Feeling Behind in Life? If You’re a Gay Man, This Might be the Reason

by | Gay Mental Health

One of the most common things I’ll hear from gay men in counselling is that they feel like they’re “behind” in life.

Now, it could be argued that the current job market and cost of living are causing a lot of people to feel this way regardless of how they identify.

So it’s important to recognize that there are likely larger economic factors influencing this feeling amongst people in general.

But this feeling goes back a lot further for gay men

In fact, in 1979 a researcher named Vivienne Cass proposed a theory that many gay men go through six stages of identity development as they come to understand, accept, and synthesize what it means for them to be gay.

Unsurprisingly, this developmental model also closely follows the process of coming out that many gay men experience.

Because the initial process of coming out might happen at different speeds and times in gay men’s lives, it can also impact when and how gay men have different life experiences. 

Simply put, gay men’s level of outness can prevent them from having certain life experiences as early or as quickly as they would have wanted.

These different life experiences might include things like:

➡️  First dating / sexual experiences

➡️  Developing friendships / socializing

➡️  Educational and training opportunities

➡️  Career opportunities and advancement

➡️  Decisions to cohabitate / marry partners

➡️  Decisions to have children / pets

Implications for gay men

Other than feeling “behind” in life, what other implications might all this have on gay men?

The biggest impact I see in counselling is the sadness many gay men feel about the experiences they missed out on because they were not out earlier and/or did not feel safe to have certain experiences.

For example, a lot of gay men feel sadness about hiding who they were during their teenage years, and the experiences they didn’t have during this period.

What can gay men do about all these feelings?

When I work with gay men on these topics in counselling, they can sometimes express things like “I just want to move on, what use is there in dwelling on the past?”

And really, if someone is already feeling behind in life, it makes sense not wanting to “waste” anymore time talking about the past. But not only that, exploring these past experiences can be painful.

Yet, to experience more freedom from the painful experiences of the past, I’ve found that exploring the sadness about what may not have happened helps many gay men to grieve these losses. 

Although this grieving can be difficult, many gay men find that acknowledging what they missed out on in their past helps them to move forward in their life with more clarity. 

And through this process, the feeling of being “behind” tends to transform into a feeling of relief and acceptance of where one’s life is in the present moment. 

If you’d like some help experiencing this kind of transformation, click the button below to get started.

Jordan Gruenhage Canada Gay Counsellor Therapist


As a counsellor at The Centre for Gay Counselling, Jordan excels at helping fellow gay men understand their emotions better, heal from past trauma, and grow their sense of self-worth so that they can enjoy living fully as themselves. He believes that gay men have inherent worth, and that they deserve to live fulfilling lives. Interested in working with Jordan? Click the button below to get started.