I am a closet bisexual. I have been with a terrific guy for about 10 years’ now. We have a great sex life and a good life together. But, I have never been with another woman sexually and I want to experience that. So, last month I told my boyfriend and he freaked out. He said that this was a dealbreaker for him and that we agreed to be monogamous and that this totally fucks with his ability to trust me. What do I do now?
Coming Out and Unhappy
Dear Coming Out:
Thanks for writing to me. This is, indeed, a challenging situation for both of you. Let’s look at it in detail. The two of you are on vastly different timelines regarding your awareness of your bisexuality: you’re much further along than he is. You’ve have years’ to process this and look at it from all angles, he may feel blindsided by this information and in a state of shock.
This is to be expected. He will need time to catch up. Since you care very much about him, you’ll want to give him that time. This is probably not going to be much fun for you, however, unless you are an incredibly patient person who is very good at delaying her own gratification.
Eventually, this situation will resolve itself. While there are many factors to consider, timing being a crucial one, there are basically only two options for your partner:
- He will – at some point – be okay with you experiencing another woman sexually.
- He won’t ever be okay with it.
It seems to me like these are his two choices. And there are certainly choices for you:
- Be okay with whatever he can handle.
- Not be okay with it.
From my work with bisexual clients – both individually and as part of a couple – I have seen many variations of the above combos. I have seen partners slowly shift – over time – to acceptance, while their bisexual partners waited for them and I have seen partners slowly realize that this will never be okay with them and they can’t handle their bisexual partners expressing their bisexuality.
I have worked with committed couples where one member of the couple is bisexual and she/he talks about her/his desires with their significant other and – together – they negotiate the challenges of being bisexual outside of a committed relationship while remaining in that relationship.
However, some relationships like yours do not stand the test of time: the bisexual person is only willing to wait so long to express her/himself and – even given plenty of time – their partner never gets to the place where this is okay with them.
There are no cookie-cutter answers to this kind of challenge. It is certainly a major stressor on a monogamous relationship. It’s difficult for both parties: the bisexual person has been holding back expressing their same-sex attractions (or has been hiding/denying them) and their partner may have had no clue that their partner was even struggling with same-sex attractions.
As you and your partner navigate this new aspect of your relationship, please 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 for both you and your partner: you can both check them out and make some connections with other monogamous, loving couples in similar situations.
I strongly encourage both of you to seek out all the help and support you can get to make it through this challenging time: many other couples have been in your situation and their experiences can be both affirming and instructive.
Above all: your journey is an important one. Honor your truth and honor your relationship. Ongoing, kind and respectful communication with your partner is crucial, as together you navigate the bisexual path. Please feel free to email me again and let me know how you’re doing and how I can help.