I’m curious about my sexuality. I have, for the majority of my life, thought I was a heterosexual male. But at times I have thought maybe I am bisexual. I’m aware that sexuality is a spectrum. I just don’t know where I land on that spectrum.
I have a lovely girlfriend of over a year whom I love very much and I want to tell her what I’m feeling but I don’t really know what to say. If that makes sense could you offer some clarity on how to tell her?
I know it’s very easy for me to ask someone for help but I’m scared to tell someone this is how I feel. Even though I know she will be accepting, I still find it tough, though. Some guidance would be great.
On the Brink of Bi
You seem to think that you need to know just “how bisexual” you are before you have this conversation with your girlfriend. The nice thing about viewing sexuality as a spectrum is that you actually don’t. Not only does a sexuality spectrum hold a wide range of identity options, it’s also quite fluid so it’s totally acceptable to slide around on it by the day or even hour.
This means that rather than feel pressure to tell your girlfriend “I’m not entirely straight, I think I might be bisexual, and here is just how bisexual I am,” allow it to be enough to tell your girlfriend “I’ve realized that I’m not straight, I’m bisexual,” without needing to assign exact percentages to how attracted you are to every single gender.
It may be tempting to quantify your sexuality in this way in anticipation of the questions your girlfriend might have about what your bisexuality means for your relationship with her. However, your level of attraction to various genders is likely to be far more determined by the unique person rather than their specific gender alone. This means, for example, you could be feeling primarily attracted to men these days but also certainly still be attracted to, love, and want to date your girlfriend. Your being bisexual doesn’t need to end your relationship with your girlfriend. Unless you want it to.
Which brings us to: do you want it to? Before talking to your girlfriend about this, do some thinking about where you want to go from here. Are you coming out as bisexual and proposing an open relationship so that you can act on your bisexuality? Or, do you just want to come out and let your girlfriend know about your changing thoughts, feelings and identity? It’s also valid to be unsure. However, it’s safe to assume that your girlfriend will be wondering what your bisexuality means for the two of you, so put some forethought into your answer.
Be intentional about how you set up this conversation with your girlfriend to increase your chances of it going well. Have the conversation when you’re both rested, fed and have plenty of time to talk (as in, not one minute before bedtime). Tell your girlfriend how you’d like her to respond, “I have something to tell you about myself. I’m not looking for any problem-solving right now or to change anything, I’m hoping you’ll just listen.”
Then, give her the option to take space and time to process before asking you questions or, do your best to answer the questions she has in the moment. Go into this conversation as the first of many smaller conversations about this topic rather than expecting yourself and your girlfriend to talk out and neatly tie up every aspect of this issue in one go.
Set up some support for yourself outside of your girlfriend to help you before and after the conversation. This could be your therapist or a friend who can root you on beforehand and help you decompress after. (Bonus points if that friend is also bisexual or can relate to your situation).
Finally, remember what you’ve said above, which is that you know your girlfriend will be accepting. Use this knowing as a grounding anchor before, during and after the actual conversation. Good luck and welcome to the bisexual club — it’s a good one.
Yana Tallon-Hicks is a relationship therapist, sex educator, and writer living in the Pioneer Valley. You can find her work and her professional contact information on her website, yanatallonhicks.com.