In fact, not only is it entirely possible to explore your sexual identity while you’re in a relationship—it’s actually recommended. By suppressing this type of soul-searching necessary to feel self-actualized, you run the risk of not being able to be your fullest, most honest self within any relationship you have. And that’s a losing situation for you and any partners you may have, in any relationship structure. So, how can you go about the sexploration without putting your current monogamous union at risk? Keep reading for expert tips.
Below, experts share 10 strategies for exploring bisexual monogamy
1. Talk with your partner
If your partner isn’t aware of your desire to explore your sexuality, loop them in if you feel safe in doing so. Withholding information from your partner can intensify the anxiety that they may react poorly.
Beyond quelling nerves, sharing with your partner can actually improve intimacy and trust within your relationship, says Jesse Kahn, LCSW-R, CST, director and sex therapist at the Gender & Sexuality Therapy Center in NYC. “This might be an opportunity for you two to have a larger conversation about desires, fantasies, and new ways of being sexual,” they say. And, who knows? Maybe your partner is also interested in exploring their own sexuality.
2. Ask yourself how important it is to you to hook up with people of other genders
To be clear, it’s absolutely possible to explore your sexuality and affirm your queerness within a monogamous relationship. “You definitely don’t need to go hook up with a bunch of people to explore your sexuality,” says Kahn. “You don’t have to have experiences with anyone of any gender in order to confidently declare that you are bisexual, or queer, or pansexual.”
“You don’t need to hook up with a bunch of people to explore your sexuality. You don’t have to have experiences with anyone of any gender in order to confidently declare that you are bisexual, or queer, or pansexual.” —sex therapist Jesse Kahn, LCSW-R
But, that doesn’t mean you can’t if you want to: “If you want to have experiences with people of genders different from your partner’s that is absolutely okay,” says Gabrielle Alexa Noel, bisexual advocate, founder of Bi Girls Club, and author of the forthcoming book, How To Live With the Internet and Not Let It Ruin Your Life. “It doesn’t make you selfish.” In this case, you do need to be honest with your partner about your desires so you can make a decision together about whether or not you’re going to open up your relationship or break up.
3. Open up your relationship
“If you and your partner mutually decide to open up the relationship, it’ll be important to move at a pace of exploration that is comfortable for you both,” says Luna Matatas, sexuality educator and creator of Peg the Patriarchy. “That means establishing clear boundaries around emotional and physical safety, determining how and how often you’re going to check in, and coming up with a game-plan to manage uncomfortable moments and feelings that are going to come up.”
To help you prepare for the difficulties of opening up a previously-closed partnership, she recommends hiring a queer-inclusive couples-therapist who specializes in non-monogamy. You could also read books together about opening your relationship.
4. Learn more about LGBTQ+ history
“Learning more about [LGBTQ+ history], is a great way to feel less alone and less isolated in your experience,” says Matatas. “It can also help put context into some of the shame or challenges or discomfort you might be experiencing by helping you understand the social location in history [of LGBTQ+ people] and how that still shapes a lot of our beliefs today. “
For bicurious folks, Kahn recommends giving @bihistory a follow on Instagram. As the account’s name suggests, its “sole purpose is to educate people about the history of bisexuality, bi communities, and queer activism.” Other LGBTQ+ history accounts to explore include: @blacklesbianarchives, @lesbianherstoryarchives, @h_e_r_s_t_o_r_y, @queerapalachia, and @LGBThistory.
If you prefer book-learning, check out We Are Everywhere: Protest, Power, and Pride in The History of Queer Liberation, Queer: A Graphic History, The Stonewall Reader, and Making Gay History.
5. Make queer friends
“Exploring queer community spaces in person and online, and making queer friends is another way to feel less alone in your budding queerness,” says Kahn. By using inclusive platforms—like the dating app Lex—you’ll meet folks who had similar experiences as you, which can help normalize what you’re feeling. Whether you’re looking for a bisexual reading group, queer friend to play Catan with, or more LGBTQ+ friends who work in your field, you can let other users know. You could also consult your local LGBTQ+ center, if you have one, for a list of upcoming LGBTQ+ events—whether digital or in person, if meeting up is a safe option for you.
6. Masturbate, masturbate, and masturbate some more
“Solo sex relieves all the pressures that can be associated with partnered sex and gives you space to play with your fantasies,” says Matatas. If while doing so, your mind wanders to the thought of you tasting your college roommate? Go with it! If you begin dreaming of strapping on for your hot, out co-worker? Dream on!
7. Flip on porn
From threesomes and group sex to strap-on sex and scissoring, Matatas recommends watching a wide variety of (paid) porn to see what intrigues you. “Enjoying queer porn doesn’t necessarily mean you’re queer,” says queer sex educator Andy Duran, education director for Good Vibrations. “But it may teach you about some sex acts you want to learn more about.”
But, since porn is entertainment, not education, learning how to make the sex acts you see a safe and pleasurable option to try in your real life may require asking Google or a sex educator.
8. Don’t forget about non-visual porn
Given that so much audio and written erotica is also created by women and nonbinary folks for women and nonbinary folks, the resulting content tends to focus on the whole pleasure experience above climax.
“Journaling allows you to explore your queer sexuality and think about what that means to you,” says Kahn. They recommend the following journal prompts:
- What does it feel like when I say my identity out loud?
- What is the first thing that comes to mind when I say the word queer/bisexual/pansexual?
- Where in my body do I feel my queerness the most?
- How can I express my queerness in my sex life with my current partner?
- How can I celebrate my queerness with my friends? What about with my partner?
- What still feels distant and unknowable about my sexuality?
- If relevant, why am I having trouble connecting with my sexuality? What are my roadblocks?
- How did/does “straightness” show up in my life before beginning to explore my sexuality?
- How did/does compulsory heterosexuality influence the way my partner(s) and I behave around and toward one another?
- In what ways does exploring my sexuality feel healing to me?
10. Check out chat rooms
If it’s within the boundaries of your relationship with your partner, Matatas suggests diving into the wonderful world of chat rooms. From Chaturbate and Talk With Strangers to Instagram and Twitter DMs, chatting with strangers “can allow you to talk through and explore new sex acts than what you’re exploring with your partner,” says Matatas. Just be safe about it by making sure you don’t share any identifiable info with the folks on the other end.
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