Bisexuals, Clingy Exes, and the Return of the Heart/Vagina

by A Queer Chick

I’m a woman in my mid-thirties. I consider myself bisexual and have for many years, though my sexual experience is limited and I’ve never had a relationship a woman. It’s not because I didn’t want to, it was simply a matter of not meeting an available woman I was interested in. I’ve had sex with two women and both were straight (the first was the adventurous type who will try anything once; the second was trying to spice up her marriage). I’ve kissed/made out with several women, but for most of them it was typical college experimentation and/or male attention-getting. I enjoyed those experiences, but it wasn’t the same for me as it was for them. I always wanted something deeper.

I’m divorced. When I was married, I regretted not dating women when I’d had the chance. After we split up, I was happy to have the chance again, but ended up falling in love with a man a year later. I’m still with him and have the same regrets (I know it’s my own fault). Things are rocky now, so there’s a possibility this relationship will end. If that happens, I’m determined to make a greater effort to meet dateable ladies.

There are a lot of stigmas about bisexuals: that they can’t be monogamous, that they’re confused, promiscuous, indiscriminating, or attention-seeking. Many people don’t believe there is even a gray area, that you’re gay or straight and there’s no in between. It’s something that worries me about entering the broader dating pool. I know that I’m not bi-curious or frivolous or unsure of who I am. I know that I won’t allow a woman to fall in love with me only to leave her for a man once the thrill wears off. I know this isn’t just experimental for me. In fact, I’m more attracted to women than men, and I suspect that I might lean much more toward the lesbian end of the spectrum than I thought. The truth is, there’s no way to know for sure without actual relationship experience, because sex is great but it’s just sex, and there’s so much more to it than that.

I know I’m asking you to make broad generalizations here, but generally how do most lesbians feel about dating someone like me? Would they run screaming or would they give me a chance? Is it less of an issue because I’m more mature and not a college girl? What would it take for me to convince them that I’m for real? Would they always be afraid in the back of their mind that I would “switch back”? How paranoid am I? (That last one was purely rhetorical.)

Well, most lesbians I know would have serious qualms about dating someone who is currently in a relationship with a man. You kind of glossed over that part, but it’s not entirely insignificant. Assuming your impending dude-ectomy is successful, however, I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t be up to your neck in ladies in no time.

You’re right that some lesbians harbor misinformed, small-minded stereotypes about bisexual women, and for some of them those stereotypes are going to be a barrier to sexy naked times with you. But you know what? That’s their loss. You’re not looking to date all the dykes, anyway. (If you did, it would only end in drama, exhaustion, and chafing.) You’re just looking for that special concoction of hot/funny/smart/knows what to do with your nipple piercings. Right? There are lots of reasons you already write people off as potential mates — she doesn’t shower, she has a tattoo of Sarah Palin, she says “for all intensive purposes” — so all you need to do is add “she doesn’t like bi chicks” to your list of dealbreakers and move on.

It’s not gonna narrow your playing field all that much. Most queers these days understand that sexuality is a continuum, not an either/or. If you come on like a grown-ass woman asking for a date, instead of a college girl saying “My boyfriend thinks it would be hot if we made out,” no lady worthy of your attentions is going to write you off because of the men in your past. And you don’t need to make a big deal about your lack of lesbian experience — you’re far from the only person who got a late start on the same-sex side of things. Just be attentive and communicative, and your girl won’t care that you’re not quite ready to turn pro.

Also, bear in mind that dyed-in-the-wool gold-star lesbians are not your only avenue to hot Sapphic sex. There are tons of other women out there like you — bisexual, pansexual, and queer women who don’t care that you also dig men because so do they. Perhaps you should seek them out!

Hello. I have been in a gay relationship for a few years now. I am very, very happy. I am completely in love, and have never felt this way about anyone before. I can’t label myself and say that I’m gay, straight, bi, or whatever. I just happened to fall in love with a beautiful person. That being said, I have one problem that just does not seem to go away! My girlfriend’s ex has always been and still is around. We have mutual friends, and I’m all for being friendly and cordial when she’s around, but I’m SOOO not OK with her thinking she can be real friends with my girlfriend still.

Now I know that I have NO right to tell my girlfriend what to do, but I can’t help the way that I get really uncomfortable and annoyed with this situation. The ex sometimes texts my girlfriend that she misses her and still buys her and her family gifts (including me) which in turn makes us have to get her gifts to be nice. And just UGH! I cannot understand this way of thinking! I am in no contact with any of my exes, and I’m perfectly happy about that.

So my question is: Is this common in gay relationships? I do see other gays who seem to stay friends with their exes, and they can act like one big gay happy family. But it’s just not me to be completely fake in these situations. So am I doomed to feel this way forever? Or should I be able to pull my complete bitch out of myself to deal with this? Because that’s what I’m leaning toward.

Some people — and not all of them are gay — have this mysterious ability to remain friends with their exes. When you think about it, it makes sense. Why do you date someone in the first place? Because you’re dying to see them naked, obviously, but also because you enjoy their company. They make you laugh, or you have awesome debates about the minor works of Ke$ha, or you both like Ethiopian food, or whatever — there’s something about them that makes you want to spend time together. When the relationship goes south, if they haven’t stolen your credit cards or slept with your sister, sometimes after enough time has passed you realize that even though they’re not girlfriend material, you still want to hang out with them.

This, I’m sorry to tell you, is not only totally normal, it is a sign of a healthy, non-grudge-holding emotional life. And it’s something you’re going to have to come to terms with. If you don’t want to keep in touch with your exes, that’s fine, but it’s important that you respect your girlfriend’s right to be friends with whomever she wants. You say that you can’t help getting uncomfortable, which is sort of true, but there’s a difference between feeling awkward and pulling your “complete bitch” out. So my advice to you, effective immediately, is put the bitch away.

That said, I see two problems here, and only one of them is you. Your lady’s ex is also behaving inappropriately. Being friends — even close friends — with someone you used to boink is a valid lifestyle choice; however, in that situation, it’s crucial to make sure that your friendship is not threatening your ex’s current boink-friend. And this girl is definitely crossing some lines. Telling your girlfriend that she misses her? Giving you gifts? Um, who does that? People with boundary issues, that’s who. And I would be freaked out too if my partner’s no-boundary-having ex was always around.

There is absolutely no way that you can confront the ex about this situation without coming off like a psycho, so don’t even try it. Instead, talk to your girlfriend. Say something like: “Sweetie, I’m glad that you and Amber [all crazy exes are named Amber] have managed to stay friends, and I would never ask you to stop hanging with someone you care about, but sometimes her behavior makes it seem like she still has romantic feelings for you. Can you please talk to her and make it very clear that you’re with me now, and you’re only interested in spending time with her platonically?” Emphasize that you’re not asking her to give up her friend, but that the gift-giving and I-miss-you-ing has got to stop.

At this point, one of a few things will happen: Your girlfriend will say “Oh my God, why are you so mean, you’re not the boss of me,” in which case she is 15 and you should not be dating her anyway. Or she’ll say “Totally, I’ll bring that up the next time we hang out,” but then she won’t do it because come on, that would be super awkward. In this scenario, she will at least stop sharing her ex’s weirdly needy texts with you, which would be a little bit of an improvement. Or she’ll actually confront this girl, who will vehemently deny having done any such intrusive, irritating thing, and they’ll have a big fight and then they won’t hang out for a while. That’s pretty much the best-case scenario for you. Good luck!

Last July I got into a very heavy LDR with a much older woman (I’m in college, she has three kids, an ex-wife, a mostly-paid mortgage and a job that consumes tons of her time). We’ve gone fast; as a rule I’m a cynic, but I’m a year into this, regularly promising to civil union up/carry some more sperm donor children, and really truly meaning it. She feels completely right for me. No, she’s not my first girlfriend (kind of makes it worse, doesn’t it). The sex blows my queer little mind.

I’m clinically depressed. It got bad enough this year that I dropped out of school indefinitely to mope.

I’m basically writing because I don’t trust myself, at all, to be even a tiny bit objective about being so thoroughly in love. It’s probably worth mentioning that my college, while not hostile to homos in the least, is a fucking desert when it comes to ladygays, so it’s not like I’m missing out. Am I just an emotional lesbian doing emotionally lesbian things with another lesbian? Will we all be happy, childbearing lesbians in the end, or is my relationship (one of the few sources of unmitigated joy in my life) a deeply questionable pursuit for someone in poor mental health? (Yes, I’ve started therapy.)

Thanks for what you do — my heart/vagina loves your column dearly.

First order of business: WOO SOMEONE ELSE SAID HEART/VAGINA! I knew it was going to catch on.

Second order of business: Since this is “Ask a Queer Chick,” not “Ask a Magic 8 Ball,” I cannot tell you for sure whether your relationship is going to work out. I think that’s what you’re asking, right? I mean, obviously you didn’t think I was going to be like, “You’re depressed? Well then no girlfriend for you, crazypants!” Depressed people get to have relationships too. Your condition, while it sucks and I’m sorry you have it, does not magically render you unworthy of having an awesome lady in your life.

So your brain chemistry is actually kind of tangential to the real matter at hand, which is: You’re in love, but she’s a lot older than you, and you want to know if it’s going to last or if you’re going to end up heartbroken. And I can’t really answer that for you. Statistically speaking, a relationship you enter into while you’re still college-aged is unlikely to last the rest of your life, but I can think of tons of people who are happy, thriving exceptions to that rule and I’m sure you can too. Statistics don’t actually mean dick in terms of what you should do with your own personal heart/vagina.

Basically, you want to know if you should break up with your girlfriend, who makes you happy now, on the grounds that she might one day make you unhappy. And I just don’t see any reason why you should do that — not your age, not your depression, not stereotypes about emotionally dependent lesbians. Everyone who has ever been in a relationship has spent at least a little time wondering, “Is this person going to break my heart?” Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. But the only way you’re ever going to live happily ever after in a mostly-paid-for house with dozens of adorable sperm-donor babies is to accept the risk and go for it anyway.

However, given your age and that you’ve only been together a year, I would caution you to move slowly and not do anything irrevocable for a while. That means back away from the turkey baster, please — preferably until you’ve found yourself a career and, hopefully, some sort of functional treatment for your depression, whether that means therapy or medication or both. Your girlfriend has had a lot more time than you have to figure out what she wants out of life. She shouldn’t push you for a major commitment until you’ve had a chance to do the same.

I have always been attracted to people regardless of what’s in their pants. I tend to say that I am bi for simplicity’s sake, but since I am also attracted to people who are on all shades of the gender spectrum, I really identify as queer.

Here’s my problem:

I have been in relationships with men before, and when I was, I got a lot of “you say you’re bi to get him hot” bullshit. And now that I have been in a long term relationship and am engaged to a woman who is the world to me, I get a lot of, “oh, well you’re a lesbian.” Never mind that my partner identifies as bi/queer, too. Never mind that we have both dated and fucked guys (and liked it). Never mind that anytime someone refers to us as lesbians, we respond in unison, “we’re not lesbians!”

It’s not as if I am offended to be called a lesbian. I am just not a lesbian. And I want to make it clear how I identify.

But even when I do, people don’t accept it. If I am a woman who is in a monogamous relationship with a woman, I have to be a lesbian, they reason. And it is driving me nuts.

Will I have to correct people my whole life? Do I need to just accept it and move on? What to do, O Queer Chick?

What I’d like to do is put huge billboards in every major city in America, saying, “Not everyone is gay or straight! Stop being such a douchebag!” No, wait, I want to hire George Takei to say that over loudspeakers in every building in the world. Because, for real, anyone who claims to know more than you about your sexual orientation is indeed a total douchebag. But there’s not a lot you can do about it, because there are more of them than there are of us. It’s a douchebag’s world; we just live in it.

I mean, definitely for people you are close to, you should continue to tell them “I’m not a lesbian. Lesbians are awesome, but I am not one, and it drives me insane when you refuse to believe what I tell you about my own identity.” Make this speech frequently enough, with optional screaming and wine-glass-throwing, and they will stop referring to you as a lesbian, at least to your face.

But for people who are just passing through your life, yeah, I’m sorry, but all you can really do is accept it, write them off as douchebags, and move on. Anyone who doesn’t respect your right to self-definition is not worth your time and energy. Besides, if you go around all the time insisting that you and your hot girlfriend both totally love the cock, you are going to be the recipient of a lot of unappealing offers. And you don’t need to deal with that.

(P.S. If anyone comments just to say “Why do you care so much about what other people think?” you have my permission to find out where they live and poison their house plants.)

Previously: Man-Haters, Infatuations, and the Lesbian Litmus Test.

A Queer Chick is a queer chick who knows everything. Do you have a question for A Queer Chick?