Second Favorites, Gold Stars, and Sex Not Had
by Lindsay Miller
1. I’m in a long-term, and very serious, relationship with the nicest, best guy in the world. I am a very sexual, and very queer, chick. I am totally in love with this dude; we talk about babies, our dreams, a house — the total hetero package. I do, however (and very sadly!) really … REALLY … miss sex with women. I knew I was bi/queer from a very young age, and made out with some girls and dated a lady semi-long-term, but don’t have a lot of experience (not that I have an insane amount with men either). When I met this guy about two years ago, I was in a place where I thought I might never date a man again … but I fell into this and now it’s something wonderful. It caught me slightly off guard! Now, in my mid-20s, I wish I had more time to fuck around (literally and figuratively) with women.
I don’t know what to do with these feelings. As a queer women I am sensitive to the fact that we are typically (negatively) cast as not being able to make up our minds about what we prefer and all that. But I MISS IT! Some might say we should have an open relationship, but he’s not as sexual as I am, so it would just be for me, which doesn’t seem fair.
Him not being as sexual as I am isn’t a dealbreaker for me — we have good sex, I love him, and I can imagine myself building a life with him — but I don’t know whether this is something that is as a result of our sex (so might improve), or just something I have to deal with (like in any relationship — imagining about all the fucks that could have been!), or some inherently fatal flaw. Help!
I know I’ve belabored this point in the past, perhaps to excess, so I’ll make it brief here: long-term monogamy always requires some sacrifices in terms of potential sex partners, or as you put it, “fucks that could have been” (I’m totally stealing that phrase). If you want to be with one person for the rest of your life — and it sounds like you’re seriously considering it with this guy — you have to be prepared to let go of all the FTCHB, or at least consign them to the realm of fantasy. It’s not always easy, but if this is the relationship you want, the trade-off is totally worth it.
That said, there’s an aspect of this issue I don’t always get around to touching on, which is that long-term monogamy isn’t necessarily your only option. I’m well aware that non-monogamy is not for everyone — it’s definitely not for me — but it sounds like you’ve already toyed with the idea of opening up your relationship, and didn’t exactly reject it out of hand. The only reason you’ve given for ruling it out is that it “wouldn’t be fair,” since your man isn’t interested in getting any on the side, but there are a lot of different definitions of fair. If “fair” in your relationship means “we have the exact same number of orgasms per week,” okay, yeah, it probably wouldn’t be fair. If it means “we’re both having the number of orgasms we want,” non-monogamy might be more fair than the way things are right now — and allow you to scratch that persistent itch of lady-lovin’ while you’re at it.
Couples with disparate sex drives have to find ways of compromising. Maybe you figure out things he can do for you when you’re in the mood but he’s not; maybe you just strengthen your relationship with your vibrator (and your stash of good queer porn). But maybe you discover that, every so often, going out and getting sweaty with a girl while he hangs out on the couch watching The Walking Dead ends up being a perfect, satisfying evening for you both.
Just so we’re clear, I am NOT giving you a license to cheat on your boyfriend if he doesn’t put out. If you can’t work out a way to sleep with women with the full knowledge and consent of your partner, you’ll have to go un-girlsexed or break up. But before you commit to one of those alternatives, you might try bringing up the idea of an open relationship and seeing how he responds. He already knows that you like girls, and he knows your sex drive is higher than his, so hopefully the suggestion won’t come as too much of a shock to him. Maybe he’ll be into in and maybe he won’t — again, non-monogamy is not for everyone, and being uninterested in sharing your partner is certainly not a personality flaw. But if it’s something he agrees is worth exploring, you may be able to have your cake and eat pussy too.
2. Okay, A Queer Chick, there’s a bit of convoluted back story on this one, so bear with me! I grew up in a small, conservative town where no one was openly gay. I half-heartedly had crushes on guys but never had an actual boyfriend (though my general high school awkwardness did not help matters). But then college happened! And I fell in love with my best (female) friend. When we started dating, there were some uncomfortable conversations with family and friends, but everything worked out. I figured out that I identify as bisexual or queer, though I’d never slept with a man and planned to be with my girlfriend forever, so it didn’t seem to matter.
Until now! Because after nearly six years together, we broke up six months ago (it was reasonably amicable, so don’t fret!). So I’m back on the dating scene after a long absence. I’ve been dating mostly women, but haven’t really clicked with any of them. And then I met this dude, and things are going well enough to make me realize that it’s not IF we’re going to sleep together, it’s when. And I’m really excited about that! But that brings me to my question. We met on a dating site, where I’ve identified as bi, though I’m technically a gold-star lesbian at this point. Before we sleep together, do I need to make it clear that I’ve never had sex with a man? My ex and I played with lots of toys, so physically it won’t be a problem, but I just don’t know what to expect! (Like blow jobs! Also birth control!) And if I’m awkward about things that straight women would find normal, I want to be able to talk to him about that. But how do I start that conversation? Help!
Sleeping with someone new, after six years with the same partner, is always going to have a little bit of scary mixed in with the exciting. It’s always going to be a challenge to adjust to a new person’s particular idiosyncratic way of getting it on, to become familiar with each other’s desires, to figure out whether that sound means “slower” or “faster,” to find a Wonder Woman costume that fits them perfectly. And when the new partner is of a gender you’ve never done naked stuff with before, it can be that much more daunting — which is why you should tell your dudefriend where you’re coming from.
You’re not required to disclose that you’ve never sexed a boy before, of course, but I think it will help you feel more comfortable. If you’re up in your head the whole time, thinking “Oh my God did I just do something totally weird, I bet that was weird, I bet now he can tell that he’s the first guy I’ve slept with, he probably thinks I’m so clueless,” you are not going to be having a lot of fun. And even if your guy can’t tell that you’re in uncharted territory, he will be able to tell you’re not having fun, which will lead to him not having much fun either. If you’re not trying to hide your hetero inexperience, you’ll be less embarrassed to speak up when you’re not sure about something or need him to slow down, which is likely to end in sexier times for both of you.
Don’t worry too much about whether you’re doing dude-sex the “right” way; this is not a test that you can fail. There is no specific way that all straight people have sex, and if your guy tells you there is, he is a terrible guy and you should rid yourself of him immediately. Just be honest, have fun, and use a condom — things are going to be great.
3. Here’s my thing: I’m an introverted 23-year-old demisexual lady who thinks she might be bi. For context (I’m not sure whether this matters, but hey), I’ve been in a few relationships with dudes. None of them have been super serious, and despite getting intimate with a few, I’ve never had full-on intercourse for various reasons, one of them being I’ve veeeeery rarely felt like I wanted it. Then again, I’ve never had a crush on a particular girl, mostly because I’ve never had close relationships with queer chicks, and I don’t fall for people who aren’t into the vageen (lucky me, right? I’m such an INTJ). It’s just hard to tell when no one turns you on until you get to know them well, and being an introvert, getting to know someone takes a long time. I guess my question is, how can I be sure? I’d be up for trying to date girls, but even then I probably wouldn’t want to have any type of sex for a loooong while, and only if I really get to know and care for said girl. And it feels like I’d be leading her on if I essentially carried out a sexless long-term relationship that might suddenly end if I finally decided “oh hey I’m not sexually attracted to girls after all!” That would be a horrible thing to do to someone. Right? So what do I do? Help me, A Queer Chick, you’re my only hope!
I know from the comments that my columns have made a few readers reach for the dictionary in search of the definition of “cisgender” or “homoromantic” or “lady-boner,” so I feel it’s only fair to tell y’all that I just had to look up “demisexual.” It turns out that, although demisexuality is generally considered under the wider umbrella of asexuality, a demisexual person doesn’t necessarily have a lower libido than a sexual person. It’s just that she only gets lady-boners when she has an intimate emotional connection with her partner. So she might want to get it on with a close friend, or someone she’s been dating for a while, but she can watch whole episodes of The L Word without ever picturing Shane naked. Except that picturing Shane naked is the only reason anyone has ever watched The L Word, so probably she would just find something more productive to do with her evening.
So how do you figure out whether you’re into girls, when it takes you so long to figure out whether you’re into anyone? Well, you have dated guys, so you’ve probably got some version of The Talk rehearsed already — you know, that thing you say somewhere around the second or third date, along the lines of “I think you’re great and I’d like to go out and get to know you better, but you should be aware that sex won’t happen unless and until we really connect emotionally.” If you meet a woman you think is cool and interesting, someone whom you might hypothetically want to see naked someday, you can give her The Talk and see if she’s still interested in pursuing things. Eventually, someone will be.
If you go out for a while and the connection you want just isn’t there — well, that happens to everyone, all the time. There is no more noble or respectable reason for dumping someone than “I’ve realized you’re not right for me,” even though being on the receiving end of it hurts like hell. Each time you start a new relationship, you’re basically doing a science experiment: will what I feel now (interest, affection, boners) turn into something sustainable over the long term (love, fidelity, joint checking)? Or will it fizzle out? And most of the time, it fizzles out — until the time when it doesn’t.
Ask some cute chick out for coffee and see where it leads you. Maybe you’ll discover that your bi-curiosity was fleeting and easily satisfied; maybe you’ll find the great love of your life. Either way, there’s no more risk in trying than there is in any relationship, which is to say the risk of heartbreak, bitterness, hurting someone you care for deeply, STDs, becoming your mother, and losing custody of your dog. So really, what do you have to lose?
4. Hi! My problem is kind of strange. I’m a man with a ladyfriend who I consider to be my soulmate. We’ve connected from the day we met and have been with each other for years through the best and the worst. The problem is, I’m a gay man and she’s a lesbian. I have a fiance and she’s in a long-term relationship. There’s no sexual or romantic attraction between the two of us. It’s just that, as much as we love our respective partners (and we adore each other’s, too!), there’s an understanding that the most important relationship in our lives will always be the one that we have. It makes me feel as though I’m emotionally cheating on my partner, somehow, and I don’t know if I’m right to feel that way, or if I’m making this into a bigger deal than it has to be. Our partners have never expressed any unease at how close we are, but I still feel guilty, and I know she does, too. Can you help me sort this out?
Do your partners actually know how close you are? I mean, have you straight-up told them “I love you, you’re great, I want to sex you up on the regular for the rest of my life, but my best friend will always be my number one priority”? Because I think most people assume that if you have a lifelong romantic partner, that person is first in your heart. If your fiance and her girlfriend are among the folks making that assumption, they may be painfully disillusioned when they realize that your friendship will always take precedent over them.
A friend of mine came up with a very simple rule that I believe should be followed by everyone forever, which is: if you lie to your partner about it, it is cheating. That’s it. No exceptions, no gray areas. Whether it’s a year-long affair or a slightly-too-flirty text message, if you feel the need to hide it from your partner, you are cheating on them. And a lie of omission counts as a lie. So if your fiance is not aware of the extent of your commitment to your BFF — if he thinks you love him the most, when he’s actually only your second favorite — then you’re right, you are cheating on him emotionally, and it is something you need to fix. I am tempted to give you a little bit of leeway here, to say “I guess it’s okay if…” but then I’m picturing how I would feel if my partner were sending emails to advice columnists saying “the most important relationship in [her] life” was with someone other than me, and I decidedly do not guess it’s okay.
That said, if your partner knows what he’s signing up for, if you have been honest with him about the extent of your emotional entanglement with your lesbian bestie, and he is cool with it, then rock on with your bad self. Not everybody believes that your romantic partner needs to be your highest priority in life; maybe your gentleman, like you, has a dear friend he would die for, or maybe he’s intensely married to his career, or for whatever other reason he is fine with being important but not important-est. The corollary to “if you lie, it’s cheating” is “if your partner is fine with it, it’s not cheating.” Again, this is true with no exceptions, no matter what it is. So if your dude knows about and approves of your intense, all-consuming friendship, then you are morally in the clear. Congratulations on your engagement! Have a wonderful and happy life together! Don’t play the Hokey Pokey at your reception!
Previously: Late Starts and the Umfriend.