The OCD Center of Los Angeles discusses treatment of HOCD, also known as Gay OCD or Sexual Orientation OCD, using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Mindfulness. Part three of a five-part series.
When we initially published part one and part two of this series on Gay OCD (also known as HOCD), it was intended solely to reflect this rather common form of the disorder as we saw it presented in many of our clients. We had not anticipated such a significant online response, with so many additional questions and angles on the subject.
Sexual obsessions in general are under-reported because of shameful feelings associated with them. And yet there is probably a somewhat higher prevalence of sexual obsessions in OCD than any other obsession for this same reason – the thoughts are unwanted! This seems so very evident in Sexual Orientation OCD because the feared consequence appears so tangible. In other common OCD obsessions, such as Harm OCD, the idea that someone might be in denial of violent impulses is plenty terrifying. However, there is an understanding that being violent is unacceptable in and of itself. With Sexual Orientation OCD, the sufferer generally does not see anything wrong with being gay per se, as long as it is not themselves being gay. This causes a lot of confusion and a lot of resistance to seeking treatment.
We’d like to use this latest installment in what has become a series of discussions on Sexual Orientation OCD to be more specific about the different ways we have seen this OCD manifestation present and the different Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) strategies that appear to work. We have attempted to categorize them, but it’s important to remember that sufferers are likely to fall into a combination of several categories and not just one. Also bear in mind that we will continue to use “gay” or “homosexual” to be synonymous with alternative orientations for simplicity’s sake only. Homosexual and bisexual individuals with OCD can, and do, sometimes obsess about being straight.
This is perhaps both the most common and the least reported subtype of HOCD because it is easy to overlook the OCD characteristics. In short, All-Or-Nothing HOCD describes the experience of those who have always been of one orientation, have never experimented with other orientations, and who do not have gay fantasies, but who just randomly have a “gay” thought or feeling one day and it scares them. It is often reported as starting with a simple, “Did I find that person attractive?” and “What does it mean that I can’t be 100% certain that I did not find that person attractive?”
In All-Or-Nothing HOCD, the primary distorted belief is that straight people never have any gay thoughts, so any gay thoughts must be an indicator of latent homosexuality. In fact straight people do have gay thoughts, but generally prefer not to apply them to gay sexual behaviors. In actuality, it is not possible to know what the word “gay” even means on a literal level without having what can only be described as a “gay” thought.
So for the sufferer who sees gay thoughts as contaminating an otherwise purely straight mind, compulsions are going to be focused on making the gay thoughts go away through various proving rituals. This may take the form of compulsive masturbation to straight fantasies or avoidance of anything that might trigger the presence of a gay thought. It often involves avoiding people who the sufferer sees as even having the potential to be gay. Just as a handwasher tries to be certain there is not contaminant on their hands, this HOCD sufferer is aiming for total eradication of the unapproved gay thought.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) treatment strategies for All-Or-Nothing HOCD should involve gradual exposure to things that trigger gay thoughts while the sufferer practices resisting the urge to tell themselves they are not gay.
People are complicated. That means relationships are twice as complicated. Some people are lucky in love, some people are unlucky, some people are both, and some people really can’t tell because of their OCD. This form of HOCD occurs when an OCD sufferer uses potential gayness as an explanation for what they see as failed heterosexual relationships. Women with Relationship HOCD may identify themselves as “man-hating dykes”, while men may see themselves as “just not understanding women”, and may describe themselves as being “in denial” of their “true” sexual orientation.
Often in cases like these, the HOCD itself is a smokescreen for what is sometimes called Relationship OCD (ROCD) or Relationship Substantiation OCD. Those with ROCD tend to have obsessions that revolve around fears of not “really” loving or being sexually attracted to their spouse or partner, not being involved with the right person, or not being the right person for their partner. Those with Relationship HOCD can put off dealing with these issues if they conceptualize themselves as being incapable of having a healthy heterosexual relationship because, in their mind, they might actually be gay!
Because this form of HOCD emphasizes partnership, sufferers are likely to over-attend to how they relate to people of the same sex. A man may notice that he feels better understood, has more in common with, and enjoys his time with another man in ways that women do not satisfy him. The only thing missing is the sex, he thinks, and this triggers a lot of compulsive analysis about who he is “really” wired to love.
Similarly, a woman may become aware that other women share qualities their male partners seem to lack – for example, sensitivity, patience, and emotional availability. In those who don’t have HOCD, this same-sex identification is looked at as totally normal. “Of course my same-sex friends understand where I’m coming from. They know what the other sex is like! They get my interests and motivations!”. The word “gay” doesn’t enter into the equation.
CBT for Relationship HOCD is going to involve traditional Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) for sexual orientation fears, but also exposure to behaviors that demonstrate vulnerability to a romantic partner, accepting uncertainty about the “quality” or “completeness” of heterosexual relationships, and other non-avoidance exposures.
This form of HOCD generally has more to do with depression than sex or sexual orientation. Typically (though not exclusively) this seems to occur in people who were severely mistreated, abused, or bullied. Just as this can occur in Social Anxiety Disorder, the “bully” takes up residence in the person’s mind and any perceived failure in life triggers an internal statement of “You’re gay.” It’s meant as an insult, more than a suggestion that one should set about finding themselves sexually.
The constant inner-abuse seen in this type of HOCD often leads to a deeper depression, which further distorts the intrusive thoughts, which in turn leads to even more depression. In some cases this may lead to a pseudo-gay fantasy state in which the sufferer imagines themselves living out what they see as the greatest disappointment to their parents. The line of thinking is that they are so unlovable as to be invisible to their desired orientation. In treating those with this type of HOCD, there may be more emphasis on cognitive restructuring and learning to identify “bully” thoughts as distorted glitches in the mind which are essentially irrelevant to sexuality. Because ERP requires significant motivation and commitment, it may also be clinically appropriate to focus on the depression first before engaging in exposures.
Experimental History HOCD
Despite the fact that same-sex exploration is common in children who are learning about the human body (i.e. playing “doctor”) and discovering how different things look and feel, people with OCD who obsess about their sexual orientation may use benign childhood experiences as “proof” of latent homosexuality. So despite a post-pubescent life of heterosexual behavior, the presence of unwanted homosexual thoughts triggers frightening doubts. The sufferer is likely to compulsively review childhood memories and the unknowable memories of thoughts and feelings that might have been had during any same-sex exploration. “What exactly did I do and why?”
It is also common for teenagers throughout the course of puberty to experience confusion related to gender, orientation, and other sexual issues. As the sexual brain develops, so too the does the sexual mind. For people with OCD during their teens, this can be very troubling. For those whose HOCD develops later, they may look back on this period in which their sexuality was developing and compulsively analyze anything that could be construed as inconsistent with their current sexual preference.
Another variation on this reflecting form of HOCD is compulsive analysis of any same-sex play that might have taken place in college or at some other point in life. A big part of treatment for those with this type of HOCD is identifying mental checking as a compulsion to be resisted, instead of as a way to figure out one’s sexuality. Curiosity is not orientation. Whatever happened, happened.
Real Man / Real Woman HOCD
People who suffer from this form of OCD place a lot of emphasis on masculinity and femininity and the cultural expectations that come with them. A male sufferer might notice an attractive male, and then chastise himself for being able to notice attractiveness in males. He assumes this is a sign of femininity, something a “real man” would have no ounce of (again see the all-or-nothing thinking). This can also present itself through a man’s affinity for the arts or other things he may have been culturally primed to see as non-masculine.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for this form of HOCD may involve more exposure to material that the sufferer sees as “dainty” or weak, such as watching program with a flamboyant homosexual character or attending a ballet. This is sometimes more triggering than exposure to gay pornography.
Similarly, a heterosexual woman may notice another woman is beautiful and then distort this through the belief that “real women” only ever think about men. It also may involve avoidance of assertive behavior or any other cultural attribute traditionally associated with masculinity. Exposure for this sufferer may involve images and films involving “butch” lesbians or feminist literature.
Groinal Response HOCD
The functioning paradigm here is, “I must experience sexual arousal or groinal sensations only in very specific pre-approved circumstances.” These circumstances typically mean in the presence of an attractive, age-appropriate member of the opposite sex. But there are a few important considerations to note here:
- all sexual thoughts (wanted or unwanted) may cause sexual arousal;
- attending to one’s groin actually causes sensations to occur there;
- there are sensations going on in your groin all the time, but unless you go out of your way to pay attention to them, you just don’t notice them;
- groinal sensations often occur for no reason.
Men don’t get headaches just because they thought of something painful and they don’t get erections just because they are feeling sexual. In short, who knows what’s going on down there? Yet the HOCD sufferer is going to compulsively check and analyze sensations for evidence of homosexuality. Part of the confusion the OCD capitalizes on is the fact that groinal stimulation is generally considered a positive sensation. Fellatio or cunnilingus is going to feel good no matter what gender is delivering it, but the HOCD mind insists it only be delivered by a person to whom we are attracted in order to accept it. HOCD manipulates the mind into thinking that any positive groinal sensation at the “wrong” time must mean a general sexual preference to whatever is in the environment at that moment.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy(CBT) for the treatment of this type of HOCD is going to involve identifying and challenging distorted beliefs about groinal responses and exposure to arousing material that falls outside of their traditional preferences.
Not everyone agrees, but many believe as Alfred Kinsey did, that sexuality exists on a scale with straight on one side, gay on the other, and people mostly somewhere in the middle. While it will no doubt be triggering for some readers to consider, many people who identify as heterosexual sometimes have homosexual thoughts, feelings, sensations and fantasies. Those without obsessive-compulsive tendencies allow themselves to enjoy this aspect of their reality. These are people who prefer sexual activity with the opposite sex, but also find same-sex fantasies (and even behaviors) to be somewhat intriguing and arousing. They are not bisexuals, who would likely say they are quite capable of sexual and romantic fulfillment with either sex, but are instead heterosexuals who simply are not dangling off either edge of the Kinsey scale.
For those people who experience themselves as somewhere within this spectrum of sexuality, but also have HOCD, this can be very upsetting. They will want to know for sure if they are bisexual or not, how far in one direction or another they “belong”, and what the “right” term is to describe themselves. “Am I 10% gay? 20%? If I don’t know for sure, then I will always feel that I am harboring a secret.” Without an appropriate label, they live in constant fear of an identity crisis.
Treatment for this type of HOCD relies heavily on Mindfulness Based CBT and resisting compulsive mental analysis. The exposure is not aimed at homosexuality, but at uncertainty. This can sometimes be done in the form of an imaginal exposure script in which the sufferer describes the negative consequences of never knowing what to label themselves.
(Really) Need-To-Know HOCD
These are people who identify as heterosexual but have been struggling with untreated (or mistreated) HOCD to such an extent that they have gone from mental checking, to physical checking, to actual experimental checking. This is somewhat rare and I would imagine some people might read this and say, “OK, let’s just call it gay then,” but that’s not what is happening here. People who suffer from OCD, regardless of the manifestation, are struggling against an intolerance for uncertainty. People without OCD largely tolerate uncertainty by not paying much attention to it.
For any reader who does not have OCD, try thinking really hard about the fact that you are not 100% certain what will happen when you die. Now imagine that all of the people you love will consider you hugely irresponsible for not attaining certainty on the issue. This is how an OCD sufferer often feels. Not only do they poorly estimate the risk posed by unwanted thoughts and feelings, but they have an exaggerated sense of responsibility for avoiding these risks.
Ultimately, for some HOCD sufferers, being gay may sound like a relief from not knowing for sure that they are straight. So they begin to build a case for gayness. This may involve seeking treatment from LGBT specialists, trying to train themselves to enjoy gay pornography and sometimes engaging in sexual experimentation. The goal is not necessarily to like gay sex, but to determine once and for all – “am I gay or straight?”.
Typically this backfires in one of two ways. Either the person finds the experience somewhat satisfactory but not preferential to straight sex, or they find the experience abhorrent and resent themselves for having done it. In either case, they are left with the same uncertainty they find intolerable, plus more ammunition for the OCD. Just as in the other forms of HOCD, the objective has to be tolerance for not-knowing rather than proof.
These are the various subtypes and angles on HOCD that we have treated thus far, but there are certainly others. In the next installment of this series, we will examine some additional nuances to HOCD and common impediments to effective treatment.
To take our free confidential HOCD test, click here.
To read part one in our series of articles on HOCD, click here.
To read part two in our series of articles on HOCD, click here.
To read part four in our series of articles 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.
Firstly, thank you for all your information! I wanted to first ask, what are the other forms of arousal that may be experienced through compulsive checking?
And if I was experiencing such arousal to unwanted sexual thoughts, would you treat it differently if you felt it was Spectrum HOCD or just a normal physiological urge occurring to a sexual thought?
I just want to understand how to think about my thoughts, how much meaning to give them, etc.
Thanks once again!
If I understand your question, you are trying to find the “right” way to respond to the physical sensations you notice when you check for arousal. Since the act of checking itself distorts the way you are experiencing the arousal, the thoughts about the arousal are also going to be distorted. This means any effort put into trying to determine if the thoughts say something about your sexuality is a waste. Thoughts, feelings and sensations are not reliable evidence. Whatever you are feeling, you are simply feeling, so accepting the feeling without judgment makes the most sense.
To answer your second question, the only difference between Spectrum HOCD and a genuine sexual arousal response along the spectrum is that people with Spectrum HOCD think they have to know if the sexual response is genuine or part of the OCD. I don’t think it is important to know. People have all kinds of responses to things, so time is better spent engaging in behaviors you enjoy and not trying to be sure you are having the right thoughts about them.
The amount of meaning you give to any thought is voluntary.
I’ve been dealing with this particular manifestation of OCD for three years, and while I see myself in many of these subtypes of HOCD I still question myself incessantly if I have OCD or not. I also have many of the classic OCD compulsive behaviors, to give some examples, forcing myself to think of sexual situations with women checking for arousal I often time myself while doing this checking because previously I was worried that I wasn’t giving myself enough time. Another compulsion I do is constantly asking reassurance, either from googling or asking a family member. My question for you is that are these types of behaviors common for people who are actually gay or are they clearly signs of HOCD?
P.s. I loved reading reading all three of your articles and I look forward to reading more in the future!
I need your expert opinion. I believe my HOCD stems from my ex girlfriend not understanding a particular fetish I had. In her confusion she claimed I was gay during our break up. It has sent me into a downwards spiral of questioning, analyzing, checking, and doubting. I’ve gone from feeling incompetent to being outright compulsive.
I suppose, beyond any general advice specific to my situation, I just want to know the best way to dig myself out of this hole is. I feel like the HOCD is what has dug me into this hole and my fetish is like a weight on my back that makes it harder to get out.
Very interesting article. I would like to ask one question. By Spectrum HOCD do you mean something like this: I for example feel intense sexual stimulation by thinking homosexual thoughts, but on the other hand I’m feeling extremely uncertain if I am gay and the thoughts leave me very depressed, something I never experienced with heterosexual thoughts ever. No matter how much I try to convince myself that it wouldn’t matter if I were gay (I’m neither Christian nor conservative BTW, so no problems in the religion area), I cannot bring myself to tolerate the thoughts. I am glad that I know it’s just OCD, but that doesn’t make the thoughts more bearable.
All the best.
Gaby, thanks for the comment and your kind words about the articles.
Questioning whether or not you have OCD is something I have never seen a non-OCD-sufferer take seriously. But knowing this probably does not stop the doubts. Part of overcoming any OCD manifestation is accepting uncertainty – and this includes the uncertainty that it even IS ocd. One way to help let go of the debate is to ask yourself what you want. If you want to feel more secure in your sexuality, then you are going to have to stop sending messages to the brain that your sexuality is open for debate. This means stopping all of the compulsions, the attempts to prove you are straight. So while it clearly IS ocd, knowing that for sure does not change what you will have to do in order to address your problem.
To your question, you describe several things common to OCD and none to homosexuality that I am aware of. You might also wish to read our article about reassurance seeking.
A lot of people with HOCD report being first triggered by someone calling them gay for some reason (sometimes not even sexual). This coincides with a distorted belief that the person doing the name-calling can somehow see deep into your soul and identify a truth about you that was beyond even your own grasp. OCD loves this.
Whatever your “fetish” or enjoyable sexual activity is, as long as it is safe, it is normal. To get ocd to loosen its grip, you will first have to come to a place of acceptance with your fetish. It’s not about what it “means”. You like what you like. The end.
For the OCD, the best treatment is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Part of the obsession for you is a fear of being gay, but an equal part is a fear that this “fetish” means something important. CBT can help you change the way you relate to these thoughts and feelings.
Confused in Greece,
Since you have genuine ego-syntonic gay thoughts, feelings and sensations that you find genuinely pleasing and stimulating, these are not obsessions. However, you are obsessing over what this MEANS and whether or not it is acceptable. More than simply tolerating the thoughts, feelings, and sensations, you will want to learn to accept them as a part of who you are. More than “bearable,” they should be accepted simply as what they are, pleasurable.
Since it sounds like you are generally oriented to heterosexual behavior, the problem seems to be one of acceptance of yourself as you are, and not sexual orientation confusion. In your case, calling the thoughts “just ocd” is actually part of the compulsion to disown the part of you that enjoys homosexual thoughts. The gay thoughts are not unwanted or intrusive, so they are not ocd obsessions. But your belief that they are intolerable and your response to that belief may be compulsive. The obsession is that having these thoughts must mean something is wrong with you.
Thank you very much for answering my questions. I have been diagnosed by 5 different doctors and all of them have come to the conclusion that I am a “classic” case of OCD. I do have one other question concerning the groinal checking. In my case I have checked for arousal more times than I can remember, and I have yet to get aroused by these thoughts of women. However, I see that in your article you stated that doing this checking leads to feeling sensations which I have most certainly experienced. I also read that these sensations could be either ego dystonic or ego syntonic, in my experience whenever I did this checking, there would be some occasions where after feeling these sensations I would immediately feel anxiety and would not be able to continue with the checking because of this anxiety. Is this a case of these sensations being ego dystonic? Also I would like to get some clarity on a certain reassuring behavior I do. This behavior is mental, I repeat to myself that I will have to have sex with women over and over and immediately begin to cry. I’ve discussed this with one of my previous therapists, and he said that was proof that I in fact did not want to have sex with women. Should I use this behavior as “evidence” of my heterosexuality or should I stop it completely like my other compuslions?
So just to confirm one thing: there is a difference in attaining a sexual response from compulsively going over scenarios in your mind since developing HOCD, in comparison to generally feeling pleasure in the case of Spectrum HOCD?
To make that question clearer, I am under the impression from your article, and personal experiences through my HOCD, that it is very possible to attain a sexual response to certain thoughts, just because they are sexual in nature. However, it seems like you are saying this is not the same as Spectrum HOCD…. Is that correct?
>>>I have been diagnosed by 5 different doctors and all of them have come to the conclusion that I am a “classic” case of OCD. I do have one other question…
>>>concerning the groinal checking. In my case I have checked for arousal more times than I can remember, and I have yet to get aroused by these thoughts of women. However, I see that in your article you stated that doing this checking leads to feeling sensations which I have most certainly experienced. I also read that these sensations could be either ego dystonic or ego syntonic, in my experience whenever I did this checking, there would be some occasions where after feeling these sensations I would immediately feel anxiety and would not be able to continue with the checking because of this anxiety. Is this a case of these sensations being ego dystonic?
—The need to be certain about this issue is compulsive and you are better off with me not answering the question. You feel whatever you feel. You should stop checking.
>>>Also I would like to get some clarity on a certain reassuring behavior I do. This behavior is mental, I repeat to myself that I will have to have sex with women over and over and immediately begin to cry.
—Compulsive flooding, or unnecessarily trying to force yourself into a state of disgust over your obsession, is a common and poorly understood mental ritual. Exposure with Response Prevention (ERP) is a tool used in cognitive behavioral therapy aimed at confronting an unwanted thought while resisting doing compulsions in order to increase one’s tolerance for the discomfort this produces. It is done intentionally and methodologically to change a person’s obsessive compulsive pattern. Sometimes people take the concept of exposure and try to use it haphazardly to prove they do not like something and this is nothing more than another compulsion and self-reassurance.
>>>I’ve discussed this with one of my previous therapists, and he said that was proof that I in fact did not want to have sex with women.
—I disagree. Making yourself cry doesn’t prove things. It is evidence of ocd and you should not be looking for proof about your obsession.
>>>Should I use this behavior as “evidence” of my heterosexuality or should I stop it completely like my other compuslions?
—You should not do compulsions.
Yes, you are correct. A person who has no homosexual inclinations may still have a sexual arousal response to anything sexual, including homosexual things. This is different from Spectrum HOCD, which refers to people have genuine homosexual desires but see themselves as more heterosexually oriented. Their HOCD fear is that something is wrong with the part of them that enjoys homosexuality or that not knowing exactly “how much” of them is gay will result in some identity crisis.
Thank you for the answer. While I agree with you, there are some problems in my case. 1) While I agree that there is a level of ‘ego-syntonicity’ in these thoughts, there’s also an amount of ‘ego-dystonicity” also. And not only after the thought takes place but also during the thought. Also I cannot love with men. These thoughts are “masturbation material” only. 2) As I said since I don’t have any prejudice against homosexuality (having a very good friend who is gay), so I find it kinda implausible to have such a visceral prejudice against something that I have no problem with.
But of course I understand that in answering that way, I have misinterpreted the Kinsey Scale already. I suppose that being an 1 on that scale, doesn’t necessarily include JUST heterosexual men who occasionally have sex with men, but also people like me who can’t, but have other ego-syntonic homosexual experiences. Also I understand that the actual definition of homosexuality is much different than what I have in mind.
So what I have to do is to resolve my irrational phobia that “having ego-syntonic gay thoughts” => “No sex with women never,at all”. Which is fine logically, but I admit that I have a problem accepting it *emotionally*.
Anyway, thank you a lot. Your comment really helped me a lot
I read this article and all of this is striking a cord with me. My question is can HOCD progress; meaning over several months of suffering can the HOCD evolve in the sense that it can move from one phase to another. I feel like after reading all this maybe I have HOCD and it is in overdrive bigtime but I can’t help sending myself the message no something is wrong with you, you are not meant to have the life you always pictured (happy marriage, kids, house, dog, etc).
Hi Denise, I’m not sure I understand your question about HOCD evolving. Obsessions often change over time and tend to stick to whatever elicits the most discomfort and triggers the most compulsive behavior.
Confused in Greece,
I think you have a good grasp of what is going on. Not all thoughts which are different from our general preferences are necessarily hateful to us. A straight person can very much enjoy a homosexual thought and not obsess about its meaning or conclude that it is an indicator of one’s entire orientation or romantic interests.
I am not a violent person by nature, but not all violent thoughts which enter my mind are ego dystonic. I may enjoy fantasizing about blowing up a building or something. This doesn’t mean I am a terrorist. It means I need to accept that there are thoughts going through my head that are different from my general life choices and yet may amuse me. I’m not about to go shopping for explosives.
You have now assessed that the problem is one of over-generalizing the presence of ego-syntonic gay thoughts for masturbation purposes as meaning the absence of all heterosexual life. I agree. The problem is what you are thinking ABOUT this, not the thoughts themselves.
Great job out there,
I’m glad I found this article. I hope that more research will be done on this issue, which is very broad.
Me once again. I’ve got some personally valuable remarks after reading your superb article (I wrote my remarks on your precious pieces of advice and added something from me):
1. A person cannot come to any definite conclusion (including making oneself 100% sure of their sexuality) based on some obsessional thoughts;
2. Thoughts cannot change us in any way and do not determine who we really are, as there are both thoughts which are ego-dystonic and ego-syntonic in our minds(in fact, thoughts go on non-stop in our minds and only we decide which thoughts do we want to focus on – but if we are OCD’ers we can hardly choose the thoughts we want – and instead there are thoughts we do not want);
3. Groinal response is a tricky thing. It is happening down there all the time, e.g men’s scrotum shrinks or stretches all the time to adjust the proper temperature of the testicles. Therefore, if one bothers too much about those scrotum movements (perhaps there are some aspects of groinal response than just scrotum adjustments) they might be greatly misled. It is worthwhile to be aware that groinal response has nothing to do with sexual arousal.
4. I live in a constant fear of getting erection to the things I would not like to be attracted to. I must say that your words that we sometimes may be sexually aroused by things we are not attracted to have been very relieving for me.
5. Next, no one can find a 100% proof of anything by just thinking/mental checking/ruminating, especially caused by fears and obsessions.
6. Last but not least, I read somewhere that if we fear that something bad will happen to us and we worry about it a lot (all the time), there is almost 100% certainty that the feard thing will not happen.
To sum up, I would like to ask for your thoughts if I am correct in what I wrote, or are there any misinterpretations/misconceptions present in my little work?
I am very impressed by your article.
I’ve been suffering of HOCD as well for 2,5 years. You must have done a lot of research to people with this kind of hocd, you really covered a broad spectrum.
I somehow can find myself in any of these. In Forums you always get told to let your thoughts flow, but you defined it very precisely. Well to me it always is like this: I read an article like this, which shows me ways to solve my problem. I really try to do this things, but after a few days I turn back to the usual mental and behavourial patterns of ocd.
Aged eighteen, HOCD occured the first time to me on a cannabis trip. Since I was fourteen my sexual orientation had beenI simply didnt think about it. 🙂
Back then when it first struck me I really was shocked. I couldnt believe, that I were to be GAY! I carried this for 2,5 years now and there are ups and downs, but I get along. I could imagine many people commited suicide beacause of OCD and HOCD. But I found out, that Life is just to good to end it in such young years.
Anyways, I just wanted to let you know these brief information and might give u a feedback on your tactics later on. I need to acquire tolerance for these thoughts and feelings. This cannot be a problem for me since I am very tolerant minded towards other people.
P.s.: Did u notice that im not a native speaker?
Luke, very well put notes. If I understand your final point, it is that worrying does not bring about results, and that the feared consequences generally have an ALMOST 100% certainty of not coming true, regardless of what you may think at the time. Thank you for your comments!
Yes, you understood me right.
I’ve got one more question: can it be possible that addiction to pornography can fuel the obsessive-compulsive cycle? I fear I am addicted to pornography – I tried to stop several times but I failed. Right now, I have a filter blocking pornographic material – and haven’t been viewing porn for several days (I hope I can be free of it at last). It’s difficult for I have some nightmarish withdrawal symptoms and my obsessions seem to worsen very much. My OCD tries to tell me, for example, that if I don’t view porn to reassure myself I can lose my orientation. I’ve been watching it for almost 10 years now ;(. Can it be possible that if I stop viewing such material I may gradually get better and stop worrying that I may lose my true sexual preference (I hope you remember I regard myself homosexual)?
I am truly desperate and scared. I am not sure if the therapy I’m receiving is correct for treating OCD, and I was hoping you could give me some insight into this. I’ve researched OCD many times and have noticed the best treatment for it is cbt, along with erp and practicing mindfulness. The psychologist I am seeing does believe in the practice of mindfulness is useful for HOCD, but does not advocate the use of erp because of the lack of physical compulsions. He also thinks that I should find the “root” of my OCD problem, and that my OCD might have stemmed from repressing certain impulses. Hearing my psychologist mention these things, was confusing and left me wondering if I should continue this kind of treatment.
Also I wanted to know with your experience of HOCD if emotional checking was common in your patients. What I mean by emotional checking is the monitoring of emotional responses to those of the same sex. I am asking because while doing this, I usually make myself very very anxious. The slightest hint of feeling anything will lead to me having an anxiety attack. I dont mean to be a bother, but I could really use a professional opinion on this.
I’ve got a question regarding the sexual OCD treatment. As I found out in literature as well as from my own experience, most compulsions in this kind of OCD go on in a person’s mind (apart from avoidance and reassurance seeking, which however, can also be done mentally) and I read in some book that covert compulsions can hardly be addressed by ERP (I know it because I tried it), so – according to your practice, what are the best ways to deal with the covert compulsions?
Luke, pornography addiction is a form of sex addiction, which is a separate clinical issue from ocd. However, it is not unusual for ocd sufferers with sexual obsessions to view pornography compulsively and this can lead to addiction. Behavioral strategies like blocking your computer can be helpful, but you may need to seek help from a specialist in sex addiction if you keep breaking your own rules.
>>>My OCD tries to tell me, for example, that if I don’t view porn to reassure myself I can lose my orientation.
—OCD likely tells you a lot of things. Sexual orientation is not a thing to be lost or found. It simply is. Compulsive reassurance seeking is guaranteed to backfire in the end and is the fuel for your ocd. Consider that you do not compulsively reassure yourself that the sky is blue and have not lost your ability to see it that way.
You write, “The psychologist I am seeing does believe in the practice of mindfulness is useful for HOCD, but does not advocate the use of erp because of the lack of physical compulsions.”
—This is a STRONG indicator that this psychologist has inadequate experience treating ocd. Any ocd specialist will know that mental compulsions are just as important to treat and are as treatable as physical ones. Various ERP techniques can be applied, including non-avoidance, non-reassurance seeking, labeling mental review, and imaginal exposure to triggering thoughts and feelings.
>>> He also thinks that I should find the “root” of my OCD problem, and that my OCD might have stemmed from repressing certain impulses. Hearing my psychologist mention these things, was confusing and left me wondering if I should continue this kind of treatment.
—Language like this indicates a psychoanalytic agenda on the part of the therapist and research has shown quite clearly that this is not an effective treatment for ocd.
>>>Also I wanted to know with your experience of HOCD if emotional checking was common in your patients. What I mean by emotional checking is the monitoring of emotional responses to those of the same sex. I am asking because while doing this, I usually make myself very very anxious. The slightest hint of feeling anything will lead to me having an anxiety attack.
—Excellent question. Yes, emotional checking, just like mental checking and checking for groinal response, is very common in HOCD. Many sufferers worry that if they “feel” something around the wrong sex, then it must mean something about their desire for that person. They then compulsively monitor their feelings and try to reassure themselves that they are having the “right” ones at the “right” time. This ends up backfiring by fueling the ocd and making the sufferer feel uncertain about their emotions.
Luke, with every mental health issue there comes a mythology behind it. One of the great myths about ocd is that covert or mental rituals are somehow not treatable and that people can be “purely” obsessional. In reality, mental compulsions are treatable in much the same way that physical compulsions are. Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) works by exposing to the thing you fear and resisting the urge to respond with compulsions. If the compulsion is to neutralize unwanted sexual thoughts, ERP would be to expose to something that triggers that sexual thought and resist the urge to tell yourself you don’t like it. More intensive ERP would include agreeing with and exaggerating the thought, also known as flooding. Another common way to treat mental compulsions is through imaginal exposure. This is done by writing a narrative (or recording it in audio) describing the fear coming true and exposing to that while resisting compulsions.
I have had hocd for about 17 years now, and I have the groinal response hocd, but what’s been happening for the past year the response is stronger and now I get like excitement feelings and my penis gets a little bigger and when I test myself with gay sexual thoughts I don’t know that I don’t like it anymore and when my penis moves when this is happening I think this means I am gay or bisexual…..what’s going on, is it just ocd?
Dana, you need to recognize that “testing yourself” is a compulsion that sends the message to your brain that there is a debate over your sexuality. You need to stop doing compulsions.
Thank you. But what about this excitement? feeling I somettimes get now and more movement in private area than just the groinal response I mostly have gotten, and it feels real lately
Thanks for giving me insight on my current therapist. I’ve mentioned to my therapist that I constantly doubt my OCD diagnosis, despite being diagnosed numerous times as having OCD. He said something that stuck me as funny it went along the lines “usually someone who is diagnosed as OCD recognizes it and they don’t constantly doubt. Why is it that people with OCD doubt their diagnosis? On some occasions, I have had panic attacks doubting my OCD.
Thank you very much for your replies. I really appreciate that.
Thank you very much for your replies! Dana, I know too well what you and all of us suffering from HOCD are going through. This problem touches people of all sexual orientations. In general OCD is a very tricky devilry and has many facets. I read plenty of books on the subject of OCD, in order to better know and understand it. Here are some facts about OCD I would like to share with you as I find them quite important (please correct any mistakes you find in my remarks).
Some of the compulsions very often seen in HOCD (according to my OCD experience as well as what I observe in others) include:
1. Trying to reassure ourselves (both physically, e.g. by trying to find out whether something we watch arouses us or not, or mentally, e.g. by producing disgusting thoughts in order to find whether we like them or not);
2. Trying to avoid certain situations which can produce much anxiety;
3. Suppressing thoughts. In fact, we cannot stop thoughts, no one can. Once, Eckhart Toll said: “Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist persists”. When we fight the obsessive thoughts, they become stronger, when we try to resist those thoughts, they persist;
4. Making associations (finding similarities in shape/colours/smell etc.) with the feared things – please write us whether I am correct at this one, because I am not sure whether it is a compulsion or obsession.
There are of course other compulsions/rituals/neutralizing acts. In fact, they will work only for some time alleviating anxiety but soon we will find they do not work any longer. In the long run compulsions only REINFORCE the obsessive-compulsive cycle. What we really SHOULD AVOID are COMPULSIONS themselves. We cannot stop our thoughts but we can change our responses to them (instead of compulsions).
What we really fear and cannot stand in any form of OCD are the feelings of uncertainty and anxiety as well as the uncertainty itself. We want to be 100% sure of something. In general, OCD is a disorder in which the sufferers (me too, of course) cannot stand uncertainty in some fields (which we find important, often exaggerating). Unfortunately, both our biology (e.g. insufficient amount of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in particular parts of the brain) and cognitive coping mechanisms (what we learnt and think may be useful in coping with anxiety) fail to deal with uncertainty. It is so, because we use the wrong coping mechanisms. Every bit of OCD boils down to us not accepting uncertainty in our lives (at least in specific areas).
First of all, great article. I have two questions, the first is, how do I explain to someone the difference between HOCD and “pray away,” that bogus therapy that suggests a gay person can be made straight. I consider myself as a straight male suffering from HOCD. I do not believe I am in “denial” or trying to “change” my sexual orientation.
Second, will any therapist trained in CBT and OCD treatment be able to treat this form of OCD? Is it possible I could go to an OCD therapist and they will have never heard of this form of OCD and not know how to treat it? Thanks!
Also wanted to ask, what does it mean to accept uncertainty? I have tried to not respond to my OCD thoughts and have had some success. Instead of trying to dispel the anxiety of the question, “Am I gay?” I ignore it. This leaves me drained eventually however. Will the anxiety ever stop? Will I ever have “certainty,” like I used to and stop doubting myself so much? Or will I have to accept that I will always be uncertain? Thanks.
I´m a 21-year old girl who (I think) suffer from sexual orientation-OCD. In December the thought “What if I´m gay?” popped up along with sexual images of me with other women and I had the word “GAY” in my head the whole time. This brought a huge amount of anxiety with it, it was hard to sleep at night, I felt nauseated and I lost weight and fell into some kind of depression. I had recently been through a tough time in school which probably was the onset of this along with a fear of boys I´ve had since I was 15.
I´ve always been a very shy girl and was bullied alot for it when I was younger, it escalated in my early teenage years (nothing physical, just psychological bullying).
Until December last year I was sure I was straight because I had crushes on boys as a kid but haven´t had one in several years. But I won´t deny that I´ve always found other girls pretty, I´ve always easily been able to tell which girls are goodlooking or not. This have made me think now that I´m not completely straight because I´m more aroused by the female body but as far as I know I´ve never had a crush on a girl. I sometimes looked at other girls breasts in the changingroom in school when I was a teenager. I know that envy was a part of it but now it makes me think if it could have meant something more.
Before it was gay-thoughts that disgusted me. Now I sometimes find them pleasant (only sometimes though) and I can´t even think “straight-thoughts” because it feels like they are intrusive and gives me huge anxiety. They were pleasant before. I can´t even look at the opposite sex anymore because I can feel anxiety build up in my body, not even famous guys (like Robert Pattinson) because it feels like I will have a panic attack. This depresses me, because before I was a “straight who feared being gay”, now I´m a “gay/bi that feares being straight”. I would accept being gay, I´ve already “accepted” it and even “fought” for it because I see no other way, but if I don´t feel attraction to the same sex I start doubting again. Even when I´ve “accepted” myself as gay and feel good and relaxed about I´ve still not been able to enjoy life fully because I still doubt and all my interests have been ripped from me.
I don´t want to live like this anymore, in this doubt and not knowing who I am. It´s like I have more sexual attraction towards girls, but don´t know if I can fall in love with one. I´m also a virgin and have never had a relationship.
I would be thankfull if you could give me some advice. Sorry if this is too long but I hope it´s alright.
Also, it feels like it would be “safer” being with a girl because they can´t hurt me like men can. Straight thoughts don´t really disgust me, but they make me really anxious and sad now.
Hi, thanks so much for your articles.
I have had pure o since the tender age of 7. However having HOCD feels like a violation to my identity, dreams and rights. It is a threat to all I have ever wanted and the life I have lived in the past. I am in the ‘spectrum HOCD’.
I am female and in my non-HOCD state I am very attracted to males, even considered a flirt. I am relaxed happy and comfortable. I had same-sex fantasies while masturbating and they are sometimes about people I know which makes it even more naughty and arousing. However I am secure enough in my heterosexual identity. Having HOCD has ‘numbed’ me and I feel disconnected from the world and my past and future selves. Is this a normal symptom? It has majorly reduced my quality of life.
Letting go of my OCD seems especially hard because ‘letting go’ means ‘giving in’ to the threatening thoughts and therefore accepting that I could be gay, which is terrifying. So I sort of see having this anxiety and OCD as better than not having it because then I could turn gay. I am very aware of how irrational and silly this is.
I do have arousals to the same sex, but I am not sure if they actually are arousals. I find relief when I don’t have them, as I don’t like them, and I have always had romantic feelings toward the opposite sex. But my attraction to the opposite sex has diminished, will it return? I have zero interest in dating the same sex, and I despise my arousal to the same sex (if that’s what it is.) It makes me sick, it’s not like I hate that it won’t be accepted, I hate the thought itself. My HOCD makes me just feel like I am gay, but I get such happiness and relief out of my straight thoughts. Is it possible this arousal to the same sex could just be a mix up of admiration? Because I hate the idea of something sexual with the same sex.
Good article! I was wondering, can you be gay and not even like men? I mean, I have spectrum HOCD, but I dont feel attracted to men. I cant imagine myself with another man. And I dont want to be with another man. I mean, for all my life, and to this day, I have ALWAYS been attracted to women. I have a countless number of crushes on girls, and I have never even taken a thought at homosexuality before HOCD. Now my whole day is filled with obssessing over HOCD. I am so depressed, because having spectrum HOCD means that I am at least somewhat homo, and that just doesnt roll with me. Because I want to feel 100% straight, I dont think I even have confidence to date anymore. I fear any relationship will end up with a break-up. Sigh…I dont feel like a man anymore. I feel so bad…I wish I had a different type of HOCD. Sometimes the only way I am able to deal with the uncertainty is to fall back on to suicidal ideation, I tell myself, why does any of it matter if you are dead? But the suicidal thoughts cause me sadness too, I want to be with the girl I love, yet I am tormented by my own my mind. Is there any medical treatment to get rid of spectrum HOCD, I mean such as being injected with more teresterone?
Great article, much more informative than the forums,I am 18 years old and I have spectrum HOCD, so here is my question: Is there a way to get rid of a fantasy? I think if I direct my energy to getting rid of an unhealthy fantasy, than it will get better. I think there probably is, because it is not like I am changing my sexual orientation or anything. I know I am straight, I know deep down I am. I am almost 100% sure I am straight. But if I get an occasional homo fantasy, which causes me despair, and too be honest is not healthy for me or others around me. Because it is nothing but the occassional homo fantasy that causes me to be depressed and want to go terminate my own life. They say healthy fantasies are good, but a fantasy that makes you want to brutally harm or maim yourself isnt healthy. I have a problem with depression, I know if I dont get the ocassional fantasy, I will be able to get better. Some people tell me that I should accept what is, but I know I cant accept it because, I wont feel like a man if I did. I have always liked feeling macho, I cant look at myself in the mirror if I did accept it. Might this be just be a phase? Will this phase pass? Because I really never had any occasional homo fantasies 5 months before. It started in january of this year. And you cant really say it because of puberty or anything, because I am almost out of the puberty period. I am not going through an identiy crisis, because I truly do know who I am. I just want these ocassional disturbing fantasies to stop. So I can stop wanting to take my own life, when these fanatasies drive me to the edge.
You ask, “how do I explain to someone the difference between HOCD and “pray away,” that bogus therapy that suggests a gay person can be made straight.”
My suggestion is that you not waste your energy trying to explain things to people that they are not capable of understanding. The difference is that OCD is a clinical disorder and homosexuality is the state of being a homosexual. It’s a similar difference between apples and staplers. They are unrelated.
I don’t think all proponents of “pray away” are necessarily bigots, but that their religious beliefs may blind them from a fundamental understanding about both human sexuality and mental health. There’s a pretty good film about “pray away” called Save Me, which I sometimes recommend to male clients for ERP when treating their HOCD.
Anyway, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the most effective treatment for ocd. Praying something away may be a strategy for something, but it is not a treatment for anything.
Praying away Michelle Bachmann on the other hand may be worth a shot.
You ask, “will any therapist trained in CBT and OCD treatment be able to treat this form of OCD? Is it possible I could go to an OCD therapist and they will have never heard of this form of OCD and not know how to treat it?”
I believe any therapist who actually is experienced in treating ocd with cbt will have encountered this form of ocd. They may not call it HOCD, but it is unlikely that they will have treated many ocd clients and never encountered one with sexual obsessions. When seeking treatment, it is totally appropriate to ask how much experience they have treating ocd, do they primarily use CBT, do they use ERP (this is important), and are they familiar with sexual orientation ocd.
To your question about accepting uncertainty, the important thing to remember is that there is no certainty. There is just a sense of “good enough” that we all live with for everything, including whether or not the sky is blue. Accepting uncertainty about gay thoughts means accepting that those are simply the thoughts you are having and it is not necessary nor POSSIBLE to know for 100% what they mean. Instead, you must be willing to go with the assumption that they don’t mean much of anything and choose the lifestyle you happen to actually prefer. The end result of stopping the compulsive analysis of your thoughts IS the sense of certainty you are seeking. If you spent as much time studying the blueness of the sky, it would eventually seem somewhat green or purple to you and this may make you very philosophical indeed.
Of course it’s always difficult to get the full picture of what someone is going through in a forum like this, so whether you are gay, straight, bi, or whatever is hard to tell. I recently discovered the word omnisexual, which is my new favorite word.
At a glance, I see this as some form of spectrum HOCD where the issue is not so much about what thoughts are enjoyable, but a problem with over-attending to the idea that you need a label to define yourself. The compulsion is to hyper-analyze your attraction to girls OR your attraction to guys OR your lack thereof and come to some sort of elusive conclusion about who you are. This results in endless internal debate over something that no amount of analysis will resolve.
The issue may be further complicated by the fact that you have not had sexual experience and may have ambivalent feelings about what kind of sexual experience you would enjoy the most. The only strategy that will be effective is to stop trying to be sure and wait and see what happens. Someone told me once that we never make big decisions. We make small ones, like what to put on a sandwich. Who we fall in love is based on a much more chaotic set of circumstances we rarely have any way of predicting.
As for your theory that lesbian relationships are safer because men are more likely to hurt you, you can google the subject of lesbian domestic violence and pretty quickly see studies demonstrating that they are statistically similar to heterosexual relationships in this regard.
Hannah, what I am hearing you say is that you are a heterosexual woman who has gay fantasies sometimes. You enjoy them, but you are concerned that they make you somehow less straight. You describe the thoughts and fantasies as threatening, but this is because of distorted ideas you have about them. Many straight people have gay fantasies and don’t see themselves as being on any spectrum of sexuality. They just enjoy what they enjoy and prefer what they prefer.
You write, “So I sort of see having this anxiety and OCD as better than not having it because then I could turn gay. I am very aware of how irrational and silly this is.”
This indicates that you have good insight into the ocd, but are somewhat afraid of calling its bluff. This is totally normal. But if you want to get better, the path to freedom from your discomfort is in accepting and willingly exposing to the so-called “threatening” thoughts. People don’t “turn gay” from thinking about gay stuff any more than they turn into salads from thinking about lettuce. But you are going to have to be willing to FEEL like you are at risk in order to override the ocd circuits.
You sounds like a very straight-forward case of HOCD. My suggestion is that you get cognitive behavioral treatment from an ocd specialist to get better. Over-attending to arousal sensations is not the same thing as having sexual desire, but your ocd wants you to do compulsions, so it will tell you to keep checking. The checking fuels the debate.
Tom, you describe yourself as having spectrum HOCD, meaning you have gay sexual fantasies about men and you enjoy them, but you obsess over what they mean about you. Then you go on to say that you are not attracted to men at all and are incapable of imagining yourself being with a man. This doesn’t sound like spectrum anything. It just sounds like old-fashioned HOCD and a compulsive need for certainty.
To answer your question about medical treatments, it is true that some medications can be helpful for reducing obsessive thinking, but cognitive behavioral therapy has a better track record of reducing ocd symptoms than meds.
You do sound significantly depressed, and if you are experiencing suicidal ideation as part of this depression, please seek treatment asap. Often times it is important to treat the depression before any headway can be made with the ocd.
You asked about testosterone, but I don’t know how that is supposed to be related to being straight. Most of the gay men I have known appear far more testosterone-heavy than me! In any case, you have an anxiety disorder, not a hormone problem.
Tom, I disagree with the notion that fantasies can even be unhealthy to begin with. Fantasies happen in your head. Nothing that happens in your head is dangerous to anything outside of your head. We might say that fantasizing about being hit in the head with a hammer is unhealthy, but that’s just labeling. Actually hitting yourself over the head with a hammer is the unhealthy thing. You say your fantasies are unhealthy because they make you want to hurt yourself. I think a better way of understanding the problem is that you have THOUGHTS about what your fantasies MEAN and this causes FEELINGS that make you DEPRESSED, which distorts your thinking in a negative way.
As such, it makes little sense to try to force yourself not to have fantasies. If your fantasies are leading to compulsive masturbation or relationship problems, than it is the behaviors and the relationship that needs to be worked on, not the things you occasionally like to imagine. If the things you are thinking about these fantasies are making you unhappy, then this way of thinking is what needs to be addressed, not the fantasy itself.
Dana, you ask “what about this excitement?” You should look at your attempts to understand and define your physical sensations as compulsions. Of course it feels real. It feels real to someone with contamination ocd that they are at risk of getting AIDS from a door knob if they don’t wash their hands. Feeling real is not evidence of reality. Checking your groin to make sure it is having the response you want only makes it impossible for you to feel it is having the right response.
Gaby, doubting an ocd diagnosis is very common. The sufferer wants certainty that the thing they fear will not come true. Evidence that their fears are unfounded (such as an ocd diagnosis) are reassuring but often scrutinized in much the same way evidence of straightness is disregarded in HOCD. I would say doubting you have ocd is the second most common ocd symptom there is. In my opinion the most common ocd symptom is the belief that your obsession is uniquely untreatable.
I’m asking myself the question if I have spectrum OCD. Since I became scared of being gay I started to check myself on arousal by looking to man/woman, in my fantasies and in movies. Somethimes, when I force myself to think about sex with man, it gets me aroused. In the beginning it didn’t much to me, but lately I sense more arousal. Is this because I’m accepting being gay, or is that because I’m telling to enjoy it?
Some day it can turn me on and some day not. When I say to myself to be realistic (asking the question If I see myself with an other man) takes away the aroused feeling. Or if I see two man kissing it takes away that aroused feeling. I can’t imagine to do that, or love a man.
But it makes me crazy cause I don’t know what I am. I don’t like man at all. When I see (every person) then I get that strange feeling which I can’t place and I want to avoid them, can’t look at them and don’t like to talk to them. This because when I see them I get unwanted thoughts like “do I feel attracted, how would it be if I had sex with him, does this make me happier then talking to a woman e.t.c”. Im getting scared to get outside and talk to peple. Almost all day I keep thinking about it to see if I’m getting aroused. But all I ever wanted is to fall in love with a nice girl.
I think I have spectrum. I tell myself to accept it beacause I think/feel and see myself as gay. This because I can get aroused when I force myself to think about homosexual things. So I’m starting to masturbate on all those thoughts and tell myself to enjoy it. But it makes me feel misserble and more disorientated cause I don’t think it gives me the same satisfied feeling with woman. But then I again. When I’m with my girlfriend I get these unwanted thoughts which flashes through my head “you don’t enjoy her, do you actually love her, does a man makes me happier”. This I can’t stop and makes me crazy because I don’t enjoy the time being with her as I normally did.
Or do I think that I have spectrum because of OCD?
Daemon, again I think you are misinterpreting what i mean by Spectrum HOCD. You don’t sound to me like a person who genuinely enjoys homosexual fantasies. You sound like a person who is afraid he enjoys homosexual fantasies and compulsively checks and analyzes them. Accepting that you have gay thoughts in your head sometimes is not the same thing as accepting that you are on the spectrum between straight and gay any more than the average person is.
Trying to know for sure how you feel about your thoughts is a compulsion and is fueling your ocd. And forcing yourself to get aroused and succeeding is not evidence of anything in particular. Since it is done in the service of determining your sexual orientation, it is a compulsion.
In my opinion, based on what you have written thus far, you have more traditional HOCD than what I have been calling “spectrum HOCD” as you don’t sound like someone who is, for lack of a better expression, just a little gayish and obsessing about its meaning. I think you are just trying to convince yourself you are because that seems like it will result in a greater sense of certainty. In any case, even if I am wrong about that, you should get cognitive behavioral therapy to treat your ocd, whichever made-up label we have agreed to add to it.
So I’m now about a month into my exposure and response prevention work and to be honest, my views on it change everyday. Some days it seems to help, but others I don’t seem so sure I notice a change. My therapist has me writing my thoughts down repeatedly on a piece of paper. I’m not really quite sure if I’m just not sticking with it long enough or what.
The other day though I could literally feel a break in my mind from the OCD where I felt free to think about whatever I wanted and no longer had any anxiety or intrusive thoughts while having sex with my girlfriend. That was a great day…
I’m not sure if it was having that moment that made me lazy with my ERP and stop trying to one up my thoughts in my head by saying “I am gay! It’s great!” that let me get sucked back in or what, but I want that feeling back, and have hit my work hard trying to get back to that place.
The other problem I am having now is the fact that I can actually get the thoughts off of my mind for a period of time. It worries me because I don’t feel the way I felt the other day yet, and when I catch myself not thinking about the OCD and come back to it, I get a bad feeling because I still don’t feel back to normal but now I’m not obsessing as bad either. This makes it feel like once the obsessions stop for longer and longer periods of time I will just remain with a feeling of being homosexual and not dwelling on it, which inevitably causes deeper anxiety. I hope that makes sense. Any Insight?
Thanks in advance.
I think I’ve recently begun to suffer HOCD. I’m 17 (young still, I know), but have always identified myself as heterosexual. I’ve never had any homosexual fantasies, nor have wanted to have any homosexual relationships. Before now, I’ve always been confident in my identity and in the fact that I had no desire to engage in homosexual acts. I’ve been in heterosexual relationships before now, and have thoroughly enjoyed them.
A few weeks ago, however, after becoming interested in a guy, I suddenly became repulsed by the thought of being with him/etc. This was an extremely disturbing thought – I began checking to see if this would apply to all guys I met. (thus begins the freak out…) Suddenly, the thought occured to me that, since I was repulsed by this guy I had liked…did this mean I was gay? As before mentioned, I had never had any gay thoughts or fantasies.
I began checking by looking at members of both sexes. Because I was so freaked out, all this did was increase anxiety. Next, I began to wonder “Wait, could I have been gay all this time and not have known? Can I suddenly become gay? How do I know if I’m gay or not?”
I’ve always thought that I had OCD tendencies (counting in patterns, arranging obsessively, constant worrying, strange religious superstitions), but I’ve never mentioned them to my parents, because I thought I was being silly. However, this current situation is just torturous. While looking at OCD-related articles on the internet, I finally came across one that discussed HOCD – the symptoms described what I was feeling exactly.
I know my thoughts are irrational. Sometimes, I can overcome them, and feel like myself again. But, eventually, I come back to feeling anxious/worried and return to experiencing intrusive thoughts. I honestly don’t feel even remotely well at the moment – I’m subject to random bouts of crying and constant anxiety.
Is there an effective way I can handle this at home? Or, is it just time for me to see a therapist/specialist? If I sought out a specialist, could this dramatically help with my current situation?
Much thanks in advance for all of your advice!!
Thanks. Im sorry, but does that mean that the movement in my groin…sometimes more movement than at other times…..means that it is the “right” response- that it means that I am gay or biisexual?
Thanks for replying, you have been great help to me. I was wondering in your previous post. You mentioned that I dont have spectrum HOCD, but if I get these….yeah, would that not indicate I do have spectrum HOCD. It seems like my HOCD started off not as spectrum HOCD, but as all or nothing HOCD 4 years ago. But it was rather weak until january of this year, until I got these….Before it use to be, that I would get obssessive thoughts but not suicidal ones. And also, before it use to be that when I would fall in love with a girl, all the fear and doubt would go away, but soon would appear after. And too be 100% honest, I have never had a crush on a dude before. 100% for sure. I have always liked girls. And if I were to answer the question, would I like to have *** sex, then my answer would be, hell no. I would have a heart attack right there. I am quite terrified of anything homosexual in real life. Not because I am a homophobe, I am not, but those kind of things just scare me. Last year at school, I saw another dude slap another on the butt, I had a super huge anxiety attack, I ran out of the classroom and I barfed everything out of my stomach into the toilet. I have talked to suicide support, they are very helpful indeed. I think life is still worth living, if I could get over this HOCD. I want to be with the girl I love, I want to live life to the fullest.
What more is that HOCD is causing me so much emotional pain, I love this girl so bad, but it feels like HOCD is forcing me into becoming gay, and I have to give her up. =(
Thanks for reply,
Think you are right. I have always been insecure about myself. So when I’m with other people I always have that small and strange feeling beneath which I can’t label. Some day I thought this feeling was caused by arousal. So I thought I might be gay and got afraid. This feeling I have almost all day, so I don’t understand why I associated this feeling with being gay. But on that point I start to force myself to have homosexual fantasies to be sure about it which sometimes backfires cause it doesn’t always give me the result I want.
So strange and almost unimaginable that OCD can tell you so many things, or make you feel/experience/belief things that aren’t true.
First I thought this was all because of alcohol. When I was 12 I begin with consuming alcohol and when my brother got cancer I began to drink from friday till sunday and got scared of getting home because of his physical conition. The sunday, monday, tuesday my thoughts were uncontrollable and since then it never changed. But when I stopped drinking it still occurs and the same feeling is present. So it must be OCD
As far as I know I always wake up with a negative feeling. A feeling which I have given many labels over the last Years (work, fysical condition, friends, relationships, enviroment, sexual orientation etc)
I’ve bought the book from Jonathan Grayson you suggested. And now I think I have OCD from since I was young. I remember that I always stay’d up till 11 pm. Just to be sure that my mon will come home alive. Making myself believe that no one liked me, my family hated me, thoughts of being adopted. Many of these scenario’s I was evaluating in my head. Thinking up what could happen and what I should do if it happens, and how I would feel. Sometimes I cried by these thoughts and sometimes these negative thoughts gave me satisfaction.
These are signs of OCD, right?
Sorry for another message. Maybe an interesting question and I curious if you heard more about it.
When I was 1 or 2 years old and I was in my bed I was starting to shake my head to the left/right until I fell asleep. When I was sad, or had bad thoughts this movement got faster. Sometimes (It sounds strange) I I tapped/hit my head against the wall during this left/right movement. Sometimes powerful, sometimes softer. This never changed till I was 15/16. I thought about it and it was strange for me because I didn’t know why I did it and no one else did it. I was ashamed for this and my neck started to hurt. So I managed to stop it after several months.
And now I remember, since then I never slept well. So I started to lifting heavy weights (3/4 days in week) so I got physically broken and managed to sleep earlier. Now because of an injury I can’t do any sports and I sleep very late and now I noticed that I have that urge to shake my head to the left/right to fall in sleep.
But when I repeat this left/right thing with my head to fall in sleep. Im so relaxd and I don’t have any worries/fears. I do have thoughts, but they don’t bother me. Im happy then.
Was this OCD, was it a habbit, or did I develop my own treatment against bad feelings/thoughts? Or is my brain not right?
I saw something about EMDR which describes: (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) incorporates elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy with eye movements or other forms of rhythmic, left-right stimulation. Could this connect?
I have one more question, is it good enough that a mere two weeks ago, before my HOCD really got the best of me, I was so deeply love-sick over a girl, that I have HOCD and am not gay? At that time, I was so depressed because she didnt show any interest in me, and I was contemplating about commiting suicide in order to get her attention. I was so severely depressed over her at that time. I didnt know what to do, it felt my heart was being ripped apart, I felt so inadequate for her. And now HOCD is trying to force me into thinking I really didnt like her, and I forced myself into liking her? Sigh…is that really the truth? It felt so real at that time….I was so damn depressed during that period…every word she said I had to analyze….every thing she did I had to check for the faint hope that something would indicate she is interested in me…..but I am not sure now…And btw, I have talked to suicide prevention both on telephone and online. They help a bit. But I am not comfortable in telling them everything. I am afraid they will call back and tell somebody else that I am suicidal. That would not be good, I dont want ruin somebody else’s day over this crap. I am also going through therapy too, its rough, I dont exactly like telling everything to a therapist in person until I get to know the person better. I have been prescribed zoloft for my depression, I hope meds would make me better.
I am posting again, because I feel I really need your support right now, it has been extrmely hard for me for the past few days, because for one, the anxiety is gone, I am so damn scared, why is the anxiety gone? Am I starting to accept the stupid thoughts for real? I dont want to accept them? Have I gotten comfortable with being a homo or something? I am so damn scared….I am even more depressed without the anxiety, I am so damn depressed it feels like the end of the world again….I am so damn depressed, all I want is a girl-friend and a modest life. What more do I ask for!?!?! Even worse I have no desire for women now, I can look at a hot girl, and my mind is just blank. I am so scared. I am on zoloft, I am addicted to it now. It is addicting stuff. I have always had crushes on girls before, but now, nothing. All I think about is HOCD thoughts. I am just so saddened, why me? I must be a homo..damn it…I must be a homo. I cant think about Tay, I cant think about the hopes and dreams I had for both of us before HOCD. This HOCD is killing everything. I am being forced into this hell, and if it turns out I am slowly becoming a homo… well it wont get to that point…. I wont ever be happy again. All my dreams are destroyed because of this disease. I feel so sickened to the point, that I am depressed as ever. I am being tortured so bad. I have no libido at all, I use to be hooked to pornography since I was in grade 5, I have already graduated high school now, maybe I got bored of pornography. Maybe pornography killed my libido? This reassurance is so damn addicting, I am so addicted to reassurance, I need it like I need zoloft, if I dont get zoloft or reassurance, I go into depression. By the way, what does ego-systonic mean? You mentioned it in the article, I am not sure what it means. Please Doctor, I need to know what it means. I am going through therapy, but it isnt enough. I need zoloft. I need it so bad….People say zoloft isnt addictive, they are wrong, I know how addictive it is. I got addicted after two days of taking it. I get withdraw symptoms if I dont have it. I am so sorry doctor if this seems like a rant. I am so sorry. But I need the reassurance. I cant take it without reassurance. I hope I am not wasting your time. I feel like sh*t right now. My life is worthless. My life revolves around two things, zoloft and reassurance. What am I going to do!Why was I even born?!?
=( All those perfect dreams of me and tay being together has been smashed to bits. I am so depressed. I want my old self back, but I dont know if it will come back. It probably wont….HOCD is making me think I really dont care for it to be back…..
I am a sufferer of HOCD. I was able to beat HOCD on my own a few years ago with the help of SSRI medications. The thing that lingers even until now is a some what spawning of another fear closely related to HOCD. I have this fear that I like transexuals. In particular I suffer from testing my arousal levels. As far as I know I cannot remember a time that I’ve had a fantasy about any type of transgendered person. I have gone the route of testing by masturbation. This thing haunts me and comes back every 4-6 months. The hardest part is that sometimes I do get aroused by testing my arousal response. I can continue to view the pictures and my response will actually decline. Also I do not always encounter arousal. The obsession that I will get is just out of the blue, “go and check if you can get aroused to transexuals.” I will tell myself that yes I can in order to just go with the thoughts but anxiety will eventually over power me and I will end up testing. If I do get aroused – the logical explanations and thoughts and arguments go on sometimes for days. There are other times where I can convince myself that yes, I do like them, I will cross that bridge when I get there if it ever does happen and it goes away. But I cannot get rid of this demon it will come back in a few months. Any ideas? I think the arousal thing kills me the most.
Thanks for answering my questions above. I have one more question. I am working on not giving myself reassurance or doing the mental compulsions I am used to doing when I get an OCD thought through my mind. While I have anxiety right when I get the thought, it wears away in time and I feel much better than I do when I just give myself reassurance right away. The only thing is, after a while of “accepting” these intrusive thoughts, my mind feels scrambled, even when I don’t respond to them. Then I feel I must give myself some “reassurance” to resort my mind and level it. Would this count as a compulsion? If there a way to accept intrusive thoughts without them “scrambling” my mind after repeated exposure? Thanks for all your help, it’s much appreciated. I also noticed that me coming to read this article may have turned into a bit of a reassurance compulsion so I’m trying to avoid coming back here often.
Just a thought… I have done some analysis of my “groinal response” and realise I have two different sensations. One is when I’m anxious or nervous and usually anxious about hocd fears and that is best described as a muscle tightening. I mean when I feel something down there I now notice that my whole body appears stiff and rigid and a sensation can be felt wherever I put my focus (groin, knee, foot whatever). The second is distinctly dofferent and more relaxed but with an excited energy, I suppose, that makes me pleasantly restless and when I imagine a man in front of me that’s the feeling I get and I imagine myself grabbing them and pulling them in to me. It’s that feeling I have when I think about straight sex. What do you make of those differences and my interpretation?
Also, I find when I am with someone (dating, relationship even “hooking up”) who I really like the hocd thoughts very scarcely cross my mind and I am genuinely happier. I also can’t stop wanting to be affectionate towards when I’m with them which makes me think in hindsight “well that’s a straight indicator”. So why then, when I am not involved with someone, do I fear again? Could it be I am afraid of something greater than hocd itself such as loneliness? I just don’t know how to stop questioning when I know 99% how I feel.
Thank for any advice 🙂
Ryan, the trick is to stick with the Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) at higher and higher levels of discomfort without doing any mental rituals that might be aimed at reducing that discomfort. Often times people fall into the trap of checking and analyzing during an exposure exercise instead of focusing on keeping the discomfort up.
The other issue you mentioned is a problem with mental checking. When you become aware of the “quiet” moments, you start digging around your brain to see if you still have the obsession. It backfires. You need to focus on staying in the present. Don’t monitor where your feelings are. They will catch up to your thoughts in time.
You write, “Suddenly, the thought occured to me that, since I was repulsed by this guy I had liked…did this mean I was gay?”
—This is a common black-and-white distortion in ocd. The assumption is that if you are repulsed by a man, you must therefore be enamored with a woman. Where is the evidence for this? How are these things even the least bit related? A healthier perspective would be to acknowledge that your feelings for this individual have changed and that there is currently no additional information available as to what it means about you.
You wrote, “Is there an effective way I can handle this at home? Or, is it just time for me to see a therapist/specialist? If I sought out a specialist, could this dramatically help with my current situation?”
—-It is clear from the rest of your post that you are suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder. Your best bet for getting your freedom back would be to get cognitive behavioral therapy from an ocd specialist. There is a good list of treatment providers at http://www.ocfoundation.org.
Dana, your question is itself an extension of the ocd, a reassurance seeking compulsion. Until you stop trying to be certain what groinal responses mean, they will always seem threatening to you and always be a way the ocd has power over you.
Tom, it is not important to know what “kind” of HOCD you have. I just made these terms up to demonstrate that people with ocd who obsess about their sexual orientation experience it in a lot of different ways. It sounds like you have a very strong anxiety response to your fear and this is treatable with CBT and ERP. You are not some rare case, just one in which it sounds like you are suffering a lot. Also, if you are at any time concerned for your safety or feeling suicidal, it is imperative that you contact local emergency help.
Daemon, good that you bought Grayson’s book and it is resonating you. You ask at the end of your post if it sounds like you have ocd. I would say the question is the answer.
As for your head movement issue, I’m not sure. Very young children do a variety of body repetitive movements for comfort. In more extreme cases this can be a sign of autism I think. This is not my field of expertise. EMDR does employ CBT strategies alongside repetitive eye movement, but there is some debate as to why this works when it does (it is considered more effective for PTSD than OCD).
At this stage the head movement ritual sounds strictly compulsive, so I would recommend choosing instead to tolerate the unwanted thoughts and feelings and accepting that it may or may not interfere in your sleep and it is not important to know for sure. It is probably a good idea for you to get set up with an ocd therapist when you can and consult with them on this issue.
Tom, in response to your more recent messages, you need to understand that reassurance is the problem, not the solution. You need to connect with a local treatment provider and start doing cognitive behavioral therapy – meds alone will not solve this problem. As for Zoloft being addictive, I think you are confusing side effects that come from inconsistent dosing with withdrawal. SSRI medications take anywhere from 6-12 weeks at therapeutic doses to demonstrate effectiveness. If you do not take them consistently, you may experience side effects. If and when one chooses to go off of an SSRI med like Zoloft, they do so gradually and with the guidance of their prescribing doctor. This is not the same thing as being physically addicted to something.
The main issue here is that you have significant untreated obsessive compulsive disorder and need to take that seriously. It is common for people with ocd to take a reduction in anxiety as a reason to be afraid that their unwanted thoughts will come true. You need to learn the cognitive skills for managing this distorted thinking and you need a structured exposure and response prevention strategy for getting control of your disorder. There is a good list of treatment providers at http://www.ocfoundation.org.
HOCDKiller, checking and testing for arousal is a compulsion that fuels your obsession. Stop doing compulsions and you will learn to habituate to the discomfort that temporarily lingers. Being aroused by transsexuals doesn’t mean anything in particular. Isn’t the point that half a good looking transsexual is pretty much hot to anyone? I think instead of testing yourself, you should let go of the idea that it is important to know for sure that you are only getting aroused to the “right” things and simply accept arousal when it occurs in the same way you can accept thoughts and feelings.
Frank, it would be best to resist reassurance seeking altogether. Look at the “scrambled” feeling as the ocd using an alternative method of causing you discomfort as it tries to get you to do compulsions. You can accept that you are feeling “scrambled” or you can tell yourself “I will feel scrambled forever, so be it.” The feeling will pass just like it did before.
Good insight in noticing that checking this article repeatedly is another form of reassurance. This has happened to many others. Resist checking in until a new article is posted or at least be sure not to check in as a direct response to anxiety.
Getting Better, I think there are two sides to your post. One is a healthy recognition that anxious and sexually aroused sensations can appear to be similar in the body but have differences in the way we relate to them. The other is a compulsive over-attendance to your physical sensations in a need for certainty – and this fuels your ocd.
You don’t need an “indicator” of your heterosexuality any more than you need an indicator of your height. It is what it is. The compulsive search for proof only makes your brain think there is some debate going on.
Also, many people find their ocd symptoms worsen when they are alone or when they don’t have a partner grounding them in reality (though relationships are also an easy target for ocd).
Perhaps the underlying fear is that if you were gay, you would not be allowed to love men, and if that were the case, you would be isolated and unloved, which you see as unacceptable. This is intriguing to consider, but not always useful for treatment purposes.
I have a question,can you explain in detail what ego-syntonic vs ego-dynostic means? I mean does ego syntonic thoughts mean that the thoughts give you happiness and confidence, while ego-dynostic gives you anxiety and fear?
I think I have spectrum OCD, does this mean I am gay. I seriously do not want to be gay. I always loved women before my HOCD has really hit me hard. And I really really wanted a girl-friend before this OCD started. I grew up liking girls. I am very saddened by this HOCD. It has become a 24 hour thing for me now, I ruminate 24/7 even when I am dreaming, I dream about ruminating. I feel so weak after so long battling this OCD. I am afraid if my OCD is gone, I will turn into a gay person. I remember a while back, when I was so in love with a girl, it felt so right…But now I dont know what to feel that way again. And also what does kinsey scale really mean, I dont understand what does it mean to be incidentally homosexual? I am so tired…just so tired. And I dont want to be a homosexual. I dont know what to do.
I have been on forums alot these days, and it seems alot of HOCD’ers have something that they call “false attractions”. Have you treated somebody with the so called “false attractions”? And what does it symbolize?
Ego-dystonic means the thoughts are perceived by the thinker as being incongruent with their character or their sense of reality. Ego-syntonic means the thoughts are perceived as totally normal and realistic. Happiness or sadness in your response to them is not what determines dystonic vs syntonic. If you’d like to learn more about what these terms mean and how they apply to thoughts about sexuality, violence, etc., you can read one of our past articles that addresses the issue at https://ocdla.com/blog/ocd-law-2-816.
I’m not sure how to respond to the question, “I think I have spectrum HOCD, does this mean I am gay?” It means you have ocd, are not gay, but need to accept that you have gay thoughts and get cognitive behavioral therapy to treat your disorder.
I don’t know what the Kinsey Scale “means” other than it is a theory which suggests that human sexuality is fluid and not always black-and-white.
I don’t know what a “false attraction” is in clinical terms. A lot of people with ocd tend to ask themselves if they liked something and compulsively check their response. This could be to something they see as gay or any other thing they fear (harm ocd sufferers often refer to debating if they liked a violent thought).
I am 17 years old and have always been confident that I was heterosexual. About a month ago a thought popped into my head “what if I am bi?”. After that thought I started looking at pictures of women, and women in real life just to see if I was attracted to them, and I was never really sure. This freaked me out because I have never wanted to be bi, or gay. I’ve always wanted to grow up and fall in love with a man. I started looking up things about teenagers who realized they were gay or bi. But all the stories didn’t relate to me at all, all these girls had attraction or crushes on woman before and I never have. I talked to a friend about my discomfort and she said its probably just curiosity of the same sex, which is normal. This made me feel better for a couple of days, but in the back of my mind I still had these thoughts “Am I attracted to women? What if I am bi?” and I start breaking down crying. I stopped looking up stories and I felt a little better for a couple of days. But recently the thoughts have been in the back of my mind again and they scare me. I started looking up more stories and I stumbled upon HOCD. Now I have never had and OCD tendencies at all, but I was wondering if it sounds like I do have HOCD? I brought it up to my mother the other day and she doesn’t seem to take it seriously. I’m not sure what I should do. I wake up everyday feeling anxious and I just want to be myself again.
Thank you for your response. I don’t understand what you mean in that happiness or sadness does not indicate whether a thought is ego or distonic.
When I reflect on past relationships I figure the fact that I have been happy in them and in particular, when intimate like even holding hands or touching etc that that indicates something that is natural to me. If it wasn’t natural I figure I would feel discomfort and would otherwise shy away from being in those situations. I KNOW I’ve enjoyed those experiences but I suppose my OCD is kicking in by me questioning if I enjoyed it from an intimate level or simply by being close with someone.
Why if I know do I keep questioning and waxing and waning between hocd thoughts?
I don’t look at this as me being allowed to do something or not (like you say, love men) that makes me disheartened it’s more that I can’t do the very thing I’ve wanted for so long and have enjoyed so many times (hen OCD symptoms are not present).
Also, another thought, does it not make sense that OCD sufferers are prone to analysising that if we really were gay then we would be? Isn’t it jut the discomfort of uncertainty and the fear of thinking we might do something that makes us feel uncomfortable/unnatural?
Thanks again 🙂
I also suffer from this form of OCD and I have had success eliminating it from affecting my life through CBT, exposure and not following through on the complusion to prove that I’m straight. It feel quite good to be free from the effects of it. The problem is, sometimes it feels too free, and I feel like I’m bored and missing the crazy thoughts. And then it comes back.
Bianca, you report waking up every day feeling anxious, having unwanted intrusive thoughts about your sexual orientation, over-analyzing thoughts, and engaging in compulsive checking rituals that involve things like looking at women and reading coming out stories to scan them for proof you are not gay. In other words, you have obsessions and compulsions that are taking up your day and making you unhappy. That’s what OCD is.
The first thing that needs to happen for you to get better is to accept that thoughts of gayness are thoughts, not threats, and that it is not important to make them go away. Then you need to stop doing compulsions that serve the opposite function. In other words, accept thoughts as thoughts, and don’t check to be sure. If you can get professional help, you would want to speak to an ocd specialist who provides Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
You wrote, “I don’t understand what you mean in that happiness or sadness does not indicate whether a thought is ego or distonic.”
—In a previous post, “Andy” asked if ego syntonic meant that the thoughts make you feel happy. My response to him was that this is not relevant to the term. It is not about how they make you feel. It is about whether or not you perceive them as being congruent with who you are and what is real.
You ask, “Why if I know do I keep questioning and waxing and waning between hocd thoughts?”
—I think it’s important to separate the presence of questions from the act of “questioning.” A question may pop up from the ocd that asks, “Am I gay?” Your response to that question and the questions you follow it up with are compulsions. Compulsions keep the obsession alive. Instead of questioning your thoughts, you will have to accept that it is not possible to know what thoughts mean, to instead shrug and let the thoughts be thoughts.
You write, “Also, another thought, does it not make sense that OCD sufferers are prone to analysising that if we really were gay then we would be? Isn’t it jut the discomfort of uncertainty and the fear of thinking we might do something that makes us feel uncomfortable/unnatural?”
—I’m not sure I understand the first question. Yes, people with ocd tend to compulsively over-analyze the meaning of their thoughts. And yes, OCD can essentially be boiled down to an intolerance of uncertainty.
Peter, this is not an unusual problem. You need to focus on staying in the present and accepting the content of your thoughts however they are. What you are doing is mental checking and trying to get a “feeling” of still having ocd. Gaining freedom from ocd often coincides with a sort of identity crisis, particulary for people who have been dealing with it for a long time.
I encourage you to read our article on mental checking, as well as our article about letting go of having ocd.
Hey – I had an instance where I was at a public venue and in the mens room it was so crowded…I just urinated and was leaving but I had to squeeze in between people and what happened was my rear end brushed up against some guys privates and then I felt movement in my penis…I was panicked and annoyed….but does that mean I was aroused or that I am gay?
Dana, asking me if a movement in your penis means you are gay is a good example of a reassurance-seeking compulsion and something you should resist. If I say “yes” then it will freak you out and you will still have no sense of certainty as to whether I knew what I was talking about and then you would just continue to obsess. If I say “no” it might comfort you, but only fuels the ocd by sending the message to your brain that these thoughts are important and must be resolved with reassurance. Within a day or less, you will have more questions.
What I would suggest is that you first start by accepting that you had a thought about your penis moving and that, in and of itself, is not particularly important or worth analysis. But if you must attend to it, try to do so in a way that employs critical thinking. For example, if you WERE gay, and this same event happened but your penis did NOT move, would this be proof that you were secretly STRAIGHT? So ask yourself if in your experience every movement in your penis is proof of your orientation or if sometimes penises, dangly and unpredictable as they are, simply move.
I encourage you to read our article about reassurance seeking.
On days where I worry about homosexuality the most, I tend to dream of doing homosexual acts and liking it, and then I wake up in a state of panic. As anxiety settles in, my heart starts racing unpleasantly and doubt fills my mind again. It’s like a vicious cycle because the following day I worry and worry about the homosexual content of the dream, I do checking compulsions, and then another bad dream pops up the next night. Now I do have lots of good nights but why do I feel arousal in homosexual dreams? I’ve always thought I was straight. These dreams seem to fuel my anxiety because the arousal in them seems so real. My therapist told me that dreams tend to reflect our thought of ‘the day before’ and don’t actually mean that I am a homosexual. She said that if I am terrified of being a homosexual I will dream just that! But does that mean I am one? Why do homosexual thoughts in my walking life trigger so much anxiety? Is that how homosexuals usually are? but the arousal I experience in those dreams seems so real that it terrifies me. I cannot picture myself doing these act in my walking life and the mere thought of it disgusts me, but yet I wonder if these dreams are a signal for repressed feelings that I am not aware of? It’s gotten to the point where I don’t want to go to sleep anymore because I am terrified that I will get these ‘nightmares’ again. 🙁 I’ve alienated almost all of my female friends because I fear that I will become attracted to them or develop a sexual desire towards them.
I need some help here.
When I was a little girl, I always thought of myself as straight. Then when I was 12, I read an article about lesbians, and had the horrible thought; What of I’m gay?
I’ve been struggling with this for years, and I actually am sexually/emotionally attracted to women. Sometimes, to men, but not as intensely. My brain always has these horrible fantasies were I end up closeted and miserable, married to a man. I didnt ysed to be like this, but after I started worrying about this, and reading up on lesbian symptoms, the thought of men started to disgust me.
I figured I was gay and desperately tried to deny/to avoid it, or accept myself as bisexual.
Recently, I heard about his. As I’ve obsessed over this almost every day for three years, I think I might have HOCD (I have a history of depression and anxiety) but part of me wonders if I’m just looking for another way to deny my sexuality.
Please Help. I’m scared.
Hi, -me again
I just have another quick question.
I was doing some research and discovered there was such a thing as ego-dystonic homosexuality. Where homosexuals are just really uncomfortable with there true orientation because it goes against there idealized self-image. How can I be sure I have ocd and not that?? 🙁 How would you distinguish the two?
Thanks so much!
I have been dealing with this problem for 13 years since I was 22. It feels weird when it’s not there, hence it is very much like you said an idenitity crisis. Sometimes the the thoughts are connected with very strong feelings and I start asking myself if I am just repressing these feelings. I did not know about HOCD for a long time and jsut found out about it recently. I’ve done some mindfullness and CBT execrises and they have almost scared me in how much different they have made me feel. I felt like I needed to go back to something that is familiar. This is a tough battle. I will keep working on it.
One more question. Can you suggest any treatment resources/therapists in Massachusetts?
Thank you for all the information.
So sorry to bother you again.
I just have another thought that popped in my head. After reading your articles and the comments, I can’t figure out if my thoughts about homosexuality are syntonic or dystonic… The only thing I can say is fantasizing about the opposite sex is what I’ve always done, and what has always felt good. On the other hands, these thoughts about the same sex are very troubling and trigger lots of anxiety within me. How do I know these thoughts are not who I really am? What if they trigger anxiety and fear because I can’t-or don’t -without knowing- want to accept them? You say I can’t base positive and negative feelings to discern them…well this confuses me… Fantasizing about the opposite sex feels good and doesn’t make me anxious whereas thinking about the possibility that I could be a homosexual and have to engage in such acts makes me really scared. I have searched the internet for definitions of ego-syntonic and dystonic…and now I’m even more confused -_-
I really hope you can help me understand what is going on
I have been diagnosed with sexual orientation ocd by several professionals. I have been to therapy and learned many CBT techniques, as well as ERP. Yesterday I was doing some online ERP and was doing well just trying to let the thoughts and anxiety “be”. Anyways after a while, I began to feel a sense of doubt and went to a “gay porn” site. I watched a very erotic video and responded with a FULL erection. This obviously has left me in quite a bit of panic and sadness, as this seems much more intense then just a simple groinal response or feeling. This was not just a small response or movement, but a full out arousal/erection, although it has made me feel very depressed. What does this mean?
You write, “why do I feel arousal in homosexual dreams? I’ve always thought I was straight. These dreams seem to fuel my anxiety because the arousal in them seems so real.”
—We tend to remember very little about dreams. Of the small bits of dreams that remain in our memory, we tend to over-attend, over-value, and over-respond to those moments which we think have some significance. You think “gay” content is important because of your ocd, so it doesn’t seem unusual to me that you are going to be hyper-aware of gayness popping up in dreams. It’s enjoyable in the dream because in the dream you are enjoying it. If you were flying in the dream, my guess is that would feel a strong breeze and convincing sense of excitement, but this would not provide you with much useful information about your ability to fly. You enjoyed being gay in the dream because you were gay in the dream. then you woke up remembered you weren’t and your ocd has you thinking dreams mean something.
Dreams don’t mean anything.
You ask, “Why do homosexual thoughts in my walking life trigger so much anxiety?”
—-The thoughts trigger anxiety because you respond to them with compulsions that make them seem important.
You write, “I wonder if these dreams are a signal for repressed feelings that I am not aware of?”
—This is a psychoanalytic concept that I do not agree exists.
You write, “It’s gotten to the point where I don’t want to go to sleep anymore because I am terrified that I will get these ‘nightmares’ again. I’ve alienated almost all of my female friends because I fear that I will become attracted to them or develop a sexual desire towards them.”
—These would be good examples of avoidant compulsions and are the very things that fuel your ocd. My recommendation is to do the opposite. Go to sleep “trying” to have gay dreams and spend more time with your female friends allowing whatever thoughts to happen simply happen.
To your question about “ego dystonic homosexuality” I’m not very familiar with the concept. I imagine it means something long the lines of what i have been saying in these blogs, that some homosexuals choose not to pursue homosexual lifestyles because of feared consequences in the culture or family they live in. People may interpret this as being gay and not wanting to be. I think this concept viewed outside of the cultural implications is something silly someone made up one day to sound like a smart psychologist. In any case, trying to prove that you have ocd and NOT this phenomenon would just be an example of a compulsion. You will have to accept the uncertainty.
Similarly, you will have to let go of the ocd demand that you understand ego syntonic vs. ego dystonic perfectly. It is not so important. Like you said, you like fantasizing about straight stuff and you find thoughts about gay stuff to be upsetting and anxiety-producing. You don’t need to know for sure if this means you are straight or gay. Go with the assumption that the evidence appears to be pointing in – that you are a straight person with intrusive unwanted gay thoughts and you obsess about them and do compulsions and therefore have ocd for which you should be getting CBT treatment.
Gracie, if I understand your post correctly, you are a female who is sexually attracted to other females and sometimes also to males. Your fear is that you will only ever be attracted to females and will find men disgusting, but will somehow end up in a straight relationship anyway and be trapped there. Also, that if you accept that you are bisexual, some negative thing will result. What I’m hearing is that you are obsessing bout an unknowable future and trying to find some sort of label to affix to yourself that will make you stop obsessing. But this doesn’t seem like a good strategy because you are genuinely attracted to women. Whether this makes you a lesbian, bi, or a straight girl with gay fantasies is not really that important. In short, you will need to accept that you are attracted to whomever you are attracted to and will pursue whatever relationships feel genuine to you. Needing to be certain that these are the “right” choices ahead of time instead of staying in the present is where the ocd comes in. If I am misreading the post, let me know as I am not entirely clear on what you are afraid of.
The OCD Insitute at McLean Hospital is in Massachusetts. You should also go to http://www.ocfoundation.org and use their “find a therapist” tool which will display treatment providers in your area. There are quite a few in your state. You mentioned doing some CBT but it sounds like you need a more consistent treatment program and one that employs both cognitive restructuring and exposure w/ response prevention.
As for your other post, why is it not possible for you to be a man who typically prefers women but occasionally finds men attractive? The panic comes from the distorted belief that you must only ever be attracted to one thing all the time or its opposite all the time.
Sexual thoughts cause sexual arousal. Watching people have sex (gay or straight) and getting an erection doesn’t have to mean anything. What I think is more significant is that you decided to watch gay porn in response to feelings of doubt, which indicates that you were doing it to “check” your orientation compulsively. If you are going to use gay porn as part of a structured ERP program, then it needs to be done without compulsions and that includes resisting the mental compulsion to analyze your erections.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my post. Your answer was very helpful :).
Is it possible that even though I was oriented hetersexually, I may have developed a desire to perform oral sex on men, after my same sex experience at age 14. I only had one such expereince in my life, but it was my first sexual experience. It could be that when the memory came back, it was because I unconsciously wanted to recreate the expereince. I’ve fought this now for 13 years, but it appears that what my mind wants is for me to perform oral sex on a guy. Is this my OCD telling me I want to perform oral on a guy or my true sexual urge. Logically it makes no sense that I’m gay, because growing up I had no attractions or desires for guys, but the feeling feels very real. Please advise.
Hello, I have had hocd for over 2 months now. And I just cannot take it anymore. It all started when I watched lez porn (I’m a girl), and I found it disgusting, but at the same time, couldn’t stop watching and felt a little aroused. But I have NEVER, EVER fancied a girl, or crushed on one. I can’t even picture what it would be like to fancy a girl. It feels wrong to me. I could never love a woman.
But this porn thing is constantly playing on my mind, it’s become such a regret. I feel like crying all the time!
I don’t understand what made me want to watch it, and why I was a little aroused. Because after I saw it, it just makes me feel sick! Some days, I can dismiss it and think, (you were curious), and I have heard that many straight women have a bisexual arousal pattern. And it’s completely normal to feel a little turned on by that porn because it’s all about pleasing your own genitals. Throughout this whole hocd phase, I’ve gone through so many stages. It started when I thought I was lez, and my attraction for men seemed to disappear, and then it came back and I felt straight and great! And then a new question popped in my head, what if I’m bi? And this part is actually way worse!
I would really like some reassurance about this whole porn thing please! I’d be so grateful if you could help x
I’ve been in a miserable state for the past four months. I’m currently 19 and I have had sexual feelings for men throughout my teen years which I never paid too much attention too. However, the thought of possibly being gay has recently been causing great anxiety and distress to me. I also feel as if I have no sexual preference for women.
My question to you is whether I’m in denial or experiencing hocd? Being gay just doesn’t seem like a possibility to me. I have always wanted to have a proper heterosexual married life for as long as I can remember. This is issue is ruining my life, I feel as if my whole life has shattered before my eyes and that I have no reason to live anymore.
Also its not like I haven’t been sexually attracted to women before. I do get arousal to straight porn but ever since this problem started I feel as if my attraction towards women has completely disappeared. Whenever I have heterosexual thoughts I feel relieved. It gives me some hope that I am normal. Is this also a part of hocd?
Your input is extremely appreciated.
I think it’s amazing how you keep putting so much effort in replying to all our desperate questions.. I appreciate it very much, it helps me a lot reading all your answers!
I think i am struggling with seksual ocd for a long time. I am in therapy now and working on mindfulness and its getting better. I now am at a point that I’m exposing myself by visiting gaybars and hang out with gaypeople (all my life I considerd myself as being straight). One night I ended with actually kissing a gaymen and went home with him. I didn’t enjoyed it at all. It was not horrible or something but it just didn’t turn me on.. The day after I was very happy that I did not liked it and I kind of interpret it as a proof for being straight! However, a few days later, I start obssesive thinking ‘what IF this had happened with a guy I find more attractive?’ Will I find arrousal THAN? I also think obsessive of ‘what happens if a ‘good looking’ guy tells me he is gay and makes a move on me’? What happens when a good straight MATE of me that i love in friendship, tells me he is gay and he likes me, how will I react than’? I have so much ‘what ifs’ in my head all the time that it really stress me in my daily work and my quality of life..
– Do you have a particular advise for me in this one?
Also I have one more question I would like to ask. I experience my anxiety about being gay, is slightly reducing and sometimes I say to myself ‘ok, lets call myself Bi-seksual than’. But then I found myself fall, in what you descibe as ‘the spectrum ocd’. When I think of me being Bi-seksual, I start getting really scared that I’m not sure where I am at the Mckinsey scale. I had a really deeploving relationship for two years with a girl I truly loved, but it ended because she wanted kids and live together, but I was to afraid because of my hocds. Not knowing for sure where I am at the Kinzeyscale really obstruct me in starting a new relationship or just date a girl. Moreover I’m really scared that it will never get clear who I am, and I might never be able to have a deep relationship with one or the other seks.. For the rest of my life! This obsession can continu in terms, like really seeing myself dying alone in the dark..
– Do you maybe have some more advise, how I can deal with this spectrum ocd and uncomfort with uncertainty?
Sorry if you advise someone about this earlier and I didnt read it. Also for my grammer if it has some mistakes, since Im not from the states.
Thank you so much in advance..
You said the happiness factor is not relevant to the term dystonic or syntonic. “It is not about how they make you feel. It is about whether or not you perceive them as being congruent with who you are and what is real.”
What I mean is, isn’t what feels congruent and what I would describe as feeling “right for me” or “natural” likely to make us feel happiness? I’m trying to differentiate how we tell what is real or just what we want.
For example, when I am intimate with a man and wake up loving the fact that they are there, surely this content is reflective of what is true for me and therefore congruent with who I am and what I want. Or am I missing the mark?
I also wonder why I read a post on a magazine website that talked about a bunch of straight women who are turned on by gay porn or fantansies but say they doubt they would follow through because they aren’t emotionally attracted when it comes down to it. Can you please explain why some straight people, who have no doubts about their sexuality, would have these thoughts if they weren’t bi-sexual/in denial?
Thanks again. (sorry for the follow up questions but I find your comments very insightful).
Oh and what I meant about my other comment that I didn’t explain very clearly in the post before this one was this: I understand the concept of being indenial, but I’m assuming these people refuse to think about and mentally explore the option of being gay. I was wondering since OCD-ers are prone to analysis, and many of us dont have a problem with homobophia, does this indicate that if we were gay we would be because our problem isn’t actually coming out it’s doing something our mind is telling us to, but what we truly don’t. Is that clearer? Sorry for confusion.
Thanks for everything. This website has helped alot.
How can one find help in the Atlanta area from someone that believes in HOCD. My therapist doesn’t seem to believe in it.
Unfortunately, we hear stories like this all the time. Simply put, if your therapist doesn’t believe in HOCD, then you must find a new therapist – one who is better educated about the complexities of OCD. Fortunately, there is an excellent OCD specialist in Atlanta named Dr. Charles Melville. Here is a link to his website: http://www.drcharlesmelville.com/
If for any reason he is not available for new clients, try the therapist directory at the International OCD Foundation at http://www.ocfoundation.org.
Peter, I don’t know what it means to unconsciously want to recreate and experience. All things wanted are conscious in my opinion. Having thoughts about something you did or having thoughts about something you might do is not an indicator of sexual orientation. If you believe yourself to be attracted to women, then you should pursue that attraction regardless of what thoughts you may have about giving oral sex to men. If in the course of your life you find yourself presented with an opportunity to perform oral sex on a man, then you should decide whether or not you will take it at that moment in time. In the meantime it is better to assume your thoughts are not so important and whether you have a desire to give fellatio or not is not the deal-breaker of one’s orientation overall.
Clairee, reassurance is not what you need, but I’ll throw you a bone anyway. Many straight women prefer lesbian porn to straight porn. I’m not sure why, but I have asked around about this and I think it has something to do with male pornstars not being very attractive and women tending to be more activated by taboo situations than just dirty images.
It sounds like you have an OCD problem, which requires an ocd solution, which in this case would mean doing structured exposure and response prevention to lesbian pornography. This would mean watching it whole resisting any urges to tell yourself you don’t like it and instead allowing yourself to feel aroused or scared or whatever it produces in you.
Hi Karam, it sounds from your post like you have sexual feelings for both men and women. If you do not want to lead a lifestyle that involves pursuing sexual relations with men, and if you do want to pursue a lifestyle that is exclusive to heterosexual pursuits, then that is what you should do. It’s your life. But this will mean accepting that you have sexual thoughts of a wide variety and that it is not necessary to treat them all as important. To the contrary, your aim should be to accept and even enjoy that there are some gay sexual feelings in you, but that it is not necessary to define yourself solely by those feelings. It sounds like you are engaging in some compulsive behaviors to try to convince yourself that you are 100% straight and that will generally backfire. Self acceptance is key, be it straight, gay, bi or whatever.
Hi Richard, it does sound like you fall somewhere on a sexual orientation spectrum, since it is difficult otherwise to understand why you would engage in any homosexual behavior during exposure work. Typically in ERP we are doing exposure to the fear of being gay, not to gay acts themselves. And in this case it sounds like you were invested in being sexual with this man for the purpose of testing how much you would like it. This usually backfires in the same way other compulsive checking does. So if the issue is that you are on a spectrum, in which you have sexual feelings for both men and women, but you are obsessing about exactly how much of each, accepting that uncertainty is key. You should resist all efforts to pinpoint your place on the scale and instead look at this as totally unknowable and irrelevant. My guess is no matter where someone sits on this scale, it varies from day to day, person to person anyway.
Hi Getting better…,
You write, “What I mean is, isn’t what feels congruent and what I would describe as feeling “right for me” or “natural” likely to make us feel happiness? I’m trying to differentiate how we tell what is real or just what we want.”
—A schizophrenia sufferer may tell you there is a bug planted in your phone recording your thoughts. This thought is ego syntonic, but I doubt it makes them happy. Your attempt to know for sure the difference between syntonic and dystonic is compulsive. Knowing this will not make the ocd go away.
You write, “For example, when I am intimate with a man and wake up loving the fact that they are there, surely this content is reflective of what is true for me and therefore congruent with who I am and what I want.”
—Sounds right to me. But it is not necessary to know with 100% certainty and any attempts to do so would be compulsive and ultimately take you out of the moment (which you should be enjoying instead of analyzing!).
You write, “I also wonder why I read a post on a magazine website that talked about a bunch of straight women who are turned on by gay porn or fantansies but say they doubt they would follow through because they aren’t emotionally attracted when it comes down to it. Can you please explain why some straight people, who have no doubts about their sexuality, would have these thoughts if they weren’t bi-sexual/in denial?”
—I can’t explain why women do much of anything. But I will say that gay thoughts are normal events, whether you are gay or not. Some people have gay thoughts and enjoy them because they are taboo or exciting in some way. Yet they choose to identify as straight and pursue straight relationships because they want something more than just excitement in their lives. I may have the occasional violent thought and may even enjoy it, but so far I have chosen not to murder anyone. This either means I am in serial killer denial, am bi-violational (I made that up), or that thoughts aren’t that important to begin with.
Thanks a lot for you reply. Can you help me with one more thing please? I realize you are right, I did this thing with this man because I was really urging for proof, so i can pinpoint myself on the spectrum. But maybe it has also a lot to do with the subtype ‘really need to know’. I’m visiting these bars in the hope I can shut out these fears of being gay or for ‘not knowing’, once and for all. I think I do that because I have this big disturbing obsession: that as long I have no proof for not being gay or not being bi-seksual, I will not be able to go for a loving relationship with a girl (what I’m almost sure of I prefer, cause I never felt in love with a guy).. (I remember my fears and obsessions started 10 years ago when I read an article about a man,42, married and kids, founding out he was gay, and had to quit his relationship – and I saw that as a huge drama).
Can you agree with this analysis? And do you have some suggestions to overcome this underlying fear of not being able to find a deep loving relationship? (I understand now searching for proof is a compulsion)
Thanks a lot, Richard
Richard, I think you need to separate the two issues of your sexual orientation and your obsession about being in the “right” relationship. With the little I know about you, it sounds like you are a guy who likes women, and at the same time finds homosexuality activating for you. They don’t have to be mutually exclusive concepts. However, if you continue to over-attend to the idea that it is important to know how much “gayness” is in you, it will always seem like something is terribly off.
As for the fear of not being able to have a healthy relationship with a woman or of ruining that relationship in the future, the only thing you can do is pursue a relationship that seems loving to you and run the risk of ruining it. This risk would be the same whether you had gay thoughts or not. I may ruin my wife’s life yet. We’ll have to wait and see.
Many thanks again, I will quit proofing myself and trust in myself and life. Your new post is really helpful as well. I hope you’ll find enough inspiration to write one more-;)
Richard, if it makes you feel any better, I have also had a fear of one day being married with wife and kids and all of a sudden saying, “Oh no I’m gay, goodbye wife and kids.” I also saw something like this on TV and it scared me. And I should mention I’ve never had an attraction to another man or engaged in any such behaviors. I don’t know why I have this fear/thought, but I’m starting to realize more and more that it’s just a deceptive brain message. Think about the rationality of the thought. Isn’t it just as likely or even more likely I would leave my wife for a different woman? Or maybe even die before I get married. Or maybe my wife will become a lesbian and leave me? All of these ideas probably have the same likelihood of happening as my fear, but I don’t worry about these things. That’s probably because I’ve accepted the uncertainty of these ideas happening or not and said, “Whatever, I’ll take my chances.”
Do I run the risk of this scenario happening to me whether I give my thought attention or not? I guess so. But I’d like to be in a healthy relationship with a women because that’s what I enjoy. I don’t know what the future holds, but I’d rather accept the uncertainty of the situation (to whatever degree that might be) and try to live a healthy live without fear. Whatever happens, happens. You decide, worry about the future and engage in unhealthy behaviors (reassurance seeking) or just live your life and hope for the best.
Thank you very much for taking the time to reply to my message. I really appreciate it!
Yeah, see the thing is, I really, really don’t want to watch lez porn ever again! Or any other porn for that matter. I just don’t want to go near it again. I fear that if I watch it again I will just get more and more worked up about it. I believe I did look at it because it was different, taboo and out of the norm. But I regret it soo much! Words can’t explain how much I wish I never saw it. When I think about it I feel sick and ashamed, and just awful! It keeps making me think I’m gay or bi when I know I’m not! Everywhere I go my ocd makes me look at women and think “do I fancy her?”. It’s doing my head in and I can’t take it any more. I’m too scared to go to a therapist though. You said that watching the porn again would help, but I strongly don’t want to see it again. That must mean I don’t enjoy it right? I mean, yeah I was kinda aroused by looking at it. But wouldn’t anyone be? It was dirty and sexual. It’s bound to get anyone aroused.
Also, I have stumbled across images of these kinds of things at a very young age. I have 3 older brothers, and when I was about 11 or 12 I saw dirty magazines. I remember looking in them and being quite upset afterwards by the images. They played on my mind. Could this contribute to why I have so much problem with all this? I repeat I have never, ever fancied a girl. I have always liked boys, when I’m near a boy I like I just feel all that sexual tension and electricity. But I never feel that when around a girl. I just feel normal. At least before this hocd started. Do you think you understand what’s going on here?:( I’m so sorry to bother you with all this, but I feel you’d be a good help
Hey I was wondering if it was normal with HOCD to sometimes look at other guys penis for no reason and sometimes you find it hard to look at ppl in the eyes for that reason..please give me an answer as soon as possible..they have me on Paxil now so i hope that helps as well..well anyways thanks for any information
Clairee, I totally understand your desire to avoid material that triggers you. Of course avoidance negates any potential for overcoming fear. It’s important to remember that you are triggered by certain things not because of what THEY are, but because of what YOU are thinking about what they are.
If you were to track something like gay pornography from its least mindful perspective to its most mindful, it would go like this: a terrifying threat to your existence, a potential source of confusion about sexuality, gay people having sex, imagery depicting gay people having sex, erotic imagery, imagery on a computer or tv screen, and finally, lights on a box with sounds. Which of these things resonate with you the most is based entirely on how you respond to what is there.
In short, you deserve to live free of the fear that if you encountered some lights on a box, it might make you experience more discomfort than you can handle. CBT with a focus on Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), whether it includes pornography or not, is the best way to achieve this freedom. I believe you would benefit from seeking out an ocd specialist who can guide you through CBT and you will be able to feel this freedom again.
Matt W, compulsions that involve staring at people’s genitals are actually pretty common. It’s not always connected to sexual obsessions, but it can be. Sometimes it’s an ocd issue of it’s own, related more to a fear of not knowing if you are going to be looking at someone inappropriately. Obviously looking at something that is in your field of vision is a normal event. If the looking has graduated to staring, you want to consider what you are thinking that is making it difficult to resist over-attending to that one body part.
If I understand the subtext of your comment, then you might be asking me if looking at penises makes you gay. I don’t see why it would or how one could know for sure anyway. Would looking at vaginas make you straight?
Anyway, if it’s a staring compulsion, it is treatable with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) whether it’s connected to sexual obsessions or not.
Frank, thanks a lot for your comments. Indeed, anything can happen but the reason for my fears are always hocd, because this has become my obsession.. I think our struggle with uncertainty is quite similar as I read your questions earlier in this forum (if you’re the same frank tough). I am getting better also in accepting the intrusive gaytoughts and not answerring it with compulsions. I say to my self nowadays: I am – how i call it – a colourful person with lots of feelings. This can mean I sometimes see a man that somehow attracts me – it doesn’t means i want sex with him or it says something about my sexual preferences.. But, after resisting any compulsions what comes is a sort of ‘hollow’ feeling. I think this feeling is the uncertainty I mention and maybe this is what you mean by ‘scrambled’ feelings? I think we have to resist to ‘solve’ this feelings as well, as that would be a compulsion again. I think having these hollow feelings mean that we are on the right track brother.. good luck.
If you have some more comments on this, it would be much appreciated.
I have been suffering with obsessive doubts over my sexual orientation for nearly two years now. I am 18 years old. Before I obsessed over my sexual orientation, I was extremely attracted to guys. All I thought about were my guy friends and they were all I wanted to be around. I dreamed of the day I would find Mr. Right and I felt very very turned on by guys. BUT- I have always found womens’ bodies to be a turn on in fantasy, and I thought girls were pretty. I have never been attracted to a girl or been in love with one and never imagined myself with one, always guys. But during masturbation I enjoy fantasizing about women. It never bothered me too much, exept for some occasional episodes of doubt/panic/ambivalence throughout puberty. I dream sexually/emotionally only of guys, but exept for two dreams in my life where I kissed a girl. That freaks me out too.
It all started when I was just out with my friend one day and accidentally caught a glance at her backside and immediately freaked out. I asked “Did I like that?” and from that moment on the obsessing has been overwhelming.
What I worry is, since I’ve had these fantasies, will a secret lesbian part of me come to the surface and ruin my life? Will I always feel unsure of my identity? Are the periods of worry/ambivalence prior to this episode evidence of being gay? Am I gay and just not accepting it? Will I act on these behaviours? I am afraid that I secretly want to, and I’m afraid that if I do, I will like it more and stop liking men forever and lose everything that made me so happy..even though I have never desired to act on it or felt a curiosity or urge to do so. These thoughts plague me.
Since the obsession has started though, I have engaged in sexual behaviours with men and enjoyed all of them to the fullest, and fell briefly in love…with a guy. Yet I just can’t stop this.
Please help me!
Richard, well said. The hollow or scrambled or whatever feeling that you have needs to be accepted and observed as simply happening. To analyze or attempt to suppress it would be distorting its significance and refueling the ocd. In addition, the presence of that feeling could be an indicator that you are doing the right thing. When someone stops doing a compulsion, they are left with a feeling of uncertainty to which they are not accustomed. Thus, this feeling should not only be accepted, but sought out and embraced.
Please help….Freaked out: went to work…saw a couple of girls thought they were attractive and I thought of being with them sexually and I was getting aroused then I started talking to a coworker who is gay and he was cheery when greeting me and then I saw a beautiful girl who I was attracted to but I was discussing something with you the gay coworker and he was cheery and I thought he’s all bubbly and I felt a weird magnetic kiind oof attraction or something and I thought he’s good looking and I looked at him when he walked and noticed and thought he looked gay and I had a feeling in my penis…and I think I had a thought about kissing him and a feeling in groin again…it was weird I don’t know if it was anxiety or if I really liked him or I was just aroused in general with all these women I was seeing and getting turned on by……or I don’t know if this means I amm gay or bisexual now……what was that?
Katie, it looks like you have enough insight to see the truth of the situation, which is that you are a heterosexual woman who occasionally fantasizes about gay sex and has the capacity to recognize when another woman is sexually attractive (either objectively or subjectively). This sounds totally normal to me and a rather common viewpoint for heterosexual women. I encourage you to read our article about common challenges experienced in HOCD, which includes a section about gay fantasies.
The ocd comes into play with the compulsive analysis of whether these normal “gay” thoughts could mean something threatening. In the case of HOCD the threat is that you will not be able to continue your natural enjoyment of heterosexual behavior and will be forced to change your identity against your will. This pushes you to perform mental compulsions designed to make yourself feel certain that the gay thoughts are not evidence of denial. But this backfires because whenever you try to convince yourself of something you already know to be true, your brain thinks there is a debate going on. Try to convince yourself the sky is blue and eventually you will start feeling it to be somewhat green.
In the end, you need to accept uncertainty, reject automatic over-attention to the thoughts, and pursue behaviors that you wish to pursue when you wish to pursue them presently. If these behaviors turn out to be different than the ones you currently enjoy, then you will deal with that then, not now.
In my above post I think I had the thought I want him….I guess im at least bisexual….what the hell?
Dana, all I’m hearing in your post is that you are investing a lot of mental energy in monitoring your feelings to make certain they are the right ones to have and compulsively over-attending to what your penis is doing to make certain it’s doing whatever you think the right thing is. Since observing your internal world this way changes that internal world by definition, you will remain stuck in an uncertain limbo thinking there is something amiss about your sexuality. What you need to do instead is stay in the present moment, have whatever thoughts and feelings you have when you have them, and stop trying to categorize everything in terms of straight, gay, or bi. All that actually happened was that you saw some girls, saw a guy, and had some thoughts and feelings. “Meaning” is being created by the compulsions, not the events.
Ive been suffering from a sexual obsession for a year now.
I was in therapy (CBT) which helped in the ahort term until the therapist moved away and wasnt replaced.
im not diagnosed with OCD, but seeing as my problem was centered aeound anxiety, nd having suffered from anxiety all my life (led to believe as my dad was never around) she thought it was a simple anxiety problem, though because its not OCD (When it first started, without looking online i was mentally checking) doesnt mean im gay, my therapist said its not un common for people my age (18) to obsess over their sexuallity.
As far back as I remember, ive always liked girls. I started masturbating at 14, and always to girls. I always remember looking at girls. Though all of my checking on gay porn and mentally never produced same sex arousal, however, 5 weeks ago, when on the web, i quickly glanced at a picture of a guy and wondered if i found him attractive. I sat looking at the picture and imagining sex with him. I got really bad anxiety, but this time i became quickly aroused and have ever since, even to the word or thought of gay sex. For me my sexuality seemed to change in a minute. Im still aroused by girls, though recently my thoughts have staryed to change, that i dont want girls, or straight sex. Ive been long time members of NeuroticPlanet and StuckInADoorway. Nothing in my past to indicate im gay, i even turned down a gay sexual experiance about 4/5 years ago. Though ive never kissed a girl or had sex, though neither has alot of blokes. Its a living nightmare right now. I just want it gone, i keep getting thoughts of memories that i cnt recall. Was never bothered by gays and still arent, just not me as one.
My anxiety has gone somewhat since CBT, so left with thoughts and arousals. Every guy i see i question if i find him attractive.
Your thoughts would be appreciated please.
Is there such a thing as Contamination HOCD? I think that contact with semen(my own or others) is going to turn me gay, and I’ll lose my attraction for females and start having one for men. If I touch almost anything around my room or even parts of the clothes I’m wearing I have to wash my hands.
I tell myself it’s ridiculous, but at the same time it’s too scary to risk so I have to wash.
Is this OCD too, or am I just crazy?
Thanks so much for your comments. Makes me feel much better. Although I do have a problem; I still live with my parents. I spend most of my days asking if I’m normal and asking for reassurance. They have all had obsessive worries too, and have gotten over them. They know that I am normal and think I’m being silly, and they know that one day I’ll just realize I am a normal straight girl. I know one day I will too, but I’m having issues getting rid of my anxiety. They don’t believe I should go into therapy.
So, I need some advice. How and what can I do to help myself out? I’ve tried accepting uncertainty, I’ve tried to stop doing compulsions, but this has been going on for so long that I feel as if my brain has made of habit of the obsession and compulsions. I’m so frustrated, because I just started university and I’m meeting so many hot guys and crushing on them so hard, but my fear makes me feel awful. I’m tired of it ruining my happiness. I am desperate to get rid of this.
Thank you so much.
Been a while since I posted on here. I can relate to all of u. I went through the same thing. My treatment included medication however. But also its good to practice to follow up after ur treatment for hocd. Not just for u but for other people in the blog. Remember that if u let the intrusive thoughts get to u the worse it gets. Do not perseverate, and don’t constantly go back and check. There are very distinct difference between being gay and having hocd. Read up on it! Take a course at ur college about human sexuality. And don’t let those triggers get to u.
Well, I got all of them but one… I even got some that I even hadn’t realized before hehehe.
Anyway, very interesting article, I have had this for two years more or less and never read this interesting list of subtypes.
MrNeurotox, what I am hearing is that you experience sexual arousal sometimes when having gay thoughts. The fear is that this makes you gay and means you can’t be with girls. But the presence or absence of this arousal does not determine one’s sexual orientation. People have a variety of thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations occurring independently of one another or in various combinations.
Questioning if you think a guy is attractive, or more to the point, trying to answer the question of whether a guy is attractive, sounds like a compulsion. My recommendation is to locate another cbt therapist, preferably someone who specializes in treatment for OCD and can guide you through a full course of cbt for this obsession. While it may be normal for a teenager to “obsess” about sex issues, your pattern of over-attending to the issue and trying to gain certainty sounds more like ocd to me.
Edgar Baratheon, this is definitely OCD. Most of the time people with hocd are fearing things will “make them gay” even when this idea is not grounded in reality. Similarly people with contamination ocd will often fear being contaminated in ways that simply do not exist (i.e. getting AIDS from a doorknob). You’ve simply combined the two. We have treated a lot of people with hocd who conceptualize themselves as being more likely to “turn gay” if they don’t double-check the stove or wash their clothes after being near a gay person and so on and so on. Just because it makes little sense, doesn’t mean it’s crazy. That’s just OCD.
You think the risk is too great that failing to wash after coming in contact (perceived or real) with your semen might make you gay. The real risk is having to experience the discomfort that occurs when you resist the washing ritual. But the only way to get past the discomfort is to learn to sit with it. This means you need to stop compulsively washing.
Katie, if you have financial access to ocd treatment, I don’t see a valid argument for avoiding it. Your parents may not fully understand what ocd is or how it is treated, but you need to put your mental health first above and beyond their opinions. Yes, the compulsions need to stop (especially the reassurance seeking questions), but for you to get your freedom back from ocd, you’re likely going to need a structured exposure plan. You can try it on your own through some books on ocd, but my recommendation is finding a therapist who specializes in CBT treatment for OCD. You deserve to be happy and enjoy your hot college guy crushes even in the presence of unwanted thoughts.
Hi there it is wonderful to find this site. My HOCD (if that’s what it is) started 2 years ago it’s been an off and on thing. It all started like a thunder bolt lightening to my head of one day I had a thought…. after coming out of a pretty hideous break up and missing the guy so much I had depression I was questioning why in relationships do I feel so suffocated and why do I feel the need to run away? I was heart broken about this guy and one day I was asking myself what is the problem? And a thought of “maybe it’s because you’re supposed to be with a girl” and my whole life fell apart that seemed to make sense so I came out to my parents and everything however I didn’t want a relationship with a woman and I didn’t want to go near one sexually once I accepted they I was gay and got my life back in order mean while I still had anxiety still it didn’t seem to be the answer then I started finding men attractive again and was like no I’m not gay how ridiculous I’m straight!! It seems to come on when my life is stressful and now I seem to be stuck in a rut and it has evolved…..
I also like to add I have a constant nagging fear that one day I will be gay…. I also feel hideous low self esteem… And I avoid girls I avoid watching tv going out etc in case of the thoughts I have tried watching lesbian porn and it doesn’t work I find it boring! I prefer straight porn. If I do on a rare occasion find a guy attractive sone voice in my head shoots it down…. But attractive girls to me is like looking at an attractive spider!! Fear rages through me 🙁
I was wondering…. Is it normal for my attraction to the opposite sex deminish?? When I look at girls a voice pops in my head telling me I’m attracted to her or makes me think about bring in a relationship and it feels like a test? My response to these thoughts are always big anxiety and depression….. Is this normal or do I sound gay!?? Please help me, I feel like nobody understands! 🙁
Abby, what you describe sounds like HOCD to me. I like the term “attractive spider” – I’ll have to use that!
Loss of attraction to things you once felt attracted to is common both in depression and in cases where a person is over-attending to how attracted they think they are supposed to be. You are dealing with both of these issues. The feeling of being sexually attracted to someone is not easy to attain when you are watching your feelings like a hawk, trying to make sure they are the right ones at the right times.
Many people who have had difficulty in relationships with the opposite sex may start to ponder if things would go better with the same sex. Naturally, the same sex understands what it’s like to be your gender, so it’s an appealing notion. But the theory that same-sex relationships are somehow easier than straight ones is based on straight people having little information about gay relationships. A quick look at domestic violence statistics demonstrates quite clearly that hetero and gay relationships are pretty much the same.
Homosexuality is not about attractive spiders. It’s about genuine emotional AND sexual drive to be with a member of the same sex.
All forms of OCD are about having an intolerance of uncertainty and a compulsive urge to analyze thoughts and feelings to gain certainty about them. Your mental attempts to prove you are straight are no different from another ocd sufferers physical attempts at handwashing perfectly. What you need is to stop treating this like a sexual orientation issue and treat it like an HOCD issue by getting Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
I know it can be very isolating dealing with ocd, but there are people who understand you.
When you have HOCD is it normal to question your feelings for someone you are in a relationship with? I have been in a relationship with my boyfriend for about a year, and I am very much in love with him. I enjoy sex with him (and only ever have had sex and the desire to have sex with men) and he makes me very happy. I can see myself marrying him and having a family with him. But since this HOCD (or whatever it is) has kicked in, it’s all I can think about or concentrate on anymore. My mind is consumed by thoughts and fear of being lesbian.
Thanks for commenting.
Yes, it is extremely common for people with HOCD to question their relationship. After all, if one is questioning their sexual orientation, it seems quite logical that they would then wonder about their sexual relationships. In fact, obsessing about relationships is so common that it is sometimes referred to as Relationship OCD or ROCD.
Sometimes ROCD focuses on a broad picture (i.e., do I really love my partner, is he/she the right one for me, what if I am making a huge mistake by marrying him / her, etc.), and sometimes it focuses more narrowly on sexual orientation (i.e., what if I am really gay, if I love my spouse, then why did I notice that person of the same gender was attractive, what if I am living a lie, etc.).
You noted that you can’t concentrate and that you are consumed with thoughts and fears of being a lesbian. But those are signs of OCD, not homosexuality. Lesbians don’t sit around worrying about their sexual orientation (unless of course they have Sexual Orientation OCD, in which case they obsess about whether or not they are actually straight).
When it comes to your sexual orientation, the evidence is pretty clear:
~ you’ve been with your boyfriend for a year
~ you love him
~ he makes you happy
~ you enjoy sex with him
~ you can envision marrying him
~ you can envision having a family with him
~ you’ve only ever had sex with men
~ you’ve only ever had sexual desires for men
All this supports that you are straight and in love with your boyfriend. And the only evidence you have to suggest otherwise is thoughts about being gay. But we all have thoughts about things that aren’t accurate or true.
I encourage you to try to see these thoughts for what they are – just thoughts. You needn’t take them seriously. In fact, I encourage you to laugh at them. Our minds love to come up with all sorts of thoughts, and many of them are pretty far-fetched.
Hello I have HOCD but just don’t know which type. When I am in public I am very atracted by girls not men. However I tend to stare a lot at atractive men, not cause they arouse me but I guess because I just admire how they look. Also to test myself to see if I feel anything at times. What worries me is that some times my mind gets these thouhts of me performing oral on a man. I sometimes get disgusted and sometimes I dont. Sometimes I think those thoughts on purpose to see what I feel, and sometimes I seem to get aroused and sometimes I don’t. This freaks me out because I don’t want to be bisexual, I love being straight. Do you think I get aroused at times because I’m porpously thinking about it? Sometimes when I don’t feel nothing I kinda force myself to think harder until I’m aroused. I’m really confused and severly depressed due to all this. I can’t see myself dating, kissing or having all out sex with another man. I’m not sure if I have traditional OCD or Spectrum, but I could really use your help. Like I said, men never arouse me when I’m out in public, only woman. But then I have these thoughts, some are unwanted and some are not. Please help me thank you.
Thank you for your comments.
I wouldn’t focus too much on the “type” of HOCD you have. They are all just variations on the same theme.
What is important is how you respond to your obsessions. It sounds like you are doing a lot of compulsions, specifically “testing” yourself to see how you feel when you look at a man. Likewise, you mention purposely thinking specific thoughts to see how you feel, and even forcing yourself to think specific thoughts until you feel aroused. All of these are examples of mental compulsions, and they will only make your OCD worse.
There is no indication in your comments that you are anything but straight. You report that you love being straight, don’t want to be gay or bi, and that these thoughts are making you terribly uncomfortable. That sounds pretty straight to me. I strongly encourage you to stop the mental compulsions – including all of the internal mental tests you are doing. Accept that you have these thoughts, just as you would accept a rainstorm on a day when you had planned to go to the beach – less than ideal, but hardly catastrophic. I know that particular metaphor may seem blithe, but the goal is to recognize that these thoughts are not particularly important or worthy of so much attention. They are just thoughts. Inconvenient and uncomfortable, but not important.
Is it possible to be heterosexual and have spectrum HOCD? I noticed in your comments to Daemon on July 23,2011 you mention Spectrum HOCD as “being a little gayish and obessing about its meaning” But according to the article there are heterosexual men who enjoy gay fatasies and are not bisexual or gay cause they are not capable of doing anything with a man.
Hi Oscar – welcome back!
Yes, it is possible to be heterosexual and have any and all types of HOCD. That is the fundamental nature of HOCD – obsessing on thoughts that are incongruent with one’s true sexual orientation. But, as I noted in my response to your previous post, there is nothing to gain by focusing your attention on what “type” of OCD you have. It’s all OCD, and the best approach to managing it is to accept the existence of your uncomfortable thoughts without over-analyzing them.
As for our prior comments about Spectrum OCD being the result of being “a little gayish and obsessing about its meaning”, you appear to have overlooked the second part of that comment. You are now obsessing about the meaning of the comments on our blog in an attempt to parse out your sexual orientation.
That said, another way of partially describing “a little gayish” might be the word “metrosexual”, a term which has become popular over the past decade or so. But again, analyzing these terms to better understand your sexuality is a compulsion that is virtually guaranteed to backfire.
I am pretty sure I have Pure OCD. I am 25 now and this whole cycle started when I was 14. One of my close friends turned out to be gay. Then, I started wondering whether I am gay. I began having all sorts of sensations (more like fear) when looking at good-looking men. Later, I found out that some people can be bisexual. Automatically, I thought I may be bisexual because I am certain of my sexual attraction for women.I have had so many doubt cycles that I can’t even remember. I normally reduce the impact by somewhat mental checking and reassuring myself with a “logical” explanation that I am 100% straight. I find it disgusting to acknowledge that I can be sexually attracted to men. Why? Is it because of the society? I even said to myself that I am bisexual but more attracted towards women. At first, it reassured me but, after some time, I had to look for another reason because it made me so uncomfortable.
It gets more confusing. Recently, I felt very excited in general and had an urge to check whether I get an erection by looking at a picture of a man with a ripped body. I did. I had doubts of what caused it and asked myself the question ” why would I get excited by this man’s belly?” Shortly after, I looked at a hot girl’s picture and did not get as aroused. I couldn’t help but mental check of what I can like about his belly while trying to reassure myself that it had nothing to do with bisexuality. The next day, I looked at another man’s picture in order to figure out what could have caused it. I did not feel anything for a while and then, all of a sudden, I felt an arousal sensation/feeling. Now, I can’t figure out the real reason it happened. My fear is that I am attracted to the guy. I try imagining different convincing explanations. I have looked at the same picture on different occasions to see what happens. Nothing “sexual” occurred. Nevertheless, when I switch that picture to one of a hot girl,I get aroused. I have done this “similar exercise” several times. I am mostly aroused by the girl but not at all by the guy. It reassures me but it does not solve the question “Am I bisexual in any way?”
In my head, a straight person should never get aroused by how a man looks. To me, It means “you want to have sexual intercourse with that man.” Again, is it denial because of the society? Ideally, I see myself having a romantic life with a woman not with a man. All of these affect my self-confidence. Why is there no clear explanation of sexual orientation? I feel everyone has a different opinion on what sexual orientation means. It’s annoying because it stops me from living the life I want. It holds me back. Not finding a reason scares me.
It’s interesting how many people with HOCD take a friend being gay as somehow being an indicator of their own sexual orientation. If a friend told you he was a lawyer or a fireman or an astronaut, would you question whether you were any of those things? Of course not. Simply put, your friend’s sexual orientation has absolutely nothing to do with yours.
Your comment provides so many examples of how you are doing compulsions in an effort to prove you are either gay or straight, all of which are virtually guaranteed to make you more obsessed about your sexual orientation. For example, you mention:
~ mental checking
~ reassuring yourself
~ using logic
~ checking yourself for erections
~ looking at pictures of men
~ looking at pictures of women
~ asking yourself why you are feeling something
Sexuality is complex in many ways, but it is also pretty simple. You mention that you find even the idea of sex with a man to be “uncomfortable” and “disgusting”. Call me crazy, but that sounds pretty straight to me.
Also, I’m not sure where you got the idea that a straight person should never find another person of the same gender to be attractive. I am as straight as an arrow, but I think George Clooney is just fabulous looking. And Bradley Cooper’s pretty hot too. And yet, I have no interest in sex with either of them.
I know it’s difficult to handle these types of unwanted thoughts, and it’s natural to question why you are having them. But, you don’t actually need a “reason” for having these thoughts. You have them because you have a brain and you have OCD. Your brain is the reason you have these thoughts, and your OCD is the reason you get stuck on them.
I encourage you to accept that your brain, for whatever reason, comes up with thoughts about your sexual orientation, just like your brain comes up with thoughts about lunch, trees, and the movie you are planning to see this weekend. Brains think stuff up – it’s what they do. But that doesn’t mean the thoughts are particularly true or important. If you can accept that your brain comes up with certain thoughts that you wish it wouldn’t, and can stop doing all the compulsive checking and testing, you will more than likely experience a reduction in your HOCD symptoms.
So I’m pretty sure I have HOCD for about two months now and I’m gonna see a therapist soon. I’ve been doing ok in some of my thought battles but recently Ive had a thought pop into my head when I woke up one morning telling me that I don’t want to have sex with my girlfriend (or any other girl) or for her to be sexual in any way with me. I start crying because I think is this it? is this the end? Do I just not like girls? Have I never liked girls? God knows when we first got together I did… Please help D:
While I cannot provide a diagnosis via blog, I can say that the symptoms you describe are consistent with those of HOCD. Keep in mind that our brains come up with all sorts of thoughts, and the key is how we value certain thoughts. Just because you had sudden unexpected thoughts about your level of sexual attraction to your girlfriend doesn’t mean you are gay. If that were the case, every straight person on the planet would secretly be gay. To put it another way, regardless of whether one is straight or gay or bi or whatever, it is perfectly normal to at times not find your partner sexually attractive. It doesn’t mean you have suddenly switched teams.
Thanks for the advice, really helpful!
Over the last day or so I’ve come to a kind of semi conclusion, being that what is actually troubling me is the ED. In an attempt to look for an explanation, my brain has made the irrational and illogical conclusion that I am ‘gay’, and this is what is depressing and confusing me. So my true concern is the ED, and I must separate it from the HOCD issue.
Would you agree that the fact it is causing me such anxiety is something I can take reassurance from, as it seems to imply that my thoughts are not consistent with my ‘true’ sexuality – or is that just me being optimistic?
Also, these thoughts do cause me a lot of distress but as sometimes referred to in previous comments, they are intrusive. The topic and doubt, which had previously never entered my mind, now will not leave it. So even when I am having an arousing heterosexual thought, a ‘gay’ one will pop up and ruin it.
Is this common, and if so what would be your advice to stop it occurring?
Thanks again, Django
While I certainly understand your desire to seek reassurance that your anxiety indicates you are not gay. But if I were to provide you that reassurance, I would be doing you a disservice. Reassurance seeking is one of the main ways that those with OCD do counter-productive compulsions. These compulsions provide solace in the short term, but only worsen anxiety in the long term.
When you say that intrusive gay thoughts are “ruining” your straight thoughts, it sounds like you are over-valuing those gay thoughts. Remind yourself that they are just thoughts. They only have power if you value them as powerful. Rather than focusing on making these thoughts stop, it would benefit you to accept their existence, and to not over-value them.
I encourage you to use mindfulness and sit with the uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. You may also want to read our article on Mindfulness for OCD and Anxiety.
What is bothering me most is not the thought of being gay but the thought of losing my previous attraction towards girls.
It is true that getting attracted towards boys troubled me very much but now I have learnt to ‘accept’ those thoughts.
But even if I tell me that being ‘gay is not awful’, what is now rankling me is that I no more get aroused by girls as much I used to get.
Now I am getting nostalgic and wondering how good my previous life was. Hence I am feeling depressed.
Your concern that you are no longer attracted (or as attracted) to girls is quite common in HOCD. But the thought “what if I am no longer attracted to girls” is not really any different than “what if I am gay”. If you can accept the existence of the latter thought, then you can do so for the former thought as well. Both are just silly thoughts your brain came up with.
As for feeling depressed because you doubt how good your life was in the past, this is also just a thought that can be experienced and accepted. I have no idea how good your life was, but I am certain that trying to figure out an answer to that question will be fruitless. There is no need to know how good your life was, nor any way to come up with an accurate answer. Whether your past was wonderful or horrible or somewhere in between, it is unchangeable. The goal is to live your life today according to your goals and values.
Hi, thanks for responding,
Your advice has really helped and I am beginning to understand and accept that these thoughts are just thoughts, and have no bearing on anything material.
However, as I mentioned in previous posts, these thoughts are not often stimulating. They typically depress me, because I know that’s not who I am, and I truly don’t (normally) enjoy the ideas going through my head. As have previously explained, I am not homophobic, but they cause me great levels of anxiety and I am often left disgusted by what is going through my head.
So my point is, if they do not arouse me, and I am comfortable in my own choices and preferences, then why won’t they leave my head? It’s like a living nightmare because I can’t stop thinking the thoughts, and normally, they cause me great despair.
The issue is not whether you find the thoughts stimulating or whether you are homophobic. The issue is that you are hoping to make the thoughts go away. I encourage you to read our article on Thought Suppression.
The bottom line is that focusing on making the thoughts go away actually makes you have more of the thoughts. True acceptance means not trying to control or eliminate them in any way.
I have read this website countless times I’ve been dealing with a lot lately and I really won’t know what to do. I’m at a breaking point and honestly I have even considered suicide. I have been dealing with unwanted gay thought s for about a year now I don’t like the thoughts I get really big migraines when they bash themselves into my head and I get really anxious I constantly check myself for arousal and even if I’ve read this website all I have managed to do is latch onto the negative things I read and right now I’m up to the point where I evenn believe Imight be gay. Just the dude above I get nostalgic about how I used to enjoy being turned on by girls I.miss is honestly I’m scared I don’t even like them anymore I put so much attention to my body’s reaction to things I just don’t know what to do. There is so much more I could say I feel like I’m being tortured in my own body and my life is just crumbling around me I have also been diagnosed with depression and generalized anxiety but not OCD I found this website by mere chance I don’t understand what’s happening anymore and one of my biggest questions is HOCD something I’m hoping I have just so I don’t believe I’m gay or is it real I have all the symptoms but is it just me hoping it’s real because I don’t want to be gay I have no problem with gay people or being gay what bothers me is that I know me and I know that it’s wrong but I feel like my mind and subconsciousareeling me other wise I’m tired of these thoughts I do not want them anymore I mange to repress them for awhile then I get hit twice as hard I’m at the end of the rope here I honestly don’t know what to believe and what to feel I honestly have no interest in Anything anymore I could say more write a book on this as I’m sure everyone else could and I know that I’m probably doing this to re assure myself but please could anyone help me
Thanks for commenting. I’m sorry that you are struggling so much with your thoughts. And based on what you have written, that is the real source of the problem – you are struggling with something over which you have very little control, namely your thoughts.
From what you write, it seems clear that your struggling is quite compulsive, and thus almost guarantees that your obsessions will get worse. For example, you mention the following:
~ checking yourself for arousal
~ reading our article on HOCD “countless” times
~ trying to repress your thoughts
~ putting your attention on your body’s reaction
The absolute most important step in managing HOCD is to accept the existence of these unwanted thoughts, without doing any compulsive behaviors in an effort to control or eliminate them. Note that this doesn’t mean liking the thoughts or resigning your self to being gay. It means accepting that the thoughts are there, and doing nothing about them. After all they are just thoughts, and we don’t need to take our thoughts so seriously.
On that note, it seems that you are taking these thoughts very seriously. Committing suicide because of thoughts of being gay would be a massive over-reaction. Again, they are just thoughts, and your job is to let them exist without taking them seriously. Everybody has all sorts of strange, irrational, unexplainable, unwanted thoughts – it’s a normal part of what our brains do. And besides, having thoughts about being gay is not the same as being gay, and nothing in what you write even remotely suggests that you are gay (gay guys aren’t nostalgic about how turned on they have been by girls in the past).
I strongly encourage you to seek the help of a therapist who specializes in HOCD treatment with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). And if you feel genuinely suicidal, then please go immediately to your local emergency room. Take care.
HI, thank you for the article it has really helped me…
However… I still feel a bit scared…Firstly, I’m a girl
Recently, I have not been having as much intrusive thoughts, but yesterday, I was watching a tv programme and found one of the characters sexy. I told myself that it’s normal to find someone of the same sex sexy and it doesn’t mean I’m bisexual. After that, I felt good because I feel like I’m not suppressing any thought and I have solved my problem. But, then a thought came up saying, “does that mean you want to have sex with her?” then I thought “yeah, maybe because she’s hot”. After that second, I was scared and confused. I couldn’t stop thinking about it all day. The more I thought about it the more I felt disgusted by it. Apart from that, I have been getting butterflies in my stomach when I see some girls that i find attractive. Sometimes I am aware that it’s just anxiety but sometimes I don’t. that makes me really scared and confused again. I keep thinking if I m straight why am I getting these feelings and thoughts? Also, sometimes I can’t really tell wether I am disgusted by the thoughts or not and wether I wan to do it or not… sometimes I feel like I can actually fancy a girl.. which terrifies me…. I am so confused and scared…. I am scared that I am just in denial… but something about the idea of liking the same sex doesn’t feel like me…
Please help me…
You are absolutely correct – finding people of the same gender sexy does not make one gay. Having sex with people of the same gender is a far better barometer of “gayness”. It sounds like you are disgusted by thoughts of having sex with people of the same gender, which doesn’t sound very gay to me.
You ask “if I m straight why am I getting these feelings and thoughts”? The answer is two-fold. First, everyone experiences unwanted thoughts and feelings. Second, people with OCD pay more attention to their unwanted thoughts and feelings, and react far more strongly to these thoughts and feelings, and spend far more time and energy trying to understand and get rid of these thoughts and feelings. So the simple answer is that you are doing these things because you have OCD.
If you were to have a thought, “I am a tree”, you would almost certainly write off that thought as unimportant and inaccurate. Your thoughts about your sexual orientation are every bit as unimportant and inaccurate, but you take them seriously because you have OCD and OCD preys on things that are important to people.
Your goal is to accept that you have some unwanted thoughts about your sexual orientation, and spend no time or energy analyzing them, rebutting them, or trying to control them. Let these thoughts and feelings exist, and do nothing in response to them. Do not analyze them, or attempt to control them in any way. The get on with your day. Do this long enough, and the thoughts and feelings will become less threatening to you.
Thank you so much for your help…
I’ve been trying not to pay any attention to these thoughts and it seemed to work. However, yesterday, I had a thought of kissing my friend. I’m so scared that I wanted to actually do it. I’ve been thinking about it over night and I’ve been reassuring myself that it was an unwanted thought. But what if it was not an unwanted thought? I’m so scared… How do you tell the difference between an unwanted thought or not?
Welcome back bubble 22,
You mention twice how scared you feel when you have the thought, so that strongly suggests it is an unwanted thought. Homosexuals are not scared by the thought of having sex with people of the same gender!
You do not need to “know” if a thought is unwanted. Your goal is to accept the existence of any thought that comes into your head, without analyzing it. The analysis is the actual problem. The thought is just a thought.
Yesterday, I did some exposure by watching lesbian show, read coming out stories and checking. That I had a lesbian dreams I did enjoy in order to overcome the fear, but it makes me more anxious. Right I am checking and terrified. Right now, if Im going to watch a scene or read a plot that have lesbian-themed, I get excited/fear but in bad way (the anxiety is kicking in.) by the time, I watch it I don’t feel anything. I can’t stop thinking about lesbian theme. I have become more judgmental
I applaud you for taking the initiative and doing exposures. But if you then check (as you indicate), then you are undermining your own progress.
I’m not sure what you mean by “That I had a lesbian dreams I did enjoy in order to overcome the fear”. But from the rest of your comment, it seems pretty clear that these thoughts are unwanted and lead you to experience anxiety. You don’t need to “stop thinking about lesbian theme”. You need to accept that you have these thoughts, and do nothing about them (in other words, no checking). They are just thoughts.
Thanks again for your advice which has proven really helpful to me. One further question I have is this – when these thoughts occur to me, I am pretty sure they actually cause me fear, not stimulation, but for some reason I can’t differentiate in my mind. When such an intrusive thought occurs I am immediately hugely anxious, in a way that hetero thoughts have never made me.
As I have mentioned in previous posts I have had these thoughts in the past on very rare occasions but managed to dismiss them,but now they’re causing me great distress and just won’t leave – any advice?
Also one more query – without wanting to be too vulgar (I just don’t know how else to explain it), until recently and especially during my early teens I literally couldn’t get vaginas off the brain, they turned me on so much I even worried for a while if I had some fetish for orally pleasuring girls. Now I sometimes think they’re not very attractive and this confuses/scares me. I’m hoping that this is probably just a decline in my libido as a whole due to the stress of the whole situation. Do you have any other explanations about what I’m going through?
You note that the thoughts cause you “fear, not stimulation” and are concerned that you can’t differentiate between these two feelings in your mind. But you differentiate just fine in the following sentence when you note “When such an intrusive thought occurs I am immediately hugely anxious, in a way that hetero thoughts have never made me”. That doesn’t sound like “stimulation” to me – that sounds like anxiety.
As for getting rid of the thoughts, this is the problem. Your efforts to get rid of the thoughts will inevitably disappoint you. Instead, accept them and get on with your day.
You are paying attention to, and analyzing, your thoughts and feelings way too much. Simply put, boys who can’t get vaginas off their minds, and regularly think about oral sex with women, are unlikely to be gay. In fact, I challenge you to find me one gay man who thinks positively about cunnilingus. Every gay man I have ever spoken to about this topic shudders at the very thought of it (and I don’t mean good shuddering!). For gay men, the idea of going down on a woman is every bit as unpleasant a thought as going down on a guy is for a straight men.
Hi! Thanks for your response and helpful answers to my questions!
So to clarify – If I try to relax and accept these thoughts as and when they come, do you believe they may happen less frequently, and that perhaps some of the associations I’ve suddenly developed may weaken? For example in my current state, if i hear the word ‘gay’ in any context it almost sounds like an accusation, and brings up all the thoughts again!I’m also having an issue where my brain is refusing to accept what I know is the truth – for example, when an intrusive thought occurs – I know I do not like it, but my brain (knowing exactly how to manipulate me) – says ‘Yes, you do?’, or ‘What if you did?’, even when I KNOW I don’t etc. Is this normal for someone suffering from this type of OCD?
My other concern is that I have heard on the internet etc. of people completely ‘turning’. I’ve become increasingly worried recently that I have undergone some irreversible chemical shift or something! However when thinking logically this doesn’t really seem to feasible who someone who has always been hugely attracted to girls.
I cannot guarantee that you will have fewer unwanted thoughts (even though that is a common outcome). If you are accepting unwanted thoughts with the agenda that you hope your acceptance will lead to fewer of these thoughts, then you are not really accepting them. True acceptance means accepting the existence of the thoughts and making no effort to control or eliminate them. It means choosing to peacefully co-exist with them.
The experience that your brain is trying to convince you that you really are gay and really do enjoy these thoughts is extremely common in HOCD. Those types of “lies” are better described as “obsessions”.
Nobody suddenly “turns” gay, and there is no magical chemical shift that will make you suddenly change your sexual orientation. It is best to take what you find on the internet with a grain, no a boulder, of salt. For example, I saw one website in which the author urgently tried to convince readers that HOCD doesn’t exist. Of course, he followed that with a pitch to sell an expensive online program to eliminate HOCD! The internet is full of good information, but it is also full of bad information, not to mention all sorts of hucksters and snake oil salesmen. The bottom line is this – if you were gay, you wouldn’t be obsessing about your sexual orientation and sending email comments to discussion boards. You would be having sex with men.
I meant to say that day, when I expose myself too much to these themes, I had a lesbian dreams where I thought I did enjoy, but in reality, it makes me more anxious and disgust.
The key here is that these were dreams. Nobody has any control over their dreams, and everybody has unusual, unexpected things come up in their dreams.
Just because you had a dream where you enjoyed lesbian imagery doesn’t mean you are a lesbian. It means you had a dream. There is no reason to assume your dream is in any way a description of your true sexual orientation.
The HOCD instrusive thoughts makes me have urge of wanting be with the same sex. My HOCD is becoming worse because of the thoughts. I don’t feel anxious, but it feels so real these thoughts. I constantly check whether I’m attracted to same-sex, check if I’m arousal or check if its HOCD or using the illness as a excuse. I never had crush towards women. If I accidentally see women cleavage or ass, I freak out because its impossible for a straight person to be see that. I’m paranoid now. My legs are shaking.
Your thoughts aren’t making your OCD worse – your thoughts are your OCD. They are the “O” in OCD. The other part is the “C” – namely your compulsive behaviors such as checking for attraction, checking for arousal, and avoiding looking at women’s breasts and asses. When you do these compulsions, that makes your OCD worse.
I’m not sure where you got the idea that it is impossible for a straight woman to notice the breasts and asses of other women. I am going to chalk that up to an error in translation. Either way, it is completely fine and normal for a straight woman to notice other women’s bodies, and to evaluate those bodies as being “beautiful” or “attractive (or “ugly” or “unattractive” or whatever). Straight and gay people make these kinds of judgements every day of their lives.
I’ve been doing so well up until now…. I just had a thought about having sex with the same sex… when I thought about it I got this sensation in my body, like butterflies in my stomach…Then I had a thought “maybe I really do like it…” but I couldn’t think properly because there was something in my mind which assured me that I like it… I also thought that I only like the sensation made by it, as in the sexual sensation you get.. but then that means I enjoy same sex thoughts? I thought does this mean I’m not straight? but now i just feel really confused and I feel really scared and my stomach feels sick… If I’m straight how could I enjoy those thoughts? what if I enjoyed those thoughts when I actually had it? I sort of knew I didn’t want it but… what if I did?
The problem here is not that you have these unwanted thoughts and sensations – that is to be expected if one has OCD. The real problem is how you respond to the unwanted thoughts and sensations. It sounds like you re compulsively analyzing them in the hope that you can somehow prove to your self that you are straight. You will never win that battle, as the OCD will simply come up with a new thought or sensation with which to torture you.
Straight people are allowed to have thoughts about being gay. If everyone who ever had a gay thought was gay, the whole world would be gay. Let these thoughts exist and make no effort to understand them, or resolve them, or eliminate them. You don’t need to know what they mean (hint: they don’t mean anything).
Thank you very much for your help…
Today I had a haircut and the stylist, who was a woman, was very nice to me… And she cut my hair her hand touched my face, which is normal, and i liked it because her hand was soft and it smelled nice… she also touched my chin cos she had to move my head…. is it normal that I feel this way? Or does this mean I’m not straight?
I can’t imagine anything more normal than enjoying it when someone gently touches our face with a soft hand that smells good.
The real issue here is not sexual orientation, but rather reassurance seeking. When you ask “does this mean I’m not straight”, you are seeking reassurance, which is one of the four main ways people with OCD do compulsions. I encourage you to read our article on reassurance seeking.
I have a question I have been dealing still with all this and I read this and I have everything hocd describes my question to you is hocd real many psychologist steer away from this and don’t credit it as real and another question can you believe you are gay llong enough to were you actually feel like your gay can it become so overwhelming that th only way out is to accept that you are gay and live in athat way even though it doesn’t feel right also excitement and anxiety are two sides to the same coin if you are having trouble feeling or seeing the difference between the two is that normal what if you have gay thoughts for so long that everything in your head keeps switching on you lets say like me I have always waned a family a wide and everything a girlfriend and I’ll know what I’m saying but in my head it will switch everything I will remember a good experience I had with amy girlfriend and it will be her in mymnd and I’ll be happy but my head will switch the word from girlfriend to boyfriend or when you tell yourself I have always liked girls it gets to the point where it switches words on me and it feel wrong and anxiety kicks in or is it excitement I have even so overwhelmed that I can’t even remember how I use to feel and all my memories and feelings are being taken over with stuff that I don’t like I dije know what to do I see my only option as hoping out of the closet becaus of all this the thing is I’ve been so open with all this I’ve told everyone from my psychologist to my family and friends to me being gay is not wrong I don’t hate them to me it’s myself I’m not afraid of the stigma of being gay I font feel right if I say I am even though I’m up to the point where I believe I am and I don’t like it at all and I feels wrong and if I get a moment where I feel alright it feels wrong because I feel like I’m just accepting that I’m gay I don’t want to be gay but these thoughts and the inability to feel lime I used to is killing me I wake up with splitting headaches and am afraid to go to sleep anymore because I know I’m just gonna wake up to the same but the exhaustion from not sleeping doesn’t let me fight the thoughts and they repulse to the point where I want to throw up or make myself I get weird sensations everywhere in my voy and I want tell if there good or not I can’t tell if I like it or not is hocd real and do I have it or is some excuse for gay individuals not wanting to accept I obsess over all this the thoughts the hocd and the fact that this is raining my life I have not been able to be happy in a very long time and people I love are being hurt and are leaving I have nobly been diagnosed with generalized anxiety I read this website and all the symptoms I can remember having from the start but I’m up to the point where I don’t know anything anymore I miss being attracted to women i miss being aroused by them I miss fantasizing about them or checking them out I feel nullified sexually because the second I feel aroused I believe it for something else and I don’t want that and I won’t want it so I’d rather not believe any if that can hocd if it’s real twist your memories even though you member how you felt and it was real but now you don’t know even though those thoughts and memories where how you felt and still want to feel what do I believe anymore I lost someone I loved because ofall of this and I can’t even remember the good time we had together because my mind switches everything on me what do I do
Everything you mention is classic HOCD. Everything.
The reason that many psychologists don’t accept that HOCD is a real condition is simple – most psychotherapists, including most psychologists and psychiatrists, are utterly clueless about OCD. Many think that OCD is solely about hand washing or door checking. This is why so many people have such a difficult time finding effective treatment – because they are being treated by treatment providers who don’t have any idea what they are doing.
I encourage you to seek help from a psychotherapist who specializes in the HOCD treatment with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). That is your best hope for learning how to effectively manage your symptoms. If you are being treated by a psychologist who has not heard of HOCD, or doesn’t believe that HOCD symptoms are common in OCD, then that person is not an OCD specialist.
I still find it really hard to stop seeking for reassurance…. last night I had a dream about a girl who was a lesbian.. which is not weird since it was only a dream… in my dream she was s happy when she was touched sexually by another woman… then suddenly I started masturbated which made me so confused….. I woke up and I couldn’t sleep after it….
There is no significant connection between dreams and real life. In the past, I have dreamed that I am dead, that I am being murdered, that I am murdering someone, that I am in jail, and that I am flying. None of these things have actually happened. People dream about all sorts of things, and seeking reassurance about something you dreamed will only make things worse for you.
Sir it was a pleasure to read all your articles. The information was very helpful. Before checking over this blog i already had the symptoms of having hocd. I am a 17 years old male.It started when i obsessed about thinking “how could women even like guys?? It feels so disgusting to think about men!!” Then i had this thought once about how glad i was to be a guy. But obsessing over these thoughts made me pull towards the abyss of questioning. I couldnt eat properly , do my everyday work and thought to me why in the earth i even thought about those thoughts in the first place. I couldnt look at guys then , not even in the movies , had the same groinal problem and sensations when i even looked at them. But then i myself started treating myself using CBT and those thoughts started to go away. But still i would have huge spikes when my mind used to question myself ……. what if i was gay?? What if i culdnt have sex with women anymore?? What if i started liking guys and started a family with one?? I never ever in my whole life had these thoughts before. I still have fantasies about girls and fell like on top of the world when i fully enjoy them . But sometimes when i am not able to be aroused by women the fear comes again and now its like i’m compulsively mast*****ing to prove i’m aroused by them.i want to be the way i was .now i dont get anxious about getting gay thoughts not even pleasure instead its disgusting to think of a guy kissing me(thank god cas once i got an erection thinkin about dis and i literally started crying thinking i was gay). But that makes me even more scared after sometime and i ask myself “was i really disgusted or it was just you pressing yourself not to get aroused?? What if you enjoyed those thoughts some time later??” what should i do it still freaks me out…….its better than before but it freaks me out !!!Please could you help me with this!!!!!
Thanks for your comments.
One of the hallmarks of OCD is “what if..” thinking. Your comments indicate just how much you are engaging in “what if…” thinking. For example you ask the following:
~ What if i was gay??
~ What if i couldn’t have sex with women anymore??
~ What if i started liking guys and started a family with one??
~ What if you enjoyed those thoughts some time later??
You also ask “what should I do”, and the answer is this: when you find yourself asking “what if…” questions about your sexual orientation, remind yourself that these type of questions are a standard part of OCD, and that the best solution is to not make any attempt to answer them. This means accepting that your brain is producing (and will almost certainly continue to produce) unwanted thoughts about your sexual orientation, but not valuing these thoughts as being meaningful or worthy of so much attention. Our brains produce all sorts of thoughts not based in reality, and we are able to have these thoughts without taking them seriously. Just let the thoughts sit unanswered in your head, and your brain will eventually get bored of them and turn elsewhere. And when the thoughts return (and they will), do the same thing. These thoughts are an itch that only gets worse if you scratch it.
Thankyou so much sir for your kind comments. I always try to exactly do the same things as you say. But i dont know why when i start doing this i dont freak out but instead these thoughts feel so real. When i want these thoughts just to flow through me they do and they go away . I’ve heard that when a person recovers from hocd its even worse because those obscene thoughts dont make you anxious anymore and your brain says “those thoughts dont make you anxious , then u must be gay”. Is it true??And the worst part is sometimes even that doesnt spike me now!!!!! It makes me feel very uneasy. But i still have faith i could fight these thoughts. I’m so sorry to throw so many questions at you but just one last question ………does thinkin about women or mas******ing makes it even worse ??? Thank you very much for spending your precious time answering my questions. Your blog is truly great!!!
It is extremely common that, when someone with HOCD makes progress and becomes less anxious about their unwanted thoughts, that they then begin to obsess about not being anxious. This is what is called a “backdoor spike“. This is actually a sign of progress – basically you have become more effective at managing your unwanted gay thoughts, so your OCD is morphing and trying to find a new way to torture you. It is best to conceptualize this as just a new variation on the same theme – a new way for your OCD to try to convince you that you are gay. You can read more about backdoor spikes in our article about challenges to overcoming HOCD.
Your goal is to treat this new obsession with the same level of acceptance and indifference that has helped you cope with the original obsession. As you noted, when you simply allow the thoughts to exist and to flow through you, they tend to go away. You can do the same thing with this new variant of the gay obsession, and with any other unwanted thought that appears.
I’m sorry to disturb you again but jut within a day of commenting about my self i dont know wat happened…….i started getting spikes after that……..now i’m writing because i dont know why it was all so frustrating but i really thought i was gay and had a huge spike on how will i even accept myself. I cudnt let these thoughts flow through me………….. it was so much distressing and it is still. I dont know why but still i have no attraction towards men. I dont mind being around them now . But i cudnt get attracted to girls or women in reality. I started checking myself again …. the spikes caused me to………it was soothing when i got an errection thinking about women. But now its like i’m stuck with this compulsion thing again!!!!!! I couldnt think of having a relationship with women i dont know why whereas i used to think about it my whole life!!!! .on the other hand i cannot bear the thought of being with guys either.its causing me a spike as i’m writing you!!!!! I have to study the whole day literally but i cannot get these thoughts out of my mind. I feel like crying sir please help me!!!!!!!!! I have been having loss of appetite since it all started and i was diagnosed with stomach infection but i know why is it.my family was very worried of me not eating anything.I know i’m disturbing you a lot but please do help me please!!!!!!!
You don’t need to look for reasons as to why your OCD has spiked – it has spiked because that is the nature of OCD. It is quite normal for obsessions to spike at times. Your attempt to understand why you are spiking is essentially a compulsion, as is your checking. If you stop these actions (and any other compulsive behaviors), you will likely see a significant decrease in your obsessions.
You write “I dont know why but still i have no attraction towards men”. The answer to this is quite simple – you have no attraction to men because you are not gay. It needn’t be more complicated than that.
We can only offer limited help using the comments section of our blog. If you would like to discuss online therapy for HOCD with one of our staff therapists, please contact us via our webpage at https://ocdla.com/.
Thankyou so much sir for replying again. I read the articles and found them very helpful. Sir you’ve been helping me through this a lot and i really appreciate that. I know i can beat this very well. Thanks a lot sir!!!!
Thank you Vishal.
Hey,I have been dealing with HOCD for about 5 months. My past very obviously points to straight in that i had crushes on many, many guys and never girls. I am 18, and one day i lost interest in guys so, knowing OCD, i googled and came across the idea of being asexual/aromantic first (Was also a spike) and then it moved on to and stayed with the idea of being lesbian. At first it was distressing, but now i feel no anxiety or WANT to be straight. I think I have relationship issues because I grew up in a really strict household that looked down upon dating in teenage years. Now I am free to date but have no will too! A guy asked me on a date recently and i got really anxious and declined. I feel no will to want to date a guy ( i have always been like this, i used to think it was because of my parents) but now i cant help but think it’s because i am lesbian. I was always very cautious with guys, i stopped liking them once they liked me which scares me now. But i’ve liked plenty of guys and no girls, except it all feels fake now. I dont feel anything for guys now, and the past seems it was a fake. I get thoughts that i would enjoy being with a girl, but ive always been around girls and never had feelings for them. The lack of anxiety and want to be straight is what scares me. I feel like i want to be lesbian because i dont fret over this enough. I also had a dream last night of being sexual with a girl, and i woke up aroused. Now i dont know if it was because of the sexual nature of well -sex, itself. Or because it was a girl.
Thanks for commenting.
First, allow me to note that straight people having gay dreams is extremely common, and that does not mean you are a lesbian. Also, your arousal upon waking is normal on two levels. First, any sexual dream is likely to lead to arousal. You could have been dreaming of sex with a car and it would have been arousing. And second, when humans dream, they have a non-voluntary physiological reaction of sexual arousal. This is why men frequently awaken with erections and women sometimes awaken with an orgasm. Studies have shown that men and women alike have increased blood flow to their sex organs when dreaming, regardless of the content of the dreams.
It is also important to note that a loss of interest in males does not mean you are becoming a lesbian. That would be like saying “I have lost interest in ice cream, so I must be a vegetarian”. Perhaps your loss of interest in males has nothing to do with sexual orientation.
Also, there is something incongruent in your report about your loss of interest in guys. You report that you have had “many, many crushes on guys”, and that you have “liked plenty of guys”, but also note that you have no “will” to date guys, and have “always been like this”. I am not sure what this contradiction means, but I see no reason to believe that any of it suggests that you are a lesbian. It is also worth noting that not fretting about sexual orientation does not mean you are a lesbian.
As you note, your past experience obviously points to you being straight. I encourage you to seek out a therapist who specializes in treatment for HOCD to help you address these thoughts. Take care.
Hi, I wanna thank you again for this article but I have a question… I tried to expose myself to my fear so I imagined my life as a lesbian and I was ok with that, but now iam oanicked becausei thought that I wouldlike to flirt with a girl, but I really don t. This isnt me. I am the romantic kind of girl who dreams to find her mr darcy… I love being a straight girl, flirting with guys and stuff but now I dont know what I like anymore. I am afraid to go to the university because iam afraid that I will meet a girl and I will fall in love with her and even that doesn’t scare me because I might be happy. But on the other hand this is something that I would never think if I hadn’t had the idea of being gay. Could this HOCD made me a lesbian? I am not scared like I used to be but I realy dont want it…it still is the worst scenario even if I dont hate it.
First off, having HOCD cannot make you gay. Second, not being afraid of being gay, or not having a negative reaction to an exposure of thinking about flirting with someone of the same sex doesn’t mean you are gay. You did an exposure, which is good. And you learned that you didn’t have a bad reaction to the exposure. This is also good. The problem is that you are now over-thinking (i.e., obsessing) about why you didn’t have a negative reaction. This is what is called a “backdoor spike”. You can read more about that subject in our article about challenges to overcoming HOCD.
Finally, it is important to note that OCD is not something that is treated with one exposure. I encourage you to seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in HOCD treatment with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
I’ve read ur article it is very calming and useful. I could find my hocd category as mix of some of categories. Actually i ve been suffring of Hocd since i was 15. I had fantasy about my classmates but never had sex with them. But finally at the age 28 after having several straight relationship, i ve decided to follow these kind of fantasy to know if i like it or not. I ve tried several times but everytime it made me feel guilty and deeprest. Feeling vomit after kissing a guy but my curiosity made me to go for having sex with them. I dont like having sex with same sex it feels disgussting but i cant convince my mind not to think about these stuff. I felt so sick for 6 months i brock up with my girlfreind and lost 4 kg in only 2 wks. I really dont want to have romantic relationship with a guy i cant even think about it. Please help me.
You note that you “really dont want to have romantic relationship with a guy”, that you can’t even bear to think about it, and that the idea of sex with another man is disgusting to you. You also note that kissing a guy made you feel like vomiting. None of this makes you sound vary gay.
Unfortunately, you appear to have done what some people with HOCD do, which is to test themselves by actually having a same-sex encounter. This almost always leads to the person feeling terrible, and not getting the sense of certainty they were seeking.
I encourage you to not have sex with men, and to seek out treatment with a therapist who specializes in treating HOCD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
Hello, my name is Dee and throughout my life, I’ve jumped from various OCD topics to another. As early as 11, I feared I had AIDS for the longest time. When I was 15 or so, I began to panic on the daily as a result of HOCD centred thoughts. I got out of it a few months later and was thrilled to be convinced that I was straight. On and off again, the odd gay thought would pass through although these particular times were less stressful than my first time.
A few weeks ago, I had a diabetic episode with low blood sugars while I was sleeping. It was a very frightening situation which seemed to open a can of worms (that is to say, I became vulnerable and many unwanted thoughts flooded in). I was alright once out of the hospital… But was having difficulty dismissing thoughts about wanting to commit suicide. These thoughts were very uncomfortable because I have absolutely no reason to even consider suicide. With social work and support from my family, these scary thoughts dwindled because these support outlets helped me to differentiate between my chemical soup of a brain versus what I truly want in my life (in this instance, to actually live). For some reason, maybe because my life has been dull of late- being out of university and hunting for jobs- I almost attached a comfort to having these thoughts. I needed something to fill my time. Having OCD, my brain (after all these years) decided to revisit my HOCD thoughts. What really got them started was when I read about someone in a Hetero relationship when she was aware of homosexuality because it was convenient for her to be in this relationship. That (I think) freaked me out. Now of course I started to grapple with the sorts of thoughts rife throughout this message board but for some reason, this time around, I have less anxiety attached to the thoughts. Maybe it’s because deep down I know I’m straight, but I’m really not even sure of that anymore.
I’ve always enjoyed male company and their appearances for as long as I can remember. I’ve been very reluctant to get intimate, however, due to my body conscious issues. I often test myself with women’s appearances and such and it feels like I genuinely want to be gay. It doesn’t completely sit well with me, which is why I can’t let the topic rest – but whenever I test myself on dudes I used to find attractive… I get no positive response within myself… Feelings wise and thoughts wise. I feel like I’ve become resentful of men. I don’t want to be I do think.
Now here’s a really confusing part. Of late, to build on my absolute disinterest in dudes, it seems as though when I think of guys, or see one that I would have thought was handsome, I get a spike of anxiety because I have failed to find them intriguing. Shouldn’t I be getting anxious when I see that a girl is pretty? I feel like now I’m a homosexual fearing heterosexuality…U know the reverse of what I used to have.
Additionally, sexuality is said to be fluid. What if I’m all of the sudden entering a lesbian phase? Does that even happen? Why isn’t it bothering me as much? Everything feels so different and I just wanna be at peace whatever the decision. Why does it feel like I like these thoughts? I try to picture my future with guys, but it won’t let me as though I’ve hit a brick wall. It isn’t making me anxious either, I don’t think.
sorry for my rant. Just not sure anymore if this is my OCD playing tricks or am I OCD about the social consequences of coming out or something?
Everything you write sounds like OCD to me. It is very common for those with OCD to experience shifts in the focus of their obsessions, a process we call “morphing”. This is evident from your story – you started with health concerns, moved onto HOCD, then switched to Harm OCD (in the form of self-harm / suicide), then came back to HOCD. There is nothing unusual about this pattern.
You say that you are confused because “of late, to build on my absolute disinterest in dudes, it seems as though when I think of guys, or see one that I would have thought was handsome, I get a spike of anxiety because I have failed to find them intriguing.” That sounds to me like you are anxious about not feeling heterosexually attracted to males. There is nothing confusing about that at all – that is an extremely common thought for people with HOCD.
You also note your concern about being the possibility of being a lesbian who is afraid she is secretly straight. But a lesbian being afraid of being straight is just a another variant of HOCD. I encourage you to read our first article about HOCD to get a better understanding of how HOCD can happen to people who are straight or gay.
Hi I think this article is very good!!!! What really struck me was about the relationship hocd part. I have always obsessed about the fact that I was gay because i have always clicked better with my friends my same sex friends easier. I mean I also grew up with low self esteem and have trouble talking to women. But finally now I have a girlfriend and love her so much. But now the thoughts that are resurfacing and saying I don’t really or will never love my girl because I’m gay. This is coupled with my mind reminding me how I have a better time hanging with my friends. But I’m in no way sexually attracted to a man but having sex has been pretty good with my girlfriend!!! So why does this continue to bother me if I know I’m sexually attracted to opposite sex. It like the thought your gay sticks there and won’t go away.
Another question I have is that I am going to therapy for the first time. What kind of questions should I ask. Also I checked and the person I have uses cbt and erp.
Thanks for your comments.
It is extremely common for those with HOCD to also have Relationship OCD (ROCD) in which they doubt their feelings for their significant other. I think this is a fairly natural combination of obsessions – after all, if you are involved with a woman and are having unwanted thoughts about being with men, it makes sense that your mind would then obsess about what those unwanted gay thoughts might be indicating about your relationship.
Also, when you note that you have a better time with your male friends than with your girlfriend, I am not convinced. After all, you say that you “love her so much”, and that sex with her has been good (with three exclamation marks!!!). Perhaps a better way to frame it is that you have a “different” time with your male friends. Many straight men find their male friendships very gratifying. The good quality of your male friendships does not indicate that you are gay – it indicates that you have good friendships which are innately different from the type of relationship you have with your girlfriend.
The most important question to ask your new therapist is whether they specialize in treating OCD and if so, do they use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with a focus on Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). It sounds like you have already got that covered.
First, my story: I was a perfectly healthy straight dude, before this all happened. Basically, I saw the photo of a gay dude (we went to my college) on the internet. I may have found him attractive and then…I freak out. It happened in 5th December 2010 (the day I “crossed over” sometimes I think to myself). Well, right now what I can say is this. I have thoughts about being gay almost everyday. There is although one difference. When I have straight thoughts (they are fewer than what I used to have) it just “flows” and feels natural. They are nice, pleasurable and so on. When I have the other´s, I feel uncomfortable, like I immediately repressed them and it gives me great physical uneasiness. I don´t feel that nice and natural urge to act sexually, like I used to did to straight fantasies. And of course, I am always comparing the thoughts with my brain always saying “Hmm, maybe these were similar, don´t you think? So you must be gay” And, of course I am always debating with myself (and constantly loosing).
I must add that the prospect of being gay scares the shit out of me. For example, I took an online HOCD test. I started reading the results and it said that I didn´t have HOCD (immediately went anxious). Of course, I just read the first part and it happened I had all the symptoms, after all.
P.S. I did attended a shrink and he said I had HOCD. Talking with him, we also noticed that I had, before this another episode of OCD – also sexually related – and I as always, since I was a kid, of many things and obsessed about y health (thought I was getting AIDS and Cancer). But it didn´t affected that much and for that long.
Thanks for your comments.
Your story sounds like a textbook case of HOCD. From what I see in your story, the basic facts are as follows:
~ You have unwanted gay thoughts that upset you.
~ You have been diagnosed as having HOCD.
~ You have taken an online test that indicates you have HOCD.
~ You have had earlier episodes of unwanted sexual obsessions.
~ When you have straight thoughts, it just “flows and feels natural:
~ When you have straight thoughts, you experience them as being “nice” and “pleasurable”
~ When you have gay thoughts, you feel “uncomfortable” and “great physical uneasiness”.
~ When you have gay thoughts, you “don´t feel that nice and natural urge to act sexually”.
~ When you have gay thoughts, they “scare the shit out of” you.
That sounds pretty straight to me. If you still have doubts, I encourage you to take our free, confidential, online HOCD test.
If the thoughts continue to bother you, I encourage you to seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in treating HOCD with CBT. If treatment at our center is an option for you, we can be contacted via our website at https://ocdla.com/.
I have had all kinds of sexual thoughts, that I could not see my self in, since my teens. And before that and until my early twenties I had different kinds of other OCD (counting, cleaning, and washing hands). I am now 35 years old
But the thing that has always bothered me most came back 2 years ago HOCD, I did not know that existed until a couple of months ago. But my homosexual thoughts have been really bad so about 6 months ago I thought I would do the ultimate test so I once for all could get these thoughts out of my mind. I started masturbate to my homosexual thoughts and that backfired because sometimes it feels like I Like it (and that makes me feel bad) and sometimes when I masturbate it can put away because I can feel that I do not like (and that makes me relax and happy). Also when I mastubate to my normal hetreosexual thoughts, do these intrusive thoughts try to come in.
So I am really confused because now my mind is trying to tell me that I should masturbate to the intrusive homosexual thoughts because I think that sometimes I like it. But it dos no feel like when I feel then need to masturbate to heterosexual thoughts
and what makes me even more confused because I have always had a great sex drive towards women, but that has also disappeart as my intrusive homosexual thoughts has become bader.
Is this still HOCD or am I in denial
Thank you for your comments.
When you masturbated to gay thoughts, you were doing a compulsion. All compulsions backfire.
From what you write, it seems that you are attracted to women – I cannot imagine any gay man saying “I have always had a great sex drive towards women”. The reason it felt good when you were masturbating to gay thoughts is simple – you were masturbating! If you were masturbating to thoughts about clocks, or carpentry or tin cans on a shelf, it would still feel good and you would still get aroused…because you would be masturbating.
Your goal is to accept that your brain creates all sorts of weird thoughts, some of which are gay thoughts. But you do not need to pay extra attention to these thoughts or give them any sort of special value – they are just thoughts. Just let them exist and do nothing about them. Don’t pay extra attention to them, don’t give them extra value, and don’t test them by masturbating.
Hello, i have this OCD and it destroy my life but i began hypnose therapy and it works i feel much better! Everything goes better but i want to test myself all the time to see if i’am gay. I practice masturbation to see if i am gay or not and something strange happens to me, i have a ejaculation without erecation and it comes in 2 seconds and after that i don’t feel good, i panique! and i can test my self 7 times in one day and i don t desir it but my OCD push me to do it!
Thanks for your comments. You note that you masturbated seven times in an attempt to prove you are not gay. This is the very definition of a compulsion, and it suggests to me that your hypnosis therapy is not nearly as effective as you think it is. That doesn’t surprise me, as there is no evidence that hypnosis is effective for OCD. I encourage you to seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in HOCD treatment with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This is the treatment that has repeatedly and consistently been found to be the most effective treatment for all types of OCD.
Thank you for your answer and i will look after a therapy but i have one more question
I am with my girlfriend since two years and everything is fine, we love each other and have regulary sex toghetter. After more than one year of relation with her my HOCD came. It makes me feel and believe that i am deguste of womens and that i am attracked to men but i am only excited by womens ( i have only real desir and erection on girls) and i have never been excited by a men. I falled in love with a few girls and when i was a teenager i was sexualy super excited by girls. The HOCD are able to do that?
Yes, that is exactly what HOCD does – it leads people to doubt and question their sexual orientation.
Firstly – thank you for your article!
I was hoping you might be able to answer a question:
I have suffered with OCD in many forms for over 7 years (they seem to revolve around fear of losing my partner, and no sooner have I got over one type, another comes along).
A big part of my OCD is the fear of “if I DID get an erection over a man would that make me gay”?
I am aware that seeking reassurance only exacerbates compulsions, but I think sometimes I suffer from ignorance too. Years ago I used to suffer from sexually intrusive thoughts, but after reading the studies, I understood what was going on and could then see it for what it was. Because I understood it, I no longer feared it – and that was the end of it.
In the past, articles have helped me overcome types of OCD entirely by enlightening me on certain things I wasn’t aware of.
My question therefore is, is it possible for a man to get an erection over another man and not be homosexual?
If this was the case, I would have no reason to fear ANY type of groinal response.
You are correct – reassurance seeking only worsens OCD. That said, I will try to answer you question the best I can without providing unhelpful reassurance.
I believe men can (and do) have groinal responses and/or erections in response to just about anything, and that these physical sensations do not define our sexual orientation. Men even get erections when they are dreaming, even if the content of their dreams is entirely non-sexual.
I encourage you to not seek certainty about what your groinal responses and erections mean. They mean you have a penis and it is operating as expected.
Thank you for your answer, it helped me a lot! Is it normal that the HOCD push me to test myself like to go internet see videos or see picture of gay people? Sometime i am not sure if i do it for testing or by pleasure… but at the end i am not excited by gay video and i am still excited by my girlfriend. I have often special sensation in my penis and it reduce or get smaller when i see a man is it normal(opposite of erection)? Thank you for your help
Nicolo – testing one’s self by checking out gay porn is one of the most common symptoms of HOCD. And questioning if the test was really a test, or secretly done to pursue a gay desire is also quite common in HOCD. You have a girlfriend who sexually arouses you – that sounds pretty straight to me.
I dont know what to anymore man. These thougts of doubt and these gay thoughts have me more than depressed. Im not how i used to be, jm not happy, fun loving or anything of that nature. The things that keep fueling my hocd (hopfuly thats what it is) is because im currently going through puberty and i keep looking back on the past. I have masturbated to gay thoughts a couple times which make me think, they were gay, which means im gay?! But what calms me down alittle is when i look back on all of the stuff i did, it was all similar to hocd. Even when i was little my brother and cousin (like another brother) would always call me gay, fag, all that stuff. But jokingly, but i alwas did bring me anxiety, even my dad would joke around like that, i have in the past 5 months, masturbated to the thought of bi-sexual sex to see if i could ejaculate, which i sadly did, and then i accodently searched “sexy nude latinos” but meaning “latinas” i just forgot how spanish goes with their stupid “male/female verbs” and i thought “im gonna jerk off to this and see f i could ejaculate” but those pictures never “tuned me on” i also had a same sex exproence with my cousin, of thr same age when we were about 7 or 8. I forgot about it for a while then like a dickhead, he brings it up and everytime he brings it up, my anxiety goes through the roof. May i add that i didnt really know what “sex” was and neither did he and i also would like to add that it was like a “truth or dare” thing and it was only like licking each others privates and wierd shit that i would take back instantly if i could. I dont at all want to have sex or a relationship with another man but i feel like the maturbating to the gay thoughts when i was younger makes me bi or gay or someting but now those thouts sicken me to death. I have all the signs of hocd from the checking, and all that and i do check and 2 times i got semi-arroused which brought my anxiety up to like 90000000%.. I love girls and only want to be with them, i have a crush on a girl right now, and eveeytime i have a very sexy straight thought i am playged with theese gay thoughts which make me think im bi, cause im having both thoughts. Idek anymore, im sad, depressed and i just need assurance that im straight and im typig this now and feeling alittle better to get it out and vent but what scares me is that ill become gay/bi or that after yiu read this youll say im gay:bi. Please help! Thank you!
Thanks for your comments.
Many, many children have some sort of sexual activity with other children, and this activity is often with the same sex. This sort of thing is extremely common, and in fact quite normal for children. It doesn’t mean you are gay, it means you were a normal, curious kid.
Likewise, ejaculating when you masturbate would likely happen no matter what you were thinking about or looking at – if you thought about a tree or a lamp or algebra while masturbating, you would almost certainly ejaculate. When you tested yourself by masturbating to gay thoughts and images, you were doing a compulsion that was bound to backfire.
Here’s the bottom line – you note that you “don’t at all want to have sex or a relationship with another man”, that the thought of being with a guy sickens you to death, that you love girls, and have a crush on a girl right now. None of that sounds like any gay guy I have ever known.
hi ,please help me , i have hocd for 8 years i started to manage it and i was feeiling up and downs but yesterday i was on facebook and suddanly i see a picture of a naked woman i don’t knowa how but a big idea came to my head and said look at her boobs thay are sexy and huge and it’s like that eezally attracted me i felt atrracted i didn’t feel aroused the only thing i had in my body is frear not arousal but i really faelt like it attract me and that her boobs s are sexy with fear in the same time . is that hocd or i’m gay ??? please help me
I ‘m not sure how noticing an attractive naked women with “huge” “boobs” makes you a lesbian. I’m a straight guy, but I’m pretty sure that if I saw a picture of an attractive naked guy with a huge cock that it would get my attention. I would probably think something along the lines of “He’s attractive – and look at the package on him!” That wouldn’t make me gay, it would make me a straight guy looking at a picture of a naked guy and noticing that he is attractive and has a huge cock.
You say that the only feeling you had when you saw this picture is fear, not arousal. That doesn’t sound very gay to me.
it’s true that it’s not arousal but in my head i felt like yes it’s attractive and sexy like ( arousal in my head ) .
Hello again Jane,
That sense of arousal that you describe as being in your head is a thought, and thoughts are not necessarily indicative of our actual desires. In fact, humans have all sorts of thoughts that don’t reflect who they really are. For example, who hasn’t had a thought of killing someone? I certainly have, and that doesn’t mean I actually want to kill someone. Or try this on for size – I hate asparagus. I mean I really detest it! But if I saw a nicely photographed picture of some fresh, steaming asparagus, I might very well have a thought such as “hey, that asparagus looks pretty good – maybe I would like it”. But that thought is very different from actually liking it. A thought is nothing but a thought.
thank you very much sir i’m sorry but this hocd kills me
Jane – these HOCD thoughts actually don’t kill you, and never will. They just make you uncomfortable.
The point I am trying to make is that the internal language we use in responding to unwanted thoughts actually matters. If you repeatedly tell yourself that these thoughts are unbearable and that they are killing you, you will feel overwhelmed. I encourage you to instead respond to these thoughts with something like ” Oh there’s one of my ridiculous HOCD thoughts. God they are a pain in the ass! But they’re not really important. They’re really irritating, but hardly capable of killing me.”
Hello again, thank you for your answer on the web site! I have last questions, i read that exposure to gay porn video could help to take away anxiety and the hocd, but does it help when i test myself in a mental way? If i feel pleasur or something strong, it would mean that i am gay? I watched many time gay porn video to test myself and i never had an erection on gay video only strang feeling which make me confuse but i have still erections on straight porn video or on my girlfriend. The think wich scare me is that when i will not have anxiety anymore when i will watch gay porn video, will i be excited? Will be gay or it will show me that i was gay? The thing which make me doubt, it is that i have the impression that girls are imperfect, they are not perfect, i am not able to see a perfect girl, i could critise their boobs ( too big or too small) or vagina ( i could see a vagina and say it is degusting and i have the same point of view for every vagina) in a negatif way or find something negatif on their body and all this make me believe that i am gay but i have always been excited by girls and i love my girlfriend. and i m scared that i am gay but i don t want to accepte it.
I stopped to test myself since two week and i feel much better sould i stop to test myself like that or sould i watch porn gay video?
First, the very purpose of exposure therapy is to experience the discomfort of the feared object or situation (in this case, your fear of being gay). But if you do exposures with the purpose of proving you will not get aroused, then you are doing a compulsion. If you choose to watch gay porn as an exposure, your goal should be to let your body experience whatever it experiences. If at some point you were to get aroused, it would not automatically mean you were gay. It would mean you were aroused by watching people have sex. I suspect just about any straight guy would eventually get aroused at some point watching gay porn. Simply put, people get sexually aroused by sexual activity.
Second, you mention your fear that doing exposures to gay porn may eventually lead you to become unafraid of being gay, which you fear would prove you are gay. This is what is called a backdoor spike. You can read more about backdoor spikes in our article about challenges to overcoming HOCD.
Third, noticing imperfections on a woman’s body does not mean you are gay. It means you have functioning eyes. All people have imperfections, and those imperfections have nothing to do with your sexual orientation.
Thank you for this post. I didn’t know what was happening to me, but this definitely explains my situation.
Is there anyone I can seek help from in the Miami/South Florida Area?
Christian – the best OCD therapists in South Florida are:
Bruce Hyman: http://www.ocdhope.com
Steve Seay: http://www.psychologyandbehavior.com
You will be in great hands with either of them.
Hi I am thinking I have the sub type relationship hocd. By relationship I mean partnership.
I have been very confused for the past 4 months I think I have had hocd since a childhood samesex experience when I was 12. I can remember freaking out afterwards and being scared that I was gay even though I have always liked girls and even after that I had crushes on girls and was always sexually and physically attracted to girls I always had a Fear that I was gay. I am 25 now and had girlfriends on and of over the years but never had a serious relationship with one. Also around 4 years ago I had a obsession that I had HIV and this lasted for around 3 years I was convinced I had HIV and nothing could change my mind I had blood tests and they came back negative but I still obsessed constantly, I was always on the internet researching it was in my head 24 hours a day. I have no problem getting erections with girls but I am still a virgin and I contribute that to the fact that I thought I had HIV and didn’t want to spread it. I think I have relationship hocd because I have always had mainly male friends and feel that I have always connected with them better on a emotional level and I am more comfortable around my mates and get nervous around women. For some reason I can see my self more comfortable in a relationship with one of my mates but I don’t love them and I’m not physically or sexually attracted to them it’s just this thought and I don’t mind the thoughts of living with them and this causes me to think I’m gay and I am always obsessing about it and I am confused 24 hours a day about my sexuality and my brain says I want to be gay and it’s always telling me to come out and I will be happy. But it doesn’t make any sense because I am more physically and sexually attracted to women.
I’m so confused my head is constantly fighting, some times my head is like “be gay you are meant to be” and then another part fights back going “no you are straight you are attracted to women not men” but that brings me no relief anymore. Some times I feel like I would feel better if I just came out as a gay person but it doesn’t make complete sense and my mind won’t stop fighting and could hocd convince me that I am gay even know I never had actually thought that I was before?
So what do you think, I have seen a counsellor/ phycatrist and they said I’m not gay and I am in the process of seeing a special centre that has counsellors and dr’s and phycolagists and they will decide how to help me
Thanks for commenting. I don’t think it benefits you to focus too much on what sub-type of HOCD you have. All variants of HOCD are still HOCD, and HOCD is just a variant of OCD. Regardless of which label you ascribe to your symptoms, the treatment is the same.
You say you are confused, but you don’t actually sound confused. You note quite clearly that you have always liked girls, have always had crushes on girls, and have always been sexually attracted to girls. That sounds pretty straight to me. The only part of you that questions your sexual orientation is the HOCD thinking that you experience, which you clearly state “doesn’t make any sense” because you are attracted to women.
I don’t know anything about this “special centre” where you are seeking treatment, and the treatment for OCD is quite well understood. It is called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and that is what I suggest you undertake if you want to learn to effectively manage these unwanted, but extremely common thoughts.
I think I have groinal response HOCD. I think. I never used to get groinal responses to anything other than boys. However, I’ve never been a boy crazy person who needs to be in a relationship. All of a sudden I started to get groinal responses to women and now I don’t get them to the things I used to. I’m always checking and trying to see if I have one or don’t. Usually do for women and not for men.
Is it possible that because I’m so worried about it that I’m making myself have them? I try to be objective and be happy with whichever like it won’t matter (In the end I don’t think it will) and I keep having “unwanted thoughts”. The thoughts seem like they happen in response to stimuli but I’m wondering if I’m forcing myself to think them in order to prove that I am gay or that I am straight?
Its driving me up the walls. Its been about 9 months since this started and I just want it to be one way or the other. A clear answer. I don’t want to dance with men or go out with them because they’ve lost their appeal but at the same time I don’t have romantic feelings for women. When I imagine future relationships, its always with a man. Always has been but the sexual response isn’t there when it used to be.
Thank you for your email.
You ask if perhaps your groinal responses are occurring because you are worrying so much about them, and the answer is a resounding “yes”. We call this “over-attending”, and as you have learned, it can make people miserable. The bottom line is that you are over-attending to something (your groinal sensations) that people without OCD pay no attention to whatsoever. Then you are over-valuing what you discover when you pay so much attention to your groin (“Oh my God, does this mean I am gay!”). Then you perpetuate the cycle by over-responding to the sensations and thoughts by checking to see if you are having another groinal sensation. And the cycle continues, ad infinitum.
You have always seen yourself with men and been attracted to men, and these unwanted thoughts and phantom sensations are leading you to doubt who you are. I encourage you to stop trying to get ” a clear answer”, for it is the pursuit if certainty that provides OCD with its fuel. Accept the thoughts and sensations as a part of life, and date who you want to date (which from the sounds of it, is men).
Hi there, I get more sexualy aroused by women, i am a 20 year old women. i can orgasim faster with thoughts of women. but I dont have eny desire to be with a women, every time I have a sexual fantasy its mainly the body i think about, I cant imagine kissing a women or anything else. i have been pulling my hair trying to determine my identity. this has made me suicidal in the past. when I am around good looking men, i intanty imagine what it would be like to be witht them, i get alll shy around them to. I have never had sex with a women. my ex boyfriend was not very gentle with be he was very rough so the few time i have had sex with a man its been really painful. I dont know who i am what i am. but somethimes its so obivous that i am not gay. and it make me really happy and i can see my future, and i have more engery. is this HOCD or am i gay. i am terrified i am in denial
Sexual “orientation” is a complex concept and not exactly the same as sexual “behavior”. There are millions of straight men and women in the world who have gay fantasies, but have no intention or desire to act out on those fantasies. It sounds like you find women’s bodies sexually appealing in your mind, but you see your self as straight. I see no reason why you can’t allow those two things to peacefully co-exist. You do not need to have a fixed label to apply to your sexuality. There is no rule that says a person must place themselves in a specific category sexually. You say you don’t know who you are are what you are – how about you are not gay or straight…you are Abby.
Hello and thank you for your very helpful articles. I feel like posting this very message is part of the “seeking reassurance” pattern, but I’ll do it all the same.
I think I’ve had on and off hocd for the past 4 years. It all started very suddenly. I can remember being very bored one day and obssessing over events in my past that are still disturbing to me to this day (not homosexuality-related), and all of a sudden, I remembered a specific experience I had when I was about 20, beeing drukenly kissed in the neck by a female friend of mine and finding it rather pleasant. I didn’t think much of it back then and never questioned my sexuality until that day, about four years ago, when the HOCD started.
First, I would obsess over it for days in a row, questioning every image that occured to me, making nightmares and having intrusive thoughts about it, overanalyzing every memory, every gesture, every look at another girl, torturing myself for hours because I had patted a girlfriend on her shoulder or nonsense of that kind. Mostly, I think I was “grieving” the possibility of ever having a loving relationship with a man, which is what I have always wanted.
I feel like I’ve been doing better for a while, notably thanks to mindfulness meditation and the realization that thoughts are just thoughts and do not necessarily harbor a hidden truth that needs to be discovered. I can now manage a certain degree of uncertainty (sometimes, at least).
But at the same time, I feel like my “gay thoughts” are “worse”, meaning that I now sometimes feel like I’m allowing myself to enjoy the occasional lesbian dream and might even have had “gay fantasies” on a few occasions.
The thing is, relentless self-testing (basically imagining myself having sex with a woman just to check whether that still had no arousing effect over me)did end up turning me on once or twice, even though I don’t feel attracted to women in real life, or at least I don’t think I am.
I know for a fact that I’ve been romantically and sexually attracted to men (even though at the ripe age of 28, I still haven’t had any long-term relationship, never longer than a few months, which also worries me a lot), on the other hand, but I’m still questioning to what degree, as if the “gay thoughts” meant I had been wrong all along and nullified my love for men. I do realize that this reasoning is skewed and I think that to some extent, I’m able to accept these thoughts.
For example, am I right in believing that occasionally being aroused by lesbian sex scenes on a tv show, for example, doesn’t make me gay? As part of my testing process (which, I know, is a compulsion that should be avoided), I watched an episode of the L word and came to realize that I was slightly turned on by some scenes.
Also, recently, I wondered whether a girl who looked a bit masculine was hitting on me. I think she liked me (even though I don’t actually know if she was gay or not), without being “agressive” about it or trying anything, and this was very confusing to me because I think I enjoyed the attention, without actually feeling attracted to her or wanting anything to happen. Does this mean I might actually be a lesbian? Pointless question, I know. But now that I have accepted unpleasant gay thoughts, that I’ve proved able to “enjoy” some same-sex fantasies, I feel like the last thing that makes me straight and not gay (very black and white, I know)is that up until very recently, I knew I had never felt attracted to a woman in real life. But does the fact that the attention of that girl wasn’t unpleasant to me mean that this last “safeguard” is now down too?
The thing is, I seriously crave romantic attention, having been single for ages and a bit “love-deprived”.
I have other issues too, I am very obsessive without suffering from “physical” OCD, I have been on medication quite a few times, and have been seeing shrinks of all kind ever since I was 10. Lots of psychoanalysis, which although interesting, might have made me even more obssesive.
I’m so afraid I’m never gonna be able to be in a loving relationship with a man again. I haven’t dated much in the past few years (maybe because of hocd, maybe because I’m secretly gay?)and I feel like people around might be starting to question my sexual orientation. Sometimes, my anxiety is so bad that for a few hours, I think to myself “well, it’s obvious, you’re a lesbian and you just need to accept it”. At first, this was just unbearable but now, I sometimes feel like I could accept it. But right afterwards, I think “well, if you can accept this idea, then it really means you’re gay” and I start to panick again. I know I shouldn’t think along those lines, but WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? Why am I having those thoughts??? Am I maybe actually gay?
A few notes…
1) You are correct…your comment seems like reassurance-seeking.
2) Everything you write sounds like classic, textbook HOCD.
3) Of course it felt pleasant to have a woman kiss your neck? If your eyes were closed and you had no idea it was a woman, you probably would have enjoyed it because…it feels good to have your neck kissed.
4) “Questioning every image” and “overanalyzing every memory, every gesture, every look at another girl” and “self-testing “are all compulsions that will only make things worse.
5) Being turned on by seeing tv or movie characters of the same gender having sex or being intimate does not make you gay – it makes you human. As a straight male, I just assume I could get turned on if I watched enough gay male porn, or movies about gay characters falling in love, or gay whatever. Eventually something would likely trigger some response in me. And by the way, I thought Brokeback Mountain was a spectacular film. Does that make me gay? I don’t think so.
6) I too have been hit on by members of my gender. I did not assume that meant I was gay. In fact, I was flattered by the attention. Which also doesn’t mean I am gay. I think humans like it when someone finds them attractive, even if we’re not interested (for whatever reason).
7) “What does it all mean?” and “Why am I having those thoughts???” and “Am I maybe actually gay?” are all reassurance-seeking questions, so I will refrain from answering them.
Unwanted thoughts are just thoughts, and they are not the problem. Trying to answer or resolve or figure out unwanted thoughts is the problem.
Hi. I’m a 17 year old girl who thought I was straight all my life. I’ve always loved loving boys. I love the thought of having a husband and a family with them, etc. The past few months have been very hard for me, though. Ever since I’ve analyzed my past same-sex sexual experiences I’ve had when I was a child, and the fact that Lesbian Porn turns me on (I’m a virgin and straight porn looks painful, and only pleasing to the man) I’ve been questioning my sexuality. I’ve never had a crush on a girl, but I do think girls are pretty. Now my mind says “oh you think she’s pretty?? You must have a crush on her!!” And I’ve never had a boyfriend since middle school so I can never be sure what I really am. This is eating me alive. The thoughts start when I wake up in the morning until I go to bed. I really don’t want to be gay. I spend about an hour a day looking online at HOCD symptoms just to reassure myself that I have HOCD and not “scared to come out syndrome” or whatever. But I don’t want any of these thoughts anymore?! I just want to be my happy self again.
Also, I over analyze everything I do now.
Ex: I follow more girls than boys on Instagram? You must like looking at them, you must be lesbian.
-you like that girls outfit? You have a crush on her
– you idolize a lot of male musicians? You must wanna be a boy (not relevant but I did go through this phase for about a week, scared I wanted to be a boy)
– you’re prude? That mean you’re scared of boys, and like girls
And any moment of reassurance and happiness I have, it quickly goes right back to thinking about the fact I could be gay. If I don’t wanna be gay does that means I can’t be gay right??? I’ve come to the point where I’m so scared I’m lesbian that the fact I could be bisexual comforts me, because that means ATLEAST I like boys to some extent.
This is the most depressed I’ve been in my life. Please help.
While I cannot provide a diagnosis via blog, everything you are writing sounds very much like HOCD. Analyzing your thoughts and your childhood will only make things worse. Likewise, compulsively seeking reassurance by going to HOCD websites will not help, but will only worsen your OCD.
Instead, I encourage you to speak to your parents about your concerns, and to seek out treatment with a therapist who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for OCD. Your parents can contact us about treatment options at our center on our website at https://ocdla.com/. You can also find resources on the “Links” page of our website.
This article was very interesting and helpful. Right before my period I experience very mild symptoms of varying types of OCD, and recently I’d been experiencing HOCD. I didn’t understand it at all or a lot of things about sexuality for that matter. This article really helped with that, thank you. 😀
Thanks for you comments. I’m glad you found the article helpful. A lot of women with OCD report a spike in their symptoms around the time of their period.
I’m an 18 year old girl. I’ve been looking for answers everywhere. I believe I may have this HOCD… this is the first time I’ve even heard of this, to be honest. I took the online test from this site and I had wayy over 7 of the symptoms, I checked almost every box except maybe 3.
I’ve always known myself to be straight. When I was little it was always boys boys boys. And when I started going through puberty, I was horny (as most teens are), all I wanted was to have a penis inside me(TMI, I know). I had never even thought of the questioning of sexuality until about a week ago. I was watching a tv show (Game of Thrones) and saw one lady in the bath. I couldn’t stop staring at her chest, and eventually I became a little aroused. It confused me at first. I was wondering why I was attracted to the breasts. But now this confusing has multiplied by 100. It went from wondering why I liked the breasts to questioning whether or not I’m even straight. I feel like I’m having a crisis. I am now questioning whether I am straight/bi or whatever. I keep rationalizing in my brain over and over that I am straight. But for some reason, It’s like a cycle. My brain keeps going back over this again and again. It’s so frustrating and confusing. I want to just curl up in a ball and cry. Sometimes I think not living would be easier than having to feel like this.
I find myself trying to ‘test’ my sexuality in a couple ways. For example, by looking at girls in public to see if I would be attracted to them. I tried imagining myself with a girl, and I feel scared, and wrong about it. I feel like I’m over-thinking this…but I can’t help it. My mind is torturing me. These thoughts are distracting my everyday life. I used to fantasize every night about a boyfriend/husband, sex with them, having a family, it was very pleasurable and genuinely made me happy and it was a stress reliever. I already have enough stress with anxiety, graduation, finals..etc… But because of these thoughts, I feel like I can’t concentrate of enjoy the fantasizing anymore…
I sometimes feel better because after some rationalizing, I cross out any doubts I have. I think about this situation almost constantly. I feel better when I’m constantly distracted because it isn’t giving my mind any time to think about it, but sometimes it still creeps back up in my thought. Just some hours later after I was feeling better, I’m at the point I want to cry again.
I’ve searched answers on the internet for days, with no relief. Please help. I feel like I’m trapped in my own mind and have no control of what’s happening.
Thanks for your comments.
Everything you write sounds like HOCD. Also, your “testing” sounds like compulsions that will only make things worse for you. Ultimately you will need to accept that your brain likes to create unwanted thoughts, and to pay far less attention to them. They are just thoughts, and analyzing them to get proof you are straight will backfire every time.
That said, it appears that this is a new experience for you, so I can imagine how much this is distressing you. I encourage you to seek out a treatment provider who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for OCD. If you would like to discuss treatment options at our center, we can be reached through our website at https://ocdla.com/.
Hello! i have HOCD and i have for awhile now. i have used CBT and mindfulness (ERP from the Mindfulness workbook). Now in the last part of this article is the: “Ultimately, for some HOCD sufferers, being gay may sound like a relief from not knowing for sure that they are straight.” paragraph. now i have not been in a same-sex relationship nor do i yearn for it. i used to fear that kind of thing; and i am at the back-door spike for HOCD, because i have done ERP and it no longer bugs me. I no longer feel fear, and i feel okay with the thought “I’m gay” as it does not mean anything to my reality, but it does bring a little bit of a relief feeling but i also don’t feel releaved, if that makes sense? where im at the point where my attraction to girls has come back completely but my thoughts are still here. Is this the emotional reasoning distortion? i also feel like im compulsively trying to figure it out maybe as well, i’m very confident in my heterosexuality but i still have that irrational fear of “if im okay with it, it must mean something” and i just still dont buy it but it wont stop. and i catch myself testing how i feel when i internally say the phrase “im gay” when i wake up to make sure im still not and i still get a wave of fear, when its only a weak wave of anxiety as it tells me its something like relief. sadly, i only get one chance of waking up everyday and i always do it.
what kind of advice would you give for this? any would be appreciated. cheers
The answer is in your question. Everything you write about is textbook “back door spike”. You can read more about backdoor spikes in our article about challenges to overcoming HOCD.
When you have a thought like “if im okay with it, it must mean something” is just another way that OCD tries to con you into believing something that isn’t true. My advice is simple: treat this thought just like any other OCD thought. In other words…accept the presence of the unwanted thought without analyzing it or making any attempt to resolve it. Testing yourself or analyzing the thought in an attempt to figure it out are compulsions that will always backfire.
thanks for that, its what i thought i should do but i wanted a second opinion. I didn’t want to post on the forum which i get support on, as it is a very triggering thing. y
thanks for that link, ill be reading it. i feel anxious about reading it and i have no idea why, thanks OCD for the thoughts and feelings that don’t matter. its funny how it does this.
yes, it did backfire as i was testing. testing and checking is the evil of OCD. should have known better but i’m only human.
also your mindfulness book has helped me immensely, i cannot thank you enough for it.
Thanks for your comments and your kind words. I’m glad that the book and articles have been helpful for you.
As I’m no native english speaker, can you please explain to me, what the sentence
“The line of thinking is that they are so unlovable as to be invisible to their desired orientation.”
in the chapter “Self-hating HOCD” does mean?
Hopefully I understand all the rest.
Thank you for commenting.
All this line means is that, for some people with HOCD, they experience such a profound level of self-hatred that they think they deserve the misery of their HOCD.
I want straight relationships and currently have a girlfriend. I do not want gay relationships whatsoever. However, before I met my girlfriend, I found big penises (and sometimes, fantasies about performing a sexual act on one) somewhat intriguing. Back then, I thought I had to be bi because of this. I now know I can still can call myself straight, despite having gay fantasies. My main compulsion is ruminating over the fact I used to enjoy these fantasies and assume I was bi because of this. All I want is to enjoy my relationship. I don’t want to keep obsessing about all those old fantasies I had as an experimenting teenager, since they no longer appeal to me. Any advice on how to stop the rumination and mental checking?
Hi Basket Case,
I think the first step is to accept that humans have all sorts of sexual fantasies that have nothing to do with reality. As a therapist, I assure you I have heard plenty of sexual fantasies, and gay fantasies are hardly unusual. Just because one finds big penises “intriguing” doesn’t make one gay or bi. As you noted, you can be straight and have gay fantasies, and you are evidence of this fact.
The second step is to accept that YOU have had these not-so-strange fantasies, and to be ok with that. It sounds like you feel some sort of guilt about having had these gay fantasies, and you don’t deserve guilt for them. These are just thoughts. People like sex, and have lots of sexual thoughts. Let yourself off the hook.
After breaking up with my girlfriend, i remembered having same sex experimentation when I was a child, and this made me feel like that’s why i didnt love her and made me think i was gay. Ive liked girls my whole life and never thought of guys in a homosexual way. Now i cant get my mind off it and i had a thought about what if could have intercourse with a man and it didnt disgust me like it should have and i feel like i need to know. I dont want to go that far to find out to now. And it seems my attraction to women isnt as strong as it used to be. Maybe because depression from all this? Any insight would be appreciated. Thanks
Thanks for commenting,
Children experiment with all sorts of sexual things, including same sex experimentation. This is normal, and has nothing to do with one’s adult sexual orientation.
You casually mentioned in your comments that you didn’t love your last girlfriend. Have you considered the possibility that the issue was not your sexual orientation, but the fact that you simply didn’t love her?
Your questioning what it would mean if you had gay sex and weren’t disgusted is a common HOCD thought. OCD loves to come up with all sorts of “what if…” questions, and they do not warrant your attention. These “what if…” thoughts are not a function of your sexual orientation, but of your OCD.
Hope you are fine! I believe i have been suffering from gay obsessions since i was about 11 (after a same sex experience that seems to affected me ever since, i am now 45) I am married, enjoy sex with my wife, get turned on by women really easily, masturbate to womens images etc) Never got an erection with a man or felt horny with any man etc. Anyway since then i have suffered (mainly since when i was 19 at university) with gay images and thoughts (mainly a kissing thought when looking at a male face, ridiculous i know!) often followed by me doing compulsion (saying a phrase, hitting my head, coughing , repeating actions) to “clear my head”
Recently ive tried to accept these thoughts and they are often much subdued. For the last 20 yrs the only gay thought that really pisses me off and is persistent is a gay oral sex thought. Sometimes it wanes and i dont get it at all other times It drives me crazy, it is around all the time from morning till night. It doesnt matter who im with, i usually get the thought . A lot of the time it isnt even graphic just a kind of hard to explain notion in my head and sometimes a sensation in my mouth. The worst is it also appears with kids and my 2 year old baby i love so much. Changing his nappy or bathtime fill me with anxiety cos of the thoughts that will appear.Sometimes i think that these thoughts in the past were without compulsions so then i worry that maybe it was never part of my OCD which worries me sick . Then i think that i have probably forgotten what compulsion i used or just tried to ignore the thoughts. I have a whole range of compulsions (if that is what they are) hitting my head, repeating a phrase, coughing) Recently i have analysed whether i would like to have oral sex with a penis , not anybodies in particular (sick i know) Sometimes i feel i may like it, but then the feeling could be anxiety and not “liking” it. Sometimes i feel like thinking it in purpose to feel the anxiety. Can this feeling become addictive? Is it excess adrenalin so gives me a kind of rush???? Then i have read that a lot of straight men actually have this thought of oral sex with other men and even engage in it. Am i gay to have such a thought? or maybe bi-curious? are such thoughts common in the heterosexual population. I never feel horny when i get these thoughts and never get an erection or sexually excited, god its weird,and probably never do it for real, Today i kept imagining this thought over and over and eventually i got really depressed. It is so exhausting and tiring these constant thoughts! Does all this sound like normal OCD or maybe i have OCD and just a gay fettish (which is normal) that my oCD has latched onto? I only reently realized i might have OCD (last 5 years) after 25 years or more with these thought. Thats strange especially as my mom has suffered terribly from oCD (washing cleaning) since 1982, which im sure has had some kind of effect on me when i was growing up. Anyway, it is so good that you try to help out all these people , very admirable! Any advice for managing the thoughts, they make me feel so evil, like a child molester or something. For me thoughts tell me who i am , especially if i feel something .
Another obsession is that i go over the past all the time, trying to remember dates, what i did on this day or year, childhood memories. If i cant remember i feel anxious and then get depressed. I also go over past gay thoughts i have had and obsess what they meant or whether i really felt something. That does my head in, going over past thoughts, obsessions and trying to remember how i felt. That usually leads to a downward spiral to depression and hell on earth!!!!! I wish i could go back in time, i would do everything different. Where did these thoughts come from? and why? They have ruined a large portion of my life which sometimes seems to be on hold, with no ambition, sometimes like i am in somekind of dreamworld, surreal world
I live in mexico (am a brit but married a mexican girl) so there is nil CBT or therapists who have any idea on this condition. Ive been with several but havent helped much (and take sertraline) I hope to take online therapy soon.
Thank so much for listening to my drabble !!!!! I feel better after writing stuff down! Have a great weekend. Big hugs from Chiapas, Mexico
The problem is not your thoughts, but that you over-value them so much. The fact that you describe one of your gay thoughts as “sick” is a pretty good indicator of how much importance you place on these thoughts, which are really just mental dross floating around in your brain, and not worth even one second of your time.
You mention doing lots of compulsions (hitting your head, repeating a phrase, coughing, etc.) and these compulsions will do nothing except to further your OCD. That said it is important to note that analyzing your thoughts in an attempt to find some sort of resolution is a mental compulsion, and these are every bit as problematic as the more obvious physical compulsions you mention.
You ask, “where did these thoughts come from and why”, to which the answer is “from your brain”, and “because that is what brains do”. Your brain is a thinking machine. That’s its job. Let it think whatever it wants, without assuming that what it thinks is automatically important. I can assure you that much of what your brain (and my brain and everyone else’s brain) produces is utter nonsense that doesn’t deserve any analysis whatsoever.
Unfortunately, there are very few therapists who truly understand OCD and how to treat it effectively, and I am not surprised that you have been unable to find competent care in Mexico. If you would like to discuss online therapy for HOCD with one our therapists, please contact us through our website at https://ocdla.com/. Take care.
Hi I am a 15 year old male who has been dealing with a HOCD for about 4 months now. When this first started I had major weight loss and major depression and suicidal thought. When I went to see a psychiatrist I was diagnosed with ocd and depression.
This whole anxiety stems from one event that happened when I was 14. What happened was I was turned on by an other guy in class. I was extremely confused at the time and thought I had crush on him but I then realised that I did not because I wasn’t turned on by him and I didn’t feel sexually or romantically attracted to him and I would never have acted on this weird feeling. This feeling of arousal only happened once and it lasted a for a few minutes and it was confusing as hell. It never ever happened again and he never turned me on ever again. I talked to my GP about it and she told me many straight teenagers experience same sex feelings and don’t turn out to be gay or bi because most LGBT know from a young age and experimentation is not orientation. I did have gay fantasies once every month about him for around 6 months but I always felt bad and disgusted. I only had these fantasies because they were taboo not because I found him hot.
I know I am straight because I have loved girls with a passion since I was 6 or 7. Always thinking and fantasying about them and wanting to spend the rest of my life with them.
My question is, am I bisexual for having very occasional gay fantasies in the past and having been turned on by an other guy once in my entire life? I do not think guys are hot in any way or even good looking and I have never checked an other guy out. That is like saying someone who has never exhibited signs of being a psychopath suddenly becomes one because he had a weird urge which is considered psychotic. This might not be the best example. Any reply would be greatly appreciated.
Your GP is absolutely correct. These types of thoughts are common and normal, especially in teens. Having these types of thoughts is part of human development as a teen figures out who they are and how they operate in the world. Furthermore, it is important to note that sexual orientation is not determined by what one thinks. Virtually everyone who reaches puberty will at some time have gay thoughts. It is normal.
Your analogy (“That is like saying someone who has never exhibited signs of being a psychopath suddenly becomes one because he had a weird urge which is considered psychotic.”) is not only good, it is great. The bottom line is that thinking is not the same as doing.
Thanks so much for taking time to reply! Yes i’ve been to so many “therapists” here and they don’t seem to have much idea about this condition…and i’m lucky, 90% people here cant afford to see any type of doctor and i’m sure OCD is just as common here than anywhere else.
Just one question , i’ve had these thoughts and sensations, sometimes urges for 25 years, does this make them anymore important, (although i’ve never felt sexually excited about a male or looking at a male or any strong desires for sexual activity , just good looking women and my lovely wife of course!)Also, the thoughts are often persistent and almost all the day…and often change. Its like having a polarizing filter over my brain, that twists and shapes all my thoughts. Even the most normal day to day thoughts. Its fascinating but horrible at the same time! A brain transplant would be great!!!! and i’m sure this filter started and got stronger when i had a pretty much harmless same sex experience with a friend. I remember worrying about it for a very long time….Maybe my susceptibility to OCD (my mom has it) just latched onto this topic? And why did it take me so long to realize i might have a form of OCD? and when did I realize? Sorry im rambling!
I have done lots of things in my life, travelling and have beautiful son and wife but i feel that if i had never started with this ocd , thoughts, phrases , repetitive touching etc (in 1981 then after a 5 year ebb again in 1986 when i was 17) i could have done much more in my life……is going over the past and engaging in pointless regrets common with oCD? another stupid compulsion?
I will definitely contact the LA ocd centre for possible therapy on line. I have got your new mindfulness for ocd book and is helping me considerably.thanks.
Thank you so much for your comments and have a great week!
I am glad to hear our book is helping you.
Everything you report here, combined with your previous post, and the fact that your mom has OCD, all lead me to believe you have OCD. I don’t think the time element – 25 years of obsessions – means anything more than this…
You have OCD. And if you have had OCD for 25 years (or more than 30 years based on your report of obsessions since 1981), then you would likely be obsessing for a significant portion of those 25 years.
As for your feelings of not having done more with your life as a result of your OCD, all I can say is that virtually everyone feels some measure of regret about things they have failed to accomplish. But we all do the best we can do, given our circumstances. You have a chronic illness that has impacted you, and dwelling on your past will not change it. A better course is to choose to challenge your OCD as much as you possibly can from this day forward, so that you can have the best present and future possible.
I’m positive I’m straight but there is a small doubt inside indicating otherwise. I just watch a music video including lesbian scene. I was arousal and tempted but after watching the video i felt disgusted, anxious and guilty. I re-watch 2 more time I wasn’t interesting. I want to know if it is that indicate I’m turning into a lesbian or just hocd
Of course you were aroused – you were watching porn! That is the entire purpose of porn’s existence – to create arousal by showing us things that are innately arousL-inducing. But then you felt disgusted, anxious and guilty, and then disinterested. That doesn’t sound like a lesbian to me.
Hi, I just want to see what you think is wrong with me, I’ve always liked girls and had crushes on them, I’ve wanted a family and to have sex with women. I’m 13 and 1 month ago I got a random thought saying your gay, I was freaked out, everyday I fight the thought, sometimes I’m like wow they are stupid thoughts and other times I can’t control my thoughts telling me I’m gay, I talked to my parents they say thinking about gay thoughts and doing that stuff is all a part of puberty, I want to have a wife and kids and when I get gay thoughts my anxiety rages and my stomach hurts and I need to go to the bathroom. I don’t know what is Wrong can you help me!
I don’t think there is anything “wrong” with you. I think you are experiencing some unwanted thoughts about being gay. Your parents are right – these thoughts are typical of adolescence, which is a period during which people are developing sexually, and not quite sure what to make of their newfound sexual thoughts and urges.
When you have these thoughts, remind your self that people have all sorts of thoughts, and that many of these thoughts are just random musings. Your brain is designed to think 24/7 (even when you are sleeping), and it makes sense that a lot of that thinking is about things that do not reflect your character, or sexual orientation, or interests, etc. For example, have you ever watched a movie with a murder scene in it and wondered about killing someone? That doesn’t mean you want to kill someone. It just means you are thinking about the idea of murder. Thoughts are just thoughts.
how do i cope with hocd AND social anxiety. because i understand to accept the uncertainty but with social anxiety i do not leave my house much so im drowning in hocd thoughts leaving ocd coping skills useless do you have any advice
Thanks for commenting.
It is quite common for people with OCD to have other anxiety disorders, including Social Anxiety. Also, both OCD and Social Anxiety have repeatedly been found to best treated by Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). You say you are not leaving the house much (due to your Social Anxiety??), and step number one is to realize that avoidance behaviors are compulsions, and they only reinforce your belief that you are not able to contend with your unwanted thoughts (whether the be related to HOCD, Social Anxiety or both). So long as you stay in the house, you will never recover from Social Anxiety.
You also note that you are drowning in HOCD thoughts because you are staying home. I see no reason why you can’t take steps to treat your HOCD right in your home. That said, it sounds like you are currently quite disabled by your constellation of anxiety symptoms, ad I encourage you to seek out treatment with a therapist who specializes in treatment for OCD and Social Anxiety.
Hello! I would also like to tell my story. I had OCD ever since I was 5 or 6 without even knowing it until now. I would get thoughts in my head, get a huge amount of anxiety and obsess about them for a long time. They seemed to go away on their own.
Ever since I was in kindergarten I crushed on boys. I was boy crazy from that age haha. I remember loving their attention so much, getting butterflies from them, talking to my girl friends about boys. It was only boys boys boys. I had like 15 crushes on boys and I can name them all. I remember whenever I would see a pretty girl I would think ‘I want her hair or eyes or dress or whatever’ and I was always so confident in my orientation. I never once questioned it no matter.how beautiful a girl would look because I also had enough self confidence and thought to myself I am beautiful.
I also write stories and draw. I would put a part of myself in the female character and her love interest would always be a boy because that s what came naturally to me.
I enjoyed looking at romantic movies and dream of stories like that with a guy all my life. It filled me up with butterflies and made me so happy.
I was also so in love with boy bands and thought they were so sexy and husband material and everything. I would be full of hormones and all of them were always for boys. I couldn t wait to meet the love of my life, kiss him, make love with him, have a beautiful family. These thoughts made me warm at night.
At 16, my current age, I fell for a musician and had a huge crush on him and I d make scenarios with him every night for many months. One night me and my best friend (girl) pretended to be each other’s male crush and while I only put my hand beneath her shirt and that s that, she went farther and acted exactly as my crush that i was so in love with. She touched my breasts and kissed my neck, I was turned on and at that moment I felt I wanted more but I remember that she was a girl in reality. I was extremely close with her, liking the same things, having the same dreams, but because i combined my feelings for that boy with her, i became really confused. After that night i was thrilled to have a.boyfriend and do so many more things with him. I still didn t question my orientation. i still wanted to be with my best friend forever because i love her so much, but just as a.friend and i never thought of more than that.
But weeks went by and this thought came ‘am i gay?’ Ofc i could answer no right away with so much evidence and a clear mind. But the question came again and again, causing valuable distress and i started having doubts. Then, one day i woke up with the thought ‘i dont like boys anymore’ which became the start of my hocd. I thought i became gay overnight, it was all ‘you re gay’ ‘you re gay’ in my mind. The anxiety was huge and i started looking for answers online which ofc made me even more stressed. For 2 weeks i didnt know what happened and i cried every day.
Then i stumbled across this hocd thing. I had all the symptoms, i got strange urges to kiss every girl i saw, to touch her etc. which made the anxiety higher. I had unwanted and totally upsetting intrusive thoughts about girls. I woulnt even allow myself to think of one because i thought that would make me gay. I would do mental compulsions and when i wouldnt get the right feelings, i would question myself even more. I d try my best to look as feminine as possible because my mind would make me feel as if i was a guy. This ‘gay thing’ was on my mind 24/7.
I had moments of ‘Evrika! I m straight!’ when i would see im still turned on by guys and i would enjoy scenarios with them again at night. But the doubts still came back and i had days when i really didnt know who i was anymore. It s like this thing ripped a really big part of my identity.
Putting that ‘experience’ aside, i was always straigther than a ruler. I never had gay fantasies, didnt consider girls dating material *i feel like a guy thinking about this*,.whenever i d see lesbian couples in the shows i watched i had to skip those scenes because i didnt like them at all. i remember i had one dream of a girl kissing me and it stopped right before that. I felt nothing and didnt question anything after i woke up. I also had so many dreams of guys kissing me and it felt so right and warm and i can describe those kisses in a whole book.
I had a really easy time drawing girls back then, breasts, curves, everything. I would never question my sexuality. Now i get anxiety whenever i try drawing girls.
Many girls in my class draw girls portraits, bodies and now i have a hard time doing that. They even touch themselves so much, grabbing their butts and breasts which makes me so anxious.
I can t function properly anymore. I became extremely depressed and i would like to worry about other things, not this constant gay thing. I lost a lot of weight and i cant eat or sleep.
By doing erp alone i read stories of how they knew they were gay and most of them knew from a young age and didnt obssesivly question it. What i knew from a young age is that i was boy crazy and now this thing seems to have taken it away.
I feel as.if i cant watch movies anymore, read books, not even listen to music because of this. It feels extremely distressing imagining a life with a girl, its like i would erase all my past and happy experiences. And still i have doubts i want to be with a guy right now, which i never had before. Can hocd and also depression dimmish your attraction for the opposite sex?
Will i ever be back to normal? Because of depression i feel as if i can t really feel anything but the anxiety.which is smaller right now. Please help me!
Great article sir.u are doing very great help to people. Hiee.sir.i am 21 years old male.i had hocd.now i have one more problem.as i remembered my childhood.i found that when i was in 5th or 6th grade i liked a girl and i tried to copy the way she walked,suddenly my sister saw that and she said u are walking like a girl are u mad.i was shocked i dont know why i did that?.and my freinds also sometimes teased me as girly gay.now in my 20s i remebered all this and worrying.everytime i talk or walk feel worried am i talking like girl?do i look like a girl.i dont know what is happening.i have no issue with my gender.i also came across the term gender dysphoria.i: am worried what is it ocd or anything else?
From everything you write, it sounds like you are straight, and struggling with HOCD. And of course you are confused – you experimented with a person of the same gender, which is a fairly common experience for teens, and then found yourself aroused, which is completely normal – your breasts and neck don’t care that it was a girl kissing them and fondling them. Your body just responded as bodies are supposed to respond.
You say you are doing ERP alone, but I wonder if you are doing it effectively. You refer to difficulties drawing women, watching movies, reading books and listening to music. If you are avoiding those things, or doing compulsions when those activities result in unwanted gay thoughts, you will need to stop avoiding them and stop doing compulsions. Changing your behavioral response to avoidant and compulsive behaviors is the most important aspect of treatment of OCD, and is the very heart of ERP.
Wondering if you are acting “girly” is not the same as gender dysphoria, which is a clinical diagnosis made in situations in which a person feels they are living their life in a body of the wrong gender. A male with gender dysphoria would likely want to act “girly”, and you are distressed by the idea, which suggests that you have OCD.
Your goal is the same as any person with OCD – to accept that your brain/mind produces some interesting and confusing thoughts, but to not take them so seriously, and to not make any efforts to control or remove them. Just let the thought be present in your mind and get on with your day. It is just a thought.
I’ve been worrying excessively about my sexual orientation, particularly in the past few months. Up till now I’ve had many relationships with men which I’ve enjoyed. I’ve had fantasies and dreams about women but never considered myself to be fully gay, until now. I just thought I was curious. But now the thought of actually being gay causes me huge anxiety and evokes horrible panic attacks in me. I don’t think of lesbian relationships as abhorrent, I just cant see how they apply to me. I am analysing all of my past relationships and wondering if I ever felt gay, which I really cant remember. I worry the way I dress or look makes me look like a lesbian. I feel awful as I’m not homophobic at all, I just really really don’t want to be gay. I went to a counsellor who recommended a LGBT group which caused me so much panic. I just need to know if this sounds like HOCD?
Yes, this sounds exactly like HOCD. You report the following:
~ Many straight relationships with men which you’ve enjoyed.
~ The thought of actually being gay causes you huge anxiety and evokes horrible panic attacks.
~ Worrying that the way you dress or look makes you look like a lesbian.
~ The idea of going to an LGBT group causes you to panic.
These are all typical for HOCD, as is the experience of repeatedly analyzing past relationships in an attempt to figure out one’s sexual orientation. Furthermore, this over-analyzing is a compulsion, and will only make things worse.
Also, many straight people have had fantasies or dreams about homosexuality. It is also worth noting that one needn’t be homophobic to have HOCD. We have treated many clients with HOCD, and the great majority of them have reported having no hostility towards homosexuals or homosexuality – they just didn’t want to be gay themselves.
Finally, it is important to note that most therapists are absolutely clueless about OCD (and have never even heard of HOCD). Chances are that the counsellor you went to heard your thoughts and immediately assumed that they somehow meant you were secretly gay. I encourage you to find a counsellor who actually knows something about HOCD, preferably one who specializes in treating HOCD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
Hi, I’ve been suffering with this type of OCD for around 6 months now and it’s one of this hardest things I’ve ever had to deal with. I wake up obsessing about these unwanted thoughts and images and go to sleep thinking about them and constantly look to reassure myself that I’m straight, it’s getting to the point that I feel suicidal at times. I have some questions which I’d really appreciate if you answered them for me.
Does HOCD make you believe that you actually enjoy having sexual thoughts about gay sex?
Does it make you believe that you’re not attracted to your girlfriend anymore? Even though I love having sex with her but on occasions OCD is so powerful I think I am not attracted to her. Is this also OCD?
I obsess about cleanliness with food to the point where I won’t eat food if somebody has prepared it who I feel is not clean. When discussing this with my partner, I explained “it’s my OCD” to which she replied “maybe it’s not OCD, maybe it’s just you!” To which I got extremely anxious and this triggered my HOCD to question everything all over again! This is driving me crazy and I’m exhausted looking for answers! Is this OCD tricking me and looking for the slightest opening to get in my mind and make me think I am actually gay and it isn’t HOCD just because my girlfriend said this to me?
I know this sound ridiculous by the way, I would just like to hear your view.
One last thing, does HOCD affect your libido at times?
Thanks a lot in advance
The answer to all of your questions is a resounding “Yes”. All of the thoughts and feelings you describe sound very much like HOCD.
As for your girlfriend’s comment, I think you need to view it as the equivalent of an OCD thought. In other words, it is just one more unwanted thought that causes you to doubt your sexual orientation. But having a thought (or hearing one of your girlfriend’s thoughts) doesn’t mean that the thought is true and accurate. If your girlfriend said the moon was made out of peach marmalade you wouldn’t take her thought seriously, and you don’t need to take her comment about you seriously. It is just a thought that she verbalized out loud (and which she probably had due to her frustration and lack of understanding about OCD)
I was just wondering, with HOCD, does it usually start all of a sudden with one thought and become awful, or could you have worried on and off about being gay for a number of years and then suddenly when life becomes stressful it becomes a constant obsession in your head? I think I have worried about it in the past but never to this extent. It is one of the most convincing and terrifying things I have experienced.
Also, my family are and have always been hugely open and accepting (my little brother is gay), and so I really cannot pinpoint where this worry is coming from. Is it usually unrelated?
Thanks for your help.
Sometimes HOCD comes on slowly, and sometimes it comes on all at once. The rate at which HOCD comes on is not important or meaningful.
Trying to “pinpoint where this worry is coming from” is unnecessary, and has the potential to be a compulsion that will only make things worse. The human brain comes up with all sorts of unexpected thoughts that don’t need to be figured out. This is just one of them.
Message: Hi ,
I´ve read the 4 articles of the type of OCD called HOCD , i get very identified it is like reading all the things that happen to me , i have enormous fear of all of the ¨thouhgts´ mentioned in the articles , like ¨ what about if this is not OCD? ´ , or ´what if i seek therapy and does not function or in fact tell me that what i feared was true ,
i´ve been like this with these thoughts and some other fears for two months now , and i really start to get sad, annoyed, angry, desperate! , i do not enjoy anyday of my life now , because i have this thouhgts all the time i´m awake .
i would love to attend to personal therapy in your center but by now it´s difficult for me , cause i do not live there , i´m desperate, i am also afraid to look for help in here and that someone who is not especialized threats me .
and of course i am feeling very bad and with a lot of fear because of my HOCD thoughts .
What should i do ?
for the fear of going with a therapist who do not understands this , i havent seek for help , what i started to do , is to stop my mental compulsions and stop seeking reassurance, i´ve just started to stop the compulsions, and it´s difficult , but i can manage it , an i have noticed improvement,i mean i just have like 3 days trying to stop my mental compulsions, but i think that the most difficult part of it , is that i start thinking things like ¨this is not going to change anything, maybe it could if this was OCD , But maybe its not , maybe you are just becoming suddenly gay , and there is no treatment for that¨, or like ¨how much time is this going to take to improve , what if i do not do compulsions and stop seeking for reassurance but still can´t get rid of the thoughts , maybe because it is not OCD¨ , those are some thoughts that get me down
because stopping mental compulsions is like the last chance i have to improve i think , i get afraid that maybe it wont help. and i get hopeless
Thank you for your answer
Thanks for your comment.
It is great to hear that you have been having success in challenging your compulsions. This is not easy to do on one’s own, and I want to encourage you to continue your efforts at not seeking reassurance, and not doing compulsions.
If at any time you want the assistance of one of our therapists for online therapy or intensive treatment, please contact us via our website at https://ocdla.com/.
I’ve been suffering from HOCD for several months. I’ve had it several times since I was fairly young. I am a 20 year old female, I’m in a great relationship with a man I love and liked for ages. The first month this time I experienced a lot of dread, I ruminated, stayed indoors and would keep breaking down into tears because of my thoughts. I would search my past constantly for some sort of proof of something. I would keep seeking reassurance from my friends and a number of other compulsions. When i’m in my normal head I know i’m not gay and I’ve now got to the point where i’m functioning better and can act more myself. This time OCD has made me analyse my personality to the point where I didn’t act myself. But i’m avoiding women, and my female friends. I can’t look girls in the eye and I avoid watching films/tv programmes incase women are in it. In the last few weeks I have suddenly got these urges. Whenever I see a girl I get a tingling in my lips and it feels like an urge to kiss even though I really don’t want to and it makes me panic and tense up. But then I start to panic that i’m making myself tense up on purpose. Even though i’m sure i’m not. Its horrible. Is this normal?
Everything you write is totally normal for HOCD. The problem is not the thoughts or the feelings you are experiencing, but rather, the compulsions you are doing in response to them, all of which will only make your HOCD worse. You mention all of the following compulsions:
~ ruminating about the thoughts
~ staying indoors
~ reviewing your past
~ analyzing your personality
~ avoiding women, including your friends
~ not looking girls in the eye
~ avoiding films and tv shows for fear of seeing women in them
~ seeking reassurance from your friends
Your primary goal is to accept the existence of your unwanted thoughts, without responding to them with any of these compulsions. Keep in mind that “acceptance” does not mean accepting that the thoughts are true or accurate – it merely means accepting their presence in your mind.
Thank you, it is difficult at the moment. Because although some of the anxiety has gone and I am functioning better. I never feel my brain relax the thoughts are always there even in the background. And sometimes I go to compulsive masturbation to check, and I freak out because I will change the images in my head and see what turns me on. But then I get more confused because I don’t know if it is the image or the fact that I have already been masturbating for a while that has caused me to orgasm to certain images, then I start to try continuing to masturbate to objects and see if that works and if it does it gives me some reassurance. I’ve stopped experiencing the same level of relief that I used to. And started to give up mid compulsion. Is that normal? It sometimes makes me panic that I’ve stopped trying to check. I also find it difficult, to feel really present around my boyfriend. Just before these thoughts started. Sex became painful for me, and its taken a while for the doctors to work out why. This hasn’t helped with the thoughts. As I’m nervous about sex because of that and then with the thoughts as well, my sex drive has gone. Which upsets me, is this normal?
Compulsive masturbation is just that – compulsive. Like all compulsions, compulsive masturbation is doomed to backfire. And, just like the eight other compulsions you mentioned in your prior comment, that is exactly what is happening.
If you masturbate, you should do so for the pleasure you derive from it, not to check to see if you are aroused by thoughts and images that you don’t want to be aroused by.
As for your sex drive, we have had many clients with HOCD report a dramatic reduction in their libido as a result of HOCD.
As for painful sex, it seems quite reasonable to suspect that your HOCD may be a factor. I encourage you to discuss your HOCD in detail with the physician who is treating your for pain related to sex.
Finally, allow me to reiterate this one simple fact: compulsions do not work. As you have learned, they only provide short term relief, followed by a long-term exacerbation of symptoms.
Thanks for the reply. Could I ask one more question. Is it normal for HOCD or OCD in general to make you feel numb about certain things, sometimes I feel like I’m underwater and can’t quite reach the sunlight and I can’t feel anything. And that scares me. Sometimes I feel numb around my boyfriend and then other days I feel completely normal and am so happy and no exactly who I am. Because this came on so early in our relationship I sometimes get upset because I feel like I’ve been robbed of being able to experience everything in my normal head.
Some people with OCD report that they feel numb, often as a reaction to feeling so overwhelmed by their symptoms. This is especially true for those with the Pure O subtypes of OCD, including HOCD, ROCD, Harm OCD, and Scrupulosity.
It is also worth noting that people who take SSRI antidepressants for OCD sometimes report feeling numb. This is often one of the side effects of these medications that frustrates people the most – they feel like the medication eliminates not just their bad feelings, but all feelings.
I am a 21 year old female and I’m currently in a two year relationship with my boyfriend. I’m in desperate need for help to understand what’s going on with me. I don’t know if I’m suffering from HOCD or ROCD or both. I’m constantly in doubt about my sexuality and my love for my partner. Before anxiety struck me, I knew for sure that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with my boyfriend and have kids with him. He is amazing and very supportive of me even through this tough time. I still imagine getting married to him someday but I am also constantly doubting my feelings. I’ve been obsessing over very specific things such as:
1) what if I’m not happy with my boyfriend because I’m bisexual or a lesbian
2) what if my true happiness is with a woman because she is more similar to me and because woman are more sensitive, mature and caring
I don’t know if these are normal obsessions for HOCD and ROCD. I read somewhere that a lesbian is a woman who wants to be romantically involved with another woman. And if I’m curious about being happier with another woman, would that make me a bisexual/homosexual? Please help me. This is torturing me. Thank you so much for your support.
The two specific thoughts you mention are extremely common in ROCD. I encourage you to read our article on ROCD which discusses this issue.
Everything you mention sounds very much like OCD. It is not unusual for people with HOCD to also have ROCD. This makes sense if you stop to realize that both issues relate specifically to doubts about sexual / romantic relationships. And keep in mind that these terms are just slang terms for specific presentations of OCD. They are not separate diagnoses – they are both just variants of OCD.
Also keep in mind that there is a difference with wanting to be romantically involved with a woman and being “curious”. I cannot ascertain via email if you are bi or gay, but the fact that you are tortured by the mere curiosity about the issue suggests that you have HOCD. I would argue that humans do not need to “know” their sexual orientation, and that attempting to figure out one’s orientation is an obsessive waste of time. Acceptance of ambiguity and uncertainty is far more likely to bring you peace than any of your efforts at gaining certainty.
Thank you so much for your comments and for guiding me through this tough time. I have never imagined myself having a future with a woman. In fact I have always had crushes on boys and imagined getting married to a boy. Even though subconsciously I am aware of my orientation, when I read that you can not ascertain my sexuality via email, I got anxious. I get this weird sensation in my gut when a girl is being nice to me because I right away start comparing how nice girls are compared to boys. I tell my boyfriend every single thought that pops into my head because I feel better after sharing it with him. Honestly speaking he does the most generous and amazing things for me (he truly is the best boyfriend) but those things go unnoticed over the things a girl does for me. This freaks me out. I don’t know if this is due to ROCD. To my knowledge this has never happened before where I compared girls and guys to eachother. I apologize for a long post but I really appreciate your feedback. Thank you for your time.
I cannot ascertain your sexual orientation via email (or a blog comment) because I can’t ascertain anyone’s sexual orientation in this format. Furthermore, I would not venture to ascertain your sexual orientation in any situation. And going one step further, I see no reason why your sexual orientation (or any else’s for that matter) needs to be clarified. Why does anyone need 100% certainty about their sexual orientation. (Hint – they don’t.)
Certainty does not exist. I am 58 years old and have never had sex with a man, so I suppose that I could be described as “straight”. But for all I know, I will wake up tomorrow wanting to have sex with men. I have no certainty that this won’t happen, and I do not need such certainty. It is unnecessary. I do not need to know my sexual orientation, and you do not need to know your’s.
Hi im 13 and got made fun of all year people called me gay and a f**, for about a quarter of the year. I told my parents we had it handled. But these thoughts started to come to my mind like, “are they right”, “am I gay . then i started testing my groin for arousals. I ended up looking at gay porn and straight porn it was my first time seeing pornography and i watched gay first. To me i got real anxious i looked at it again but never got aroused again by gay porn just straight. I then started avoiding my freinds and looking at articles over hocd and looking at porn for reassurance. watching gay porn made me sick to my stomach. I then had a nightmare about something homosexual. So it made all the thoughts worse. I then started to tell my parents i told them i think i have hocd but tgey wouldn’t listen and told me it puberty. I now test myself all the time i see any guy for groinal response. Ive also gotten more thoughts and looked at this article over 5 times for reassurance but it never works. I now just stay up all night to make sure i stay away from my friends and tv. Ive never been interested in men but these thoughts make me scared what do i do im trying hard to get rid of it
Thanks for commenting.
It is extremely common for OCD symptoms to wax and wane, so it is no surprise that your symptoms have returned. This especially makes sense in light of four things:
~ You have recently been verbally teased by some peers calling you gay and fag.
~ You have recently looked at gay porn.
~ When looking at this porn you were “checking” yourself for arousal (an extremely common HOCD compulsion that usually backfires by actually increasing anxiety).
~ You then started avoiding your male friends (also an extremely common HOCD compulsion that usually backfires by increasing anxiety).
It sounds like your parents don’t really understand OCD (why would they unless they have it). I encourage you to show your parents all five articles in our series on HOCD, and to ask them to find you a therapist who specializes in treating HOCD.
Hi my name is tyler. Ive been having gay intrusive thoughts for about a month. It all started when i saw a news report on gay marriage and i freaked thinking i was gay. So i started watching gay porn. I would check to see if i got aroused. What scared me i always felt this tingling feeling is that normal? I was in a happy relationship but it ended why is this happening,Also i have bad thoughts that make me ask myself am i gay,also am i sexually attracted to that man. Is all this normal, and what about the tingling why is that happening im also 17 years old thank you for the article also.
It is fairly common for people to have their initial onset of HOCD after being exposed to new stories, tv shows, movies, etc. about homosexuality. The problem is that you have responded to your thoughts by doing compulsions. Watching gay porn to see if you get aroused is a surefire way to make your HOCD worse. Likewise, when you find yourself asking if you are attracted to another male, the best solution is to accept the presence of the thought without trying ascertain the answer to the question. Trying to answer these types of questions is a compulsion that is every bit as problematic as watching gay porn and checking for arousal. I encourage you to read our article Gay OCD / HOCD Treatment to get a better handle on how to manage these types of symptoms.
Just one question: was the tingly part mean i was sexually aroused or was that the hocd, im confused right now?
As I noted in my earlier reply, attempting to get answers to these types of questions is a compulsion. There is no reason that you or anyone would need to know if a penis tingling means anything important. I encourage you to read our article on Reassurance Seeking.
Your goal is to accept the presence of the unanswered question.
Hello, I am extremely worried since something happened to me recently regarding my sexual obsessions that never happened before, and I can’t let this go. Usually I get very vivid intrusive images regarding my obsessions, and each and every time I’ve been disgusted, never genuinely aroused. In fact I’m turned off.
Yesterday, after searching for awhile, I found a story on the internet about someone who had thoughts similar to mine, but the problem is that this time (while reading) I feel like I experienced actual arousal at a thought I used to find disgusting! I even experienced this unwanted urge to think more about that thought (almost like when I genuinely want to fantasize but was scared too)! Ever since then I’ve been trying recreate that thought (without being scared) to figure out if I am aroused by it or not. Now I’m feeling a slight stirring and arousal some times, while other times I’m disgusted. I’m scared that a thought I previously used to to find weird/disgusting/”not me”/a turn-off is turning into an unwanted fantasy! I didn’t even know that was possible! What is happening? Have I conditioned myself, or am I developing a fantasy that confirms my fears are true?
A few thoughts…
1) This question seems quite similar to the question you asked on our article Gay OCD / HOCD Treatment, and seems to be an effort at gaining further reassurance that you are not a transsexual.
2) The fact that you carefully avoided the word “transsexual” in this comment is likely an avoidant behavior. And just like reassurance seeking, avoidance will not help in the long term.
3) Searching online for information about your thoughts is a compulsion. People without OCD do not spend time researching their thoughts.
4) Having arousal does not automatically mean that you are a transsexual. It means that your sexual organs are functioning. People get aroused by all sorts of things, including things that, in their mind, are “forbidden” or “deviant” or “not me”.
These types of thoughts are common and not particularly meaningful. I encourage you to accept that your brain has some unwanted thoughts, and to stop analyzing them or trying to figure them out in any way.
I’m 16 years old and I’m 99.9% sure I’ve had ocd for as long as I can remember; this current obsession resembles some other fears I’ve had In the past.
Backstory: Let me start by saying I’ve always had crushes on girls, and some of them have felt intense (butterflies, thoughts of kissing, fantasies of getting “intimate”), but I’ve never had a girlfriend. However, sexually I can’t seem to be easily turned on by a woman alone (although much of my experience trying has been in testing compulsions), but for maybe 2ish years starting in my transition to middle school I looked at pictures of naked guys (celebrities,etc.), first out of curiosity and then got off to them, but oddly enough I was grossed out by gay porn, possibly spurred on by a brief same sex experience I had with a friend at 8, but I can’t be sure. Later and into high school I somehow transitioned to straight porn but I still feel like I might be looking at the guy and worry I have this fetish, yet during this time I still had crushes on girls. I don’t understand how I could have looked at guys and never really questioned my orientation, i still have a bad relationship with porn and feel worse than ever, help
While I cannot provide a diagnosis via this blog, your comments suggest you may have HOCD. It is quite common for kids to have lots of curiosity about all variations of sexuality, and to feel aroused by ideas and situations that are not congruent with their sexual orientation. Likewise, your “crushes on girls” and your feeling “grossed out” by gay porn are fairly strong indicators that you are not gay.
You indicate that you still have a bad relationship with porn, by which I assume you mean you spend a lot of time looking at porn. Perhaps a good start for you would be to reduce your porn consumption. If your concerns continue to bother you, I also suggest you get into treatment with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD.
If porn was the only issue, i think I could cope more easily, but it’s more complicated. There’s only one time in particular I fear I might have liked a guy: for one I first noticed him because he was attractive, quiet and seemed to be alone when I was looking for new friends (middle school friends didn’t go so well). We became friends and I got excited to see him (maybe too excited) and got annoyed when he got a girlfriend. yet, I also remember being jealous of him and wanting his life or to be more attractive like all the girls said he was. I did ultimately have a couple gay thoughts, physical anyway, but I don’t remember them being serious or any intention to act on them whatsoever. Maybe it was an identity crush? i keep having these analysis of my past and “finding things” which “tell me I’m gay”, not just porn but also that I’ve never been a “masculine guy”: into sports etc I read something online about Gender nonconformity and how many GNC kids end up being gay, I was in many ways GNC through middle school and worry that some of my “girly” mannerisms are an indication of my sexuality, despite not being happy about my lack of guy friends and being bullied in adolescence.
Lots of men and women do not conform to social norms of gender items of appearance and mannerisms. Hence, many straight men may appear somewhat effeminate, while many gay men appear hyper-masculine. Likewise, plenty of lesbians appear very feminine. So your notion that not being a “masculine guy” would indicate that you are gay is based on inaccurate beliefs.
The bottom line is that you are spending way too much energy and time analyzing your self in an effort to get certainty about your sexual orientation.
First and foremost I would like to say the articles on your site are wonderful!
I have unfortunately been suffering from HOCD for over 20 years now..
I have always been sexually, romatically, and emotionally attracted to men, and can only picture myself in a relationship with one. However, for the past 2 decades, I have a strong sexually attraction (mentally) to an androgynous female who I vaguely met when I was still in school. I have no intention to engage in any real life sexual activity with her, but the image of her face in my mind conjures very intense feelings of arousal for me. They absolutely make me feel ill because these feelings are not parallel with my straight identity. I don’t know if perhaps it’s her “male features” that I am so drawn to on her face that create these feelings for me..
After years of therapy, I know that the only way to overcome HOCD is to accept and embrace these feelings. Knowing that the fluidity of sexuality is on a continuum allows me to feel better..until of course the feelings of arousal spike again.
How can I go about accepting these feelings? They are just so difficult to ignore when they feel so real.
Thanks for your comment.
You have brought up one of the more difficult aspects of treatment for many people with HOCD – namely, acceptance.
The good news is that it sounds like you are about 80% of the way there. You note that you “know” it is important to accept and embrace the thoughts, which I agree is incredibly important. However, you also mention that the difficulty you are experiencing is that you find it hard to “ignore” your unwanted thoughts. True acceptance has nothing to do with ignoring the thoughts, but rather focuses on letting whatever thoughts you have exist. In other words, when you try to ignore the thoughts, you are not accepting them.
Real acceptance will require a psychological shift in which you become truly willing to allow these thoughts to exist in your mind, making no effort to control or analyze or ignore them. Just let them be.
As for the fluidity of sexuality, you are right on target. And on that note, I think it will be important for you to also accept that you have some attraction to the woman you mention. That does not mean you need to understand what causes these thoughts and feelings, or what they mean in terms of your sexual orientation. Analysis is unimportant, and is actually counter-productive. Just allow yourself to be who you are, without labels or concerns about what those labels mean. You are allowed to be heterosexual, yet attracted to a woman.
I guess whats frustrating to me now and for the past couple of months is the way it seems to come in cycles, have you heard of this before? I’ll be very worried and obsessive about it for maybe two days to a week at a time and then be ok for a another week or two. A lot of it is triggered by porn, but recently my mom has been bringing up girls a lot and I suddenly get a spike and this worry that I’m “living a lie”, it might also be getting aroused by something “gay” or even kids at school talking about sex. I will worry about not being able to have a relationship with a woman or harboring some sort of secret, some times are worse than others. But there always seems to be this constant doubt, doubt that my crushes on girls throughout my life were real, doubt that I’ll ever have some clarity about my sexuality, and even more frustrating is doubt that this is HOCD, because I am pretty confident I have OCD. I guess if I was going to try and get something constructive out of this post, how can I address the thoughts the moment they happen? How can I try to break this cycle?
It is not at all unusual for OCD symptoms to wax and wane. That said, if you want to get something constructive out of this exchange, I reiterate my earlier advice that you would be wise to reduce your consumption of porn, as you have noted that it is related to your symptoms. I would also suggest that comments on blogs are not likely to be an effective alternative to therapy. I strongly encourage you to seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for OCD.
Hi, I’m a 21 years old male, and I always considered myself to be straight. It was something natural to me, it felt good, and never really had a reason to doubt. But suddenly, 4 years ago, the “what if I am gay” thought just popped into my head, and hell started. I just cried every day, felt anxious all the time, couldn’t understand what was happening, started testing if was attracted to males, looking at pictures to prove I wasn’t aroused, and specially thinking about sexual gay situations, and if I wasn’t aroused, then I was sure I still wasn’t gay. I got diagnosed with OCD by 2 different psycologists, but neither of them worked with CBT. Eventually, I managed to move on, got busy, and stopped doing compulsions. I even got my attraction for females back, but the thoughts were always in the back of my mind. And now they have returned, and they feel even more real. And I’m really worried, because I don’t feel as anxious as I did. Does than mean I’m starting to like the thoughts? I never had a gay fantasy in my life, it was always about girls. Sometimes it feels like I’m actually enjoying the thoughts, and there’s no anxiety to prove me wrong. Does it sound like HOCD to you?
The surest indicator of OCD is a previous episode of OCD. In other words, the fact that you have had an HOCD episode in the past strongly suggests that the symptoms you are experiencing now (which are pretty much identical to those you had when you had your prior episode), are HOCD.
Your concern that you are not as anxious as before is quite common, and generally comes with enough time passing that the thoughts actually are less overwhelming. In other words, to some extent you are now more used to these thoughts. That doesn’t mean you are gay – it means you are experiencing what is commonly called a “backdoor spike”. You can learn more about this in our article “HOCD / Gay OCD: Challenges to Treatment”.
Hi, I’m an 18 year old virgin who is also a dancer. During my ten years as a dancer I have been bullied for supposedly “being gay”. As a result, I have always had more female friends than male ones and have never felt like one of the guys. For majority of my life I have felt attracted to women; sexually, physically, emotionally etc. However, for the past 5 months I have become really paranoid – my interest in girls is waning and I notice what guys look like more often, though it seems more in a sense of admiration than attraction. I want to replicate their physique and their hair etc. But because I am paranoid about being gay, I now image gay stuff like men showering or kissing each other just because I cannot get the idea out of my head. I never look at a man and think “I want to sleep with him/be with him”, so I’m not attracted to them in that sense. I also worry about my appearance and the way in which I do certain actions, to see if I do them in a gay way. It’s just after all these years of being taunted and teased I’m wondering if it is true?
Just because you admire the physiques, hair, etc. of certain men doesn’t mean you are gay. It means you admire the appearance of certain men. I can (and do) admire the physique of Jason Statham and the hair of George Clooney, but I don’t want to have sex with them.
You work in the performing arts, so I am not surprised that you pay extra attention to your physical appearance. Those of us who don’t work as actors, dancers, singers, etc. have the luxury of not having our appearance carry so much importance to our career. Add to this the fact that you were bullied and teased that you were gay by school mates, and you have a pretty good recipe for obsessing about being gay.
Your job is to accept the presence of these thoughts without giving them so much importance, and without checking to see if you are acting “in a gay way”. Act how you want to act, date who you want to date, and have sex with whomever you wish to have sex.
I recently came out of a relationship with a man that I was in love with. After months of feeling depressed over the situation, I started asking myself if I was gay. This thought came out of nowhere. Ever since then, I have been obsessing over the possibility. I wake up and look at myself in the mirror, telling myself “You’re gay” or “you look gay”or “Everyone thinks you’re gay”. I say these things to make myself feel bad about my appearance. I find myself questioning myself whenever I see a woman that is pretty. I ask myself, am I gay? I have a best friend who is a lesbian and I constantly ask myself, am I her friend or am I attracted to her? I also worry that because I am 23 and still a virgin, I can’t possibly know what I am attracted to, even though I have always wanted to be with a man and have only ever felt romantic feelings for men. I want reprieve from these thoughts. I want to go back to what my head was like before this thoughts popped up. Sometimes I can’t sleep and wake up wanting to scream because of everything that goes on in my head.
These are typical HOCD thoughts. Your job is to stop taking them so seriously. And just because you are a virgin does not mean that you “can’t possibly know” what you are attracted to. You say that you have always wanted to be with a man and have only ever felt romantic feelings for men. Well that sounds like you are attracted to men.
Just because you have weird unexpected thoughts doesn’t mean that these thoughts are true. It just means you have some weird thoughts. If you suddenly had the thought “I am from Neptune”, would you take it seriously? Of course not. Our brains generate all sorts of strange thoughts, and many of them have no connection to reality.
So for the past couple months ive been doing very well. Ive been going to therapy and its helped a lot. But I have had it in two weeks, because my therapist has been on holiday vacation and wont be back till this Saturday. Lately I have been in a habit and been using his coping skills of helping out with the compulsions. But recently ive been in a backwards spin on things. I started looking at porn checking for arousal ,and looked up articles again. Yesterday I was on YouTube and found a part on youtube, that showed how to put a condom on I felt aroused, and had groinal sensations but never got a full blown erection over it. So is this groinal response or am I just over reacting to it? Sorry if im being a pest but I cant wait a week to tell my therapist or I will get back into the swing of the compulsions.
I am not exactly sure what you mean when you write “Lately I have been in a habit and been using his (your therapist’s) coping skills of helping out with the compulsions.” I am however quite certain that looking up articles and watching porn to check for arousal are compulsions that will not help you. The bottom line is that you are paying way too much attention to the sensations in your penis. Assuming your therapist specializes in treating OCD, I encourage you to discuss these matters with him.
I’ve had hocd or I think it’s hocd for about 5 months or more no quite sure. The thoughts started coming and i didnt pay much attention I’ll just think about something else but then they started getting worst and worst I went on depression for a week and that just made it 1728292x worst than they already were, the compulsions, seeking for self-ressaurance sometime leads to groinal responses. The thoughts are always there I wake up and they’re there they won’t leave me alone.
I am seeing a therapist but I don’t think she understands she says that’s normal at my age and I don’t even know what type of therapy she’s doing with me I haven’t gotten better at all. She didn’t even know what hocd was whatsoever. These thoughts dont let me sleep cause I know when I wake up they’re still going to be there it’s horrible.I make scenarios of myself with woman but I can’t even think about it sometimes it’s just not me or myself dating woman not what I desire at all, sometimes the scenarios come and I don’t give them a respond I start overthinking why didn’t you feel disgusted or why didn’t you get a reaction or why didn’t you pay attention to them I’m just so tired of them, I don’t know what to do
If your therapist doesn’t even know what HOCD is, then I strongly encourage you to find a therapist who does. If you had a broken arm, would you seek treatment with a doctor who does not know anything about broken arms. Of course not! So why would you even consider treatment for HOCD with a therapist who does not understand the condition?
The best treatment of all forms of OCD, including HOCD, is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with an emphasis on Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). There have been literally scores of research studies that have confirmed this. I strongly encourage to stop wasting your time and money on a therapist who is clueless about the condition you are struggling with, and to instead find a therapist specializing in OCD.
I have a question. My anxiety has been really bad to where I can’t really get a hold of it. It’s just been running wild on its own. And one of my main issues has been that I need to admit to myself that I’m gay. This question would come up in so many different ways with the anxiety, that it’s really been causing me stress. So finally when it came up again for the umpteenth time, I just admitted that I was. Then all the sudden this made the distress go away, and even brought a pleasurable feeling of acceptance. Which leads me to ask this question: Could this possibly be HOCD? I ask this because all my life I’ve had crushes on men? My anxiety tries to tell me that those crushes are not genuine and they’re fake somehow. Also that those attractions could’ve been forced in some way, even the ones that happen now. But I haven’t done anything of this nature at all? So in all, if this is not HOCD, could this mean that I’m bisexual? I can’t be in denial of being a full on lesbian can I? If I’m attracted to men?
There is no way for me to ascertain your sexual orientation via a brief comment. That said, I see no evidence that you are gay or bisexual, and plenty of evidence that you have HOCD. You report a long history of being attracted to men, and appear to be extremely uncomfortable with the possibility of being attracted to women. That sounds pretty straight to me.
If your doubt continues to upset you, I encourage you to seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD.
Hi, I’m a 27 year old male. For the last 10 years my biggest struggle has been hocd.
I get caught in a cycle every two weeks or so.
It goes like this.. Either something leads me to check gay porn or I’m looking at gay porn for ERP purposes and it backfires. By backfires I mean, I become highly aroused and it turns into a checking frenzy which leads to masturbation and feeling horrible.
This has been going on for 10 years. I can’t do it for another 10.
I’m not attracted to males in real life yet gay porn and even fantasy has been a huge turn on for me at times. It makes no sense.
I lose all control when it happens. It’s not like normal arousal I get from my girlfriend or attractive girls in public. Instead, it’s like I’ve been injected with something that takes my arousal from 0 to 10 in a split second. A switch flicks and I have to orgasm. In the moment it’s like I’m so aroused I think ‘it can’t just be Ocd and I’m just in denial if I don’t follow through’.Then, I’m left feeling horribly depressed, guilty and confused.
No one has been able to explain this to me! What is going on with this switch. It’s not like I’m attracted to the men in these porn videos. What’s going on with me?
If your attempts at ERP lead to “a checking frenzy which leads to masturbation”, then stop looking at gay porn.
This is why ERP is best done under the guidance of a therapist who specializes in treating OCD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Simply put, you are not trained in ERP, and you are not able to self-manage ERP. Find a therapist who can help you more effectively.
Honestly not really sure what is going on anymore. I have had fears that I was actually gay for about 7 years stemming from a traumatic bullying experience. However, in the past, whenever I experienced a “gay thought” I was easily able to dismiss it, for I was always attracted to girls and these fears never manifested in any sort of perceived or real attractionFast forward to a month or two ago, one of my childhood friends passed away from a heroine overdose and I was super depressed. Nothing was going well and then some kid at a party asked if I was gay, and I have yet to be able to answer that question. For the first couple weeks, the thought made me so sick I couldn’t eat or sleep, but it eventually went away and I regained my attraction to women, or so I thought. Then it came back, far worse than before, and I eventually just said, it has to be true and “accepted it.” At this I managed to get actual arousal from the fantasies and stopped dreading them as I had before. But then I woke up a day or two later and these “fantasies” no longer did anything for me. I am still terrified these fantasies were true, I have since gotten aroused by my female crushes, but not in days.
A few thoughts…
You ask what is going on, and the answer seems pretty obvious – while I cant provide a diagnosis via a blog, it sounds to me like you have HOCD.
If a guy at a party asked you if you were North Korean, or a professional basketball player, or an astrophysicist studying gamma rays in outer space, would you think that meant something about you? Of course not. What other people say or think about us is really not all that important. Maybe he was just a gay guy testing the waters. Maybe he was drunk. It doesn’t matter.
Once you accepted that you might be gay, you became far less concerned about it and, voila, you stopped dreading the fantasies and discovered that you were no longer aroused by them. It seems to me that this is shining a light on the solution, which is acceptance of whatever thoughts come into your mind. That doesn’t mean accepting them as “true” or “accurate” – it simply means accepting their presence in your consciousness. It is resistance to thoughts that makes them get stuck. Let your mind think whatever the hell it wants to think without getting so caught up in the content of your thoughts. These weird and unexpected thoughts are just mental noise.
When I was a young boy in middle school I obsessed about the possibility of being gay. It was the usual hocd it started with a thought and I tested myself by picturing myself kissing other boys, which disgusted me but I felt like I had to do it. Eventually I felt relief by the fact that 1) I never got aroused by men and 2) I liked girls!
Anyway fast forward to now when I’m 20 and lost attraction to girls which scared me a lot. I ended up looking into past to see if I ever really liked girls and didn’t like what I found. Analyzing my past I feel like the attraction was weak or a lie or at least not up to standards. I went through Transgender ocd and pedophile ocd and some harm thoughts which makes me think I do actually have ocd. But why does the gay one feel so real. I came to the not so satisfying conclusion that maybe the early hocd put a strain on my attraction but what if I never was attracted and am in denial. Every other hocd sufferer developed it in adolescence and focus on gay thoughts instead of losing or never having attraction to girls. Can hocd over time put strain on attraction if attraction to girls was the thing that gave me solace or am I in denial I’m scared. Thks
A few thoughts…
You have never had sex with a man, and you report not being aroused by men. That sounds like HOCD.
You have a history of other variants of OCD, specifically other sexual variants of OCD (POCD and Trans OCD) and Harm OCD. This is an extremely common experience for people with HOCD.
Testing yourself by fantasizing about kissing to check your response is a mental compulsion. This will only worsen your HOCD.
Analyzing your past in an effort to check whether you sufficiently liked girls is a mental compulsion. This too will only make your HOCD worse.
Trying to figure out if your history of early HOCD somehow damaged your ability to be attracted to girls is yet another mental compulsion. And this will also make your HOCD worse.
I don’t know where you got the idea that “every other hocd sufferer developed it in adolescence:. That assumption is incorrect.
I think I have HOCD. I tried once to reach for professional help, but they told me that lesbian fantasies are normal (even though for me they were just unwanted thoughts popping into my head), and I have tried to masturbate to women (3 times) just because people do this. It never arouses me to see naked women in my fantasies or doing sexual stuff, the only way I could reach orgasm was if we were both fully dressed, I was the one being pleased only by fingers or if I only saw a girl`s face/picture in mind. I don`t know what this means? I reached orgasm which also stressed me, but the thoughts I had during masturbation were: “come on, you know you can reach orgasm, you can feel that your vagina likes it. Keep the picture in your head”. It was never an heavy-breathing, heart-beating orgasm, but I could feel the warm feeling in my body which immediately made me think: “Is this orgasm better than with my boyfriend?”. I have come to the point that going to bed gives me anxiety, because it might lead to this again. I am also in a long-distance relationship which makes me question my feelings for my boyfriend even further, and hence my sexual orientation.
A few thoughts…
People have all sorts of thoughts that just pop into their heads. People also have all sorts of fantasies, including fantasies about things they would not do in “real life”.
Masturbating to lesbian fantasies does not make you a lesbian.
Of course you had an orgasm – you were masturbating. That is what happens when people masturbate.
Analyzing the quality of your fantasy-driven orgasm, and comparing it to your orgasms with your boyfriend, is a compulsion that will only make you miserable.
Long-distance relationships are innately difficult, and I can see how this would exacerbate your HOCD. On the other hand, if you lived in the same home as your boyfriend, your HOCD would likely spike for other reasons.
Your goal is to accept that you have (and enjoy) some same-sex fantasies, and not assume they mean anything important about you.
Hi sir, my name is Jordan and im 14. Im in therapy for my HOCD, but the therapist and I have only had an introductory meeting and talked about how we are gonna manage this stuff. We had a session planned last Wednesday, But he had to cancel and took off because hid Dad had a heart attack. Now this leaves me with all these burning questions and thoughts that I dont know how to manage. I just need some tips to last and answers to my questions. Now let me get to my problems. Throughout puberty Ive been aroused by some gay sexual arousals, and knew that puberty would do that, and I knew I wasnt gay because Ive never had any gay desires,types,or crushes. Always loving women and having all those things above. But one day, one of my baseball freinds said I was a faggot because I mentioned that our coach was buff. So then questions started rolling in my head am I gay?, Do I like men? It never went away! so then that led to me delibritely forcing myself to watch gay porn which I got aroud by along with strait. But then I remebered this is normal im in puberty! So weeks went by I was fine and one day I look at this girls huge ass. Im like dam, So then I get thoughts like what if I like men.
A few thoughts…
Just because one of your peers makes a comment doesn’t mean that the comment is accurate or true. Teen boys frequently call people names, and I see no reason why you should question your sexual orientation just because of what someone said.
Noticing that a particular girl has a large ass doesn’t mean you’re gay…it means that you noticed she has a large ass.
You got aroused by both gay and straight porn, yet you assume that means you are gay. But if you got aroused by straight porn, your logic would suggest you are also straight (both types of porn aroused you). I think a more likely evaluation of your arousal is that you, like most humans, are aroused by sex. And 14-year-old boys are generally aroused by just about anything sexual.
I encourage you to continue with your therapy, assuming your therapist specializes in treating OCD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Otherwise, it is highly unlikely that he will have a clear understanding of how to appropriately treat you.
Hi Tom, I have had borderline OCD for as long as I can remember. I have freaked out and compulsed about having HIV, cancer, Schizophrenia, you name it. When I was 13, I started having these thoughts about being gay. I found a pattern between feeling/being vulnerable and that thought. Whenever I would try to study for an exam, I’d have the “you are gay” thought. It drove my nuts. The thing is, I am sexually aroused by naked women, lesbian porn and sometimes women in real life. However, I never found the idea of dating them very appealing. Holding a woman’s hand or cuddling with her makes me feel bad about myself. I have had positive and amazing experiences with men both emotionally and sexually. I tried dating women and have since been experiencing severe anxiety, panic attacks and depression. I just can’t get rid of the thought that I’m actually super gay because even an image of a woman turns me on but the same doesn’t happen with men. I keep getting this thought that I can’t be happy until I’m with a woman but when I actually think about being with one, I get super depressed. My only therapist thought all this might just be about me coming to terms with my sexuality. What is it?
It sounds to me like you find both men and women appealing. You indicate that you don’t find the image of men sexually appealing, yet have had “amazing” sexual experiences with men. At the same time, you are sexually aroused by naked women, women in porn, and women in real life, but the idea of an actual relationship with a woman depresses you and makes anxious and depressed.
All that said, there is no way for me to assess your sexual orientation from afar, so I could be wrong. I encourage you to address this matter with a local therapist.
I get unwanted gay thoughts which I hate like anything.. Like what if a guy kisses me… What if my wife will be a guy… To check myself I imagine myself in such a situation (just to check) but then it freaks me out.
Please help me I don’t want to be gay… I’ve been straight since I was born… I’ve liked just girls…
I’ve heard that ERP makes you accept you are gay…. I can’t take that…. I’d rather die..
Please help me… Please.. I beg you
You say you are checking yourself “just to check”. Well, that is the definition of a compulsion. There is no legitimate reason to check one’s self when having thoughts. A far better response is no response at all – just let the thoughts exist without trying to “check” if you are having a feeling, sensation, etc. They are just thoughts.
As for ERP requiring that one accept that they are gay, that makes no sense. Part of ERP involves accepting the presence of the thoughts, but it does not involve accepting that you are actually gay. Some exposures in ERP may focus on accepting these thoughts, but again, they are just thoughts.
Also, allow me to note that your preference for death over being gay is absurd. In what universe is death a better option than being gay? Besides, there is no evidence that you are gay. Your thoughts are just thoughts.
If you want help, you will need treatment with a therapist who specializes in treatment for OCD. If you would like to discuss online treatment with one of our therapists, please reach out us via the contact page of our website at https://ocdla.com/contactus/.
Hi, I’ve been struggling with HOCD, at least I hope it still is, for over a year now. I reached the point where I no longer get anxious, yet I still do(if that makes sense). I feel like I can deal with most things, like unwanted thoughts, groinal responses, etc. I still get spikes from them but I just choose to ignore them. But I can’t get over my memories. Memories that may prove that I’m not straight, or I’ve been in denial. Especially this one memory where I had a girl crush on this tomboy, for a while I thought she was a boy. Now, I was a tomboy back then, and I always thought it was cool. I remember I used to always stare at her. This one time I felt excited (not sexually), like my heart was beating really fast when she walked by and I really wanted to impress her. I also remember wondering what it would be like to date her. But at that time I was obsessed with boys. Heck, I even wanted to be a boy so I can be with a boy. I was drooling over boys and only boys for long as I remember. Now that memory haunts me everyday. I want to say that my attraction was out of admiration, but I’m not sure anymore. I’m going nuts. I’m so scared and worried. I want to be straight. I really do.
You describe your self as having been “obsessed with boys”, and further note that you’ve been “drooling over boys, and only boys” for as long as you can remember.
You also note that you admired this one girl, and wanted to impress her.
I fail to see how that adds up to being a lesbian. At no point do you even remotely suggest that your attraction to this one girl was in any way sexual. Why is not ok to admire and be attracted to someone of the same gender? And even if you found yourself being sexually attracted to her, that would not automatically mean you were a lesbian. Sexuality is not binary.
Let me put this another way – on the one hand, you have a lifetime of drooling over many boys, and on the other hand, you have a vague sense of having found one girl attractive when you were young. The math here does not suggest you are a lesbian, though HOCD would like to convince you otherwise.
I encourage you to accept your memory of this one girl without assuming that it means anything about you. Analyzing your memories in an effort to determine what they say about your current sexual orientation will only make you more confused.
The thing is that I don’t know if it was admiration. That’s what scares me. Yes I thought being a tomboy was cool. Every female character I made of myself, when I was younger(in sims) were always tomboys. I just loved their fashion and all. But i don’t know if what I felt towards that girl was admiration. I don’t know if I admired her or not..I can’t remember.Yes, I vaguely remember it since it was in 8th grade (I’m going to college this fall)..but I vaguely remember it feeling like a crush. But like I said I was already all over boys by then. it confuses me and scares me. Can an admiration feel like a crush? But I admire my cousin and it doesn’t feel like a crush…I no longer know what’s what anymore.
Analyzing whether your years-old feelings were “admiration” or a “crush” or whatever is a mental compulsion that will only make your obsessions worse. Your goal is to stop trying to figure out your feelings and thoughts and just let them happen.
I can’t tell if I have regular OCD, spectrum OCD or am just gay in denial. I’ve been struggling with these thoughts for about a year. I am a male and for some reason I find penises arousing. It used to not bother me because I used to be crazy over girls. I would crave an intimate and physical relationship with women. I never got this feeling with other men. This “HOCD” has been a recurring theme in my life and this is the 3rd time it’s coming about. The strange thing about my arousal towards penises was that it was only towards images. Whenever I looked at gay things I didnt think it was arousing at all. I think it may be because I can relate to the sensations other penises are having when I see an image of one having sex or masturbating. I can recognize when a guy is attractive but I never had gay sexual fantasies before (for pleasure at least). I am also scared because I feel this attraction for a same sex friend of mine but I don’t think it’s sexual in nature becuse we once spent a night together in the same bed and I didn’t have the slightest feeling to do things with him or anything like that. does having a “dick thing” make me “gayer” than the average male?
I don’t know if you are “gayer than the average male”, but I do know that trying to answer that question is a pointless compulsion that will make your OCD worse. In fact, I can’t think of any reason whatsoever why anyone would need to quantify how gay or straight they are.
By the same token, you do not need to figure out if you have “regular OCD”, or spectrum OCD or are just gay in denial. In fact, the whole idea of “denial” related to sexual orientation is highly exaggerated nonsense. Your analysis is a compulsion, and will only make things worse for you.
A better solution is to accept that you find sexuality to be arousing, and to stop analyzing what you find specifically arousing and why you find it arousing.
Hi it is me again. As you know Ive had Hocd for a year now and its gotten to the point to where I now just beleive im bi with hocd tendencies. Ive always had intrusive thoughts that lead to compulsions and other Hocd type things. But now im just giving up. So now let me get to why. It all started with the arousal to gay porn then shirtless men. My therapist told me all this is just puberty and gave me a few ways to avoid my compulsions when I get thoughts. So 2 Months passed and I was doing great. Until Prince died, the day he died I watched one of his videos and found myself getting aroused by his face. So then I started just looking up hot men faces and would be super anxious. So then the next day was my therapy and my therapist told me id be fine. But after this it started happening more and more and its literally super random! My therapist has no clue wether im bi or straight now. So its like now if I see a good looking guy am I gonna be aroused by his face. Out of all this Ive never thought a guy was hot. Never have had a crush on one. But ive heard of bi people who are only sexually attracted to the same sex, is this me? or Hocd and puberty? Pls Help 🙁 thnks
Your comment is essentially an effort to get reassurance that you are straight. I encourage you to read our article on reassurance seeking at https://ocdla.com/reassurance-seeking-ocd-anxiety-1952/.
Also – stop looking at gay porn and stop looking up pictures of attractive men to see if you find them attractive. These are compulsions that will make your OCD worse.
Other than that, all I can say is that nothing has changed – there is still nothing to indicate you are gay or bi. The world has plenty of attractive men, and just because you notice those men doesn’t mean you are gay or bi. You are spending an awful lot of time over-attending to these thoughts and feelings, and over-valuing them. They are not important.
Hi, I’m a 23 year old female who has been in a wonderful relationship with a man for 2 years. Our relationship has always been completely emotionally and sexually fulfilling, and we have been very excitedly planning our wedding. Recently I was a bridesmaid in my friend’s wedding and then woke up the next day convinced that my boyfriend would one day be an abusive husband. Over the following week, those thoughts turned into me having doubts about my sexuality. These thoughts became so distressing because I’ve been turned on by thoughts of other women before, but I’ve never had a crush on a woman and I’ve always been drawn to men. But I’ve been scared in the past that I’ll find out I’m a lesbian (I was scared of it for the first time when I was 17). When I moved into a house in college with my best friend, I worried that I would fall in love with her. I never did, but I had same-sex fantasies that always scared me. Now I feel like I’m losing my attraction to men. I just want to plan my wedding and go on with my life, but I’ve stopped hanging out with my friends or doing anything social because the fear that I might want to be with a woman is too much to handle.
A few thoughts…
1) Based on your comment, this is not a new fear. It sounds like you have experienced this concern about being a lesbian on and off for the past six years. Based on that alone, I would argue that this particular iteration of the fear is no more accurate than in the past when you feared you would fall in love with your college roommate.
2) Avoiding your female friends for fear you will want to become romantically/sexually involved with one or more of them is a compulsion that will make the obsessions worse in the long-term, and will make you miserable and lonely in the short-term.
3) You are allowed to have whatever fantasies you have. Having gay fantasies does not automatically mean that you want to be gay in “real life”.
Hi , I have been suffering with HOCD for at least 1 year and suffering with anxiety up to 4 years. My life has literally turned upside down with this thought. life is at a standstill because feel like I will never have a relationship because anything to do with love just triggers the “what if I’m gay” thought. I constantly ask my mum for reassurance and when I am around a lot of people I mentally checked every woman their saying do I like you and a surge of anxiety takes over me and I suddenly do the best I can to avoid them.
I have always imagined myself with a boyfriend but because of this thought I panic when looking at a boy because I must find them attractive and if I haven’t had the feeling that I wanted, then anxiety just takes over and thoughts of being gay come in. I feel like I will just be alone for the rest of my life because I can’t move on from this. I have had CBT for my overall anxiety and had spoke to my therapist about this but he didn’t understand the real meaning he thought I was actually questioning which just made my anxiety worse.
When I am anxious memories about my childhood and me being a bit of a tomboy and it being proof I’m gay.
A few thoughts…
1) Asking people for reassurance is a compulsion that will always make OCD worse in the long run.
2) “Checking” women is also a compulsion and will also worsen your OCD in the long run.
3) Being a tomboy as child does not mean one is gay.
4) It sounds like your therapist does not understand OCD. Find a therapist who does.
Does it still count as spectrum HOCD if I experience arousal (like actual arousal, not just a groinal response) but I don’t enjoy these thoughts and they cause me anxiety? I try to imagine having sex with a man in when I first started testing about 13 months ago, I knew I hated it, now I can’t tell how I feel. Same goes with women. In the beginning I knew I loved everything about women and now I don’t feel that anymore. My mind has gone numb to constantly thinking about gay things all day everyday for over a year. The thing that really bothers me is when I smoke weed and think about this I feel like I am definitely gay and then when I try to test myself to gay porn while stoned I get aroused and “enjoy” it (it feels like I am but there’s still anxiety and I don’t know if I’m actually enjoying it or my HOCD is just much more magnified. I have read that smoking weed makes OCD symptoms in general worse) I am constantly testing and sometimes find arousal and then try and blame it on something else like my mind messing with me and it feels like I’m denying it. I get this sensation on my chest like a fluttering feeling when I view gay stuff and I don’t know if it’s positive…
A few thoughts…
1) It doesn’t matter if you call it “Spectrum HOCD”. Stop analyzing your experience, as this is a compulsion that makes your HOCD worse.
2) Trying to figure how you “feel” is likewise a waste if time.
3) You mention “testing” yourself with gay porn, which is also a compulsion.
4) Analyzing the content of your thoughts when you are high on weed is a terrifically bad idea.
5) A “fluttering” sensation in your chest could just as easily be anxiety as evidence of sexual orientation. In any case, analyzing that sensation is counter-productive.
1) HOCD can actually be Bisexual OCD right, where a straight person fears they are bi?
2) I have already been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, so how do I know my 11 year on-and-off panicky worrying of “Omg am I bisexual?! Please NO!! Ewww!!” isn’t just the anxiety of an in-denial bisexual person with GAD?
I am not homophobic. It’s just with regards to “me” being bi I say EW! There were times I finally settled with ah no you are not bi, what were you thinking, and I was really calm about it and it felt right, but despite those moments, when I start to worry about being bi I doubt my past certainty of not being bi and think maybe I was in denial. I did not even know what HOCD was until a few days ago. I was googling about bi/gayness to reassure myself i’m straight, as I always do when it hits, when I found out about HOCD. This past episode of level 10 worry has been going on for 2 weeks and it’s all I think about every day. This episode started after reading someone’s post on fb that they came out as bi, and at first I remembered my old fear but thought calmly “well I know I’m not bi,” but days after I went into full blown panic mode.
1) There is no meaningful difference between HOCD and Bi-OCD. The obsession is the same – “OMG – what if my sexual orientation is not what I want it to be!!!”
2) OCD, especially the obsessional variants such as HOCD – is often misdiagnosed as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). If your current treatment provider has not picked up the idea that these thoughts are OCD, then they likely have no idea what OCD is, and no idea how to effectively treat it with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
Hello! I’ve been battling HOCD for the better part of a year.
As far as I can remember I’ve always been straight and fell in love with girls, but after one time I failed to perform with my wife, I’ve been worrying about my sexuality.
Even if nowadays gay fantasies, and even gay porn fail to make me feel aroused (Where as straight fantasies and lesbian porn tend to do the trick), I’ve been beating myself because, a few years ago, I masturbated to gay porn a couple times. I’d never do it again, I feel strongly against the idea of being with a man. The thought of losing my wife and never being able to love a woman again fill me with grief.
Now, in this year I’ve taken part in pretty much every ritual described for HOCD (Except actual experimentation, I’ll never do that). I’m sure I have HOCD, but I worry about also being gay. Should I stop kicking myself for some porn experimentation years ago, or does it mean I’m bisexual? I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to be bisexual.
Thanks for reading.
I fail to see how losing one erection makes a man gay. If that were true, there would be waaaaaaay more gay men in the world. Likewise, experimenting with gay porn a few times doesn’t make one gay either. It’s called experimentation for a reason. So yes, you should stop kicking yourself for this.
I encourage you to accept that you were sexually curious about something that was outside your normal sexual range – just like virtually every other adult on the planet has been at some time or another. Accept that you were curious, and spend exactly zero time analyzing what your curiosity means about you, because it means nothing more than that you were curious.
Thank you Tom.
I’ve been to a therapist ever since. He told me pretty much the same thing, and agrees that I have HOCD. We’ve started with ERP exercises. Hopefully I’ll be able to let go of the past, focus on the present, and learn to accept uncertainty.
I’m a 14 year old girl
and I have never been diagnosed with ocd but im sure i have it as I always need things to be balanced e.g if I touch something with one hand I need to do it with the other or something bad will happen. In school a boy randomly starting telling people I was lesbian because I hadn’t been out with a boy for a few years and I play soccer, I denied it because I knew it wasn’t true and have only ever wanted having a husband and a family when I grow up but since then the thought hasn’t left my mind, I can’t watch tv anymore because I started looking to see if I thought girls were pretty and now I’m scared if I find a female pretty so I’ve completely stopped watching tv, I’m sleeping loads more because it’s the only way to escape my thoughts, I started looking to see if my crushes in the past were real but I’m convincing myself they weren’t real crushes, I started off extremely anxious thinking I was even bi or lesbian but now I’m feeling less anxious and just getting annoyed that the thoughts won’t go away, I feel like I’m not attracted to boys anymore like I was before because of all this and keep questioning whether I’m in denial, it’s taking over my life.
This all sounds like HOCD to me. I see no evidence of “denial”.
On a related note, I encourage you to pay no attention to stupid comments made by stupid boys. The fact that you play soccer and have not been dating boys is not evidence that you are gay. It is evidence that you like soccer, and none of the boys you know have been interesting to you. Also, you are only 14, and at your age, it would be unusual if you had a long track record of dating boys.
I’m a 20 year old virgin male and I’ve been struggling with HOCD for about 5 months now. Through some form of self therapy I’ve managed to accept the existence of *some* thoughts. I’ve read through this whole thread in a matter of days in order to gain some insight on the problem. My biggest problem is recurring thoughts and fantasies that when I come to my senses and think rationally about I know I wouldn’t enjoy. I’m also homophobic, I’ve never been even remotely aroused at anything homossexual up until my girlfriend mentioned that when she was younger she would read gay fiction. So at the start I figured all my unwanted thoughts were because I associated homoerotic things with my girlfriend (who turns me on immensely) but eventually the usual “Am I gay and in denial?” questions popped up. Now after debating this over and over in my head I know I’m not gay nor bissexual. I’m not sure if I should seek treatment as I’ve mostly stopped reassurance seeking and compulsions, I don’t understand ERP as I’ve also exposed myself to many shows involving gay characters and gay porn and I don’t get as anxious as before but how does that help getting rid of the HOCD.
You say you “know” you are not gay, yet you continue to struggle with obsessions that you are gay. This sounds like textbook HOCD.
As for you efforts to self-treat with Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), I don’t think this is a good idea unless you have extensive training in ERP. I encourage you to seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD.
Hello, I think I’ve been struggling with spectrum HOCD for about 3 months.
I find gay porn arousing. However, whenever I try to imagine myself being intimate or having sex with a man, I get grossed out. Additionally, I’ve never had a crush on a guy before, nor wished to have a romantic relationship with one. Every crush I’ve ever had in my life has been with a female, and I get an erection whenever I imagine being intimate with one. I imagine myself married to one in the future. I always identified myself as straight and didn’t give much importance to seeing gay porn.
My mind had asked itself the “am I gay?” question very few times (usually after masturbating), with the same answer: not really. Then I would laugh, forget about it and move on. My HOCD started last December. The question came and didn’t leave. I had frequent panic attacks at first, then I started setting up scenarios in my head to test any sexual response to men and women. There were times when I was convinced of being straight/bi/gay, which calmed me down. However, the feeling faded quickly and I felt uncertain again. I don’t know how to handle this, and it’s been taking a toll on my school performance…
Everything you write sounds like classic HOCD. The best way to handle it is simple – get into treatment with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
I’m (maybe) a HOCD sufferer, and I have a question, if you may. I’m a guy and I’m 25 years old. Straight hopefully.
I had the horrible idea to check with lesbian and gay porn. I used my hand to stimulate myself while I watched.
Now, what happened, is that I got an erection with the lesbian porn (No news here), but with the gay porn I couldn’t manage an erection.. yet I felt like I was going to come at any second (being flaccid all the time). Now, this has scared me incredibly and had to stop.
Was I really going to come? And does maybe coming so fast– even while flaccid- means I enjoy gay porn more than lesbian porn? After this ordeal I still have a weird feeling in my penis that is not usually there after I masturbate or edge, as if I had to come or pee. I’m very scared and I’m booking a therapist, but It’s a week away and I need some sanity to wait until then.
Analyzing one’s reactions to sexual material in an effort to determine one’s sexual orientation is a compulsion. And as you have discovered, this compulsive analysis does not help – in fact it actually worsens the OCD. These questions you have (“Was I really going to come? And does maybe coming so fast – even while flaccid – mean I enjoy gay porn more than lesbian porn?”) are impossible to answer, and attempting to answer them is your OCD. Ditto for analyzing the “weird feeling” you had in your penis after watching gay porn.
Stop watching gay porn to check for arousal. In fact, stop watching gay porn period, unless instructed to do so as an exposure exercises by a therapist who specializes in treating OCD.
Hi, I’m 17 years old and I have been experiencing HOCD for about 2 months. I have done a good amount of research into HOCD and into whether I’m bi or gay and I really believe that I have HOCD. I am always in fear of whether or not these thoughts or shall I say intrusions… will stay or leave me be for a little while. It’s like an endless loop of fear then a few minutes of happiness and repeat. I have a few problems that are really holding me down:
– I don’t have feelings for girls like I used to (This began to occur when these thoughts began)
– I am scared that these intrusions will consume me and make me not love women
– These intrusions will hold me back from proceeding in life
These issues have been keeping me down for the whole time, and the longest I have felt happy was for a close to five days where when trigger words wouldn’t bug me. However, I still did not have the feelings for wanting love with a woman. I’m somewhat scared as since I’m a teenager that these feelings are actually real! Ever since I was in elementary school I’ve always had liked girls but now it’s hard to feel the emotion like I did when I was younger… Thanks for listening.
You wrote that you are currently struggling with three main concerns:”
~ “I don’t have feelings for girls like I used to (This began to occur when these thoughts began)”
~ “I am scared that these intrusions will consume me and make me not love women”
~ “These intrusions will hold me back from proceeding in life”
These are all quite common fears for those with HOCD. It is particularly noteworthy that your fear that you no longer have feelings for girls right at the same time that you developed HOCD. This is unlikely to be a coincidence, as many people with HOCD report that their interest in the opposite sex diminishes as result as they become more and more consumed by HOCD thoughts. Of course this makes sense, as it is difficult to find the opposite sex appealing if one spends hours every day obsessing about unwanted thoughts of the same sex.
My best suggestion is that you discuss this matter with your parents and ask that they help you find a therapist who specializes in treating OCD.
Hi, thank you for these articles.
I Have HOCD since 2014 and now I’ve decided to start a treatment. I have a question.
I was walking with a friend when my heart started to beat sharply (without a body sensation check) and I had an associated thought that told me “this is because you want to kiss him” and I started feeling distressed about it and as if I wanted to stop me to act upon it becuase I don’t like it thinking “why this is happening to me?!”
Is it something that can happen with Hocd or it’s simply a denial of accepting something real?
Sorry for my bad english,
Unfortunately, many people with HOCD buy into the idea that their obsessions are evidence of denial of their “true” gay self. I encourage you to read our article “Doubt Denial and OCD”, which should help you realize the fallacy of this trope.
I have recently relapsed due to stress and a change in medication. I am in a really bad situation – I was living with HOCD for 6 years and found good ways to cope with it (actually by ERP techniques that I used intuitively), saying to myself that if I develop a crush on a man, then so be it. During my first job I read a blogpost that said something like – religious people are often in denial about their homesexuality, which triggered my HOCD to the next level – because now I actually believed I was in denial. Then I went to see an CBT Therapist, who unfortunately was gay and encouraged me to “try out” the things I was afraid of – saying that I would then definitely know for sure whether I would like it or not. I was extremely stressed out by his recommendations and told him that trying it out would destroy my soul. I was so agitated and confused that I tried to stimulate by rectrum with a carrott – it felt terrible and left me feel traumatized. Now i constantly obsess over this event. There is also a false memory that tells me that I had “the greatest joy” during this experiment – the opposite is the case. What kind of treatment should I get for it? Kind regards
Hide the pain,
Your therapist is an idiot. Let me repeat that – he is an idiot. Suggesting that you “try out” being gay to see how you respond is not even remotely the correct approach to treating someone who is tortured by ego-dystonic thoughts about being gay.
That said, self-stimulation with a carrot was not such great idea either. As you can see, this has resulted in a worsening of your doubts (which is exactly what would happen if you tried gay sex as an experiment aimed at getting certainty).
The treatment you should seek is CBT with a therapist who actually knows something about OCD. By no means should you return to your previous therapist who is, I repeat, an idiot.
Hello. I am stressing out a lot right now. Around two years ago, one of my friends told me that another one of my friends thought that she was gay. Ever since then, the thought of myself being gay has been swirming in my head for the past two years. I am very worried I am gay. Before my friend said this, I’ve always had crushes on males. I have always wanted to get married and have a family with a male. But now I don’t even know. I feel like some of my attraction to males is lost and I keep getting unwanted thoughts about kissing members of the same sex or engaging in some sort of sexual intercourse. The thing that worries me is I dont really react to it or say gross, and my mind keeps telling me that I could maybe like doing it. I don’t want to like it. This has been happening for months and months and months on end, and have been thinking these unwanted thoughts for months. But the thing is, I don’t want to be gay. I have nothing against the gay community, it’s just something I don’t want to be. For a long time I have been stressing and thinking what if this isn’t hood and I’m so scared. I am worried I am just a gay in denial and I have been stressing for almost two years
A few thoughts….
1) If friend “A” told you that friend “B” is fluent in Swahili, would you then think that you are likely fluent in Swahili as well? Of course not. So why is it that the possibility that friend “B” might be gay has anything to do with your sexual orientation?
2) Unwanted thoughts are just thoughts.
3) Everything you write supports that you are straight with HOCD, and nothing you write even remotely suggests that you want to have sex with women.
4) I encourage you to read our article Doubt, Denial, and OCD.
Now I feel like I am getting a lot worse and am still worrying. Now whenever I see a woman in a matter of seconds my mind imagines having sex with her and my mind is telling me I want to have sex with women. This is stressing me out. Can this still be HOCD? I am very worried. Also, whenever I see a woman my mind is telling me I want to kiss her. This has been going on for weeks. Am I a lesbian in denial?
This still sounds like HOCD. If you believe you are getting worse, it’s likely because you are not getting help for your OCD. I encourage you to seek treatment with an OCD specialist.
I’m a 24 yr old virgin girl n considered myslf straight ’til HOCD hit me. It started with being scared of looking at females to having intrusive thoughts about them n groinal responses followd. During this time my OCD even tried to tell me tht I’m relieved abt being gay(which I wasn’t). I was in a relationship with a guy which I still consider as the most normal n happy relationship I ever had.I sufferred meltdowns during this relationship n ultimately brokeup. Further I even had groinal responses to males which made me think that i was gay in real life n straight during this anxiety period. This phase lasted for a less time n it was back to HOCD. My past memories reflect that at one time influenced by TV I had a thought of kissing my female frnd(which I never wanted to coz I did not like her like that).When i was 17,I even felt a flutter in my heart after I saw a pretty girl but that was just one time. Also,during college I admired 2 girls who were really pretty.There never was any romantic attraction twrds girls.I felt all the romantic attraction for boys.There are 2 instances whr i felt aroused after seeing 2 girls in real life n all this makes me feel denial.
A few thoughts…
1) This all sounds like HOCD to me.
2) Thoughts are just thoughts.
3) Groinal sensations are just groinal sensations, and not worth analysis. Nobody, gay or straight or whatever, except people with HOCD analyzes their groinal sensations in an effort to determine their sexual orientation.
4) Why shouldn’t a straight girl be able to admire other pretty girls. I am a straight guy, and I can look at a handsome guy and admire that beauty. This doesn’t make me gay.
5) I encourage you to read our article Doubt, Denial,and OCD.
Im 15 and have had thoughts about Being gay for maybe 2 years, IT started with me watching an episode of family guy when 2 guys had sex and i felt something i dont know what But just something, i got scared and since then ive had thoughts such as “am i gay” , is that person attractive, Watching guys to see a reaction, scrolling up and down to see the picture again, to see My first response, all of these thoughts was horrible for me and wasnt pleasible at all, i could watch a Guy to see My response for 20 minutes just to be sure.. These thoughts really scares me because ive always considered myself liking girls, i has crushes on GIRLS when i was younger and wrote letters and wanted to kiss and hug them, I cant Go a day in School without checking girls out, and when i see a really hot girl i get almost hypnotized. I have dreams about sleeping with girls, But Also dreams where I as in Daily life check out guys to see My response,
I respect gay people, But I just cant accept the fact that I’m gay and wont be able to Love girls again, I watch straight porn and I sometimes test Watching gay porn to see What I might feel, But IT always turns me off, I hate these feelings and thoughts…
Confused 15 year old,
You are doing lots of compulsions, all of which are making things worse. Your goal should be to stop do all of the following:
~ analyzing what you feel and think when you see a male or female.
~ analyzing what you feel and think when you see a photograph or video of a male or female.
~ watching gay or straight porn in an effort to test yourself for arousal or interest.
Stop these and other compulsive behaviors and your symptoms will likely recede.
Hi around 3 years ago I started having HOCD thoughts this blog has really helped me breath and calm down because I Thought I was lesbein. And if I don’t think I’m lesbein I think I’m bisexual, either way these thoughts don’t go away and they have made me depressed. My friends have said “why don’t you try kissing or hooking uo woth a girl” and my first initial reaction is “ew I would never ew no no no” but my mind thinks that’s denial and even though I relate to a lot of what people say here I’m just in denial and I like these thoughts especially sexual ones my mind tells me I like them and I’m in denial but they make me so depressed and deep down I know I’m straight but apart of me still thinks I’m aftaid to come out and I know that if I was gay i would just know but my mind tells me I do know and I just accept it or I need to learn to love it. I just feel like I have no control
Everything you write sounds like HOCD. I encourage you to read our article “Doubt, Denial, and OCD”, which addresses your concerns that you are in denial about being a lesbian.
I red every article about HOCD and i find myself in every word. I red lot about hocd and gronial responses. I have a same problem i do not have full erection when i see or imagine some man when do anything but still “feel” something”, but does not turn me on. Also during sex with my girlfriend i cannot stop thinking about option that i am gay. Sometimes happend to me that i ejaculate earlier or immediately cos some gay idea/imagine pop in my mind and i feel anxious about this.but on the other side i can not feel arousal from gay porn or fantazies and it is not comfortable for me. But this little think make ma crazy and i think that it is because i have fear about this and feel something in my penis or something …
But i think that could be cos i assign earlier ejaculation to bad image. My question is, what causes these false feeling in groin or sometimes i think that i have to kiss someone and cannot stop thinking and analyzing, but still this imagine do not arouse me … ?
Everything you write sounds like HOCD to me. You are over-analyzing your thoughts, your feelings, your sensations, your erections, and your ejaculations. You ask what is causing your problems, and the answer is that OCD is causing this, and your compulsive analysis is making it worse. I encourage you to read our article “OCD is Fake News”, which addresses how you are over-attending, over-valuing, and over-responding to your thoughts, feelings, sensations, and bodily functions, and how doing so makes your OCD worse, not better.
Ok I am 15 with what I believe to be hocd I have a history with OCD and have been diagnosed with it by 2 doctors but I need to talk. Some things u should know…I was sexually assaulted by a woman at age 11 I didn’t run and it is part of my OCD trying to figure out why I suppressed I didn’t think it was a big deal at that age, it made me curious about same sex shit I watched videos which I got aroused too! Which makes me soooo scared and I had some fantasies but now I find all that stuff disgusting and I don’t like it and I should mention I’ve never had a crush on a girl never been attracted to one I don’t think. Anyways my hocd (I hope) started when a boy asked why I didn’t like them back and I didn’t know why and I though what if I’m gay? And my life forever changed I had ever symptom of hocd and and even looked up “why is my mind making me gay” and learned about this but I didn’t feel better reassurance didn’t work I had to drop out of school and go to a mental hospital because I was so suicidal. Then the summer care and I did but better. Now school starts and I am falling back down the hole and my compulsions are weirder I should also mention I had ptsd.
A few thoughts..
1) People get aroused from watching porn. That is why porn exists. I suspect you also get aroused watching straight porn.
2) You say you have never had a crush on a girl, nor found a girl attractive. That sounds like someone who is straight, not gay.
3) Just because you didn’t have a romantic interest in a particular boy does not mean you are gay. It means you didn’t have a romantic interest in that particular boy. There will be many boys and men throughout your life who do not spark romantic or sexual interest in you.
4) Also, have you considered this – you note that you “never had a crush on a girl” and “never been attracted to one”. Following the logic you applied when the boy wanted to know why you were not interested in him, your consistent lack of interest in girls would be solid evidence that you are not gay. Why is it that when you are not interested in a boy, you conclude you are gay, but when you are not interested in girls, you don’t conclude that you are straight? The answer is simple – because OCD is messing with you.
5) Your mind isn’t making you gay. Your OCD is making you believe things for which there is not one shred of evidence.
6) You mention PTSD, and that you were sexually assaulted by a woman when you were 11. These facts, combined with what appears to be HOCD, lead me to believe that you would be well served by seeking treatment with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD and PTSD. I STRONGLY encourage you to discuss this with your parents and ask them to find you a specialist (not just some generic therapist who will likely be ill-equipped to help you).
Thank you I have a therapist but she isn’t helping it’s gotten so bad that I can’t touch women can’t let them touch me and if they touch me or I touch something they touch I have to WASH WASH WASH I just don’t want ANYTHING to do with women I really just don’t want to be bi don’t even know what attraction is anymore. I don’t know what I feel about anything anymore I just feel dead. And I take 5 ml of Prozac too but it doesn’t help because I’m constantly surrounded by women. I can’t watch movies or read anything with women in it cause I’m afraid I’ll get attracted and that’s all I think about and so I avoid them I avoid everything. I can’t hug my mom anymore my friends I distance myself it’s wrecking me. Do you thing there’s more going on? I have talked to my therapist about this and she said no.
No, I do not think there is “more going on”. I think you have OCD. And if the therapist you are seeing is not helping, it is likely because the therapist has no idea what they are doing. The sad truth is that most therapists have no idea whatsoever how to effectively treat OCD. You need to find a specialist.
Also, I am not a physician, so I cannot provide advice about medications. That said, I know from reading about OCD for the past 25 years that the dosage of Prozac that you are currently taking is not even close to the therapeutic dosage for OCD. Here is an article that descries the appropriate dosages for various medications that are used for the treatment of OCD:
That said, please do not alter your medication dosage on your own. You need to discuss your medication with your prescribing physician.
I am a male and married to a beautiful woman. When I was 18 I had the thought of your gay and freaked out. This has happened a few other times in my life, most recently about 6 months from the death of my mom. Now my fear is I will blurt out im gay to my wife and have to face my fear of actually being gay (i’ve had some fantasies of being with a man from time to time but I could never go through with it, even though I think I really want to. Its never felt right, the fantasy is way more exciting than reality and I dont really find men attractive) my brain wont let me forget it and keeps telling me “you’re just in the closet” just come out and this will all go away (the panic, thoughts etc). Ive also had harm OCD and relationship OCD. Any advice would be helpful.
You say you want advice, so here goes…
You don’t need to “forget” your unwanted thoughts – you need to stop taking them seriously. They are just thoughts – just like the unwanted thoughts you have had in the past related to ROCD and Harm OCD. Everybody has unwanted thoughts that pop into their minds. These thoughts do not merit any attention whatsoever.
Ever since I have been having these thoughts for 3 years that i have hocd and i think I’m bi or lesbein My thoughts on guys have changed I feel like I’m not as attracted to them and I’m scared to hook up with them because I don’t want my intrusive thoughts popping into my mind and also I feel numb when I think of boys now when I see a picture of a boy and say he’s hot I feel like Its not real anymore and I can’t find the difference of a picture of a boy and girl
If you are avoiding sexual hook-ups solely because of the fear of having unwanted gay thoughts pop into your mind, then I encourage you to instead have sex, despite the possible presence of unwanted thoughts.
I’m a 17 year old guy and until this year I never ever remotely questioned my sexuality, and never had any sort of gay thoughts. Only had crushes on girls, all that. For 6 months I’ve had bad HOCD. I was relieved when I found out what it was and that I wasn’t alone. Until yesterday I’ve been aware that it’s most likely HOCD. Ive read some threads about how your sexuality can develop and that you should embrace it or whatever,so it’s kinda been bi OCD for awhile too. I read something about how you should experiment and fantasize about both genders and see which you enjoy more. I’ve never ever fantasized about men and I’m almost 18. But I went to bed last night and felt kinda horny so I was like fuck it so I fantasized about both genders with my biggest fetish, and they both worked, and I’m really scared because I wasn’t like repulsed like I used to be about the idea of men. I’ve been trying to see if I can imagine myself enjoying gay sex compulsively so much that I can’t even tell anymore. I’m really scared by the fact that the gay fantasy didn’t immediately turn me off as it would back before HOCD. I’m convinced this is more than just groinal response,…
I don’t know who gave you the idea that “you should experiment and fantasize about both genders and see which you enjoy more.” I am not convinced that you should do this in your case, because it sounds very much like you are actually checking to to see if you get off to gay fantasies.
At 17, you are likely to get off to just about anything, and that doesn’t mean you are gay or bi or anything else. It means you are a horny 17 year old boy! Just like every other 17 year old boy.
My best advice is to seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), specifically a type of CBT called Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP).
Thanks.. I finally got a hold of it for a while, maybe 2 or 3 weeks, and it was bliss… until it came back a few days ago. I was touring a college and the tour guide was a good-looking frat dude and I was trying to ignore the thoughts as I’d been doing but since the tour was so long it was difficult… and since then I’ve kind of regressed back into the thick of it. I finally gave in to the urge to seek validation, part of the cycle I know, and watched a video of this girl talking about how she realised she was bi, and it was around my age and it kind of freaked me out. She ended the video with something like “if you’re confused, you probably aren’t straight.” That definitely freaked me out. Because I sure feel confused right now! All the stuff about how sexuality is fluid and whatnot and how it can supposedly change at anytime terrifies me. Just wish I could go back to when I never thought about this stuff.
Thanks again for listening to someone who isn’t even paying you guys…
Throughout the course of your life, you are going to see attractive males. That is reality – there are attractive men in the world. Your job is to accept this fact, without analyzing it, without trying to get rid of it, and without doing compulsions (like the one you mentioned wherein you watched the video of the maybe-bi girl).
The problem is NOT the thought. The problem is the reaction to the thought.
Acceptance is freedom.
I’m a 23 year old asexual woman. Once I was playing with my niece and my nipples became erect. I began to be fearful that I was a pedophile. I was afraid of changing her diapers and bathing her. I would leave rooms to not be alone with her. However, unless she was there I didn’t obsess TOO much. Months later I saw a picture of an actress I liked. I was high and had a thought of, “I’m gay.” My reaction was very averse. I thought, “that felt very real, am I gay?” I began checking for arousal with women and I had groinal responses. It escalated to avoiding anything with gay themes and googling asexual sites to reassure my asexuality. I would analyze exploratory events, memories and past lesbian fantasies for days, seeing in them proof of a lesbian. I saw posts of lesbians who used to think they were asexual until they had gay sex and became terrified of having sex with a woman and realizing I was gay. I was in therapy and it got worse. I dropped out of college because I was afraid of being around women. Even after reading and relating to all this I can’t stop analyzing the past and afraid of things that havent happened and that being gay is inevitable. I scored an 18 on your HOCD test.
A few thoughts…
1) The human brain can think all sorts of weird thoughts. And making assumptions about the meaning and importance of our thoughts is what our brain does all the time. I encourage you to read our article “OCD is Fake News“, which addresses this issue in-depth.
2) Checking for arousal is a compulsion that makes OCD worse. In fact, checking for arousal leads to over-attending to unimportant feelings, and then over-valuing them. Again, the article noted in #1 above will give you some insight into how your brain is fooling you.
3) Dropping out of college is also a compulsion. And as you can see, it didn’t stop the OCD. If you are interested in furthering your education, I encourage you to return to college, accepting that you will see women on campus. Women exist all over the world and there is no escaping them.
4) Analyzing things related to your obsessions is the most common compulsion in OCD. It is guaranteed to make your OCD worse…and it is a complete waste of time.
5) If you scored an 18 on our free online HOCD test, then you almost certainly have HOCD.
6) For someone who claims to be asexual, you sure are putting a lot of energy into thinking about your sexuality. Perhaps a better descriptor for you would be “non-sexual”. In any case, all of this analysis of your sexuality suggests that you are actually quite interested in sex. If you want to have sex, then have sex.
Hello doctor, I am 18 years guy who is currently in very bad state, I don’t know if I have HOCD or maybe I am in denial. Everything started when I was 13, I wanted to watch some new porn and gay porn excited me, and I masturbated in it. However I didn’t pay attention to it, I was sure I was straight and wasn’t much bothered. But, a month later, one night I got a thought ‘maybe I am gay’. Although I always had crushes on girls, my mind was telling me that it weren’t true crushes and that I had crush on one male friend. This made me anxious and depressed, I even thought about killing myself. Also in that period I was googling things such as ‘Gay test’, ‘How to know if you are gay’ and etc, but these things worsened my state and I tested myself with gay porn, and I masturbated on it. However, somehow the thoughts would come and go. It also happened to me to masturbate on the gay thoughts when they would come, and then they would go away. However, now I have a girlfriend and I really want to marry her one day, but I was thinking one day do I really love her, and I got reminded myself about past events. Since then, I am very depressed.
This all sounds like HOCD.
I encourage you to stop testing yourself to see if gay porn arouses you. You’re 18 – pretty much anything sexual is likely to be arousing to you.
Accept the thoughts without analyzing them or testing them.
Read our article Doubt, Denial and OCD.