I Realized I Was Bisexual After 13 Years of Marriage. Here's What Happened
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Relationships

I Realized I Was Bisexual After 13 Years of Marriage. Here's What Happened

I'm attracted to women — just as much as I am to men.

I fell in love with Emily four years ago. I’d just turned 40 and she bounced her way over to me at a kid’s birthday party at a local bounce house. Our kids were in the same class at school, and we’d been to a bunch of the same parties and seen each other at drop-off. But we had never really chatted.

We quickly realized we both loved soccer and decided to join a team together. The following weekend, we went out for postgame drinks and stayed until the bar closed. We just couldn’t stop talking.

Quickly, we fell into the routine of texting all day, every day, and it gave me constant butterflies. I wrote it off as “new friend excitement.” When it didn’t subside, I started to wonder, Do I have a crush on this woman? I told no one and spent many nights staring at the ceiling wondering what was going on with me. After a couple weeks of grabbing drinks after soccer and doing playdates with the kids in the park, we scheduled a happy hour. On the day of our meeting, she texted that her daughter was sick and needed to cancel. I was devastated. I realized in that moment, Should my friend canceling a happy hour affect me THIS much?

An hour later Emily texted me that she felt incredibly disappointed about not seeing me that evening — and then dropped a bomb. “I think I have feelings for you that are stronger than friendship.”

I couldn’t believe it. She felt it, too.

We spent the next month trying to figure it all out. Both of us were married to men and had families. Neither of us had been with a woman, and we struggled with what we were feeling — and what it meant. We continued to text every day and to still see each other. It didn’t take too long before it turned physical.

Oh my god, I thought. Is she going to kiss me?  My mind was racing. We were sitting in her car outside the movie theater where we’d just seen La La Land with a bunch of other moms from our kids’ preschool. She’d grabbed my hand halfway through the movie and held it for the rest of the film. We walked out to the car, and after 10 minutes of awkward conversation she leaned in and kissed me.

The electricity that ran through my body was something I can’t put into words and I’ll never forget. Several weeks later we went on the first of four out-of-town trips together. On these trips we explored each other, emotionally and physically, trying to deconstruct what the hell was going on.

I wondered constantly, Am I gay? Part of my self-exploration included going back over my life and remembering signs and hints that forced me to acknowledge I’m not as straight as I thought. I had an enormous crush in college on my boss at the sports store where I worked. I obsessed about her — yet told no one. I didn’t know what it meant and was worried about being judged or ostracized by my friends or family. I pushed the feelings away.

I had other crushes over the years, never acting on or talking about them with anyone. Ignoring and pushing away the unexpected feelings was the only way I knew how to deal with them. Until Emily.

Seven months into our relationship — which included breaking up and getting back together constantly due to overwhelming feelings of guilt — we told our husbands what was going on. It didn’t go well, and we were asked not speak to each other for the sake of our families. After a long separation, we started talking sporadically again. We both tried telling our husbands we needed each other in our lives, but it again didn’t go over well. We eventually stopped talking.

That wasn’t the end of my story. Being with a woman made me feel more alive than I ever had. In therapy I allowed myself to address the feelings, attractions and urges I’ve always had, and with my therapist’s help, remove the shame from them. Admitting to myself that I was attracted to women — as much as men! — allowed me to accept myself in a way I never had. I felt authentic, real, true.

It wasn’t too long before I included my husband in my “journey.” We talked a lot, and I was completely and unflinchingly honest and open with him. I told him clearly: I am very attracted to women. He obviously wasn’t shocked since he knew about my relationship with Emily, but hearing my unfiltered truth wasn’t easy. He worried about our family and what this would mean in the long term. I understood. I was worried about our family and what it would mean, too!

With the help of therapy and some gut-wrenching yet incredibly moving conversations, my husband and I landed in a mutually acceptable place. After 40 years of keeping these feelings suppressed, I’m bursting at the seams to explore. I’m also married to the man of my dreams —he’s funny, an amazing dad and the most accepting person I’ve ever met. I was terrified that my desire to be with women couldn’t coexist with staying married. My husband and I talked about this for months, on and off, and finally reached an agreement.

Here’s where we landed: I have a girlfriend now. We go on dinner dates every couple of weeks, and about once a month we spend the night together at a hotel. We both know our families are our number one priority, and neither of us wants anything complicated. She, like me, is married to a man and has a very similar setup. I feel incredibly lucky to have a husband who feels confident enough to allow me to explore my sexuality with no shame or guilt attached. His open-mindedness has been life changing for me.

Admittedly, this arrangement is in the early stages. Who knows what the future holds? A handful of friends know what’s going on, but it’s not public knowledge. Our extended families don’t know about my bisexuality, and I’m not sure if or when I’ll ever share. But I know that today, in this moment, I feel happier in my life, in my marriage and in my body than I ever have before.

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