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Sexplain It: My Boyfriend Is Scared to Marry Me Because I’m Bi

side by side images of a couple sharing a tense moment in bed and two women with a colorful scarf wrapped around them

I’m Zachary Zane, a sex writer, author, and ethical boyslut (a fancy way of saying I sleep with a lot of people, and I’m very, very open about it). Over the years, I’ve had my fair share of sexual experiences, dating and sleeping with hundreds of people of all genders and orientations. In doing so, I’ve learned a thing or two about navigating issues in the bedroom (and a bunch of other places, TBH). I’m here to answer your most pressing sex questions with thorough, actionable advice that isn’t just “communicate with your partner” because you know that already. Ask me anything—literally, anything—and I will gladly Sexplain It.

To submit a question for a future column, fill out this form.

Dear Sexplain It,

My partner recently admitted to me that he is uneasy with my sexuality—we are talking seriously about marriage, and he told me he is worried he might be a “bridge” for me to later meet a woman. He is straight, and I identify as bisexual (or queer, depending on the moment). I am also the first woman he has been with who identifies this way.

For backstory, I’m not always super keen on penetrative sex and often prefer other forms of sexual connection. We talk regularly about how to achieve pleasure together and explore other ways to enjoy one another. (It’s a physical thing—too much intercourse leaves me a little uncomfortable!) I’ve never been in a serious relationship with a woman, and I’ve shared the vast reasons why I never really pursued it (family disapproval, fear of rejection).

We’ve talked about opening up down the line, and he’s also fully aware of my sexual fantasies, many of which still involve him. We talk openly about experiences we’d like to have regularly, and truth be told, I don’t really hold back from what I share. I’ve also expressed that if we were to open up, I don’t see myself pursuing men anymore, as that is not an urgent need for me. I have been fairly forward that I expect us to become non-monogamous since our first date. He has a lot of background information, and when we talk, he has free range to ask questions. I answer directly.

Overall, my only response to him is that no one can predict the future but that I can’t change this about myself. Is there a better way for me to handle it? I believe that it is validation he seeks, but are there other ways I might show my commitment? Am I over-sharing, or is his insecurity something I shouldn’t focus on personally but encourage him to work on?

— Bi Girl Meets Boy

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Dear Bi Girl Meets Boy,

Even though I’m a fellow bisexual who’s had to assure countless partners I won’t leave them for a person of another gender, I actually understand your partner’s concerns and have sympathy for the way he’s feeling.

Are you in love with your boyfriend? Do you enjoy having him as a partner? Nowhere in your question do you mention how you actually feel about the guy. If your marriage talks always focus on how badly you want to bang other people—and not on what you love about him, too—I’m not surprised he’s feeling like a bridge, regardless of whether it’s true.

Which brings me to a big question for you: Is there validity to your partner’s concerns? Nowhere in your question do you directly refute them, and your reasons for never having dated a woman come down to fears of family disapproval and rejection: external forces that have nothing to do with internal desire. You never say you don’t want to date a woman; in fact, it sounds like you kind of do. So, really: Are you pumped about being with him and other partners, or would you ultimately be happier leaving him out of it altogether? It’s true that no one can predict the future, but how honest are you being with yourself and your partner in the present? I recommend both couple’s and individual therapy to help you get to the root of these questions.

Now, let’s say I’m off-base, and you do genuinely love the guy and want an open relationship with him. To answer the end of your question, this is not a “him” issue that he needs to work on independently. You need to show him how much you love him—as much as you love the idea of the other kinds of relationships you plan to have in the future. (Since you never mentioned it once in the question, I can’t help but wonder how often you show him your love IRL.)

Do you have a sense of his love language? Is it spending quality time together? If so, plan some more date nights where he feel prioritized and you two have intimate, deeper conversations beyond, “How was your day?” If his love language is words of affirmation, let him know how much you love him, what it is about him that you love, how sexy you find him, etc. If it’s acts of service, see if you can pick up his dry cleaning on the way home from work—or whatever would make his day a little bit easier.

I don’t think your boyfriend is uneasy with your sexuality; I think he’s uneasy with the fact that you’re more focused on the next job than the job you’re applying for now, so to speak. If you do love him, start showing him—more than you showed me in your question.

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