How to Explore Your Sexuality in a Straight Relationship
There’s no timeline for coming to terms with your sexuality, and exploring what you’re into physically is a really big part of that. It can, however, be a bit complicated if you’re already in a monogamous, heterosexual relationship.
As a bisexual woman who has dated both men and women, I know this experience first-hand. I’ve often struggled to feel as though my relationship with women is taken seriously by men. As WLW relationships have been highly sexualised through porn, my experience has been either the men I date wanting to turn my desire for women into an opportunity for a threesome, or they “don’t care” if I “make out with a girl” because they don’t feel threatened.
Alternatively, I’ve also struggled in past relationships with women to communicate my attraction toward men.
If I’m honest with myself, I’ve always felt drawn to solo exploration. I feel compelled to explore my sexuality on my own. It’s something I’d like to understand for myself before I share it with anyone else. That being said, it isn’t ideal to want this type of sexual independence in a monogamous relationship. But it’s not something to ignore, either.
“It’s completely normal to question your sexuality, but it can be difficult to navigate if you start questioning or have desires to explore your sexuality while in a relationship,” says Lovehoney Ambassador and Male Sex Coach, Cam Fraser.
“For your partner, it may come as a shock and be a little confusing, which is completely valid. However, this doesn’t mean your relationship is over – it’s something you can work on together. Sexuality and sexual orientation can change throughout your lifetime and there are no hard and fast rules that you need to be confined to one sexual identity.”
So, How Do We Talk About It?
Fraser says that it’s all about the timing.
“You don’t want to bring this up halfway through intercourse or during an argument,” he says. “Create a space of emotional safety where you can both open up without fear and judgment, and at a time where you aren’t going to be rushed.”
He also says it’s important to let your partner know that this isn’t a reflection of your relationship, or of them, but a need for discovery of who you are. In other words, make it clear that this is about you, not them. It may feel cliche, but they’re more likely to be open to your experience if they don’t feel as though they’re at fault.
Then, of course, comes the conversation about your relationship structure. You might already be in an ENM (ethically non-monogamous) relationship, have open sexual dialogue with your partner or a relationship that allows you to explore things together; all of which lend themselves to openness.
However, if you’re in a monogamous relationship, this conversation might be a little tougher as it will require a re-imagining of the relationship.
“Let them know how you’re feeling and what experiences you are looking for and discuss a way to move forward that you’re both comfortable with, without judgement. It’s important to understand this might not be something they are comfortable with, and they do not wish to move forwards in the relationship together, and that’s okay too.
“If they are open to you exploring your desires, there are a number of ways you can do this. For example, attending a kink event together or participating in a threesome together.”
Although this may feel like a difficult hurdle, it’s extremely necessary, as your relationship structure will ultimately dictate how you explore your sexuality moving forward.
Is It Just Easier to Break Up?
For many queer people, exploring sexuality is something they feel they need to do on their own. After all, our sexuality does take up a large portion of our identity, so it makes sense that it can feel like a deeply personal journey that you want to keep just for yourself.
If you’re in a relationship, solo exploration can get a little complicated — especially if your partner isn’t comfortable with you doing so.
So then, is the answer to take some time apart?
“By exploring your sexuality outside of a relationship, you are allowing yourself the space and freedom to explore your desires and understanding your feelings on your own terms,” says Fraser. “Discovering your sexuality can be a very liberating, exciting and positive experience.”
Whether or not sexual exploration means you would like to move forward in a monogamous relationship or not is completely up to the individual, he also points out.
We certainly live in a time where non-traditional relationship dynamics are more widely accepted, however they aren’t for everyone. It can be difficult to change up a relationship structure halfway through a relationship, or to redefine what your relationship looks like. If all parties are open to change and grow together, the possibility of growing stronger through openness is very much a thing.
However, when you change a relationship structure, there’s always risk of things changing in a negative way; such as feeling isolated from each other, growing apart, finding insecurities and jealousy overwhelming.
It really depends on the individuals and their unique relationship, on what the best path forward is.
“A non-monogamous relationship may be something you explore and decide is not for you, which is fine too,” he says.
Whether you decide to break up and continue on your sexual exploration journey alone, decide to restructure your relationship, or simply feel the need to talk it out with your boo, the most important thing is that you’re honest.