Longtime Savage Love fanboy with a bit of a conundrum — and it’s your fault! I’m a bi man in my 30s. To use Charles M. Blow’s word, my bisexuality is “lopsided.” This means that I fall in love with women exclusively, but I love to have sex with men occasionally. My current girlfriend not only approves, she likes to join in. We have a great kinky sex life, and at times we invite a hot bi dude to join us. You keep saying that to counter bisexual erasure, it is the duty of every bisexual to come out of the closet. If I were a “proper” bisexual, i.e., romantically interested in men also, that would be no problem — my family and work and social circles are extremely liberal. However, your advice to us kinksters and people in open relationships is that we probably shouldn’t come out to our parents or colleagues, since when it comes to sex, it’s advisable to operate on a need-to-know basis. While I agree with this completely — my mother doesn’t need to know my girlfriend pegs me — the rule keeps me in the closet as well. Since I’m only sexually interested in men, wouldn’t I be revealing facts about my sex life if I came out as bi? I also wouldn’t want to mislead gay men into thinking that I’m available for romantic relationships with them. So which rule is more important: the duty to come out as a bisexual or the advice to operate on a need-to-know basis when it comes to your sex life?
Bisexual Leaning Out Warily
There’s nothing improper about your bisexuality, BLOW — or Charles M. Blow’s bisexuality, or the bisexuality of other “lopsided” bisexuals. While the idea that bisexuals are equally attracted to men and women sexually and romantically used to be pushed by a lot of bi activists (“I fall in love with people, not genitals!”), it didn’t reflect the lived/f*cked/sucked experience of most bisexuals. Like you and Blow (hetero-romantic bisexuals), many bisexuals have a strong preference for either women or men as romantic partners. My recently “gay married” bisexual friend Eric, however, is one of those bi-romantic bisexuals.
This popular misconception — that bisexuals are indifferent to gender (and more highly evolved than all those genital-obsessed monosexuals) — left many people who were having sex with men and women feeling as if they didn’t have an identity. Not straight, not gay, and disqualified from bi. But thanks to bisexuals like Blow coming out and owning their bisexuality and their lopsidedness, a more nuanced and inclusive understanding of bisexuality has taken root. That nuance is reflected in bisexual activist Robyn Ochs’s definition of bisexuality: “I call myself bisexual,” Ochs says, “because I acknowledge that I have in myself the potential to be attracted — romantically and/or sexually—to people of more than one sex and/or gender, not necessarily at the same time, not necessarily in the same way, and not necessarily to the same degree.”
Lopsided or not, BLOW, you’re a proper bisexual, and if you’re in a position to come out to your family and friends, you should. And rest assured, telling people you’re bi doesn’t mean you’re divulging details about your sex life. You’re disclosing your sexual orientation, not detailing your sexual practices. You can tell someone you’re attracted to men and women — at the same time, in your case, if not in the same way — without telling them about the hot bi dudes you and the girlfriend bed together. And if you and the girlfriend are perceived to be monogamous, and you want to keep it that way, you can allow people to continue to make that assumption.
I am a 23-year-old bisexual woman and I have two questions for you: (1) Is it possible to fall in love differently with women than with men? I think I am bisexual because I have been in love with some women, despite never getting past a kiss. What I find strange is that whereas with men I feel immediate attraction, with women the attraction rises after a deep friendship is formed. (2) Is it possible that I was in love with two different people at the same time? I always thought that I could be in love with only one person at a time, but during that short span, I was in love with both a guy who made me suffer and my best friend, a woman, who helped me with that guy. After I found a new boyfriend, I stopped thinking about anyone else because our relationship is closed. But I don’t know if that’s just because I avoid thinking about others or because I wasn’t really in love with the two people (despite my surprisingly real heartbreak).
Bisexual In Need And Inquiring Finally
1. See my response to BLOW, above.
2. A person can love more than one parent, more than one child, more than one sibling, more than one set of tit clamps, and more than one romantic partner. Telling people that they can feel romantic love for only one person at a time isn’t just stupid, it’s harmful. Let’s say Bill is partnered with Ted, and Bill believes romantic attraction/love is a one-at-a-time phenomenon because that’s what he was told. Now let’s say Bill develops a crush on Sandra. If Bill doesn’t question the one-at-a-time bullsh*t he was taught to believe about romantic love, Bill is highly likely to think: “Well, I must not be in love with Ted anymore, otherwise I couldn’t feel this way about Sandra.” And then he may dump tried-and-true Ted for shiny-and-new Sandra.
I’m not arguing that everyone should be poly — most people want only one partner at a time, and that’s fine. But telling people they can’t experience romantic attraction or romantic love for more than one person at a time sets long-term relationships up for failure. Because while stable, lasting love feels amazing, it’s less intoxicating than shiny, new, c*m-drunk love. And while almost all stable, lasting loves were shiny, new, c*m-drunk loves early on, very few new loves become lasting loves. If we don’t want people tossing lasting love overboard every time they develop feelings for someone new, people need to know that, yes, you can be in love with two different people at the same time.
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