Monday, November 21, 2011

What If I Had Known?

One of the hardest questions bisexual men have to deal with is whether or not to tell the woman in their lives about their bisexuality.

Today, when bisexuality is accepted by most experts as a normal variation in sexual expression and information about bisexuality is readily available on the internet and other sources, many young men who are anticipating marriage may already recognize they are bisexual men and be very concerned about what to say to the woman in their live, if anything, and how to say it.

For men who are already married and are 40 years old or older, their understanding of their own bisexuality might be something they themselves are just beginning to recognize and seeking to understand. What these men should tell their wives, if anything; and how they should tell them takes on significant and irreversible implications.

In my experience, I find men in either situation are conflicted about what they should do. More often than not, they are dealing with guilt about their bisexuality. They want to do the right thing, but overwhelming fear often leaves them not knowing exactly what the right thing is.

For a young man who has fallen in love, telling the woman he loves he is bisexual could cause her to back out of the relationship. For men who are already married to a wife whom they love, with families, professional lives, and status in their community, telling what they have come to know about their sexuality can possibly wreck their own life and that of their wife and children as well.

The open discussion of such things on the internet can be instrumental in helping either a young man just starting out or an older man with a wife and family to think through his own situation carefully and fully. Unfortunately, the discussion on the internet can also be conflicting and confusing. There are those who will tell bisexual men they have no ethical choice and no moral choice except to tell regardless of what the fallout may be. Others will take a more nuanced approach and stress to the bisexual men that each situation if essentially unique and that only they can decide what is best for their specific circumstance.

I tend to take the latter approach. Frankly, I consider myself to be a moral person, but I admit I have trouble with people who tend to see and insist on moral absolutes which they have defined for other people's lives. There are always people who are ready to decide what is moral for other people and more than willing to insist that people live by the moral absolutes that others have identified as proper.

The problem is, people who are quick to see moral or ethical absolutes are people who see the world only in black and white. To them, something is either good or it is bad. The truth is much more complex. The real world is almost always hued in shades of gray. Admittedly it might be easier if everything were either a black or a white issue. It simply isn't.

Unfortunately, in America today, Right Wing Christians are one group which is always ready to claim they have a lock on the moral high ground. They don't. This should be obvious even to Right Wing Christians, since there are millions of Christians scattered throughout the world in hundreds if not thousands of denominations and sects and all of them believing something different about how Christianity is supposed to work. The simple fact is Christian precepts are not black and white either. They come in all shades of gray.

In my experience, I have had friends who have been truthful and straight forward about their bisexuality and it has worked out well for them. I also have friends who, because they were truthful and straight forward, lost everything they had. These men invariably regret and grieve their losses.

In my own case, once I came to understand my bisexuality and recognize it for what it was, I told my wife. Fortunately, by that time our marriage was happy, strong and well grounded. It survived the telling with relatively few problems. I had counted on that being the case. My wife is a professional person and well educated. She is a psychotherapist who is involved almost daily in marriage counseling and sexual counseling. She is very much aware that homosexuality, bisexuality and even heterosexuality are not choices one makes. They are the result of some combination of genetic markers and nurture.

Telling my wife about my bisexuality actually helped me to understand it better. We talked about it over the course of many long and detailed conversations. In one of those conversations, she said something to me that had a great impact on me and an impact on the advice I give to others in a similar situation.

She said, she was glad I told her, but she was glad I hadn't told her before we married when we were 18 years old. She said we have a wonderful marriage and she is glad that we've been able to build the life we have together; however, had I told her at age 18, she wouldn't have understood, she wouldn't have married me, and knowing everything she knows now, she would regret not having married me.

In a lot of ways this makes sense. Most men who are bisexual or homosexual spend years trying to understand their sexuality and getting to a place where they can accept themselves as they are rather than as they would choose to be. It is almost always a long, hard and difficult process and these men are living that process every day.

Since it takes them so long to understand it and to accept it, is it any wonder that very few wives can understand it or accept it when it is suddenly thrust into their lives without warning of any kind?

Bisexual men come in for a great deal of scorn. Among the most scornful are women who have found out their husbands are bisexual. Almost always, the scornful women have allowed themselves to fall into a pit of self pity and anger. The whole situation becomes solely about them and what has been done to them. They never once stop to think about the agony their husbands have gone through, not to mention the fear and the self-hate.

For me, it was much different. One of the things that was hardest for my wife to deal with was the fact that we had been married for years and she had never noticed the pain I was in and the struggle I was having with my sexuality. She felt as if she had failed me by not noticing.

Certain people make a big deal these days out of marriage supposedly being between one man and one woman. The trouble is we make a big deal about that when it fits our purposes, but we don't really believe it. The majority of people have now been married at least twice. The majority of men and a huge percentage of women have had sexual affairs outside their marriages. Even many Christian pastors and church leaders are themselves divorced these days. We simply do not really believe in the sanctity of marriage unless we're beating someone else over the head with it. I may be a married bisexual man, but I can honestly say I've been married for almost 50 years to the same woman and we have loved each other all those years. Not a lot of people can say that regardless of their sexuality.

All this is not to say that anything goes. I don't believe that at all. Sexual activity these days can be very dangerous when one has multiple partners. One simply has to look at the statistics. Sexually transmittable diseases are sharply increasing. A bisexual or heterosexual man who has unsafe sex with another partner and then has sex with his wife has failed at recognizing the realities of life. But I think its safe to say that more heterosexual men are doing such things than are bisexual men. Bisexual men just come in for more scorn. It's almost like heterosexual men are just being men and doing what is more or less expected.

Over the years, I have come to realize that the experts who say that human sexuality is a continuum along a line from exclusive heterosexuality on one extreme to exclusive homosexuality on the other extreme are correct. In between these two poles, everyone else is aligned including bisexuals. The estimates of just how many men have some attraction to and/or sexual experience with other men vary greatly in various studies. In almost all studies the number of women who admit to same sex attraction and/or experience far outnumbers the percentage of males who admit to the same type of attractions. Given that society is more accepting of female same sex activity and much more likely to condemn such activity by men, most researchers suspect that probably both sexes under report their same sex attractions with men much more likely to refuse to admit such feelings or experience.

One recent study reported 42% of men reported same sex thoughts and/or experience after age 16. Other studies put the percentage of such men at only 18%. I personally suspect both percentages are lower than they would be if men were able to report their feelings and experiences without fear and guilt.

Outside the ranks of fundamental Christians who have a bias they can't or won't overcome, there is no doubt that bisexuality is a normal expression of human sexuality. As a married man who has successfully managed and experienced his bisexuality and who as an older man is reaching the point in life at which sexuality is more a memory than a reality, I can honestly say that I never felt at peace with myself and I never felt whole until I both understood my bisexuality and accepted it as a part of what made me myself.

I have lived the most fortunate of lives. Now that there are far more years behind me than those remaining before me, I have few regrets. If I could change anything, I guess my first thought would be to have my understanding and acceptance of my bisexuality come earlier in life. However, to wish such a thing brings the possibility that it would have actually changed my life for the worse.

When I was 18 and about to marry, one's sexuality was not something that could be discussed openly, especially if one was not heterosexual. I knew my life had been different from some, but on the other hand it had been normal too. In the small Texas town I grew up in almost all boys played. Those who didn't were considered the weird kids.

As it was, I didn't even know there was such a thing as bisexuality. I knew about homosexuality, but that didn't apply to me. I knew I was very much attracted sexually to women and especially to my future wife. At the time, I had come to see my homosexual activity throughout my life as nothing more than a substitute for heterosexual sex. I felt that with marriage and a beautiful woman in my bed each night, the desire for male/male sex would simply vanish.

What if I had known the desires wouldn't vanish? What would I have decided to tell the woman I planned to marry? I honestly don't know. It is a question I think about some times. By her own admission, she would have more than likely called off the engagement, depriving both me and her of a happy and successful marriages, preventing the birth of our children and grandchildren as the persons they are today. That would have been a tragic thing.

Life is always a challenge. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy to achieve. I have few regrets. There is little I would change if I could do it all over again. I can think of nothing worse than coming to the end of one's life and thinking only of what might have been and regretting the things I had missed in life.

What if I had known? I'm glad I didn't.

Jack Scott


  1. Beautiful post. In recent years, I've also come to terms with my bisexual side.
    ''What if I had known?'' ... I imagine a lot of bisexual married men ask themselves that question. Had I known at a younger age, I probably would've experimented more... I probably would've made other choices... (maybe...).
    However, like you wrote: ''At the time, I had come to see my homosexual activity throughout my life as nothing more than a substitute for heterosexual sex.'' Because those first experiences happened at a time when I didn't have a girlfriend in my life, or I was between relationships. Sure I could've probably analyzed those feelings deeply and ''gone gay'', but I soon met my first wife, fell deeply in love, got married, had three kids and had a wonderful life. The feelings didn't go away however as I soon realized. But I wouldn't change a thing... because of the life I've lived, and the kids I've had.
    Some would say I'm a two-time loser, because after 15 years my first wife divorced, I could've ''gone the gay way''. Though during my hiatus as a newly single dad.. I didn't experiment with any guy. I soon met another beautiful woman, whom I've been with for seven years now. I still have desires and longings for men, (and I have acted on these a few times with a close friend), but I also wouldn't see myself anywhere else than in the relationship I am in right now with my wife. So I juggle with my feelings and desires for both men and my wife.

    As for disclosing to my wife.. that would be a no-no (at least for the time being). She'd never understand.
    I've shared with two priests... one of which was pretty much as you described: Right Wing Christian -- telling me he didn't believe I loved my wife, and that I HAD to make a choice about my life. The second one I told (I was in a period where I HAD to share with some people) was more open, more caring, more understanding. He told me to examine my desires, my longings, and asked me what I was looking for in my extra-marital relationships. Was it friendship, male bonding, or just sex? Food for thought. Anyhow.. just wanted to say.. Good post... love reading you.

  2. When is the right time to say? It's an extremely nagging question isn't it? But the longer I'm around, the more I think the answer is IT DEPENDS ON THE WOMAN. I'm also intrigued by women who know I'm gay, yet are CONVINCED that they could either live with that, or CONVERT me. They don't seem to see, there has to be a mutual attraction for that to happen.

    It's an extremely confident, GROUNDED woman who can accept a bisexual mate. She would have to be someone who's cut herself free from previous examples of marriage and expectations. Mrs. JS is just that woman. [You lucky rascal, Jack!]

    I was never a fan of either of the Clintons. But I suppose Hillary could be one of these women; someone who could thrive in a multi partner marriage. A bad example, as Hillary never seemed to be happy, sincere, OR fulfilled, but I'm sure you can think of better examples.

    Some might say that they wouldn't want to live under a cold, calculated contract and flippantly call it marriage. But let's face it, isn't that what a marriage is? A contract. I think all we're asking here is IS IT POSSIBLE TO LOVE AND MARRY SOMEONE WHO ALSO LOVES SOMEONE ELSE?

    We've all been taught that husbands and wives are each other's "alpha mate". The ultimate solution to one another's needs and wants. The cure for what ails us. But eventually, too many of us see that person as the bane of our existence. I think we've all come to know those. They're our "Xs." X mates, spouses, lovers, bosses, parents, cars, pets--the list is endless.

    I think what we need to look at is what marriage actually is, what it should be, and how we as individuals live under the pressure of unrest. We all seem to forget, there is no happily ever after or eternal bliss in marriage. We're aren't the sole answer to our mate's needs and wants. No one is the best at anything, whether it's commanding a career and dollar, or performing in bed. There's always someone luring us, and there's always someone willing to toss us aside. We all need to realize these things, yet we all get escorted down the aisle thinking, "I can handle this. It's time. This is going to be fun--I can't wait. ...I HOPE this is my soul mate…"

    I doesn't necessarily work. What's the definition of insanity? Too many of us are living it.

    We've all heard the saying: "If you love something, set if free. If it returns, it is yours. If it doesn't, it never was." Who's marriage is up for that challenge? What woman [or man] is?

  3. Bob, Rimbeau, thanks so much for your comments. It's sometimes amazing to me to see how closely a thoughtful gay man and a thoughtful bisexual man's views can align.

    Rimbeau, I wouldn't call you a looser at all. As I pointed out in my post, divorce is epidemic in this country. However, as Bob points out marriage is an exceedingly difficult contract to carry out. Everyone deserves a second chance. The problem comes when a person makes the same mistakes over and over marrying the same person over and over with only the names changing. This happens more often than not.

    It means a lot Rimbeau to find a guy who has lived my life experience and understands it. I am glad you understand the decision to tell or not to tell your wife about your attraction to males must be yours and yours alone.

    I think the words from the second priest you talked to are profound and right on target. I suspect, since your life and your desires closely parallel mine, you will find that what you are looking for is a bond with another man.

    Bob, I feel like I'm getting to know you pretty well through the comments you leave to my writing. I have two very close gay friends here in Houston. If you lived here, I have no doubt you'd be the third.

    You're deep and your thoughts are pretty much always right on target.

    My wife is a supremely confident person. We married so young, neither of us really knew what we wanted to do when we grew up. It took both of us just over a decade to figure it out for ourselves.

    Since she had dropped out of college when we married, deciding to become a psychotherapist meant years of hard work for her continuing to work to help support our kids while working on her degrees and then working through years of internships. Looking back, I don't know how either of us ever made it, but we did. Those were damn hard years, but when I look back on them I see them as good years. We shared the joys together and we shared the burdens together.

    It was interesting to me that you pointed out that marriage is a contract when all is said and done. From the beginning, I think my wife and I always were aware of that. It's not that we weren't in love. We definitely were. It's not that there wasn't passion. Oh man was there passion. We burned up a lot of sheets. But it was more than that. We were the best of friends. And looking back at our almost 50 years, it is clear to me that while the love and the passion were awesomely wonderful, it was the abiding friendship that sustained us.

    True, I had an irresistible need for sex with a boned male friend, but the bond with him was one thing. My marriage was the thing. I came to know how important and essential the male/male bond was, but I never for a moment lost sight of where my heart was.

    I think you summed it up well. In a very real way, my wife had the self confidence to set me free and know that I would still always be hers.

    Jack Scott

  4. I like that post for its immense compassion. The same inner conflicts beset a person who discovers 20 something years into his vows that he is homosexual and then has to spend another 20 years deciding what to do about it.

  5. What a compliment! Thank you!

    I feel the same way towards some of the bloggers who actually write something in their posts. I think a blogger's convention would be fun, don't you?

  6. Thank you for your insightful post. I agree that marriage somewhere along the way has become less important. I feel that marriage shouldn;t be taken lightly, I didn;t get married to marry again someday, but married for the rest of my life. If this marriage should fail, I will never marry again. Marriage at that point would no longer have meaning.

    It does take grounded people, not just a wife to continue a marriage in which one person acknowledges that they are homosexual or bisexual. It takes two people to make a marriage work.

    I feel that wives are only scornful when their husbands leave. I don't want to speak for other wives, so I will speak plainly of me. I love my husband, I knew that I alone could not make him happy. He came out. He has no problems having sex with me, yet being intimate is another issue. I accept who he is, gay/bisexual or otherwise. I am fine with opening our marriage either on both sides or just his. I would prefer a CLR on his side.

    However, he doesn't know what he wants right now. I feel that I would have right to be scornful. Not only did I wait 10 years and suffer as he did(in a differant manner), becuase of his inactions, but as I am willing to CHANGE my idea of marriage, and give up my intimate life, he chooses to give up nothing, for us. How could one not be scornful, if you look at it like this?

    Fortunately, I believe that I am strong enough to not be scornful towards my husband, regardless of his choice to leave or stay. I feel that I will support him, as wife should support her husband. The committments I made to my husband the day we married I plan to uphold, regardless of our status, as marriage and committment to me were important.

    I really appreciate you insight. Your post was amazing. It is really refreshing to see a different point a view!

    Thank you

  7. Awiltagm, what a great letter. You must be a truly exceptional person. Obviously life has handed you some breaks that you would not have chosen and would not have anticipated, but you seem to be staying upbeat and positive. At a time when everyone is prone to playing the victim at the slightest chance, you seemingly refuse to be victimized. That is such a wonderful thing on your part.

    I understand what you say about never marrying again. I have always felt the same way. Marriage is a one time thing for me. Should anything have happened to end my marriage, I would never have remarried. As it turned out my marriage has been so good that I could never replace it and wouldn't even think of trying. It just couldn't be done.

    I kind of seized on your statement that your husband doesn't know what he wants right now. I hope if you have not done so already, you have made him aware of my blog and have asked him to read it. Recently a young man here in Houston was referred to me by a friend. The young man was struggling with male/male sexual curiosity. He thought he must be a homosexual. The problem was that he didn't want to be a homosexual. He loved his wife and he enjoyed their sexual relationship. But as good as his relationship with her was he simply could not rid himself of his curiosity concerning male/male sex.

    And in fact it did not take me long after meeting him to determine that in fact he is not homosexual. He may be bisexual, but I not yet convinced of that. I think there is a chance he may be a straight guy who simply is mistaking the desire for a bonded relationship with another man as homosexuality.

    I have no way of knowing if your husband is homosexual. He may or may not be. But, I have come to believe that bisexual men far outnumber homosexual men in reality and I have seen many instances in which bisexual men mistake their bisexuality for homosexuality. That can be a tragic miscalculation. It would be especially tragic in an instance such as yours in which you are more than willing to share him in a CLR relationship.

    Again, I don't know your husband, but I do know he needs to talk with someone with whom he can be straight forward and honest and who can be straight forward and honest with him. One of the greatest tragedies I see repeated time and time again is men who have sex with a different guy every time they have a male/male sexual encounter. In the end, these types of encounters are NEVER satisfying. They never meet the needs of a homosexual man and they certainly do not meet the the needs of a bisexual man. A bisexual man needs a CLR relationship with a bonded buddy to make him feel whole. Add to it that it is the only safe way to have male/male sex and it becomes evident that to miscalculate and not understand one's feelings and needs is a great tragedy.

    I commend you on your thoughtfulness, your devotion to your husband and your willingness to help him meet his needs. I wish the best for the two of you and your children.

    Again, please have him read my blog. If he would like to talk with me, that can be arranged.

    I have said over and over and over that human sexuality is complex. Male sexuality is complex indeed. I have spent a lifetime coming to understand it. Your husband needs help in understanding his own sexuality. He simply has not lived long enough to understand it himself. Because I know that to be true, I have made it my goal to help as many men as I can who are struggling with understanding their own sexuality. I know the pain I went through. My goal is to help guys avoid that pain. I talk about a few of the successes in my blog. There have been others. I don't have any magic answers, but sometimes just talking it through with someone who has been there is magic enough. In a case such as your husband's where he has a loving and supporting wife standing beside him, there is great potential for working it all out.

    Best wishes.

    Jack Scott

  8. Enjoyed this post. But I have a couple of questions and an observation or two.
    If a man experiences both SSA and OSA and is in a committed relationship, can he act on his SSA? How do you assess the effects of suppressing the expression of SSA? I have been lucky to have both a happy OSA and SSA partner. In my case at least, the two relationships were so different in terms of what they brought to me life...I feel that they could co-exist with each other.
    Lots of men have close male friends. No one sees that as a threat to their relationships with wives and girlfriends. The fact that that relationship included some sort of male intimacy shouldn't change the equation, as the nature of the two types of intimacy are so different. It would be like saying I can't play tennis, because that would be cheating on golf. It is certainly time this subject has a more open and thorough public airing.


I deeply regret that I must reinstate the verification process for those who want to leave comments on my blog. This is due to the intolerable amount of spam that spammers are attempting to leave on the blog.

At the same time I am changing settings so that those of you who have a Google Blogger ID or other recognized blogger ID will not have to have your comments moderated. My hope is this will encourage more readers to take the time to comment. The fact is I want to read comments with those of you who disagree with me as well as those of you who agree with me. All I ask is that you keep your comments clean and non-threatening.

The only reason I take the time to write this blog is to spur your thoughts and comments. Please do not let the spammers cause you not to comment. I know entering the verification words and numbers is a pain in the ass, but I hope you will not let the spammers cause you not to comment.

I still very much look forward to hearing from you.

Jack Scott

Anyone can comment on what I write in this blog. Regretfully, the recent amount of spam in my email account as required that I reinstate the word verification process for comments which I personally hate.

But at the same time I have loosened the comment moderation process so that those of you who have a Google Blogger ID or other recognized blogger ID will no longer need to wait for your comment to be moderated. I'm hoping this will tempt you to take the trouble to comment.

The truth is I want respectful comments both from those who agree with me and those who do not. All I as is that you keep comments to the point, clean and non-threatenting.

I look forward to hearing from each of you.

Jack Scott