I received a long email this week, from someone we'll call Daniel.
Daniel's a 28-year-old cis man who's been in a long-term relationship with his 26-year-old girlfriend. Growing up, he'd been exclusively attracted to women.
I dated only women, fantasized about women, and watched straight porn. I have no memories of having crushes on boys or even honestly finding the boys in school attractive. In high school, I found gay/bi porn, wasn't repulsed by it, and found myself actually enjoying it. Since then I have watched gay, straight and bi porn.
It wasn't until college, however, that he saw men outside of porn attractive.
I was in the gym, rinsing off after working out, and there was a really good looking dude doing the same. Again, this was the first time I had ever seen a guy in "real life" and thought — wow. Still, I didn't think much of it. It was a naked, jacked dude, of course there would be some attraction.
First off, that sounds like a real-life porno and hot as all hell. But second, to say "of course there would be some attraction" — isn't quite correct. I think there's a difference between being able to appreciate the beauty of the male form without being attracted to it and then appreciating the male form and wanting to have sex with it.
Recognizing his attraction to men, Daniel began hooking up with a few men in college. "The experiences were always fun, sometimes awkward, but I have always enjoyed being with both men and women," Daniel concluded.
Now, living with his current girlfriend, he's happy, committed, and their "sex life is solid".
Recently, the talk of marriage came up, and Daniel felt excited about the prospect, but also compelled to tell his girlfriend about his past sexual experiences with men.
He pointed out, "While I've never had a desire to pursue romantic relationships with men, I have found them to be very sexually attractive. With women, I desire deep emotional bonds, relationships, and also find them very sexually attractive."
If you'd like, Daniel, you could call yourself a heteroromantic bisexual — which means that you're both sexually attracted to multiple genders, but only romantically attracted to women. You also don't have to call yourself that. Saying you're bi is just fine! I simply bring up the term heteroromantic bisexual to illustrate that you are not alone.
This past December, you came out as bi to your girlfriend, and you told me she responded with support.
I can't tell you how much I love hearing this. It makes me so happy when someone comes out to a loved one with whom they're in a monogamous relationship with and their partner's reception is nothing but an unconditional embrace.
But, herein lies the problem. As you so perfectly articulated,
I went from being very excited about figuring myself out and understanding this identity to constantly questioning myself, not accepting myself, trusting my attractions, and find myself analyzing ever human being I encounter like, "Do you think she's attractive? You thought he was. Why didn't you think she was? Are you gay?"
This sounds crazy to even type, but every time I hear a story or go on reddit and see that a man or woman has left their hetero relationship because they're gay, I freak out like, what if that's me? What if I'm in denial? It's like... part of me worries that this perception of bi-now gay-later is so ingrained in my perception of bi people because of everything you read about bisexuality, even more so male bi people.
You concluded by saying,
What I consciously know is that I love my girlfriend, I am sexually attracted to her. I have always enjoyed sex with women and have never desired more than a quick encounter with a dude. But why can't I get over this and trust myself? I just want to get back to the peaceful place I was at with my girlfriend before all of this anxiety kicked in.
Alrighty then! Let's begin unpacking.
I think it's interesting to note that the bi label, ironically, seemed to exacerbate your anxiety. For many people, once you identify as bi you begin to question your attractions less. The label ameliorates stress because you've been able to admit to yourself that you're attracted to multiple genders.
But for others, like yourself, it can be more stressful, because you worry if you are "truly" bi. Unfortunately, this is to be expected, since you live in a world where people are constantly invaliding your sexuality and asking to prove yourself. To this day, even among close friends, I'm asked, "When's the last time you had sex with a woman?" These are people who know what I do for a living and have seen me devastated when I've broken up with female partners in the past.
Now the only reason someone asks this it to make the claim, "So you're just gay now, right?"
Think about this for a second. I have the most read bi column in the world (I have no idea if that's actually true, but for the sake of argument and my ego, let's go ahead and say yes), and I am still asked to prove my bisexuality (and to friends no less)!
Then, as you mention, there have been countless stories of men leaving their wives to be with a man. There's no denying that this happens. However, it's necessary to remember that this is how the media and forums like Reddit operate.
No one talks about how they're bi and happily wed, monogamously, to their wife. That's not a story. (Well, it is a story — one we need to hear more of, but it's not an interesting story.) People only talk about the stories that are filled with drama. People love to tell me stories about how their friends were dating a bi guy, and they then abandoned them for someone of a different gender.
To which I respond. "Wow. I have many bi friends who are happily married and monogamous."
While slightly bitchy, it proves my point. You know one friend. Congrats! It's just one person.
But going back to all the posts you see online and on Reddit, people aren't going to talk about how they're happily married to their wives. What type of post would that be?
So, know there are plenty — in fact research has shown that the majority of bi men end up in monogamous relationships with women. They aren't cheating on them or "actually" gay. They're just like you.
The last thing I want to touch on is how you ended the email. You asked, "But why can't I get over this and trust myself?"
I think I may know why. So much about the bi identity exists outside of the present moment — especially when in a monogamous relationship.
I'm bi because I've dated people of different genders in the past, or I'm open to dating different genders in the future, or while I'm attracted to all genders, I'm honoring my commitment to be monogamous, but I will be attracted to all genders until I die.
It's tough to exist in the present moment as a bi person, because it so often feels that our sexuality is contingent upon a length of time. Nevertheless, it is something you (and everyone else who identifies as bi) must work on.
And the truth is, you have no idea what the future holds. That's what's making you anxious. I can't promise you that you're not in a deep denial about being gay. I can tell you I really, really don't think that's the case, but I can't tell you with 100% certainty. No one can.
But what you do know now is that you consciously "love my girlfriend, I am sexually attracted to her."
That is your answer as all you can do is live in the present, and you know definitively, how you feel right now.
The rest of your doubts nagging you and making you question can be put to rest. You've been introspective about your identity for years. You can and need to trust yourself. Trust your gut. Trust your future wife.
And remember other people's stories are just that: stories of other people. They aren't you. They have nothing to do with you. You are your own bi person. One who consciously knows that he loves his girlfriend and wants to continue being with her.
Have any questions you liked to see answered on Good Bi Love? Email Zachary at [email protected]