Do sexual attractions sometimes change? We can only speak for ourselves: But from our own personal experience, yes, they can – at least to some degree, and at least for some people. Sexual feelings can be fluid. Sexual or romantic attractions to others of the same sex can sometimes be transformed — meaning they may become less intense, less frequent, less troublesome, or less eroticized.
Of course, it’s not a universal experience for everyone who sets out to understand their same-sex attractions. But that’s okay – heterosexuality isn’t the ultimate goal anyway. (Look around you. Obviously, heterosexuality alone can never guarantee happiness!)
No, our real goals are peace and love –- for self and others. And in a way that aligns our identity, feelings and behaviors with our deeply held beliefs, values, morals and life goals.
Is homosexuality genetic or inborn? Can sexual attractions or sexual orientation sometimes change? Is it harmful to try to change? This Alliance of mental health professionals answers these and other tough quesions.
“There is not only no scientific evidence that sexual orientation is immutable, there is conclusive scientific evidence that most people who experience exclusive same-sex attraction end up developing an interest in the opposite sex over time…”
Our Personal Stories
“My SSA has been greatly reduced. There are days when it seems non-existent. I have noticed that when my SSA is reduced, my opposite-sex attractions naturally increase.” — “Jerry,” Maryland USA
“I don’t have same-sex attractions today in the sense that when I see a good-looking guy I don’t want to engage with him in any sort of sexual way. I see him as an equal—a brother with good and bad qualities, just like me.” — Mohamed, United Kingdom
“I have had no interest in dating other men since 2003. Currently, I am very happy and functional in a heterosexual relationship. Romantic feelings toward my girlfriend were present immediately when we met, and the sexual desires I have toward her are equal to those I once had for men when I was pursuing a homosexual lifestyle. With her, I feel genuinely and completely fulfilled emotionally, spiritually, and sexually.” — David, Arizona USA
“It has been over 14 years since I’ve had any sexual behavior with other men and at least 10 years since I’ve even wanted to. My desire for a homosexual romantic relationship is completely gone, and now I desire to have a romantic relationship with a woman.” — Tim, Idaho USA
“After years living as an active gay man in multiple relationships, I now have not been sexually involved with another man in over four years and no longer have the desire to pursue men sexually or to view pornography.” — Jeremy, Texas USA
“I am no longer acting out on my pornography addiction, and this has greatly helped me and my desires. Today, my SSA feelings are significantly less than they were before. Now, when they come up, I can deal with them in healthy ways and in ways that make me feel good about myself afterward.” — Sam, Utah USA
“I no longer experience shame or guilt around my homosexual attractions. I do not experience any conflict between my attractions and my personal value system. I do not feel sexually repressed or incomplete because I am not actively expressing my homosexuality. I believe I am in a situation equal to any individual who is in a committed relationship with one individual and yet still experiences attractions to other individuals.” — Kevin, Idaho USA
“My same-sex attraction is modestly diminished, but far more importantly, I am comfortable with that as a part of who I am, open about it with my friends, and have mostly found a way to get those needs for intimacy met with men through non-sexual outlets.” — “Yaakov,” California USA
“My sexual attractions to guys are far less than they used to be. They happen less often and are not as strong. I still find men attractive, but the desires are desires to be friends, to get to know each other, to somehow become more like what I see in him. There’s not nearly as much of that same needy, clingy desperate feeling. I find that my brotherly male friendships bring an incredible sense of joy and peace into my life. Sexual connection or exclusive relationship scenarios fade in the light of the joy I feel with my brothers.” — Benjamin, California USA
“I have learned that I need intimate, healthy, emotionally connected relationships with other men. As I have taken the steps to be open and vulnerable with the men in my life, I am growing in these relationships. This is filling the void in my heart that I used to medicate with gay porn or acting out sexually with other men. The real connection I long for with other men is not sexual or romantic, but pure, brotherly affection, affirmation and belonging.” — “Richard,” Oregon USA
Benefits Not Directly Related to SSA
Men in our community often report numerous and varied benefits, along with — or apart from — changes they may or may not experience related to their sexuality. Benefits like:
- Improved self-esteem overall.
- More self-confidence.
- An increased connection to their own internal sense of masculinity — an enhanced sense of pride and confidence in being a man.
- More male friendships, and more meaningful male friendships, with greater (non-sexual) intimacy.
- More peace and satisfaction in living as a single man, thriving rather than feeling “less than” or second-rate.
- Sometimes a new marriage, or sometimes a much-improved marriage, and better family relationships overall.
- A greater sense of living authentically, without hiding or pretending.
- Feeling closer to God, with a greater sense of spiritual peace and love.
Here’s what some men in our community have said about the benefits they’ve experienced, even aside from issues related to SSA:
“My sexual impulses for women are still minimal, but my confidence in who I am as a man, my ability to stand up and speak my truth and be heard, my letting go of defining myself by SSA or anything else, my leadership abilities, care of others — all of these have grown enormously. I would not be the secure leader and man that I am today if it wasn’t for this work.” — Tim, Oregon USA
“I have seen every aspect of my life improve. I feel a lot more assertive and confident at work and in all of my personal relationships. This has made me a much more effective leader and enabled me to be much more effective in my relationships with family and friends. Everyone has noticed a major improvement. I am happier than I’ve ever been.” — Jeremy, Texas USA
“I have had huge benefits unrelated to my sexuality. I have become a man with self-esteem, integrity, and confidence. I am able to be a better husband, father, son, employer and human being. I understand my masculinity and am able to express it. I have honest, open and meaningful friendships that are based on who and what I truly am. I am happy and I help bring joy to those around me. This is not at all who I was before this work.” — Steve, Florida USA
“I have learned to assert myself and to not allow myself to be taken advantage of. I have improved as a husband and father, with incredible confidence. I have learned to relate to other men as a man among men, rather than seeing myself as less-than or unworthy of masculine love and affirmation. I feel like a man, and for the first time in my life, I am actually thankful to be a man.” — Charles, Ohio USA
SSA Can Still Return or Escalate Under Stress
Despite growth in many other areas, many men in our community say their same-sex attractions still “show up” when they are distressed or don’t get their basic emotional needs met — especially needs for healthy, non-sexual male bonding.
“The only times when same-sex sexual feelings attractions and desires start to creep back into my life today are when I feel I am unable to connect with men in a healthy, non-sexual way.”— Scott, Iowa USA
“When I experience increased SSA today, it alerts me to something in my life that I need to address. When I deal with that, the SSA again subsides. I find that my SSA is fluid depending on how much of a man I feel I am at a given moment. When I make the choices that are conducive to my psychological well-being, then I can go without experiencing any SSA whatsoever. Instead I experience identification with other men, and consequently experience increased opposite-sex attraction. When I’m not doing what I need to do for self-care, again I notice the appearance of SSA.”— Hakim, United Arab Emirates
“Occasionally, when I feel insecure or emotionally hurt, I may find myself having sexual feelings toward men. I have learned to go back to the root cause and address it. My SSA today happens occasionally when I am triggered emotionally by events at work that make me feel insecure about myself as a man.”— Robert, Texas USA
If Sexual Attractions Don’t Change
But what happens to those of us who try to alter or reduce their sexual attractions and are not successful?
Certainly, we recognize there is a portion of men in our community who haven’t experienced any meaningful change in their sexual attractions. Some critics outside our community contend that this could theoretically cause so much depression, anxiety or self-recrimination that it’s better never to make the attempt to begin with.
This makes no sense to us. What if we are talking about an unwanted sexual behavior rather than an unwanted sexual feeling — a behavior like pornography use, for example? Would anyone seriously argue that it’s best for a man to not even try to reduce or stop his pornography use that is causing him such distress? After all, he might not succeed at the effort, and then he might suffer from even more depression and self-criticism!
No, it’s often better to make the effort (assuming one is intrinsically self-motived to try, and not doing it out of shame or outside pressure) — but to build on a solid foundation of self-worth, regardless of the outcome.
We pursue self-improvement (of any kind) not to become good or worthy, but because we already are good and worthy — and as such, we deserve better for our future than we’ve had in the past.
Here’s what some men in our community have said even when they haven’t experienced a shift in their sexual attractions:
“Even though my sexual attractions haven’t really diminished, I have more self-esteem and self-assurance. I feel better about myself in general and I’ve been able to step into many tasks powerfully, where I was afraid to do that before. I’m a leader and a mentor in my community.” — Justin, Israel
“I have had no negative effects from change efforts. Just the opposite. I considered both change and gay-affirmative options to be a difficult challenge, with potential risks. Doing nothing wasn’t an option for me any longer, but gay-affirmation seemed much more radical and permanent. I considered the change option to be more measured and reversible if it didn’t work for me.” — “Yaakov,” California USA
“I’ve been doing this for 20 years. I’ve never even kissed a guy and still don’t feel like I’m missing out. A gay life would have caused more pain and hurt for me and would conflict with my deep-rooted boundaries. All my change efforts and resources have helped me to be a better person. I’ve especially benefited from the recognition that underneath these unwanted attractions are legitimate needs.” — “Jay,” Utah USA
“I have come to accept the fact that I have SSA and that doesn’t make me a horrible person. I have experienced acceptance from others who know about my SSA. I am actually thankful for this trial and see the good that can come out of it.” — “Francisco,” Kansas USA
What Kinds of Change?
- SSA. Many of us have found the level and intensity of our same-sex attractions diminish over time, sometimes dramatically.
- Brotherhood. We’ve experienced an increased sense of belonging and brotherhood among men from all walks of life.
- Self-Esteem. Our self-esteem has improved and feelings of shame have diminished or disappeared.
- Sexual Behaviors. Those of us who have struggled with self-destructive and out-of-control sexual behaviors have often reduced or even eliminated those behaviors altogether.
- Single and Celibate. Many of us have found a whole new level of peace and fulfilment as we have embraced living a single and celibate lifestyle as a higher calling consistent with our faith, values and morals.
- Marriage and Opposite-Sex Attractions. Many of us have found renewed commitment to and love for wives and family. Many have found new or increased romantic and sexual attractions to the opposite sex.
- Faith. Many of us have found a renewed sense of peace with God, an increase in faith, and a far greater sense of his unconditional love for us.
- Peace. But more important than all of this, we are finding peace — and peace in a way that aligns our identity, feelings and behaviors with our deeply held beliefs, values, morals and life goals.
More First-person Testimonials
Testimonials on Other Websites
- Clients of SSA Therapy Tell Their Stories
- Voices of Change
- Freedom Ministries
- Hope For Wholeness
- One By One
- Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays
- Restored Hope Network
- Such Were Some of You
- True Freedom Trust
- Voices of Hope