One of the Bad Ones
Me: What’s NRE?
Now-Husband: New relationship energy. It’s that intense feeling you get at the start of a new relationship. It’s a poly term.
Polyamorous. Having more than one partner.
Like an open relationship?
Sure. It’s a bit more than that. I’m poly*.
Oh…. I’m actually really OK with that.
I don’t think that’s how the conversation tends to go, but that’s how it did for me. It took place on our third or fourth date.
Before I even started dating, I was open to the concept of an open relationship. People change over time, and life is too long to be so confined. Deciding to be in a polyamorous relationship took very little convincing for me.
And dating a man drove that need further. Men aren’t my primary interest. By a long shot.
I honestly don’t think I would be married if we weren’t poly. Even if I was with a female-leaning partner, I’d still be too curious about men.
I’ve been married for three years now, and just started dating again. It’s my first time looking for a paramour (another partner).
But this is not a post about being poly. This is a post about being everything people are afraid of.
And that’s what I feel like.
In general, bisexuals** are not respected by the general public, or within the sexual-minority community****.
The stereotypical image of a bisexual person is one that sleeps with anything that crosses their path, and is unfaithful in their relationships. After all, they can be attracted to anyone.
And when you pick a partner, you’re now either a lesbian, gay, or straight. Whatever fits that relationship from the outside. Or if your single, whatever your stereotype fits your physical appearance and personality stereotypes. This is referred to as bi-erasure, or bisexual invisibility.
While I don’t label myself bisexual (I feel more comfortable with no label*** whatsoever), I fit under the umbrella, and I fear my perception with this stereotype.
I read so many posts on feminist discussion videos where bisexual individuals are discussing their experiences and coaching their posts with ‘I am in a relationship, and would never have another partner.’
Cool. Monogamy is valid.
I am not OK with that for myself.
There’s a reason random internet posters are writing that sentence in the first place, and it’s because they’ve heard over and over again that they are promiscuous and untrustworthy solely because they’re bisexual.
I certainly look that way from the outside. I’ll be going on dates wearing a wedding ring; my date might not. It’s not cheating, everything is consensual, but I don’t expect people to understand that at a glance.
Furthermore, many bisexuals feel invalidated, by both others and themselves, if they’ve only dated or been sexually involved with people of one gender. But you don’t ever need to date someone of another gender to be bisexual. You know how you feel. But there I go, married to a cis-man and looking for paramour who is not. It’s pretty obvious I don’t have one type of romantic interest.
So what do you do when you have the opposite problem of bisexual invisibility? What do you do when you are what everyone expects to see, but doesn’t want to? What if you know you're a stereotype that is painful for the vast majority of other bisexuals? What do you do when you feel like one of the bad ones?
I don’t know.
I really don’t, and it’s bothering me.
It makes me cling to having no label for my sexuality because it makes me feel like I’m stepping on others toes less.
It gives me a nagging sense of guilt for doing what fits me, even though it is 100% OK within my relationships.
I have this odd mix of confidence in myself and shame for being a walking negative stereotype, and I can’t figure out why I care so much if I’m comfortable with my personal decisions.
I finished watching Sort Of on HBO earlier today and one of the later episodes focuses on the phrase “Everyone is going to do what makes them happy.”
That doesn’t mean everyone is happy with one another’s decisions. But everyone is doing what they think is best for themselves, while still trying to be respectful to everyone else along the way. Those decisions conflict and cause tension, but no one stops supporting another even when they’re angry or upset.
And that’s what I’m trying to do.
I think all I can say is that sometimes questioning your sexuality isn’t a matter of trying to understand what you like, but how others react to you and how to process that.
Ultimately, you’re going to make the decisions that make you happy, hopefully with an ear to how it will affect those around you. But making choices that support yourself doesn’t make you bad. It makes you a person.
**** Typically referred to LGBTAIQ+…kind of. I have issues with that term because your sexuality has nothing to do with your gender and has nothing to do with your relationship structure. I feel lumping all of that under one umbrella is causing more confusion during discussion than it is helping anything, and we’ve reached the point where we need to break out categories.
***I describe myself as “primarily attracted to women or androgynous people, so I married a bald guy with a beard. I have given up on trying to define my type.” A phrase makes the most sense to me. It will probably change again after I post this sometime; it has happened before. Having no label makes me OK with that.
**I’m going to use the word bisexual for this because I’m going to be referencing stereotypes and the term bisexual invisibility and can only use clarifying language so much. The true meaning of my post applies to anyone attracted to more than one gender, including pansexual, omnisexual, and other terms for attraction to more than one gender or sex.
*I feel the need to note that my husband is an ex-coworker; we started dating about 6 months after I quit. If you met someone online, and they didn’t fully disclose they are poly or into Ethical Non-Monogamy (EMN) and what that means to them in their profile, you should consider that a bright, wavering red flag.
If you’re currently in a relationship and your partner has been having an affair and is now crying ‘poly’, I’d recommend that it’s time to leave. They don’t get to retroactively call something non- consensual consensual. But your actions are for you to decide.