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Chris Watts: The Psychology of Bisexuality

Psychology is the real Rocket Science behind True Crime Crime Rocket Science. So let’s put the money where it matters. The key enigma in the Chris Watts case is his mysterious sexuality. Unlock that and the real face of Chris Watts is revealed. So let’s do that.

The first step in true crime science is to acknowledge when we don’t know something. Unless you’re bisexual, the odds are you can’t begin to know who or what you’re dealing with. So we begin by admitting that what we want to know we don’t know, and what’s more, we’re wholly unfamiliar with it.

The next step is to study, research and find out what we don’t know. A great guide to begin this journey into criminal psychology is via cultural anthropologist, and Pulitzer prizewinner, Ernest Becker.

In Becker’s The Birth and Death of Meaning he refers in a chapter dealing with The Inner World to “all objects [having] interiority, even trees.” Objects with the least interiority, Becker states, are rocks.

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Is it a coincidence that Shan’ann used precisely this term in ALL CAPS, with an exclamation mark, to refer to Chris Watts and her love for him on May 5th?

As Becker puts it:

…probably they [rocks] would have no more inner life than the idling of their atomic structures, but in these, as physicists have taught us, there is anything but repose…

The timing of Shan’ann’s ROCK! comment is worth noting in context. It came 2-3 days prior to her boosting him with #helovesme on Facebook, with a shot of him at work mowing the front lawn. Interestingly, he’s not even looking at her when she snaps the photo.

I’ve previously gone to some length to explain why May 7/8 is an incredibly significant moment in the Watts story. It’s the day – I believe – Shan’ann set up her pregnant video + t-shirt reveal. She posted it more than a month later on June 11th, but I believe the video itself was shot within days, almost immediately after conception.

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In the collage below one sees the location of the mowing lawn image in relation to the “my ROCK!” ego stroke. Thrown in the middle is a nod to World Lupus day and a call to “hustle”.

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What does Shan’ann’s pregnancy, and whether Chris Watts was really her rock or not got to do with the psychology of bisexuality? Well, everything potentially.

If you have a partner with a different sexual appetite to yours, then in particular circumstances it may be necessary to secure or anchor him [or her] into a particular role. How do you do that? Well, by giving him [in this case] a role. By giving him a t-shirt to wear, and by recording him in various role plays, by getting him to dance to your tune.

Like this:

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Recorded on June 11th, here [ABOVE] Shan’ann has her husband posed in a “Super Dad” shirt, demonstrating a patch on his arm, and advertising Thrive to promote her business. How is he being advertized? As a man eager to do housework. He vacuums, he mops, he does whatever Shan’ann tells him to do [although that’s no acknowledged here, even though it’s implicit].

In another instance 9 days later, Chris Watts is dressed again in a shirt given to him to wear and pose with. The shirt defines not just who he is, but his role: he’s a proud dad, not just that but a dad of two awesome daughters. It’s a message to her flock but it’s also a reminder, and perhaps an admonition, to Chris Watts directly.

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Think about how these messages might play in the minds of a mistress, male and female? He’s someone else’s rock. He’s a proud dad? He’s doing his domestic duties at home?

If he has another life, if he wants another life, these broadcasts are potentially the death knell to them. Well, wasn’t that their purpose in the first place, to send a few messages in one, to hit the bisexual birds out there with one stone?

We haven’t even attended to the science or psychology of bisexuality, but what’s immediately clear is there may be a psychology in response to it too. If your spouse, your lover, the father of your child had a sexual orientation you were unclear, confused or insecure about, wouldn’t you want to nail it down? Wouldn’t you want to be clear on his role, and more, want him and the world to be clear about it?

Is that what this is?

According to Becker “we come into contact with the world through our exteriors” yet each of us walks about carrying with us a secret self. As Becker puts it:

We are somewhat split in two, the self the body…

But what if the body, the sexuality of the body, is part of the self. Well then, the self is even more secret, and the secret even more excruciating [or perhaps intolerable] as a result.


It was while researching the Ramsey case that I developed the science to figure out unknown unknowns. Although it seemed unknowable at the time, it turned out child sexuality isn’t an unknown unknown, but rather a known unknown. Bisexuality is the same.

Bisexuality is a matter of scientific fact, according to Justin Lehmiller, a social psychologist and Kinsey Institute Research Fellowwho blogs at

1.) Bisexuality is real, and it’s not the same as being gay or lesbian. A lot of people deny the existence of bisexuality and assume that everyone who identifies as bisexual is secretly gay…

2.) Women are more likely to identify as bisexual than men/men are less likely to identify themselves publicly as biseuxual.  It is also worth noting that the percentage of American men and women who identify as bisexual appears to be on the rise in recent years. This doesn’t necessarily mean that bisexuality itself is increasing; rather, it probably reflects growing comfort with acknowledging this identity.

3.) Bisexuals experience prejudice from heterosexual persons, as well as gays and lesbians. Bisexual persons are frequently the targets of prejudice, particularly bisexual men.

4.). Bisexual people do not necessarily have higher sex drives than everyone else. One of the most common stereotypes about bisexuals is that they are an extremely horny bunch.

5.) Being bisexual does not mean [being] equally attracted to both men and women. Being bisexual involves a capacity for attraction to men and women, but attraction to each sex does not necessarily have to be equally strong.


What does this mean in terms of the Watts case?

If bisexuality was a factor, it was likely not insignificant. The scale of the crime demonstrates that.

Many discussions on the Watts case repeat the same myth: he could have gotten divorced. Well, maybe you could. Chris Watts may have felt that if he’d gotten divorced Shan’ann couldn’t be trusted to keep his sexuality secret, and it was critical to him, I believe, that it be kept secret. Since their entire life was a constant soapie on Facebook, and since Shan’ann was constantly providing penetrating private insights into who he was, this threat had to be ongoing and very real to him. If he did have mistresses out there, for how much longer could they be kept in the dark if they were also on social media? And what if something leaked out from them? Their Thrive business was entirely predicated on perpetuating this happy family myth.


The other side of the equation is that Chris Watts wanted to divorce, wanted to leave, but felt locked-in. If leaving meant the whole world would find out about who he really was, then he couldn’t leave. But that didn’t mean he wanted to stay. And so, what could he do to resolve this impasse?

Remember, the oil industry is a masculine industry, one that might not so easily forgive or overlook the stereotypes of less than masculine men, let alone bisexual men. Who knows, perhaps Watts felt his boss wouldn’t like to find out his employee, and perhaps the dude his daughter was seeing, was “one of those” either.

Although the science indicates that bisexual men have normal sexual appetites, it doesn’t take into account normal human nature, or normal sexual appetites. Whether normal or not, a bisexual man in a heterosexual marriage is likely to feel one of his appetites repressed, and this may well lead to an above average drive in that area. Does that make sense?


Finally, and this I think is the key question in the Watts case, was he more attracted to women or men? If men, then the sense of impasse, of entrapment, of repression, had to be a lot more agonizing than if his was oriented to women sexually.

Since I’m not bisexual, I’ll put the question out there:

If you’re bisexual and in a marriage, and your partner isn’t “doing it for you” [as a person, as a partner, in bed, on the balance sheet etc], and if the experience is sufficiently negative, chronically off-putting, couldn’t this cause a bisexual person to gravitate more to the opposite sex of the spouse?

If this was happening in the months leading up to August 2018, and if Chris Watts’ exercise and weight loss and improvement in appearance and attractiveness fed into that, and if he was enjoying succor increasingly outside of marriage, then we can see how he would have wanted out not just as a husband, not just as a father, not just as a man, but as a bisexual man.



  1. Cheryl

    I’ve thought about Chris’s alleged bisexuality and how it may have influenced his murdering his entire family. Rather than considering Chris bisexual, which certainly could be the case, I’ve wondered whether he was in transition, exploring and acting on nascent homosexual feelings and urges. I’ve also thought about all of this in terms of Chris’s background, which is rooted in a white lower-class family and community in the Deep South. This region is typically steeped in a fundamentalist, fervent religiosity noted for, amongst other things, an entrenched intolerance of homosexuals, especially gay men. Somewhere in his upbringing I would suspect that Chris internalized these prejudices, thereby establishing roiling and probably frightening internal conflicts even prior to his meeting and marrying Shan’ann. Furthermore, I would have to think that in addition to the pressure Shan’ann was imposing on Chris to fulfill his role as the man of the house, to be her unwavering solid rock (there’s an implied and likely unconscious sexual connotation here, I.e., rock-hard for Shan’ann), the already internalized Deep South mandate to be a straight white male served as an insistent echo of Shan’ann’s siren call from the nuclear family rock at 2825 Saratoga Trail. Rather than Shan’ann’s consciously knowing that Chris had gay or bisexual inclinations (by the way Chris uses this word several times during his porch interviews), she may have been unsettled by marked changes in him: e.g., tight tops, obsessive body consciousness (which is culturally more intense and prioritized with gay men). She may have also noticed effeminate mannerisms, which would be unnerving but not necessarily make you consciously think he was trending gay. Perhaps Shan’ann’s suspicions about and/or discomfort with Chris’s sexual ambivalence created a space for her to act like the man of the house, which she did while dismissively sidelining Chris because he had no game. All of this domestic and internal conflict would have contributed to mounting conflicts and rage within Chris, for I believe he not only felt locked in by commitments to Shan’ann and the children but also by fear and self-loathing due to his conflicted sexuality. Finally, in speculating about all of these dynamics that resulted in an entire family’s annihilation on August 12 and 13, I keep thinking about the class video where Chris talks about relationships. Given his youth and that he had never been married, I always thought it was remarkable that he was already speculating about reasons and ultimately justifications for leaving a marriage, including the children produced by it. It’s as if Chris already felt locked in and was searching for a justifiable escape.

    • nickvdl

      Interesting point. I guess one could pose the same notion in the Scott Peterson case. Was he sort of experimenting with the idea of cheating on his wife but not really – when he murdered his wife and unborn son? You don’t commit murder, especially of your own flesh and blood, if you’re on the fence and iffy.

      I’m not sure why there’s a reluctance or a resistance to consider dark issues of motivation as truly dark, when we know how diabolical the murders were. What we don’t know must be equally dark.

      • Cheryl

        Nick, I think rage fueled in part by inner conflict that escalated to an existential crisis might have been Chris’s darkness that eventually enveloped the entire family. At this point, with so many unknowns, it’s just a theory and therefore subject to revision.

    • Betsy Cho.b

      Hi Cheryl…. I read your comment and I find what you wrote truly insightful…esp shanann noticing something about Chris watts is off… His secret double/triple life is to act out all sexual possibilities with both men and women… And to hide this bisexuality well.. and only he knows best…his thorough job of concealing this fact… Lying and deception of his true nature to everybody also show psychopathy…so shanann being closest to him may already pick up certain effeminate mannerisms, perhapssexual deviance and inconsistencies in him.. and the classic chronic boredom as well… His hollow and artificial facial expressions spell that he needs alot more to arouse him… Women as the only gender is not enough… Does it make any sense I wonder… Anyways I thought what you wrote is insightful to repeat myself .

  2. gypsy tricia

    As a bisexual female, who is divorced and has two daughters, I can’t speak about bisexual males, or what Chris Watts’s situation was, but I can add a couple things to the conversation.

    1. You asked whether having a heterosexual partner who “didn’t do it for you” might increase the desire for a same sex partner?

    My answer to this is: not necessarily. What I would say is that his sexual history would play a very large role. If the majority of his sexual history has been heterosexual, then his desire for a homosexual relationship might increase. It can go from being a desire to an obsession the closer you feel to it slipping away. However, if the opposite is true, and he’d had many homosexual experiences, then the desperate desire isn’t necessarily there, unless he feels he is truly gay and not bisexual.

    2. Crossing the line from fantasy to reality in regards to sexuality is very huge, scary, and deeply personal experience. I think, even more so for men than women. These days, it’s almost considered a right of passage (and certainly encouraged by most males) for girls to engage in some sort of girl on girl action during their coming of age years. For men, however, even though it’s becoming more acceptable (in the millennial age bracket), men still have to fight against all the programming of family,church, media, and peers to even accept the whisper of bisexuality to themselves. It’s far from an easy line to cross.

    3. There’s a big difference between having sex and having a relationship, especially so for bisexuals, who may still be struggling with their own sexuality and how they view themselves in light of it. I have often asked bisexual men if, after their first homosexual experience, their concept or view of themselves had changed. Most said “yes and no”. It’s not a simple thing. An open homosexual relationship carries a lot heavier baggage (especially for a father of two girls), than a clandestine, occasional hook up. Many bisexuals (male and female) really don’t want to deal with the issues of living an “out” lifestyle. Especially if divorce is involved.

    I’m sure I could add more, but mostly, thank you for your thorough and comprehensive coverage of this case.

    • nickvdl

      Food for thought; thanks for sharing. My impression is he was sexually inexperienced in general, or had been through much of his youth, but that’s difficult to be certain about at this point. In your personal opinion, do you think he’s bisexual?

  3. critter

    I’m late to this particular discussion, but you asked a question that I think I can help answer.

    “If you’re bisexual and in a marriage, and your partner isn’t “doing it for you” [as a person, as a partner, in bed, on the balance sheet etc], and if the experience is sufficiently negative, chronically off-putting, couldn’t this cause a bisexual person to gravitate more to the opposite sex of the spouse?”

    I’m a bisexual woman, so here are my thoughts: No (but maybe).

    The list of facts you provided about bisexuals is objectively helpful, but not necessarily helpful when you’re trying to get into a specific person’s mind. What’s scientifically true isn’t as helpful in this case as what Chris Watts believed to be true. And there are two very common fallacies about sexuality that could possibly factor in.

    First, many people believe that men, especially gay or bisexual men, want “easy” sex, while women, especially straight women, want to “catch” one man who will then take care of her and her kids. Someone who was always attracted to both men and women will still be attracted to both, but it is possible for them to make the choice to pursue men rather than women. Chris might still find women attractive, but he might also tell himself “Oh, she’s just another money-grubber like Shann’ann and like all women.” Meanwhile, any casual encounters he had with men would be chalked up to “men like easy sex” rather than “this was a casual relationship from the start.”

    The second thing is something you touched on above: The common misconception that bisexuals have a higher sex drive than other people. If Chris was feeling trapped, and if he was just starting to realize he’s bisexual, and if he applied that mistaken belief to himself, then it could easily become an excuse to himself for his own behavior. No need to figure out why he wants sex outside of marriage so much, and no need to make any effort to avoid having affairs- he’s bisexual, of course he can’t help himself!


    And then, there’s one more thing I wanted to point out that has to do with Shann’ann rather than Chris. (I haven’t read the book, so apologies if it’s something you’ve already covered.) You mentioned that she had lupus and that it’s an autoimmune disease, but I didn’t see you get very deep into what it is or does to the body. When someone has lupus, essentially their own immune system decides they’re an enemy and attacks the person’s body. In other words, the very thing that’s supposed to keep you safe has turned against you. I don’t have lupus myself, but it does run in my family, and I’ve heard people talk about how they feel betrayed, or that their body has betrayed them. I’m sure over time Shann’ann had gotten somewhat inured to all of the doctor’s visits and pain, but I’d bet that there was still a sense of betrayal lurking in the back of her mind that came to the front any time she had a flare-up.

    You probably already see where I’m going with this. Shann’ann called Chris her “rock.” She depended on him to keep her safe, to bring in the money for her and for her kids… and then he wanted to separate. Once again, the very thing that was supposed to keep her safe had turned on her and declared her an enemy. And with the lupus already priming her sense of betrayal, Chris asking for a divorce wouldn’t just be a sad fact of life, it would be another betrayal.

  4. dana

    Did Shanann know about Chris’ homosexual experience?

    I’m a bit new to this case and the tragedy of it puzzles me to no end. How a Chris could have quashed the life out of those 2 beautiful girls, and killed his wife.

  5. Jared Johnson

    This article and comments are somewhat disturbing to me. Sexuality isn’t to blame. There is deep seated pathology here. Sexuality isn’t a reason to kill your family. PERIOD.

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