“While I don’t often use the word, the technically precise term for my orientation is bisexual. I believe bisexuality is not a choice, it is a fact. What I have ‘chosen’ is to be in a gay relationship.” – Cynthia Nixon, actress
“I’m bisexual, can I have a significant other in each gender?”
Neal greeted me with the stereotypical Australian greeting, “Good Dye, Mate!” as he crossed my office floor to shake my hand. He displayed other typical Aussie traits including blond hair, blue eyes, a friendly manner and a direct approach.
Neal was 32 years old and hadn’t lost much of his birthplace uniqueness even though he had been in Canada over 10 years. He emigrated here with a special set of skills, he was a nurse. But, he worked in the private sector as a private nurse to those who had the need and resources to hire personalized medical services.
Neal told me he originally came here with a patient. But he was so taken with the place he stayed on. When I asked him what brought him to my office, he said,
“To be candid and to the point…I have a question…I’m bisexual, can I have a significant other in each gender?”
“That’s an interesting question, Neal. The simple answer is ‘yes and no!’ Tell me more about your situation.”
“And, that seemed fine for a while…but, then it didn’t.”
“Part of the reason I stayed in Canada was because of its tolerance. Australia still struggles with its machismo culture, and so, being bi was just not a real option in the small community where I lived,” he said so quickly, I almost missed it.
“Did you come here with a partner, Neal?”
“No, I didn’t. But, I have had one, Nelly, married these last five years. And, we get on well! We have two children, Nathaniel (Nat) age 5 and Natasha (Ash), just four months.”
“But, since you’re bisexual, do you also have a male lover, Neal?”
“I do…and that’s what created this problem for me. I have always been open about my sexuality with Nelly. But we both agreed there would only be each other, no outside relationships. And, that seemed fine for a while…but, then it didn’t. And I started this relationship with Nigel about six months ago.” he also said very quickly.
“What happened that got you to call me?”
“…damned if you do and damned if you don’t.”
“Well…Nelly and I had a huge argument when she found out. She’s talking about ending our relationship because she thinks I’m no longer committed to her or our children. I’m in a real dilemma here, Ken. I really don’t know what to do!” he said more slowly to mark, in his own thinking, the stress he was experiencing.
“And, what is Nigel’s position in all this?”
“Nigel is only 20 years old Ken, so for him, this is no big deal. He is OK with me married to Nelly or otherwise. But, he did say he still wanted half of my time if I decided to stay with her.”
“So you are in the proverbial ‘monkey in the middle’ position…damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Is that correct, Neal?”
“It sure feels that way to me! What should I do, Ken?”
“I have never thought about my sexuality being right or wrong. To me it has always been a case of finding the right person.”- George Michael, musician
“… you are unclear about your highest values.”
“Neal, you situation is really not unusual at all! It is the same dilemma every person faces who chooses one thing over another thing. In fact, regardless of their sexual orientation, every person, when they commit to one person, are excluding all the others. Can you see that, Neal?” I asked wondering about his level of openness to a new idea.
“So, even straight or gay people, when they make a commitment to another person, are excluding all the others…yes, I kinda see that. But, I’m so confused as to what I should do…I’m worrying about this all the time, even losing sleep and distracted at work…it is really terrible!”
“I suspect what is making it even harder for you, at this moment, is you are unclear about your highest values. Can you list off from the top of your head your highest four values, Neal?”
“Sure! I’m an environmentalist and sort of a pacifist, too. So,…off the top of my head, I’d say my top four values are: world peace, save the planet earth for the next generation, free healthcare for all and more happiness for everyone.”
“Neal, they sound to me more like external societal values rather than internal, personal values.”
“I don’t seek peace, unicorns or happiness!”
“It seems kind of obvious really, doesn’t everyone want world peace, Ken?”
“Nope! For example, not me! I’ve learned conflict is nature’s way to ensure we learn what we need to have a future a a species. World peace is a fantasy of people who deny the natural law of symmetry…that there is always good and bad together at all times. It’s nature’s way to keep us learning and evolving!”
“Are you saying you wouldn’t want world peace?”
“I’m saying I don’t seek fantasies, impossibilities or illusions. I don’t seek peace, unicorns or happiness! I’ve learned there is no pleasure without equal pain at all times.”
“What’s the value of living if there is no pleasure, Ken?”
“I seek pleasure all the time, Neal. But, I don’t expect it without an equal measure of pain. And, it’s a pain I can always find within my own values.”
“How do values figure in all this?”
“… enable you to be more decisive about what is most important to you…”
“You values are what you have decided is good and bad for you from your own life experiences. Your values comes from a very personal context. They can play out in your life in many forms like some of the topics you just mentioned. But, there will be a personal version of each of them. Are you with me so far?”
“I think so! That would mean then my confusion is made worse because I don’t have a clearer understanding of my highest values…is that what you’re saying?” he asked, hesitantly.
“Yes, Neal. Knowing your top four values would enable you to be more decisive about what is most important to you at this point in your life in regard to your close relationships and many other parts of your life.”
“There is a simple process, a series of 13 questions, which I can guide you through which will help you identify your highest values. Let’s complete it first and then, continue our discussion?”
“…everyone is behaving from within their values at all times, unconsciously.”
I guided Neal through the values identification process of Dr. John Demartini on his website (drdemartini.com). He was pleasantly surprised by his results. The top four values he discovered were: his nursing work; his bisexual lifestyle, his family; and his volunteerism in the community.
“This is very interesting, Ken! I never realized, until I had to complete these questions, how important my work and my family were to me.”
“There are four other things you need to know about your values. First, the hierarchy is quite stable across time. Second, with a personal crisis, it can change, and often unconsciously. Third, you can change it consciously, with an accelerated learning process called stacking. And, fourth, everyone is behaving from within their values at all times, unconsciously.”
“Ken, do you think my current situation is a personal crisis that has changed my hierarchy of values?” he asked with an air of concern.
“Neal, my best guess would be it motivated you to uncover your highest values, not reorder them.”
“But, you are saying I can reorder them if I choose to, right?”
“There is no sexuality that is greater or lesser than another.”- Jasmine Guy, actress
“That would have to be my family.”
“Yes you can, most definitely! As you consider the current order, are you OK with your work being your highest value because that suggests your job is a big deal, a vital part of who you are, what you do and what you have?” I asked, wondering about the order.
“That was the most surprising thing. I do love my job, I’m excited each time I go to work because each day is different with new people to meet and challenges to face. I really can’t see myself doing anything else that would give me as much satisfaction!” he said, with an even, calm, centred manner about him.
“That sounds like a purposeful activity for you because you look so grounded and balanced as you talk about it. What then, should be your second highest value that connects most closely to your first?” I asked him.
Neal paused for a moment in thought before saying,
“That would have to be my family. Knowing I have Nelly and the kids has sustained me so many times in the past during the most challenging days of my work. They have to be number two in my list.”
Then, he added,
“And, number three is my volunteerism for very similar reasons. When I can offer my skills to my community…this also is very empowering for me, Ken.”
“…we want safety and security more than we want variety!”
“So, that leaves your bisexual lifestyle in fourth spot now. And, my guess is that doesn’t sit OK with you right now. Is that true, Neal?”
“Yes, it doesn’t feel right! It’s like I’m not respecting my bisexuality which is a part of me.” he replied with a hint of frustration to his voice.
“This is where stacking comes in. This is where you can reorder your values to honour who you are. Are you ready to do that work, Neal?”
“What does it involve?”
“It would involve raising your awareness of all the close connections between your family and volunteerism to your highest value, your work. And, then raising your awareness of all the disconnections between your bisexual lifestyle and your work.”
“Wouldn’t that be disrespecting my bisexuality?”
“Not really! It is simply putting it in the place of most importance to you based on your current life’s experiences.”
He didn’t seem convinced so I added,
“Let me offer you, perhaps a more common example, from the heterosexual world. Humans are wired biologically to spread their genes as far as possible to ensure the survival of the species. This means every man and every woman biologically desires to mate with every other person of the opposite gender for procreation. But, when we make a social contract to commit our future to just one person, we are simply honouring our value system’s hierarchy. You could say, we want safety and security more than we want variety!”
“ In fact, who isn’t adjusting their sexual life style to their highest values, regardless of their sexuality?”
“So, you’re saying if I reorder my values and put my family and my volunteerism higher in my list, I’m just clarifying for myself what is most important to me at this point in time. Is that what you mean?”
“Yes, Neal! That’s it exactly! It doesn’t preclude what you might do in the future. That will also depend on your upcoming life experiences. What it will do is make it OK to be who you are today, doing what you do today so you can have what you have today…so the gain is a job you love, a family you love and a community role you love…but the loss is the bisexual lifestyle…that natural law of symmetry in action!”
“That really kinda makes sense. It also makes it easier to understand what some of my gay and bi friends came out when they did. It was about their values and getting clearer about them as their life evolved.”
“Yes, exactly! Are you ready to do that stacking we talked about now?”
“Yes, I am, Ken! And, I’m already getting clearer ideas of how to deal with my current dilemma.”
Neal reordered his values to align them with his highest value, his work. As he went through this accelerated learning process, he created new ideas and new options for his future. He realized to honour his highest values of his work, his family and his volunteerism, he would need to adjust his bisexual lifestyle at this time in his life.
He said to me one day, at the end of one of our consults, with a half smile of enlightenment,
“I read current research indicates at least 10-15% of humans are gay or bisexual. Yet, while more people are coming out all the time, it is no way near that number. So, there are lots of people adjusting their sexual life style to fit their higher values. In fact, who isn’t adjusting their sexual life style to their highest values, regardless of their sexuality?”
“Well said, Neal!”
“Since we are all selective in our sexuality, everyone practices some form of celibacy, masturbation and intercourse, whether heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual.” – King Ayles, writer
Until Next time…
Now you know, while biology, environment and culture determine your sexual orientation, it is your highest values which determine your sexual lifestyle. And, there are no exceptions. So, it is vital to be aware of your highest values, so you can align your lifestyle with them. Then, you can appreciate your sexual orientation, your lifestyle and yourself…and get on with your life!
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