Shame, Bisexuality and Swinging
After many years of secrets and shame, I told my wife that I had always been curious to experience sex with a man and that I was far kinkier than I had shared. I had denied this part of myself, repression wrapped in shame and hidden away from the world. Opening up to these secrets led to a series of conversations with my wife where I shared all of myself for the first time. While she was surprised, she did not run or feel betrayed. Instead, she worked to understand me and in the process got in touch with her own secrets, admitting to her own bicuriosities. Having been together for many years with little sexual experiences previously, we decided to allow ourselves to share in a new experience together, deciding to explore our sexuality with another couple.
We registered with a swinger website and built our profile with us both listed as ‘bicurious’, the most accurate label for two lifelong heterosexuals exploring their sexuality. Our first time online we found a couple around our age that was also new to the lifestyle. The woman was online and we began to chat over instant messenger.
We spoke about how we got here, what we were looking for, our apprehensions and excitement over the possibility of new sexual experiences after years of monogamy. She was looking forward to being with another couple and exploring a woman for the first time. Before long, she asked about my identification as bicurious. She was not turned off by my curiosity; she was intrigued by the possibilities. She shared her fantasy with me of seeing her husband with another man and told me how she could never discuss this with him for fear of him ‘freaking out’.
The woman told me they were planning to arrange a small meet and greet, inviting several other couples out for drinks with the hope that they would put the hotel room they had booked to good use. She also mentioned she would not be mentioning my bicuriosity to her husband. She seemed to have this fantasy scenario where we would get together and perhaps through some magic her husband would fulfill her fantasy with me, without her having to directly ask for it. While not entirely comfortable with the situation, my wife and I were anxious to get out and meet some swingers for the first time and planned for a night out. While getting ready we learned that their child became ill, and my wife and I ended up going out to another gathering where we met real live swingers and walked away feeling more prepared to take this step into ethical non-monogamy.
When we got home from the meet and greet, I logged right onto the computer and changed my profile from bicurious to straight, aware that a couple we met whom my wife was interested in might reject us based on that one detail. I rationalized that making this change wasn’t a big deal as up to that point I was straight and had never been with a man. I was married to a woman. I did not desire a romantic relationship with a male, and have heard Dan Savage repeatedly tell men who identified as straight trying to make sense of the occasional gay fantasy that they should ‘round up to straight’. Changing the setting was no big deal, who knew if I would even enjoy the experience once I had it? While changing my sexual orientation to straight I remained honest in the body of the profile, leaving in a reference to wanting to explore my sexuality and being open to bi play.
While I made the change, it bothered me that I did it. Here I was towards the end of a long journey, having overcome shame. I was taking this huge step towards opening our relationship in part to explore my sexuality, only to feel the need to mask it from a seemingly sex-positive community. Despite challenging the convention of monogamy and embracing female bisexuality, the swinger community seemed to have no place for bisexual males. From talking to others through chat or message boards, I learned that many of the couples would avoid a couple with a bicurious male, even when bi play was something done rarely when playing with a couple looking for that kind of play. I also found that there were far more bisexual men on these sites than one would find through a search as most of them were listed as straight.
I stayed in touch with that woman I first spoke with. One night I spotted her logging-in later than usual and opened a chat window to say hello. To my surprise it wasn’t her, but her husband. We chatted about how we were supposed to meet a few months back, what they were looking for, and their desire to have that first swinger experience. What we didn’t talk about was the fantasy his wife revealed to me. After chatting for a while, he noticed the details in the description within my profile where I shared my bicuriosity, and he began to ask me about it. He asked what it meant, what I had done, and what was it I wanted to do. He then told me that he too was long bicurious and fantasized about wanting to experience being with a man but could never tell his wife.
I couldn’t believe the irony of what I was reading and called for my wife to look over my shoulder at what was going on. I was talking to a couple where the woman fantasized of seeing her husband with a man but was afraid to tell him, while the husband fantasized of being with a man and afraid she would leave him if she knew. Even odder, I was the only person to know this secret that they shared yet hid from one another.
I told the husband about my journey of self-discovery. How I struggled for years over these thoughts before accepting them as part of who I am, and how it took another two years before I was able to tell my wife. I encouraged him to do the same, to take that step and be honest with his wife. He protested, concerned that she would think less of him for it. At this point I let on that his wife may be more accepting than he realized. He picked up on my less subtle than intended comment and asked what she had told me. I explained that she was curious in my bicuriosity and that this interested her, and that she was afraid to tell him this fearing his reaction. He was stunned and asked more questions. I did not go into the specifics of her fantasies but told him she was really into the idea of seeing him with another man. He had his doubts but saw no reason why I would be lying. He continued to voice concerns about discussing this with her, and I told him how sharing my secrets helped to bring my wife and I closer together than we had been in many years.
It was getting late and I said goodnight, needing to get to sleep. We spoke again the following week and shared with me that he had not yet spoken to his wife and didn’t think that he could. I again encouraged him, believing that they would both find acceptance where they feared rejection. That was the last time that I had spoken to either of them. A few weeks later my wife and I had our first experience as swingers, with the two of us sharing our first same-sex experiences the week of our twentieth anniversary. I have since changed my profile back to bicurious after deciding that being honest about who I am is more important that attracting the kind of people who would reject me for it.