I’m a lesbian and I’ve been dating the most amazing woman for almost two years now. We connected instantly and when we met, we were both looking for something fun and open. Very quickly though, things escalated (as they do) and we decided that we wanted to be monogamous (well, monogamISH, meaning that we have open communication and that we want to tell each other if we have feelings for other people… it’s okay to talk about but we are sexually and emotionally exclusive).
I’ve only ever been in monogamous relationships, whereas she’s pretty much only been in poly[am] ones. It’s important to note that my girlfriend is bi and we’ve been going through a bit of a rough patch because she told me she has a crush on a guy that she knows. For some reason I felt terrible and even cried when she told me. I’m not sure why I felt so sad about this. We’ve talked openly and honestly about past partners and I’ve never felt weird about her dating men, it’s a part of her sexuality!
We’ve always said that group sex is okay as long as we are both present and consenting obviously, but I don’t think I could ever be with a man sexually. It makes me feel weird and gross. I know she likes the idea of having a threesome with a man, and I want to make her happy but I don’t know that I would feel comfortable with that.
We recently had a conversation with her friend who is also bisexual, who posed the question “can bisexual people be monogamous?” Because she ends up missing sex with women when she is monogamous with men and vice versa.
Do you think this is the case? I’m feeling at a loss. My feelings are confusing me and I know I’m hurting her when I react so strongly to her attraction to men. HELP.
Hi! Right off the top, it’s crucial for me to say this: being monogamous and being bisexual are not mutually exclusive. This is a really problematic stereotype that has to go, like yesterday. Bi people have enough problems being accepted in queer community without these myths.
Your friend who “misses men” when they’re with women and vice versa probably shouldn’t be monogamous. If you miss other partners when you’re monogamous with one partner, to the degree that it causes you distress or affects your relationship, then you either don’t want to be monogamous with that partner or maybe shouldn’t be monogamous with anyone. A lot of people, non-monogamous people included, have this weird idea that they’ll eventually go happily monogamous with the right person once they’re ready to “settle down” or something. That’s another patriarchal stereotype. Some people will, some people won’t. It’s OK if you never want to be monogamous!
It’s also not OK, though, to string partners along, compromising into monogamy when you aren’t happy with it, and eventually cheating or breaking someone’s heart. Some people do this, and it has way more to do with their lack of introspection about what they need in a relationship than whether or not they’re bisexual. Cheaters are going to cheat. There are plenty of people to cheat with of every gender. Bi people don’t have “twice as many opportunities” to cheat or some other nonsense. If people want to commit to someone monogamously, they will, and if they don’t or can’t, they won’t.
Now, on to your situation. Since you said “we” had a conversation with that bi friend, I’m curious how your girlfriend responded to that statement. The omission of her perspective on this is ominous. Does she agree? If so, that spells trouble for y’all. Did she say, “No, of course bi people can be monogamous, I’m doing it right now, happily?” That would be good!
You and your girlfriend decided to be monogamish… what does that actually mean to y’all? Sometimes we say things, thinking the other person understands what we’ve said the same way we do, but it turns out we have wildly different interpretations of what the thing we said meant. You’re sexually and emotionally exclusive, except for threesomes? Was it explicit that these threesomes would be women only? The way you describe it, it doesn’t seem like y’all have actually had a threesome yet, and I’d bet you were hoping it’d actually never come up. If y’all haven’t explicitly talked about exactly what y’all mean by these things, you need to get on that ASAP.
Non-monogamous people shouldn’t “settle” unhappily into a monogamous relationship — but the opposite is also true. Monogamous people shouldn’t “settle” unhappy into a non-monogamous one. Are you sure you want to be non-monogamous? Did you do it for her, hoping that it would never actually be acted on? You have to work that out in therapy and through introspection and, hopefully, through honest conversations with her. But it sounds like the potential of your partner wanting to actually act on y’all’s non-monogamy is what’s really bothering you.
I can’t tell you why this particular experience of your partner having a crush on a man bothers you so much, except that maybe you’re jumping 18 steps ahead and imagining the threesome already and it’s freaking you out. Has she ever expressed a crush on a non-man? If not, maybe it’s the fact that she even has a crush, and it’s someone she knows, and the idea of non-monogamy is finally viable, and that’s stressing you out. And not that it’s a man.
But if she has, why did this bother you more? Is it the first time in a while, like, since y’all have been really serious? If it’s really because it’s a man, is that a result of some of your internalized biphobia or homophobia? Do you feel like she’s going to leave you for a “real” relationship with a man, that your relationship is just a placeholder or a phase or something? You really need to dig into what potentially unexamined assumptions you’re bringing into this. Or is it just about the idea of the threesome?
In terms of group sex, please don’t consent to anything that you’re actually uncomfortable with. If she absolutely needs to have group sex, with you and a man as part of it, to feel sexually fulfilled, and you’re not into it, then honestly you might need to break up. But that scenario seems really unlikely — it’s not clear from your question whether she’s actively pursuing a threesome with this male crush or any other man, or whether it’s something she’s casually floated as a general interest sometime in her life, in which case this is probably not an urgent concern. If it is, there are also other ways to approach it if you wanted to get creative. What if she fucked a guy and you masturbated in the corner and y’all kept eye contact the whole time? Or she gave you head while being fucked by him from behind? Or she got head from him while giving you head? Or any of countless arrangements that don’t involve you and him touching at all. Or, could you compromise on the “I have to be there” stipulation?
Overall, the solution here is to have a really honest conversation with her about this. Maybe you didn’t make your feelings and needs clear from the beginning. It’s absolutely within your rights to say “I want to be strictly monogamous.” Or to say, “I am OK with being non-monogamous, but only in terms of a threesome and only if the other person is a woman.” Or whatever stipulations you want to put out there. And it’s her right to say, “No, that doesn’t work for me.” Or to say, “Well, can we compromise?” It’s totally possible that there’s a great compromise that works well for both of you and you can both be happy. Or, she might say, “Babe, it’s just a crush. I only want to have sex with you. And I don’t need threesomes to be fulfilled.” You won’t know unless you talk about it!
It’s also possible that you have some hang ups that you need to explore and work through and once you do, this won’t bother you as much or at all. It’s also possible that y’all have different sexual needs that won’t be met in this relationship. And that’s OK too! It’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t work out with this particular person. You want both of you to be happy, right? Even if it isn’t together? If that’s the case, you need to really examine what’s going on here from multiple angles, and be very honest with yourself and your partner about your sexual needs, and then move from there.
You can chime in with your advice in the comments and submit your own questions any time.