Michelle is a 42-year-old, cisgender female who describes herself as black and married. She is currently sorting through whether she is gay or bisexual, and in the process she and her wife have opened up what was previously a monogamous marriage.
Major themes in this episode include discovering (and re-discovering) sexual orientation, mismatched libido in a marriage, infidelity and honesty within a marriage, and discovering physical desire in her 40s.
EPISODE TRANSCRIPT (CLICK TO OPEN)
LEAH: Hi friends. Before we start today, I want to let you know that I’ll be teaching an online master class next week on Wednesday, November 20 called Tune In To Your Turn-ons.
Recently, I was talking to a woman about her sexual dissatisfaction in her marriage. I asked, “If I could waive a magic wand and make anything better in your sex life, what would it be?” She said, “My first instinct was to help my husband understand my needs but then I thought how can he understand them if I’m not sure what they are?” I recognize that dilemma so clearly. Not only do I hear it from my clients frequently, but I spent most of my life not knowing how to communicate my desires because I didn’t know what they were either.
If this rings a bell, this master class is for you. We’re going to spend two hours talking all about discovering your personal turn-ons. We’ll do some exercises on the call, all with your clothes on plus I’ll give you tons of resources to help you figure out what you want in the bedroom. And know this, turn-ons are not just what happens during sexy time, they’re also the ways we connect with ourselves and our partners intellectually, intimately, in all aspects of our life. I invite you to a new life where sexual satisfaction is easier to achieve because you know what you need.
I hope you’ll join us Wednesday, November 20 for Tune In To Your Turn-ons. There’ll be plenty of time to answer questions on the call. And, if you can’t make it live a recording will be available. All of the information is at leahcarey.com/tunein. I can’t wait to see you there!
LEAH: Welcome to Good Girls Talk About Sex. I’m sex educator and sexual communication coach Leah Carey and this is a place to share conversations with all sorts of women about their experience of sexuality. These are unfiltered conversations between adult women talking about sex. If anything about the previous sentence offends you, turn back now! And if you’re looking for a trigger warning, you’re not going to get it from me. I believe that you are stronger than the trauma you have experienced. I have faith in your ability to deal with things that upset you. Sound good? Let’s start the show!
LEAH: Agreeing to be a guest on this show demonstrates a special kind of courage. The courage to be vulnerable and as honest as you know how to be at that moment. That’s why I love it so much when listeners contact me and say they’d like to do an interview. And I have to admit, today’s interview may be my favorite one yet.
Michelle contacted me to say she’d been listening and she hadn’t heard anyone tell a story like hers and she’s right. Hers is a story of discovering and rediscovering her sexual preferences throughout her 42 years. To be clear, I don’t actually think her story is that uncommon. Many of us experience shifting desires as we grow and age, but the openness and honesty and humor with which Michelle is approaching this confusing journey is really remarkable.
As for the formal introduction, Michelle is a 42 year old cisgender woman who describes herself as black and married to her wife of 17 years. Her sexual preference and preferred relationship structure are currently under question.
Today’s episode runs a little longer than usual because our conversation was so amazing that I couldn’t cut it. I think you’ll enjoy every minute of it. I’m so pleased to introduce Michelle!
I am absolutely thrilled to be talking with you today. You contacted me because you have been listening to the podcast and I’m so excited to dive into your story because it sounds really interesting. So welcome!
MICHELLE: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
LEAH: The first question that I ask everyone is what is your first memory of sexual pleasure?
MICHELLE: That’s a good question because I spent a long time in my life avoiding it. I really, really did. I ran from it. It was a crush on my first grade teacher. I thought she was really pretty and I just remember sitting in class and surrounded by all these kids and feeling weird and different. And I would just kind of daydream a lot and I would daydream that she was kind of walking seductively towards me. And then she would get near me and that was the end because I didn’t know what was supposed to go next.
So I would just feel all this tingling and everything like that and just excitement and just heart racing and everything like that with just the thought of her walking towards me, looking at me a certain way. I didn’t know what she was supposed to do after that so that was it.
LEAH: Fascinating. So when you say that you ran away from pleasure, what does that mean? MICHELLE: I kind of viewed sex not in a good way just because it seemed to me that people
acted really stupid regarding it. [LAUGHTER]
MICHELLE: I always felt a sense of danger because of it. Because I kind of developed early physically, it just always seemed like older men were always looking at me or walking to close or whatever the case, saying inappropriate things and stuff like that when I was like 11, 12. And it just felt like I got to hide from this, I got to do something with this because someone’s going to try and take this from me. And by that age, I’d already been touched by somebody
inappropriately, so I already knew what that was like and I wasn’t trying to have that happen again.
LEAH: I’m sorry to hear that. We don’t need to delve into this any deeper than you’re comfortable with, but did you know at the time that it happened that it was inappropriate touch?
MICHELLE: Yes, I was probably 7 and we kind of always had issues with housing stability when I was young. And so, my mom was trying to crash with this woman who had three kids of her own. And one of them, the oldest daughter was the same age as my oldest brother and they were in school together. And so I stayed in the room with her and her youngest sister and when the mom would go out to work at night like we would kind of sneak out to her boyfriend’s house. She was probably around 16, 17.
And we were at a house party in the basement, I remember that. It was at his house and we were just hanging and then we went back home. And that night was when it happened and I think he saw me at that party. He was probably older than her, probably in her early 20s or something like that and he saw me at that party. I’m a little kid. It’s obvious I’m a little kid, I was 7.
And the next thing I know that night like him sneaking in the room and we were sleeping in order, I was closest to the door then came the girl’s younger sister and then her against the wall. I’m way shorter than she is, so when you come into the room, yeah, it may be dark but I’m physically smaller than your girlfriend. Dude, like seriously.
And so he comes over and starts going in my pants and I grabbed his wrist and I’m squirming around telling him to stop and he’s like shushing me, you know what I mean. So you know at that point you know the whisper of a child. You know that’s not the voice of your girlfriend.
And so he wasn’t going to stop and I knew instinctively that the middle sister would help. And so I kind of turned over and shook her and was like, “Hey.” I said her name. “Wake up.” And she jumped up faster than anyone I have ever seen jump up, and she started punching on him and chased him. She knew exactly what was happening and she chased him out like it was nobody’s business and I knew instinctively that she would help me.
LEAH: Do you think the same thing had happened to her? Is that why she knew what was going on?
MICHELLE: That’s a good question. I had never thought about that. Maybe, I mean, the dude was a skeeze. You just never know. But I actually got to see her later in high school but I didn’t have the vocabulary at that time to say thank you. Now as adults, I found her on Facebook and I said, “Hey, you probably don’t remember me but this is what you did for me and I’ll always remember that. Thank you.”
LEAH: I bet that meant a lot to her regardless of how much she remembered.
MICHELLE: Right. Yup. That was exactly it.
LEAH: So you talked sort of about running away from the idea of sex and pleasure. At what
point did you allow that to become part of your life?
MICHELLE: When I went to college.
MICHELLE: It just seemed that everybody was doing it and I didn’t really know. I was with this dorky thing when I was in eighth grade.
MICHELLE: We both turned out gay and it was so geeky or whatever. I didn’t kiss anybody until I went to college and then that happened my first year. And it was just like well, I’m kind of here and there’s some cute guys here. I was really intimidated by the girls but I was like, “There some cute guys here and they seem to be interested so why not try something?”
And I was freaked the hell out and scared but it was just like there are cute dudes here. One guy in particular that I ended up having a crush on and messing around with all throughout college and I think that kind of opened me up to the idea of it.
LEAH: The idea of pleasure?
MICHELLE: Yes. Anything kind of sexually. I let it be known that I had a crush on him and I was
open to the idea of messing around with him. [LAUGHTER]
MICHELLE: I mean he’s a teenage guy. Here’s a girl that was decent looking and I had a really great body back then. He’s like sure why not and she’s open to giving him oral sex. Let’s go!
LEAH: So was that your first sexual entree with giving him oral sex? MICHELLE: Yes.
LEAH: And did you enjoy it?
MICHELLE: It’s interesting. The act itself, because I kind of have an oral fixation so that helped, but it was cool because I enjoyed the power of it honestly. I’m not really a fluids person so that part kind of grosses me out.
I told him there’s never going to be a time that I’m going to be on my knees in front of you. If you want me to do this, you need to lay it on the table or lay down or something. But I’m not going to be on my knees and you standing over me. And he did it because he wanted it. So I recognized this ability to get him to do certain things with that being on the horizon if you know what I mean. I can’t say that it was like, “Oh my God! This is so good! This is so great!”
MICHELLE: So it was nothing like that, but I enjoyed the power dynamic of it and I really liked him and I wanted him more in different ways and I wanted a relationship with him and stuff, and a young me was like that was a way to be close to him because he was very non-committal because he had a lot of girls. So that was a way for me to kind of get some closeness with him. It wasn’t ultimately what I wanted in terms of the amount of closeness in the relationship and all of that but it was something, I think.
LEAH: Yeah. And so was there reciprocity? Did he go down on you? MICHELLE: Nope.
MICHELLE: Oh, gosh. Young black dudes.
MICHELLE: I’m glad because I’m a huge fan of hip hop and stuff. That’s such a big thing in Caribbean music and stuff is not going down on a woman and blah blah blah, but that has changed thankfully. Not so much in reggae and stuff but in hip hop, yeah. Like you got dudes saying this stuff so I think there’s more role models for them that that’s not taboo. But back then, that’s not happening.
LEAH: That is fascinating.
MICHELLE: So he would touch me or whatever with his hands like there would be fingers and stuff like that, but that was about as far as it would go between us. But not oral sex, oh God, no. I had slept with my first guy and my first woman my senior year. Not at the same time.
MICHELLE: I hadn’t worked my way up to that yet but it was like months apart. But first came the guy and that was when the Internet was just being created. Chat rooms were the thing if you know what I mean.
And so I met this guy, we chatted and stuff and I went to go visit him. He was in North Carolina and I was up North so I went to go and visit him first and that was the first time anyone had gone down on me. It’s so dorky but when he went down on me, my eyes were in the back of my head and I kind of almost blacked out. I had never felt anything like that. He wanted to do it and I was like, “But you don’t have to. Why do you want to do this?”
MICHELLE: But he wanted to do it because he wasn’t actually into receiving it himself. Because I was like, “This is a thing that I know how to do. I’m pretty good at it. So I’d like to do that on you.” And it just wasn’t his thing and I remember thinking, “Is he normal?” Like I thought typical guys liked that kind of thing and I wanted to do it to him because he wanted to do it to me but he didn’t want it so I didn’t do it.
And I remember I was so embarrassed asking him this but somebody had to tell me the answer. I was like, “Am I still a virgin?” Because I didn’t know how much he had done because I was that blacked out in my head. I knew he was going down on me orally but I didn’t know if anything else had happened. And so I was like, “Am I still a virgin?” And he’s like, “Yeah. You’re still a virgin.”
And then maybe a month or so later, he came up to visit me in school and that was when we had full on sex and it was multiple sessions overnight. I remember whenever I tell folks it was really good and I would tell them I was gay, they would be like, “Well how can you be gay? You had a really good experience.” And I’m like, “That has nothing to do with it. What are you talking about?”
LEAH: Totally separate issues. [LAUGHTER]
MICHELLE: Right. He was great. He was very sensitive. He was like, “If this hurts too much, let me know and I’ll stop.” And when it hurt, he asked me if I wanted to stop and I was like, “Nope. Keep going. Keep going.” And he did and he was just really caring and kind. And I often said, this is terrible, but if I could remember what he looked like and his name. And I never saw him again. I would give him the biggest hug because I’ve heard of so many horror stories and he was very gentle and concerned that I was having a good time and that he didn’t push too far or anything like that. He was amazing.
LEAH: That is really lovely. So you mentioned it was a few months after that that you had your first experience with a woman. At what point did you recognize that you were interested in that?
MICHELLE: I had loved women my whole life honestly. And I was freaked out and scared because I didn’t know anybody else like me. In grade school and in high school and having such a crush on my gym teacher and stuff like that, a black woman, and just feeling isolated because I was like, “Was anyone else feeling this way?” I just felt so weird in my house. The f-word and sissy and stuff like that flew around if you get what I mean.
That’s why I knew at 6, don’t say anything. You love your teacher, don’t say you “love” your teacher. I just knew and so growing up, I just felt really lonely. But I have loved women my whole life and chat rooms had started popping up. And I said let me go to a gay chat room and see what’s happening.
And there happened to be a woman on my campus in the chat room and I was like, “Oh my goodness. She’s here and this is actually a possibility.” Young people who are growing up on it just don’t know what that was like. Like we would be in these chat rooms all night and skip classes and stuff and it was a whole new world of experiences that that was opening me up to and that’s why I felt like it was a possibility finally.
LEAH: And so when you met her in person, was there chemistry? Were you attracted to each other or was it a sort of like we’re both here, so we might as well do it?
MICHELLE: I was attracted to her and she thought I was cute. And I was like, “If you think I’m cute, then I think you’re cute. Cool. Let’s do something.” But I think a lot of it was just kind of new excitement and also very limited prospects.
MICHELLE: It’s terrible to say.
LEAH: So was it a good experience?
MICHELLE: It was good. It was just weird to me because there was more fluid. [LAUGHTER]
MICHELLE: And I am not a fluid person and there’s like this gate that opens up and it’s not like a dude. It’s like this hose you could redirect and it only comes out at a certain point and you can just aim it.
MICHELLE: But it was very different and I remember being like, “Wow. I’m not sure I can continue doing this. This is a lot of fluids.”
MICHELLE: You have to get all up in there. This is a totally different experience really. But I love the sound that women make. To finally be able to do it was kind of intoxicating. That helped me get over my little fluid issue or whatever.
LEAH: It’s so funny to hear you talk about fluids because I have that exact same thing. I am not here for the whole bodily fluid thing.
LEAH: I’ve talked about this a lot of times here but that kept me from giving blow jobs because I was not down with the idea of ejaculate in my mouth. I didn’t know there were other options and even though I was absolutely obsessed with the idea of being with a woman, I was really nervous about the whole fluid issue. And I have to admit, with men, there are ways like you said, to deal with it. With women, it’s not going so clean and easily dealt with.
MICHELLE: Right. I was nervous the first time I had sex with a woman because I was like, “Oh, God. I waited my whole life and now I’ve done it. I don’t know if I can continue doing it.” That fluid thing is real man.
LEAH: It’s real!
MICHELLE: And so what are you supposed to do? You kind of get used to it, if you know what I
mean, like this is the path you have chosen. [LAUGHTER]
MICHELLE: You get used to it but ideally, it’s not really something you want to deal with. And some people can get all up in there and that’s their thing. More power to them but if it’s not, you just got to get used to and look at the other things that you enjoy and focus more on that.
LEAH: I have not said this out loud before but because of the fluid issue, I’m somewhat agnostic about women’s pussies. And when it comes to playing with women, I am much more interested in the waist up. Not because I am totally not interested in that whole situation, but because I got the fluid issue.
MICHELLE: Because you know it’s coming so you got to steel yourself to it. LEAH: Well, fascinating. It’s been good to have this conversation. [LAUGHTER]
LEAH: Recently, on Apple Podcasts, loveyourself83 left a review saying, “I am addicted to this podcast. It’s very empowering for women to get to hear other women about their sexual journeys. I feel a kinship with each of the women who has been on the podcast. Thank you, Leah, you’re such a great host.” Thank you, loveyourself83!
I also feel a profound kinship every time a woman opens up to tell her deepest stories and I’m grateful to you for your feedback. And there’s more kinship to be found at Patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex
There are extras for every episode posted there including today’s conversation with Michelle. Today’s extras include Michelle talking about the inner strength that allowed her to get help when she was being touched inappropriately, whether her adult attraction to men was real or manufactured in order to feel normal, and, of course, the extended Q and A. You can find all of this and more at Patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex.
LEAH: So you’ve had this first experience with this woman. You’ve had this first experience with a man. At that point, were you comparing them and saying, “I think I kind of enjoyed the female more or was there more to that story?”
MICHELLE: I didn’t really compare honestly. I was messing around with guys because there was a point where I realized my attraction to men was dying. It just was going away and the things that I would typically notice about them or enjoy about them, I just wasn’t anymore.
And I was sitting with one of my friends watching these programs like these half-naked nice bodied black dudes on the screen and typically I’d be like, “Oh my goodness. He’s so fine.” And there was nothing. And I remember being panicked about that. I was just like, “What the fuck.” Because my friend was reacting like we always had. And I was like, “Why is this not happening to me? I just don’t understand what’s happening.”
And it just felt like that time, that desire in my life was just fading away and I didn’t know how to get it back. And so I was like, “Is this just desire for women kind of getting stronger and kind of taking over?” And after some time really thinking about it and analyzing it, I just was like, “I think
that I’m gay. There is nothing left for men here.” I remember sitting down with my friends one by one telling them, “Hey. I got something to tell you like I think I’m gay.” And most of them were like, “We know that.”
MICHELLE: And it was just like, “How dare you? Let me have this moment.” [LAUGHTER]
MICHELLE: Just because the people in my whole life were like, “Are you gay? Are you gay?” And I’m like, “No, I’m not. I’m into dudes. Sorry.” They kind of just felt that from me. But it was only at that point where I was like, “Sometimes that was actually right.”
LEAH: So you meet your wife. How long have you two been together? MICHELLE: 17 years.
LEAH: Wow. That’s a long time!
LEAH: And how has your sexual relationship been?
MICHELLE: Oh, gosh. Story. The girl is really the love of my life. She is. And that’s the one area that has just not worked for us. Everything else is just great. It’s amazing and it’s crazy because I’m borderline puritanical in a lot of ways when it comes to sex and she is like a super freak when it comes to sex. And so the two of us came together and it’s like I don’t really know if we ever really matched. Everything else was amazing. We worked through everything else. We really tried when it came to sex and that was the one part that just wasn’t working.
LEAH: And how has that affected your relationship? Because that could be really tough on a relationship.
LEAH: It can lead to a lot of resentment and hurt feelings.
MICHELLE: Yes and it has. All the time we’ve been together, we’ve seen a lot of things. Obviously, we’ve grown a lot since we were in our mid-twenties when we got together. And we had met originally as a one night stand. It’s like, “Hey! You’re here and I’m here. Let’s have sex!”
MICHELLE: So we did and it was a great time. And we went back to our home states and ended up talking regularly and visiting each other once a month and all that stuff and just developed a relationship.
LEAH: So that first time was really good. Was there something different about it?
MICHELLE: It was new and so I was just being that adventurous me that I was trying to be and it worked and you just don’t really think about converting that into a relationship because you’re putting forth this kind of image of this is what I want to be sexually. I can be that for one night versus dating somebody regularly if you know what I mean. Or getting into a relationship. It’s different.
LEAH: So over time as you have discovered that maybe your sex drives and your sexual desires aren’t exactly a match, have you continued to have sex or has that part of your relationship fallen away?
MICHELLE: We continued having sex just very sporadically. And it’s hard for her because she is such a sexual being. She was having sex at a young age and I waited until I was 21 to finally have sex. I didn’t go to a bar, a club, anything, like I didn’t try to sneak in. I was always trying to be the “good girl”.
So we were very different, very opposite and so to get together would mean, and she was very much in love with me and I was in love with her but never had that healthy relationship with sex and she had a healthier relationship with it. It never really matched but I was trying. And so we didn’t have sex nearly as much as she wanted, nowhere near as much as she wanted.
I could go months without it. It just was never anything that was important to me like I’m like, “Okay. Let’s cuddle.” As long as I have some physical touch or something like that, I was cool. But in terms of sexual activity, I really didn’t need it and it’s hard for me to have sex if I’m not thinking about it. I’m not turned on or thinking about it at all. Because she gets turned on like whatever if you know what I mean, drop of a dime.
LEAH: So how has her needs been taken care of? Has she gone outside of the relationship to find sex or how has that worked?
MICHELLE: Traditionally and it did lead to hurt feelings like she’d try to have sex with me and I would be like, “I’m tired” or “I’m stressed” or whatever and it wasn’t working. And so that led to hard hurt feelings and I never wanted to hurt her like that. But I didn’t know how to change it. So she masturbated a lot. I never masturbated. Never did anything like that. And I didn’t feel a need to. And then it just got to a point where masturbation wasn’t enough and she cheated.
And that was rough because part of me, I’d always be like, “I know it’s an issue with me I got to figure out what’s the matter with my libido, what’s the matter with my sex drive. I’m going to go to counselling, just give me a chance.” Because she would warn me like, “I’m not going to do
without sex for the rest of my life. Masturbation is not enough.” And she would sideways warn me. And I’d be like, “Let me just do the therapy” and then I wouldn’t do the therapy.
It wasn’t until she told me that she had cheated that I was furious but I understood it. And it’s hard to deal with that when you feel such a betrayal of trust but also a responsibility and that was the conversation we had where I was just like, “Only you can control the fact that you cheated. I’m not going to buy into the fact that you chose to do that. But I recognize that I did not make this any easier for you. I should have gone and went to counselling a long time ago and I didn’t.” And we ended up working through that but that was a tough time,
LEAH: So the two of you survived that and now there has been a new interesting development to your life which is I think why you reached out to me in the first place. So I’m just going to open the floor and say just go for it.
MICHELLE: Oh, gosh. One of the things my wife would always tell me is, “I don’t think you’re attracted to me anymore. I don’t think you want to have sex with me.” And I would always be like, “Stop saying that shit. Stop it. You’re my wife. I love you.” Obviously I want to have sex with my wife like, “What are you talking about? I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I don’t know how to fix this.”
But I kind of always viewed sex in terms of love and not in terms of passion. Not in terms of a driving need to take care of a physical thing, you know what I mean. When I was growing up, my mom was working all the time. I watched a lot of TV so everything had to be kind of perfect in TV land for me. And I think I carried that over to my real life and love and sex was about people who were married and showing love to each other and never about just raw, animalistic passion, you know what I mean.
And so, I was unprepared when that feeling actually hit me roughly three years ago. I was taking a class and this guy in my class, he fit that description that I said that guys typically fell into the description. And I said to myself, “Wow. That guy’s handsome!”
MICHELLE: And I was just like, “Gosh, yeah. All right back to class.” [LAUGHTER]
MICHELLE: I would hang out with him at the class. I thought he was gay honestly. Like I thought he was gay and so I would hang with him and talk with him because I’m like, “Sweet. A new gay friend!” And so I thought, “Cool. I get to hang with my friends” and stuff like that.
And at some point, I realized that he was not gay and this was after weeks of hanging out with him after class with just the two of us talking. And I really liked him as a person. And at some point he brought his kids to class or something and I was like, “Oh, he has a baby.” I remember the baby’s mother was there and they were doing a hand-off. And I was just like, “Maybe they’re just two gay best friends that had a kid.” And then, I was like, “Okay. That’s not working.” And it occurred to me that he was probably heterosexual and I think in the back of my mind something triggered that he was a sexual option for me at that point and I think all of that was happening subconsciously.
LEAH: Was that confusing to you?
MICHELLE: It very much was. Because after that, I think I went into a panic and I was like, “Oh my God, I’ve been spending so much time with this straight guy. What the fuck?” I don’t think I would put my walls up immediately. I never would have hung out with him if I thought he was straight. Never. And when it happened, I actually got to know him as a person, I think that caught me off-guard. And there was a point where I realized that I was starting to feel a sexual attraction for him and I didn’t know what to do with that. I remember driving home from class one day and I was like, “No. That can’t be what that is. That’s not what it is.” And the next class, I was driving home crying like, “Oh God. That’s what that is.”
MICHELLE: Like why is it like that, I don’t need this. I am gay. I am married to an amazing woman. I do not need this. Now this was before I found out that she cheated on me. And so I was just like, “This is an inconvenience.” And it felt different than anything that I had ever felt in my life. And I was scared that because what it felt like was like a throbbing in my nether regions. And just an intense throbbing that was telling me you have to touch this man. You have to straddle him, push him up against the wall. It felt like energy was pulsing through my legs and arms and fingers and I just didn’t know what to do with that.
And I was like, “What is this feeling?” I felt like my body was waking up and I was just like, “Why is this happening? Why is this happening with him?” And I was like, “Why can’t this happen with my wife?” Who deserves this. Who has wanted this. It felt like I could barely breathe when I was around him. I had to stay two feet away from or it became unbearable. And I was just like, “Why is this doing this?” for him and not for my wife. And not for any man or any woman before him.
And I couldn’t figure it out and I was like, “Is this what sexual attraction is?” And I tried to look up sexual attraction. I couldn’t find any descriptions. I talked to my female friends about what sexual attraction feels like and they haven’t been able to define it. Some of them have said they would talk to their own therapist about it because they don’t know what a sexual attraction is supposed to feel like. And I bet it’s because in our society, it’s so geared towards men like we have whole movie franchises about young men’s quest to get laid and what they do when they’re horny.
Nothing for women and girls. And so we don’t know what this feeling is supposed to feel like, how to define it and stuff like that. And it’s just like, “How many of us are just having sex because we feel like that’s what we’re supposed to do and not because we have an actual physical driving feeling need to have it?”
MICHELLE: And so when I felt that for him, I was just like, “What the hell is this? Why am I feeling this for a guy?” Like any feelings for guys, they went away twenty years ago. Why is it back? And I was super confused and super scared about that because I was like, ‘What is the impact going to be on my marriage, if this means that I was bisexual or into guys or whatever the case is, who am I?”
Because I have always been this lover of women and that was gone for twenty years. I struggled to come out of the closet. I struggled to get this whole identity and grab this strength and all of that from that fight. And now, it’s just gone? Who am I if I’m not that person? And I didn’t know how to answer that and I was really, really sad and really scared about that.
LEAH: Did you ever end up engaging with him?
MICHELLE: I did not. No, because I was like, “I am married and I am gay as far as I know.” I got really really close to saying something but I was just like, “I have to get away from this man or I’m going to say something I can’t take back.” And so I was so close to saying something inappropriate like flirtatious or something and I was like, “This is not what I do. You gotta go. You gotta get in your car and you got to go.” And that’s what I did.
MICHELLE: Yeah. I was just going to say, the reason that this came back up was because I don’t know if you saw this, but Facebook had that anonymous question game where you could ask anonymous questions or say something anonymous to a person. And so to him, I’d ask this question of, “Can you tell when a woman is attracted to you?” And so, he was just like, ‘Traditionally I’ve been very bad at knowing when a woman is attracted to me.” And I’m like, “Duh! That’s obvious!”
MICHELLE: But that let me know that he was not aware so I kind of held it together in front of him trying to steel myself and put up this cold face even though I was dying inside.
LEAH: So what has happened since then? Have you found other men that you were attracted to? Has this changed your sense of your identity?
MICHELLE: I don’t exactly know what it means but it means something. So you are, obviously, to him, it’s not like you would prefer to remove his penis and throw it in a corner and deal with the rest of his shell.
MICHELLE: I want all of that. And so kind of think of what that means, kind of sit with that, if you know what I mean. So I was like, “Okay. What does that mean that I’m bisexual?”
I was like in my second year of therapy and I was coming to a place where I could really think about who I am and how things affect me. And I think that’s what led me to be more open to the idea that I may well be bisexual. I haven’t found any men but I’ve insulated myself into the LGBT circles. Everywhere I go, that’s all my friends, all the places we go, I rarely interact with heterosexual men. I just don’t go to places where they typically are.
In cases that I have recently, there’s always some dude that acted inappropriately and I was like, “Oh my God. Am I signing back up for this? Is this what this is?” So I haven’t had that yet. I’ve ended up having a conversation with my wife about my feelings because I just felt like it was too much to hold onto. I was terrified to talk to her because what if she wants to leave because she didn’t sign up for this at all. And that happened after that night of sex about trying to reconnect and it had been some months. And we don’t like going too long because we start feeling very disconnected so we’re trying to make it physically happen. And it didn’t end well. And she had talked to me a couple of times before about doing it an open relationship and I was never into it. Never. And I was like, “Nope. Just give me a chance to fix it.”
And then all of this realization and everything started happening and after that night, she came up and was like, “We got to change something. We’re not going to make it.” Our 17th anniversary hadn’t passed yet so she was just like, “We’re not going to make it past 17. Something’s got to change.” And I was like, “I agree.” And she said, “I think we should sleep with other people.” And I said, “I agree.” And then I said, “There’s something I need to talk to you about.” And that’s when I told her. And since then, I’ve joined some apps to try and find some guys and there have been some guys that have been attractive but it’s hard. I don’t know yet if it extends to otter guys at this point.
LEAH: How did that go over with her? You telling her your experience and that you were now open to opening the relationship?
MICHELLE: That was interesting because, and I told her, “I feel kind of selfish because I’m now only open to the idea of opening our relationship because there was somebody else I want to sleep with.” I said, “The timing feels selfish. And I hate that. I don’t want to be selfish.” And she said, “I kind of thought about that too.” But she didn’t hold it against me.
But the conversation because I had evolved into tears, I was a blubbering mess. Because I felt that I was confessing to something that would end my marriage. And so I said, “I have to tell you
this thing. This guy I used to talk about in class. I am extremely attracted.” And it’s a hard conversation to have.
Communication has been pretty good with us for the duration of our relationship but that’s a hard conversation to have to tell someone that you feel attraction to another person that you haven’t been able to feel for them. When they’ve really really wanted that from you and that’s really all they wanted from you that you could give. But we had that conversation and I felt like I had to tell her. And I said, “I’m scared that I might be bisexual. I don’t know what to do with this feeling but I feel like I need to explore it and see what it means. Because what I told her was, “If it was an option with that guy who caused that feeling in me, I wanted to do it because I never had sex with a person backed up with that feeling.”
Other people feel that feeling and they go and do it. And I never had that feeling ever. And I couldn’t imagine what sex might be like if it had feeling accompanying it and I was like, “It must be amazing.” And I was like, “Maybe that’s what everybody talks about when they’re like, “Oh my god! Sex is great! Sex is amazing!”
And I had a great experience with the first guy I slept with. He was so great. It felt good. He was nice as a person and I had already heard horror stories and the fact that my experience wasn’t going like that meant something to me. But it wasn’t backed up by a feeling like that. And I thought, “Wow. What if sex was addictive because it was backed up by a feeling like that?”
MICHELLE: Because my body just felt like it was on fire. And then to be able to do something with that was amazing, you know what I mean. And so, I feel like I need to see what that’s like and it’s funny because I was so scared my wife would just chicken out and she told me when I had finished, she said, “I’m really sorry that you have been dealing with this by yourself for all this time.” And she said, “I wish you had told me sooner.” And I was just like, “I know I should have” because my wife is really open because she’s pretty much done it all. There’s not a lot that she hasn’t done in her life.
MICHELLE: Which is just insane when people see us together. They’re like, “How do you guys work?”
MICHELLE: But she’s done it all and I told her. I said, “Fear is irrational.” I should have known that she was the first person that I could have talked to about this because of her life experiences and what she’s been through. And I should have known she would have been so open the exact way that she was. I should have guessed at that because we had been together almost 17 years at that point. I should have known that she would have been very, very, very
understanding but I was afraid again of losing her. It made me totally override our entire history together.
LEAH: Having had this conversation with her, opening up about what was going on for you, has that changed your sexual interaction between the two of you at all?
MICHELLE: It’s funny. Yes. Because I felt like, and I told her this, I was able to be 100% of myself. It feels like after we had that conversation, I told her I think what we do to try and make relationships work is we cut off chunks of ourselves. Cut off 10% here or 20% there and then I present to you the 80% as if it is the whole me. Take me. Love me, you know what I mean. Please, love me and accept me. And that’s really not all that you are and you’re trying to make it work.
It felt like I was able to kind of turn around and pick up that 20% I had cut off and attach it back to me and she was still embracing me and loving me. I mean this is the woman that I had married. This is the woman that I had a one night stand with but it developed into something.
MICHELLE: I mean she’s my best friend. And therapy has been great in helping me with this but I felt like I was being more whole, you know what I mean, in one of the last areas that I wasn’t able to be. And it calls the levels of communication, because at that point, we had agreed to open your relationship and we started talking about boundaries and stuff like that. That led to this level of communication about ourselves, our relationship with each other, our sexual needs and everything that we never had in 17 years together.
We never had that conversation. We thought our communication was great and then that happened and just the way that we have been talking to each other, I didn’t think it could get more loving or more understanding. It’s just like mind blowing, man. And we both said this to each other shortly after. It just felt like we fell more in love. It’s wild man but it’s been awesome.
LEAH: So this has been amazing. This is probably one of my favorite interviews.
Okay. So here’s the deal. The interviews for this show usually take about 75 minutes, giving the guests lots of time to relax into the conversation and giving me lots of material to work with. That 75 minutes includes about 20 or 30 minutes for the Q and A. But with Michelle, we got to 75 minutes and we hadn’t even started the Q and A!
And I had another appointment that I had to get to so I told her I was going to have to end our conversation and skip the Q and A. To tell you the truth, I’ve never got any feedback from anyone about it so I’ve never even been really sure if people cared about the Q and A. But I could hear Michelle’s disappointment when she said, “Well, if you ever have another time, I’d really like to do it.”
So we got back on the phone later that same night and recorded for another half an hour. Because we’re already way over time on this episode, I`m making the full Q and A for everyone over at Patreon for free.
Go to Patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex and you can listen to the full 30 minutes of Q and A whether you are a supporter or not. And if you choose to become a supporter, I rain my blessings down upon you. I think you’ll agree, Michelle is so engaging and delightful that I don’t want to miss a single word that she says.
You know Michelle, what I would love to do is have you come back and talk to me again in a year and let me know what has happened. And how have you navigated this because you are in the middle of such a rich, fertile, scary, exciting time.
MICHELLE: For sure.
LEAH: And I would love to know what happens and how you would get through it.
MICHELLE: That’d be awesome.
LEAH: From where you are because you might not be through it. You may still be very much in the middle of it.
MICHELLE: Right. Right. And it’s funny because none of this feels overwhelming in a filled with anxiety kind of way. It feels exciting like I’m getting to know me in a way that I never really tried to before or give myself permission to do before so that would be kind of cool. That would be really cool.
LEAH: Yeah. I’d like that. I can’t thank you enough. This has just been such an amazing conversation. First of all, thank you for reaching out.
LEAH: And thank you for just being so open and this has been great.
MICHELLE: Thank you. Thank you for taking the time and I think your podcast is doing awesome things. It’s giving folks like me who didn’t know a lot to get to listen to some things and give consideration to things we might never have outside of that so it’s really an awesome platform that you’ve built and I appreciate you giving me time on it.
LEAH: Thanks for joining me today on Good Girls Talk About Sex. If you’d like to best a guest on the show, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also find me on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube at I am Leah Carey. I was only about to step outside my good girl box when someone I respected told me it was possible. If you’d like to step out of a box that is no longer working for you, I’m here to tell you that it’s possible and I’d love to work with you. I have lots of tools to help you name your desires and communicate them effectively to your partner or potential partners. For more information, visit leahcarey.com I’m Leah Carey and I look forward to talking with you again next time. Here’s to your better sex life!
Here are some of the notable moments she shared with us:
- 5:35 – Michelle’s first-grade crush on her female teacher
- 10:00 – Michelle’s experience of inappropriate touch at 7 years old
- 11:00 – Michelle’s first kiss in college
- 13:00 – The power dynamic of giving blowjobs
- 14:30 – The cultural taboo of black men giving oral sex to women
- 16:00 – Michelle’s first experience of receiving oral sex and intercourse
- 18:18 – Michelle’s first experience with a woman
- 22:30 – Discomfort with sexual fluids
- 26:50 – Coming out to her friends as gay – and their reaction
- 33:00 – Mismatched libidos lead her wife to seek sex outside the marriage
- 35:50 – Michelle feels stirrings of raw passion with a man
- 41:05 – Michelle’s identity crisis over attraction to a male and potentially losing her identity as a strong lesbian
- 45:50 – Finally having an honest conversation with her wife – the impact and the aftermath
Because this episode ran so long, this week’s entire Q&A is available to everyone FOR FREE at Patreon!
The Patreon extras for this episode are:
- FREE – The extended Q&A
- At the $1/month level, Michelle and I talk about how strong she was to get help as a young child, and how she doesn’t see herself that way
- At the $5/month level, Michelle considers whether her early attraction to men was authentic or manufactured so she could feel “normal”
- At the $10/month level, all that plus a monthly Ask Me Anything!
Learn more and become a community supporter at www.patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex.
If you like this show, please leave a rating and review at https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/good-girls-talk-about-sex/id1436501617?mt=2.
Want to be on the show? Visit www.leahcarey.com/guest and let me know that you’re interested. I’d love to talk with you!
To learn about Sexual Communication Coaching, visit www.leahcarey.com/coaching
Editor – Gretchen Kilby
Music by – Nazar Rybak