My husband came out bi and wants sex with men

I am Zachary Zanea sex writer, author and ethics slut (a fancy way of saying that I sleep with a lot of people, and I’m very, very open about it). Over the years, I’ve had my fair share of sexual experiences, dating and sleeping with hundreds of people of all genders and orientations. In doing so, I learned a thing or two about navigation issues in the bedroom (and a bunch of other places, TBH). I’m here to answer your most pressing sexual questions with in-depth, practical advice that goes beyond just “communicating with your partner” because you already know that. Ask me anything – literally, anything – and I’ll gladly do it.

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Dear Sexplain It,

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My husband of seven years recently revealed to me that he is bi, but seems very confused about what he wants. When he told me, I thanked him and told him he was really brave. I also said that I accepted him for who he was and I absolutely meant it. I like him more than anything.

We had two counseling sessions, but I found them extremely emotionally taxing and had to stop. He mentioned an open marriage one day, and the other said he might be polyamorous. Those are two different things. Maybe at the time he just didn’t know how he felt, but maybe he did?

Long story short: he filed for a separation a few months ago. I took the request the wrong way and felt really upset and basically let down. We didn’t talk about what the separation meant, but I asked that if he wanted to get sexually intimate with someone else, we would have a chat first.

We have not stopped being in contact and we are dating again after three months. He mentions things like, “If we get back together…” but nothing more concrete. We are not intimate, and he seems indifferent, which is not normal. He’s a sexual person, so I think he gets satisfaction elsewhere. However, he tells me that he still thinks I’m extremely attractive and compliments my body. This all just seems a little crappy, and I don’t know if I should say I feel disrespected. I really think he is experimenting and lying to me about it.

Do you have any advice for me? I love this man so much and I want to support him and his new identity so he can be happy, but I don’t want anyone to walk on me. I feel like it all happened so fast, but he still hasn’t opened up to me to let me know anything more than I knew months ago. I hesitate to push.

—Terrified Wife

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Dear Terrified Wife,

I can tell how scared you are of losing your husband, but it may be the only way for you both to have a fulfilling love life. I really don’t think you’ll ever go back to the monogamous relationship you once had, so you have to decide whether you want to experiment with non-monogamy or let go.

To clarify, because I don’t want to perpetuate stereotypes: Not all spouses who come out as bi want to start sleeping with other people. I’m just going from what you told me, that he talked about polyamory and open relationships; you suspect that he is experimenting with other partners; and he went so far as to ask for a separation. As sad as it is to accept, these are not the actions of someone who wants to return to their former monogamous marriage. (For what it’s worth, I’m sure your husband still loves you too, despite his recent behavior; it can be difficult to embark on a new sexual journey when you feel attached to someone else and smothered by your old way of life.)

You two have to give each other space—real space – to figure out what you both really want. You said you talked every day when you were apart, and now you’re vaguely referring to a future where you’re together again. It seems to me that your desire to get back to “normal” and your husband’s guilt for turning your marriage upside down are both holding you back from what you really want.

So here’s what I recommend: release the pressure on each other to find an immediate solution, cut off communication for three months, and do some personal introspection to find out if monogamy or non-monogamy is right for you, ideally with the help of of a therapist. .

If you decide you want monogamy, I would encourage you to go ahead with divorce – a “conscious separation”, if you will, because you will do it on good terms! You can still love and support him on his sexual journey, but you will do so from a distance, as a friend, not as a wife. And you will be free to find a partner who loves you unconditionally and also wants monogamy.

If you both come back determined to open your relationship, that’s also valid. Remember that an open relationship is not child’s play and you will need to set some ground rules. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to guide the conversation:

  • How do we feel about knowing each other’s relationships?
  • Would it be mandatory to use condoms?
  • Can we schedule date nights for just the two of us?
  • Is there potential to play with partners together?
  • Are sleepovers allowed?
  • Can we bring dates home?
  • Are certain sexual acts prohibited?
  • What’s the best way to communicate jealousy?

I also recommend reading Polysecured, Attchedand more than twoand consult our open relationship guide for more expert advice on how to make your arrangement work.

One more piece of advice: I also advise you to resume couple therapy. I’m a bit confused as to what happened the first time around. You mention that therapy became “extremely difficult emotionally”, so you had to stop – why? Was it because you couldn’t accept the reality that the man you love didn’t want a monogamous relationship? Running away from uncomfortable emotions will set you up for long-term failure, because you are not really transaction with any of your problems.

Prepare for the opening of your relationship to be “extremely difficult emotionally.” You will become jealous. You will cry. You will both make mistakes. This will require constant communication and there is no guarantee that it will work in the long term. But if you’re both into it, I mean really into it, you can absolutely give it a try.

If not, split up. There is no “right” answer, but you will have to choose a of the two options after giving themselves space. Otherwise, you will stay in this unsatisfying limbo forever.

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