I only recently discovered your column & I can't believe the diversity out there. It's mindblowing! The reason I even found you was because of online searching for answers to what's probably not a very original dilemma... I feel provincial in comparison to your other readers but here goes... this is long, I expect you will edit if you would like to answer... I'm hoping...
The issue: I'm 40, female, in a 15 year relationship with a lovely straight guy. We have two children. I've always been attracted to and dated both men & women. Though now of course I'm invisible, being in a longterm straight relationship.
A few years ago I fell heavily in love with a married female friend. Passionately. Nothing happened, I squashed it (I had small kids, a partner, I think it was the first time she'd been attracted to a woman so just impossible all round) though emotionally speaking it almost killed me in the process. Then after this my partner was injured in a workplace accident with longterm serious health & financial consequences. Some very, very tough times followed.
Now my libido seems dormant... except... except... occasionally I get whacked by lust by a random cute girl in the local shop like yesterday. Or a beautiful woman biking past. Or the one female firefighter in my town. Or now more worryingly, a female (straight I guess) colleague at work. I guess I still have some juices flowing which can't be bad.
The booze: I'm functional, not drinking during the day, but if I let it go I can melt into the couch with literally a bottle or two of wine on a bad night... like three times a week. I like the pleasure rush it gives but I'm struggling now, actively trying to stop totally, it can't continue like this. It's been going on for about four years, beginning with my "squash lesbian unrequited love" situation.
Is it lack of pleasure? Sex is difficult (illness in the couple, physical changes, stress) if not non-existent between us. I don't know how to improve things as he has lost confidence & the knack of it. I don't encourage him because the truth is every single fantasy or sexual thought of mine now involves women. I feel almost nothing when we do try it, and that issue was there before the accident & changes.
The place: Very, very small town. Most close friends know I'm bi but not all. And not at work. Before his accident I thought long & hard & decided I needed to live it like a grown up. I went to lesbian bars in other towns, hoping. I did therapy for a while (too expensive!). I tried an online dating site then deleted my account (chickened out!). I went to Pride alone & it felt great but then I went home to being straight & sexually frustrated. I try to explore it but get absolutely nowhere. A sign that I should stop? And what could I even offer to another woman? I think harsh critics might already be rolling their eyes, but I'm going to state my truth anyway.
The rest: The tough times have wounded our intimacy. I feel invisible in my sexuality, with no outlet (except red wine?). There's some love left but a lot of baggage from the accident & physical recovery & crushing financial responsibilities. Am I doomed to no passion, ever again? My partner deserves more too. Can you please tell me the blindingly obvious?
Going Absolutely Insane
The obvious (at least to me): Most bisexual women aren't out (bi men too) and most bisexual women are in opposite-sex relationships (bi men too)—and there are more bisexuals than there are gays or lesbians. Some studies have found that there are more bisexuals than gays and lesbians combined.
So while you can't offer a woman your hand (that's taken) or all of your time and attention (you have kids, a spouse, and a job), GAI, you could find a bisexual woman in your shoes (married, kids), i.e. someone who may not have the bandwidth for a full-time/full-blown relationship but who is open to an ongoing FWB arrangement. You'll have to risk putting yourself out there, most likely online, which is where more than 70% same-sex relationships get their start—but no risk, no reward, nothing ventured, nothing gained, no face pics, no response, etc. And you have the advantage of already being out to the most important people in your life—your family—although you will have to be worry about being outed at work.
Here's why this was so obvious to me: I get a lot of mail from married bisexual women who think no woman could possibly be interested in them because the available women in their imaginations are all single lesbians who wouldn't even want to hook up with a woman who had a husband at home. In reality, GAI, most of the women out there interested in having sex with other women are bisexual and married to men. (You know that old joke about the bank robber who, when asked why he robs banks, replied, "Because that's where the money is"? Opposite-sex relationships—relationships like yours—are where most of the potentially-available-to-you pussy is, GAI, so you might want to start your search there.)
The husband: Ideally, GAI, you would get your husband's permission before establishing a regular FWB thing with another opposite-married bisexual woman. (Your future FWB would ideally get an okay from her spouse.) It won't be an easy conversation to have, I realize, but your husband must be aware that the woman on the sofa downing a second bottle of wine is unhappy about something. Sometimes a difficult conversation can reset things—and a conversation about opening up a relationship, even in cases where one partner is at first reluctant (or refuses), has helped other couples with intimacy issues reconnect sexually. There's no guarantee, of course, and it would amount to a Hail Mary pass, but things can't continue as they are indefinitely.
The booze: If you don't keep more than one bottle in the house at at time, GAI, you can't polish two off in a single sitting. Also, it can't be good for your kids to watch mom suck down two bottles of wine in a single evening. If you can't cut back and need help stopping, please reach out and get the help you need.
The children: Your first priority—don't let the future FWB distract you from your parenting responsibilities.