Saturday, August 11, 2007

An email about fidelity and bisexality

Last Sunday, I got an email from a reader as follows:

I am bisexual. Is it possible for me to practice Fidelity? Thank you.

That's definitely a record for the shortest 'Dear GB' email that I've ever received! However I thought that it was a great question, so I replied to him and asked him whether he could add anything regarding his own experiences as a bisexual. A few days later I received his reply:

Fishing for a juicy story eh?

As far as experiences, compared to me gay mates, it was to some degree a lighter blow for my family when I came out. Relationships with both sexes have been great, though some folks handled it better than others. After what I would call a more than satisfactory availability of shags and liaisons, again with both sexes, I am finally ready to settle down. My family is organizing an arranged marriage with a real nice fox of a lady, whom I have met at least a dozen times. No pressure. Me mates and ex-boyfriend are sincerely supportive but then there is always the occasional ‘when are you really coming out?’

So this reader is in an interesting situation, and in that context his original question makes a lot of sense.

I have met some genuine bisexuals in my time, but not many. I reckon the genuine bisexuals are the ones who've had significant relationships with both men and women, so that those men and women would have been described as their boyfriends and their girlfriends. I don’t count guys who lead a straight life, with a wife or girlfriend, and sometimes have a bit of fun on the side with another guy.

It's also true that some guys use the term bisexual while they're in the process of coming out as gay. Because we're all brought up to believe that we're straight, a sexual attraction to people of the same gender can be a bit of a shock, so for a while some people will think that they're bisexual before finally accepting that they're gay. None the less, it's clear from the reader's second email that he is a genuine bisexual. He's got an ex-boyfriend, and he's now looking forward to getting married to a woman.

Although I've never had a bisexual guy for a boyfriend, I do know that some bisexuals end up in a complex web of relationships, especially when they've got other bisexual friends. It's not hard to imagine the intricate mix of connections that can arise between people when some of them are bisexual, and especially when both male and female bisexuals are involved. Their lives become very very complicated, however I believe it's all quite natural to them, although probably not monogamous!

But I'm also aware that some bisexuals are serial monogamists. However, when a relationship ends, their next relationship is likely to be with someone who has the opposite gender to their previous partner. Both sides of their sexuality need to be expressed, and perhaps because they can't get everything they need from a single person because each individual person is either male or female (not both!) they'll end up switching partners to fulfil their needs. So I think the answer to the reader's question is 'Yes', it is possible for bisexuals to practice fidelity, although perhaps that means that their relationships only last for a few years.

Since this is a question about bisexuality, I thought that it would be best to ask a bisexual so as to get a definitive view. As a result of this blog, I'm in occasional email correspondence with an Asian bisexual guy who's in his early 30's, so when I received the original email I immediately asked him for his views. This is what he said:

Personally, I have always thought that fidelity is possible, provided the person in question is very disciplined or (dare I say) mentally strong. There is little doubt that it is very difficult, especially for men I think. For me, as a bisexual, I had my fun when I was younger and had a boyfriend. During my moments of infidelity, I always gave myself the excuse that I was unhappy with the relationship but the truth is that to some extent, my urges had won the battle in my mind. While they were mostly very safe, I always felt uneasy and most importantly, never satisfied by the experiences. Yet, I continued that lifestyle for a while. I guess it usually is the case when one is younger and controlled by urges more than anything else. (Then again, age is not a factor, isn't it GB? :)) [Hmmm, not sure what he means by that LOL!]

Through those experiences, I also came to realise that the chances of a gay relationship working out in a monogamous sense were very small. Thus, I broke off the failing relationship, and decided to give myself a breather and perhaps settle down if fate would have it.

And now that I have settled down with my wife, while I am still attracted to good-looking men or athletic well built guys, I am slowly coming to terms with it - accepting this as part of me yet keeping it in check. I guess some people may think that it is a torture to have a nice yummy cake in front of you and not be able to eat it. But I guess I know what I want in life - a wonderful relationship and companionship (which seems to have evaded me and many other gay men in our Asian country). To me, beauty, fitness and a hot bod will likely fade with time but true companionship will not. However, for every one of us who thinks that way, there is another who think otherwise. So to your reader's question as to whether it is possible to remain monogamous as a bisexual, I guess it really is up to him.

The bisexual guy who wrote that has now been married for almost two years, and as far as I know, has resisted all temptations to have fun with guys. So if the reader who wrote the original email is looking for excuses to cheat on his wife once he gets married, I think he needs to look elsewhere!


muse-ic said...

It's interesting.

I know many many "bi" married men who are after some gay fun fairly often. GB, you say you "don't count" these type of men - is that because you know lots of them too?

Do you think it is that common?

Thinking about it, I don't know any genuinely bisexuals.

GB said...

I don't know how common it is muse-ic but I do think that the best definition for a genuine bisexual is someone who's capable of significant relationships with people of both genders. If a guy has a bit of fun with another guy, it may be enjoyable for the people involved but that's not a significant relationship!

GB xxx

pentimento said...

When bisexual men want to settle down do they usually choose a female?

Masturbedroom said...

Even though I believe bi or gay men are not more likely to stray than straight men, I still wonder... How many straight women out there would willingly marry or have a monogamous relationship with an openly bisexual man?

Sir Wobin said...

The question is about fidelity, from the Latin fides meaning "trust". The bride of a Roman patrician had to be a virgin so that her husband could trust that his children by her were definitely his. When she was found to have breached trust, she put her life and the lives of her children at risk either by being put to death (after ratification of the transgression by the tribal council) or perhaps worse yet, being disowned and disinherited in shame.

It's no small coincidence that this Roman tradition (along with the bride wearing white for her wedding day) come down to us through the Roman Catholic Church's many centuries monopoly on Christianity which defines much of Europe's moral standard. Judaism and Islam both have a polygamous framework but mostly use monogamy in modern times. Not sure about Hinduism but these 3 overwhelmingly define a European moral standard.

We're a product of our history. The rules have changed but some traditions remain. To come back to trust and change, perhaps the reader will enter into a monogamous (arranged?) relationship now and as time goes on negotiate something different later on if that suits both parties. To promise monogamy and break your promise without your partner's consent is unfaithful. To negotiate something new with their knowledge, participation and cooperation is to have trust and something more.

How to have your cake and eat it? Takes courage. Good luck.

Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

I am bisexual and have been faithful to my gay partner since we both agreed to be exclusive and made our union official. In the gay scene, being bisexual often means that you are gay but are not yet comfortable being identified as queer. Yes it is a well known fact that many gays initially come out as bisexual and later admit that they are actually really gay. Either way bisexuality seems to be tolerated better by society in general because you are just partially and not completely different. It may not be easy but it’s definitely possible for this guy to stay faithful. However, marriage carries along with it certain responsibilities and every action has its consequences especially when there is someone else involved. We are past the times when everything was either black or white.


Anonymous said...

Yes it is possible to be bisexual and practice fidelity.
I am a bisexual and happily married man. I have never cheated and have no intention of doing so. One rule that works very well for my marriage is that I can look but I can’t touch!


Anonymous said...

I am married to a bisexual man. We have never discussed allowing him to sleep with men, but he says he loves me too much he doesn’t want to be with anyone else, male or female. I often worry that maybe he is missing out on something that I can’t offer him. I mean as a woman, I can’t compare to being with a man. Sometimes I feel like I love him so much I would actually let him get a boyfriend if he wanted. Other times I feel like if I let him I would loose him. And to say that I am not afraid of loosing him would be an understatement!

Anonymous said...

As a married bi sexual woman, it is my experience that No, one cannot be bi and be monogamous because there will always exist a desire to be with whatever sex is lacking in the relationship. The only way one won’t cheat is if their partner allows them to fulfill this desire. The most common occurrences these days are having a ménage à trois with one’s husband. This situation definitely works for me! Though I have a friend who has loads and loads of fun with a lesbian couple. She always jokes that if her husband found out he would probably request an invitation to the party! Being bisexual presents a bitter-sweet situation because even though one gets the best of both worlds, at some point in one’s life one has to choose between both worlds. This is very hard. It’s like choosing between peanut butter and jelly on your sandwich. You have to have both!

Anonymous said...

I am a bisexual man with a male partner. We have an open relationship. He is my only male lover but I sleep with other women. He on the other hand has fun with other men. Even though we spare each other the nitty gritty details of our affairs, he had no objection when I got a girlfriend and stopped messing around for a while. He actually liked the idea of me being a one woman man LOL. After the relationship with the girl ended, I was back in the game. I am not ashamed to say that I would be very satisfied with just one man and just one woman. I do not think it is possible to be bisexual and still be faithful to one person.

Anonymous said...

Yes it is possible to be bi and practice fidelity. I am a bi male and very faithful to my boyfriend of 7 years. You make a choice to be faithful and then you choose to stay faithful.

Anonymous said...

Well as a bisexual single man I definitely don’t think it is possible to be bi and monogamous. I currently cruise with men, but date lots of women. If and when I do get married I surely don’t expect the cruising to stop!