Have you ever considered the possible ways we can relate to each other: family, friend, colleague, partner, lover or acquaintance? Some of these categories can overlap, either dovetailing nicely or conflicting grossly. Now, the interesting thing about being bisexual is that it doesn’t place any constraints on who can be a partner. There are other issues that count more than gender such as common interests, personality, perhaps even age and status. Even whether one is monogamous, asexual or polyamorous plays into the equation.
As I look back over the years, I see that I often have a penchant for becoming friends with folks before becoming their lover. This was certainly the case with Tina and Tanya, not their real names. The time lapse for my becoming romantically involved might seem interminable to some. In fact, I met Tina while I was in graduate school but it wasn’t until I had returned from Europe and my involvement with Tanya that Tina and I became an item. In both cases, my partners and I started out as colleagues-Tina was a fellow student and Tanya a fellow academic-before progressing to friendship and beyond. Even when the ‘beyond’ ended, I’m happy to report that the friendship remained. There is still a sense of intimacy that remains. You know the kind, where you can read someone and be there for them because so much has gone before.
Unfortunately, such is not the case for Armand and Steve, again not their real names. I actually met Armand online—this in only my particular experience by the way—and we began seeing each other with the goal of romance. Armand, like me, was in education, but I think our political views, among other things, were too divergent. Armand was rather reserved and I am rather forthright, to say the least. Going out with Armand was a lesson in the fact that opposites do not attract. If you’re going to build a fire, you need the right kind of wood and a spark. We were simply two acquaintances trying to make more out of nothing.
Finally, there is Steve, my conundrum. I think my relationship with Steve is a case of too much over the line. He and I met several years ago because of common political interests. From there, we began to talk about our personal lives, especially when I was really down and out, and then we decided to proceed further. Now, I see that it would have been better for me if the relationship had remained at the level of friendship.
Yet all of this is supposed to be covered by the single English word love. Perhaps we bisexuals need to bring back the five Greek words for love that covered everything from the love of parents, to fraternal love, love of friends and passionate love, just to name some of the possibilities. We need to be able to articulate how we feel about others with precision because nothing is a given, especially how relationships will turn out, and we can’t afford to be suspended in chaos. Out of the range of possibilities for a relationship, eventually something must solidify.