Living In His Truth
The first weekend of my freshman year of college: a culmination of a week’s worth of forced binge drinking with the people on my floor, celebrated by more binge drinking.
I had gone from an all-girl’s boarding school of 200 in rural New England to a university of more than 10,000. While the changes that first year weren’t insurmountable, they were substantial. Gone was the one pizza restaurant and lone gas station; in their place, bars and clubs and good restaurants. Alcohol was abundant, and so were boys. They existed in school for the first time in four years; they lived across the hallway and went to the same gym and appeared in class.
I wasn’t the only one who seemed to notice: my boyfriend did, too.
The first Saturday of the first weekend of my freshman year ended with a crying, drunk boyfriend slumped in front of my door. He was apologizing profusely for kissing one of the people on my floor, Keith.
“Keith?” I remember asking, puzzled. “But Keith is a guy.”
I’d been prepared well by friends and family and Cosmopolitan magazine about the precarious situation that is a high school relationship carried into college. I’d thought that, if anything, I would end up cheating on him or he’d end up cheating on me or I’d fall in love with some cute guy with glasses while reading in a coffee shop. Most likely, I thought we’d grow up and out, two seedlings planted side-by-side, intertwined for a season before reaching towards separate suns.
There was no natural course of action for this situation, and I certainly couldn’t ask friends what to do without outing him. So I turned to Google.
“Boyfriend bisexual advice”
“Is my boyfriend gay”
If Google were a person, they would’ve sent me directly to a therapist after this rain of queries. Even worse, after every fervent Googling session, I emerged empty-handed. There simply isn’t that much online on the subject.
I told him repeatedly that if he wanted to go try new things, he was absolutely free to do so. I wanted and continue to want nothing more than his happiness. I’d suggested he try dating around, dating men, hooking up with other people… all ideas he shot down immediately.
Statistically speaking, his behavior isn’t irregular: a 2013 Pew Research survey notes that 84 percent of individuals who identify as bisexual end up in heterosexual relationships.
I wondered how I could ever be enough, attempting to compete in a game where I didn’t have the right equipment. I wondered how he could ever be satisfied without at least attempting to have a relationship with a man. Would I have to introduce strangers into our admittedly adventurous and fulfilling sex life? Did this mean he was now naturally inclined to polygamy? Would I wake up at 40 to find my husband had run away with a man, realizing after all this time that he was actually gay and not quite as bisexual as he’d thought, wasting my time?
While he confronted his own sexuality, I was forced to confront mine.
“How is this any different from all those times you’d drunkenly kissed your friends?” he asked, often frustrated. “What about lesbian porn? Checking out other girls?”
According to 2016 statistics from The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 17.4 percent of women admit to having had sexual relations with other women, compared to only 6.2 percent of men. I’d assume both of those statistics have gone up since then.
How was it different? He had a point.
It was probably different in the same way that many find lesbian porn universally sexy and gay porn taboo, and probably in the way I’d never needed to confront my own sexuality in such boot-strapping, earth-shattering way. For me, kissing my female friends and finding girls sexually attractive had never seemed strange to me.
Maybe the key difference is this: for him, being attracted to his own sex had the potential to be a relationship-ruiner. For me and for a lot of women out there, it was just hot. Maybe even encouraged.
We’ve been together for four and a half years now, and his bisexuality has melded into just another aspect of his already complex humanity. These days, I’m worried a lot more about finding a job and paying off my student loans than his running away with a man.
Some words of wisdom: monogamous people will continue to be monogamous people. Your sexuality doesn’t change how likely you are to cheat on someone – your personality does. You don’t have to label the sexuality of others in order to understand them, and maybe most importantly, you definitely don’t have to label your own.