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.


  1. Your "three monumentally important lessons" are 100% correct, in my experience. These are incredibly perceptive; something every married man with an attraction to guys should read. (regardless of the label he chooses.)

    When my wife discovered my attraction to men nearly two years ago, it was enormously liberating to NOT have to keep that part of me secret. Despite the stress of divorce, I've never been happier and more confident.

  2. What complicates and confuses things is there are guys out there that really are gay, but insist on identifying as bisexual because that offers better social acceptance than being called gay. They claim to be bisexual but rarely have sex with their wives and don't have sex with other gals, they just chase after cock.

    I do believe there are real bisexuals out there but sometimes it's difficult to tell because their actions speak otherwise.

  3. From my personal experience I would say more men in hetero marriages come out than 20%, and as society increasingly accepts them, it will significantly increase.

    You are correct, the most important thing about any relationship is being honest. With yourself and your partner

  4. I'm not bisexual so I have no idea what that's like. It is good to read your description of this group of men. I think your "Kick Start" group are actually gay but haven't found the freedom yet to come to grips with their reality. Sounds like their wives get it before they do. The sad part is that society has forced the "Kick Starter" to live in secrecey and seclusion. It's time to cast those chains off and perhaps we will prevent another group of "Kick Starters" from developing and thereby save two lives each time (his and hers).

  5. When I met my husband many years ago, it was with a wealth of sexual experience. The fact that he was in his early 20's and was still a virgin, did make me wonder, and yes if you're wondering he was/is hot as hell. So, I began a sex tutorial shall we say. He took to sex like a duck to water, however he never lost his shyness in bed, ever. For the vast amount of times, it has been me having to initiate sex. He quite happily follows along, but the time he led the sex, is rare. If I left it up to him? Well, we would rarely if ever have sex.

    After knowing him for a bit, I began to suspect that he was at the least bi, but really I've began to think he's gay. When ever the subject of men who are gay comes up, he ALWAYS makes sure to point out that he isnt gay. He brings up this little factoid at the oddest of times, so it has began to be, "he doth protest to much", at least my way of thinking.

    Yes, I love the guy, totally. And yes, I would share him, if that would work, which I really don't think it would. I think if he ever managed to let himself "out" he wouldn't be interested in me any longer, and really thats ok. I'm rather tired of his conflicting messages he keeps sending me.

    But until he comes to terms with who I think he is, I'll keep him, because I do totally love him.

  6. Joe Kort, a gay therapist, who seems to specialize in this area, discusses the different types of married guys who have male sex and/or fantasies in some of the books he has written and it is an interesting area. There are probably more types that you have discussed above, including the hetero emotional homosexual.
    At the moment your view seems to be that any man who separates love from sex must have some pathology underlying this, and accordingly can never be happy, but I'm not sure it's that simple. Happiness is in the eye of the beholder. Only you can tell if you're happy. If you love a woman but enjoy sex with guys and this makes you happy then, by definition, good for you. In my view, it is not for others to cast judgment on those men, and say they are not, and cannot be, truly happy. In fact, it degrades the worth and experience of those men.

  7. Cameron, I have to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed experiencing the process and progression of this series of posts. Each one has built upon the other and you have naturally allowed the concepts with which you are examining to open up. What stands out for me, and has always been a part of my mantra, is that truth will eventually rise to the surface — whatever your truth may be.

    As for the sex and love entanglement, it has been said that there are only two emotions — Love and Fear. "What is not an expression of Love is an expression of Fear. Whichever core emotion we express — whether it be love or fear — we put into motion. In other words, if it is an aspect of fear that we feel then it is that energy which is moving forward and bringing us more of it to experience." Trust breeds love, mistrust breeds fear.

    Finally, I am not so sure the tension present in our lives is necessarily a negative thing. Tension is always present prior to growth. I invite you to check out my post this week on disequilibrium.

  8. think this is an extraordinarily perceptive piece of writing.

    as a gay male who has had several married 'bi' lovers and fuckbuddies i was gobsmacked at how well it meshed with my own observations about men i knew and cared about in this situation.

    i just wish i'd had access to it years ago and been able to show it to share it to some of the men in question as it might well have helped and clarify their experience and made their path(s) a little many of 'em get hurt or damaged by the minefield along that path.

    thank you!


  9. Cameron, what a brilliant piece this is. On my own blog, I often point out that human sexuality is a continuum. Exclusively straight guys occupy one end of the line and exclusively gay guys occupy the other end of the line. Everyone else falls somewhere along the line.

    What you have essentially succeeded in doing so well is fully describing the make up of that continuum. The "Kick Start Guy" you describe is bisexual. He can perform with either sex but he is definitely closer on the line to exclusively gay men and he definitely prefers sex with men over sex with women.

    On the other hand, the "Get It On Guy" is definitely closer on the middle of the line. He is confident in his bisexuality. He can and does equally enjoy sex with either male or female. He is the embodiment of the old saw that being bisexual is a good thing because it doubles your chances of having a date on Saturday night.

    Interestingly enough, the "Kick Start Guy" has a twin.He is the guy who is located on the continuum line near the exclusively straight guys. He definitely prefers sex with women but he is haunted by a desire for men that, as you point out, he tries to deny and run away from. This is the guy who only has sex with men when he's drunk or when he can come up with some other excuse that tends to absolve him of responsibility for his actions.

    Human sexuality is incredibly complex and male sexuality is more complex than female sexuality. It's a contentious thing to say in a Politically Correct world, but women more often than not are primarily motivated by love or the search for love. Men, on the other hand, are primarily motivated by sex or the search for sex. The woman who is lucky enough to find love is usually satisfied. A man is never truly satisfied. The desire for sex is unending.

    It's not that love is not important to men. It is, but male/male bonds are also important. When these bonds form and deepen male/male sexual activity is often the result. This has nothing whatsoever to do with the love he feels for his wife. It is truly just a guy thing.

    Thanks for a great series. It is the type of thing I love to read because it makes me think.

    Jack Scott

  10. Jack Scott I don;t think you could have said it better! Women are primarily motivated by love, men are primarily motivated by sex. A man is never truly satisfied, the desire for sex is unending.

    I really enjoyed these postings. I have learned a lot. Thank you for your posts.

  11. Thanks...well written. Maybe you missed your calling....psychologist?

  12. As a compartmentalized "get it on guy" I can really relate to this posting. I used to think that my wife knew nothing about my inner conflict before I came out to and separated from her, but I think you are right that at some level she did. I could not continue in those compartments, though sometimes it seems it would have been better, had I done so.

    Anyway, a great post and great insights.

  13. Buddy Bear - I think your experience with your wife is something every bi or gay guy could learn from. We all expect disaster but are often surprised how well things turn out.

    Anonymous - Many people distrust the "bi" label. I use it because so many married men describe themselves that way but I think behavior paints the most accurate picture.

    Bill - 20% was a guess. No one has ever tried to count, at least so far as I know. Whatever the number, I think it's the minority. Just look at all those Craigslist ads.

    Mike - I'm trying to avoid the gay label. I think it carries a lot of emotional baggage for men. One of the biggest surprises to me has been how "aware" straight wives are. They are much more intuitive than we give them credit for.

    Anonymous - it's been my experience that the way you feel about your husband is extremely common among straight wives. So many of them just want the truth. Many are prepared to make adjustments to accommodate who their spouse is and make their marriage work. Generally men don't believe that. For that reason and others, they are only comfortable denying any kind of same sex attraction.

    Anonymous - I wouldn't equate conflict with pathology. Likewise I would expect many men to say they are happy with their compartmentalized lives. But living a secret life is stressful and most people would prefer to avoid that stress. You can make a game out of keeping secrets and thereby turn something stressful into something fun, or you can be adamantly convinced that living a divided life makes you most happy, but the fact is, other people are affected. Very often their happiness is supplanted by yours. That doesn't make for a loving, respectful, connected relationship. There's plenty of ways to rationalize selfish behavior; convincing yourself that your happiness doesn't hurt anyone is all too common among cheating married men.

  14. DMG - Thanks for sharing your thoughts. And thanks even more for sharing your URL. You have a terrific blog and a lot to say. I look forward to reading much more about you in the future.

    Red - Thanks for the comment. Society has changed a lot and continues to change. "Out" under 30 bisexuals seem to be much more common than ever before. More and more I see young women expressing full support for their bisexual husbands, and that often includes maintaining an open marriage.

    Jack - Your thoughts and mine run along the same tracks. I agree with what you've said EXCEPT (and this was a surprise to me) women care a great deal more about sex than we generally assume. Over and over I've seen women say that "love is not enough" - they might not want sex as frequently but when they do they want it to be just as passionate as we do.

    AWILTAGM - I just discovered your blog. I've had a chance to read everything yet but I'm looking forward to it. Thanks for commenting!

    RB - You can lay on my couch any time.

    Paul - I'll be writing about coming out, among other things, in a future post. It would be great if you could share some of your experience, both the good and the not so good.

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