Relationship Tips

Exploring My Bisexuality in a Monogamous Marriage

Varuna Srinivasan, MBBS, MPH

Photo: Getty Images / Well+Good Creative
For Pride Month, Well+Good is joyfully celebrating the right to Love Out Loud with a collection of stories from the LGBTQ+ community. With hard-fought battles alongside softness and vulnerability, these stories highlight what it is to love others as well as ourselves.

Coming out as bisexual is not easy. From my lived experience, it is especially difficult when you are already in a monogamous marriage. When I met my husband in 2017, I had been operating on the assumption that I was heterosexual. It was only in 2018 that I started to come to terms with my bisexuality, but my internalized biphobia had me convinced that coming out meant I would no longer be happy in my relationship.

I had been conditioned to believe that being bi meant a life of promiscuity and confusion. There was no way I could be bisexual while married to a man, I was told. The stigma surrounding bisexuality made it that much harder to come out and live my truth publicly. I believed that I had to choose my marriage or my sexuality. My friends and family put the focus on "saving" my relationship, implying that the success of my marriage was contingent on me "remaining" heterosexual: "What about my William? Are you going to leave him to be gay?"

In some ways, my bisexual journey mirrored the stages of grief. More specifically, it involved: denial (I’m not really bisexual, I’m probably just confused); guilt (I feel like I’m cheating on him); frustration (why the hell is coming out so hard?); depression (there’s no point to this—I’m never going to truly experience what it means to be bisexual). Biphobia had me resigned to the fact that I was never going to be a "true bisexual" if I was in a monogamous relationship with a cis het man.

Call it acceptance or call it a reckoning, but the final stage of my journey proved to be the most significant. As I embraced my bisexuality, I came to accept it as an integral part of my identity. I refused to believe that I couldn’t be happily married while exploring it. Who you are attracted to and who you have sex with are not the only parts of one's sexuality. So much of my self-acceptance came from understanding the complexity of human sexuality and the different ways in which I could be bisexual within the constraints of monogamy.

It took time to unlearn what I thought I knew about bisexuality. Widely known misconceptions included ideas that bisexual folks are either promiscuous or on the way to coming out as gay, and that only women identify as such. These harmful stereotypes are so systemic that it affects our health and employment. Compared to 75 percent of our lesbian and gay counterparts, only 19 percent of bisexual people are "out," according to the Pew Research Center.

Self-acceptance bloomed from redefining and reframing my sexuality. Just as I had met and fell in love with my husband, I began to fall in love with a side of myself I hadn't known. I romanticized my story, and it was both healing and empowering. I started talking about it more often with friends and family. People would tell me that I had a twinkle in my eye when I spoke about this part of me.

Sexually, I allowed myself to fantasize about having sex with women. I gave myself permission to experience every single bit of attraction when I watched lesbian porn or read lesbian erotica. I left shame in the past. This energy also brought my husband and I closer. Knowing he accepted me in my entirety ultimately strengthened our intimacy and sex life.

I also started getting more involved in the community. I volunteered with LGBTQ+ organizations, attended pride rallies, and started to share my bisexual journey on social media. It was a wonderful surprise to find that I wasn’t alone. Many people like me had come out as bisexual in their adulthood or during the course of a relationship. I also learned that there is no blueprint for how to be bisexual. Different people express their sexuality differently. There is no one way to be queer in a relationship.

For me, being bisexual in my seemingly heterosexual relationship will never change the fact that my husband and I are still madly in love with each other. Our love is just one example of its infinite possibilities.

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