Nothing ventured

Pub date August 5, 2009

Dear Andrea:

I am straight (?), married 12 years, and have always been faithful to my husband. Before we were together, I had sex with a few boyfriends — nothing crazy. I did used to have fantasies about women, though; like, while trying to have an orgasm, I would think about a woman going down on me instead. Not any particular woman, just a kind of idea of femaleness. But I never did anything about it, or even particularly thought I wanted to.

Now, though, my husband has a lot of business trips, so I’m alone a lot, and lonely. I do have a girlfriend (a friend who’s a girl) who comes over a lot and suddenly I find myself having those kind of fantasies about her in particular. Do you think I could have been a lesbian all along, or could be becoming one now? Or am I just bored? Should I have sex with her if she’s interested?


Secret Life

Dear Life:

Since you have no idea if she’s interested and she probably isn’t (the majority of random women would not be), it’s probably moot. But let’s say you were having a glass of wine (let’s say it’s the second glass of wine) and all of a sudden she offered you a back rub and then suggested it would be better if you took your shirt off … you know how these things go, at least in fantasy. Let’s say you immediately complied, and things proceeded from there. Let’s say you were compatible and it was great and your husband’s still traveling a lot and you do it again. That’s an affair. It doesn’t matter that the other person is female — she is not your husband! You may be ready to experiment with bisexuality, or with this one friend in particular, but are you ready to cheat on and lie to your husband? They’re not the same thing.

You need to disentangle "bored and lonely" from "interested in women," and "interested in women" from "compelled to explore interest in women." It’s entirely possible, for instance, to be fully bisexual yet completely faithful to the one person you married or partnered. People do it all the time. They relegate one gender to fantasy and go on with their lives, just as other monogamous people do. When you choose one, you lose one. You deal.

Not everyone does deal, of course, or can, or even should. You could be a lesbian who was in deep denial or seduced by the promise of "heterosexual privilege" and now need to get out of there in order to live authentically. You could be a bisexual who can manage ethical non-monogamy and really need a girlfriend and not just a friendgirl, like the one you’ve got. I’m kind of guessing not, though. I’d put money on "bored and lonely." I’m betting, actually, that if that friend who drops by were male, you’d be wondering if he’d like to give you that back rub too.

I’m also wondering if your husband knows you’re feeling this neglected. Maybe he could travel less, or take you along more, or pay more attention to you when he’s home. If none of those do anything, and you ‘re still thinking, "Want woman!" you could always ask him if he’s ever entertained that fantasy, you know the one, and would he maybe like to act it out, or maybe just hear about it after the fact, if you’re not into sharing? These options would be complicated and process-intensive, and require the sort of open communication that everyone plays lip service to but few can really manage in practice, at least not without a lot of sobbing and door-slamming along the way. It can be done, though. People do it, and marriages survive it.

Marriages survive cheating too, actually. More spouses forgive, if not forget, than you’d think. It’s one hell of a blow, though — a marriage needs special, Weeblelike powers to wobble and not fall down. I’m not sure yours has them, what with the frequent separations and, frankly, your willingness to entertain the possibility of cheating without noticing that it’s cheating. I worry.

If I were you, I’d get some girl/girl porn (you can get something funky and homemade — with pubic hair even — if you don’t like the glossy fakey stuff) and a nice vibrator. That should address at least some of the boredom. I’m all for bisexuality and non-monogamy and threesomes and hiring a professional and sex parties and all the other options out there. In theory, anyway, it’s all good. It’s all risky too, and if you’re not up for risking the loss of your nice husband and your nice marriage than you probably want to stick with the nice vibrator. It’s not that it will all blow up in your face the second you try to introduce a new person or element, it’s just that it could. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained" is a good adage but it does have a corollary: "nothing ventured, nothing lost!"

And don’t cheat.