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Friday, August 28, 2009

Question

You recently published a letter from "Deeply Hurt," a lesbian who struggled to allow her bisexual girlfriend to have sex with men. I was in the same situation and wanted to write to share some things that were helpful for me.First of all, I had to realize that I picked her for a reason. I could have found a lover who was a lesbian. If I fell in love with a bisexual woman, I probably unconsciously hoped to have my horizons expanded. I knew that if I could just see this as an opportunity for personal growth rather than a betrayal, I would get through it okay.

I had to go back to my roots in a way and strengthen my lesbian pride. I started reading lesbian erotica again and looking at some woman-made films. I needed to validate the goodness and effectiveness of lesbian sex so that I would not feel competitive with her male lover or threatened in some other way. There's all this mythology about penises, but they are really just a few ounces of unreliable and vulnerable flesh.

We had to talk about who she was going to experiment with and what the boundaries were. In the beginning, I wanted her to see somebody only once, and not spend the night. But when she met somebody she really liked, who I also thought was a good person who treated her well, I loosened those boundaries so that she could spend more time with him. I found that it was actually easier to deal with, knowing who she was with. He and I never became friends, exactly, but he was sort of part of the family. For example, when he was in the hospital, we both went to see him.

But this is the most important part. I realized that maybe I was jealous because my lover was standing up for herself and demanding the right to do something she needed to do, even if I didn't like it. She was taking her power back and insisting on her individuality. I asked myself what I had given up to be part of that relationship. What were the things that I liked to do or needed to do that I postponed or forgot about because I thought she wouldn't like it?

This led to my uncovering a series of things that were actually very important. I've gone back to school to get a graduate degree. I changed jobs as a result. And I also confronted the fact that I've had a crush on one of my best friends for years and years. It took all the courage I possessed to confess this to her, but she admitted that the feelings were mutual. So now, when my girlfriend is out with her boyfriend, I often have company from the other woman who I love.

Real relationships are complicated. Many of our friends think that we are crazy and let us know that they disapprove. But it's none of their business, how we live. I feel that we have a relationship that is more stable and certainly happier than many monogamous couples we know. My lover and I have greater respect for each other, and I believe we are helping each other to become better people, and have lives with real meaning. I love her so much for standing her ground and being strong. I think of myself as a

Answer

What a great story. Very few people have the strength to deal with opening a relationship the way that you describe. I think you have captured an important strategy here. The meaning that you give to certain acts or events has a lot to do with how they make you feel. Seeing a chance for personal growth instead of an act of treason made all the difference, I'm guessing, and prevented a painful and unnecessary breakup. As our Australian friends would say, good on you.

I have gotten some e-mail from lesbians who feel that by printing the original letter, I was advocating sex with men and denying the value of exclusive, woman-to-woman sex. Let me take this opportunity to say that this was not my intention. But I don't believe that being a lesbian automatically makes you a warrior for social justice or a better person than a woman who is hetero or bi. People don't get to choose their sexual orientations. They only get to choose whether they will be honest about them.

If your sexual desire is for women and women only, bless you. Enjoy. But while you are singing Meg Christian's "Ode to a Gym Teacher" or listening to Tribe 8, you might want to think about the fact that being a lesbian is not an option for every woman. Some women have to struggle with creating equitable and pleasurable relationships with men if they are going to be sexually satisfied. Furthermore, there are more than two options for sexual orientation. Not everyone can be simply defined as heterosexual or homosexual. Bisexuality is probably more common than both of these, in fact, but it is suppressed and denied.

Much like the quality of lesbian love and sexuality. Which can be fabulous.

I have also gotten some e-mail from bisexuals who feel that this letter and my answer are based on the assumption that bisexuals cannot be monogamous. Once again, let me say this was not my intention. I know that this stereotype exists. I know many bisexual men and women in monogamous relationships, and they seem quite happy with that decision. But I had to answer the letter I received, which was about making a nonmonogamous situation work as well as possible.

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