Shortcuts: “My Boyfriend Told Me He’s Bisexual and Wants to Explore”

Bisexual symbolIt’s time again for Shortcuts. For every question, I’ll give my advice in just a few sentences because sometimes the answer to a person’s question is so obvious and the need to hear it so great that being as clear and frank as possible is simply the best way to go.

I’ve been in a relationship with my boyfriend for seven years (with a year-long break in the middle), and we’ve lived together for two years now. Three weeks ago he told me that he’s bisexual. After a lot of talking and thinking, we’ve both decided that we love each other and want to be with each other. He has told me many times in the last three weeks that he sees a future with me, but he does have thoughts about exploring. I don’t know if I can handle giving him a free pass to explore his sexuality, but I fear that, if he never does, it will hurt us in the long run. I love him and see him as the future father of my children. What should I do? — Not Interested in His Exploring

Honestly, I think you should break up with him and let him get his exploring out of the way. He wouldn’t have told you after seven years together that he was bisexual if he wasn’t curious about what else is out there. If you can’t handle opening your relationship, which is totally understandable, you should end your relationship before growing resentment ends it for you. And by the way, his sexuality is almost beside the point (with the exception that there’s a possibility he may not be bisexual at all but, in fact, gay): What if he wanted to “explore” his heterosexuality with other women? If you wouldn’t open the relationship up for that, you shouldn’t be opening it for anything.

I recently returned to my university to start my fall semester, and I have been enjoying it very much. My roommate is hilarious and a lot of fun to be around. It’s pretty obvious, however, that he’s gay. I’m not 100% sure, but, by the looks of his mannerisms and by the sound of his voice, it sure seems that he is. I’ve asked his very close friends if they feel the same way, and everyone I’ve asked says “for sure.” I want to ask him if he is, but I don’t want to turn a perfectly fine situation into something awkward. I also have feelings towards him, which is odd considering I’ve always been with girls up until this moment. I look at it as it’s college, a time of experimentation, and I just want to know whether or not he actually is gay or not. It’s all I think about! I hope you have some advice for me. — Interested in Exploring

Someone’s sexuality generally doesn’t matter at all unless, of course, you have a romantic or sexual interest in him or her. It sounds like that could be the case for you, but the situation is complicated by the guy being your roommate. If you offend him or make things awkward by asking him, you still have to live with the guy. And if you “explore” with him and things don’t end well (like, if one of you develops feelings that the other doesn’t reciprocate), you still have to live with him. If you really want to explore your sexuality, do so with someone you don’t share a room with for the next nine months. Your roommate may not even be sure himself about his sexuality, so let him share with you what he wants when he wants, and don’t ask questions that will put him on the spot.

My girlfriend sees movie and TV stars and she makes comments right in front of me like: “Ooo, I’d get that,” meaning, of course, that she’d have sex with him. So, I don’t feel like I’m out of bounds if I make comments like that also. I’ve expressed concerns with her that what we do makes me uncomfortable, but she just laughs and says, “All of America does it. You’re the only one who doesn’t like it.” Or she will say, “You men do it all the time.” Admittedly, I used to glance at other women. I hurt somebody once badly by doing it, so I make an effort not to now. The actors she’s making comments about are, of course, muscular, blah blah blah. Sometimes I’ve heard her comment about men in public to her girlfriends. That really bothers me. She says I’m being too sensitive. You say? — Annoyed By Her Comments

First of all, if you don’t like her doing something, you shouldn’t do it either. Making comments about other women for the sole purpose of making her feel bad or giving her a taste of her own behavior is passive-aggressive and a waste of time. You’ve told her how you feel and she’s laughed in your face. Maybe she doesn’t take you seriously because you’re participating in the behavior you say bothers you. See if she takes you more seriously if you actually stop and if you ask her to stop. If she doesn’t, then you need to decide if this is a deal-breaker and, if it is, MOA.


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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.


  1. Avatar photo juliecatharine says:

    Talk about the seven year itch…. LW, Wendy is spot on but why did your boyfriend take the better part of a decade to announce his bisexuality? I know there is still an awful lot of societal pressure on men to play it straight (thankfully that seems to be diminishing) but it is pretty shitty to drop the bi bomb after such a significant amount of time in a relationship. Has he ever explored this side of his sexuality? Could he be using this as a way to do a soft break up? I think moving on might be your best bet. At the very least your boyfriend is going through the confusion of figuring himself out. Generally speaking confused people don’t make for solid partners.

    1. I think it is reasonable that he sincerely didn’t know or have those feelings seven years ago.

    2. Figuring out you’re bisexual as an adult in a longterm relationship doesn’t equal confusion or instability. For me it’s been entirely drama free. But the thing is, I’m happy in my relationship and do not want to explore.

      1. bloodymediocrity says:

        See the endless posts here and elsewhere about how “he’s probably not actually bisexual but actually secretly gay”. People tend not to take male bisexuality seriously, and LOTS of women will refuse to date a bisexual man. Lots of men refuse to date a bisexual men. Lots of women refuse to date bisexual women. It’s a problem.

  2. Laura Hope says:

    For my last birthday my husband got me an autographed picture of my celebrity crush. I thought that was the coolest gift. Speaking of which, if memory serves, Wendy just had a birthday. Happy Birthday, Wendy!!

  3. LW1, is he just realizing that he’s bi, or did he know and not tell you? Has he been with men before?

    Wendy is right, what he’s asking for is an open relationship. He wants to sleep with other people. The gender of those other people isn’t important.

  4. dinoceros says:

    I wouldn’t assume that him saying he’s bisexual is automatically a sign that he’s curious about what’s out there. Yes, 7 years is a long time, but that’s not the issue. The issue is that he has explicitly said he wants to explore. You’re cutting him too much slack. Just because he’s bisexual doesn’t mean he deserves a free pass to have sex with other people. Bisexuals are capable of having monogamous relationships. They’re just like anybody else. I also don’t think whether he’s gay or not is really relevant here, either, since he did not identify as gay.

    1. RedRoverRedRover says:

      I think the point is that if he didn’t want to explore, he wouldn’t bother mentioning it, because what difference would it make? Like if I figured out that I might be bisexual, but I want to stay monogamous with my husband, I wouldn’t even tell him. Why would I? It’s not going to make a difference to either of our lives, so what’s the point?

      1. dinoceros says:

        Sexual orientation isn’t just about having sex. For most people, it’s an identity. It’s who you are. If a person didn’t tell anyone or admit it to themselves earlier because they felt ashamed, and they finally decide not to be ashamed, that’s more than reason to tell a loved one. Maybe they feel tied to their identity and want to get involved with LGBT advocacy. Maybe they want to go to a Pride event now. And they’d rather not make up an excuse to their SO. You can explore an identity without exploring through sex.

        If I realized I was bisexual, I would *want* to tell my spouse because it would be a part of who I am and I’d assume that we’d share parts of our identity with each other. I may not tell them — but only because I’d probably get a response of “Oh, so you want to have sex with women then?” I am friends with a same-sex couple, and one of them felt that she should identify as gay instead of bisexual — so she told her partner. Not because it was going to affect their relationship or sex life, but because it was a part of who she is.
        I don’t doubt that some people tell their partner because they want out of the relationship or want to have sex. But there are also people who tell their partner for other reasons.

      2. RedRoverRedRover says:

        Ok, yeah, I see what you’re saying. Although I still don’t think I’d tell, because I think it would make my husband feel less stable in the relationship. Even if I knew I would never explore it, I think he would always wonder. The example you gave is of someone going from their partner knowing them as bisexual to gay… that’s “safer” for the partner because they’re in a gay relationship already. They’re not confronted with the idea that there’s another side to their partner that they might want to explore which will threaten the current relationship.
        Anyway, I suppose some people would tell and some people wouldn’t, but whether they actually want to explore or not, I think it will introduce some instability into the relationship to tell.

      3. dinoceros says:

        Yeah, it was less risk involved with my friends. No idea if she would have told if it had been the reverse, but I think the core reason why she *wanted* to tell might have been the same. Just maybe the risk might have dissuaded her. Who knows! But yeah, a lot of people probably wouldn’t tell or might only tell because it’s prefacing some sort of decision regarding the relationship. Just varies so much!

  5. As a lesbian, I speak from many years of personal experience and the experience of talking with many, many GLBT people over the years. For the first blurb, here is my response. There ARE bi people who have liked both men and women and who date both or who settle down with a person of either gender and never have a need to have sex with the other gender. I think, though, that after a seven year relationship, when someone says they want to explore their bisexual side, chances are this was in his head for a long time. Not that he was tricking you, but that chances are, he is really feeling MOSTLY attracted to men. Because you “love each other and want to be together” is not enough if he is feeling strong urges towards men. I bet without a doubt he will end up eventually as gay and date men, if not forever, than for a long time, before dating another woman. I agree it would be best to break up.

    To the second guy; One thing to think about: don’t hook up JUST because he might be gay. You should decide if he is a person who would treat you respectfully. If not, choose another guy who will. it might take some time. If you ARE really interested in this guy for more reason than he seems to be into guys, you can always move to another room at the close of the semester if you talk to him near the close of the semester and it is either awkward or you DO want to hook up.

    To the third issue: Some people joke about celebrity hotties in front of their SO, but if it bothers the other person or is used as a weapon or power game, it becomes unhealthy.

  6. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    LW1 It seems that he wants the fun of exploring plus the safety of you waiting for him if the exploring goes no where. If you don’t want a partner who is exploring with other people then leave him and find a partner who wants you without the need to explore. Decide whether this is something you want to deal with. There are lots of men who would make excellent husbands and fathers, he is not the one and only guy out there. Especially considering that you’ve already had a one year break up and he wants to explore other relationships it sounds like a relationship that will be rough and has a high probability of not going the distance. Your relationship already seems rocky and kids will only add more stress and make it more difficult.

  7. LW1: After 7 years, telling your partner that you “see a future” with them is a huge red flag. Sorry, but everyone has a responsibility to know who they are before they involve another person for 7 long years. WWS.
    LW2: Oh, please do wreak havoc in your own life and the lives of others because you have a vague idea you want to experiment, but are too lazy to look outside your dorm room for an NSA funboy.
    LW3: I told my wife that if she could get Daniel Craig to bang her, she had a free pass. She has extended me the same courtesy with regard to Eva Mendes. Sure, the torrid, acrobatic sex Eva and I would have could ruin my marriage, but let’s just cross that bridge when we come to it.

  8. I jokingly told a guy I was dating my “freebie” list. He freaked out and told me I was incredibly disrespectful. I told him he needed to watch the episode of Friends and chill out. Making comments about real life people you see or know is over the line (in my opinion), but celebrities are free game.

    1. RedRoverRedRover says:

      Depends on the person. I don’t like it. Not because I think it’s disrespectful, but because I can’t think about it without considering what would happen if I (or my partner) *actually* had sex with someone else, and what that would do to our relationship, and how not worth it it would be. I honestly think it’s from seeing Indecent Proposal when I was younger and realizing how much it messes up both people’s emotions, even if they both agreed to one of them having sex outside the relationship. Now I can’t see it as just a joke or a game.

      1. It’s just hard for me to understand why someone would be insecure if I’m watching a movie and say “man if I had the chance I’d bang Leonardo Dicaprio”…becasue I’m never going to have that chance and even if I did get close enough to speak to him chances are I won’t win him over with my awkwardness. Sure if it happened it might mess up a relationship, but a significant other is probabaly way more likely to cheat with a coworker or ex than a celebrity.

      2. RedRoverRedRover says:

        I wouldn’t be insecure about it. But for me it’s not something I enjoy, thinking of other people I want to sleep with rather than my husband. If you like doing it go ahead, but I was just giving an example of how not everyone sees it the same way.

  9. I don’t personally agree with waiting so long into a relationship to tell your partner you’re bisexual, but it happens all the time among friends of mine, and I completely understand why it happens. It can take years to grapple with your bisexual identity on your own when society tells you it has to be black and white, let alone tell someone else. I’ve kind of changed my tune on how I think about couples “letting” a partner explore. I don’t think the desire for one person to explore has to be a relationship ender when it comes to bisexuality. First of all, exploring can mean many things. It doesn’t necessarily have to involve another person. And the only way to know what he means is to keep talking about it. It’s completely fine to only want a monogamous relationship, but try to put yourself in his shoes and understand where he is coming from and what his identity means for him. Relationships aren’t black and white either. And lastly, I think it was pretty out of line to suggest he may not be bisexual and could be gay, which could give the LW further doubt about her boyfriend when bisexuals already face enough doubt from people, particularly their partners.

    1. Avatar photo juliecatharine says:

      I don’t think wanting sexual exploration is necessarily a deal breaker regardless of the sexes involved. Lots of people aren’t able to handle an open relationship (it is a game changer after all) though and more often than not couples are then facing a long slog towards a delayed breakup. Sexual incompatibility is a relationship killer no matter what form it takes.

      1. I get that, of course. But as I doubt LW has really been able to understand her boyfriend and his bisexuality after learning this and what he really desires, it’s not as simple as saying it has to be a closed or open relationship. This isn’t the same thing as him saying he wants to be poly. Exploring can be done in so many ways, and I’ve seen several of my bi friends and myself go through a variety of options. I think they need to talk more before throwing a 7 year relationship away.

    2. dinoceros says:

      I agree with almost all of this. Based on what the LW said, I feel like they have been talking about sexual exploration with other people. I can kind of see not wanting to toss it all away while he’s still learning about himself. I guess if I were SO, I’d have to wonder what results he was expecting. Does he just want to explore to have tried it? Is he trying to test whether he is bisexual or not? Is he planning to use his exploration to determine whether he wants to be with me and/or women right now? I personally couldn’t stay with someone who was having sex with other people, so if he felt like he had to explore through that, then we’d need to break up in order for him to do so.

  10. Fake-Girlfriend says:

    I have to tell you from my own experience that when he says he wants to explore his bisexual side, he’s probably already on Craigslist with an alternate email doing it. He’s probably gay and staying with you because he doesn’t want anyone to know he’s gay. Does he point out on shows you are watching who is gay? Yep. He’s gay. Does he take off and the battery dies on his phone? Yep. He’s gay and meeting someone. Take a spare cell, put it on record and stick it under the seat when you kiss him goodbye as he’s going “shopping”. You will see. If you put a GPS tracker on it, you will know where he went. Basically, if he’s asking, he’s already there and may be into trans, other women, group encounters etc. Run fast now! I myself am trapped in this horror. I don’t have sex with him, but every day I have to put up with the disgust of his wanting to kiss me, hug me and sleep in my bed. Act like he’s my boyfriend when we both know what he’s doing even though he would die before admitting to it despite my finding the alternarte email address and hundreds of requests for hookups. Run now, run far and fast.

    1. Uh so why don’t you run fast.

    2. Yeah, why do you have to put up with this situation?

      1. If it’s because he’s doing something for you in return for what you’re doing for him, then why don’t you just reframe this in your mind as a reciprocal, mutually beneficial arrangement, rather than a romantic relationship where you’re getting the shit end of the stick? Or you could kick him out of your life and figure out how to get whatever you’re getting from him elsewhere.

  11. Bittergaymark says:

    Is he hot? If so… have him call me.

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