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A fling may settle bi-curiosity, but what about the collateral damage?

The question

I'm a 24-year-old woman and I've been in a committed relationship with another woman for two years. We are truly in love. Lately, however, I've found myself somewhat attracted to men. I'm not sure if this is a case of the proverbial grass appearing greener on the other side, or if I'm bisexual, but either way I think these feelings may be strong enough to warrant further investigation (and there is a certain gentleman I am interested in).

While I don't want to break my beloved's heart over something that might not end up going anywhere (and there is a good chance that if I begin seeing this boy, once his penis enters into the equation I'll come running back to my side of the fence), I also don't want to spend the rest of my life feeling incomplete and unfulfilled, wondering if I am also attracted to men.

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Would a low-key, likely short-lived fling on the side for the sake of my mental and sexual well-being be out of the question? P.S. My girlfriend pesters me on an almost daily basis to get married. I am against the idea. I do, however, harbour secret ambitions of getting married (to a dude) and having kids, all conventional-like.

The answer

Madam: The penis is a highly volatile, unstable variable. When it enters an equation, or anything else, for that matter it's hard to predict, mathematically, what the outcome will be.

It's not clear to me which came first, your bi-curiosity or your interest in one specific gentleman.

Of course, the equation could unfold as follows: Curiosity plus penis equals happiness, and you find yourself sipping chardonnay in the sunshine, a smile playing on your lips, as you inform your friends of your new-found deep fulfilment.

In your case, though, I worry that the equation would be more like: Lesbian relationship plus penis equals couple divided by anger, bitterness, and jealousy; and you minus girlfriend, angrily unpacking a tale of woe to your shrink, or doctor, or lawyer.

I'm not sure you've fully thought this through. It's not clear to me which came first, your bi-curiosity or your interest in one specific gentleman.

It seems to me the cart preceded the horse a bit - that you started wondering, first, if having a penis in your equation was something you might enjoy, then decided on a particular subject upon which to test this theory.

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But have you considered that ultimately you will have to deal not only with the member that has excited your curiosity, but also the member of the human race that comes attached to it - complete, I guarantee you, with all his own issues, baggage, quirks, hang-ups, obnoxious habits and so forth?

Moreover: Say you assuage your curiosity with this fellow, and, having checked out the "proverbial" grass on the other side of the fence, you decide your girlfriend's lawn is indeed greener, and come back.

How do you think your girlfriend will feel when she finds out you let a penis "enter the equation" of your hitherto monogamous relationship - or do you plan on keeping your little heterosexual sidebar a secret from her for the rest of your life?

And how do you think your heterosexuality test subject will feel if he finds out that the whole time you were having your "low-key and likely short-lived fling" with him you were already engaged in a long-term, committed relationship with another person - man or woman doesn't matter - whom you conveniently forgot to mention?

I think we should call a spade a spade here, and say that what you are contemplating is as old as the hills: cheating, an affair, betrayal, infidelity. Pick whatever term suits you.

I learned at around age 28, after 10 years of missteps, overlaps, double-crossing schemes that invariably blew up in my face leading to tears, bitterness and recriminations for all concerned, that the only way to conduct one's romantic affairs is one at a time.

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(I know all the polygamists and polyamorists out there will call me out, and say their way works really, really well; but this is different, partly because it involves deceit.)

If you want to be a mensch - and you do (menschiness is the goal, people; it's the grail) - then the time to inform the person you're engaged in a long-term relationship with that you're planning to sleep with someone else is before you do the deed.

In other words, if you plan on having an affair with someone, you should first break things off with the person with whom you are in love, and have, by your testimonial, a committed relationship.

You could do it nicely, of course. Tell her (a compassionate version of) the truth. Something like: "Listen, I have a little matter I need to get out of my system, this kooky kink called heterosexuality, and unless I do it I'm afraid I'll always be curious and could not in good faith go through with marrying you. Of course, I understand if you say no. But do you think you could see your way clear to waiting for me while I work this out?"

Who knows, she might. Personally, I do think you should make the jump. Hop the fence and see how you like the turf on the other side. With your fantasy of "getting married (to a dude) and having kids, all conventional-like," you sound a few degrees beyond merely "bi-curious."

If you don't check it out, it sounds to me like you will be eternally nagged by doubt and always wonder what might have been if the equation had been a little different.

David Eddie is the author of Chump Change and Housebroken: Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad. Damage Control, the book, was released in March.

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