In this week's Sex IDK column, Emma McGowan, certified sex educator and writer, answers your questions about whether a bisexual woman has to break up with her boyfriend to explore her bisexuality.
Q: I’m bi, but I've never been with a woman. Should I break up with my partner (a man) to explore my sexuality, even though I think he might be the one?
Exploring your sexuality can be really fun, but it can also be stressful — especially when your exploration might exclude your current partner. But it’s not impossible! And I think there are ways you can explore your bisexuality with or without leaving your partner, Reader, depending on what feels right to you.
Before we even get into with or without, though, I want to challenge you to think more critically about your idea of “the one.” What do you mean by that? Is he “the one” you want to spend your life with? “The only one” you ever want to have sex with again? “The only one” or “soulmate” for you? Does monogamy have to be a part of being with “the one”? Clarifying what you mean when you say “the one” might help you decide your best course of action here, including whether you should leave him or continue in this relationship.
If that thought process leads you to, “Yes, this person is someone I want to continue being in a relationship with,” then there are options for exploring your bisexuality within the parameters of that relationship. If you’re monogamous, you can watch girl-on-girl porn, read erotica, and even interact with cam girls who you find attractive. You can do those things 100% on your own, which can help you build a queer identity separate from your partner.
Many men are also interested in girl-on-girl sex. If that’s the case for him — and it sounds hot to you — you could include him in your porn/erotica/cam girl. That way, you get to have bisexual experiences that still center your relationship. If you do go that route, I will encourage you to also do some exploration (within your monogamous commitment) on your own, as queer sex that also involves straights dudes has a very different flavor from queer sex that doesn’t involve straight dudes.
If your commitment isn’t monogamous — or if you think he’d be open to talking about opening up your relationship — then you have lots of options for exploring your bisexuality without dumping the boyfriend. For example, I once knew a couple who would go to sex parties where the wife would have sex with other women, but the husband wouldn’t. He would watch and participate, but their boundary was that he wouldn’t have oral sex or intercourse with the women they played with. It was a super hot way for her to fulfill her bisexual desires while still keeping her primary relationship-centered and healthy.
There are other ways to open up your relationship so that you have permission to explore your sexuality, within certain boundaries that you and he agree on. For example, maybe you’re allowed to have sex with women, but not relationships. Or maybe you have threesomes together. Or maybe you agree to tell him all about your experiences, so he can feel a part of it even if he’s not there when the sex is happening. Or maybe you’re open to polyamory, where you have romantic and sexual relationships with other people. Or maybe you only have sex with women when you’re out of town, or he’s out of town or with women you don’t know or… You get the idea. There are a lot of options, so you and he would have to work out the specifics.
And, of course, you could always choose to end this relationship and pursue sexual and/or romantic relationships with women on your own. Some people don’t want to involve their opposite-sex partners with their same-sex experiences, and that’s totally legitimate! Or maybe you’re a truly monogamous person and don’t like the idea of multiple sexual and/or romantic partners. Also totally legit! If that’s the case and you feel a deep need for in-person sexual connections with women, then ending your current relationship might be the way to go.
But I don’t want you to think that you have to dump your male partner to live a fully realized bisexual life, especially if he’s great enough that you think he “might be the one.” Get creative, get sexy, and get talking with him about your options. You might be pleasantly surprised where those conversations bring you both.