“This is not what I planned!”
You find yourself in a mixed-orientation relationship or marriage. One of you is straight and one is gay. Or one is monogamous and two are polyamorous. Bisexual and asexual, conventional and kinky, the possibilities are endless.
How do people end up in this situation? Well, orientation can be fluid: you start out one way, then things change. Or you’re confused: with orientation such a big topic in our culture, there’s enormous pressure–societal, parental, and peer–to see yourself in a certain light. Fear, shame, and lack of experience can lead to not recognizing or accepting your orientation, and keeping it a secret from partners or even yourself.
And there’s always Love, who won’t play by the rules. You’re a woman who’s been comfortably heterosexual her whole life . . . till you fall–hard!–for another woman. You’re asexual . . . then your heart is captured by one who is most decidedly sexual. And so on.
This is challenging stuff. For most people, sexuality plays a key role in relationships. When orientations appear incompatible, it’s tempting to feel hopeless. It doesn’t help that your friends and families have a simple solution: Break up.
Why stay together?
In today’s world, leaving is easy. Most relationships fail, as do half of all marriages. Why even try to stay together? Here are just a few possibilities:
- You’re crazy about each other
- You want to raise your children in one home
- You’re great companions
- You have similar visions for the future
- Your lives are intertwined: families, friends, pet names, rituals, inside jokes–the everyday magic of a shared life
So where do you go from here?
There’s no one answer. But all relationships encompass striking incompatibilities: staunch Catholics with agnostic Jews, those who lead from their heart and those who lead from their head, earlybirds with nightowls. Difference in orientation is not a death sentence.
What to expect when you work with me
Together, we’ll look at a range of ways to help your relationship work well, focusing on two broad approaches:
- Softening the areas of difference through exploration of the meanings and mechanics of sexuality for each of you: Where is there space for change? For compromise? For acceptance?
- Expanding the relationship, both sexually and otherwise, so the areas of difference form a manageable part of a much greater whole.
Change is often freighted with pain and fear. Sometimes secrets have been kept and it’s necessary to hear each person’s truths in their full complexity to heal and move on. A safe, supportive environment will provide room for all your voices, buoyed with humor and warmth, so you can understand where you are, and where you want to be.