Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Divided Bisexual Man

"Men are for sex and women are for love."

You don't usually wake up one morning and have an epiphany that love and sex work best when split by gender. Instead it's an evolutionary process. That process can vary from man to man, but it often follows a common path:

1. An otherwise hetero guy, who may already be married, realizes that he has a sexual attraction to men.

2. The man tries to squash, deny, hide, run away from, and generally do whatever he can to make those evil man-sex thoughts go away. If the man is not already married, he often gets married, with the honest hope that marriage will banish his man-sex fantasies.

3. Depending on other aspects of life, thoughts about sex with men may wax and wane, but they do not go away. Years spent fighting the thoughts makes many men frustrated, anxious and unhappy. Ultimately, most give in to temptation. They might begin by chatting about sex with other men on-line. Then they might arrange a date to receive a blow job - which they will flake out on, at least once. Eventually they keep a date and have their first experience. From there, the exact progression differs but the result is the same: within months, years or decades, they become eager to hook-up with other men.

4. After the first few hook-ups there's a serious questioning stage. Am I straight? Am I bi? Am I gay? There are no statistics but my guess is that the proportion of married men who fool around with other men and then eventually come out as gay is relatively low, maybe 20%? I say this based on personal experience and because very few married guys on hook-up sites label themselves as gay. Most men seem to conclude this stage by accepting themselves as bisexual.

In my last post, I said that bisexual men can be divided into two groups. One group I called "Casanovas" because of their natural and effortless ability to make a woman feel wanted. Upon further reflection, I've decided that "Casanova" is a bad descriptor. It evokes the image of a skilled lady's man, someone with magical eyes and a seductive touch. In truth there's nothing especially romantic or alluring about bisexual men in the first group. They're completely average. They're only noteworthy because they have an unrestrained enthusiasm to 'get it on' with their wives, whereas bisexual men in the second group tend to need a kick-start when it comes to initiating marital sex.

"Unrestrained enthusiasm" and "tending to need a kick-start" are subjective ways of segregating the two types of married bisexual men. A better, more objective way to make the distinction is based how frequently they have sex with their wives. Men in the first group tend to have regular and frequent sex, while men in the second group tend to have sex on a hit-or-miss basis.

What's interesting is that most "Get it On" bisexuals can't relate to the whole "men are for sex and women are for love" thing. To them it seems like an unnecessary distinction. For one thing, women are just as sex-worthy as men, if not more so. And falling in love with a man? There's two schools of thought about that. Either it's completely off the man's radar - as in, that possibility has never once crossed his mind, or, he feels that love has nothing to do with gender. Love is love, man or woman.

Whichever way they feel about love, there is no vague middle ground, and that's what's distinctive about "Get it On" bisexual men - they aren't conflicted. Love and sex are simple; there's no need to make any rules.

"Kick-start" bisexuals are different. They don't have it so easy. Their relatively low level of sexual attraction to their wives compared to their increasing attraction to men causes a lot of internal conflict, frustration and anxiety. As internal pressures mount, they compartmentalize their thoughts and feelings. Over time, as compartmentalization takes hold, they morph from being a relatively happy, whole and complete man to a secretive, stressed and divided man. A man who becomes a two-sided coin: a devoted straight family man on one side and a horny, cum-loving, cock-sucking slut on the other.

"Men are for sex and women are for love" is compartmentalization. Compartmentalization masks conflict: the conflict between the man he used to be, and still is, mostly, and the man he has become. Bringing the two sides of himself together feels like an impossible task, and as such, the struggle between the two sides never ends. That makes for a life that can be lived, but not for a life that can be loved.

In the story that prompted this post, a bisexual man told his wife that he had no romantic interest in men. To prove that to her, he suggested inviting a man into their bed. She laughed at that idea. Undeterred, he offered another suggestion, that she accompany him to a gay bar. He was determined to prove his "men are for sex, not for love" point. Well, the gay bar turned out to be a disaster for him. Watching his eyes at the gay bar was all the proof his wife needed to become convinced that he would eventually fall in love with a man.

Just like the wives of divided bisexual married men everywhere, the woman in the story already knew there were big problems in her marriage. And lacking a clear reason for the problems, she blamed herself. Then her husband outed himself as bisexual. That opened her eyes. Not to the fact that he was a lying, cheating scum bag, but to the fact that there wasn't something inherently wrong or undesirable about her. Watching her husband ogle men at the gay bar was the final straw. In all their years together he had never once looked at her with the same depth of desire. She realized then what he did not - that he is a conflicted man who had built a wall between the two sides of himself. She also realized he would never find lasting happiness until that wall was torn down and he was no longer a divided man.

Encapsulated in this couple's story there are three monumentally important lessons for married and divided bisexual men everywhere:

First - Any conflicted man who thinks that he has successfully hidden his woes from his wife is mistaken. No, she doesn't know that you're bi and that you hook up with men, but she does know that there's something fundamentally wrong with your marriage. That fundamental problem is not your cheating. Rather, it's the reason that you cheat: you are a divided man. You cannot be happy with one person and that means you can never be happy with her. Deep down, she knows this.

Second - Because wives of conflicted men know on a deep and unspoken level that they are not enough to make their husband happy, they blame themselves. As they witness their husband's gradual withdrawal from them they become increasingly depressed, self-loathing and unmotivated. It deeply hurts them to feel so unwanted. Different wives respond differently to that hurt. Some withdraw. Some turn their attention to the children. Some take comfort in overeating or other bad habits. Others get bitchy and critical. Whatever the behavior, the cause is the same - they know they are not enough - and it hurts.

Third - Compartmentalization, having your cake and eating it too, and/or making the best of a compromised life are all ways to cope with being a conflicted man, but none of them will ever make you genuinely happy. In truth, they merely camouflage the landmines that lurk below the surface. Yes, a man can carefully and persistently dodge one mine after another, but time is not on his side. Major blow-ups are inevitable. Porn on computers, secret email accounts uncovered, phone calls and text messages at odd hours, unnecessary errands, an HIV positive diagnosis - these are but a few of the multitude of ways for the truth to be discovered. Any man who genuinely believes he can be a perfect liar for the rest of his life is only fooling himself. To err is human. Divided bisexual men are all too human.

What's the solution?

Overwhelmingly, conflicted bisexual men feel that because they married with good intentions and their attraction to men surfaced later in life they are destined to live as divided, marginally satisfied men. Coming out as bisexual (or worse, gay) does not solve the problem and cutting men out completely just isn't realistic. "Keep on keeping on" - that's the best they can do.

Well, maybe. For some, a lukewarm life of compromise might be the best answer. But far too many divided men are stuck in the narrow confines of their own thoughts. In a soon-to-come post I will offer some new perspectives that may help some men regain their dignity - and perhaps find genuine happiness again.