HOCD (Sexual Orientation OCD)

This article is part one of a two part series on HOCD and HOCD symptoms. To read part two, please click here.

Homosexual Sexual Orientation Obsessive Compulsive Disorder OCD HOCD

Homosexual OCD, Sexual Orientation OCD (SO-OCD), Gay OCD, or more commonly HOCD, is an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) subtype centered around persistent doubt and fear about the sufferer’s sexual orientation. Just like any other manifestation of OCD, HOCD can appear at any time in one’s life and tends to focus on a specific core fear that one is gay, will become gay, want to be gay, should be gay, is somewhere on the LGBTQ+ spectrum, or doesn’t fully know their sexual orientation. Needless to say, to the HOCD sufferer this ambiguity is highly distressing.

HOCD (SO-OCD) obsessions consist of a feared story, but just a story nonetheless. When OCD tells this story, it can cause an overwhelming amount of concern that the story may actually be true!

HOCD Symptoms

Feared stories (obsessions) can include, but are not limited to:

  • If I watch Brokeback Mountain and like the movie, I might start to think I should have a gay relationship.
  • What if I thought that guy was attractive?
  • I like spending time with my female friends more than my male friends. What if that means I’m a lesbian?
  • I noticed that guy was attractive last week, and looked at him for a while, I must be gay.
  • I “experimented” with someone when I was a young boy, I must have gay leanings.
  • I noticed a twinge in my groin around my buddies last week, does that mean I’m gay?
  • I can’t stop thinking about women’s body parts and thinking “I’m gay.” What if it’s true?!

In order to get rid of these thoughts, reaffirm their heterosexual identity, or at least feel better, the sufferer might give into a compulsion of reassurance, neutralization, or avoidance. At their core, compulsions are misguided attempts to manage distorted thoughts and unwanted feelings.

Common HOCD compulsions include, but are not limited to:

  • Avoiding making eye contact with people of the same sex
  • Avoiding any physical contact other than necessary handshakes.
  • Avoiding gay neighborhoods, or media with gay themes or actors
  • Mentally reviewing previous attractions to people of the opposite sex
  • Asking one’s partner or friends if they’ve ever or currently thought they are gay, or have questioned their sexual orientation.
  • Looking at sexually explicit images of opposite sex people to check for arousal, or to look at sexually explicit images of same sex people to ensure they are not aroused
  • Noticing a person of the same sex is attractive and quickly moving eyes to a person of the opposite sex
  • If a gay thought comes in mind, replacing it with a heterosexual thought
  • Saying phrases like “I’m not gay or anything” when commenting positively on a same sex person or something related to homosexuality.  

HOCD is not limited to people simply questioning one’s sexuality, nor is it limited to only straight identified people. So called “Straight HOCD” is another expression of HOCD in which a gay identified person, who has gone through their coming out process, fears they are actually straight, have been lying to themselves about their sexuality, or will eventually become straight despite their identity as a gay man, lesbian woman, or anywhere else on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Often this comes with fears of how it will change their status among others in the gay community, or whether they fully or truly know themselves. Furthermore, Transgender OCD is focused on whether the individual is, wants to be, will be, or will want to be the opposite gender. This can come with or without traditional sexual orientation OCD, but is all ultimately OCD that should be treated as OCD.

HOCD Is Not Sexual Orientation Suppression

To be clear, HOCD obsession is not the same as someone genuinely questioning their sexuality, nor is it internalized homophobia or suppressing one’s sexual orientation. HOCD receives undue criticism from people who misunderstand this subtype. At its core, it is nothing more than Obsessive Compulsive Disorder revolving around a specific fear. Someone experiencing HOCD related obsessions perceive the thoughts as being at odds with their desires, wants, and character. The intrusive thoughts are run counter to who they feel they truly are and differ from their genuine opposite sex attraction. Understandably, this experience makes the obsessions feel so threatening, alien, and inconsistent. Furthermore, most people with HOCD are not homophobic and often are LGBTQ+ allies and supporters.

Conversely, internalized homophobia and suppressing one’s sexual orientation occurs when the individual recognizes personally genuine same sex attraction but electively chooses to suppress it in order to desperately maintain a heterosexual identity. This is a subtle, but crucial difference between the two. Someone suppressing their sexual orientation, sometimes due to internalized homophobia, resists accepting their genuine and honestly felt sexual attractions because they fear it will threaten their public and personal identity. For example, their religious identity, family membership, or social status. On the other hand, HOCD is the experience of non-genuine and unwanted feelings and thoughts that threaten the individual’s genuinely felt identity and sexual orientation.

HOCD Treatment

Treatment for SO-OCD includes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), and mindfulness-based treatment. CBT works to help the client challenge distorted thoughts about themselves, confront distorted thoughts about their sexual orientation and to develop a more balanced, reality-based understanding of their thoughts and feelings. With this firmer grounding in rational thought, ERP helps clients face their fears and work toward reducing and tolerating anxiety-riddled thoughts and unwanted physical sensations. Lastly, mindfulness-based approaches, such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), help you develop a greater willingness to confidently stand in the present moment with feared thoughts, feelings, and situations. The end result is greater freedom of thought and of action. Additionally, clients learn that they are in control of their responses and can withstand the discomfort of fleeting, unwanted thoughts and feelings.

To read part two of this series on HOCD, please click here

For more information about HOCD, to discuss HOCD teletherapy or in-office treatment at the Fullerton, Orange County location, or to schedule an assessment and begin treatment, please contact me.

FearCast Podcast episodes about HOCD:

Episode 12- Sexual-Orientation OCD
Episode 19- Listener Question- HOCD and Groinal Sensations

The California OCD and Anxiety Treatment Center offers specialized therapy for HOCD (Sexual Orientation OCD) in its Fullerton offices. In addition to serving North Orange County, Los Angeles, and the Inland Empire, CalOCD offers online therapy, group therapy, and Intensive Out-Patient treatment.

35 thoughts on “HOCD (Sexual Orientation OCD)”

  • Hi! I suffer from sexual orientation OCD and I was wondering what the best form of treatment would be for me, because I’ve read that exposure/response prevention therapy works…and Ive tried reading up on those techniques, but my OCD immediately jumps to “ok if I need to expose myself to anxiety ridden situations, then maybe I should just go out and have sex with someone of the same gender to overcome my anxiety” and I feel like that is not what ERP therapy is about. Could you provide further examples of how I can undergo this treatment? Thanks so much!

    • Hi Aria,
      Thanks for the comment. First, you are certainly not the first person to entertain the notion of having sex with someone of the same sex in order to beat HOCD, and I cannot dissuade you enough from the thought. This would be akin to having a poisonous snake bite us to overcome a fear of snakes. I recognize the intent, but that’s not how ERP works, and this approach will only backfire on you.

      ERP is about a progressive exposure to feared situations, but these are not always genuinely dangerous. Instead, ERP will focus on compulsive behaviors that interfere with your life. This can include intentionally looking at people of the same sex when you may typically look away. Ultimately, ERP is about eliminating compulsive behaviors while doing things you would actually want to do if the anxiety suddenly disappeared.

  • I need to know what to do. I am in a relationship where I am 37, expecting my first child. I am going to be a dad. And I can’t shift my HOCD. I am always telling myself I am gay. Always. I must be. I check my reactions continously. It all started in 2004 when I was travelling and someone said I looked gay and I must be. Ever since. 16 years. On and off, I have doubted myself. I have never watched gay porn. Ever. Before my current relation ship, I fantacise about woman. Always. Never men. But my mind is telling me I have to just give in and accept it as I am clearly Internally homophobic and just want to have sex with a man. I question my ED isn’t my meds and just more reason to want to be with a man. I know I am not, but I can’t stop reassuring myself and telling myself that maybe I am just scared of the reaction and that’s all I want? Help..

    • Hi Mike,

      Thanks for reading the article, and I’m sorry you’re struggling with this doubt. Also, congratulations on becoming a father soon!

      Your story is very common among those suffering with HOCD. They have no interest in men, no attraction toward men, no previous sexual history with men, etc. Despite all of this, even a single comment from decades ago can get stuck in one’s mind and replay on loop. ED certainty doesnt help, which can be impacted by medication use and anxiety. Either way, it feeds back into the primary fear.

      Your best bet is to practice Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Exposure and Response Prevention skills to help challenge the thought patterns and behaviors that are influencing and maintaining the fear. The process is not easy, or fun, but it’s effective. If you arent working with a therapist at this time, I highly encourage you to find someone. If you would like to speak about services I offer, please feel free to contact me at Kevin@calocd.com, or call me at (714) 423-3779.

      Thanks again for the comment.

      • I am still struggling and have gone further to read articles about Gareth Thomas. After being triggered by his performance of full monty on ITV. I read articles about how he struggled for years and was a master as hiding his identify from his peers. I always get paranoid that people think I am lying and am gay. But is it because I am lying to myself and they are not thinking this at all? He said he scrubbed himself clean and was distraught when he broke up with his wife and wanted to stay with her. Is that me clinging on to something I’m not. If I come out, would this anxiety go? Or would I be trapped in a life I can’t get back from. Also buzzfeed said linden method lies and there is no such things as HOCD which has sent me into a panic of anxiety and denial?

        • Hi Mike,

          A few things:
          1) Continued reading about others’ coming out stories for any reason are compulsive and should be stopped immediately.
          2) Their story is not your story, no matter how similar or frightening.
          3) Buzzfeed is not a reliable source of… pretty much anything.

          Your ongoing analysis in only making the obsession worse. Thinking about what may happen in the future is as useful as playing the lottery. Refocusing your attention and energy on the present moment is the best thing you can do. If you havn’t done so, I highly encourage you to seek out therapy to begin working on this obsession and to start practicing acceptance of the uncertainty and re-engagement in a more functional life.

  • Hi Kevin,

    Hope you’re well.

    I have currently been diagnosed with Hocd and have come across a few of your videos.

    What I am struggling to understand is my therapist says Ocd thoughts aren’t true but then you should wait until the end of therapy so realise what sexuality you are, but if someone realises they are Gay at the end of therapy isn’t that effectively just denial.

    I think one of the main points I picked up from your video I which confuses me is when therapists say Ocd thoughts are not true and these are unwanted. Are you saying you have come across cases with Hocd that have realised they are because then how do you explain this to your partner/wife/husband as they also believe Ocd Intrusive thoughts aren’t true.

    My therapist and other therapists online have said they have never come across someone with hocd that realised they were Gay but then I feel from your videos you’re saying this can happen or am I misunderstanding this.

    If this is the case are you saying PoCD and harm ocd people can realise there thoughts are true.

    Look forward to hearing from you

    • Hi Alan,

      Thanks for comment. Your question is a somewhat common question, and can be worrisome for many just starting therapy. My position and statements on this subject are nuanced, which is why some struggle with them.

      First, people with OCD overvalue the importance of their obsession and feel that they NEED to know the answers to them to move on in life. This overemphasis on certainty causes them to continually seek answers even when they’ve been given the answer before. And even if a question was answered, OCD will poke holes in the explanation, or add another caveat that seems to nullify the answer and leave the sufferer feeling like they are at square one.

      Second, what I tell people is that HOCD treatment (and POCD or Harm OCD treatment) is not about certainty, but about accepting uncertainty. It’s about learning that you can live without having 100% certainty about your sexuality (or pedophilia, or violent thoughts, etc). Treatment is about tolerating the momentary rise and fall of anxiety, not getting certainty.

      Even if there was a statistic about how many people are diagnosed with HOCD who eventually realize they are gay (which no such statistic exists), it would not reassuring in the least bit. Instead, it would cause people to ruminate about whether they are in the whatever-percentage. Additionally, if you find ONE story of someone diagnosed with HOCD then coming out after treatment (i.e. denial), then it nullifies the reassurance that “all OCD thoughts are false.” This again speaks to the need for uncertainty and living in the present moment.

      Third, neither one of us can predict the future. Therefore, I don’t know what is going to happen after treatment. I don’t even know what is going to happen later today! Therefore, I cannot in good conscious say someone with POCD, Harm OCD, or HOCD, will NEVER do X,Y, or Z. Instead, we are all learning to accept uncertainty with the future while we also take steps in the present moment to live and act in a personally meaningful and values-based manner despite OCD obsessions.

  • Hi! I recently discovered your podcast and LOVE IT! So helpful to have this. I do want to point out something I’ve experienced and wonder if it’s worth deeper discussion. I’m a plus-sized woman and have always struggled with letting myself be vulnerable and open to men for fear of being rejected so I don’t have much experience with men. During one of my first encounters (I have had HOCD on and off for a long time) I remember being in the moment of a kiss being like oh I don’t like this, I must be gay. Turns out he just was a jerk and a bad kisser but that was my thought. Despite all that I consider myself a heterosexual woman and desire to be with men and that’s where my attraction and wants and desires lie.. I do find that my OCD loves to fixate on this fact — that “oh the reason why you’ve not done anything is because you are gay” and I wonder if it’s worth an episode and if anyone else has experienced this. What role does insecurity and feeling attractive to the opposite sex having in this process. I’ve also found that my HOCD is often triggered by my fear of putting myself out there and being afraid of rejection from men. I’ll want to engage in online dating or do something else and I’ll fear that if I move forward, I’ll realize I don’t like it and then that will be proof that I’m gay so I sometimes avoid men too. I’ve had this thought multiple times. Like omg if I don’t like it I can’t be in my fantasy world where I like men anymore. Wonder if that’s common as well? It sucks because my “attraction” to women doesn’t feel active, it feels like a compulsion? Does that make sense? I don’t seek it out or want it, my body just reacts and because of my fear I keep reacting. I ask myself if this is what I really want and I always find myself feeling extreme sadness about the idea of not being straight or having relationships with the type of men I’m attracted to. It sucks and I truly hate it because I want to develop a great relationship with a man but there’s a voice in the back of my head that’s like YOU NEVER WELL GIVE IT UP.

    I do think that some of the conversations about queer identity also makes this harder because there is a “if you have the question, you know the answer attitude.”

    Also — will email about treatment! Thank you!

    • Hi S,

      Thanks for the message, thanks for reading the article, and thanks for listening to the FearCast! I’m so happy that you are enjoying it and finding it helpful in the midst of your process.

      Your comment is exceptionally relevant. Yes, there is a social attitude that encourages anyone with same sex questions (HOCD or not) to “explore it,” which often sounds like code for “follow that thought because that’s who you truly are. Feelings are facts, don-cha-know.”

      You also are pointing out a common core fear of some peoples’ obsession; rejection. Pushing men away means you’ll never be rejected by them, and being gay means you’ll never be rejected by men either because you’ll never pursue them.

      Working on these themes by growing your awareness of them and facing them through exposure therapy can be very helpful to overcoming them.

      Best of luck with your process, and thanks again for the message.

  • I don’t know what to do anymore. I’m not sure if I’ve even got HOCD I just know I’m not gay. My thoughts tell me I’m gay all the time. I can’t do anything. I’m in a relationship I love my boyfriend. I’m so unhappy I don’t want these thoughts no more I’ve always liked boys. What can I do?

    • Hi Evie,

      Thanks for message, and I’m sorry that you’re going through this. I’d point out that you are messaging me, an OCD therapist, when worrying about this issue. Deep down you believe this to be HOCD, and if you do, treat it like it’s OCD! This means, practicing tools part of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Exposure and Response Prevention, and Mindfulness will help. While you cannot eradicate the obsession or questions, you can learn that you are fully capable of handling the rush of questions and uncomfortable feelings that come with those doubts. Additionally, you can learn to have your life while not having full 100% certainty. You and I already accept uncertainty with a lot of things! This can be one of them. Don’t listen to OCD’s lie that you MUST be certain about this. Your sexuality is no different.

      To aid in the above, I highly encourage starting therapy with an OCD specialist, or going through a workbook that addresses HOCD (SO-OCD). If you would like to discuss treatment options, feel free to contact me at 714-423-3779, or emailing me through the contact form.

  • Hi, I need help.. I have a girlfriend that I love a lot, I plan to marry her, but I keep getting these thoughts of being with men that I don’t want but they keep coming, on some days it is tolerable and I can take it, but other days it feels like I have to give into it even though I don’t like it. I used to feel normal and hang out with friends and not think any of this, now when I’m around a group of the same-sex friends it makes me feel anxious and I start to wonder whether or not I am gay. I have nothing against gay people except that I don’t want to be a gay person myself and I don’t want to associate with that person. And I know that people of the same sex are attractive but I don’t Want to be with them, I want to be with my girlfriend. I seem to always have a doubt in something and now its about my sexuality, even though I always liked girls. I read that there is a way to stop these thoughts and thats by accepting the thoughts and feelings, but when I want to try it it makes me feel scared because my thoughts are telling me that I’m okay with being gay and I’m not okay with it. And for erp theres a doubt in my head that that won’t work and that I’m just in denial and it makes me feel so unhappy because what if I have to breakup with my girlfriend and deal with these thoughts that I don’t like until I die . Please help

    • It’s important to remember that you have been through various obsessions and/ or doubts before, and the importance and terror of those have diminished over time.

      Acceptance of the gay thoughts is not the same as accepting that you are gay, or accepting that you are OK with being gay. You are accepting of the uncertainty of future of your sexuality. This uncertainty is just like the uncertainty about the future of your job, relationships, financial security, physical safety, etc. We don’t know, and we don’t need to know in order to move forward with building the happiest, fullest, and most meaningful life.

      Doubt about whether ERP is a common obsession as well and another subject to practice ERP with!

      If you aren’t working with a therapist at this time, I’d encourage you to consider meeting with someone who can help you work through these obsessions and practice some ERP and acceptance exercises. If you have any questions about getting started either with CalOCD or another program, please feel free to contact me.

  • Hello!

    So for about 2 years now I’ve been feeling anxiety about my sexual orientation ever since someone told me they could see me as being bisexual and based on the reaction I got from someone else when I said it must be so nice to date girls, it’d be so much easier than dating guys (I had just found out my boyfriend was cheating and we broke up and I was going through a “boys suck” phase. But ever since then I’ve been questioning my speciality, before this I never thought of girls in this way (I’m a female who identifies as straight) and have always been attracted to men and have only had romantic and sexual relationships with men. But recently my anxiety and doubts about this have increased to the point where I feel sick sometimes. Everyone else with or with possible HOCD says that they know for sure that they are straight but experience these thoughts and doubts and fears, and when I’m in a good place I know that I am too, but sometimes it gets so bad that I feel like maybe I am gay? And the anxiety is just internalized homophobia? I don’t want to be in relationships with girls and I’ve never thought of them romantically or anything like that but it just feels like my mind and thoughts are convincing me that I am into girls and I’m just denying it and suppressing it. It’s even gotten to the point where I feel like I should try it just to find out for sure but I don’t want to at the same time because thinking about it makes me nervous and scared but what if those nerves are just a way of my body saying that it’s something that I’ll like? Please tell me what you think! Thank you!

    • Hi Jamie,

      Thanks so much for the comment. What you discuss in your comment are all very common ways people struggle with their HOCD. You’re right, people with HOCD, just like yourself, do not feel attracted to the same sex, feel that they are being pulled toward something against their will, and continually acknowledge that they are attracted to the opposite sex. Despite this, your thoughts suggest, sometimes scream, that you are gay, will become gay, or are otherwise not straight. HOCD is also not internalized homophobia.

      The assessment process for HOCD is vital. In addition to assessing for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and the presence of HOCD obsessions, we discuss your feared thoughts, historic sexuality, current attractions, and assess for any presence of internalized homophobia. It’s important to know that genuine HOCD is ultimately about doubt and uncertainty masquerading as a shift in your sexuality.

      Thanks again for the comment!

  • I suffer from hocd? For 10 yrs. First, I was sure? that I don’t like girls (Im Girl), but over time when I do my checkings ( compulsions i know) find the idea of being with a woman almost appealing, why can I imagine being with a girl? That’s not hetero!! And I always preferd lesbian porn. What’s going on? Can this come from all the testing i did for years? My mind always forces me to think about girls and that I would def like it better than with my bf. I don’t know what my real thoughts are any more. I have urges to come out, thoughts telling me just do it you’re gay, you will feel better! I read an article about compulsory heterosexuality and I freaked!! Some things are true for me on that list.
    I also read all coming out stories and they sometimes align with what I feel. Especiallly this Story: girl who married a man bc she thought she loved him (despite not liking sex so much and having lesbian fantasies- like me!!) and later recognized that she loved him but not like a husband and was in fact gay.
    Can I be lesbian and have hocd? I feel like am lesbian and just too weak to admit it 🙁
    I would really appreciate help!

    • Hi Kate,

      Thank you for the comment, and I’m sorry you’re experiencing such a hard time with this obsession. Your struggle with HOCD is quite common, however you are looking at the issue incorrectly. Your questions are all focused on the outcome of your sexuality rather than on your ability to tolerate uncertainty. OCD’s game is trick you into thinking that the outcome is important, especially when it differs from something you feel to be so true (in this case, your heterosexuality). Instead, beating HOCD requires you to refocus your attention on your willingness to not know. It is paradoxical, but focusing on the experience of ‘not knowing’ the outcome will help you to learn that you don’t need to know the answer.

      This is of course easier said than done. I highly encourage you to consider talking with an OCD therapist on this matter to begin learning some tools that can help you tackle your obsessions.

      Thank you again for the comment!

    • I could have written this myself!!!!! I feel the exact same way. It’s been going on for over 10 years, and the few times I was able to overcome it and was actually able to feel my real feelings, I was able to look back and laugh about thinking I was a lesbian. But something triggered me again last week and now my anxiety is worse than ever. During the few times where I felt like my “real” self and felt clear headed, I told myself “This is the real me (I like men), and if I ever question it again just remember this.” But then when the anxiety hits it’s impossible to listen to reason!!!! I feel so sick, like I’m lying to my boyfriend and living a fake life. It’s awful.

  • Hello! I’ve come across your website before and actually read this article before and I’m honestly not completely sure if what I’m experiencing is HOCD or a sexual identity crisis. I’ve historically been interested in men but ever since January, I’ve been thoroughly wondering if I’m interested in women, and it’s only intensified since the pandemic hit. I’ve read articles about questioning sexuality, I’ve watched coming out videos, I asked my gay friends what their coming out experiences were like, and I’ve even garnered the courage to watch movies where gay people’s journeys and experiences are the focus. I’ve even tried the method of saying things like “I’m a lesbian” or other non-straight sexual identities and seeing what that does for me. Unfortunately, I still feel this overwhelming anxiety and discomfort even after having done all these things. I’ve never been diagnosed with OCD before but a lot of people say that I’m an overthinker, especially with this. I guess what I’m trying to say is this whole situation has essentially robbed me of my joy because I could be doing the most mundane thing and my brain will find a way to connect it to the possibility of being gay. What would you suggest I do? Again thank you so much for what you do!

    • Thanks for reading the article and for the comment.

      Your story is a lot like many people I speak and work with. Treatment using CBT, ERP, and Mindfulness may help you face the fear and realize that you can accept and tolerate the fear that you don’t know your sexuality. Additionally, treatment may help you accept the reality that you don’t need to get an answer to this question. You can be uncertain and unclear even if your anxiety is suggesting you HAVE TO KNOW NOW, or else. The goal of HOCD treatment isn’t to get an answer to your sexuality, but to accept the feelings of uncertainty about your sexuality.

      If you want to know more about treatment, please feel free to contact me and I will be happy to discuss this further. Thanks again for the comment.

  • Hi I am really Struggling in my life I can’t handle it anymore… I don’t think I like these thoughts! and the feelings that come with it I genuinely think it isn’t me(But it might be I don’t know, But it makes me feel horrible inside, I get panic attacks and can never really get clarity, and when I do I feel it’s because of a flaw in my rituals).. But I’m scared that it’s just Internalized like you said! I have these thoughts 24/7 and I can’t rid them from my mind i get scared that I actually like the thoughts and Images… Before this all started I was super attracted to women(I’m a man) and never saw men as attractive in anyway. but ever since I can’t get certainty and make sure I dislike these things! I am constantly battling with it! I wake up to panic attacks everyday. Life has become unbearable for me I am really struggling. I always wanted to be a with a Woman Romantically and Sexually, But now it feels like I’m lieing to myself and to any woman I start a relationship with.
    I hope it isn’t Internalized Suppression because My sexual Orientation was something I was Happy with and Sure of in the past, But now I constantly doubt myself when you say Genuine! But I don’t know what Genuine is anymore!
    I want to clarify I don’t like these thoughts! it’s torture and It’s made my life unbearable.

    • The obsessions you referenced are all common obsessions in HOCD. The amount of rumination and effort to gain certainty will exacerbate the problem and only make you feel more anxious and uncertain. OCD’s lie is that you NEED to resolve the topic of the conversation before gaining peace. The real way of it is tolerating the experience of the thought/ anxiety while resisting the urge to solve it. Its like trying to stop a wave coming at you. You cant do it. So stop trying. Let the anxiety hit you, though it may push you a bit, then get back up and keep going.

      • Hi, I’ve been suffering for about 6 months ever since a friend made a joke i looked lesbian. ( I was a tomboy as a kid so that does not help) I’ve always liked men and wanted to be with men. But i’m stuck on analyzing the past about a circumstance if i had a crush on a certain girl or i just wanted to be her friend and admired her. I never thought that i had a crush on her at the time, but now Hocd has be questioning and analyzing it! How can i get past this? thank You!

        • Hi Olivia,

          While jokes can be a simple and silly thing to some, to others they can trigger obsessive thoughts. It sounds like your wise-mind knows your friends were making a simple joke that is not a genuine criticism or comment about you or your sexuality, but your anxiety has grabbed onto it and set up shop. Continual obsession and rumination about past relationships will not help you discover anything that you already don’t know. In fact, the more you think about it the more your anxiety will insert questions, doubts, and inferences that will only make you feel worse. You will have to practice radial acceptance that you may never know the true nature of your past relationships while you then move on to active engagement in your life as it exists in the moment. You can get through this, but it requires you to accept uncertainty.

  • Hello everyone, I have always identified as a straight male, but over these last couple of months my minds has been stuck on a loop of “your gay your gay your gay” and now it’s gotten to the point where it’s telling me I have Straight OCD, and that my attraction to woman has always been fake! Like what is going on! I have always had crushes on girls never guys. Like I need help. Serious help. I just want to know if I’m gay or not.

    • Repetitive thoughts about being gay, constant questioning of one’s sexuality and history of attraction, and feeling the “need” to know one’s sexuality are all common symptoms of SO-OCD (Sexual Orientation OCD, HOCD, etc). Perhaps the hardest thing to do in treatment for this is to let go of that urge to resolve the question and get lasting 100% certainty, however when you allow for the feeling of uncertainty and those doubtful thoughts to just be without any intentional interaction, you’ll find they effect you less and less over time.
      Thanks for the comment, and feel free to reach out to learn more about treatment options.

  • Hello. Just read this article, and just like the innumerable amount of articles I’ve read, they all resonate with me. Okay, so I have been recently diagnosed with OCD, but know for sure I’ve had it since a child except never really had a core fear until my Olfactory Reference Syndrome which is closely related to OCD. I’ve suffered with Body Dysmprphic Disorder as well, so all this is very reassuring. But, despite this, I still have my doubts. I’ve been suffering with HOCD for about a year and a half now, and I can assure you that I’m much better now, but ever heard of overvalued ideas? Yeah, if that’s what I experienced during my time with HOCD then it’s made it much harder. It’s been mostly desensitization, medication and accidental exposures that have improved my symptoms. I have a history of being attracted to women, since Kindergarten in fact. I’ve only had girlfriends, and have only pursued women all my life, have only watched heterosexual porn, and have engaged in flirting with women (even though I’m really bad at it….which triggers me). Anyway, despite all this why does it feel like I’m not the same person as I was before HOCD? I’ve lost all romantic interest in women (still find them sexually appealing), and no longer feel like pursuing women like I used to since I’ve been obsessing about this. I’m afraid that I might never be able to form a loving, long lasting relationship with a woman because of the uncertainty. How would I ever be able to be with a woman again if I doubt my sexual orientation due to the constant fear my intrusive thoughts have caused me? It feels very real at times and feel feminine and gay when I’m out, and go everywhere with the fear of people thinking I’m gay or if I’m subconsciously giving those signals to men. I’ve always been able to make male friends, and always felt like one of the bros, but now I can’t even look a man in the eye. Will this ever go away completely? Did the overvalued idea hold some truth? Now I have better insight and am able to tell how bogus it is to think I’m gay but not with 100% certainty. Why am I not able to move on? I’m not homophobic, but I’ve never ever entertained the idea of being with a man except since this started I check how I feel when I deliberately do and honestly it does not appeal to me. I can’t imagine being with a guy romantically. The thought makes me sick because it is so alien to me, but I have nothing against people who do. So despite knowing this, why does it feel like that’s what I secretly want but not keen to it because I’ve never experienced it? Any help would be appreciated.

    • Oh hi Mark,

      Thanks for sharing your story. So much of what you shared are classic obsessions in HOCD/ SO-OCD. Questioning sexuality, feeling your attraction to anyone has tanked, the inclusion of gay pornography as reassurance, questioning whether it’s still HOCD or some percentage of “gay.” If you are not currently seeing a therapist about this, I would encourage you to seek out a therapist to continue working on this obsession and addressing the ongoing issue of rumination and overthinking. This can also take the form of consistent checking of feeling and memories, comparing current experiences to the past, and anticipating feelings about yourself in the future. It’s not only necessary to accept the uncertainty, but you also have to stop the rumination about the obsession and evaluating the status of the obsession. It’s the next step, but you’ve put in a bunch of good work already, so keep going!

  • I’ve been going through this for 1 year now and at this point I don’t even know what is real and what is not. I really don’t want to be with a guy and even a thought about being with a guy repulses me but these intrusive thoughts just don’t go away. Now I cannot even look at lgbt flag symbol without something triggering and me quickly choosing to divert my attention (no offense to lgbt community as I’m of the opinion that let people do whatever they want). I still feel attracted towards girls but then I constantly interrupt that with gay thoughts like I’m forcing these thoughts onto myself for no reason whatsoever. All my crushes have been girls, I’ve always fantasized about being with a girl and I’ve always known that I am straight but It’s like now I can’t even think about any other subject other than what is going on and that I’m turning bi or gay. This literally destroyed my social life that I can’t even speak to my male friends without having a doubt if I’m gay or bi or if I’m acting gay or if I’m feeling anything especially in this pandemic period when I was alone most of the time. Also now I cannot even watch movies (which I loved to watch) and watching normal youtube videos without me diverting my attention from males because of having this fear of being gay or bi and “what if I feel something if I watch that”. I even go through my earlier conversations with my friends and try to think “what did I feel when I was having that conversation?” or “Did I feel something at that time?” even though that conversation was any general and casual conversation. I know that all of this sounds crazy but I still just think about this subject even when I decide to ignore this. There are sometimes when I feel great (which are rather few) and I know what I am but that happiness is just momentary until something triggers me and I start the whole cycle of thinking and checking if I’m feeling anything or did I feel something and groinal responses etc.
    The worst part is after finding out that something like HOCD exists is that I began doubting myself that “what if this HOCD is just something my brain is making up to cover that I’m gay or bi and I’m in denial?”. Even after taking advice like “just let those thoughts wash away and ignore them” , I think “what if by ignoring I’m just procrastinating about me finding out that I’m gay or bi?”. I’m just so tired of this constant doubting and checking that I just wish to go back to my previous self. This thing literally took my concentration from everything like studies, entertainment (movies etc.) and now I don’t even know what I am anymore or what am I supposed to do in this.

    • Hi Xplune,

      Thanks for the comment, and I’m sorry to hear that you are suffering like this. OCD can have layers upon layers of doubt, confusion, and questions. But, when you choose to disengage from the questions, accept and move forward without knowing (as risky as that sounds), you will find yourself detaching from the worry and re-engaged with your life. Therapy can help, but start by choosing to stop the rumination and questions just once, risk that the thought is right, and move on to another thought or action. Practicing this will get easier over time, but it gets easier!

  • Hello, I am 34 and have always ifentified as heterosexual. Even though I have had woman fantasies and watched female porn I have never been with a woman. Since last year I had a thought that maybe I am gay and ever since then I have been obsessively thinking that and triggered by so many things. So worried that maybe I am actually gay, that I have to leave my partner and coming out would fix everything. Perhaps I am bi and have never acknowledge this. It is just so tormenting and I feel so much guilt.

  • Hello,

    I have anxiety disorder for a year. It started after graduation. I got a job and I had a very severe boss. I was very stressed. At work I had shortness of breath, etc., I was constantly afraid that I could be fired and could be left with nothing, I only waited until the probationary period was over. Autumn and spring were always the worst months. This summer I had practically no symptoms at all, I met a great guy, I stopped worrying about my job and wanted to quit my therapy, and suddenly in September I got the hocd (I think).

    In general, I must admit that I never had an orgasm with a man, but despite this, sex and closeness have always brought me pleasure. I was always drawn to men and fell in love with men. However, I had an episode in my life where I watched lesbian pornography and started masturbating to it, and then I always had an orgasm. Perhaps the most exciting thing for me was that there was such a taboo subject. I was never worried about it, however, I did not think about it and I did not analize it, because in reality I was never attracted to women, I was even a little disgusted. I was always sure what I feel and who I like. Sometimes I kissed my girl friends (party etc.) and was picked up by women, but I didn’t feel anything at all. When I met my current guy, I stopped watching these movies, forgot about it at all.

    Suddenly in the fall, I started to wonder why I didn’t have an orgasm with my boyfriend and then it reminded me that I had always had an orgasm with lesbian porn and then it started. Intrusive thoughts, searching for answers on the Internet, the world went crazy. I don’t feel like having sex. I want to do nothing. Nothing makes me happy. I don’t know what I want, who I am. In the past it was for me incomprehensible how it could be possible to do not know it. I have never had any doubts. I feel I have no control about my life. I’m afraid I go crazy and I destroy my reletionship if I do not resolve the problem now. I need help. Plus, I put the mesturbation technique into my sex with my partner and I normally get an orgasm by oral sex. It calmed me down a bit, but it’s hard to get rid of these thoughts now, because my reletionship is very importent to me and
    fears want to take away from us what is most important to us. Maybe I am really a hidden lesbian? However, I can’t imagine a relationship with a woman, I don’t even feel like I could even try sex with my boyfriend and another girl together or something. I just want everything to be as in the past. I am not a homophobe by any means, I have friends lesbians, gays. My family and friends are extremely tolerant. I live in Germany, a very tolerant country, so I see no reason why I would have to hide that I am a lesbian. Anyway, if I am a lesbian, I would have noticed it earlier, I would fall in love with some girl in the past. It is impossible to do not know it. I am now 26 years old.

    Anyone have similar experiences? Did anyone come out of this? Could you help me? Maybe u have someone who speaks also Polish or German. It would be easier for me.

    • Hi Aga,

      Thanks for sharing your story. HOCD (SO-OCD) can be a confusing a painful struggle. Your experience is a common story. Many people will suddenly experience doubt and rumination about their sexuality and assume it is genuine. The “shouldn’t I have known by now” sentiment is also a common one.

      I do have experience working with this, and many therapist in the world do have experience with it and knowledge on how to help with it. While i would be happy to help, unfortunately I am not taking any new international clients at this time. I will encourage you to contact the IOCDF.org and see if they have a therapist in Germany who can help. Feel free to also reach out to me via telephone and I’m happy to help discuss other programs or treatment options.

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