Thursday, October 27, 2011

Open Marriage / MMF Threesome

In a recent post I shared the story of a man who was seeking his wife's permission to enjoy casual, recreational sex with other men. He wanted an open marriage - the dream situation for just about every married bisexual man.

To allay his wife's fears about where an open marriage might lead, the man explained to his wife that his interest in men was purely physical. He said that he had no interest in pursuing a relationship with a man, and, to prove that his intentions were honorable, he suggested that the couple invite another man into their bed as the guest star. That way the wife could see first-hand what he meant.

The wife laughed at that idea.

Undeterred, the man was able to convince his wife to accompany him to a gay bar. That way she could see for herself that his interest in men was purely physical.

The couple did go to a gay bar together but the man failed to prove his point. Instead of agreeing to an open marriage, his wife decided to end it. Having an open marriage, to her, was "classic man wants his cake and eat it, too."

More importantly, she decided that his attraction to men was a very real threat to their future together. She said, "One day he WILL meet someone that he will be attracted to and will want to be with. So, after more years of being faithful to this man, he will leave me anyway. That is what will happen."

As a man who is attracted to other men, I completely understand the husband's point of view. I also know, based on the experiences of other men, that being open to other sexual relationships has the potential to strengthen a marriage; increased honesty and reduced sexual frustration usually make for a closer marital bond. As such, when conducted safely and respectfully, an open marriage can be a win-win situation for both partners.

Although I am familiar with open marriages from the man's point of view, I know little from a willing woman's perspective. The story I quoted was therefore a fascinating read. Yes, she seemed skeptical about the idea, but not so skeptical that she immediately rejected it. Further, her willingness to go to a gay bar with her husband is evidence that she tried to be open-minded. Not many wives would have agreed to go.

I posted the story because I wondered if readers (married men especially) would see the wife's reaction as valid or ridiculous. I particularly wanted readers to focus on the question of emotion. Because of the visit to the gay bar, the wife is now convinced that her husband WILL leave her for a man. Yet the husband says he's not interested in men that way. Who is right?

Consider each spouse's point of view:

The Bisexual Husband

I believe that bisexual married men can divided into two groups. The first group is composed of men who instinctively and naturally know how to make a woman feel desired. It's an effortless endeavor for them, like walking across a room; they're natural-born Casanovas. The men in the second group don't have it so easy. They have to concentrate in order to stay focused when they're with a woman.

What do I mean by 'focused?' It's a vague thing, not easily put into words. I'll use an analogy instead: it's like sex with a condom and sex without one. When you're fucking without a condom you're definitely not thinking about what a condom feels like. When you are fucking with a condom on, you're enjoying the sex, but you never really forget that your dick is covered with latex. It's distracting. It's a very thin barrier that keeps you from truly connecting with your partner. Bisexual men in the second group, in essence, are wearing a mental condom that subtly distracts them when they're having straight sex. It slows them down, both during the act itself and in wanting to have sex at all.

From a performance perspective, during sex, there's not much difference between men in the two groups. Getting hard, staying hard, and having an orgasm are usually not issues, barring any physical problems. What is different, very different, is how frequently the men in the two groups have straight sex. Because men in the second group have to make an effort to stay focused, straight sex requires some work. It's as if, instead of walking across a room, they have to progressively jump across, with both feet tied together. Having to expend the effort means they initiate sex less often, which means the couple has sex less often.

The man from the story belongs in the second group. The reason I know this is because his wife reports that they haven't been intimate "in forever." She also says she has repeatedly tried to entice him by going to bed naked and by wearing very sexy lingerie. The natural-born Casanovas don't need that much prompting. If a woman signals that she wants sex, they don't hesitate to jump right on.

Because the man hasn't been responding to his naked wife you might wonder if he is gay. He insists that he is not, for several reasons. First, his attraction to men is purely physical. Second, his taste in men is very specific; he only likes straight men. Third, he has no interest in kissing a man, much less falling in love with one. Fourth, he feels just the opposite about women as he does men - he likes to kiss women; he has only loved women in the past and he can only imagine being in love with women in the future. For him "men are for sex and women are for love." By most definitions, he is bisexual.

The Straight Wife

I have spent the last year absorbing the thoughts, opinions, emotions and experiences of straight wives who are married to gay or bisexual men. In the course of internalizing this information I have learned that straight wives care about many things, including fidelity, lying, diseases, financial security, love and public embarrassment. But what matters most, to the most women, is that they feel genuinely desired. Over and over different women have told me that "love is not enough" or "I don't want to be married to a roommate" or "I already have enough friends, I want a lover."

The need for women to feel genuinely desired is far more powerful than many men realize. For many women it is the basis of their feminine identity and their sense of self-worth. When a woman does not feel genuinely desired she feels like a failure as a woman. It's a knife that cuts her to the core, equivalent to a grown man being calling "a sissy" by his father; the hurt is deep and primal.

The woman in the story feels just as most other straight wives do. She wants to be wanted.

The Couple as Archetypes

An archetype, in this case, is "a universally understood symbol upon which others are patterned."

In my opinion, the bisexual man and his straight wife are typical of many other couples in the same situation. While the man is not typical of all bisexual men, I believe he represents a large subset of them. The wife is extremely typical of the vast majority of straight wives; she wants to preserve her marriage, provided that her needs as a woman can be met.

If you can believe that this couple is an archetype, then understanding them is a window into the dynamics of many marriages between bisexual men and their straight wives. Understanding this couple can explain why some straight wives are happy to stay with a bisexual man - even to the point of opening up their marriage - while others give up on their marriage, even when their husband promises to be faithful.

When a bisexual man asks his straight wife to open their marriage, the logical assumption is that it's her decision as to whether his request is granted. That assumption is true; lots of women will not accept a marriage with anything less than absolute monogamy. However, I have learned that a surprising number of straight wives are willing to consider the open marriage option, provided that it 'works' for them.

What makes a marriage 'work', regardless of whether it is open or closed, is if the husband makes the wife feel sexually alive. If he does not, then the marriage gradually dies.

This means that, most of the time, the bisexual man, and not his wife, is primarily responsible for the level of sexual in his marriage.

Desire

The man in the story vehemently insists that his interest in men is strictly sexual. He cannot imagine falling in love with a man; he does not WANT to fall in love with one. He's asked his wife to open the marriage by trying a MMF threesome, or by giving him permission to have recreational sex with men. To prove how harmless his interest in men is, the man convinced his wife to go with him to a gay bar. How did that go?

According to the wife, "[it was] one of the worst experiences of my life."

"[I] was looking across the bar and [saw] him looking at a man and flirting with him in a way that he has never looked at me. You know, the flirtatous eyes kind of look. I felt like I couldnt breathe...after all I have been to him, and giving him the very best of me all those years, I have never seen him look at me that way."

You might think she's misreading her husband's interest, or that she's paranoid, or that she's seeking to sabotage the open marriage option.

Any of those things could be true, however if they are, then the cost of being wrong is catastrophic for her. She WANTS her marriage to work. But she doesn't believe it can:

"It hurts my heart so much that most days I cannot breathe...Can he be my best friend and make me laugh till the cows come home? Yup. Can we cook together and drink wine and have a great time together and complete each others sentences? Yup. Is this enough for me for the rest of my life? Nope."

Clearly she loves him. Clearly she wishes their marriage could work. And yet she's convinced that it will ultimately fail. She's so convinced that failure is imminent that she's stopped even trying to make it work. Instead, she's decided to turn her entire life upside down by seeking a divorce. Being best friends isn't enough for her. She, like most other women, needs to feel that she is desired.

Women are so NOT like men. For the most part, women have a much higher emotional intelligence than men. Their 'women's intuition' is an everyday manifestation of how tuned-in they are to the people around them. When a man doesn't genuinely desire them, they know it. In the case of the woman in the story, once she saw how her husband desired the man in the bar, she knew she had never once been wanted with the same intensity.

Months of explanations by the husband after the visit have failed to convince the wife that she was wrong about what she saw. She knows what she knows, she knows how she feels.

The lesson of this couple is desire rules all. The proof for that is the decision the woman made. She gave up her comfortable life and the man she loves only because she HOPES that one day she might find a man who makes her feel desired.

Conclusions

People are different, marriages are different. What happened with this couple wouldn't necessarily happen with similar couples. But the dynamic that played out here DOES play out with many other couples:

First you have a large group of bisexual men who are unquestionably attracted to women, but 'making love' to their wife requires some effort.

Second you have virtually all straight wives who WANT to preserve their marriages, and are willing to make big compromises to do so, BUT ONLY IF their womanly self-image and feminine identity are regularly cherished by a husband who genuinely desires them.

A man can do or say anything he likes to prove his masculinity. He can aggressively make love to his wife as proof that he desires her. But most wives cannot be fooled. Desire is raw and animalistic. Desire means having a satisfying sex life - that means 'good sex' on a frequent basis. Once a month is not frequent.

The bottom line is that a large group of married bisexual men have an impossible road to travel. They are who they are, and they are authentic, but they don't have the essential and sincere ability to make a woman feel WANTED, yet being wanted is what their wife needs most.

In the story, the man's weakness became obvious when the couple visited a gay bar together. Most couples don't go to gay bars together so most wives can't compare the desire they feel to the desire they witness. But you can be certain that the marriages of some bisexual men inevitably crash when their wife has a similar "Aha!" moment; that moment where she realizes her man can never satisfy her.

In my next post I plan to write more about marriages between bisexual men and straight women. I'd like to particularly focus on why some are very strong and others are very weak, even when both spouses agree they love each other. I also hope to address the wife's conviction that her husband is destined to fall in love with a man, which is something he promises will never happen.

Your thoughts?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Let the dating begin

In my last post I said I would attempt to untangle the complex mix of desire, emotion and sexual orientation as it pertains to married bisexual men and their straight wives. Well, the untangling has turned out to be a lot more time-consuming than I expected. That post is still under construction.

In the meantime, here are some updates on my (oh so) exciting life:

Chet
Chet is my new homo friend. (That would be friend, not "friend.") I like Chet. Among other things, he has a lot of interesting stories to tell. AND he takes me places - gay places. Last weekend he took me to Badlands in San Francisco. He describes the 'Badlands Scene' as being mostly 30s, with some younger and older guys. He likes the place because it's Asian friendly. He's Korean.

I was a little leery of it because I've heard of it referred to as "Sadlands" - not exactly a sexy nickname. Whatever its reputation, I kind of liked the place. What I appreciated was that it wasn't jammed so tightly you couldn't breathe, that the music was recognizable, that the dance floor was big and full but not ridiculously crowded, and that you could actually (sort of) have an intelligible conversation over the music. But more than anything else I liked the diversity of ages. Yes, guys in their 30s did dominate, but there were guys from 21 - 60+ there too. This meant that I didn't feel out of place. Of course I liked it.

Chet and I had fun dancing, drinking a little, and guy watching. No one talked to us and we didn't talk to anyone, which was fine by me. I'm happy to be an observer right now. We've already got plans to go out the next two weekends. We won't be doing anything crazy. I'm enjoying getting my feet wet for now.

Charlie
Charlie is my former wife's (that's what I've decided to call her for now; I can't think of a better term) non-sexual boyfriend. I've probably mentioned that I hate his guts a few dozen times here. I continue to hate him, although fortunately, I seldom have to see him. Charlie has thrown a temporary wrench into my plan to get him deported. He's starting a new construction job next week and both Gabbie I assumed that he'd buy a cheap work truck so that he could actually show up for work every day. Instead (get this) the idiot gave up his apartment with the HOPE that he can live IN the house being renovated. Who knows if the owner will let him - Charlie sure doesn't. So, it's anyone's guess as to what he's going to do.

I really don't care if he sleeps under the freeway or not, I'm just seriously bummed that he has no plans to get a vehicle anytime soon. Now I have think of another way to get him arrested...

My Bossy Mother-in-Law

My widowed mother-in-law has been my "other" wife ever since my father-in-law died 13 years ago. She knows the best solution to every problem Gabbie, the kids or I might ever have. Even imaginary ones!

She has a lot of good qualities (I mean that sincerely), including an endless willingness to offer unsolicited help. What irks me is that her "help" is often nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to control our lives. Her intentions are good but her controlling nature is really hard to take, especially over the long haul.

I'm not exactly sure when it happened but sometime within the past four or five years, my mother-in-law started souring on me. She knows I'm gay, or she should at least since Gabbie told her years ago, but I don't think that's her problem with me. I think it's because I stopped doing exactly what she wanted. I could detail that whole history, but it's not important to this story. What is important is that, as Gabbie has made it clear to her mother that we are no longer a couple, her mother has gotten more and more critical of me. I think she blames Gabbie's wayward ways on me, among other things. Whatever. In recent months dear M-I-L has taken to frequently bitching about me to Gabbie and complaining about me to the kids. Sometimes what she says really irritates me, but mostly it's noise. Well. Two weeks ago the whole family was out together with M-I-L and M-I-L made a pointed comment about me in front of us all. It wasn't anything particularly nasty, it was just unnecessary, somewhat rude, and definitely snotty. She must have hit a very raw nerve with me because, in an instant, I went from content and relaxed to furious beyond control. I got right in her face and told her I was sick of her behavior. I don't get pissed very often but when I do, I go full throttle.

The short summary is that I'm the bad guy. And it's true, I did overreact. I wish I had kept my cool. But it's also true that she's a controlling pain-in-the-ass and I shouldn't be expected to bow to her every command in my own house.

Anyway, what's done is done and I will never be forgiven, nor do I want to be. Our relationship will never recover. It saddens me to see our 24 year relationship crash and burn but the truth is, it just wasn't working for me. I was willing to compromise a lot of the time but she never would.

Our rift is certain to have consequences in the long-term and because of that I regret that the whole episode happened, but it is what it is.

Home Life
I've continued to steadily work on my transition from 'doormat' to 'homo with a social life.' It's going well. Step one was to accept that my 25 year relationship with my former wife has permanently changed. Step two was to stop wearing my wedding band. I have recently completed steps three and four: I now sleep in my own bedroom, and, I just acquired my first cell phone in about 15 years.

I was a little surprised that the kids basically shrugged when I moved into my new room. The boys still haven't said anything about it. My daughter, who is twelve, repeatedly grilled me about it for two days. The funny thing was, she seemed almost cheery about it. She even cleaned the room and set-up my bed for me, all on her own initiative. Now she's taken to advising me about different things I should do, "in case you and mom get divorced." I've taken the kids' reactions as positives, although I'd feel better if the boys actually reacted one way or another.

I haven't really needed a cell phone all these years and I've enjoyed being a "principled" cynic as I've watched the world's cellphone/texting/smartphone addiction accelerate with ever greater fervor. But now I've relented for two reasons. First, I was told I had to have one in order to date. And second, now I can be out late and be reachable if one of the kids accidentally burns the house down. I've had quite a few people in the past comment on how "liberating" it must be to NOT be tied to a cellphone. What's funny is that I actually feel very liberated now that I have one - only because it (theoretically) will give me access to a much more active social life.

For now at least, I can report that my relationship with Gabbie is transitioning well. She seems willing to give me more independence, both from her and the kids, and (so far) she doesn't seem worried about how my new social life might affect her. Part of the reason for that could be that she is distracted. Her job is a daily nightmare and pretty much all she thinks about is how to survive the next fifteen minutes.

Dating
If all the parts of my plan had worked perfectly, Charlie would be in jail and Gabbie would have a new job by now. The idea was that if I could get those two huge sources of stress out of her life, then I could hand her back some of the significant responsibilities I've had as Mr. Mom. That would give me more latitude to actually date.

It remains to be seen whether Gabbie will ever opt to stay home with the kids so that I can go out, or whether she'll take them on their errands, or whether she'll feed them dinner more than once a week. I just hope that if she's more relaxed she'll be willing to take on more responsibility.

Anyway, now that all of my ducks are (sort of) in a neat little row, the time has come. Today, tomorrow, this weekend...sometime very soon I will be posting a serious on-line profile on a serious on-line dating site.

Right now I am so NOT into gay hook-up culture that I think it would be fair to label me as a prude. Because of that I think I need to focus on other long-term oriented guys. My logic is that this will be a win-win for me. Either I'll meet someone and our values and priorities will be similar, or, I'll get so sick of pain-in-the-ass picky-types that I'll realize it's better to expect less and be more relaxed. I'm too high strung right now to use a site like Adam4Adam. Perhaps I'll get to that later, when I'm in the appropriate state of mind.

My approach to 'serious' dating, I hope, is a healthy one. I'm disclosing all my baggage upfront and I'm going to try to not take any of the resulting rejection personally. I've also resolved not to be a passive wallflower; I won't be posting a profile and simply hoping for the best. Instead I'll make an effort to be confident, engaging and proactive. I still have all my insecurities - about my living situation, especially - but I feel like I've made the right choice by agreeing to co-parent in the same household. The flip side of that decision is that I will have to accept any negative consequences that come my way, even if I don't think I deserve them.

Being Too Gay
Give me too much to drink and make me feel very relaxed about my gay identity and, well, I won't act like the most macho of men. That said, the last time I remember someone calling me a faggot to my face was a girl in 7th grade. Maybe I'm deceiving myself but I think I'm pretty forgettable on the masculine-feminine scale. "Cameron who?"

This is relevant because now that I've put all my life's frustrations into improving my body, I have become noticeably more vain. Shopping for clothes was never my thing but I'm much more interested now. And when I shop, I'm much more focused on how I look rather then whether I actually like what I'm wearing.

Case in point: the swim trunks in this picture. My oldest kid, Mr. Gay Rights himself, said to me the first time he saw me wearing these, "Um, dad. Don't you think those are kind of gay?"

Well, probably they are. But you know what? You can't find traditional men's swimsuits that don't hang below your knees, especially if you're vertically impaired. I wanted something mid-thigh and this was pretty much the only thing I could find. Compared to a lot of the skimpy on-line choices I had, I thought these were relatively tasteful. So now I'm looking for some honest opinions: are these swim trunks too gay?

As always, thanks for reading and thanks for your comments.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Men are for sex, women are for love

I've had more than one person tell me that I sabotaged my marriage when I came out to my wife as gay.

"How was she supposed to react to that?" they've asked. "You basically said you have no sexual interest in her. Why would she want to stay married to you?"

Those are good questions. When phrased in that manner, I can understand how some might see 'coming out' as sabotage.

In my particular case, it wasn't. Within weeks of meeting Charlie, and experiencing a never-before-felt sexual charge whenever she was near him, my wife realized that our connection was fundamentally different. I could call myself anything I wanted, but she knew that there was no sexual heat between us. There never really was, and there never would be, regardless of how much we might love one another.

My wife's attitude is hardly a surprise, is it? Women want love and desire to be linked. Men are different. We're ok with, and often prefer, keeping the two separate. Just think about how common it is for a man to enjoy sex with other men, yet have no romantic interest in them. These same men feel very differently about women. It's as if their personal mantra is "men are for sex, but women are for love."

I wonder: how do these guys label themselves? As straight?

Some must. The thing is, it's hard to make a convincing argument that you're straight when you're regularly having sex with men.

On the other hand, they're clearly not gay, right? You can't be gay and NOT have an emotional attraction to men.

So the answer must be that these men label themselves as bisexual. It's the only answer that makes sense.

Here's the weird thing. The labels "straight", "bi" and "gay" are supposed to define sexual orientation. But these men who desire 'just sex' with men, they're not gay because they apply an emotional criteria to define their orientation.

Consider the sex vs. emotion question as you read this story from a straight wife:
My husband has told me that although he thinks that I am beautiful, he is not attracted to me sexually. He wants to have sex with a man. But he wants to keep our life intact, and stay in this relationship. He says that he doesnt want to have a relationship with a man, just sex, and he loves me. The ball is in my court according to him. He has even suggested the idea of a threesome, so that I can feel better about things if I am there. LOL.

Well, this is what I have come up with after much thought, prayer, and reading...........this is classic man wants his cake and eat it, too. He would like to satisfy his desires and keep his life with me and the kids. Thus not having to feel guilty about anything because I would know about it, and not have to experience any accountability.

The big problem with this to me is that one day he WILL meet someone that he will be attracted to and will want to be with. So, after more years of myself being faithful to this man, going through the insecurity and loss of any self esteem, and being robbed of being with a man who desires me sexually, he will leave me anyway. That is what will happen.

Let me share something else.........I agreed to go to a gay bar with him to help him explore this and see how I would feel about it.........one of the single worst moments of my life was looking across the bar and seeing him looking at a man and flirting with him in a way that he has never looked at me. You know, the flirtatous eyes kind of look. I felt like I couldnt breathe and I was consumed with both jealousy and anger that after all I have been to him and giving him the very best of me all these years, that I have never seen him look at me that way.

Sorry to say, but that is my sad reality. It hurts my heart so much that most days I cannot breathe. We straight wives love men deeply; we are in love with men deeply that cannot love us back sexually the way that we as women need to be loved. They will never smell our hair and skin and get dizzy off the scent of us, or be so desperate to make love to us that they cant see straight. Can he be my best friend and make me laugh till the cows come home? Yup. Can we cook together and drink wine and have a great time together and complete each others sentences? Yup. Is this enough for me for the rest of my life? Nope.

I want it to be enough. I really do. But I know in my heart that its not. I know this man loves me as much as he can love a woman. But at the end of the day, its just not enough. I want more.

Notice that the husband's sexuality is not labeled. Given what he wants - to have an open straight marriage - how do you think he labels himself?

I think it's pretty clear that he believes he is bisexual. He might even think he's straight. The reason I say this is because the reason he brought his wife to the gay bar was to prove to her that his interest in men is purely sexual, not emotional. He can't be gay if he has no emotional interest in men.

The thing is, the visit to the gay bar went horribly wrong. She agreed to give him a chance to prove his loyalty, but he utterly failed in that attempt - at least so far as she is concerned. It ranked as one of the single worst moments of her life. So, based on what she said, I think she believes he's gay - emotional attraction or not.

Who's right?

The question of whether he is bisexual or gay is essential. It truly matters whether he's gay or not because this woman, like most others, does not want to be married to a gay man.

I'd like to hear your thoughts. Please weigh in on whether you think the wife is wrong - he's bi not gay - or whether the man is gay and in denial. And please cite the reasons for your opinion.

Using your comments, I will do a follow-up post that will attempt to untangle the complex mix of desire, emotion and sexual orientation.

One initial observation: isn't it interesting that both my wife and the quoted straight wife seem to agree that heated sexual desire is MORE important in a relationship than emotion, yet this man and I believe the opposite? Is this a common gender difference? If so, isn't it ironic that women ultimately care more about sex and men care more about emotion??

I look forward to your comments.