Closeted bi guy in five-year relationship wants to explore his feelings for men but doesn’t know how
A closeted bisexual man has sought advice on how to explore his sexuality while in a five-year relationship with a woman, but the response he received is problematic.
The anonymous man wrote to The Mercury News’ advice columnist with his dilemma. He explained that from the outside, his life with his “gorgeous, amazing girlfriend” seems perfect, but inside he is struggling.
“I realised this year [my sexuality] wasn’t just a phase, but a real part of who I am, and I believe I need to embrace it,” he said.
“The problem I have is that even in this culture of acceptance and openness I cannot get over the thought of hurting those around me by admitting to these feelings.
“My sex life with my girlfriend has slowly fizzled over the last five years, so maybe this knowledge could bring some comfort to her, but also pain.”
He is also concerned about the reaction of his father and friends who hold conservative views on sexuality, and feels he has to choose between “throwing everything I have away or continuing to hide and bury it.”
“I think I’m bisexual, but I haven’t felt any sexual feelings toward women in a while. The back and forth is killing me. I don’t know what to do,” he wrote.
The response from the paper’s advice columnist, Amy Dickinson, is broadly supportive but some elements of her advice are questionable.
“You are conflating two challenging experiences: breaking up with a longtime partner and confronting your instincts about your own sexuality,” she begins – even though the letter writer had not actually mentioned breaking up with his girlfriend at any point, and it is perfectly possible for a bisexual man to have a longterm relationship with a woman.
The idea of the man safely exploring his bisexuality through a consensual open relationship had also not occurred to the advice columnist.
“Yes, ending your relationship will be very hard to do. Your girlfriend will likely be hurt and disappointed, but perhaps – not quite surprised,” she continued.
“I don’t think it is necessary for you to discuss your sexuality with your girlfriend, until you feel emotionally ready.
“However, remember that she loves and also likes you. Depending on the kind of person she is, she may be able to love and support you through this. She could continue in friendship with you, as an ally,” although not as a romantic partner, apparently.
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However, her advice on coming out was spot on.
“It is not necessary for you to disclose your sexuality to your friends or family until you are more experienced and feel emotionally ready to do so,” she said.
“Coming out is a process, and it begins with you acknowledging to yourself that you want to live authentically, and that you have a human right to do so. As hard as it is, and no matter how others react to it, your bravery will liberate you.”
She’s right that “there is no right or wrong way to come out or live openly”, but coming to terms with your sexuality doesn’t always have to mean the end of a relationship.
The fact that this didn’t occur to the advice columnist is a subtle example of the bi-erasure that bisexual people regularly experience.