Bisexually Monogamous? On Liking a Girl Who Has a Boyfriend
She DMed me on Instagram.
I know, I know. No good things come from an Instagram DM, particularly one that reads, “Have had about ten buckets of rosé and want you to know you’re a knockout.”
I knew this and yet I couldn’t help but respond.
I had just graduated college, you see. Just like most other recent college-grads that have no idea what they want to do with their lives, I packed up my four years of accumulated shit, moved back home, and settled back into life in suburbia. Boston suburbia, to be specific. And in addition to my newfound, mind numbing boredom, I had a crush. I’ve had a crush on this girl for quite some time, actually, though I’m fairly certain she’s had no idea of this. She and I lived in the same all-female freshman dorm in college. I was infatuated with her even before I knew that I was gay, despite the fact that we had never spoken. She is stunningly beautiful and paints herself as a social justice warrior, always working to fight the patriarchy and frequently declaring “women and women first!” You can imagine how attractive this is to a quiet young queer woman who hasn’t found her own voice quite yet. So I was thrilled to hear from her, even if it was in the meek form of an Instagram DM.
I debated what to do for an appropriate amount of time (30 minutes) before thanking her, casually complimenting her Insta, and asking where she’s living this summer. I, of course, already knew that she is living in New York, but I had to act casual so as to maintain my façade of hotness and apparent mystery that I’d previously, unbeknownst to myself, cultivated. When she inevitably responded “New York,” I pounced, saying that I was coming to visit a “friend” and we should “get a drink sometime.”
I promptly texted my friend Jonathan and offered to accompany him on his trip to move into the city that following weekend.
And so, it was all arranged. I asked her to get a drink that Sunday evening, and she said Monday would be better. I extended my stay through Tuesday to accommodate this, of course asserting that a Tuesday departure had always been the plan. And yes, you may be thinking, “how absurd this girl is! To arrange a trip surrounding a single date with a girl from Instagram!” And you would be correct. It was a ridiculous endeavor, yet I plowed on fearlessly, determined to prevail.
You will be happy to know, I’m sure, that this was, in fact, one of the better dates I have ever been on. Dare I say, the best date I’ve ever been on? From the moment I arrived at the back corner of the dark and broodish bar she had chosen, we hit it off.
We talked for hours. She told me about growing up with 9 siblings and we bonded over our parents’ unfavorable responses to our coming out. We exchanged stories and chatted about obscure books, movies and our mutual love for Greta Gerwig. The time flew by, and before we knew it four hours had disappeared. I suppose I should add: I have a history of extremely awkward first dates. I think this is because I find small talk dreadful and often wind up passively waiting for something interesting to come up in conversation. This is a character flaw, I am aware, but it does not take away from the rarity that was this incredibly seamless first date conversation.
Anyway, she said that she had to babysit nearby for a family friend. I thought this was a tad odd but walked her to the building - and we kissed goodnight. We were both giddy, both feeling that rare excitement that comes with meeting someone that you actually connect with. I walked away smiling, heading to my favorite dingy restaurant to get some well-deserved $3 dumplings.
In the following days, we texted constantly. I was shocked and thrilled to have met someone I got along with so well. And through Instagram?! I’ve never even been on a Tinder date for fear of the awkwardness. But I had gone out on this limb and booked a bus ticket to New York, and it was all worth it.
So we chatted and we chatted, exchanging podcast recommendations and random anecdotes about our boring day jobs. I ordered a book that she recommended from the library, she showed me a running list of suggestions I had given her that she has written in the notes on her phone. And then suddenly: radio silence. I sent her a few nonchalant Snapchats of adorable children to test the waters but received no response back. I was confused. There I was, considering buying a bus ticket for the following weekend back to the city, my boredom in suburbia subdued only by our witty text banter. And then, the following day, I saw her Snapchat story of a boy, one whom I knew she had dated in the past. So she was clearly with him for the weekend? Dating him? It couldn’t be.
But of course, it was so. I heard from her at the end of the weekend, which I assume is when she parted ways with this boy. She started texting me adorable things come Monday (Re: Sad drunk and watching Frances Ha to feel better. Invitation to join me). So I had to ask.
After much deliberation with my trusty lesbian confidant, I tried to casually infer whether she had a boyfriend. I believe I phrased it, “Just curious though, do you have a boyfriend?”
She responded with a lengthy explanation of how, yes, she did have a boyfriend, but she is bisexual and her “needs can’t be met in a purely heterosexual relationship.” They often have threesomes to deal with her bisexuality, and in fact, she was planning on inviting me back to his apartment after our date to hook up with both of them. The only reason that she didn’t was that she wound up really liking me, and they have a mutual agreement that threesomes only work if there are no attachments involved.
Not only was I unaware of her current relationship with another human being, I had no idea that the apartment I walked her to and kissed her goodbye at was her boyfriend's apartment.
So I’m left in this tricky situation. I should say, I’m generally not one to put up with bullshit, especially when it comes to dating. If there is drama, I’m not interested. Or at least I thought I wasn’t.
I told her that day that we couldn’t talk anymore, even though we both obviously like each other. And maybe this seems like a story about just another encounter with an asshole. That’s probably because at its core, it is exactly that: a story about an encounter with an asshole. But I feel like the uniqueness here lies in the fact that she was willing to go on a date with me because I am a female, because she thought that we would not have a connection and would wind up in bed with her boyfriend. I was surprised to find that someone who preaches the motto “women and women first,” could do something so objectifying. I guess it was particularly upsetting because I really liked her. But even if I hadn’t wound up liking her, it was deceitful. I felt used, and she seemed like a fraud. Is this what putting women and women first looks like?
I can count four couples off of the top of my head that engage in this sort of semi-monogamy, where the bisexual member of the couple is allowed to hook up with people of the same sex. Three out of the four I have in mind are couples in which the woman is bisexual and is allowed to hook up with girls as long as it is strictly physical. The other couple I know actually recently got engaged—the man is bisexual and occasionally explores this with other men, but, again, does not go farther than hooking up with them.
All of these couples, and particularly the bisexual women in them, are extremely progressive and sex-positive. Or so they claim to be. Before my experience, I had thought of this arrangement as something that hip women do when they want to push the boundaries of societal expectations and assert their independence as sexual beings. But I’m now realizing that this is a paradoxical situation, or at least the one I found myself in was. Women who are aiming to explore their sexuality and break the hetero-normative relationship model wind up using other women to do so, objectifying them in the same way that they claim to oppose in any other scenario.
I suppose I was being naïve; nay, I certainly was, to think that an Instagram DM could lead to such a perfectly drama-free connection with a random girl from New York. Drama-free, it was not. Now I’m left wondering, is a bisexual monogamish relationship a reasonable, sustainable endeavor? Or is it simply another venue in which women are seen as collateral, guised by a declaration of sexual freedom?
By: Sofie Wise