Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgendered Department

Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other staff.


I'm a gay man and have been out of the closet my whole life and would love to have a relationship or at least go out on dates, but every time I get up the nerve to try with someone, I'm rejected. I was a very fat kid and I think, even though I'm now slim and, according to my women friends, very attractive, I still feel unattractive. I still feel like the kid everybody picked on and made fun of. Knowing that's the source of my problems (I learned that in therapy) doesn't help fix them, not at all. Please help.


I'm going to suggest two possibilities that some people have found useful. One is that you do some group therapy. A well-run group gives people a safe place to get ongoing feedback about how they interact with others and what to they might do differently. A second possibility would be to find a therapist who will help you change your behavior and/or what you say to yourself in order to improve the quality of your interactions with others. The psychotherapists most likely to take this approach are those who are skilled in behavior therapy, cognitive therapy, or a combination of the two. Obviously you also need someone who is comfortable with and skilled in working with gay and lesbian individuals. Don't give up: you've worked hard and there are ways to make the changes you want.


Author and psychologist Gail S. Bernstein, Ph.D. has a psychotherapy practice in Denver, Colorado. Dr. Bernstein speaks and writes about gay, lesbian and bisexual people for both general and professional audiences, and is the author of the new audiotape, NOT HETEROSEXUAL: An Educational Program About Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual People.


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