Dear Louise: 'This is the first girl I've liked so it's all new to me'

Dear Louise: 'This is the first girl I've liked so it's all new to me'

I have fallen for one of my friends and I am extremely confused! This is the first girl I’ve liked so it’s all new for me, and it’s the same for her.

She has expressed that she feels the same way but only when she’s drunk.  My boyfriend has been incredibly supportive and accepting of my bisexuality, and knows I’m happy and committed to our relationship. 

I will be forever grateful for this, as I know how rare it is to have such a person in your life. My issue lies in the recurring thought I can’t seem to shake, which is a craving to explore my bisexuality further. I feel I owe it to myself to explore my sexuality, and have felt guilty for not doing so sooner.

I worry that this could be my one big regret in life if I found myself middle aged, feeling like I missed my opportunity.

In season one of Schitt’s Creek, a brilliant show on Netflix, one of the main characters explains his sexual orientation by using a wine analogy. When asked if he drinks white wine (women) or red wine (men), David says he “likes the wine, not the label”.

The reason why I bring this up is because I’m curious about our relationship with your friend. Is it just this one woman that you’re attracted to or have you found yourself drawn to other women as well? Is your urge to explore your sexuality something that can only be satisfied with this particular person? If it is, then it’s time to have a serious conversation with her about your feelings and it has to take place when both of you are sober.

I must warn you - you will have to be prepared for either eventuality. What if she says that she doesn’t feel the same way, that her drunken declarations of affection were meaningless? It’s worth considering what impact that will have on you, but also to consider the impact it might have on your friendship going forward. Are you able to handle the potential fall-out?

And, on the other hand, what happens if your friend confesses that she reciprocates your feelings? What is the next step for you both after that – and how will your boyfriend handle the inevitable shift in your relationship?

Speaking of your boyfriend, I’m so pleased he has been supportive of your sexuality. Of course, that’s the way it should be in a healthy, functional relationship but unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Bi-erasure is a real issue, with the legitimacy of bisexuality often questioned or denied outright.

There are so many myths surrounding bisexuality as well; that it’s somehow a stepping stone to a more ‘definite’ identity (this is particularly harmful for bisexual man, with the false assertion that they’re “bi now, gay later”) and the idea that bisexual people are more likely to cheat on their partners.

As anyone in a monogamous relationship knows, either party – whatever their sexual orientation – has the capacity to be attracted to other men and women but you make a commitment to remain faithful to your partner regardless. That doesn’t change just because, as society might see it, you suddenly have more ‘choices’.

I must stress this – more for the other readers than for you, to be honest - 

your desire to explore your sexuality is not the same as cheating.

You’ve been completely honest with your boyfriend, which is more than a lot of people in ostensibly monogamous partnerships can say.

You have nothing to feel guilty about! How could you have done this sooner when you weren’t even aware of it yourself? And even if you had an inkling that you might have been bisexual before now, maybe you didn’t feel ready or able to come out in a world that insists on such binary definitions of sexuality, denying how fluid many people’s sexuality orientation can be, and how that can change over time. I truly hope you can find some compassion for yourself in all of this.

You did the best you could with the information you had at the time. That’s all any of us can do.

I must disagree with you, however, when you talk of your fears of sliding into a middle-age beset with regrets. There are many people who wait until later in life to own their sexual desires and needs – it’s never too late to ask for what you want.

There isn’t just one window of time that you get to express yourself in this way, there isn’t just one opportunity for experimentation that disappears if you fail to grasp it immediately. But right now, I understand that this is new and exciting and it’s something you want to investigate further. In your slightly longer letter, you say that you and your partner have discussed ways you could tackle this together. 

I’m going to presume that you mean either bringing someone else into your bedroom or looking at other alternatives, like an open or a polyamorous relationship. I think these are valid options if everyone involved is consenting and comfortable. The key tenants for success in these situations are the same as those for a monogamous relationship, namely clear boundaries, radical honesty, and open communication. If this is something you and your boyfriend both feel happy to try, I can’t see why there should be any problem. 

Ultimately, I want you to know that if this is the ‘recurring thought’ you can’t shift, you’re going to have to trust your gut. These feelings aren’t going to go away, no matter how much you ignore them. And why should you? You only have one life. Live it the way you see fit. Live it in the way that makes you happy.

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