Rappler’s Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr. Margarita Holmes.
Jeremy has a master’s degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in three continents, he has been training with Dr. Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives
Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.
Dear Dr. Holmes and Mr. Baer,
When I was in my 20’s, I devoted much of my time working and helping my family. At that time I didn’t pay much attention to my gender orientation. Also, I didn’t have the luxury of time and money to explore it, so for the past decade, I managed to just project myself as a strong person. But now I’m in my mid 30s, and I’ve suddenly woken up at a crossroads.
I’ve started to envy my friends who are now in new chapters of their lives, getting married and having their own families, etc. I feel like I’m stuck, and so now I’ve started asking myself: what am I?
I keep telling myself that I’m straight, that I see myself spending the rest of my life with a woman, but a part of me yearns for more than a brotherhood love with men.
Hope I’m making sense. Haha.
Thank you for your email.
You are fortunate that you live in times when we have choices. We can live straight, we can live gay, we can live bi, or we can even decide it isn’t obligatory to choose, only to experiment. You are also fortunate to be male. You have no biological clock to consider and so time is not your enemy as it can be for women, notwithstanding all the medical advances facilitating pregnancy for women previously considered “geriatric.” As for families, gay men can also have children, though surrogacy and/or adoption can have significant financial implications.
Given your doubts, perhaps you should embark on a journey of self-discovery now that you feel you have time to devote to a romantic life. There seems no obvious reason why you should not explore the possibilities with both men and women and thus resolve your lack of conviction as to your orientation. Where the journey will take you may be a mystery today, but surely it is better to search for your own personal truth now rather than precipitously and blindly following the path chosen by your friends, and then finding that, as a result, you have chosen the wrong person with whom to spend the rest of your life.
As Dr. Holmes loves to quote, “Fortune favors the brave,” so go out and embrace what the world has to offer you.
All the best,
Thank you very much for your letter, and yes, yes! You absolutely make perfect sense!
You made sense to Gelo, also your age, who is one of my former (and brightest) graduate students and now a fellow professor, who said: “Lots of things happen in the mid-30’s because this is the time when an individual faces a ‘midlife crisis.’ We are stressed, feel pressure, are sometimes lonely and depressed. (Maybe this is the best opportunity) to give time to himself to explore things more deeply.”
“My question: How much brotherhood love he is yearning for? Is it to the extent of having sex male to male? I believe sex is important in discovering oneself and, as long as you satisfy and care about each other with contentment, that will be a time that you can enter a relationship.”
“Nowadays, there are young men who do ‘tripping’ with another male as long they feel satisfied, but they still consider themselves straight men…. Temptation is always there; it is hard to resist. Some “confused men” get married to females, still seek males just to satisfy their sexual needs. But at the end of the day, they will still choose their wife and feel some guilt.”
“I know that it is not easy to look for or find our real sexuality, but it is better to know the factors that satisfy us before we involve ourselves in a relationship. Whatever the result, as long as you can figure out who you are right here and right now, then you can more easily spend your life with someone you truly love (with apologies to Prof Demonteverde if I mangled his words too much).”
Dr. Eric Manalastas is a founding coordinator of the LGBTQ+ Psychology Special Interest Group of the Psychological Association of the Philippines, who taught the first LGBTQ+ course in the country and won an Innovative Teaching Award from the American Psychological Association in 2017. He says: “One of my favorite words from the science of life is chrysalis — that point when the caterpillar goes inward, takes time out for himself, and when ready, emerges as something new, winged, and ready to take flight. It sounds like Max is ready to embark on a chrysalis adventure (after having established a secure base, in terms of fulfilling familial duties and building up his inner resources). As the gay icon Mariah Carey sang: “Spread your wings and prepare to fly, butterfly’.”
In other words, dearest Max, you did not only project yourself as a strong person, you ARE one! Despite all the challenges, you still accomplished what you thought you had to. You even put your family’s needs before yours. You have more than paid your dues.
Now it’s your turn. Please take all the time you need to explore your needs, wants, real dreams in life (and not what you think you “should” aspire to). You deserve it.
All the best,
Please send any comments, questions, or requests for advice to firstname.lastname@example.org.