality is not what I think it should be”.
2) What celebrities do or say has absolutely nothing to do with your sexual orientation. Your OCD is trying to convince you that the sex life of celebrities is relevant to you. The simple truth is that it has nothing to do with you.
3) Your obsessions do not indicate that you have suddenly become gay – they indicate that you have OCD.
4) Nothing about your sexuality has changed.
5) Stop checking for attraction. It is a compulsion that makes your OCD worse.
6) You are not in denial about your sexual orientation. I encourage you to read our article “Doubt, Denial, and OCD”.
I have been heterosexual for twenty five years and these obessions started three months ago when I was at work and realized I looked at this male and started to have sensations in my groin areas. The obessions started after my girlfriend told me about a story of someone she knew who was gay. The idea came up in my head that I might be gay and it scared the crap out of me and couldn’t let it go.
It has been three months and the idea of being gay has scared the living crap out of me as I knew and wanted to be with my girlfriend. I have been doing a lot of complusions to check to see if I am attracted to other males as I don’t find them attractive. I am still attracted to females and find them very attractive. But these obessions have been causing me to ponder my sexuality and I cannot stop thinking about this nagging doubt. All I focus through out the day is on these thoughts and when I see an attractive male my mind suddenly tells me that I am gay and attracted to men.
For every male I look at or even a picture of myself my mind tells that I am gay. Is this HOCD or could i really be gay. My anxiety has lowered but it has caused insomnia and impacts my day.
A few thoughts…
1) Wondering about one’s sexual orientation after hearing about someone else being gay does not mean you are gay. It means your brain is curious after being exposed to something (in this case a story about someone being gay).
2) Thoughts and “groinal sensations” happen, and over-attending to them will only lead to over-valuing of them. They are not worth even one second of analysis.
3) Ditto for finding men attractive. The reason you find some men attractive is that some men ARE attractive, combined with the fact that you are now over-attending to men’s attractiveness. Let them be attractive without assuming that their attractiveness means anything about your sexual orientation.
4) This all sound like HOCD.
5) It is fairly common for people with OCD to lose sleep because they are so anxious.
Hi, I have a question. I think I have HOCD. I’ve had those thoughts for five months. After reading the articles I calmed down. In the first months the thoughts were intrusive and caused a lot of anxiety. But now, I feel they are no longer “intrusive.” I think I’ll be doing mental tests to see how I feel about them. Do I have no HOCD and am I in denial?
Many people with HOCD worry that their thoughts are not “intrusive”, and they actually want to be gay. I encourage you to read our article Doubt, Denial, and OCD which directly addresses this issue. You may also enjoy are article HOCD: 30 Things You Need to Know, which also addresses this.
Thanks for your article. My OCD recently latched onto an obsession about a gay/straight alliance on my college campus. My OCD says that when I had old HOCD obsessions, I would purposely avoid gay members. Now my OCD is saying that the only way to overcome this, is to do exposure by going to one of the club’s meetings. My brain is saying that I HAVE to go to this exposure, and by not going I am avoiding the situation. My brain says that if I avoid, this obsession will never go away. I’ve always been told to lean into the anxiety. The thought of going gives me anxiety and the thought of not going gives me anxiety. I’m not sure if the right exposure would be going to this club event or just agreeing with the thought of eventually going. I think going may be compulsive because my obsession is telling me that I have and I get a gut feeling that I HAVE to do this. I am conflicted on whether to go to this event, or just sit with the thought of going. I find it rather odd that my OCD is telling me that I HAVE to do a specific ERP exercise. I just can’t tell if this gut feeling is anxiety or knowing the truth. Any thoughts? Thank you.
Sometimes people with OCD begin to obsess about being certain that they are doing ERP treatment correctly. This is just another manifestation of OCD, which generally likes to punish sufferers with the fear that they are doing something “wrong”.
Your core obsession is still the fear of being gay, so I encourage you to go to the meetings – and not just “one of the meetings” as you suggest, but repeatedly until such time as the meetings become incredibly boring to you.
Hi there. I have been doing some CBT and ERP for HOCD but I fear that my OCD is different. I have already cleared up all of my avoidance behaviours. I.e I’ve re followed my gay friends on Facebook and have started to go out again. Now my main triggers are denial and groinal response to members of the same sex and also some accompanying ROCD thoughts “I’ll hurt my future partner because I’ll come out one day”.
I would like to ask how to draw the line between compulsions and ERP? Since I would read coming out stories and get relief when they had no similarities to myself but this is also recommended as exposure?
Doing well with treatment otherwise, even got my attraction to opposite sex back !
You ask “how to draw the line between compulsions and ERP?” Compulsions are done with the goal of quickly decreasing anxiety. Conversely, ERP is done with the goal of increasing anxiety, and with the long term goal of allowing oneself to habituate to that anxiety and to the unwanted thoughts. In other words, compulsions are a fearful response to anxiety in which the person tries to run from the fear, while ERP is a courageous response to anxiety in which the person chooses to face their fear.
That said, people sometimes turn their ERP assignments into compulsions, either by trying to do them “correctly” or “perfectly”, or by doing them excessively. The goal is to face your fear, not to try to destroy it.
Is it normal to feel some sensation on other parts of body like gronial response. I do not have erection when i see some man or imagine man gender etc… I enjoy sex with my girlfriend. But sometimes i had thought how will be when i kiss same sex and have some sensation on lips or mouth. But i thinkt it is because i focus on this and fear that i want it. But in the reality and everyday life i will no to do this, it is not arousing for me. In the past i also thought that during sex with GF in the ending when i had some man thought it causes me orgasm immidiately but i think it was stress and focusing cos man sex or body is not arousing for me.
What do you think ? it is only focusin on fears and little things which do not play o role in these things ?
For those with HOCD, over-attending to ANY part of the body is a compulsion. There is absolutely no reason to analyze whether your lips/mouth are experiencing a sensation related to a thought. Likewise, analyzing why or when you have an orgasm while having sex with your girlfriend is a compulsion.
Hello I read your article and I’m very sure that I suffer under HOCD. I’m about to start a therapy by an CBT Therapist.I depicted him my problem and he’s still not quite sure that this OCD (HOCD seems not to be well known in germany), or social anxiety.
Where is the difference?
And to me: You say it is important to stop the compulsive checking of my behavior (ERP will be done in the Therapy I guess) but once I started I have the feeling that the OCD is strongly fighting for its survive. It’s like almost everything triggers now bad feelings (watching a movie, seeing good-looking guys) etc. Is that normal, that once you stop checking your behavior, ignoring bad feelings that occur very often (talking to other people) and let the HOCD be, that it get more intense for a specific time?
Greetings from Germany
What you are describing is normal for OCD. I am glad to hear that you are starting Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Make sure that your therapist is not just doing generic CBT, which will be a waste of time. You want to be sure that the therapist has significant training and experience treating OCD with a specific type of CBT called Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). If the therapist does not know what ERP is, find a different therapist who does.
A about a year and a half ago – one day I woke up and boom. I got the idea in my head that I was gay. I ended up breaking up with my girlfriend because of it. For a good amount of this time, it has haunted me. I hate the idea of me being gay, I constantly worry if people think I’m gay (I’ve been asked in the past if I am). I watch how I dress, talk, walk everything. I watch gay and straight porn and see if I get aroused. I’ve started exposing myself to thoughts such as being with a man etc. Often I would find myself getting aroused by it which confuses me even more. Is this a thing that happens with OCD?
It’s got to the point that I can’t soeak to any girls and get feelings, it’s like I physically can’t get feelings. I’ve been too a doctors but I’m on a waiting list. I’ve read through all this website trying to look for more ways on self treatment. I need help so bad
A few thoughts…
1( Everything you write sounds like HOCD.
2) Breaking up with your girlfriend was an avoidant compulsion.
3) Monitoring how people dress, talk, and walk is a compulsion.
4) Watching gay porn (or any porn) in order to check for arousal is a compulsion.
5) Compulsions make OCD worse, not better.
6) Self-treatment is not a very good idea, unless you have lots of experience and trying in treating OCD.
Some people tho always ask me if I’m gay, why is this // if they think it doesn’t it mean I am. I’m just not accepting myself. Also would you recommend getting a counsellor/therapist to help me.
People say and ask all sorts of things. Just because someone asks if you are gay does not mean you are gay. If someone were to ask you if you liked eating insects, would you assume that this means they have some special insight about your unconscious and unrealized desire to eat insects. Of course not! It would only indicate that someone was curious about what kind of food you eat. In other words, others’ questions about you are not evidence of something about you.
Maybe these questioners are gay and are attracted to you. Or maybe they are just curious about you. Or maybe they are nosy and think it is somehow their business to know the sexual orientation of others around them. In none of these scenarios does their question have anything to do with your actual sexual orientation.
And yes, I would recommend seeing a therapist; specifically a therapist who specializes in treating OCD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
Hi I’m a 33 year old male and for the last 3 months I have intrusive thoughts of sucking a dick although I don’t find man attractive at all. This is like an intrusive thought that happens not because I see a good looking man but automatically. I consider myself straight, but how come now I’m feeling this way? While having sex with my girlfriend I’m not feeling the same as before. Is the HOCD or some sort of anxiety and if so how can I overcome it? Thanks in advance
You report that you are not attracted to men, that you have a girlfriend, and that you experience these thoughts as being intrusive and unwanted. That sure sounds like HOCD to me.
You can better manage these thoughts by accepting their presence instead of over-reacting to them. And if that doesn’t help, I encourage you to seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in treating HOCD.
I believe I’ve been having HOCD for about 8 years now. I have a question regarding genuinely enjoying homosexual fantasies or not.
Whenever I force myself to give into the urge to masturbate about females, I unfortunately can get aroused/get an orgasm and don’t always experience anxiety. But I’m only masturbating to females out of fear/compulsions, and I hate that I get aroused to it and not get anxious like I used to.
So, is the fact that I got aroused/orgasmed an indication that I have genuine homosexual desires and fantasies, like Spectrum HOCD?
Also, whenever I try to masturbate to the straight fantasies that I’ve loved all of my life, I’ve been getting anxiety, in fear that I WONT get aroused/like it.
It feels like my ocd and body has done a complete 180 on me and I hate it.
As you note, your masturbation is a compulsion that you are doing out of fear. This sort of checking behavior is always going to make you feel worse. The fact that you get sexually aroused and are able to climax while masturbating is not evidence you are gay – it is evidence that you are masturbating. If you masturbated to the thought of a plate of spaghetti, you would eventually have an orgasm. This would not mean that you are sexually attracted to spaghetti. It would mean your body is functioning as is should by having an orgasm in response to masturbation.
My suggestion is simple: stop masturbating to females. This is a compulsion.
hi! i am a female, i am 18, and i have been suffering with HOCD for a while now. it all started when i was enjoying platonic time with a good friend of mine. i have a boyfriend who i’m very serious about, but with our relationship comes ROCD. my brain made me think since i was enjoying another human being other than him, i must want them emotionally and sexually. i also have these thoughts with other men, but they don’t scare me as much because it is not out of my norm. i fully understand my symptoms and know 100% that i have HOCD and am not gay. i have never had any attraction to girls. my brain just simply won’t let me relax and be at peace. i was abused once as a kid by another girl and i did experiment with my girl friends when i was 5-7, but the scenarios were always boy/girl. i truly regret it and would do anything to take it back. i think this has triggered the HOCD and the ROCD doesn’t help. my main goal in life is to marry my loving and understanding boyfriend and to be happy with him, but this almost makes me feel numb. it’s all together very frustrating and exhausting.
Searching for Peace,
A few thoughts…
1) It is extremely common for people with HOCD or ROCD to experience both.
2) Of course you can enjoy spending time with your friends, male and female. Life would be pretty dull if you were only allowed to enjoy the company of one person.
3) Lots of people were sexually molested, and having gone through this experience does not make one gay.
4) Ditto for experimenting with same sex behaviors as a kid.
5) I encourage your to read our article “HOCD: 30 Things You Need to Know”, which addresses all of these issues.
Hi I do appreciate you so much that you can imagine,
I’m Ebrahim about 30 years old and I haven’t had sex at all ( the reason is that I’m interested in love not just casual sex with an stranger and my relationships with the girls I find is not end well because up to know we’re not suite for each other) so as a healthy person I do masterbate, I don’t know what happened a few days ago suddenly I had panic attacks and feared about being gay, which honestly in all these years I didn’t even noticed about it, I don’t even fantasizing about anal sex with women let alone men,this is not enjoyable at all for me, I personally adore women and I like being with them, and have a love, children and etc… when I was younger I few times stimulate my prostate but I thought It’s not right and I didn’t do it again, in these few days I thought to myself what if I am gay because I enjoyed that !beside of that I know I’m not gay but I feel sad about these thoughts, that’s bothering, what’s your advise to me?
This all sounds like classic HOCD. You ask for my advice, so here it is: find a therapist who specializes in treating OCD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) focused on a specific CBT technique called Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP).
Thanks a ton for this helpful article. I feel greatly relieved.
I am a 17 year old male. I am suffering from mild HOCD (I guess) for months. I sure as hell know that I am **NOT** gay. I also do **NOT** like to be one. I have noticed from the many questions you have answered that the most important thing to do while having HOCD thoughts is to simply do nothing and *ACCEPT* the presence of those thoughts. I must say that *accepting* something is not as much easy or voluntary, at least for me, as lifting an object off the table. In fact, I always obsess over whether I am accepting or *reacting* to these thoughts and sensations. I feel that the only way one can ever know the presence of a thought is by reacting to it, at least mentally. Even if I learn to *accept* ,how to know and make sure that I am in fact *accepting* these thoughts and not *reacting* to them?
Can you please elaborate on this action of *accepting* and make it look more *doable*? Also, how do i deal with the anxiety that attacks me while doing this?
Thanks a lot for your help.
I disagree. Acceptance IS as easy as lifting an object off of a table. It is merely making a shift in how you view the thoughts.
You currently think these thoughts are important and merit a response. You even say that the only way to “know” if a thought is present is by reacting to it. And then you say that you believe you need to “make sure” that you are accepting the unwanted thought. All of these ideas are wrong.
Allow me to elaborate:
1) These thoughts are unimportant. Sexual orientation simply is not that big a deal. In fact, I would argue that it is a social construct that serves no legitimate purpose whatsoever. Love who you want without worrying about such idiotic labels as “straight” or “gay” or “bi”.
2) The idea that one only knows a thought is present by reacting to it sounds like something people would come up while stoned in a college dormitory at 3am.
3) As for making sure that you accept something, this seems like a complete waste of time. You do not need to make sure that you accept something. In fact, there is no way to be “certain” of anything, as you can always come up with something that negates the alleged certainty. Certainty-seeking is a waste of time and energy.
I encourage you to accept your unwanted thoughts about your sexual orientation by letting them exist without analysis, without understanding, and without certainty. When you notice one of these thoughts in your consciousness, briefly make note of it, and then get busy doing whatever it was you were doing when the thought came into your consciousness. Get on with the business of living as if the idea of knowing your sexual orientation doesn’t matter…because it doesn’t.
I know now that I have HOCD, always had OCD (different obsessions at a time) but got healed. Two years ago the gay obsessions started (pure O), Im straight (even tho it’s been hard for me to say this out loud bc of the confusion HOCD makes).
When Im convinced I cant be gay, HOCD starts saying Im bisexual or something. HOCD supports this theory on my groin feeling (sometimes it gets triggered randomly), and bc you have here a section about gay fantasies and spectrum, HOCD (or me) is saying I fantasize with men but I dont want to admit it (thats because when gay scenes pop in my mind I get the groin feeling or even the pleasurable thought of sex), or that Im bisexual but I dont want to admit it (same reason)
Am I using HOCD as an excuse? I dont want to become (or be) bisexual, or end up with a man, as the section about fantasies points out, is that denying? since theres gay people who dont want to be gay and they even go to those craptherapies, that sure means denial, just like some people dont want to be what they are, or dislike themselves
Am I repressed and thats why I dont want to explore those unwanted gay thoughts?
I find your website very helpful,…
A few thoughts…
1) This all sounds like HOCD.
2) It is quite common for those with HCOD to also obsess about other sexual orientation variants that they see as being counter to who they really are, such as being bi, trans, etc. It’s really all the same thing.
3) Your fears that you are “using HOCD as an excuse” and that you are “in denial” are quite common. I encourage you to read our article “Doubt, Denial, and OCD”.
a lot of these long stories and I apologize for mines. I was 24 on July 31 I was working and passed by this guy we made eye contact then I kept walking then a thought came in my head why did I look at him like that maybe cause I thought I was gay and after that it went all down hill I thought it would go away and it just kept bothering me. The next day and so on it got worse I cried because I didn’t want to mess up my relationship with my girlfriend and didn’t know what was going on.i searched a couple of times saw this thing called “nofap” maybe thought it was because of porn addiction and smoking weed the whole month and someone in the comments mentioned hocd so I got a huge relief maybe because of the reassurance. It’s been 6 months now I feel like it’s how it first started but it wants me to enjoy it and get aroused by every little thing and makes me anxious and nervous that I might want to and I just want to be my normal self again had thoughts before and some times dreams but it never bothered me before and I feel like my attraction to the opposite sex is almost lost if you could hear me out thank you..
Looking someone of the same gender in the eye does not mean you are gay. There is no reason that you should go through life never looking other males in the eye. The problem here is not that you looked at this guy in the eye, but that you came to the entirely unsupported conclusion that this means you are gay. The thought you experienced at that time is just a thought. I encourage you to read our article “OCD is Fake News”.
Hi, 23 years old male.I had been heterosexual all my life (until 18 years old). I had masturbated thousands of times to women, had satisfying sex, only enjoyed femal appearance, confessed my love to them. Never had any doubts about my sexuality until one day (although I’ve ALWAYS been an anxious/sensitive guy, with fears about school, religion, health, harming etc.).My best friend (had known him for 4 years by then(we had a deep relationship, talked about religion, life, philosophy…I looked up to him like as “inspiring”) got his penis out and started teasing a girl. I saw him naked before and never really given any thought to it. A thought about having oral sex to him “happened”. He was in erection. As I can remember I wasn’t purely physically aroused (didn’t have an erection), but the thought seemed vaguely pleasing (I mean doing the act, but in my mind). I’ve never ever had anything like this happening to me before and basically ran away (obsessed since). I thought heterosexual guys could/should never have gay fantasies.So can I chill out that that thought/feeling was just a random thought? I mean one can’t be straight for 18 years,love girls in one moment and then…
Everything you write sounds like textbook HOCD.
Also, you say that your best friend took his erect penis out in public in order to “tease” a girl. Well, that sounds like your friend may have bigger problems than you, not the least of which being that his idea of “teasing” would likely be considered sexual assault by the law.
so can I accept the fact that the “enjoying part” of that fantasy doesn’t mean I’m gay? (It feels like the All-or-nothing fallacy). That’s the only reassurance I need.
The fact I now know it’s HOCD and that some gay fantasies are normal and healty for straight people has already helped me a lot.
You say “That’s the only reassurance I need”, but that’s not how OCD works. Your OCD would likely respond to any rearrange I might provide with a brief respite, only to be followed by a desire for more reassurance. The bottom line is that reassurance never works in the long term. Besides, how on Earth could I provide you with anything resembling reassurance about your sexual orientation and your sexual fantasies when I have never even met you, and the only thing I know about you is a brief comment you have posted on a blog.
I encourage you to read our article “Reassurance Seeking in OCD and Anxiety”.
I am a 32 year old male. Have always been into women, somewhat of a playboy but now in a loving relationship with my girlfriend. I’ve had the “what if I’m gay thought” from time to time but it didn’t obsess me like it is now. 6 weeks ago, I was approached by someone I knew at a party, who was visibly gay. Anyway, he flirted with me and I was uncomfortable with his flirting. Afterwards, I couldn’t get him out of my mind. I began to wonder “have I turned gay.” I had sex with my girlfriend 6 times that night alone and I was relieved I wasn’t gay. After my buddy invited me to a party with a visibly gay person who was also attractive, I freaked out. I began to evaluate men and women, google a lot about sexuality, and to avoid eye contact with men. I also had to work with a guy who looks gay in my work and it went downhill. I began to panic randomly, my mind screaming “you’re gay, you’re in denial,” I even started getting groinals. I shut myself in the bathroom reading about HOCD. Now I can’t focus at work, my mind won’t stop. And I’ve begun avoiding my buddy.
A few thoughts…
1) People don’t just suddenly “turn gay”.
2) Gay people approaching you does not mean you are gay – it means they are gay and they are allowed to approach people at parties just like you are.
3) Likewise, gay people are allowed to be attractive, flirt, etc., and when they do so, it does not mean you are gay.
4) Evaluating men and women, googling about sexuality, avoiding eye-contact with males, and avoiding male friends are all compulsions that will only make your OCD worse.
I encourage you to read our article “Doubt, Denial, and OCD“
I really wish it were that simple but sometimes the anxiety spikes so high I don’t know what to do… I met another gay (or transgendered?) person for work and he was very pretty I swore he could have been female. Again my anxiety went through the roof, I couldn’t calm myself down at all and I was afraid to look him in the eye as well. Could you please tell me what to do in such situations? I cannot help but panic… please help…
Actually, it IS that simple. It is only your OCD that leads you to believe that there is something special and complex going on here.
Stop paying attention to these thoughts, stop evaluating these thoughts, and stop doing compulsions in response to these thoughts, and you will see improvement. And if you are not able to do these three things, find a therapist who specializes in treating OCD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help you with this.
Hi Tom, really appreciate your reply. I tried not to google or ruminate this week and my anxiety improved by a lot. However, I still get groinal responses and it seems to be getting worse. I get a lot of precum – even the thought that I am turning gay generates a lot of precum without any erection. What is going on? I don’t trust my body anymore…
You are paying WAAAAAY too much attention to your penis. The only people that worry about “groinal response” are people with HOCD. The rest of the world does not devote much attention to whether or not they are experiencing unwanted feelings in their crotch.
It also sounds like you are spending a lot of time evaluating your precum. If I read what you are saying correctly, you sometimes have an unwanted gay thought, you then analyze whether you are experiencing arousal related to this thought, and you then check for precum, and then analyze the quantity of this precum. This is all compulsive. Stop paying attention to your penis. It doesn’t deserve or require any of this attention.
I encourage you to stop attending to your arousal
I am very distressed right now. I’m a 20 year old male in college and I’m afraid I might be gay. I was sexually touched by an older male cousin when I was younger and I think this made me experiment with other boys at that time.
However, I have always loved girls and consider myself straight. The problem is I’m always checking to see if i’m aroused to men and if people think I act gay. I monitor the way I stand, speak, etc. One day, I was trying to have sex with a girl and couldnt get an erection, which made me doubt even more. I recently went to a gay bar with friends a man hit on me. After that I was afraid that I wanted to have sex with him and felt my penis moving slightly from time to time. Then I couldnt get the thoughts out of my head so I masturbated to gay porn two times after. I felt bad afterwards but this always happens.
Normally I watch straight porn but then I get a gay thought and I feel like I have to masturbate to gay porn to get rid of the thoughts. What should i do?
You are correct – the problem here is your checking to see if you are aroused to men and if people think you act gay. This checking is a compulsion and it makes OCD worse, not better.
Similarly, masturbating to gay porn in an effort to get rid of unwanted thoughts about being gay is a compulsion. And this particular compulsion does not even make sense. Masturbating to gay porn is unlikely to eliminate gay thoughts.
Stop doing compulsions and you will likely see a reduction in OCD thoughts.
Although I feel that I am straight, does the fact that I am able to get off to gay porn indicate that I am gay? This has been a question that has been lingering in my mind for ages. It has made my sexual life somewhat frustrating because when I masturbate to straight porn I am always afraid that one day it will not be able to get me off and then I’ll become gay. Some times I am able to masturbate to straight porn without these doubts, then sometimes my experience is ruined by having these thoughts questioning if I am gay or not.
I don’t like masturbating to gay porn; I almost always do it in response to having a gay thought and I feel bad afterwards. I like straight porn though. How do I deal with these thoughts and doubts?
The fact that you are able to get off to gay porn does NOT indicate that you are gay. It indicates that you are masturbating. I suspect that you could get off by staring at a blank wall while thinking about a tree. When you masturbate, your body appears to be responding to stimulation as it is supposed to. Congratulations!
The way to respond to all of this is simple. Stop masturbating to gay porn. This is a checking compulsion that you doing to test if you are getting aroused by stimuli that you don’t want to get aroused by. Doing this will never provide you with long-term relief, and will always make your OCD worse.
I was doing well with avoiding compulsions and I was getting better, until last night. I had a dream that I was gay and was about to hook up with a gay guy that I know from one of my classes. I woke up with a boner and was so distressed that I had an urge to masturbate to gay porn, I guess to get rid of the thoughts (this happens almost monthly). And my thoughts and doubts all came back. I started asking myself if I was gay or if I was lying to myself by pursuing girls abnd watching straight porn. But everytime, after a day or so, I realize that I still like women, but the cycle continues.
My problem is that I’ve also noticed recently that gay porn is turning me on somewhat more than straight porn? I always feel that I have to make sure I’m aroused when watching straight porn, which always makes me worry, which now reduces the excitement I used to have when watching it. Have I developed some sort of fetish from the taboo of gay porn? What should I do?
Most males wake up with a hard-on. That’s because men have erections when dreaming, and we often wake up directly from the dream state. If you doubt this, I encourage you to read this:
So let’s be clear here – you could have been dreaming of a bowl of cold oatmeal and you still would have had a boner upon waking.
You ask “what should I do”, and the answer is simple…
Stop watching gay porn.
Stop analyzing your arousal level.
Stop analyzing your thoughts.
Okay I need help big time, idk if I’m secretly in love with a guy or I just have ocd or if I’m actually in denial. 4 months ago is when all this began. I had been a hanging out with a close friend of mine who I’ve always been kind of skeptical of, and one night I got high while on this trip and looked at him and thought wow you are actually an attractive person, the thought may have went farther than that but I really don’t know because I don’t know who I am anymore and I long for the person I was before this happened. Anyway I’m about 100 percent sure this dude is gay, and he has been doing some really messed up things to people when he doesn’t get his way with them. This guy is 10 years older than I am, I’m 20. And pretty much this guy just tries to buy younger dudes whatever they want and then tries to hook up with him, and when they don’t he basically sets out to blackmail them. Once I realized this, I started trying to avoid him without him noticing. When we went on this trip together I was constantly locking doors behind me and avoiding him and couldn’t wait to get home. I wish I never met this person but I might be just saying because I am in some form of denial.
I don’t see anything here that suggests you are gay, or in denial, or in love with this guy. In fact, I hear loud and clear that you don’t even remotely like him.
A word to the wise – don’t take trips with people who you believe have a habit of blackmailing others when they don’t get their way. I encourage you to avoid this guy like the plague.
Hey im a 25 old girl & have These thoughts for 9 yrs. I had health ocd issues in my past. I have a bf for 3 years, and in the beginning it was perfect, But i just Orgasm while having lesbian fantasies(while masturbating and During sex with him).The Problem is that i am afraid that i just don’t want to be gay. I constantly Check feelings and look for prove if i like having sex or relationships more with men or women. The prob is that i meanwhile can Imagine having sex and realtionships with Girls and like it and that Freaks Me out! I don’t want to get aroused by this thought! In good phases i feel attracted to men but when what i hope is hocd kicks in i find men Not at all interesting! I even get this arousal feeling in my groin/stomach when i See short haired women or girls whom i picture lesbians.
My Brain tells Me all the time that i would Love being with a Girl and it actually feels so real, i don‘t want to feel this way. I avoid sex bc i afraid i don’t like it! Im just so afraid that im just in denial and cant handle my sexual Attraction to Girls, am i just too scared to admit to my feelings?
I just wanna be happy with my bf as in the Start and crush on Boys like i used to…
A few thoughts…
1) This all sounds like HOCD.
2) Checking your feelings to see if you prefer women rather than men is a compulsion. It is only making your OCD worse.
3) Likewise, avoiding sex with your boyfriend is a compulsion that is only making your OCD worse.
4) I encourage you to stop doing compulsions, and to instead accept that you experience certain unwanted thoughts and feelings, but that these thoughts are not particularly important or meaningful.
5) Denial is a ridiculous concept. I encourage you to read our article Doubt, Denial, and OCD.
Hi, we all appreciate this help. I have a question I understand that the best way to overcome this, is ERP therapy. Ok now in my particular case I have a specie of radar looking at guy faces (just faces) to prove myself and that makes me so anxious and panic and I begin with the compulsions. If I do the therapy I have to keep this behavior without rituals? but this could turn my radar more active? or worse If some guy just note this, it will very discomfortable to me. I want to do things right, any advice please? Thanks. ( My native language is not English sorry if there’s something wrong). Note: I think my problem begin when I was bullied at school a time ago, now I am mature man.
Bullied at school,
I am not exactly sure what “specie of radar” means – I am guessing your intent got lost in translation. In any case, it sounds like you are checking male faces to see if you find them attractive. This is a compulsion. I encourage you to stop checking male faces. Other than that, my best advice is to seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD.
Hi thanks for answer me. Yes, it is exactly what I meant, I have this behavior since I was 11 year old because of my bullying case at highschool they planted the doubt, with some periods of 7 years and 5 another years without any compulsions. Now I’m 41. Just doctor if you can give some example of ERP in my case to this annoying compulsion but as you said I have to stop it. Por favor?
As noted above, you need to stop checking male faces. This is an example of an ERP assignment. Other than that, you need to find a therapist who specializes in treating OCD. This blog does not replace actual treatment.
Hello Sir I have suffered from various forms of OCD for years, including harm OCD and philosophical existential OCD. I have been through really bad times in the past, but with Gods help I have always gotten through.I have always been straight my whole life. Always I loved girls, and my biggest dream is to find a girl and marry her. I am waiting for the right one. Recently, about two months ago I have gotten HOCD(around the time my existential OCD stopped). There were several triggers, the most powerful seeing a picture of a straight friend of mine that dressed in a feminine manner. I freaked out because I thought he turned. I guess it struck me with fear.This has been the 2 hardest months of life. I am repulsed by homosexual thoughts and this behavior does not align with my moral values(no offense directed against individual). I am always hit by thoughts of those kind of acts, and what scares me the most is that sometimes, I do not feel repulsed enough. At times, my checking compulsions trigger reactions that appear so real, and depress me and make me get severe anxiety. I am repulsed, but not immediately with sexual thoughts. Only after. It does not feel right, but it plays tricks
This all sounds like HOCD. The fear that one is not anxious enough or repulsed enough is extremely common in many variants of OCD, and especially so in HOCD.
Thank you for the reply. This was a very good article btw, helped me make sense of a lot.
One more question, if I may be so bold:). Recently, I have been trying to apply mindfulness to these thoughts, though I am just at the beginning of the fight. At times, I get upset because I do not feel stressed out, and at times even slightly mentally aroused by the thoughts. At times the thoughts repulse me, but at others I feel like I am being sent really deceptive messages. Is it possible that I have become desensitized to these thoughts? Are the mental feelings of arousal a trick OCD plays? It is never an easy sense of arousal like with a girl. It is always coupled with a bit of anxiety, and maybe a fear that I will find them arousing. At times I panic, at others I just accept the thoughts as maybe pleasurable and try to move on. This is coupled with a great range of deceptive thoughts, and more importantly feelings and urges (though never internal desires, even though ocd tries to tell me this.) Is this the OCD trying to fool me further when I attempt to not give into compulsions?
Thanks again for the answers, and sorry if maybe this is a repetitive question?
Sounds exactly like OCD.
hey there, I’m a conservative female and 15, I know I’m straight. All my life I’ve been in an all-girls school and 2-3 years ago I questioned about my sexuality and the first time I was terrified of being gay. Second and third time I was also terrified and I knew I had anxiety causing me to shake, stomach aches, the urge to puke etc. Last month I questioned about my sexuality and same routine (reassurance, prayed, meditated, etc.) now it backfired and I’m experiencing terrible anxiety at night, in the morning, all day. I have thoughts like “what if I’m gay?” “What if I desire to be gay?” “What if I’m denying?” “What if in the future I’ll be gay?”
Before, I’ve supported my friends who were bi/pan, I called some gay/lesbian couples cute, I admired girls and it didn’t bother me. Now I panic if I find a girl hot/pretty or a ftm trans person hot/handsome when in reality I just admire. I Sometimes have images in my head of lesbian girls kissing or having sex for no reason and it bothers me a lot. I just wanna be straight and I am straight yet these intrusive thoughts makes me think it’s reality. I just want to accept it as thoughts and let it go. Hoping for a reply soon, thanks 🙂
A few thoughts…
1) Questions such as “What if I’m gay?” “What if I desire to be gay?” “What if I’m denying?” “What if in the future I’ll be gay?” are extremely common obsessions in HOCD.
2) Reassurance seeking, praying, meditating in an effort to eliminate or resolve unwanted thoughts are compulsions. And as you noted, these compulsions have backfired on you. Your goal should be to accept the presence of these thoughts without taking them seriously. They are just thoughts.
3) Note that “accepting” thoughts is NOT the same as “letting go” of them. When people say they want to let go of thoughts, they usually mean they want the thoughts to let go of them. Don’t focus on letting go – focus on accepting.
4) It is perfectly fine to observe that some women, including some gay women are “cute” or “pretty” or “attractive”. That is just a realistic observation, and it does not mean you’re gay. It means your eyes are working.
Hello Tom. Sorry for my English mistakes
Everything began years ago, when in the beach I saw a good looking guy. I don’t know if I felt attracted for him but a feeling of extreme anxiety and fear started. I start thinking “I’m gay I’m gay” and my life was a mess since this day
In 2018 I had these obsessions again. I am totally in love with my girlfriend but start having obsessions about my sexuality again. I can’t imagine being in love with a man or having sex with a man without causing me huge distress.
I began to think “I’m gay I’m gay” all the time. Start writing “I’m homossexual” in order to feel better. Start looking to male pictures to test if I was attracted to them. What scared me most was a time when I watched a video from a man masturbating twice and I had erection twice. And had erections when I looked for pictures of naked guys. On the street I try to test myself looking at guys to see if I’m attracted to them and looking at girls to see if I am aroused.
Once I vomited when I imagined doing oral sex on a man
What do I do? Am I gay? Please help me.
A few thoughts…
1) Of course you noticed attractive guys. There are plenty of attractive guys in the world. I assume you have also noticed that there are plenty of attractive women in the world. Noticing attractive people does not mean you are gay or straight. It means your eyeballs and your brain are working properly.
2) Writing “I’m homosexual” in an effort to feel better sounds like a compulsion to me.
3) Ditto for testing yourself for attraction and arousal by looking at male pictures.
4) Ditto for watching videos of guys masturbating. That said, it seems pretty normal that you would get hard watching someone masturbating. Humans are generally turned-on by visual stimuli of people acting sexually. This is why porn exists.
5) You ask for advice as to what you should do so here goes…Stop testing yourself, accept the existence of unwanted thoughts, wand pay no special attention to those thoughts. They are just stupid thoughts.
Hi I’m from China. I’m sorry. I don’t know much about English. I know about HOCD through translation.
I also tested some of HOCD’s tests and proved that I am a HOCD patient. I have several questions:
1. I have compulsive homosexual fantasies, and every man who sees a man fantasies. Is this homosexual behavior?
2. I’m married. I’m afraid of having sex with my wife after marriage. I have ED, which causes anxiety but reacts well to other heterosexual feelings.
I love my wife, afraid of losing this relationship, but fear of having sex with his wife now has HOCD symptoms, I am a homosexual tendency?
3. since I have HOCD, I am curious and contradictory about homosexual behavior. Am I gay?
4. never had homosexual fantasies before.
5. can you provide Chinese online therapy?
Here are my answers…
1) No, thoughts are not homosexual behaviors. Thoughts are thoughts, and are not the same as behaviors. Having a thought about being gay does not make you gay, just as having a thought about being a tree does not make you a tree.
2) I encourage you to have sex with your wife.
3) Again, having thoughts about being gay does not mean one is gay.
4) This is not a question. That said, I don’t think the fact that you never had these thoughts before is important.
5) We can provide online therapy topple around the world, but we only provide treatment in English. It does not appear that you are fluent in English, so online therapy is not recommended.
Hi, i need some help over here. Since i had an intrusive tought i don’t feel really well, i’m obcessing about this for 8 years… Before that i would feel normal, had arousal with girls, i remember touching girls and feeling good, since i was a kid i always said “i want to marry a beautifull woman and have a lot of kids”. I remember fantasizing about them and felt so good.
But one day i was reading a book on the beach, i was ok then the tought popped up “hey, that book is gay and you are reading it because you are gay”, i feared and started testing, look at girls, nothing, i looked at men and then BOOM anxiety hits and i tought it was arousal…
I’m not the one who i was back then, my libido is dead and my body reacts to men like feeling heat and sweating. Then i’m like i look at a guy in my work and i feel sort of “nervousness” and it feels like i want to be with him but i don’t! But it feels so real! I try to imagine being in a gay relationship with him but then i have that “feeling” that i want to and i start to cry and feeling bad, because i dont want to be with a guy.
I remember when i only toughted to marry a girl etc, now i cant even think properly…
This all sounds like HOCD.
I have had OCD for at least two years (probably much longer, but before that it was just an intrusive question that came up every day). I went through a lot of steps, from intrusive thoughts/images constantly there to the fear of not being anxious enough. For a very long time I spent a lot of time succumbing to my compulsions. At the beginning of the year, things were much better, but little by little, some girls seemed less attractive, then it spread to all the girls. Of course, I test myself and it doesn’t matter. I no longer find girls attractive, they are no longer beautiful to me, I no longer have any physical attraction, except for a few girls sometimes, and that scares me, very scary. Nothing has been going well for about six months. I’m afraid my attractions will never come back. Please, help me.
I try not to test myself anymore, but I just feel like I’m willing to let go of whatever little attraction I have left. I don’t want to stop being attracted to women. All my life I have been. I don’t want it to stop, but there’s almost nothing left.
Can OCD remove or hide my attractions even when I no longer feel anxious ?
HIOCD doesn’t really “hide your attractions”, but it does lead people to over-analyze what they are feeling, and to come to completely erroneous conclusions. I encourage you to see treatment with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
It’s so scary to look at girls who attracted me and find flaws in them, not to feel attracted. It’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. I miss this beauty, it’s like someone took a part of me away. When I find a little serenity, I’m afraid it may not come back. In addition, intrusive thoughts return and sometimes no longer seem intrusive. I’m afraid it’s no longer HOCD, afraid that my mind has switched to sexual orientation, that the aesthetic attraction won’t return, or not entirely. I’m trying to tell myself that it’s not possible, that you don’t lose your attractions like that, almost overnight. It feels so real. I feel like a child who is afraid of the dark alone in the night. It’s frightening. I hope aesthetic attraction to women will return.
This all sounds like classic HOCD to me, especially when you write “I’m afraid it’s no longer HOCD”. I encourage you to read our article “Doubt, Denial and OCD”.
Hello there, I have suffered hocd for 5-7 months now and I’m a teen girl who’s having these intrusive thoughts. I want to accept these intrusive thoughts as a thought but not as an option to be bisexual because that’s rather intrusive to me. I’ve been worrying about it and I think it needs to stop. I have been thinking of having ERP or CBT but I have no idea how to tell this to my parents for I opened up my hocd to them before but they misunderstood me and thought I was gay and they did not like that. I did not like it either because it made me even think worst.
Because you are a teen, your best resource should be your parents. Unfortunately, when you attempted to discuss this with your parents, they did not react favorably. I encourage you to show them our series of five articles on HOCD, starting at https://ocdla.com/sexual-orientation-hocd-gay-ocd-treatment-1969/. This should help them to better understand HOCD, after which you will likely need to push them to find you a therapist who specializes in treating OCD.
I do think my case is a little bit different to other people here. I was abused by a boy older than me when I was 5-6 years old. He would strip me and put my penis in his mouth, and hump me etc and was publicly humiliated by other kids when it got found out. I remember fearing, and having obsessive thoughts that I was gay, and thinking about how many people knew this happened, from a very young age. I had crushes on girls since as early as 2nd grade and started reading erotica and watching porn at around 11. I started by normal stuff, but noticed transsexual and gay, they would feel more taboo, more exciting. I masturbated almost everyday for years, both to ts and straight porn, but I would always check which one I liked more. My obssessions were dormant, but would strike out when I watched a lot of ts porn, I would become convinced I was gay and in denial. Even my fantasies I checked, it became ingrained. In real life I was shy, but always crushed on girls. My thoughts came full force after ED problems with my first and only GF. I started checking all my interactions with guys all my life, checking and feeling groinal responses when I never did before, my life became pure hell.
Many people with OCD think their case is “different” or “special”. Believe me, it’s not. Everything you write I have heard before from many, many people with OCD.
First of all I would like to thank you for going through the trouble to write out all these helpful replies. I can see the obsessive tendencies i have when i look back. All through my early teens, i got happy and relieved when i was turned on by straight porn, and got down and depressed when I got turned on by porn or erotica that contained transsexual or homosexual content. I recognize that as checking behaviour. But the fact remains that i was getting very turned on by them, and masturbated to such content and fantasies for years. Especially in my later years, when I got strong Health OCD accompanied by panic attacks, i kind of stopped caring and would masturbate exclusively to such content. I would still flirt with women and such, but the thrill of the fantasies, i could not find in straight stuff at all. I had rituals like orgasming to straight thoughts etc., but would think that i just used the arousal i got from homosexual fantasies and it would not feel like that if i masturbated to solely straight content. All these things that i did not focus on hit me like a truck after my not-very fun experiences with women and the erectile dysfunction.
None of this information changes my opinion that this is HOCD.
So I just remembered same sex experiences when I was young and mid teens. Never actually had sex. It’s making me so sick and anxious and I cant sleep or eat or enjoy time with my fiance. Its completely ruining my life. These memories and thoughts keep coming up and I judt want to die. I regret ever doing it and now my mind is scaring me. I really want them to stop. I just want to he married to my husband and live our happy life again. I feel like I’m so different because I did things when I was in my teens and its absolutely mortifying me. I throw up sometimes even of these thoughts.
It is extremely common for children, teens, and young adults to experiment with their sexuality. I encourage you to read our article HOCD: 30 Things You Need to Know, which addresses this issue. And if, as you say, memories of your experimentation are leading you to throw up and to wish you were dead, then I encourage you you to seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD.
Hi im a 30 year old woman and I’ve been dealing with hocd for 15 years. I’ve been to several therapists none have helped me. I cannot find a ocd specialist. I’m out of my mind with this it has ruined my life. I have constant groinal responses I cannot look at other women it causes too much anxiety. I also have a hard time looking them in the eye worry they’ll think I like them. I miss the way I was before this I miss enjoying having feelings for a guy. It hurts that I feel ill never be the same. I’m starting to worry after all these years it’s not hocd. How am I ever going to be same after all these years of thoughts and groinal responses. I’m desperate for help. This has made me a depressed person
The reason your therapists have not been more helpful for you is likely because they had no idea how to treat your HOCD. The sad truth is that most therapists are utterly clueless about HOCD. So if you really want help, you will need to find an OCD specialist. And if none are available near you, then you should consider online therapy with a specialist.
All that being said, you need to understand that your current avoidance behaviors are worsening your HOCD. Avoiding looking at women will do nothing except make you more anxious in the long term. Also, you are paying way too much attention to your groin. The only people who worry about unwanted groinal sensations are people with HOCD.
Finally, please know that obsessing that one does not really have HOCD is a common symptom of HOCD.
Hi, Two weeks ago i started to question myself if i was a lesbian. At first the thought was really haunting me and made me really nervious but with days it started to slow down. I relate it to the anxiety of the health scare i had time ago and my poor relationship with my parents, specially with my mom, and also to the fact i have had other kind of ‘toc’ before. The thing is i slowly stopped worring if i turned out to be gay, though i have never liked a girl before and that worries me too as i know people with HOCD are in constant fear of this thought and i’m not, only a few times at day and mostly at night. I think what gets me more sad is when i think how heartbroken my parents would be if i was gay as they are in their middle 60 already. My therapist asked me if i could picture me with another girl and i said no as i honestly don’t so she said i got wrapped in my own head like other times and i should put my attention somewhere else like when i have the other ocd but it’s hard and i dont feel truly relief. i mean most of the time i can feel is ocd due to the signs but i still feal heavy at heart and worried for this sudden indifernce i’m feeling to this. Whats your opinion.
You asked for my opinion, so here goes…
1) Obsessing that you don’t have enough anxiety about your unwanted thoughts is a common OCD obsession. See #27 here.
2) You may be wrong about your parents being “heartbroken” if you were to come out as gay. Maybe they are more capable of handling things than you think. Either way, there is no evidence you are gay, so this a moot point.
3) Your therapist is right – you are “wrapped up in your head”. However, her suggestion that you simply think about something else suggests that she doesn’t really understand how OCD works. If you could easily divert your attention to different thoughts, you certainly would have done so by now.
Thanks for answer. I just read what it says in the article you recommended me and felt really represented by it. I believe it’s a tricky thing cause the first time i went to therapy i had other kind of ocd, pure ocd to be Thanks for answer. I just read what it says in the article you recommended me and felt really represented by it. I believe it’s a tricky thing cause the first time i went to therapy i had other kind of ocd, pure ocd to be exactly and the healing process was different. i got a little medication and started doing CBT which helped me to question the irational thoughts and when this ocd started to dissaper it felt more natural. With HOCD it just came and it ‘tried to go away’ in a period of two weeks before seeing my therapist. It doesn’t feel right to let go, like there’s a process missing and that gets me nervious. Also my therapist made me feel nervious, she did asked the right question about my sexuality and i answered them honestly but there was something in me trying to find a lie in what i was saying. I’d like to think this time the process is different cause i went through a painful one before. Anyway thanks again it meant A LOT to me.
You say that you previously had a different kind of OCD, specifically, Pure O. But that is a misunderstanding of OCD.
Simply put, Pure O is not special – it is simply a slang term for OCD in which the compulsions are less obvious. Furthermore, HOCD is not special or different. It is just Pure O in which the obsessions are about sexual orientation. I encourage you to read our article about Pure O that discusses this.
The “healing process”, i.e., treatment for HOCD is exactly the same as the treatment for any other variant of OCD, including other forms of Pure O. I encourage you to reconnect with your therapist who previously helped you deal with Pure O.