[Here's another Savage Love classic from deep in the archives. This one was originally published in May, 2018.—eds]
I guess I'm bi-curious. I have known since I was about nine that I like girls. As I got to high school I got caught staring at a girl's boobs and one girl's body and was made fun of pretty bad. I also made the mistake of telling one of my high school boyfriends about it. He didn't like it. I regretted telling him, I felt something was wrong with me, so I never hooked up with any girls in high school. I tell you all of this to get some background and see if you can help me tell if it's not just bicurious but bisexual.
Anyhow, in summer after my senior year met my husband & at 18 started dating. A few years into it I told him about my attraction to women and he is cool with it, but we made a decision to be monogamous, so no acting on it. We can watch porn together, we can check out girls together and make fun of each other for our preferences in women.
I am 35 now. We have three kids, house, been married for 12 years and still in love. Now that I am older I only get turned on by lesbian porn and I mostly fantasize about being with women. A few years back I found articles about couples who have been married a long time, are happy with their lives, but to spice things up they swing. I don't know if this was a subconscious thing, but I started telling my husband about it. I am also reading and researching ways to keep a marriage happy and I stumbled across these articles.
So I would casually tell him at first because I thought it was wrong, then I thought it was interesting and maybe subconsciously I wondered if it would be good for our marriage long term. Over the years I talked about these different articles and HBO's "Real Sex" or TLC's "Strange Love" episodes to him, but never believing anything would come of it. I thought like most people... you get married and that's it.
Just about eight months ago we are out to dinner and he tells me that for the last four months he's been thinking about those articles and shows I had been telling him about and now he's giving me permission to explore my bisexuality and be open to sleep with others.
He had a couple of friends divorce recently. They got together when they were young, just like we did. When they divorced their wives accused them of stealing their youth from them. My husband didn't want us to end up there and he realizes I was so young when we got together. He doesn't want me to feel like I missed out on something. He said the only stipulation is that he doesn't ever want to know about it. I got excited and agreed.
The next day I thought about it more and asked him if he meant that he would be sleeping with other people too and he said yes. I started to freak out. I said it's not fair. It would only be equal if he was also bi and wanted to sleep with men too. Him sleeping with the woman is not exploring another part of his sexuality. He told me I was being selfish and I had already agreed to it and it's done. I took a step back and thought maybe I was being selfish. But then the thought of him being with another woman made me sick to my stomach. I got incredibly emotional but he said his mind was already made up even after I said let's call the whole thing off. I told him I don't want to explore being bisexual if that means he's sleeping with other women.
I do realize my insecurities have to do with my decision. My husband loves long hair but I got tired of it and cut my hair so short it's almost like a butch lesbian look. Lol. It's freedom for me though. I am also more overweight now. I used to be voluptuous and curvy, but now I am just fat. Also, my husband has a thing for light skin women with green eyes and long hair. I am only light skin and have none of the other features. I am afraid he will find that woman and want to be with her all the time. I am not afraid he'll leave me right way because I know he loves me. I just fear intimacy and emotional intimacy will be given to someone else over me.
So anyhow, I started crying in the restaurant the next day and had to leave. My husband saw how upset I was and changed his mind. He said this was all my fault. He said he had never even considered being with someone else. Yes he was attracted to other women and if he was single of course he would be fucking like crazy, but other than that he didn't give other women much thought. He said I caused this drama by planting the seed in his head by telling about those shows and articles. He thought I was unhappy and that this would make me happier.
I then got pissed because I said why didn't he just ask me about it? Why go off alone for four months and make this final decision by yourself? I could have cleared it all up and just said no. The thought makes me nauseous of him being with other women, so end of story.
Fast forward to now... I just started listening to your podcast and it has me thinking maybe I was wrong. Maybe being monogamous is dooming our relationship long term. Also, the thought of never being with a woman or another man for the rest of my life doesn't seem quite right. It doesn't seem ok to expect people to sleep with one person only for sixty years!
My issue now is should we wait til the kids are adults then explore this? Maybe by then I will be thinner/healthier and have fewer insecurities. My youngest will be an adult when I'm only 43 and my husband will only be 48. I am just so terrified because my husband has always been a fit dark chocolate man. He gets hit on and I have been with him when it happens. It scares me that he'll still be relatively young and a younger/hotter woman will come along to get his attention if we open our marriage.
What should I do? Should I just wait and see or should I just forget about it because obviously, I am not secure and confident enough to handle an open relationship?
I would love to hear what you think!
Other Partner Entering New Erotic Relationships
Please note: I'm operating this advice column with pretty severe jet lag and OPENER's letter is long and complicated. So grain of salt, LW beware, caveat consilium quaesitor, etc.
Gonna get the easy one out of the way first: You're at least bicurious, OPENER, it's highly likely you're bisexual, and you could even be a lesbian.
Lots of women who come out as lesbian later in life have similar stories: shamed for expressing same-sex attractions early in life, entered into long-term and often loving opposite-sex relationships, had some kids, fantasized more and more and then pretty much exclusively about lesbian sex the older they got, etc. I think it's likelier you're bi, OPENER, and your same-sex desires currently dominate your fantasy life because you've never had the opportunity to act on them. Or, you know, you could be a lesbian—the latter would introduce additional complications, but there's nothing wrong with either.
And kudos to you for seeing through your own insecurity-fueled hypocrisy. Judging from the mail/calls/complaints we get around here, there are a lot of bisexuals out there in committed, long-term, opposite-sex relationships who want permission to seek sex outside the relationship with people they want to fuck (same-sex others) while denying the permission to their heterosexual partners to seek sex outside the relationship with people they want to fuck (opposite-sex others). Telling a straight man that he's free to seek sex outside the relationship with same-sex partners doesn't make things "equal." It opens the relationship for the bisexual partner in theory and practice while keeping it closed for the straight partner in theory only.
While not all bisexuals swan around arguing that they fall in love with people, not genitals, many do; it's amazing how fast genitals become people when the straight partner wants the relationship to be open for them too. (I'm not saying every bi person who wants to open their relationship makes this argument; I don't get letters complaining about this bullshit move from the straight partners of bisexual people who didn't attempt it.)
Back to you, OPENER: Your relationship is closed right now, and I think that's good. You should keep it closed—for now. Because it gives you more time, both of you, to think this through. Your husband also needs to restore trust. When he gave you permission to sleep with other women, he didn't make it clear that meant he would be sleeping with other women too—and I'm guessing he didn't make it clear because he assumed, quite rightly, that you wouldn't want him sleeping with other women. He probably felt that it would be easier to get your forgiveness for the "misunderstanding" after-the-fucked-someone-else-fact than your permission in advance. Opening your relationship won't end well if you two aren't communicating in good faith, and he wasn't.
You do have to take some responsibility for his slightly self-serving "misunderstanding," OPENER. When you were sharing all those articles about swinging and open relationships, you didn't make it clear that your ideal scenario was "Open For Me, Not For Thee." He may not have made his intent to sleep with other women clear, OPENER, because he assumed open meant open—open like in the articles you shared with him, not open just for the bicurious/bisexual/maybelezbo wife.
If I may digress: Jet leg sucks—and it makes me go long.
Anyway, OPENER, keep talking about your wants, his wants, your needs, his needs, your insecurities, and his insecurities. Let's say you both want to open the relationship in theory. What does that look like in practice? Who can you sleep with? Who can he sleep with? Where can it happen? When can it happen? How much do you want to know? How much does he want to know? How often will you check in with each other? Do you intend to remain socially monogamous after you're no longer sexually monogamous? If so, how will that impact your choice of who, when, and where? How would you discuss this with your kids if they found out? (Kids have a way of finding shit out.) You've got questions to ask and answer and discuss before going forward.
And since you're in no rush and he's in no rush, OPENER, there's, um, like, literally no rush. You can take your fucking time—and lots of straight swinging couples do wait until after their children are grown and/or out of the house before they open up their marriages.
Also, OPENER, odds are good that you'll get laid a helluva lot more than your husband will after you open up your marriage (if you open up your marriage)—particularly if you're also planning to sleep with men. It doesn't matter if he's a buff chocolate Adonis; good looking straight guys in open marriages complain to me and others in the advice racket constantly about much easier it is for their wives to find other partners than it is for them.
As for the risk that he might meet someone he really likes... that's definitely a risk, OPENER. You might also meet someone you like more. (Someone with, dunno, a vagina maybe?) A monogamous relationship can be lovely, of course, and monogamy is absolutely the right choice for a great many couples—it was the right choice for most non-monogamous couples early in their relationships—being monogamous doesn't immunize a couple against temptation. A younger/hotter woman/man/enby/Dom/sub/ABDL/pup/handler/whatever can come along and grab the attention of someone in a committed relationship. It happens every day.
And finally, OPENER, you don't have to lose weight before you can put yourself out there—there are plenty of men and women who'll find you attractive in the shape you're in now. Getting exercise and eating responsibly (which in no way precludes eating for pleasure) is a good idea regardless of whether it takes you from fat to curvy.