This column first ran in John Paul Brammer’s Hola Papi newsletter, which you can subscribe to on Substack.
“So I’ve just been dumped” must be the start of 80 percent of the emails you get, but I do love jumping on a trend. Yes, I was just dumped by a boyfriend I felt very serious about, and now I can’t help but feel like I sacrificed a lot of my bisexual identity in order to “prove” my feelings for him were genuine. I spent a lot of energy on this to combat the unyielding myth that bi means cheating and infidelity.
The worst part? It wasn’t even my (ex-)partner causing it! I was just so scared of losing him that I killed off one of my favorite parts of myself.
I feel like I’ve got an enormous void I’m not sure what to do with. Prior to this relationship, I was a chaotic bisexual. Now I feel relegated to beginner status because one (1) heterosexual man doesn’t love me anymore. The only way I can describe it is like starting a video game that you’ve played before only to find half the characters silhouetted and not unlocked because your level is too low.
Papi, what do I do?
Hey there, BNB!
I have great news for you. I think your approach to this is all wrong. This is a cause for celebration. I don’t mean your feelings aren’t valid! But it does mean I get to be your Big Gay Mythbuster™ here. Let’s throw some confetti and jump into it.
For starters, now is a good opportunity for you to change how you enter romantic relationships. Before your partner even brought it up, you decided to downplay your bisexuality to assuage a fear he hadn’t even vocalized.
I could dress this up a lot of different ways, but I think I’ll just say: Stop that. You are demonstrating (to yourself) a willingness to sacrifice things about you to make another person more comfortable and more likely to stay with you. That’s not healthy. Just as it would be unacceptable for him to tell you to “tone down” your bisexuality, it ought to be unacceptable for you to do it to yourself.
Second, it sounds as though you yourself have some internalized tropes about bisexuality to work through. I am completely sympathetic to the fact that bi people often have to navigate stigmas that both straight and gay people hold. It’s not fair. But any partner who would ask you to sacrifice who you are in order to stay with them is no partner you should have. It should be a massive red flag.
You’re not even giving someone the chance to love you for all of you because you’ve already tossed a pretty significant part of yourself overboard. The idea of being rejected by someone we would otherwise vibe with were it not for this one thing about us is scary. But the solution isn’t to preempt their judgment by downplaying that part of ourselves. You ought to have more faith in the person you want to be with.
And now, we can at last get to the crux of things: Is your bisexuality indeed a video game you’ve neglected? Has your memory card been wiped clean, your checkpoints lost, your bisexual grappling hook taken out of your inventory and put back in the treasure chest?
It doesn’t work that way. You didn’t take the Bisexuality cartridge out of the Queer Nintendo and replace it with Heterosexuality: The Game. You’ve been playing the same game all along. You weren’t a heterosexual person while you were with this guy; your relationship might have been heterosexual, but that doesn’t mean you were. You were bi all that time. You were bi before and will probably be bi after.
If you feel utterly compelled to follow through with this video-game system of understanding sexuality, then just pretend you were on a straight side quest beating the Hetero Temple or something. Maybe you picked up some items there. Maybe it’s a sword or a slingshot or a dungeon key, why not? It doesn’t really matter! Everything is probably a simulation anyway. Who cares?
What matters is that you walk into your relationships with a decent handle on what you are and aren’t willing to compromise on, regardless of the gender or sexuality of your partner. It doesn’t mean you have to be the most confident person on earth. It doesn’t mean you have to walk in guns blazing and ready to defend yourself.
It just means you have to be strong enough in who you are not to negotiate yourself away in a world that would probably like you to do just that. You deserve someone who loves you for you, BNB! I hope you can do that for yourself in the future, no matter who may come along next.
Con mucho amor,
Originally published on February 11, 2020.
This column first ran in John Paul Brammer’s ¡Hola Papi! newsletter, which you can subscribe to on Substack. Purchase Brammer’s book, ¡Hola Papi!: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons, here.