Sexplain It: My Wife Left Me After I Came Out. Am I Wrong for Wanting Her Back?

"How can I show her that I love her, am sexually attracted to her, and want to spend the rest of my life with her?"

wife and husband upset after coming out bisexual
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I'm Zachary Zane, a sex writer and ethical manwhore (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,

Zach, because of your articles, I had the courage to come out to my wife as bisexual. She was initially supportive, but then it got worse. She ended up leaving me because she was afraid I was actually gay and using the label as a stepping-stone.

I’m heartbroken and confused. I feel like I was penalized for doing the right thing and being honest about who I am. She’s moved out, but I still miss and love her. Still, she hasn’t filed for divorce yet, so I think there’s some hope. I want to talk to her again. I want to demonstrate how much I love her and figure out a way for us to be together. I feel like she’s given up on me too quickly. How can I show her that I love her, am sexually attracted to her, and want to spend the rest of my life with her?

—Separated Bisexual

sexplain it graphic
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Dear Separated Bisexual,

My heart breaks for you! I'm so sorry you're going through this. As far as male bisexuality visibility has come in the past decade, most people still believe a slew of incorrect and negative stereotypes about bi men, the biggest one being that we’re actually just gay.

I wish I could tell you that there was some magic phrase you could say that would have her back in your arms again. But the truth is, biphobia runs deep in our collective psyches, and it’s difficult to break the belief that bi men are gay, or at the very least “weird” and “confused.”

Some readers might be wondering why I'm not telling you to move on immediately. I think there's a difference between malicious people who think bisexuals are deviants, and ignorant people who haven't unlearned false tropes society teaches us all to believe about bi men. Your wife seems to be in the latter group. She's not hateful; she's just worried about what your sexuality means for her life. And you might still be able to get through to her.

To be clear: You didn't do anything wrong by coming out, and you don't owe her an attempt to win her back. But if you want to give it a try, I support you.

If you two are still on speaking terms, ask to have an in-person conversation to discuss what your bisexuality means in the context of your relationship. “You’re experiencing this disconnect from your wife because you and she make different meanings of your bisexual identity," says sex therapist Gregory Kilpatrick, LMFT.

The first thing to clear up is that you're bi, not gay. You still love her, and want to be with her. You weren’t opening up about your bisexuality because you wanted something more or different; you were opening up because you’re married and you want to be as honest with her as possible.

Don't beg her to get back with you. Instead, use logic. Ask her to be specific about her fears so you can address each one. Say something like: "I love you. I'm sexually attracted to you. I've proven that time and time again over countless years. It's breaking my heart that you're willing to throw what we have away because of an aspect of my sexuality. So, I'd like to clear up your specific concerns about my sexuality and how it affects our relationship, so that we can make an educated decision about our future together."

Maybe she's also worried that you'll eventually want an open relationship so you can sleep with men. Or maybe she thinks you may want to come out to her family, who are notoriously homophobic, and she's dreading the massive conflict ahead. It's okay if you do want those things, BTW. Be honest with her. It may turn out that the two of you aren't compatible after all, but at least you'll be parting ways based on factual evidence and not baseless assumptions.

See where the conversation takes you. If she says she needs time to think, ask yourself how long you're willing to wait for this person to accept you as you are. "You shouldn’t wait around forever,” Kilpatrick says. “But only you can decide how long you’re willing to wait before moving on with your life."

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