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Dear Christine, Befuddled in Brownstown

  • Posted on February 19, 2018 at 10:08 am

Dear Christine

Hello! Is there such a thing as having an androgynous personality? Explain please 🙂 Thank yoooouu! Befuddled in Brownstown

Dear Befuddled,

Yes, there are androgynous people. I know a few people who are androgynous and like passing as both genders or neither. If you look at one of these people, you might not be sure what pronoun to use, she or he, and the person may not help you out on that, as they might like the fact that they don’t fit into any prescribed slot. Sexuality is simpler than a dual system of gay and straight, just as gender is more than male or female. We have brains as well as bodies, and sometimes the experience of the mind is different from the body, and vice versa. Sometimes the bodies are difficult to identify, as an intersex person may have genitalia of both genders. There are seven basic gender identities: heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, transsexual, intersexual, asexual, and pansexual, then there is a sexual orientation for each one.

Sometimes people are chimeras, meaning they have more than one genetic code, such as when 2 fraternal twin fetuses combine in the uterus and become one body, but having 2 unique DNA codes, depending on which body part is being checked. There have been women who were genetically unrelated to their children as current cheek swab DNA testing can show. However, other organs or parts of her body do match up with her children, but might not have been checked initially. Also, any woman who has been pregnant has probably absorbed some genetic material from her baby, and if that’s a boy, then she probably has some Y chromosomes present in her body that most women would not have. Remember, female is having XX chromosomes and male is XY. Sometimes there are XXY people as well, which is Klinefelter Syndrome. Our genes and our environment determine our phenotype (physical characteristics) which can vary in different environments. Two identical twins raised in different families may mature differently, for example. All of this is just to explore how we really are unique beings. However you look, whatever you feel, whomever you are attracted to, or not, is really ok. And it can change. And that’s fine. Christine Cantrell

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067
248-591-2888

Click here to email Christine.

Dear Christine, Perplexed in Pittsfield

  • Posted on February 12, 2018 at 7:00 am

Dear Christine

Could someone be completely gay from 13 to 18? so I mean always liking the same sex and not liking the other sex, and only getting turned on by the same sex, and have done things like anal and liked it… then at 19 onwards turn straight and not like the same sex and just get turned on by the opposite sex? can that happen because of hormones? so is there such a thing called the gay phase between. 13 to 18?

Perplexed in Pittsfield

Dear Perplexed,

The really interesting thing with human beings is that there is no “normal” nor only “one way” that someone can and should be. We are each unique beings, and we experience our sexuality differently, and that means there’s no one mode of self–expression is “right” or “wrong.” What someone else may do might not seem interesting or remotely possible for you, and that’s ok too. There are people who experiment with their sexual attractions in ways you may never choose to. A friend of mine was a radical feminist lesbian in the 70s and 80s. She used to organize Take Back the Night walks in the community we lived in back then. In the 90s she met a man and fell in love with him. They married and had 2 children and they are still together. Go figure! Some people go both ways, others only go one way at a time, and some find their own way to be. So, remember, just because a friend does something, don’t assume that’s how it is for you or for anyone else. That’s how that person is. You may feel one way today, and in a decade you may feel totally different. Or not.

Life is a journey of self–exploration. As much as I thought I knew myself in my early 20s, my early 30s taught me that I had pushed away a lot of parts of myself that I hadn’t been ready to confront, and for me, one of those things was my sexuality. I dated only men in my teens and 20s, but in my early 30s, I was falling in love with women and wondering how this could be. It took a few more years of looking inward, noticing my feelings and my patterns, some of which I had ignored for years because they weren’t acceptable in my family and in my church. Could all this change again? I guess it could, because at 40, I was amazed at how much the same I was as at 20, and yet how entirely different too! I am guessing 80 holds surprises for my self–awareness and identity as well. I’m content to live my life until then, exploring whatever comes up, not judging it, but just looking at and allowing it to be. Let it be. Christine Cantrell

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067
248-591-2888

Click here to email Christine.

Dear Christine, Confused in Canton

  • Posted on January 28, 2018 at 11:46 am

Dear Christine, My wife and I entered into a 3 way relationship with a lesbian questioning woman about a year ago. To be clear, it’s never all 3 of us at once. We pair off based on a mutual schedule we agreed upon. I had reservations about it, fearing it might threaten the most important relationship to me, that of myself and my wife. Being the carefree and sexually open person that I am though, I agreed. Much to my surprise, I have fallen totally in love with our 3rd and no longer have feelings for my wife. I don’t know what to do. Part of me wants to confess my feelings to our 3rd and see if she feels the same, in which case I would like it to be just us. The other side of me is telling me to end this 3 way relationship and try and save my marriage. My wife is someone who I know loves me, and this new person could be a risky move if I decide to pursue her. I know I can’t continue this way for much longer. What advice can you offer to this very confused person? Signed, Confused in…

Dear Christine, Intoxicated in Inkster

  • Posted on January 22, 2018 at 10:35 am

Dear Christine,

I’m really worried about my boyfriend. We’ve been dating for about 6 months and he has recently taken a part time job at night working as a bar tender at a local gay men’s bar in Detroit. He’s loving it but my problem is, he comes home intoxicated the 3 nights of the week that he works. I said something to him but his response was that he’s never had a drinking problem, which is true, so why am I concerned? Maybe I’m wrong but having too much to drink, 3 nights a week, to the point of being clearly drunk, is too much. I also worry that he will get pulled over one night and get a DUI.

I really like him a lot but this could be a deal breaker. Do you think I’m being overly concerned? To be honest, I also worry that he will meet someone else hanging out with all the single men at the bar.

Thanks, Intoxicated in Inkster

Dear Intoxicated in Inkster,

Your questions are on target and you have good reason to be concerned. When you date someone, there are boundaries to what we each can tolerate or boundaries keeping out certain behaviors or choices that we cannot live with. Since you have spent 6 months in this relationship, you have invested quite a bit of yourself, and I hope you have had conversations over time with your boyfriend about your limits, and his boundaries with you.

I’m not sure that the intoxication issue, either the amount or frequency, was ever addressed in your relationship before your boyfriend took this bar tending job, and if not, it needs to be discussed fully and honestly now. If his being drunk three times a week is a deal breaker for you, then so be it. Boundaries aren’t about right and wrong. He may be completely fine with his level of drinking and frequency, and that’s fine. Only it’s not fine in a relationship with you! Once you identify these non–negotiables, telling each other them is crucial. Only then can you both make clear decisions about whether or not to continue the relationship. You don’t have to agree with each other about issues, but you do have to respect each other’s position in order to make the relationship work. I’ve never dated anyone who smokes, though I have plenty of friends who smoke. It’s not that smokers make bad dates or lovers, but I don’t want to put myself in harms’ way by dating a smoker casually. What happens if we fall in love? And smoking is one of my non–negotiables? Now what?! Do I make quitting a pre–condition of moving in? When dealing with addictive materials, it’s best if the user decides to quit for himself or herself, not for their boyfriend or girlfriend. If your boyfriend quits this behavior because you are pushing him to do so, it will probably lead to resentment and the relationship will start to disintegrate. If he agrees that his drinking is a problem to him, then he will have to decide to quit and maintain his sobriety, and that’s something no one else can decide or do for him.

Good luck with the conversations ahead. Sounds like some honesty needs to come out, both ways, as you are unhappy, and it doesn’t sound like you trust him in the bars with other men, or alcohol. Once you know each other’s non–negotiables, it’s much clearer what your next action step needs to be. It’s still emotionally hard, but at least you know you are not settling for someone who is not compatible with you.

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067
248-591-2888

Click here to email Christine.

Dear Christine, Angry in Ann Arbor

  • Posted on December 24, 2017 at 9:22 am

Dear Christine

About two months ago my partner went to First Wednesday (at Rosie O’Donnell Bar) with some friends. I couldn’t go because I had to work late. Anyhow, the group met a new young woman who is just coming out as a lesbian. After getting to know this person, the friends and I are seeing something just a bit off about her. My partner, however, has taken quite a shine to her. I think it’s a crush even though this person is 18 years younger than her. I’ve told my partner that I am not happy about it and she says I’m wrong about the crush and she just sees someone who needs her help. There has been quite a bit of communication between them and I’m angry. Do I sit quietly and let this play out? Do I have a choice? We’ve had some heated arguments about this with no resolution. Just when things seemed so great!

Thanks, Angry in Ann Arbor

Dear Angry, Many couples I work with never really have a complete conversation about what the boundaries are in their relationship. They might agree if one of them “cheated” that the relationship would be over. But rarely is “cheated” defined clearly. They might also agree if one “hits” the other, it’s over. But what level of abuse is intolerable?

Women have close emotional relationships with friends and that can lead to “emotional cheating” which may not involve any physical or sexual contact, but can lead to a sense of violation for the partner (you). In this day of social media, people can have long distance affairs through text, FB, DM, Snapchat, etc, etc and never be in the same state! And long term relationships have suffered and even ended from such “emotional cheating.”

Your partner may be in denial about her crush and has reframed the interaction as helping her friend. You can’t “make” her see the emotional violation. You can keep flagging it and discussing boundaries and what consequences follow. You may not have included this sort of behavior as being a violation of your couple’s boundaries, but you can now. And then you need to let her know this is your new non–negotiable. And tell her the consequence of crossing a non–negotiable. And let her decide whether or not she agrees. Worst comes to worst, you may end up ending your relationship over this, if you two cannot see eye–to–eye about what is a boundary and what is a violation. I worked with a couple of lesbians together 20 years, who always agreed that if either one was going to cheat, they would respect the other enough to call and tell that one “I’m not coming home tonight.” One saw her partner fall in love with a younger woman at work over 3 months time. She tried to talk to her partner about it and was rebuffed. Then that call came one evening. The partner left at home was done and made it clear that their relationship was over. After a month, the other partner came to her senses and asked to get into therapy to repair their 20 year relationship. They came to a couple of sessions, but the one used therapy to be clear with the other that a non–negotiable was violated and their relationship was over. They sold their house and went their separate ways.

Another couple would stay in therapy and try to figure out where their relationship went south and mend the issues that allowed for one to become emotionally involved with someone outside the relationship. So, you need to do what is in integrity to you. Suggest neutral support, like a therapist, to help you two communicate with each other through this. Schedule time together as a couple in which you can talk seriously, but also time to have fun, too.

Christine C Cantrell, PhD
Licensed Psychologist

Dear Christine, Cinderella in Clinton Township

  • Posted on November 12, 2017 at 10:40 am

Dear Christine, Sometimes I feel like Cinderella in my family. I went to college, have always been ambitious, have always been responsible. I got a great job after college working at a successful law firm, I saved enough money to buy my first house. On the other hand, my brother has accomplished nothing yet has the heart of my parents. He’s way too attractive for his own good and my parents have done nothing but coddle and support him. At a family dinner last week, my parents suggested I take on BillyÂť when they are gone! I was too shocked to say, “oh hell no,” which Is what I was shouting in my head. I’ve always been obedient and good and never heard a word of praise from them, yet they lavish it on my lazy, live in the basement of their home brother. He’s 35 by the way. How can I stand up to them and let them know I don’t want to pick up where they left off? They are getting older and having health problems. I don’t want to be my brother’s keeper! Thanks for your thoughts, Signed Dear Cinderella, This is not a news flash for…

Dear Christine, Nervous in Novi

  • Posted on September 25, 2017 at 10:24 am

Dear Christine, Have you ever looked into another woman’s eyes and your heart began to race? Well that’s what it was like for me. First off I never intended to like girls. I wasn’t raised that way but some things changed down the line. I met this woman. She changed me just staring at me a few times. Like it’s a stare you can’t describe. You just feel your heart race and you sweat a little. So at first I didn’t know how to approach her. But I finally did, through my sister. We began to talk a lot on the phone and I began to get closer and that made me catch the feelings for her that I still have right today. She’s probably the first person I have ever taken seriously. I plan on telling her how I feel hoping she’ll understand. I know there’s not much she can do because she’s married but she can at least learn from her mistakes of leading me on. There will be those days where she will wink and touch me and smile or even interrupt whoever she’s talking to say hey to me. Then other days she’ll walk right past…

Dear Christine, Crazy in Clawson

  • Posted on September 11, 2017 at 10:23 am

Dear Christine,  My girlfriend and I have been together for a year, and maybe I moved in too fast (second date…) but I’m having a hard time with her relationships with her family. Her two daughters live with us half of the time and half with their father. I am very close to the girls and they talk with me all the time, and tell me that they love me and even come into our bedroom at night to kiss their mom goodnight, and me! My girlfriend claims she isn’t gay but just loves me, and she’s isn’t comfortable telling the girls, or anyone else in the family, that we are in love and we are a couple, and with the girls, we really are a family. Her family is involved with Christmas, and last year, we pretended I was just living there for a while, to help them out. She wants me to move out of the bedroom, so her sister and brother in law can have her bedroom when they visit for Christmas this year. That’s the living end for me! I’ve been out and proud for over 20 years, and I just feel like a maid. I’m “the help”, helping with the household, cooking, driving kids around etc, but not given the respect of being family! My girlfriend has been telling me all year that she wants to tell her family, but that she’s not ready. I’m afraid she’s never going to be ready, and I feel like I’m going crazy. Help! What do I do to not feel like a maid, but be a part of this family? Crazy in Clawson

Dear Crazy,  The holidays are such a stressful time, even without the pressures of coming out to family! Sounds like you have a very loving and good relationship with your girlfriend and her children, and that’s wonderful. Since you’ve been out forever, and she never saw herself as lesbian before, it’s really important to give her space and time to figure out how to acknowledge this relationship with her family. I would be surprised if the kids haven’t figured out that the two of you are a couple, saying good night to both of you in your bedroom! Kids are pretty sophisticated and aware these days. They may not know the labels, but clearly they feel connected to you, and treat you like family, not a maid.

I’m not recommending you move out of the bedroom for visitors, as I don’t recommend a couple in their own home give up their private space to others. One example of why, is the story I heard recently. A man stayed overnight at a friend’s house, and she let him use her bedroom. He opened a bedside drawer, looking for a clock, and he found some handcuffs! Clearly, she hadn’t expected him to go in the drawer! He found it very embarrassing to see her the next morning, thinking “Good morning Mrs. Handcuffs” but trying to keep cool and be appropriate. When he thinks of that friend, the handcuffs are the first thing that comes to mind. So, keeping your privacy is important, both yours and your girlfriend’s. Keep talking with your girlfriend about her process, but back off of any ultimatums. Listen to her thoughts and feelings, and trust the love that you and she and her children share. Love conquers fear, always. Trust your girlfriend’s process and hopefully she will tell her family directly, soon.

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067
248-591-2888

Click here to email Christine.

Dear Christine, Dressed in Dearborn

  • Posted on August 14, 2017 at 9:27 am

Dear Christine,  I’m a straight male, and I like dressing up. I’ve always been into fashion, and my brother and cousin are gay, and I’m an LGBT advocate. Still it bothers me to be called something I’m not: gay. How do I get my classmates, gay and straight, to stop bullying me at school, who assume that I’m gay just because of the way I dress. There’s nothing wrong with being gay, it’s just that I’m not gay! Dressed in Dearborn Dear Dressed, A few years ago, there was a term used to describe people like you: metrosexual. These are men, often straight, who are extremely well groomed, dress well in the latest style, wear colognes, and they might get highlights in their hair, or get manicures or pedicures. They aren’t rugged, but are clean. A lot of the Hollywood stars are metrosexuals They aren’t a man’s man, or a hipster. They are in the know about the finer things in life. Celebrities get talked about all the time, and people speculate about their sexuality if it isn’t obvious. One example is Kevin Spacey. Rumors have it that he is gay, but when asked by reporters, he doesn’t deny or…

Dear Christine, Frustrated in Ferndale

  • Posted on August 7, 2017 at 9:24 am

Dear Dr. Christine, Question: I am a lesbian, and I’m masculine looking and proud of being me. I like hanging out with straight girls, as they are more fun, I think, than lesbians. I get caught up in a cycle that is exhausting, and I wonder what should happen? For example, my straight friend “Cindy” likes to hang out at my house and we’ll watch movies together, and pretty soon, she’s holding my hand on the couch, and before long she’s cuddling with me! I can’t watch the movie to the end! She’s driving me crazy. The next day I’ll try to tell her that I’m really attracted to her and want her, and she’ll just laugh and tell me that she doesn’t have feelings like that for me. When I ask her about being such a tease, she insists that she does these PDAs with her other straight girlfriends. It’s torture! I try to tell her that I’m like a guy, that if you hold my hand and cuddle with me it turns me on, and I can’t stop! If she really does this with her straight girl friends, then it sure isn’t something I can do and remain…