The Hook Up: Bisexual Monogamy Edition


Hi Anna,

I’m a bi girl in a hetero relationship with an amazing guy. He’s got it all: He’s understanding, caring, funny, ambitious, hard working, has good looks, money, we have a lot in common, he’s cool with my bisexuality, and he loves me and is probably already plotting our lives for as long as we both live as I type this. Yet when I sleep I dream about hooking up with chicks. I find myself feeling more and more suppressed and looking for ways to express my sexuality in the confines of a committed monogamous relationship. I’m sure I couldn’t handle polyamory, I’m sure he couldn’t handle an open relationship so I’m stuck trying to dyke-it-up by working around the house with no shirt on and watching L Word episodes on repeat.

Despite having had a girlfriend in the past I’ve never been involved in the LGBT community. I don’t have queer friends, and honestly I have two concerns with trying to meet people from the community: 1. Biphobia: What’s a chick in a hetero relationship doing here? 2. If I am accepted by people and make new friends, I’m not sure I trust myself to be good, that is, to stay 100% faithful to my dear loving boyfriend. I know it sounds bad, but I’m being honest with myself. I see hundreds of topics on queer forums all over the internet with bisexuals speaking out against biphobia and talking about how monogamous and committed they are but can’t seem to find any where there’s monogamous bisexuals honestly discussing just how bad they feel the need to express their sexuality fully.

Am I just going slightly insane from a lack of connection with my lady lovin’ self and/or with the community? I think a possible standard answer for this is “break up with him, you’re clearly not ready to be tied down” but if that’s the solution it doesn’t solve the right problem. I could break up with him, find myself a lady friend and have the same problem reversed.

So, I guess I’m asking if you have any tips on how I can get some more balance in my life in terms of my sexuality and would LOVE to hear your opinion on all I’ve said.

Slightly Crazy Lady

Anna says: Dear Slightly Crazy,

First of all, take a deep breath, lady! No one’s making you break up with anyone. This is a very common issue for people in all committed, monogamous relationships, though it can be especially hard for bisexual folks, depending on their proclivities. We all have desires, and even if they are directed at our totally hot, sweet, loving partners a great majority of the time, there will always be those times when those desires are focused on, say, Christina Hendricks, or the faux-hawked barista, or any other number of attractive members of the species. That’s totes normal, regardless of where you fall on the Kinsey scale. So bear that in mind.

Second, it seems to me like you’re making a lot of assumptions about yourself and your boyfriend, but that you haven’t sat down and actually talked about anything. For instance, you say, “I’m sure I couldn’t handle polyamory, and I’m sure he couldn’t handle an open relationship,” but being “open” means different things to different people. You never know what your boyfriend or you might be OK with until you have an R. Kelly Real Talk. Maybe being open looks like making out with a girl once a year, or maybe that looks like you bone girls regularly in threesomes, or maybe it looks like joining a kinky, poly latex catsuit fetish group, or like something else entirely. The fun part about relationships is that you and he get to decide together what it means to be “together.” There’s no one right way to be involved with someone. Relationships are a strange, beautiful, terrifying mix of possibilities. I know that’s not the line we’ve been fed culturally, but it’s true.

If you keep all these feelings bottled up though, they’re going to explode one day (probably soon) and cause far more damage than they would have had you just grown some ladyballs and been straight (sorry) with him. I won’t lie — this may be a hard-ass conversation. You have to be like, “I have these desires! And they don’t involve you, but they could maybe if you wanted to explore that, and I still love you immensely, and pass the blonde Oreos please!” You have to put your heart and vulnerability on the line. You have to tell each other what makes you hot and what scares the crap out of you and what’s maybe fine in the right circumstances. And this can’t be just you. He has to be involved too because he also has desires (you know that, right?).

Realize that it’s OK to ask for what you want. This doesn’t mean you’ll get it, but it’s still important because it imbues your life with honesty and integrity. My girlfriend and I have been having these talks recently, and I’m starting to learn that I take a lot of things for granted — like, “Of course, THIS OBVIOUS THING is cheating.” Assumptions that I thought were universal among all lesbians have turned out to be mostly not at all true with my girlfriend, which has been strange, but also revelatory. Now we ask each other: “Is this okay? What about this?” And go from there. I recommend you all try this: Ask your friends or partners, “What is cheating?” and be blown away by how different the answers are.

Regardless of what these talks yield, I do think it’s important that you get some more queers in your life. Because they’re awesome, obviously, but also we all need people and spaces where we can vent about monogamy and biphobia and The L Word, etc. Don’t let your straight relationship subsume your whole identity or prevent you from reaching out to other queers. If, on this friend-making journey, you do find yourself attracted to a queer chick, then you can have another talk with your boyfriend and figure out what next steps you should take. It might be: None, and you’ll have to accept being friends.

If, however, after all these great and scary talks, your boyfriend decides he’s only interested in a completely monogamous situation with you, you’ll have to ask yourself if you can be truly happy in such a situation. But again, that’s a bridge far in the distance. Right now, I think a lot of your “crazy-making” feelings will be pretty well resolved just by getting them out into the open. Try it. And go from there.

My girlfriend and I are madly in love. She has never been with anyone (man or woman) before me while I have had the opportunity to discover my sexuality and be with many partners. She was the one to start our relationship, to wait for me while I was recovering from a previous breakup (aka sleeping with multiple people including her), and be there when I realized that all I really wanted was to love her and commit to her.

We have been happily together for a year and a few months now. It wasn’t until the other day she observed, exclaimed, or maybe it was pointed out, that she would never be able to be with a man while we were together or have the experience to have sex with a man. Screenshots of Tina become a hasbian on The L Word flashed before my eyes. I seemed to give her a “well duh” face that I am not a man and that we will be together forever and ever — la di da.

However, she explained extensively that this is something she does not want to seek out because she sees us together for a long time and has no urge or powerful curiosity to explore her sexuality or have this experience because she knows she is head over heels for me and does not want to give me up. She also does not like the idea of being physical with someone else. I know she won’t act on it but I can’t help but feel guilty for limiting her sexual exploration, nor can I forget that she has recently come to this realization. I told her when the time comes, if her loins are screaming for mancandy, I would be willing to wait while she had her experience with a man and come back to me. But I get angry at the prospect of some sleazy guy or any guy for that matter touching her. I also feel a little betrayed and can’t help but imagine that she is somewhat unhappy with our relationship.

What can I do to resolve this? I even recommended a threesome, but she has told me that she probably won’t ever be comfortable touching someone else. I don’t want this to be some mysterious or forbidden idea in her head. Is there any advice I can take?

Anna says: Well, let me first say that you probably already resolved this issue several months ago when you wrote to me. But if you haven’t, then I will let you know that me and The Hook Up were “on a break” (I was lured by that vixen known as Full-Time Work with Health Benefits) but now we’re back together and I will get to your questions with the speed and tenacity of a three-legged hamster (that is, slow but steady)!

What were we talking about again? Oh right, your girlfriend’s “loins.” I don’t know about you, but I’m heartened by several things in your letter. First, your girlfriend was honest with you about a desire she had (hooray!), admitted that she is totally happy with you (woop woop!), and has “no urge or powerful curiosity” to explore wang (hallelujer!). The case seems pretty damn near closed, don’t you think? And it all took place in the realm of the theoretical (my favorite realm) so your heart and vagina didn’t even have to suffer much duress.

I’m curious then, why you feel guilty and why you feel that by being with you, your girlfriend is “limiting her sexual exploration.” I mean, I guess technically that’s the definition of monogamy — by committing to one person, you are also foregoing the right to bone the cast from Glee, for instance. We all make sacrifices when we crazy in love with another person and want to commit to them mind, soul, and vagina, but the tradeoff is that you get to be with this totally amazing and wonderful person who loves you and meets your needs. That’s a choice we make. It’s one your girlfriend made, and one you made too.

But where you differ from Slightly Crazy Lady above is that your girlfriend doesn’t seem to have a particularly strong desire for the flesh dildo. The way you put it, it seemed like it wasn’t a desire at all, simply a thought that popped in her head, like “We should eat spaghetti for dinner” or “I’ll never sleep with the cast of Glee. Bummer.” I wouldn’t let this one shrug-off comment consume you or make you feel like you’re denying your girlfriend all the wonderful wang in the world (p.s. girlfriend, if you’re reading: It’s not that great).

She loves you and wants to be with you. You even suggested a threesome compromise and she declined. Trust that her desire for you overrides her sexual inexperience and move on with your lives. The fact that she told you about this is proof that she wants to be upfront and honest with you, which is hard, so try not to let your insecurity make it into a bigger deal than it is.

One more thing, if you’re not actually comfortable with the idea of her sleeping with a dude, then don’t tell her you are! Also, let’s all agree to not use the word “mancandy” ever again.

Hailing from the rough-and-tumble deserts of southern Arizona, where one doesn’t have to bother with such trivialities as “coats” or “daylight savings time,” Anna Pulley is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. Find her at and on Twitter @annapulley. Send her your Hook Up questions at [email protected].

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