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When I was 23 years old, I decided to make my rather conservative family happy and "settle down" with someone after a particularly bad breakup. What followed was an adventure in navigating not just my own sexuality but that of many others in my life as well. Keep reading to find out more about how it felt and how it changed my outlook on the world!
It's Not As Uncommon As You Think
While I'm now divorced, I know several people in similar situations who aren't and who actually have no desire to be either. Either because they are able to pursue the things that they have always wanted to do, because they value the harmony that exists between their family, or because they have brought children into the picture and feel they deserve stability.
A surprising number of the women that I knew as a teen when we were first coming out have actually married men for one reason or another. Some with open relationships in place, and some with more traditional expectations from their spouses. Surprisingly the one thing that ties all of us together is our own choice to bow to pressure from family and society.
The statistics that swirl around about divorce are actually a bit of a joke in the communities that I've found, with a large number of people feeling that the statistics should be broken down a lot more, either because people assume that divorce will happen more often in the LGBTQ+ community or because they feel that it won't happen as often based on any given cultural reasoning. In reality, all this tells me is that there are a lot more unhappy queer people in seemingly straight marriages.
It's Not Really Miserable In And Of Itself
My ex husband and I had problems that had nothing to do with our sexualities and everything to do with clashing personality types and my inability to tolerate infidelity. But outside of those issues we were actually pretty happy in the first few years.
I have a friend who has found a best friend she never knew she wanted in her husband, and another who found a business partner they can work with almost unceasingly. It seems that when we find someone we could tolerate being married to we choose them for reasons that have nothing to do with sexuality and everything to do with future happiness.
One friend pointed out that the assumption that marriage and sexual love have to go together might actually be the downfall of a lot of relationships. Instead, people who go into relationships like this know that they are getting into a partnership where emotions play a much smaller part than would be expected.
Not All Relationships Are Sexless
Going into my early years, I always thought that marriages where there was a "beard" or any other kind of LGBT + straight marriage would be completely sexless. Something that I now cannot believe I ever thought. My assumptions were rooted in the idea that attraction and nothing else is the reason behind sex. But there are so many reasons to be intimate, from the creation of children to the fulfillment of marriage vows, to the tending of a partner's needs.
While I do think that marriages that follow these lines tend to be a bit less sexually active than other marriages, I don't think that they vary at a level that can be truly measured in any meaningful way. Instead, I think that sex is much more likely to be planned, centering around very specific time periods, and done for a purpose.
It Doesn't Affect Our Ability To Love
When I went through my divorce at 25, I thought that I would never find a fulfilling relationship again. I was convinced that other women would judge me for doing what I needed to at the time. Instead I found that so many women with the same story were in the dating pool.
Now, 6 years later, it seems silly to me that I thought it would ever affect my ability to love or to be loved. Throughout history people have hidden in marriages that are more conventionally acceptable, but that doesn't mean that they are lesser people.