Maintaining My Bi Identity While Married

By Mary Jayn Frisk

February 09, 2021

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Photo credit: Unsplash/Jovaughn Stephens

In the years before my marriage, my sexual orientation was a prominent part of my identity. For me, it was impossible to avoid the topic of my bisexuality while on the dating scene. Some potential partners would ask bizarre and invasive questions, which was always an immediate turn-off. Most of those questions involved threesomes. Many were about fulfilling the other person's sexual fantasies. Some people reacted with disdain or confusion, while others would say, “well, I’m fine if you’re that way, but I just don’t see any way I can be that way." There were even some who were accepting, but I could tell that they didn’t really “get” it.

When I first started dating my spouse, we were already acquaintances, so we didn’t have to navigate those messy introductory waters. We already knew each other’s sexual orientation, so there were no awkward questions. The relationship felt comfortable from the beginning because I wasn't afraid of explaining myself (or describing at length the various mechanisms of same-sex relations). 

Unsplash/Edward Cisneros

We could jump right into the more meaningful conversations, like favorite video games and musical tastes. Now that I’m in a heterosexual marriage, everyone assumes that we are both straight and monogamous. Only people who are close to us know that we both identify as bisexual and ethically non-monogamous.

Most people agree that marriages changes everything, or at least a lot of things. For bi, non-monogamous people, I feel like some notable changes often go unseen. Once I got married, my sexual orientation was masked by a list of other titles. I was seen as a wife and mother, rather than a bisexual woman.

During this time, it felt like bisexuality wasn’t a big part of my identity anymore. I allowed myself to ignore the bisexual part of my identity. But that approach wasn't sustainable. One day, both me and my spouse realized that our bisexuality had become buried too deeply. We were also no longer being our true selves. 

Then my spouse and I started taking long late-night walks together. It was our time to unplug from the rest of the world and just connect with each other. It felt like we were getting to know each other again. In reality, these talks were about getting to know ourselves again. One evening the topic of our sexuality came up. I told him about a crush I had on a coworker of the same sex.  

Bigstock/Dean Drobot

I usually disguised my attractions out of a social obligation to protect my spouse’s feelings. The talk we had that night forever removed this boundary for both of us. It was liberating to express those feelings that I had pushed aside for so long. Being able to explore the feelings for that coworker, or anyone else for that matter, allowed us to reconnect with our most intimate sexual feelings, and it opened the door for many other conversations too.

That same night we also discussed polyamory. Even though my partner is completely accepting of me, the conversation made me nervous. It was a topic that we flirted with in the past but never fully discussed. We had both been cheated on, so fidelity was a vital element in our relationship. I had been conditioned to have a very specific idea of what faithfulness and trust meant, and at first, it felt like non-monogamy would be a betrayal. 

The thing about ethical non-monogamy is that there is no unfaithfulness because it’s an open conversation, not some dark secret. There is no loss of trust because we respect each other’s boundaries. In the end, we reaffirmed that we wanted to be non-monogamous, that we make the rules together, and that we define what ethical non-monogamy looks like in our relationship.

That conversation led to a sense of empowerment. I now feel like I have a firmer grip on who I am and what I want in life. I also feel like I rediscovered my spouse too. Acknowledging that my bisexuality is a central part of my identity led to a sense of security that I didn’t have before, and discussing the rules of our relationship made it feel more solid. It led to a sense of security that I didn’t have before.  

Pexels/Laura Garcia

Now I feel secure, knowing that if my spouse finds someone they want to be with, we can talk about it openly and respectfully and that I don't have to hide my crushes from my spouse. Most importantly, it feels like I can be comfortable in my skin again.

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