to Mark's List emails
2312 Wilton Drive,
Arlen Keith Leight, Ph.D. is a psychotherapist and
board certified clinical sexologist. He received his BA
in psychology from The Johns Hopkins University, his MSW
from The Catholic University of America, his
psychodynamic psychotherapy training from The American
University, and his Ph.D. from Maimonides University.
Dr. Leight is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the
state of Florida, Massachusetts and Washington, DC and
is certified as a sex therapist, hypnotherapist and
clinical supervisor for graduates working toward
Dr. Leight is a Diplomat of the American Board of
Sexology and a member of National Association of Social
Workers, American Association of Sex Educators,
Counselors and Therapists, and the Society for the
Scientific Study of Sexuality. Dr. Leight has been on
the faculty at Florida Atlantic University where he has
taught psychotherapy with families and groups, has
taught at Catholic University and is currently in
private practice in Wilton Manors, Florida.
I am a single gay male who is
HIV negative. I have a full time job
and live by myself in a small apartment in Ft
Lauderdale. When I moved to Fort
Lauderdale I had a thought that this was going to be
Shangri-La - beautiful weather, interesting people
looking for others to grow and be old with and meet
decent men for long term relationships. I quickly
learned that men here, most, and yes I do say most,
practice unprotected sex which I do not,
and then I realized that those who go out
to clubs, a place I thought would be a good way to meet
people, are just twisted freaks who want dirty sex, no
long term relationships, and are so judgmental! I have
not given up! I never say never!
So Doc…answer me this:
What does a nice, smart,
funny, ok looking, hard working guy wanting monogamy,
honesty and fun, along with an erotic safe sex life
while also being able to talk things out, the good and
the bad, do to find men for the dream of a partner?
It sounds like you are very
frustrated with life and your ability to connect with
quality men. You describe a world in which you are
a great catch but the rest of the population has a
boatload of problems. Indeed, you see others as
judgmental, but you yourself use judgments such as
The question is why are you
attracting what you don't want into your life?
Likely it is because you are focused on negativity and
have your antenna up looking for the worst in others.
You may indeed have ambivalence about your own sense of
self and what you really want. You are probably
seeking out love rather than enjoying life with the
understanding that when you are feeling good about
yourself and your life's purpose and passions you will
attract the kind of people you want into your world.
I would suggest doing some
psychotherapy either individually or in a group to deal
with some of the deeper issues you need to bring to
consciousness rather than blaming the world outside of
you for your problems. Group work might be the
best place to start, and you may wish to check out my
Confidence, Self-Esteem and Personal Empowerment Group
for gay men as an option.
I wish you my best,
Arlen Keith Leight, PhD, LLC
Do you believe in
monogamy in gay relationships? If two men want to
be together, marry, and just be with one another, do you
feel that is possible? What do you advise men
about the nature of gay relationships?
Monogamy is not something you believe in; it
is a contractual agreement defined as the marriage of
one person to one person (mono). Polygamy is
defined as marriage to two or more persons at the same
time (poly). Marriage does not necessarily require
sexual exclusivity. Many couples, both gay and
straight, choose to marry without choosing sexual
exclusivity. Marriage, monogamy, polygamy, sexual
exclusivity or sexual openness is a choice two (or more)
adults decide for themselves. I have no
professional judgment as to what is best for any two (or
more) adult individuals, although I do feel honesty and
integrity are essential to all relationships. I am
a strong advocate of legalizing gay marriage because I
believe the government has no business restricting the
choices we make about our personal relationships and
thereby legalizing and legitimizing heterosexism.
That being said, there is a
strong case to be made against sexual exclusivity as
inherent to our human species. In his new book,
Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Human Sexuality,
Christopher Ryan points out multiple reasons to believe
that Homo Sapiens are historically and more naturally
open with sexual expression. He argues that,
pre-historically, sex was free for any given group of
our ancestors; paternity was not important, children
were raised by the group, and concomitant greed,
ownership and jealously were not a part of the human
We see in our own time that
people will risk everything—family, friends, jobs,
power, money and honor—for sexual trysts. In the
last several years major figures—Bill Clinton, John
Edwards, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Tiger Woods—have
broken marriage fidelity vows. Beyond celebrity,
more than 50% of marriages end in divorce, and the trend
toward open relationships is growing. If human
nature were “naturally monogamous,” would there be so
much sexual infidelity? Would we need laws and
rules to prevent “cheating”? Would women need to
be circumcised or stoned in other cultures to keep them
I think we can all agree we
have control over our behavior but not over what we
desire. Society sets up institutions, moral codes
and laws to be sure we do not endanger the interests of
others. With regard to relationships, I believe
people have a basic right to happiness and privacy.
Sexual exclusivity or sexual openness is a choice
partners have the right to make for themselves.
Those who elect open relationships need to do so
honestly and openly. I advise good communication
and setting parameters that keep the emotionally
fidelity intact. I work with couples who want to
have openness to establish relationship agreements while
setting parameters and guidelines for such activity
while maintaining relational stability. Sexual
freedom does not destroy relationships. Lying,
cheating and avoiding communication about feelings does.
My boyfriend of several months and I want to move in
together. I am HIV positive. How and when should I tell
him? The anguish and guilt are eating me alive...and I
don't want to lose him.
Answer: The question is not when should you tell
your boyfriend that you are HIV positive, it's when
should you have told him. If your boyfriend has a
problem being with someone who is HIV positive, wouldn't
you want to know this before you get too involved? After
dating for several months I wouldn't be surprised if he
is more upset over the delay in disclosure than the HIV
status itself. That being said, I wonder about the level
of communication in this relationship. How do men date
for several months without ever talking about HIV? You
guys are NOT ready to move in together. I recommend you
spend some time getting to know one another more
intimately before considering such a commitment.
You may wish to tell your boyfriend how you're feeling
about the disclosure prior to breaking the news. "I'm
feeling some anxiety about having a conversation we need
to have before we commit to living together. I'm feeling
anguish and guilt about the fact that I have not talked
to you about my HIV status. I guess I've been afraid
that if I told you I'm positive you wouldn't want to be
with me anymore." Allow the dialogue to open focusing on
feelings. Professional guidance may be necessary as I
sense you guys are not very experienced or comfortable
at talking about emotionally charges matters. If your
boyfriend still wants to develop a relationship, then
put off moving in until you are both feeling comfortable
being intimate--both sexually and verbally--with the new
dynamic. If your boyfriend cannot deal with your status
then be glad you approached the subject before
committing to living together. Know for the future that
early, open and honest communication about HIV is
absolutely necessary for any sexually intimate
No matter what happens, I certainly hope you have been
having protected sex. Unprotected anal intercourse is a
risk as BOTH a bottom and a top. If you continue to be
sexual, be certain to be safe. Preventable passing of
infection is NOT a loving gesture.
Arlen Keith Leight, PhD, LLC
is a psychotherapist in private practice in Wilton
friend of mine is a very good looking, intelligent,
creative, successful man, but he consistently goes from
dating one guy to the next. He
serially goes from man to man…usually making a new start
within days of the last break-up lasting days to months.
Each one seems to be “the one”, and he invests a
total emotional commitment even when immediate “red
flags” are clearly present. I want to
try to help him stop. Selfishly I
never seem to be able to spend time with him because “in
between” time is so brief. What’s
this about, and what can I do about it?
pattern of obsessive-compulsive behavior is complex and
multi-dimensional. The likelihood is
that your friend feels empty and lonely without feeling
the attention and “love” of a potential partner.
The pain of each break-up is avoided by the
emersion into the next “relationship”.
There was likely childhood emotional neglect
and/or abuse. By ignoring red flags
or lacking filters to make wise choices, your friend is
essentially “asking for” a repetition of abuse, neglect
and/or emotional pain. Unconsciously your friend is
repeating the family-of-origin pattern which is actually
comfortable compared with the prospect of true intimacy.
The repetitive compulsion is an unconscious
attempt to heal the wounds of childhood thinking that
this new person will fully love him because of the
interest shown upon meeting. It is
this initial apparent interest that is so alluring and
by-passes your friend’s rational mind that might
otherwise realize the prospective partner is not a good
match. The limerance (initial
excitement phase of a relationship) provides a dopamine
(brain chemical) response that creates a high, can be
very addicting and replaces any grief about the last
Unfortunately you are probably not
in a good position to counsel your friend.
He is likely to close down should you try to help
him see how he, in pursuit of intimacy, is actually
setting himself up for future loneliness.
Therapy is important, but many therapists miss
this pattern all together thinking that it is good to
see their single clients seeking partnership.
Ideally, your friend and others like
him need to take some major steps to remedy the pattern.
These include but are not necessarily limited to:
Work on feeling good
about oneself by oneself. Fulfillment
does not require partnership, and, indeed, to be a good
partner you need to feel and be complete by yourself.
Self love and acceptance are critical ingredients
to bring into relationships.
Take time off to be by yourself.
Feel the pain of loneliness if that comes up.
Be with the anxiety. Time will
help you process these feelings and understand them and
yourself better. Doing this work with
a therapist is most helpful.
After a sufficient period of time enter
the dating world slowly. Don’t jump
at the first potential partner who shows you some
interest. Have in mind what is
important to you in a partner, and do not sacrifice Self
at the altar of relationship.
Experience dating without
“relationship” in mind. Don’t limit
yourself to one person. Allow
yourself to experience all different kinds of people.
Have fun and take your time.
Don’t confuse interest from others with love.
If you are going to date someone more
than a couple of times, be sure they are emotionally,
intellectually and sexually available and compatible.
Learn to say “NO” if there are red flags, if they
are not right for you, or if you are giving up parts of
you for the sake of a potential partner.
Arlen Keith Leight, PhD, LLC is a
psychotherapist in private practice in Wilton Manors.
Dear Dr. Leight:
I am so frustrated with my dating experiences. I find
when I really like a guy I'm so afraid to come on too
strong for fear of scaring him away. If I know the guy
isn't quite right for me I find myself dating him too
long hoping it will change which it never does. How do
I find Mr. Right? And, if I find him, how do I keep
These are age old questions that single gay men
continuously face. Often we don't find what we want
because we don't know what we want. I advocate an
"Authentic Dating" approach to increase the likelihood
Authentic dating is about being honest. First, that
requires being true to yourself about what you are
looking for, i.e. what is/are your goal(s) for dating?
Are you looking for a life partner? Are you looking for
casual sex? Is stability more important than passion? Do
you want a monogamous relationship or an open
relationship? Are you currently in a positive life space
and emotionally available for an exclusive sort of
dating relationship or not?
Next, you must be honest with yourself about how you
feel about the person you are meeting or dating. It has
been shown that we know within minutes if not seconds of
meeting someone if there is potential for passion (that
“click” or chemistry). If there’s nothing there you need
to ask yourself if and/or why you wish to pursue the
connection. This requires introspection and an
evaluation of your self-esteem.
Finally, you want to be totally honest with your date.
If there is nothing there but you want to see if
something will develop (unlikely, by the way) say so. If
you want to be dating a whole host of people and not
ready to be with one individual, say so. If you are only
interested in this person for sex, say so. If you are
looking for exclusivity in dating, say so. If you have
no interest in another date, say so. If you see
potential in this person, say so.
The logical argument against such a straight forward
approach is that you might scare someone off. This
approach is not for everyone…only for those who want an
honest, open, and sincere relationship with another
person who has similar objectives. I can state
unequivocally, if there is a mutual passionate
connection (i.e., chemistry or “click”) and both are
looking for the same thing, the other person will not be
turned off by stating your feelings. Your date will be
thrilled to know you feel likewise. If there is no
passion or if the two of you have different dating
objectives, what difference does it make if you scare
the other person away?
How do you find Mr. Right? There is no magic formula,
but you are most likely to meet the right guy when
you're enjoying life. If you hate bars, you are not
going to be in the right frame of mind to meet Mr. Right
at the bar. Do what you love in life and be happy and
you will attract the man you seek. Don't be desperate
for a relationship. You are unlikely to be honest with
yourself about how right the connection is for you when
all you really want is to be connected. Remember
relationships are about building intimacy and mutual
love for another...not about filling some void or
loneliness in your life. If you make the search about
becoming "complete" you will surely meet Mr. Wrong. You
need to feel complete within yourself so you have the
full, whole, authentic YOU to share with another man.
If you are interested in learning more about
this new way of thinking about yourself, dating and
relating, Dr. Leight offers a weekend intensive for gay
men in which these topics are fully explored.
www.DoctorLeight.com for future offerings.
Please feel free to offer
your input or ask additional questions.
Arlen Keith Leight, PhD, LLC is a
Psychotherapist in private practice in Wilton Manors.