A couple of months ago, I randomly looked through my boyfriend's phone and found hidden craigslist emails responding to personal ads. The emails revealed his phone number and our street address. We've lived together for over a year, and I'm a part-time mother his two girls. The people he’d been replying to were ads from old men looking for young guys, men, pregnant women, and just anybody and everybody. These emails went back before we were dating and have continued throughout our relationship.
I confronted him about it, respectfully at first but he tried to lie about it. Eventually, he got more truthful but wouldn’t give me real answers to my questions. I am unsure if he ever met up with these people, but when I asked why, he said, “It is like a game to me. I do it for the thrill.” I told him if it happened again I would leave. After that, I went through a range of emotions for about a week before I got over it.
Yesterday, I asked if I could use his phone to look up a frozen yogurt joint. I go into Google, and the last thing he looked up was “bi swinger life”. I shoved the phone in his hand and said I had to leave. We started yelling and he said, “We already had this conversation and I paid my dues! You can’t keep punishing me. I didn’t do anything I swear!”
I don’t know what to believe. I don't understand how a woman can date a bisexual man, how do they do it? It might have been different if he told me in advance, but I found it out the hard way. And I can't get over that he was talking to everyone, including old men.
We are in a long-term relationship and planning on kids and marriage and a house in 2 years. He is a sufferer of PTSD from Afghanistan. I know I am the only good thing in his life and the only person who cares. He knows that he needs me and that I am his last chance at a happy life. But how am I to get past this? He won’t talk to me about it. What if he cheats with another man? If he loves me and wants this marriage and life, then why isn’t my love enough to curve his curiosities and be satisfied with me?
Brittany W - San Diego, California
Wow, there’s so much to unpack here. I’m sorry for the shock and the hurt this is bringing to your life. You have every right to be pissed that he’s been sneaking around and lying to you about who he is. I’m sorry you’ve been lied to.
Nearly every relationship expert on the planet would stop right there. He lied, you have a right to be pissed, and that’s the end of it. But I think there’s more to the story. Sixteen years of studying men and sex have taught me a few things, the first of which is that men will only tell you who they are, what they’re thinking, and what turns them on when three conditions are met:
- They feel they’re in a safe space where their words will be held in the strictest of confidence,
- they’re not going to be in trouble if they tell the truth, and…
- what they say won’t be used against them down the line.
You now know this thing is happening. You’re not happy about it. He’s not going to admit it. And it is real. I’d like to go along with the “it’s just fantasy” story but giving out the home address by definition makes it reality – not fantasy. And if you stay with him for longer than five seconds more, please, I beg of you, go get tested for STIs and start making your partner wear protection if he doesn’t already. You may also want to read this article about PrEP. Doing these things may literally save your life.
Ok, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get down to the to-leave-or-not-to-leave question.
I recommend you do it. Here’s why.
He is bisexual. Whether he’s ever willing to speak those words out loud or not, he’s turned on by men being turned on by him at the very least—and yeah, that’s a bisexual person right there.
Bisexuality is not a bad thing. What is bad, however, is lying to your girlfriend about it, accompanied by possible—or probable—cheating. But I get the lying part, kinda. I mean, how well would it have gone with you if he’d said at the beginning, “I like sucking dicks” or even just, “I like guys and girls, and I like to swing”? Would you have been able to meet the three conditions above?
Many bi guys never disclose their sexuality to their female partners because of the social stigma still attached to bisexual men, and to bisexuality in general. They’re promiscuous. They’re unreliable. They’re just obsessed with sex. The list of stereotypes goes on. Is this true of every bisexual person, or even the majority of bisexuals? No, of course not. Is it true of your partner? Maybe so—but not because he’s bi. If he’s an unfaithful liar, that’s a flaw of character, not of orientation.
An important detail to call out here, though, is that he may be hiding his sexuality from you because you see it as wrong. If you don’t express anything but shame and confusion for how he experiences pleasure, he’s never going share what gives him pleasure. It’s that simple. Yes, he should have gone about satisfying his needs in a very different way (i.e. being honest with you about them first), but beyond that, there seems to be a fundamental disconnect between the two of you where his sexuality is concerned.
You deserve to be with someone you’re not ashamed of or confused by. And he deserves to be with someone who is not turned off by his attraction to both men and women, or his desire to swing. If you stay, it would be torture for both of you. You two are not a good fit for partnership.
Also, you are not his savior. You are not the only good thing that will ever happen to him, and he is not your only chance at a happy life, either. You can relieve yourself of this burden. We are all responsible for our own happiness. You are not the only one who can bring him joy, and if you do choose to leave, I hope knowing that makes things a little easier.
Good luck with this transition, and I hope you are able to find an honest partner who is a good match for you in every way.