Why straight guys sometimes fantasize about other males.
By A. Patcher
[A. Patcher is a JackinWorld reader and freelance writer.]
This topic is not normally discussed in sex-education literature or in health classes, and probably not among most heterosexual male friends. However, in reality, it's more common than most straight guys care to admit. Straight men's fantasies about other males can be attributed to several factors; some of these are normal and very common, while others are more profound and signal a deeper sexual issue or unfulfilled social need. Note: While reading this article, keep in mind that fantasies are very different from actions. Straight men may think of other male bodies or even sexual contact with other males while masturbating, but most are not willing or able to perform sexually with another man in real life. Usually, the fantasies remain fantasies and do not predict future actions.
Adolescent events. First are the factors that arise from events during adolescence – the period beginning at the onset of puberty, through the growing years into young adulthood, until total independence from the parents. When the body and mind are growing and developing during this period, it is very common to have fantasies about the same gender during masturbation sessions. Young men frequently wonder if their friends are developing as fast as they are. They may question whether their friends masturbate as well, or if they have had sexual intercourse. New feelings and changes in the body can create quite a bit of curiosity. This is sexually arousing to many people simply because the thoughts revolve around sexuality and sex organs. At the same time, adolescence is a time for the development of a person's identity. When developing an identity, we tend to take a very close look at those around us of the same gender. In doing so, certain males will be more appealing to us than others. The males we would like to be similar to will appear more attractive. Although we may not want to actually have sex with them, at a time in life when just about anything can be erotic, this emotion can manifest itself as sexual arousal.
Male pride. The second factor simpler: Most males really enjoy being male. Let's face it – having a penis is awesome! We all have certain physical features in common with other males. Depending on the individual, this pride of masculinity may cause a varying degree of arousal when a guy looks at another male. Even though we may have no desire for actual romantic or intimate contact with another male, it can still be an erotic image. We may wonder how a fellow male masturbates or how he has sex, because we find these things enjoyable when we do them ourselves. We may think about masturbating while looking at another guy who is doing it at the same time. However, basic admiration or "looking at another guy" can be very far from a desire to live a gay lifestyle with him. Nearly all gay men would agree there is more to homosexuality than that. When considering sexual preference one has to take into account the balance of desire for physical intimacy with the two genders, also taking into consideration the desire for emotional intimacy – love from companion-like relationships. It's important to mention, too, that many people do not develop a strong desire for opposite-sex intimacy (or same-sex intimacy, for that matter) until late in adolescence or even afterward. Overall, predictions cannot be made, because we all have individual perceptions and different feelings that contribute to our thoughts and actions.
The sexual spectrum. Sexuality is not confined to just three little categories of homosexual, bisexual, and heterosexual. The "Kinsey Scale," developed by Alfred Kinsey, has been used by sex researchers since the 1950s. The scale ranges from 0 to 6, with a person who is 100% heterosexual being 0 to a person who is 100% homosexual being 6. The original scale took into account only actual physical contact with partners – but updated versions include fantasy, love, and self-identification. This scale is necessary for scientific research, but even a 7-point scale seems a bit too rigid and defined to apply to an individual's complex personal life. (Reinisch, Kinsey Institute New Report on Sex, 1990.)
Preference vs. orientation. To better explain our own personal feelings, we should distinguish between "sexual preference" and "sexual orientation." Sexual preference considers desired sexual actions with a partner, while sexual orientation encompasses all the thoughts, feelings, fantasies, and emotions that cause us to become aroused. Although the population is about 90% exclusively heterosexual in their preference, on the spectrum of orientation most of these people fall somewhere other than entirely heterosexual. Therefore, many of us are bisexual in orientation but not in preference. To complicate matters, according to several findings (including JackinWorld Surveys) close to half of all adult males have had some kind of sexual experience with another male at some point in their life – yet most remain heterosexual in their overall lifetime preference.
Other factors. In some cases strong, recurring same-sex fantasies can indicate a deeper social or sexual need. For example, loneliness and lack of identity can cause an erotic reaction to thoughts of other men. If we are not satisfied with who we are, how we present ourselves, how we look, our degree of masculinity, or even the appearance of our genitals, it is very possible that we can develop same-sex erotic reactions.
Problems can occur when there is a lack of male friends. There's a reason why we normally have platonic male friends: They help us develop and maintain our identity. If they aren't there, a craving can develop. Everyone needs a different amount of this type of friendship and a different level of acceptance from it, and we can never say how much is enough for any particular person, because everyone is different. This is certainly not to say that if you are lonely, unhappy with your identity, or worried about the appearance of your genitals that you are going to end up gay – almost everyone has gone through these feelings at one time or another. Nor is it at all accurate to say that all gay men are gay because they were somehow deprived during adolescence. However, it's never unhealthy to get involved in activities, sports, or hobbies. Unfortunately, many males frequently seek their identity through friends in gangs or drug subcultures because there's a lack of opportunity to be involved in more socially acceptible activities.
Sometimes a "jealous passion" can develop for other males. This is when we desire to actually become another guy. The obsession can then carry over into our sexual fantasy life. Lack of acceptance of ourselves is the issue here. If this is a concern for you, it may help to fantasize about yourself or imaginary people rather than fixating on peers, celebrities, or porn stars.
An unfulfilled adolescent need in adult men can be a factor. Issues such as chemical dependency and alcoholism (either in the individual or the family) can also inhibit some individuals. Nobody has a "perfect" adolescence, and most people can deal with unfulfilled needs in their adulthood. However, these issues affect some more than others. If there is an overwhelming problem with any of these issues, consider seeking out professional therapy.
Sexuality can be thought of as a complex "spectrum of fingerprints." Every individual has a unique sexuality that's different from those of his peers. Sometimes there are things we can do to change our feelings, and sometimes we just have to learn to accept ourselves as the way we are.