I’m a bisexual woman stuck in a heterosexual relationship

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I’m a bisexual woman who has been in a relationship with a man for almost nine years . For many years, I downplayed my bisexuality because of the response I received when I was upfront in previous relationships . I also feared that my current partner wouldn’t give us a fair shot, or that he would have moral issues with it . About four years ago, I was honest with my partner and told him that I’m bisexual . But I have still been suppressing my urges for years, and I now feel as if my desires are overpowering that suppression. My partner has now given me an ultimatum to remain with him – or not be with him and explore my sexuality. I’m torn.

If you are placing equal weight on the two options, then it comes down to whether you are willing to be in a relationship with someone who does not see, accept or recognise who you truly are, or if you could comfortably move on. But, sometimes, persevering to help a partner gain education and understanding of your true sexual orientation and needs can pay off. This can be done through support groups, therapy or education through literature, videos and lectures. Moral attitudes can be more intransigent than feelings, but in this case it is usually possible to find liberal faith leaders who can offer guidance and help. It will be important to listen empathically to his true feelings as well as to express your own – especially since it will be vital to understand how much his concerns are based on his views, how much on his fear of sharing you, how much on his feelings of jealousy, and so on. You both deserve to be heard and understood, and I suspect it is only through the hard work of daring to listen to each other that you will reach true understanding, and a decision.

  • Pamela Stephenson Connolly is a US-based psychotherapist who specialises in treating sexual disorders.

  • If you would like advice from Pamela on sexual matters, send us a brief description of your concerns to private.lives@theguardian.com (please don’t send attachments). Each week, Pamela chooses one problem to answer, which will be published online. She regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence. Submissions are subject to our terms and conditions: see gu.com/letters-terms.

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