Questions about love and sex in the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids area can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org (queries can also be sent anonymously using this form). Questions may be edited for clarity and length, and may appear either in print or online.
My boyfriend is wonderful and feminist and sex positive, but he has issues with me being bisexual. It’s not that he’s openly raged at me or anything. It’s just that whenever it happens to come up, you can see the micro-flicker of discomfort on his face that he’s trying to suppress. I know it’s normal to feel a little uncomfortable at the idea of your partner having a past, but he feels especially threatened by the idea of me checking out a girl over a guy (when I actually don’t check out anyone; I’m too in love with him to really notice anyone else in that way). This is just one example, and it’s a one-off, but this sort of thing has happened. I’ve tried asking him about it and explaining all my feelings about this gently and directly… No dice. He acts like it’s fine because it bothers him that it bothers him or he just clams up. What do I do?
Too in Love to Notice Anyone Else
Dear Too in Love,
As the Buddhists and Elsa would suggest, let it go. Let him be with his micro-flicker of discomfort. Jealousy about a lover’s past, although not uncommon, is never productive, and it seems your beau knows this and is trying to be cool and calm. He doesn’t want to be bothered with being bothered, and reminding him that he’s being bothered will remind him to be bothered. Do not summon the green-eyed monster, but certainly don’t tolerate unhealthy jealousy from him. (And because you mentioned the possibility, I hope he never openly rages at you about anything.)
Here are some questions for self-reflection (I don’t think it’s important to ask him these directly): Does he have issues with your bisexuality, or could it be more like curiosity? What does he need to feel more secure? Is he fearful because he thinks he can’t give you what only another women could, sexually and/or emotionally? Has he had an experience that might be causing him to be triggered or uncomfortable with bisexuality? Why are you bothered by him being bothered by being bothered? When and why is the subject of your ex-girlfriends coming up? Could it be he feels less sexually experienced?
In answering these, hopefully discomfort fades into the days of yore, and you two can love happily ever after.
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 244.