Mark (36) and Irene (32) met in college, and have been together ever since. Happily married for 5 years now, they are the parents of two kids. Around a year ago, they attended their first swinger party. It started as a silly experiment that introduced them to the range of opportunities to enhance their sex life. Though they’ve been quite open in sharing fantasies with each other ever since Irene has kept her bisexuality a secret.
Shortly before they met, Irene was in a short relationship with her college roommate. Being sexual with a woman was always a secret fantasy for Irene, but she had never dared to explore it. One night, when they were both tipsy, a fantasy came true. As they were both confused with the experience of being in a relationship with a woman, Irene and her roommate ended the relationship and Irene told no one about it.
Many couples start swinging with the idea of being sexual with a person of the same sex or gender. Threesomes are in many cases a first step towards getting into the lifestyle and an opportunity for one partner to explore their bisexuality. While there are couples that are open to exploring their sexuality, some may take a more reserved stance, especially if it’s a man who is bi-curious.
Revealing bi-curiosity or bisexuality can be challenging. Yet, the experience can be rewarding and liberating and can take a couple to new levels of pleasure and intimacy.
What Makes Bisexuality Conversations Difficult?
The reasons for which the conversations about bisexuality or bi-curiosity may be difficult can differ. The first step to discussing bisexuality with your partner is addressing the part that makes you feel uncomfortable to do so.
Here are some common reasons that make these conversations challenging.
Confused by Desires
Just like Irene, a person can be confused about their feelings. For a person who never had a chance to explore their sexuality freely, a newly found desire can be overwhelming. A person may find a desire difficult to battle with – the more they try to suppress it, the more present it becomes. The fantasy may carry shame or self-judgment, especially if any past experiences with bisexuality have been negative. Revealing bisexuality to a partner often implies opening up about insecurities and self-doubt.
Fear of Judgement
“What is my partner going to think of me?” The discomfort about starting a conversation about bisexuality may come from the fear of being judged as an inadequate or undesirable partner. Men are especially at risk of feeling judged and therefore hiding their bisexuality, as bisexuality in women tends to be more socially accepted. Unfortunately, there can be bias with bisexuality.
Disrupting the Balance
The relationship may have already been through a lot and has finally reached the point of stability. A person may be afraid to compromise it by bringing up the topic of their bisexuality. They may be afraid it may cause pain for their partner and may worry that the disclosure will be followed by a period of turbulence that can be more emotionally exhausting.
Bisexuality as A Deal-Breaker
Could revealing bisexuality imply the end of the relationship or the end of the swinging? The hesitation to start a conversation can stem from the fear that bisexuality may be a deal-breaker. It is often that people hide parts of their sexuality fearing that the relationship would end if the partner knew about it and wasn’t able to accept it. The bisexuality of one partner can challenge the entire relationship. With rejection a possibility, a person may face a difficult choice – to either suppress their desire or give up on the relationship.
When is the right time to start sharing?
Most couples will slowly test their partner’s opinion about bisexuality before they open up about it. A partner whose reaction was somewhat negative at the first attempt of sharing may take some time to process the idea before they open or warm up to it. So, expect that sharing will take some time and definitely, more than a single conversation.
Here are some of the signs to help you pick the right moment to start testing the waters:
You feel confident in your partner’s willingness to listen and understand.
You are likely to feel more comfortable discussing your bisexuality if you feel like your partner is open to hearing your needs and greeting them with acceptance and understanding. Think of your partner’s reactions to the intimate experiences you’ve shared. What is their approach to addressing your needs?
You are both energised and ready for something new.
Avoid periods that are already too difficult to bear. If you are both busy and tired, the time is not right. Conversations require an emotional capacity to be there for each other. You both need to have your batteries charged. If this is a period in which your partner is open to new ideas and willing to experiment, the time may be right to slowly introduce the topic.
Your partner has shown open-mindedness about homo- or bisexuality.
You have already heard your partner speak about bisexuality in an affirming way. They are open to playing with different ideas and avoid judgment when it comes to something they do not understand well.
There is a window of opportunity for a conversation to start spontaneously.
You have just watched a swinger movie about bisexuality, read an article on the topic, or have met someone who is bisexual. Speaking about the topic in general terms can help you understand your partner’s point of view.
How To Share My Bisexuality?
Start with where you feel comfortable enough.
The first step may be to introduce the topic gently. This is what we have referred to as “testing the waters”.
You may start by talking about sexuality in general terms. You may ask a partner if they have ever had a bisexual experience? Showing that you are supportive and open-minded about their sexuality can invite them to share some of their experiences, thoughts, or feelings. Use the movies, music, a famous person’s life story, an experience of someone you know as the easy start into the bisexual conversation. There’s no need to have an agenda. Sometimes, the soft exposure to bisexuality can inspire spontaneous conversations.
Don’t rush to reveal everything at once.
Follow the pace of your conversations and your partner’s acceptance. There may be times when your partner is just not in the mood to have a conversation about bisexuality (with no intent to hurt you). If they do not seem engaged, try another time. On the other hand, if your partner seems welcoming and invites you to share your experiences, you may start by sharing only a part of your desires at the level that is comfortable for you.
No matter what their response to the initial sharing is, give your partner some time to process what you’ve shared.
You may want to check in with them and ask them how they feel about the topic you’ve talked about the other day. Just as it may be anxiety-provoking for you to share, it may be challenging for them to hear. Don’t take their hesitation to talk about bisexuality as the sign of rejection. They may need some time to understand that their partner has different needs from those they were familiar with. Try being patient and let them come back to you with their thoughts.
Take one step at a time. If your partner is open to learning more, share the backstory of your bisexuality with them. In sharing, make sure that you acknowledge their willingness to listen to what you’re sharing. You may also want to let them know that you are aware that this may be a lot to take in at once and that you are patient with them as well.
It may be difficult for your partner to understand what happens once you out yourself as bisexual. How is your life about to change and what does that mean for your relationship? They may be open and welcoming, yet still, feel the relationship is at stake. The question that the conversations should cover is also: “What does this mean for us?” So, before you reveal your bisexuality, think about the best-case scenario. What would you like your partner to be able to do? How would you like your relationship to look like going forward?
What If My Partner Is Dismissive?
There are cases in which sharing will not be greeted with a welcoming reaction. Nevertheless, try to be patient with yourself and with your partner, even if their reaction was not what you expected.
Your sharing may trigger some of your partner’s fears. Sometimes, fear transforms into what we recognize as dismissive and judgmental behaviour. People tend to be aggressive once they feel threatened. Give them some time to process what you’ve shared and still be reassured that you are the same person you always were.
If your partner is not ready to accept your bisexuality yet, it may be in part because they are not sure what is expected of them. To help figure this out, it may be beneficial to consult a relationship expert. A therapist can provide a structure and a trusting atmosphere for both of you to discuss your needs, expectations, and challenges.
Look into Opportunities to Explore Together
Many couples started swinging because they wanted to be able to meet their sexual needs with both sexes while staying committed to the relationship they are in. Use the opportunity to the couples in which one of the partners is bisexual or bi-curious.
The truth is – it may be a bit easier to find women who are bisexual. Male bisexuality or bi-curiosity is still looked at as a transitional stage towards homosexuality. This bias may affect the way a partner feels about moving forward. In the cases where a partner has a limited understanding of bisexuality, it may be useful to spend more time learning more about it.
Your partner may not be willing to share this with anyone else just yet. They may need the reassurance that you are still you before anyone else gets involved. Before exploring the idea with someone else or with other couples, try experimenting with bisexuality within your relationship. Reading sex-related books, watching same-sex or bisexual soft-porn, role-playing, visualizing the fantasy during sex, and other activities for just the two of you can help your partner feel more comfortable.
Claim your sexuality
The swinging lifestyle welcomes exploration.
It is not focused on binary divisions, but on inclusiveness which allows people to experiment and get to know themselves better.
If you are into swinging, the chances are that your partner will welcome the idea of experimentation and sexual play that involves same-sex. Every important change requires patience and understanding, so ensure that you give them the time to process what you share with them and show understanding of their need for that time.
Remember that it is okay to ask for help and support from the resources available to you.
Use the knowledge and experience base of the swinging and bisexual communities or talk to the experienced relationship counsellors.
Be Kind to Yourself
It is okay to want to explore your sexuality and it’s also okay to be confused by it.
It’s okay to want to share it with your partner. It’s okay to want to expand the options to live a more fulfilling life.
It’s okay to not want to give up on your needs.
Approach yourself with understanding and self-compassion.