Therapist for Bisexual Men and Women
By: Lincoln Giesel, LCSW
In a city like Chicago, where LGBTQ+ identities are fortunately becoming increasingly accepted, we are continuing to have productive conversations around the broad range of healthy adult relationships that can exist in our society. Unfortunately, some beliefs in our communities remain rigid and unnecessarily judgmental around sexual and gender minority identities, leading bisexual men to face specific barriers in heterosexual relationships.
This post assumes the individual is a male in a male/female or heterosexual relationship and is seeking support in coming out to his girlfriend as bisexual. While this post will not aim to provide a script for this potentially nuanced conversation, it will highlight points that may help manage the process altogether.
Consider your motivations and goals. This will be your anchor in figuring out how to have ongoing conversations with your girlfriend about your bisexuality. Rather than planning your coming out conversation perfectly, keep track of the main points you would like to make and why you are telling her in the first place. If a goal is to live more authentically and honestly, make sure your coming out process feels true to you and your personal experience.
Practice patience with your girlfriend. She may experience difficult emotions as she works towards accepting your identity. This conversation could go a range of ways, so you will have to surrender control around the outcome. However, just because she has an emotional reaction initially does not mean she is not caring or supportive of your authenticity and wellbeing. As you may have needed time to accept your sexual orientation and adjust accordingly, she may need to experience similar emotions as well.
Another concept to consider is the important distinction between secrecy and privacy. While we are all entitled to our privacy, even in the context of a romantic partnership, some bisexual people may find themselves feeling increasingly isolated and lonely in their relationship if they are not able to fully share their true selves with the person they prioritize the most. Keeping a secret can create a negative feedback loop in our minds that this secret is worthy of shame and should remain hidden.
Bisexual people can unfortunately face specific stigmas both outside of LGBTQ+ communities as well as within them. While assumptions are often unique to an individual and their communities, there are some persistent beliefs that affect bisexuals in their ability to live openly. I am sharing this insight with you as a therapist who works with people who identify as Bi with considerable experience helping people on Chicago’s Northside, in communities like Lakeview, the Goldcoast and Uptown.
Related: Therapist for LGBT in Chicago
Bisexual men in particular may face continued persistent stigma around assumptions related to sexual health practices and HIV status, implications around gender identity and presentation, and presumptions that they are actually exclusively gay. You are in full control of your boundaries and the narrative you would like to present to others around what your bisexuality means to you, even if you receive assumptions or confusion. Additionally, you deserve respect from others regardless of your HIV status or gender presentation.
An additional aspect of this conversation that may require more attention is if infidelity is occurring. Admitting to infidelity with same sex partners does not need to be radically different from admitting to sleeping with different sex partners outside of the relationship. Cheating behaviors are not tied to sexual orientation but are often tied to deeper issues individuals have with emotional intimacy and ability to fully attach to another person.
These are excellent topics to address in individual or couples counseling. At some point, your girlfriend has the right to know if cheating is occurring so she can protect her health and make an informed and honest decision if she would like to stay in a relationship with someone who struggles with these behaviors, regardless of sexual orientation.
At the end of the day, there is no urgency or obligation to come out as bisexual if you feel it could make your situation significantly worse or unsafe. Coming out can be vulnerable for many people, and it is not fair to you to come out to someone who would exploit your vulnerability.
While conflict, confusion, fear, anger, or surprise may occur from your girlfriend if you disclose your bisexual identity, there is never an excuse for abusive behavior. If there is already an imbalance of power and control in your relationship, I encourage you to consider how coming out could make that situation worse. Abusive behavior related to your sexuality could look like threatening to out you to friends and family and/or using this now shared secret as leverage to control you.
Regardless of where you are in this process, even considering this conversation is an important next step in self-acceptance and living a life free of unjustified shame. You should never feel alone in this process, and there are many resources as well as potential new connections and friendships available to you in the future if you choose to seek them out. Working with a therapist who specializes in helping people who identify as bisexual is important. At 2nd Story Counseling, we’d like to help.
To make an appointment to work with one of our therapists, use the confidential contact form by clicking here or call us at 773.528.1777.