Q: 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
A: 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/fucked/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.
Finally, BLOW, most gay men are aware that bi guys usually aren’t romantically interested in other men. And that’s fine—so long as hetero-romantic bi guys don’t mislead us, most gay men are down to fuck. (And gay men who won’t date homo-romantic or bi-romantic men? You guys are missing out. My friend Eric was a hot, hung, adventurous catch. Congrats, Christian!) And since you’re partnered and presumed to be monogamous, you’re also presumed to be unavailable. But if you’re worried a gay friend might hire a hit man to off your girlfriend so he can have a shot at your heart, come out to him as hetero-romantic at the same time you come out to him as bi.
Q: Bi married man here. I was always out to my wife, but two months ago, I came out to our tight circle of friends. Everyone has been supportive, and I’m glad I took this step. But on three different occasions, my wife’s best friend has loudly asked me whose cock I would most like to suck out of all the other guys at the party. My birthday is coming up, and I don’t want her there. My wife doesn’t want to offend her oldest friend, and she makes excuses like “She was drunk” or “She was only joking.” I told my wife that I wouldn’t be coming to my own birthday party if her friend was invited, but she invited her anyway “by accident.” (She sent the invite via group text.) She doesn’t want to confront or disinvite her friend because that would be awkward. What do we do? —Her Unthinking Buddy Bad Yucks
A: Here’s what you’re going to do, HUBBY: You’re going to ask your wife how she would feel if a friend of yours was sexually harassing her and you made excuses for that friend (“He was drunk!”) and then “accidentally” invited that asshole to her birthday party. Then if she won’t call her friend and retract the invitation, you do it. It will be awkward, that’s for sure, but your wife’s friend shouldn’t be spared that awkwardness. Lord knows she made things awkward for you—don’t hesitate to return the favor.
Q: 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
A: 1. See my response to BLOW, above.
2. A person can love more than one parent, more than one child, more than one sibling, and more than one romantic partner. Telling people 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 bullshit 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 love. And while almost all stable, lasting loves were shiny, new 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. v
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