When I told my husband I thought I was bisexual, all hell broke loose.
The problem was that I’d never really mentioned it to him before. I mean, I might make a comment or two about thinking an actress was hot, or how I had this college roommate and best friend with red-gold curls and a body like Venus de Milo who was gorgeous, and who I hit on every time I got drunk, but that’s about it. So he had no concept that I liked women.
The problem was that I really didn’t have a self-concept of myself as bisexual either. I’m bi. I’m also picky and wasn’t interested in a lot of women, so this left me with my own feelings to sort through and come to terms with.
But the older I got, the more…interested I became. I started to think about how pretty women were, about soft curves instead of hard chests. I still was attracted to men. But I also looked at girls, especially some movie stars, and I’d think: I would like to get her in bed. I wonder what I’d do if I had her in bed.
The older I got, the more compelling those feelings became. But I didn’t think much of it. I had kids and I hung around with moms all day who, frankly, I didn’t find sexually attractive.
Then a friend in one of my writing groups dared me, while I was writing other erotica, to write some lesbian erotica: girl/girl fiction, we call it. “Sure, whatever,” I said. So I gave it a try. And it was good. It was really good. Everyone loved it. So I wrote a sequel. I wrote another sequel. I wrote a series and I started to get pretty envious of the stuff going on between my characters. I started to want that stuff for myself.
So I told my husband that I not only liked some girls. I also asked how he would feel if I explored that avenue. Like, if I, hypothetically, drove up to see that college bestie for a weekend — no strings attached— just once.
He flipped out. He said it would hurt him deeply. He said that when you got married, you were faithful, no matter what. He said that the different anatomy didn’t matter. He said he knew I was angry and felt like he was controlling my sexuality, but that was the end of it, because we were married, agreed to monogamy, and he would be deeply hurt. Of course, I could do whatever I wanted, but it would be cheating on him.
Which meant I couldn’t and wouldn’t do whatever I wanted.
Which means that I figured this part of my sexuality out too late.
I’m angry. I’m sad. I feel like I’ve lost something. I feel like someone’s slammed a door shut in my face. While I’d love to explore this part of myself, most days I just try not to think about it. What’s the point, I wonder — I’ll never be able to do anything about it, so it doesn’t matter, anyway. And it’s hard to close off a whole part of yourself just because you realized something you never knew before, but you did it too fucking late for it to matter.
Some of my friends have said it’s not fair.
Some of my friends have asked if I’m going to divorce him. I laughed in their faces. I would never divorce my husband. I love him deeply. He’s a good man, a kind man, one who loves me and whom I love. We have a good marriage. I wouldn’t throw all that away. It’s not like I discovered I preferred women — I don’t. I discovered that I like women also. There’s a difference.
I could always cheat on him, of course. But I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to keep a secret like that. I don’t want to risk my marriage because I want to be married to him. Morality aside, it feels wrong to me. I would always look at him and I would always know. I was a serial cheater in college. I remember what it feels like to keep that secret. As much as I loved that sex, I hated the pretending, and the longer it went on, the worse it got. I’m also a terrible liar, and I’m not good at keeping secrets forever.
So I’m stuck.
Being a bisexual woman in a monogamous relationship with a man. And since I figured it out later in life, it feels like being trapped.
If I had known beforehand, if I had freely chosen it, I’d feel much differently. I’d have experienced it and picked it and said, this is what I want in the full knowledge of what is on the other side. I would know what it felt like to be with a woman, even if I ended up in a long-term relationship with a man. Now I’ll never know, and it’s been almost a grieving process to realize that.
I love my husband. I’m (mostly) happy with him. But I’d also love to know myself better. I’ll never have that chance now. That, maybe more than anything, is what hurts the most. There’s no negotiating around it. The door’s shut and locked and the key’s lost somewhere.
My husband’s not some kind of drag. I understand his point of view.
I just wish he’d understand mine.
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