Remember when Katy Perry told the world that she kissed a girl and she liked it, and everyone went a little bonkers because it was so controversial? That was already 10 years ago, and the world has grown tremendously when it comes to accepting the LGBTQ community. For some reason though, people still get hung up on issues surrounding bisexuality. Some take a hard line on judging bisexuality, debating whether it is valid or whether it is simply a phase people go through. Even worse is the assumption that bisexuality is an excuse to be sex-crazed and promiscuous (which, BTW, is not something you need an excuse for if that is how you choose to live). There are many bisexuals who choose monogamy and long-term relationships, just like anyone else.
So for people who choose to date bisexuals, what are some things to keep in mind in order to not let the label get to your head?
They want their partner to affirm and understand their identity
It may seem obvious, since most people want to be recognized fully for who they are, but this is still a struggle for many people who identify as bisexual in relationships. Their partners might know what they identify as, but do they know what that means for them?
The commonly accepted definition of bisexuality is far outdated and, quite frankly, inadequate. It is not just the sexual attraction to both men and women. It is just as complicated as any sexual orientation and deserves to be understood by everyone. I recently came across a definition by a contributor on the Bisexual Resource Center’s Website that really helped me to understand how my partner might feel about her identity:
“Bisexuality is the potential to be attracted (romantically and/or sexually), to people of more than one sex, not necessarily at the same time, not necessarily in the same way, and not necessarily to the same degree.”
If you are dating a bisexual or find yourself interested in someone who identifies as such, I encourage you to discuss what it means to him or her. For my partner, it means that she is sexually attracted to men and women, but romantically attracted to women only. In addition, she is only romantically attracted to more masculine women, such as myself. We have had candid and thoughtful conversations about our sexual orientations and what it means to each of us, and it has led to a more genuine understanding of one another.
There is no on and off switch
When someone who is bisexual is in a relationship, they don’t all of the sudden turn off their attraction to people of other sexes and/or genders. A straight person in a relationship does not all of the sudden turn off their attraction to people of the opposite sex, and neither do bisexuals.
The important thing is that couples have honest conversations about what is acceptable within their relationships when it comes to acting on these attractions. If you are in a monogamous relationship with a bisexual, trust them to be just as committed as you are. Short of a wandering eye (I mean, who doesn’t occasionally appreciate other people?!), bisexuals are just as capable as anyone else of being in a relationship with established boundaries.
It isn’t a phase
My girlfriend is obviously in a relationship with a woman (me!), and in fact, she has never been in an adult relationship with a man. That does not mean that her identity as a bisexual was a phase or confusion on her part. If she only ever dates me, which is my ultimate evil plan, then she can still identify as bisexual. If she lives to be 120 years old and never so much as gives a man a side hug, she can still identify as bisexual. There is no threshold to meet for people to qualify for a sexual orientation. It is a personal preference and decision and should be accepted as that person’s truth.
They chose you, so don’t worry about who they chose before you
This is really just some good old-fashioned relationship advice for anyone to follow. Who your partner dated before you is not a reflection of how they feel about you! It is a nasty trap to fall into — comparing yourself to your partner’s ex in any way. It can seem a little more complicated when your partner’s ex is a different gender or sex than you are. The reality is, though, it isn’t complicated because it isn’t relevant. Allow yourself to be chosen by your partner for who you are and don’t let those doubts come in and cloud what you two have together.
They are just like you and me
Bisexuals are just people, looking for authentic relationships just like anyone else in the world. Just like anyone else, they have varying degrees and types of attraction for different people. Just like anyone else, they are more than capable of committed relationships. No, they don’t have extraordinary sex drives. They don’t want to sleep with everyone they meet. Their identities are not made up in order to fill some questionable spot on the sexual orientation spectrum.
Speaking from experience dating bisexuals, I can say that while the world might still be behind in understanding and accepting their identities, I am deeply in love with an incredible human being. She is creative, fun, smart, compassionate, genuine, sexy, and funny… and she just happens to be attracted to both men and women. But, she has chosen me, and I will bask in that for as long as I can.