Dear Fiona, I’m gay but haven’t had any gay experiences until recently. I am 25 and had a sleazy one-night stand the other week and I feel disgusting.
I’ve been drinking a lot too but have sworn never to have another gay experience. I should be looking forward to having a family and my parents think I should have a girlfriend. Could I possibly be happy?
Niall, Northern Ireland
Normal guilt arises when we violate our standards or our moral code and it motivates us not to repeat a certain act. However, pathological guilt occurs when we conclude we’re a bad, unworthy person because of something we’ve done.
Pathological guilt makes a person loathe themselves and resort to self-punishment such as excessive drinking. They also make unrealistic promises never to repeat the shameful act. Why torture yourself over who you ‘should’ be or what you ‘should’ be doing instead of accepting who you are? You will have more gay experiences and setting unrealistic standards means your feelings of self-loathing will dramatically escalate when you fail to attain them.
You’ll never be happy living a lie so please don’t consider it lest you want a life of anxiety, and self-loathing.