'Our Little Secret': How Publicly Heterosexual Women Make Meaning From Their 'Undercover' Same-Sex Sexual Experiences


The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community is well aware of the phenomenon of 'straight girls' seeking out and engaging in intimate sexual relationships with women. However, there is a dearth of research on women who openly identify themselves as heterosexual, and even participate in relationships with men, yet seek out secret relationships with other women. This pilot study examined the experiences and meaning-making of women who are 'undercover' in this way and the factors that shape their construction of their sexual identity and compel them to live a secret, compartmentalized life. Four major themes emerged: a desire to remain married, the belief that 'girls don't count' as extramarital partners, shame, and 'on and off the wagon.' For the women in this study, the decision to act on their desire for sexual contact with another woman was fraught with internal conflict, shame, and guilt. The data reveal that the constraints around one's sexuality are not nearly as powerful culturally as the constraints around one's public image.

Document Type





biphobia, bisexuality, heteronormativity, infidelity, internalized biphobia, internet, intimacy, relationships, sexual identity, women

Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of Bisexuality