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Will boyhood same sex experiences affect romance with girlfriend?

by Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

About a year ago some memories seemed to come to the surface all of a sudden with no obvious catalyst. All I can recall is that when I was about 6,7, or 8, my older brother (4 years older) took me into my dad’s private office where we would play a “game.” I’ll just be blunt because there isn’t much of a point in beating around the bush. He told me that if I performed oral sex on him, then I would get to choose the next “game” we played. The thing is, I don’t remember if I was okay with this or not. I don’t remember being specifically scared or unsure about doing this, but all I can remember is doing it as if it was a silly game. I remember it as if I was excited to be spending “quality” time with my older brother.

The memory I have of the incident is heavy in physical detail. For example, I remember a stain on my dad’s carpet that I was kneeling on and I can recall the game I chose to play after his “turn” was over.

The thing is, I don’t understand why I would all of a sudden recall such a traumatic (is it?) incident without any sort of trigger. And I can’t seem to remember what led to that moment in my dad’s office nor can I remember where my dad was at the time. (My dad and mom were divorced and we spent weekends at his house and I can’t imagine him leaving us alone when the oldest was probably only about 10 or 11.)
Also, I don’t really think of this experience as a traumatic one. I simply remember it as a scenario of “Boys will be boys.”
So, my first problem is not knowing if this actually happened.

Also, if this did actually happen, I wonder if it might have affected my adolescent sexuality. I remember having other similar relationships, minus the oral sex, with some friends closer to my age, but none of them ever being of the opposite gender.

I think the pseudo-homosexual relationships I had with my childhood friends may have lead to some of my teenage feelings of hate and contempt for the act of intercourse, especially in women. I had these feelings originally from about ages 14 through 16, but recently have been in a relationship for about a year and those feelings seem to have faded. (Well, at least for my girlfriend.)

I wouldn’t say I’m bisexual or even bicurious, but I can definitely admit to knowing whether or not a male is good-looking. I will even say that I have a personal preference.

I’m sorry for being so disorganized with my problems, but I think I’ve just now realized what I wanted to ask.
I have talked to my girlfriend about all of my aforementioned thoughts and memories, but seeing as she is not a psychologist, she could only slightly console me.

My main worry is this though: If my memories are not false ones, and I was molested as a child, is it likely that I lash out or overreact in some way and wind up ruining the relationship that I currently have?
This is probably my biggest fear.
I can honestly say I’ve never been happier in my life with my girlfriend and I want to do absolutely everything to make it last.

Thank you!

A: You are a very thoughtful and introspective person. I can tell that you are doing your best to protect a relationship with your girlfriend that is very special to you. I think I can be reassuring.

First: It’s not at all unusual for preadolescent boys to explore their emerging sexuality with each other. Often they participate in checking out each other’s genitals and seeing if they “work.” As for the incident with your brother: If it happened, it was certainly inappropriate. But inappropriate doesn’t necessarily equal traumatizing. You don’t remember being coerced or hurt. Apparently it didn’t continue. Another kid might have been psychologically distressed by this but people don’t all respond to events in the same way. You were able to let it go.

There’s no way for me to tell if it did or didn’t happen. All I can tell you is this: If it did occur, your brother – who was about 11 at the time – may have been doing that same preadolescent exploring you did later. You may have intuitively understood that which may be why it didn’t have a negative impact on you.

As for the period of being repulsed by the idea of intercourse when you were in your early teens: That too isn’t unusual. As much as young boys like to show off by talking about sex, often they are somewhat frightened by the idea. It’s easier to deal with being disgusted than with being afraid so they hide their fear behind contempt.

Now you are older and in your first important relationship. As you begin to have sexual feelings for this person you care about, old memories and thoughts get stirred up to the surface. Think of them as being like snapshots you’d forgotten and found underneath some papers in a drawer. You take a look and then put them aside. They happened when you were young and aren’t relevant any more.

I sincerely doubt that those early experiences are going to threaten your relationship with your girlfriend. The two of you have the kind of relationship where you can talk about highly personal issues and worries. She is supportive. You are caring. The two of you want the relationship to last and are willing to work on things together. This all sounds really positive. I think you can stop worrying about the past and just enjoy the present.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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