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What It’s Like to Be Married, Monogamous, and Bisexual
Earlier this year, I finally admitted something I’ve ignored for a very long time. I started to notice it in high school, where I felt a deep discomfort when I looked at other women. At first, I thought it was jealousy. I thought I wanted to look like those women or have their confidence.
In my first year of college, the feeling grew more pronounced. Being around women made me angry. I wasn’t sure why. Throughout my college years, I avoided women and rejected any implication that I might be attracted to the female body.
I had a string of relationships with men and eventually settled down with my very first boyfriend. We got married in the same church where we’d met in high school. Our first two years of marriage were difficult for me. I still felt like something wasn’t right, but my husband lovingly helped me through. As I slowly confronted every skeleton in my closet, he turned out to be my biggest supporter.
I continued to struggle until, one day, I had a long talk with myself in the bathroom mirror after work. My boss had gone on a homophobic tirade, accusing gay people of ruining our community. It wasn’t the first time he’d said horrible things like this, but this incident really hit home for me. One of my colleagues, a known transphobic and racist member of the office, jumped right in, agreeing with him on every point. Watching them argue their point was my nightmare. I pretended I was busy with work and hoped no one asked my opinion.
By the time I got home, I felt sick. I went straight to the bathroom and cried in the shower. I was a wreck, struggling to hold together the remaining pieces of a belief that I was heterosexual, “normal” just like everybody else. Then came a moment of acceptance, a calming realization.
There’s a certain relief that comes with recognizing oneself, despite the fear of realizing everything you once believed about yourself was wrong.
There was no use fighting what I already knew: I’m bisexual.
I repeated it in the mirror multiple times, finding strength in the words. There’s a certain relief that comes with recognizing oneself, despite the fear of realizing everything you once believed about yourself is wrong. It was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
I told my husband first. I was scared it would ruin our marriage. I thought he’d feel hurt or betrayed. I feared that he’d stop loving me, pack up, and leave. Instead, he was overjoyed to discover we shared another interest. Next, I told our closest friends. Though I knew they all supported the LGBT+ community, I was scared. I didn’t want to ruin our friendship, and I didn’t want to make anyone feel awkward or uncomfortable. After all, it’s easy to support the movement from afar, and much harder to do so up close.
My worries were baseless. They accepted and supported me without question.
My views toward women grew significantly warmer once I finally acknowledged my attraction. Gone was the open hostility, the baseless anger. I feel much more comfortable around women I find attractive. Now, when I am attracted to a woman, I find myself openly appreciating her beauty.
My husband suggested that whenever I see someone I’m attracted to, I should share that with him. Doing so has helped me accept that it’s okay to find women attractive. When I notice someone I feel attracted to, instead of instantly insulting her in my head like I used to, I’ll lean over and point her out to my husband. I do the same thing when we’re watching TV. Talking about it helps. It also helps that my husband and I are attracted to many of the same women. We both share an intense crush on Scarlett Johansson and Emilia Clarke.
One thing that hasn’t changed is my monogamy. I am married to one person, who is a man, and I have no interest in seeing other people or opening up our marriage.
If I’m still married, why does my sexuality matter? I’ve spent the better part of this year trying to answer that question. I’ve tried to decide how much attraction I should allow myself to feel, and the role it should play in my life. Sexuality is a spectrum, so just how bisexual am I? Is my husband an exception? If it weren’t for him, would I be a lesbian? Is my sexuality 50/50? Can I be bisexual if I’m in a heterosexual, monogamous marriage? If I’ve never seriously kissed a girl, am I allowed to like them?
For a long time, I wasn’t sure of the answers. Eventually, I determined that right now, my sexuality is pretty 50/50. Men and women appeal to me equally, though I have a slight preference toward one or the other depending on my mood.
Just because I’m with a man doesn’t mean I don’t like women too. As to whether I can like women without ever having been intimate with one — well, I liked boys before I ever kissed one.
Arriving at this conclusion took a long time and a lot of thought. First, I asked myself if my husband was an exception. I used to joke with my friends that if anything happened to him, I’d simply shift my focus toward women.
In reality, however, I don’t think I’d give up men entirely. If I were to find myself no longer in a monogamous relationship, I’m confident I’d be exploring relationships with women and men more or less equally.
Here’s the most important thing I’ve learned: I get to decide what I feel and how to feel it. Just because I’m with a man doesn’t mean I don’t like women too. As to whether I can like women without ever having been intimate with one — well, I liked boys before I ever kissed one. Why can’t I like girls without kissing one? I don’t need a side-by-side comparison to know what I’m attracted to.
Ultimately, I realized there is nothing wrong with me. I’m working hard to believe that. My parents weren’t the most open-minded people when I was growing up. My friend Patrick came out in eighth grade, when I had no idea what “gay” meant. So I asked my parents about it and they explained it to me — in a way that made me believe being gay wasn’t something to be proud of. They told me “those people” were not good influences. I was young, and confused. Why did it matter who Patrick liked? How does that determine whether someone is good or bad?
My parents believed anything that made me unique would also make me a target. As a result, I grew up afraid to be anything that didn’t fit in a box. Standing out was dangerous.
From that point of view, being openly bisexual is scary as hell.
Despite the fear, I’m not hiding my sexuality. Honesty matters to me now, more than ever. If anyone asked, I’d tell them the truth. I no longer want to hide in a closet. My best friend and husband know, but I still feel a bit of shame every time I think about women. Guilt eats at me when I think about being bisexual, even though my husband repeatedly reminds me it’s okay. I’ve read a lot about how freeing it can feel to come out, and I’m ready to feel that love and acceptance toward myself. I want to stop hating things about me that I can’t change.
This is me being honest with myself. I’m bisexual and there is nothing wrong with that.