justinpeckDear Michael:

I am a happily-married woman with a young child, a great job and loving friends. There’s only one problem, I think I’m bisexual, and I don’t know what to do about it.

What do I do with my feelings for other women? I acted on them (a little) when I was in college, but not since.

I thought that having a good sex life with my husband had replaced all these feelings, but now, after several years of marriage, I find myself fantasizing about sex with other women and feeling attracted to other women at work, church, etc. Please help.  

Possibly bisexual in Mission Hills


Dear Possibly:

Congratulations! You may be on the edge of a great discovery. Just what that discovery reveals remains to be seen. You are learning about a new part of yourself. Stay calm. Don’t panic. Your awareness of who you are and who you are attracted to is expanding. I recommend that you avoid jumping to any quick conclusions or putting yourself into any kind of box, be it “bisexual”, “straight but confused”, “lesbian in denial”, etc. Sexuality is – for many people – a fluid process. It isn’t easily boxed up into neat and tidy categories. People’s sexual preferences often expand and shift over a lifetime. Not everyone falls into this category, but many of us grow, evolve and change.

An example of this sexual “fluidity” appeared several years’ ago, when local writer/publisher Louise Hay spoke about what she observed as a shift in sexuality for many retirement-aged women. Ms. Hay saw a trend: “elder women” (her term) who chose other women as partners after long-term heterosexual marriages. She said that some elder women found other women more accepting of elder women’s changing bodies and more interested in intimacy that wasn’t necessarily orgasm-focused. Whether Ms. Hay is right or not isn’t the point. The point is that many people grow and expand their consciousness in a lot of different ways: sexual experience, openness to new attractions/relationships and awareness of self are but a few.

In my counseling work, many of my bisexual clients felt that they had to make drastic changes when they “came out” as bisexual. This puts a lot of pressure on the emerging bisexual person. Rather than feel you have to “change” who you are, why not see it as expanding your identity: you may be a women who is attracted not only to men, but also to women.

Now then…what about your husband? How to decide what – if anything – to tell him. This is something to think long and hard on (pardon the pun, oh well…) If you do decide to talk with him about your attractions to other women, imagine what it may be like from his point of view. Will this come as a total shock to him, or not? Will this disrupt your relationship and your marriage? Some of my married bisexual clients wait until THEY are clear on who they are and what they want BEFORE sharing this new awareness with a husband or wife. If you’re confused and upset about your attraction to other women, this may not be the best time to talk with your husband about it. If you’re upset and he’s upset too, what will happen then? If you’re calm and clear, you may be in a better place to help him deal with his fear, upset, insecurities, etc.

In the past, some clients have asked me if they should tell their children that they are bisexual. In your case, if your child is young, this may be a moot point. Young children just want to know that their life is secure and that mommy and daddy love them and will continue to love, comfort and provide for them. They are rarely interested in what mommy and daddy do in bed, or with whom.

Coming out as bisexual is, in my observation, trickier than coming out as gay or lesbian. Some people (queer or straight) may even assume you’re really a lesbian who just hasn’t come out yet. Other people may be adamant that you can’t be attracted to both men and women. Some of my bisexual clients report that they’ve even been asked questions like, “So, what percentage of you likes men and what percentage likes women?” (you know, those really profound kinds of questions). Unfortunately, you can’t always count on the support of your gay, lesbian or transgendered brothers and sisters. Bisexuality is a button-pushing topic in many parts of the queer community, so get support from other bisexual women and men. Here in San Diego, there are bisexual support/discussion groups that meet on a regular basis. You can contact the Center at 619-692-2077 for days and times of their meetings. There are also Internet bisexual discussion groups, bulletin boards and web sites: check them out and make some connections with others in similar situations.

In summary, it would help if you can look at your emerging attraction to other women as something new and wonderful to explore and be curious about, rather than as a “problem” to solve, e.g., “Well, am I or am I not bisexual?” For many of us in the queer community, sexuality is not so easily contained or categorized. It unfolds and unveils itself in its own time. If this is your time, why not enjoy the exploration rather than panic in the newness of your feelings for other women? Get support from the bisexual community and discover who you really are…then, when you feel it’s time, you can consider if, when and how to share this with your husband. Good luck!