Honey, I think I'm a Kinsey 5.
April 30, 2010 12:38 PM   Subscribe

I'm less bisexual than I thought I was. And now I'm engaged to be married to a wonderful guy who loves me and depends on me, and realizing that I cannot sustain attraction to him for more than fleeting moments every few months. How do I minimize the damage, here?

I'm a woman in my late 20s and I have been in a relationship with a man for the last four years. We got engaged fairly early on but are not yet married. Since the beginning he's known I was attracted to women... the trouble is that I've figured out I'm not really attracted to men for extended periods of time. The sex was tolerable for like the first two months. Then dull. Then increasingly bad. If I'd realized originally this was true, I never would have gotten into this relationship, but I thought we'd just lost that spark. I have only realized in the last couple months that there are literally no men on Earth who at this moment I would want to have sex with, and that occasional fleeting interest in it is not a basis for hoping that this will get better.

We get along really well as friends. He's a good guy. And I love him, but I'm not attracted to him, and I can't keep this going on forever. But I don't know how to break it off, especially as I am not ready to come out to my family. (And may not be for years. I know I should, but I have to take this one step at a time, and much of my family is very conservative.)

I have never dumped anybody before in my life; this is only my second long-term relationship and the first was not ended by me, but even short-term things were never ended by me. I keep trying to come up with a pretext to end it, but since he's a good guy I just can't do it. Then I try to tell him... and I can't bring myself to do that, either, because I'm terrified that he'll tell my family. At this point, all of our future plans have involved each other, and while my career path is such that I can make do just fine alone, the same is not true of him. (He's an artsy type.)

How do I get out of this with a minimum of pain and suffering to this person who doesn't deserve it?

Throwaway email: c2ebraza@gmail.com
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (48 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The next time you are with him alone, tell him. Blurt it out; don't worry about doing it skillfully.

There is no right time and there is no way he'll be other than devastated, but he also does not deserve to share his life with someone who it not wired to be attracted to him. The longer you wait, the more disservice you do him.
posted by Danf at 12:45 PM on April 30, 2010 [15 favorites]

I almost typed what Danf just did. Now that you know, end it as soon as humanly possible. It's going to be devastating for him no matter what--he just spent four years in a relationship that he thought was going somewhere, but in fact went nowhere.

Your family doesn't need to enter into it at this stage. If they ask, you can always say something along the lines of "It's too painful to talk about right now."
posted by emkelley at 12:49 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

But I don't know how to break it off, especially as I am not ready to come out to my family. (And may not be for years. I know I should, but I have to take this one step at a time, and much of my family is very conservative.)

I don't see why, if your current partner is not the right person for you, your idealized "right person" has to be part of the explanation. You're not obliged to stay with people you don't want to stay with, full stop. Whether your hypothetical next partner is a man or woman, there's really no ironclad connection that says if you take action A, you have to declare your interest in B.

Which is not to say that being bisexual or gay is wrong; it's not, and in a perfect world you wouldn't have to hesitate to tell anybody anything. But breaking up with a guy doesn't require you to declare that you're not interested in guys. "He wasn't right for me" is the only explanation you ever need to give, ever.
posted by Shepherd at 12:49 PM on April 30, 2010 [11 favorites]

(I was that guy once, and as illogical as it was, I internalized it to an unhealthy degree. It took years. So the less "framework" you put around this, the better.)
posted by Danf at 12:51 PM on April 30, 2010 [3 favorites]

Sometimes you need to be cruel to be kind, and in this case, being cruel is being honest. He needs to know now so he can make decisiona based on reality and not the fantasy that he sees because you were confused.

There's no pretext here. There's no way to make it not hurt him. But leading him on longer or lying to him is an even worse idea. So dumping him now with the truth is the kindest of the unkind options.

Of course, though, there's being honest and being cruelly honest. I'd not tell him that you only were able to tolerate intimacy with him for the first two months.

So be an adult and talk to him ASAP. Then you have to accept his reaction. He has a right to be angry and upset and disappointed. As long as he's not mentally or physically abusive...you kind of have to live with the fallout. But that's the curse of being a grown-up, innit? Him possibly telling your family about your bisexuality should not be the reason you choose to continue a falsehood. You can't hold him hostage because you think it's kinda sorta possible he might hold you hostage. (Will your family be less conservative in the future? Yeah, I doubted it. There's no perfect time for that, either. But that's up to you)

He's a grown-up, too, artsy or not, so he'll be able to survive. If he needs help financially for the first month, you can offer it if you feel you can. Try to be understanding about timetables for moving out and stuff.
posted by inturnaround at 12:51 PM on April 30, 2010

Get off the computer and tell him right now. Do not waste another minute of your lives on a relationship that, literally, cannot possibly work. He'll have to deal with it. You'll both be fine. Just do it right now.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:52 PM on April 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


Honesty. Don't look for a pretext, just tell him what you have said here. You can't do this without hurting him, you know that, but by telling him the truth as soon as possible you are really making the hurt less. He already knows you are bi and has been willing to keep it a secret, that helps, and we can hope that he will let you decide when to come out even after this.

Engagements end often and, assuming the wedding gifts haven't been bought, it won't really shock, or even annoy, anyone. Really. And not many expect more of a reason than that you didn't think it would work.

Do you, would he, think it was better to hear this in five - three - years?
posted by Some1 at 12:54 PM on April 30, 2010

But I don't know how to break it off, especially as I am not ready to come out to my family.

First things first: I think you'll feel less overwhelmed if you separate these two things as very separate and very distinct issues, one of which does not need to happen any time soon. Calling things off with your fiance and coming out to your family do not have to happen at the same time. Hell, they don't have to happen in the same decade.

As for being "terrified that he'll tell your family" -- does that genuinely seem like a possibility? I mean, you refer to him a couple of times as a good guy and a good friend; in my opinion, actual good guys/good friends wouldn't do something that vengeful, no matter how hurt/sad/etc. they might feel at being broken up with. If he's really a good guy, maybe you can give him the benefit of the doubt. (And if you truly don't think you can give him the benefit of the doubt in this scenario, then he's not really a good guy.)

In any case, I think you know in your heart of hearts what you need to do -- for yourself and, yes, for him. One of the hardest things about breaking up with someone you still care about -- and holy cow, have I been there -- is that you won't be able to control the amount of pain he's going to feel, and as a result you might feel a lot of guilt along with your own pain and fears. It's going to be rough for awhile, and then down the road you'll both have moved on and will feel better. He will survive, and so will you. (I know this seems literally impossible to believe right now, but BELIEVE ME: it's the capital-T Truth.) Sometimes the right thing to do and the most difficult thing to do are one and the same.

I wish you well.
posted by scody at 1:00 PM on April 30, 2010 [4 favorites]

I agree with all the advice to tell him immediately. But, if you really do love one another, there is no reason that you can't be friends after you come out to him.

Just sit him down and tell him that you have realized something about yourself and you care about him so you need to tell him the truth. He will be hurt, no doubt, but if this is who you are, and he loves you, he will be your friend, in time. You owe him and yourself the truth.
posted by jardinier at 1:03 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

I would advise against coming out to him as an explanation for breaking up with him. He will likely be hurt. That is something you cannot escape. And even the nicest person can be cruel when they are hurt. He may tell your family about your sexuality before you are ready for that. And even if he doesn't do so vindictively, people will want an explanation, he will be happy to tell them that you're a lesbian, and in this very connected world we live in, the cat is out of the bag.

When you end a relationship with someone, you do not owe them an explanation.

"I can't do this. I do not feel strongly enough about our relationship to marry you, and I need to end our relationship. You are a really wonderful guy and that has made this a very difficult decision to come to, but I know it is the right decision."

Here are the rules for how to break up in a classy way:

1. Don't make it about them. Make it about your relationship. It is already going to feel personal. Depersonalize it for them.
2. Do not make false promises. Do not say you hope to be friends if you don't actually want to.
3. Do not enter into negotiations or explanations.
4. Give them time to be upset in a private place. Don't do it in public. Don't do it in a place where you will have to hang around together afterward.
5. Do not make contact afterward until and unless they make contact. If you have loose ends that need to be wound up, then you need to wind them up there or accept that they may remain loose for a long time until the person is able to work through their sadness and deal with you.
6. No sex.
7. Reassure them. You don't have to be cruel when you are ending things with them. And your kind words don't have to be phrased in such a way that they will give them false hope. "It's not you. It's me." is cliche, but certainly in this case terribly appropriate.
posted by greekphilosophy at 1:07 PM on April 30, 2010 [24 favorites]

Of course, the best advice is to tell him right away, ASAP. But I worry whenever I see that advice because not everyone is that brave, and I could see that leading to a lot of people putting it off and doing nothing about it, thinking it has to be a big awful revelation or nothing.

So, if you can't bring yourself to bust right out with it, I think you could start the conversation by letting him know there was something on your mind that had been worrying you for a while - it is that you think you might be more attracted to women than you had thought earlier. Just have a conversation about it and go from there.
posted by Ashley801 at 1:13 PM on April 30, 2010

I disagree with the above poster who said that you don't need to mention your sexuality. You should tell him, even if he decided to be a big jerk and tell your family you're a lesbian, then you can always deny it (exes make stuff like this up all the time), but do you really think he'll do that? He deserves to know, and I think it will make him feel better. You won't feel as much loss because you aren't attracted to him, but he is attracted to you, and will be pretty hurt. You need to tell him immediately.
posted by ishotjr at 1:17 PM on April 30, 2010

I disagree with greekphilosophy. Yes, you do not 'owe' anyone anything, but breaking up with him, after 4 years, without an explanation is heartless and dismissive of 4 years of emotional intimacy.

He is going to be hurt, but you cannot do anything but give him the truth, as gently as possible. It is his choice what he does with it. If you make up a story, you are not allowing him his own life.

I agree with telling him soon and honestly.
posted by Vaike at 1:21 PM on April 30, 2010 [7 favorites]

Then I try to tell him... and I can't bring myself to do that, either, because I'm terrified that he'll tell my family

The next time you are together, start at the end by blurting out "Honey, we are not getting married." This way you won't stop yourself by not knowing how to ease your way into this conversation (you can't). Once that is out there, you don't have much choice about having the rest of the conversation.

I agree with others here that you don't have to get into the whole business of who you are attracted to, but rather focus on that you don't see any future with him.

To help him deal with the aftermath (if you are living together), assume he is going to want to be alone to process this and have yourself someplace to go for a few nights. Think about how you can eventually make all the practical things (housing situation, dividing of stuff, etc.) as easy for him as possible. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do about making the emotional stuff easier. Best of luck.
posted by mikepop at 1:22 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Then I try to tell him... and I can't bring myself to do that, either, because I'm terrified that he'll tell my family.

Living a lie is just choosing what is easy over the short term over what is easy over the long-term. Come clean to everyone. It will be hard in the short term but so much easier in the long term. He deserves to know. Any human deserves to know.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:25 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

N-thing the "don't come out as part of the breakup".

I am a flaming dyke and have never, ever had to do anything like this. But as a dyke in her 40s (shudder) I have seen enough of my friends go through this and the stories are so universal it's painful.

They are usually one of three scenarios:

1. The guy says that she'll be back as soon as she gets her heart broken by a woman. And waits. And waits. And makes moving on with a significant relationship with a woman hellish.

2. Doesn't believe it. And makes moving on with a significant relationship with a woman hellish.

3. Believes it and tells everyone about it.

You don't need this.
posted by FlamingBore at 1:28 PM on April 30, 2010 [4 favorites]

Continuing to lie as part of your break up is not the best move. You can't escape reality, here. What's he going to think when you immediately start going with lesbians upon break up? He's going to think you were lying to him when you broke up. And it would be true.

People who argue that you don't owe your fiance the truth are telling you to continue to create the same karmic problem that got you here. These are laws of the universe you can't get around.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:28 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

They are usually one of three scenarios:

1. The guy says that she'll be back as soon as she gets her heart broken by a woman. And waits. And waits. And makes moving on with a significant relationship with a woman hellish.

2. Doesn't believe it. And makes moving on with a significant relationship with a woman hellish.

3. Believes it and tells everyone about it.

You don't need this.

You can expect a situation like this to create hell. There's no way out of it. Trying to escape that hell only makes it worse. Acting as if you had nothing to do with the problem, which are what suggestions like this are, makes it worse.

Instead, if you don't want your family to know, ask him to not tell your family.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:30 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

You haven't mentioned anything "wrong" with him except for his maleness. He can't control that, therefore this is literally a case of "it's not you, it's me." He deserves to know that.
posted by desjardins at 1:50 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

greekphilosophy: When you end a relationship with someone, you do not owe them an explanation.

I don't agree with this opinion. I suppose that you could make a case that we don't 'owe' anyone anything, but why not reduce the suffering of someone that you're ending a relationship with? Any pain resulting from this break-up will have been the result of the deception that has already occurred, why extend that and draw it out and make it more complex and continue lying? I don't mean to be harsh, but you have known for a while that this relationship wasn't right and that you weren't even attracted to him.

That said, it's clear that you care about him, but you very simply have needs that he can't meet. Letting him know that it isn't about who he is, but about your needs will likely help him come to terms with the break-up in a healthy way.

I also disagree with greekphilosophy's rules for how to break up in a classy way which strike me, instead, as a list of rules for how to break up with someone when you don't want to take any responsibility for your part in the relationship or in the ending of the relationship.

If you need to end a relationship, talk to your partner about it, tell them your truth, listen to their truth - cry with them, hug them, tell them your honest feelings and be kind to yourself and them in the process. He hasn't done anything to hurt you, you don't need to act as though he's your enemy.
posted by jardinier at 2:13 PM on April 30, 2010 [5 favorites]

He hasn't done anything to hurt you, you don't need to act as though he's your enemy.

I don't think that anything greekphilosophy is suggesting is predicated on the idea of treating someone you're breaking up with as "an enemy." If anything, his suggestions -- e.g., not to make false promises, not to have breakup sex, not to tell them in public, giving them the space they need after breaking up, etc. -- are extremely respectful, and treat both the break-upper and the break-uppee as adults with real feelings and needs.
posted by scody at 2:25 PM on April 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

Are you sure this is you or your attraction to women? I've had good coupling go to meh and then bad, and I'm pretty straight.
posted by Phalene at 2:35 PM on April 30, 2010

When you end a relationship with someone, you do not owe them an explanation.

What this advice is presumably meant to communicate is that you shouldn't let yourself get bound up in recriminations, pettiness, and the awful tactical maneuvering characteristic of bad breakups. That's not unreasonable. That said, greekphilosophy's advice is well-intentioned but wrong in a typically MeFi way.

This guy's let himself be vulnerable with you, expecting (and receiving, I assume?) reciprocity. This is your chance to fulfill the very real social/emotional contract between you by now being as good and honest a person as he dreams of. Indeed, to be the strong and honest person you feel you are. Do some thinking in advance about what you want to say (so as to avoid counterproductive babbling), talk to him very very calmly, and then - when the inevitable questions and anger and blah blah blah come out - do your best to address them forthrightly. Take that opportunity to be good to someone who loves you.

It'll be bad, because love breaking is bad. There's no getting past that. Well, there are worse things than a breakup. For instance: a bad marriage.
posted by waxbanks at 3:20 PM on April 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

Hold the Mutha Freakin' phone.

The bottom line is that she is no longer attracted to this person. All of you people saying "you have to come out to him" because he deserves to know... That's CRAP. *IF* she was *just* no longer attracted to him she should still get out of the relationship. And she wouldn't have any additional responsibility. "I am no longer attracted to you" applies in both cases.

I fail to see why she needs to divulge anything else in this case. If I liked doing more research on the topic I am positive I could find AskMefi questions who fall into that EXACT category having been asked in the past.

And really? After a multi-year relationship do you honestly believe she's going to stroll right out and start a relationship with a woman? I'm going to guess that she's got some healing/grieving to do.

It kind of reads to me like you're all saying "It's your fault you filthy bisex..., I mean, dyke" and that's pretty pathetic. It's not her fault. Whether man, woman, straight, bi or gay... this kind of thing happens all the time.
posted by FlamingBore at 3:23 PM on April 30, 2010 [5 favorites]

All that said, you're not breaking up with The Idea of Fucking a Male. That's worth thinking about, later on: this is an 'It's not gonna work, how do I dump my fiance?' post, not a sexual-identity post.
posted by waxbanks at 3:24 PM on April 30, 2010

FlamingBore:It kind of reads to me like you're all saying "It's your fault you filthy bisex..., I mean, dyke" and that's pretty pathetic.

Not saying that at all. I'm speaking as a man who once came out to and broke up with his own girlfriend, explaining that he was gay and helping her deal with that. So, just calling for compassion. For treating someone how you would want to be treated.
posted by jardinier at 3:33 PM on April 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

If you're worried about your family, tell them you realized you weren't as compatible as you thought you were. You can tell him the same thing, with more details. But if you don't feel comfortable about coming out to your family, getting married THEN coming out and getting divorced, or getting married and having relationships with women on the side (which your family will find out about through, probably by accident, making everything worse) sounds like a terrible idea, from the viewpoint of a conservative family.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:46 PM on April 30, 2010

have been in a relationship with a man for the last four years. We got engaged fairly early on but are not yet married. Since the beginning he's known I was attracted to women... the trouble is that I've figured out I'm not really attracted to men for extended periods of time. The sex was tolerable for like the first two months.

I'm terrified that he'll tell my family.

Not to be cruel, because you're in a really tough situation and you deserve to live a life that can make you happy too, but, you have to run that risk.

You admit that you have been dishonest for more or less 3 years and ten months. That's a big chunk of his life that, fairly or not, he may well feel that he wasted on a lie.

He planned to spend the rest of his life with you; that plan is going to be thrown out the window, and he's going to wonder if it was his fault. Unless you want that to haunt him, he needs to know that he didn't undo the future he, as of now, wants. So tell him, and hope he'll treat you more fairly than you have treated him.
posted by spaltavian at 3:58 PM on April 30, 2010

jardinier - I can appreciate that. And I respect you for handling things the way you did. I'm certain your ex appreciates it too.

But here's my thing.

Comments like:

"Acting as if you had nothing to do with the problem"


"continue to create the same karmic problem that got you here. These are laws of the universe you can't get around."

Sound a lot like blaming the OP. [and now that I take a close look I see it's just one commenter making those comments].

The OP entered into a relationship a bisexual. She didn't cheat. Lie or steal. She developed into someone who is no longer attracted to her mate or anyone else with male genitalia. What she does from that point forward is her business.
posted by FlamingBore at 4:02 PM on April 30, 2010

That's completely true, FlamingBore. What she does in the future does not make her a good or bad person.

How you treat someone who has done nothing wrong and whom you claim to love does make you a good or bad person. And not telling them the truth when that truth costs you little and might help them a great deal is jerkish at best. It's not "killing someone in a hit and run" badness, but it's still not good.
posted by Justinian at 4:10 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

FWIW, I have had two male friends whose wives left them for women. Both had been married 10+ years...one with two young children, the other with none. All the adults involved were in their early forties. This may just be anecdotal, but the one factor that softened the devastating blow for them was that it was women they were being left for. I really, really think it softened the blow. So yes, do tell about the sexual identity issue.
posted by teg4rvn at 4:13 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

FlamingBore:It kind of reads to me like you're all saying "It's your fault you filthy bisex..., I mean, dyke" and that's pretty pathetic.

If you can't participate in AskMe without casting completely baseless, nasty and charged aspersions on other people posting in good faith, then you need to take a step back. No one has said anything like what you claim.

It's great the OP is ready to live honestly, and hopefully eventually, openly. Of course it isn't her "fault" that she's lesbian, or that the relationship is ending, because "fault" implies there is something wrong with she is or what is happening. It's fine to be lesbian, and this relationship obviously needs to end. The problem is that it sounds like the OP has been least increasingly unsure that she could be in a relationship with a man. The sex has been "intolerable" to her for ~3 years and 10 months! This is something she should have brought to her fiance's attention a long time ago- at the very latest when they first got engaged.

The relationship is ending at such a late and inopportune time because of a choice she made. Just saying "it's over and I don't owe you an explanation" is probably going to fuck up a guy, that by all accounts as done nothing wrong, a lot more because he'll wonder if he fucked up his own future. It's not the OP's fault, but it certainly isn't his, and he should know that if the OP cares about what this break-up will do to him.
posted by spaltavian at 4:17 PM on April 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

[comment removed - guys, this needs to go to MeTa if it's not talking to the OP and the OP's question]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:05 PM on April 30, 2010

I'm with FlamingBore. If you don't feel comfortable telling him that you're attracted to women, don't. There really is no reason to--he's going to be hurt no matter how you choose to break it off. Concealing something so personal is in no way mistreating him, because you don't know how he might use that knowledge against you after the break up.
posted by Lobster Garden at 5:06 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you do find that you're truly so concerned about him telling your family that you are considering lying to him - then just tell him that. Tell him that you want him to know the truth because you care about him.

If after that kind of honesty he gets angry or irrational or threatens to do it - just walk away and tell your family that you didn't want to hurt him so you told him you're a lesbian to make it easier for him. You're already concealing that truth from them, and you can always come out to them later - but at least you tried to be honest with your fiance.
posted by jardinier at 5:38 PM on April 30, 2010

Whether you make it about leaning more towards women or not, I think you'd do well to follow the general guidelines mentioned in this previous much quoted comment.

And you really should just get it over with. I assume you live together, so ask a friend if you can stay with them for a bit or get a hotel, so that after you break up you can leave. I doubt either of you will want to be stuck together right afterward.
posted by grapesaresour at 5:49 PM on April 30, 2010

grapesaresour is right on in suggesting Miko's comment - especially #7. I've gone through a break up recently and not being able to ask questions feels like torture - so give him a chance to talk to you about it.
posted by jardinier at 5:56 PM on April 30, 2010

End it as soon as possible, but if coming out to right now will seriously mess up your life, don't tell him you're a lesbian.

However, if you don't tell him, you should tell him first when you do decide to come out.

If telling him will mess up your life then telling him is a bad idea because you don't know who else he's going to tell. Sure you can ask him not to tell your parents, but he could tell someone, who tells someone, who tells someone. etc and its back to your parents. Or what if he tells a friend and that friend blabs and now it's all over your social circle, before you want to be out.

Yes, you can ask him not to tell another soul, but I don't think he's likely to not tell anyone at all, given that he's about crushed.

If it gets back to your parents, people are saying just tell them that he made it up - and now you are lying to your parents instead of lying to Fiance. I don't know why it's better to lie to the 'rents than to Fiance. To me there is a difference between not telling someone you are gay and actively spreading lies about your sexuality. Also, if your parents are the type to take it badly when/if you come out, you really don't want them to also be all pissed off about how you lied to them when you broke up with Fiance.

And what if that gets back to him that you said it was a lie and he confronts you about it?

As for the break up - maybe something along the lines of - you love him but you not like you should if you're going to marry him. (I wanna say "love him but not in love with him" but that's way too cliche). You really, really, really thought your feelings for him would shift from "love" to "in love" but you've realized in the last few months that this is not going to happen. You know you fucked up and should've talked about it with him sooner or ended it sooner or done something to avoid it ending like this and you're really sorry about that. He deserves someone who feels for him what he feels for you (and that's not you). I agree that you should also crib from Miko's comment.
posted by nooneyouknow at 6:28 PM on April 30, 2010

I did this. For four years, even.

It's six years since we broke up and I am married to a wonderful woman and I have never been happier.

I'll tell you what I tell everyone else: the sooner you do this, the sooner you both can move on and find happier times. It's sad; you might both be heartbroken for a while. But the only way things can start getting better is to take this first step. And then handle everything else one step at a time.

I truly wish you both all the best. Please MeMail me if you want to talk.
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:40 PM on April 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

My first love was gay, and when he broke up with me he didn't tell me that was why he didn't want to be with me. There didn't seem to be any clear reason for the break up at all. He kept saying he loved me and wanted me in his life. And so I thought it was that he was having some personal issues (and in fact he was) and kept hoping for years that he would come back to me when he got himself somewhat together. I never really put things with him behind me until I accidentally found out he was gay about four years later. It would have been so much easier for me to get over him if I'd only known the truth from the beginning.

So yes, tell this man the truth, that you have realized you are not bisexual, but a lesbian, and that you need to break up. You can ask him not to tell your family and hopefully he'll honour that. You say he's a nice guy, so treat him as though he's a trustworthy adult rather than causing him the extra anguish of possibly blaming himself or/or nursing hope that the two of you can get back together so you can insure yourself against what he might theoretically do. He's given you four years and was ready to give you the rest of his life. Being honest and considerate is the least you can do in return.
posted by orange swan at 8:37 PM on April 30, 2010 [9 favorites]

Is there a third road here?

I mean, despite the Hollywood/princess model, it's definitely possible to can love someone and spend time with them and even be married to them without having sex with them.

Consider all the plus/minus aspects of your relationship, not just the sex part. Then think about whether you already have the workings of a good arrangement here.

I mean, he's already familiar with your sexual preferences so that part won't come as a shock to him.
posted by rokusan at 8:47 PM on April 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

orangeswan's comment REALLY resonated with me.

He wasn't my first love, but I dated a man who later turned out to be gay/bi and I would have benefited greatly to have known this at the time of our breakup. Instead, I was incredibly confused for a long time about "what I did wrong" (probably not much).

I suspected that he might have been gay/bi, and we only dated for a few months, so I guess that your finace of 4 years probably already knows where this situation is heading (if your sex life is as minimal as you implied).

I don't pretend to know the many pitfalls of being lesbian / coming out. And maybe you will decide this is not the right time for you, which is certainly your right, and and no one ought to fault you for protecting yourself, but what I do know is how much it would have helped me to learn the truth sooner than I did.
posted by cranberrymonger at 10:27 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

"When you end a relationship with someone, you do not owe them an explanation." - greekphilosophy

While this is literally true, I don't think it's nuanced enough for the situation above. What you have a strict moral obligation to do is rarely more than a subset of what you should do. But when reading your reply I remembered reading some more generally applicable breakup advice on AskMeFi once, so I looked that up:

"The only absolute rule is that you should give the person on the receiving end of the break-up the dignity that they deserve. A twerp who can barely remember your first name, an abusive partner, and a doting companion all deserve different break-ups." - greekphilosophy

Exact classifications are a matter of opinion, but I think that a good guy engaged to her for years whom she loves counts as a doting companion, and I think that in this case the dignity that he deserves precludes having to wonder what really happened to end that companionship.
posted by roystgnr at 6:17 AM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

you've been mostly unattracted to him physically since +2months into your relationship, but you've been with him for 4 years anyway?
Because you think he's a really decent, good, great guy?

You need to sit him down, and you need to tell him that you have been massively unfair to him.
That he is an awesome, fantastic person, so much so that you have been with him *even though* you haven't been clicking with him for awhile. That you are sorry, because a guy as awesome as he must be for you to have wanted to be with him for this long anyway, genuinely and truly DESERVES to be with someone who is totally and thoroughly interested in HIM. Because there are tons of those people out there, and so you need to stop being unfair, and do the right thing by him and let him BE with one of those people.
Let him know that it hurts you. Let him know that you love him. Let him know that you feel guilty, because honestly, it's a pretty shitty thing to do to someone even unconsciously (I know, I've done it too), but that because you care for him, you can't continue doing this to him.

And now - you think about all that. If you think he is a decent person, and you are a decent person, then that is probably all the motivation you'll need to stick to the often painful decisions you have to make while breaking up, in his, and your best interests.

I actually think bisexuality/lesbianism is a little besides the point of not being attracted to HIM, and doesn't *necessarily* have to enter the conversation. Eg if you'd left that out and just mentioned the 'not being sexually attracted to him past 2 months' this would still be the same advice.

Also, imagine this guys future girl-friend -type. Someone who will actually suit him, support him in the way he needs to be supported, and feel supported by him. What would she be like? Is he getting out in the circles he needs to be in to meet this type of person? Have you mentioned to him the qualities that you think other people or that type of girl would really admire in him or would click well with other people?
One breakup, ok, don't emulate it because it was terribly co-dependent of me, but before I left he had a new flat, was spending more time with new friends, and I'd spent enough time talking about it that he honestly did feel like there was someone (ones) out there for him who would work really well with him (e.g. 'I know this sounds strange, but I really admire the way you are so physically affectionate, and give such romantic gifts - I mean, you know it's not my thing, but there are a lot of girls out there who would really appreciate that and feel really cherished' - You see, I'm more a, you did the *dishes* and suggested something we enjoy doing together? You DO love me!).
For the love of golly, do not directly copy my example, but do you get the idea? The Five Love Languages gave me a better idea of which ways I figured he'd be happier with another partner, and what his particular strengths were.

Good luck.
posted by Elysum at 7:29 AM on May 1, 2010

I think you should not mention that you are no longer attracted to men. You should just say that you aren't ready for marriage and to settle down. Don't get personal or nasty - two people can be great wonderful sexy people, but not right for each other. Then in a few years maybe you could come out if you want.

Why? Because many guys have this odd thing about being left for another women. I knew one who tried multiple times to kill himself because of the shame. He said everyone knew and he was so ashamed that he wasn't enough of a man to make his woman not want another woman. I didn't really understand this sort of shame, but males I have mentioned it too say it is perfectly understandable and logical to them.
posted by meepmeow at 10:25 AM on May 1, 2010

Whether or not you tell him about your sexuality (I'm having a hard time seeing why not, as he could easily tell your family that you are a bisexual with the information he has now, but that is neither here nor there) you do owe him some basic dignities:

First of all, this is going to hit him like a Mack truck. Not that it won't hurt you, but you're getting hit by a lava flow and have had plenty of time to mentally prepare and fall out of love. If you live together you should have a place to stay set up for after you break up. Let him have the mutual friends and hang outs, and allow him time to be angry and petty and mean. The kindest thing you can do is remove yourself completely for several months . That's not to say that you can never be friends - in fact I think you could have a great basis for friendship - but he will need time to rebuild his life without you. Finally, you should absolutely do this sooner rather than later - time is what he needs, and you've already used up 3 years, 10 months too much of that.

Best of luck to you, and I do hope you are able to be friends in the long run.
posted by fermezporte at 1:49 PM on May 1, 2010

How would you want to be treated if the shoe was reversed? If you love him, then treat him with love - but he has to be told.
posted by Pressed Rat at 3:27 PM on May 1, 2010

I'm so sorry for both you and your significant other, but more for him. Tell him ASAP.
posted by boghead at 11:58 AM on May 2, 2010

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