Dr. Downs says promiscuity is not unique to gay men—men in general are more sexually indiscriminate—but there is a reason why gay relationships statistically have a shorter tenure than straight relationships. "It's because of shame," Alan says. "It's that sense of knowing there's something about you that's unacceptable. ... It happens with all of us when we've been shamed about some significant part of ourselves, especially our sexuality."
Dr. Downs goes on to say that feelings of shame and inauthenticity often stem from a man's relationship with his father. "Imagine that's your role for a relationship with a man—a man who by definition is probably straight, who doesn't necessarily understand who you are and may be horrified at the fact [that you're gay]," he says. "That becomes your template then for future relationships. For many of us, it takes a long time to work through that so we can get past it and have a successful relationship."