Originally published April 27, 2006:
My boyfriend and I have been together for a little over four years. I love him more than I thought possible.
One of the things that makes us so compatible is our similar take on jealousy and fidelity. I'm a bi woman, he's a straight man. I don't mind who he sleeps with, he doesn't mind who I sleep with. (Provided, of course, that we use proper protection at all times.) Not an issue, right?
Well, over the last four years I've been pretty busy with my career, and it hasn't left me a lot of time to go looking outside my relationship. He's had more free time on his hands, and has had some brief affairs with other women. For a little while, we were both seeing the same woman. We still have sex three or four times a week, and it's good and satisfying and enthusiastic.
But here's the rub.
A few weeks ago, I met a guy that I think is amazingly shiny—and I slept with him. My boyfriend encouraged me to enjoy myself, so I did. But now it's eating at him. He makes little needling comments about my leaving him for the new lover. I've tried to reassure him that I love him and I want to share my life with him, but it hasn't seemed to help.
At first, I felt bad for sleeping with someone else, since it obviously bothered him so much, but the longer this goes on, the more irked I'm getting. The new lover isn't interested in a relationship with me, and I'm not interested in a relationship with him. But I've caught nothing but hell over this, and I'm getting a little fed up. We've always been very open and honest with each other—at least I have, anyway. Should I ask him to tell me what, exactly, is bothering him about this whole situation? Or should I just bite my tongue and not sleep with other men?
Irked By Double Standard
My response after the jump...
You know as well as I do what's bothering your boyfriend, IBDS. He doesn't believe that you, the bisexual woman he loves, would leave him for another woman. And he's probably right about that. Very few bisexual women wind up "sharing their lives" with other women; like most bisexuals, male and female, you are in—or were in—a stable, loving, committed, opposite-sex relationship. And, hey, there's nothing wrong with that. I'm a fan of stable, loving, committed, opposite-sex relationships. Really. And I no longer believe that most bisexuals wind up in them because you're all liars and cheats, or that you're all dying to access societal perks reserved for heterosexuals, or that you're all cowards and it's hard out here for a homo. I think most bisexuals wind up in heterosexual relationships because most bisexuals are mostly hetero. You may be physically attracted to both sexes, but most of you can only fall in love with an opposite-sex partner.
Yes, yes—there are some bi guys out there with guys and bi girls with girls. But they are the exceptions to the rule and there's nothing bi-phobic about calling attention to their rarity. And before angry bisexuals start pounding away at their keyboards, consider this: My current position on bisexuals winding up with opposite-sex partners (you're mostly straight) is a hell of a lot more charitable than my previous position (you're cowards, liars, cheats, etc.).
Back to your boyfriend, IBDS: Since he consciously or subconsciously believes that you're only attracted to women physically, not emotionally, your same-sex affairs don't threaten him. But he's living proof that you can fall in love with men, so your recent opposite-sex affair has left him feeling insecure.
So what do you do?
First, you point out that he's had affairs with other women—affairs that, theoretically at least, present the same threat to you that your affair with a man presents to him. If he wants to have an open relationship, he has to trust that you won't leave him for another man, just as you trust that he won't leave you for another woman. Second, you tell him he needs to get a grip—which he may be on his way to doing. When he needles you, IBDS, he's seeking reassurance, which you're giving. Once he's completely reassured, the needling should stop. If it doesn't stop, well, then the needling isn't about reassurance. It's about making your life so miserable that you'll think twice about having an affair with a guy again. If that's his game, then he's not emotionally mature enough to be in an open relationship.