We See You: An Open Thread for Bisexual Women Dating Men

Hello and welcome to this feelings atrium open thread situation, which today is dedicated bi or otherwise multi-gender attracted women. Sit down and have some lemon water or perhaps a muffin!

We get a lot of feedback and questions from bi women who date men and/or who are in long-term relationships with men; while there’s bucketfuls of information out in the world about dating men, it’s aimed at straight people and doesn’t touch upon a lot of what comes up in different-gender relationships for bisexual people, and queer women’s spaces tend not to discuss the issue in much depth. Many of our bi staff and writers who date men have the same issues and questions. So many women feel like there isn’t a space to talk about their experiences in this area. So! That brings us here; we’ve tried to make the space we want to see in the world in the form of this open thread. Obviously one open thread is not the be-all and end-all of discourse about bi women’s relationships with men, but it’s a start. We have some amazing bisexual staff members and contributors who will be here throughout the day to chat and commiserate and share experiences! We’ll be here probably until about 8 pm EST/5 pm PST, although maybe people will be able to hang out longer! Who knows!

A few things before we begin:

+ This hopefully goes without saying, but this is a space created primarily for bi and multi-gender attracted women! If that does not describe you, you are welcome to be here, but please don’t make the space about you; you’re here to listen and learn and possibly support, but not necessarily to weigh in. Thank you! If you are a non-bisexual person and your comments are deemed detrimental to the thread, they may be deleted, and you won’t be owed an explanation about why.

+ All that anyone here, both readers and staff, can really talk about with authority are their own experiences — it’s not possible to make sweeping objective statements about things as broad as identity or relationships, so please don’t a) try to make them yourself or b) assume others are trying to do so without good reason! Let’s all walk into this with the best faith in each other possible! Yeah!

+ Unfortunately, it seems like essentially a foregone conclusion that someone will at some point say something deliberately hurtful, instigatory and/or trollish, because this is the internet and a bisexual tree can’t fall in a forest without someone popping up to say “Well my bisexual ex-girlfriend….” When these comments inevitably arise, please don’t engage with them if they don’t seem in good faith, and instead report the comment to us so we can just delete it. To do so, just use Autostraddle Social messaging to contact me, Rachel, or email rachel [at] autostraddle [dot] com with a link to the comment in question!

OKAY THEN let’s go! What’s on your mind? How do you stay involved with queer community, especially when involved in relationships with men? How do these romantic relationships support and affirm you, and in what ways are they challenging? What have you been dying to talk about with other bi women? Tell us everything!


A reminder: this space is primarily for bisexual women. If you’re a non-bisexual person and your comment is deemed unproductive to the conversation for any reason, it may be deleted. Keep this in mind and please be respectful!

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Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1142 articles for us.

1,196 Comments

  1. I’ve been with my now-husband since I was 16, which made my figuring out that I was bi slightly more traumatic and slower that it might otherwise have been.

    Combined with bi-erasure, which lead me to think that of course all straight girls do the following: have crushes on girls, consider the attractive qualities of their female friends, want to run away with Eva Green, have conversations in a Taco Time with their boyfriend about how either one could run away with Eva Green on the condition they brought the other one along, want to make out with Tank Girl at a Halloween concert, etc etc etc.

    The funny thing is that he knew I was bi before I did. The Tank Girl incident clued him in, which happened my freshman or sophomore year of college, but it took me about 5 more years to figure it out.

    I’m fairly comfortable with my identity now, but I always feel a little out of place in queer spaces now that I’m trying to enter them. I go to a queer church (Metropolitan Community Church!) which is amazing since it’s fulfilling two of needs, and I joined the local BiNet Facebook group (which is what alerted me to this thread) and went to their picnic yesterday which was also great.

    I came out to my dad recently and he was cool with it. But his sister who is married to a woman (she was married to a man before, so idk how exactly she IDs) and him are my only relatives that I know know. I did come out on Facebook back on Bi Visibility Day but I don’t know how much has filtered back to my relatives.

    The funny thing is that I just got a teal undercut (MY MERMAID MOHAWK) and I’m more concerned, at 27, how my stodgy mom and grandparents are going to react to that than me being bi.

  2. Can I just say that I am so glad Autostraddle exists? It’s like the only queer spuss I’ve found that really doesn’t tolerate biphobia. It feels like home. This site really helps me feel like I still have a queer identkitty even though I’m dating a guy. Though he is a bit of a lesbian Caleb :p I’ve actmewally mostly read the site since I started dating a man – I think it’s even more impawtant to me than it was befur. I actmewally keep meaning to write an article about that, but I don’t get furry fur because I’m scared of failure…

  3. +1 to the “super glad and weepy that this thread exists” crowd

    I’m really lucky in that I have a supportive mini-community. Several folks I knew in college all moved to the same city (whoo Philly), all DFAB folks of various gender identities and sexual orientations. My roommate is a delightful non-binary femme who is also multisexual, and living in a bi-friendly queer space has been so crucial for me.

    One strange thing I’ve run into is that in some ways I felt more comfortable in queer spaces when I was dating two men rather than just one. It was like being non-monogamous made folks be able to be like “ok well she’s doing SOMETHING non-normative, she’s cool.” Though I also definitely had gay friends who seemed a liiiittle to eager to be like “here’s E, she’s dating TWO MEN!! ISN’T THAT SOMETHING!” immediately upon introducing me to people, as if they needed to get across that I wasn’t gay as soon as possible. FEELS WEIRD, MAN.

    One thing I’d love to have others weigh in on – how do y’all deal with helping your partners understand why you want to exclude them from certain events? Like, if I’m going to a party or event of some kind that I’m sure is going to be entirely queer women and non-binary people, I’m not going to be the one to bring in a straight man and make folks be on their guard. I know that even if he was the most awesome ally in the world, there even being a straight cis guy there is going to make some people anxious, which I totally get. I’m confident he would understand that if I had a conversation with him, but I just don’t quite know how to approach it, and I worry if I don’t spell it out he’s just going to think I’m ashamed of him. And I don’t doubt that internalized biphobia and shame are playing into how I feel about it! But separate from that, I think spaces free from straight cis men are still important, and I’d love pointers from anyone else who’s talked about that with their straight cis dude partners.

    • That is a such a hard conversation! But I think of it as the same as having a “girl’s night”—you’re allowed to selectively exclude your partner. Maybe invite him to a smaller group of closer queer friends, so he knows it’s not that you’re ashamed of him or rejecting him? If he is an ally / understanding / etc., you might be pleasantly surprised. If not, well, this is the perfect opportunity to talk it out (or walk away, if that’s what needs to happen).

    • Fortunately for me, my partner (male) doesn’t flinch when I say I’m going to some super queer event on my own. He gets it. He would, on his own, feel super weird and intrusive going to some of those things with me.

      So it sounds like your partner is on the level, too, and all you’d need to do is have that brief conversation with him beforehand, like “Hey I’m going to this super queer thing with some friends and I’ll see you later.” If he pushes at all, just follow it up with you wanting to do the thing on your own, but that you’ll go with him to another thing soon.

    • I definitely struggled with this when I had a straight male partner. We were from different countries, so we kind of explained it to each other with relation to culture, like “You want to spend time with your people and I want to hang with people who speak my language.” But the phone-communication during the evening and when/if to meet up afterwards and how much to talk about what happened was always a challenge, defintiely.

  4. While I recognize that male-female relationships are privileged over other relationships, I recognize that “straight privilege” goes far beyond that. It includes many privileges that I don’t get because I’M NOT STRAIGHT. I didn’t get them even when I thought I was straight! (Not understanding my own sexual orientation is an example right there. How many straight people grow up missing out on relationships because of internalized heterophobia, or bc of not understanding their own interest in people?)

    It’s also an oversimplification to say my life is easier when I’m dating a man. Sure, I get that male-female relationship privilege, but that’s a backhanded compliment: I’m treated better because I’m doing what straight people do, and straight people are better than queer people. I’m frequently reminded that my past and (hopefully) future relationships with women are not considered important or worthy of the same community support that my relationships with men get. My actual self is constantly insulted in big and small ways, whether people know I’m bi or believe I’m straight or a lesbian.

    Not to mention, there are so many unfortunate dynamics in the ways we learn to do male-female relationships. Some seem easy for me to avoid, but these things can be so subtle, and I’m sure people a generation or two younger will one day cringe at things in my relationships with men that I can’t even see. In the middle ground are the things that I’m aware of but that seem impossible to change, and things that I wonder if I’m imagining… I have found relationships with women to be easier in many ways. And also harder in many ways. I’m not saying women who only date women get off easy. I’m aware of the difficulties there. What frustrates me is that some lesbians assume man-dating is a picnic for me, even to the point that it erases the marginalization I experience as a queer woman. Meanwhile, so many straight people accept and even celebrate these problems in male-female relationships. In either case, it’s clear that’s not my space, not my home, and the things we have in common don’t connect us.

    • I think there is one advantage to being bisexual, which is that it is easier to pass as straight and enjoy straight privilege if you really want it. But doing so necessarily means denying who you are, or at least choosing not to disclose it.

      I reject this privilege because the cost it comes at is too high for me; even when I am dating a man, I want the world to know who I actually am, which I cannot do in a heteronormative world without being actively being “out.”

      But if someone chooses to assume this privilege, I do not blame them, and I think it is nice that we theoretically have that option.

      • I’m definitely with you on that – both on the cost of passing as straight, and on not blaming people who are closeted. All queer people face negatives for being out, and we all face unjust choices in deciding whether to be out.

        People who can pass enjoy advantages over people who can’t. That said, I think there’s an important distinction between passing privilege and straight privilege. If you were straight, you could get all those privileges without denying who you are – that’s a part of straight privilege that you’d never get no matter how convincingly you passed. I agree with everything you’re saying on the topic, and I think it’s important to distinguish between “passing privilege” and “straight privilege” because of the attitude that bi people get straight privilege and therefore don’t deserve queer community support.

        • Hi Maura. I understand the distinction you are trying to make but even if you proudly proclaim your bi-identity (as you should!), live openly as a bi-woman everywhere you go, and wear an “I’m not straight” t-shirt to the marriage license office with your male partner, you will *still* be afforded “straight privilege” despite purposefully (and bravely) giving up your “passing privilege”. Make sense?

          In other words, in that way (marriage) and more than a dozen others I could list off the top of my head, you would have a privilege that my wife and I do not / have not had in our native homes in the south and even up to having to get married in CT instead of our home in NY because it wasn’t legal (until last year). Doesn’t mean you don’t also struggle in a variety of ways as a queer / LGBT+ / non-straight person, but ‘straight privilege’ is very real and definitely something bi-women in ‘straight’ / opposite-sex relationships have access to (in general / often, not always) on a daily basis that gay / lesbian / women-women couples don’t. And nearly everyone here has acknowledged that and I’m not saying that anyone should feel bad about it as it’s outside of their control, but only that it is definitely a factor for those of us in wlw / lesbian relationships that we never *ever* get to forget or stop worrying about. It’s with us every single step of our lives so I’d guess that sometimes that’s where some of ‘tension’ can come from when this topic comes up between gay and bi women. Hopefully that won’t be the same too much longer! :) Though with all of these reductive laws popping up again, who knows? Anyway, hope that was clear, just really wanted to draw attention to “straight privilege” which many in bi-woman + male relationships absolutely get to take advantage of, and the concept you pointed out, as “passing privilege” which you / others are able to take advantage of OR choose to turn down for a variety of reasons (to combat discrimination, to maintain your identity irrespective of your partners’ gender/identity, etc.) and I think it’s a really great convo to have so thanks for bring it up! :) Nothing I’ve ever heard talked about before in this way.

          • Passing offers some immediate safety, but it’s really more complicated than “straight privilege.”

            As a person with invisible disabilities, I’m not privileged because people make fun of “retards” in my presence because they don’t know I have a developmental disability. I’m simply not going to be beaten to death because of it. Being bisexual and passing because you’re in a relationship with a person of the opposite sex means you are still exposed to homophobia and sometimes from people who would otherwise remain silent about it around non-passing LGBT folk because they are “polite” in mixed company. Again. There’s immediate safety, but bisexual people in relationships with opposite sex people still experience homophobia. Just because someone doesn’t know they’re talking about you when they call you names and make threats doesn’t mean they aren’t making you aware that they’re intent on harming you and that you would be in danger if they knew.

          • Definitely been there, on both sides. Have definitely had people–esp when I was in the military–assume I was straight while spewing hate against gay people that made me uncomfortable to the extreme (at a point in my life / career when I literally couldn’t say anything for fear of being discharged under DADT). That sucks, I know. …Still very different than when I hold my wife’s hand and we are physically confronted or stalked. A whole different ballgame. Or when I had surgery go bad and they let straight couples (even just boyfriends and girlfriends) visit each other but made my fiancee (at the time) sit in the waiting room for hours without updating her or letting her see me… I could go on and on about the daily, lived injustices experienced by same-sex / non-“hetero” couples. But since it isn’t a competition (smile) we can agree that harassment sucks all the way around. And erasure sucks too. I’m very glad AS is giving this forum and that I’m able to read and learn more from all of you.

          • Did you even READ the rules of this thread?!
            “This hopefully goes without saying, but this is a space created primarily for bi and multi-gender attracted women! If that does not describe you, you are welcome to be here, but please don’t make the space about you; you’re here to listen and learn and possibly support, but not necessarily to weigh in.
            Thank you! ”

            Way to invade a space for bisexual women just to talk about yourself. Seriously. As if you didn’t just turn harassment into a competition by coming into a space not meant for you to talk about how much worse you have it. As if you then get to turn around and tell people “it’s not a competition” with a fake smile and not have people get upset that you just deliberately violated the express rules of the safe space.

            Your opinions about “straight-passing privilege” weren’t invited here. I signed up to this email thread to get support and not get flack from gold-star lesbians about how much of my experiences I never had to experience, for once. You make me sick. As if the women in poly relationships–including myself–don’t currently get this too. As if we don’t have it in our histories. As if the constant sidelining of marriage issues aren’t relevant to the poly women in this thread who can’t get married to their partners. As if my friends in poly relationships with kids don’t have to face the fear of their children being taken away from them as punishment for their queer lifestyles. As if being with a man somehow protects you from all that shit. As if I haven’t been slapped and harrassed and stalked for the exact same stuff and still feel like I’m risking homophobic backlashes every time I hold my girlfriend’s hand, and do it anyway because we love each other.

            As if that harrassment hasn’t bled into making my relationship with my boyfriend, making it hard for me to engage in public displays of affection at all because some part of me still lives in fear. As if the shit I face as a bisexual woman would be less valid if I didn’t currently have a girlfriend to ‘validate’ it as a present fear. And as if I don’t get lectured on this stuff without a drop of compassion EVERY SINGLE TIME I enter a -dominated queer space.

            There’s no room for my experiences to simply ~exist~ without being sidelined at queer events and there’s no room for me in het ones either, and now there’s not even room within a space created especially for bisexual women to support each other? Thanks a lot. Please explain to me again how privileged I am. Please explain to me again how the ~second~ you’re not experiencing harrassment, the fear stops and everything is okay again. I’m sure the second you stop inhabiting the same room as your girlfriend, the fear stops for you too.

          • I glossed over your attack filled diatribe and will only respond to say this, since I was having a very civil convo with the original commenter who brought up some excellent points I had never considered / experienced: You *really* misread my comment, and zero about it was fake, but I won’t reply further because I very much respect the space you all are building here and your rage and negativity isn’t worth engaging. I have spent *hours* reading every single comment and post on this page. All so I could learn more. And I have (though still more learning to do), and I thank everyone for it. Back to lurking / learning / not participating as this is very much ‘your’ space and I acknowledge and respect that. Good day.

          • I was having a very civil convo with the original commenter who brought up some excellent points I had never considered / experienced: You *really* misread my comment, and zero about it was fake, but I won’t reply further because I very much respect the space you all are building here and your negativity / type of ‘response’ isn’t worth engaging. I have spent *hours* reading every single comment and post on this page. All so I could learn more. And I have (though still more learning to do), and I thank everyone for it. Back to lurking / learning / not participating as this is very much ‘your’ space and I acknowledge and respect that. Have a good day.

          • Lindsay, though I might not have said it as angrily because I don’t think your intentions are all bad, I too was upset by your comments in this thread and felt they went against the stated rules. I don’t think it’s fair to assume Nardia’s anger comes from a “misreading” of your comment. You *did* come here and start making comparisons to demonstrate that you have it worse; your subsequent comment that this “isn’t a competition” came off as pretty rude or, at best, oblivious. You came into a thread you supposedly respect as not yours to correct someone because you don’t agree with the language she uses (straight vs. passing privilege) to talk about her experience — not really your place to do so, in this context. I also don’t understand putting “your” in quotations when you say you respect that this isn’t your space.

            I think your analysis of “straight privilege” is pretty reductive and misses a lot. I didn’t/don’t want to get into it with you because again, this thread is supposed to be free from those arguments. But please know, again, that Nardia is not the only one upset by your comments. I imagine there are many women reading and holding their tongues. You don’t have to like the way she is talking to you, but please don’t dismiss her viewpoint because she expressed it angrily. She’s upset, and she’s not the only one. Please try to have some compassion for the people this thread is for–including the ones who disagree with you.

          • Hi. Thanks for responding like I’m a fellow human being. That’s appreciated. Even when rebuking. You can’t judge intent… for instance, when I said ‘your’ I was trying to make it very plain that I knew it wasn’t ‘my’ place / my thread and I very much appreciate that. For all the good intent I had, it was misconstrued / taken differently than I meant it and I should have done a better job explaining myself or just not commented at all, I guess. But I very much hear you and apologize that I might have upset you or anyone else. *Definitely* not my intention (though we see how intentions have not aligned to outcomes here). Genuine apologies, again.

            I believe it is only through dialogue that we learn, and that learning rarely takes a perfectly straight path and sometimes people (me, in this case) stumble along the way. Before this sub-thread, I had never before considered that I might have “gay privilege” in that I can go to Pride, gay bars, etc. and fit right in and feel “at home” in a way that my bisexual friends (esp. those in relationships with men) can’t. Very eye-opening for me and that (and other things I learned here) will hopefully make me a better friend and ally. I hate when I hear the bi-phobia in the wider LGBT community, hence my decision to dedicate hours to reading this thread, to try to learn. In all those hours of reading, this was the one comment I made (in other words, I just ‘lurked’ and tried to learn and leave the space to others). I apologize if that learning wasn’t perfect or fast enough or if my comment, however well-meaning, was hurtful.

            I won’t comment to anyone again and won’t be lurking / reading anymore here either — so if anyone responds further, it’ll be to silence / hear yourself talk. Have a great day, all.

          • Really, dude? Really? That entire last response was so off (the ones you did before it were pretty messed up but this went downhill pretty quick). Every bit of it was wrong. Folks told you how and you didn’t listen. Now you’re just going to end your whole butt-hurt teen bit by sticking your fingers in your ears and walking off with a “Nya Nya I can’t hear you”? I really hope you are still on this mailing list for a bit. Please please wait a bit and then go back and read Nardia’s post again later. You came here and took in a lot of pain and joy and magic with your “lurking” (ugh that term), and I hope you can go back later and remember the feeling you must’ve had then and hold onto that while you re-read the responses to your posts. It will help you keep your eyes on what they are saying instead of how it feels to you personally. That conversation was a whirlwind of emotion and information and I understand why you got to that point, but I really hope you can go back and regain that feeling that everyone must get from reading this message board (because how is it even possible for anyone to not be moved by this message board?) because that feeling was important and may lead to a more compassionate exchange sometime later (in some future real life situation).

          • Hi Lindsey! I don’t mind that you opened this conversation here. But I’d like to throw out there that passing (as straight) is not a privilege. It is just a different form of the oppression endemic to heteronormative societies. It might be safer, sometimes, but it is no less stressful/harmful.

            Also, this is not the oppression olympics, so I don’t know why we need to argue who has it worse. All LGBTQI+ people suffer under patriarchy, in ways unique to our individual and collective experiences.

          • Lindsey, I agree that male-female couples (and couples perceived as such) have privileges that same-sex couples don’t get. Still, that’s not straight privilege, it’s male-female couple privilege. It sounds like you’re aware of things straight privilege includes, things like: people’s assumptions being in line with your orientation; being aware of and affirmed in your potential attraction; not having people talk shit about your sexual orientation in your presence; not having your orientation be a barrier to complete and respectful medical care. I don’t get straight privilege because I’m not straight. Generally, if a privilege is available to people who are not straight – that privilege may be very real and very painful, but it’s not straight privilege.

            It sounds like you’re aware that being queer brings struggles that aren’t all specific to being in a same-sex relationship, so I hope you’ll get what I’m saying – those other queer issues, the ones I experience even if I’m dating a man, if I really had straight privilege I wouldn’t have those problems.

            And I’m very sensitive to anyone saying that I have straight privilege because I’m so tired of people saying that my life is like a straight woman’s life, with all the perks. I know you didn’t say that, but many people do, and it’s a dangerous idea that forms a barrier between bisexual people and the resources we need. So the difference between male-female couple privilege and straight privilege is very important to me.

            There’s a more subtle distinction I’d like to make. I experience male-female couple privilege but it doesn’t hit me the same way it hits straight people, because I know it comes from the idea that straight people are better than queer people like me. I still get the practical perks you talked about, and that matters a lot, but there’s always an insult buried in it.

            I’d also like to ask that you call couples and relationships “male-female” and “same-sex” instead of “straight relationships,” “lesbian couples,” etc. First, because I’m not straight, so none of my relationships are straight. Second, because I think phrases like “lesbian couple” reinforce the assumption that people are straight or lesbian/gay based on their current partner, which contributes to bi erasure. I get that proclaiming one’s own oppressed orientation is empowering, so I usually don’t mind when lesbians refer to their own relationships as lesbian relationships, but I wish people didn’t talk about other people’s relationships this way.

            Thanks for listening. This conversation is hard for me to have, but worth it to me right now.

            I saw your other comment, about how great it was that there were no negative comments on this article. I wish that were true :/ There were some, but I guess they’ve all been deleted by mods.

          • I mean, I remember being at Pride as a volunteer during a time of serious emotional struggle around my orientation and relationships. Thinking “I wish there were a community to support and celebrate me like this. But looking for that in queer spaces would be inappropriate, because I’ve always dated men and I haven’t suffered Queer Problems.” This despite a relationship with a woman that had just ended a few weeks prior. I basically still thought I didn’t deserve a supportive queer community because of my “straight” life experience! And from what I’ve heard over the years, I know lots of people at that Pride fest would have agreed with me.

            And not just at Pride, but people working on physical and mental health resources, youth homelessness, STI risk, parental denial, peer bullying… I think bi women generally are aware of the oppression of same-sex couples, even if they’ve never dated women. But in queer communities, there seems to be a major lack of awareness of the other issues facing bisexual people, so there’s a lack of badly needed resources and community support.

    • This is an enormously useful addition to the conversation. I didn’t identify as bi until I was 28 and then was floored as I looked back to my childhood and teen years and thought “DUH”. On the one hand for a long time I felt shut out of the LGBT community because I had identified as straight for so long and that utilizing that privilege made it unfair for me to ask to join “the club” but eventually I needed to be out for my own sanity. This is exactly the explanation why to me, it didn’t feel like a privilege to be wrong about my orientation for almost three decades, even if it meant I didn’t experience a certain kind of discrimination or bullying. Thank you.

    • What you said about harmful male-female dynamics we learn is something I worry about so often! I’m really glad that my life partner, who is a man, and I are able to discuss those things. If we couldn’t then we certainly wouldn’t be life partmers! It’s something that’s made me wary of dating men sometimes and like you said the subtle stuff can slip by.

  5. I’m single now (not because of this), but I want to share an experience in case it helps at all.

    In college, I dated a guy from my hometown. It was a long-distance relationship. The relationship was really good, very healthy in pretty much every way.

    His policy was basically “it’s OK to kiss other girls, but if it’s another guy, it’s cheating.” Nowadays I’m strictly monogamous but in college, especially during a long-distance relationship, that was kind of a nice idea to me.

    At a party one day, a cute girl made a move on me and I obliged. I’d had way too many drinks. I didn’t notice, but at some point, the girl moved away and her boyfriend moved in, and I was somehow making out with her then-boyfriend. I didn’t want to, but it happened. Apparently they had pulled this bait-and-switch several times before; it was basically a routine.

    Obviously, it was my fault for being drunk and making out with other people, although I really intended for it to still not be cheating by my then-boyfriend’s standards. So I called him the next morning and immediately explained what happened. He sounded mildly annoyed but understood and essentially told me to be careful. The relationship was strained after that and we broke up soon after.

    I think we would have broken up eventually anyways, since long-distance relationships rarely make it through freshman year of college, but since then I have tried really hard to make sure that with all of my future partners, we don’t have any exceptions for one gender. The idea of having an exception for a gender is kind of weird to begin with. I feel like if you’re going to be in an open relationship, it’s much less complex if it’s totally open, not just partially open.

    I supposed another takeaway could be not to engage when you’re drunk at parties, but I don’t really get into those situations anymore anyways now that I’m old and boring (just kidding, I’m 25, but I have stopped partying to that extent).

    My last boyfriend’s response to “I’m bisexual” wasn’t “that hot,” but was rather “OK,” which is the best response I have ever gotten. I still prefer to date other queer people since being queer is important to me and I like when people I date can understand things that are important to me, although I suppose I could still date strong allies.

      • Confession: I thought this for aaaages. I figured, if I were dating a bisexual man I would want him to be able to hook up with/date other men, because it was simply an experience that couldn’t be equated with me (I mean, yeah, strap-ons, whatever, but it’s not the same). So as a bi woman, I would want the freedom to see other women. It’s just an incomparable experience that I would like the freedom to seek above and beyond any relationship with a man.

        (At the time I don’t think I was as gender-inclusive as I am now, so I’m speaking in cis terms here. Not how I currently operate.)

        Anyway, ultimately this whole concept contributed to my identification as poly/non-monogamous, so I’m not sure it applies anymore. In the context of a strictly monogamous relationship, I agree with you–I resent the idea that hooking up with other girls isn’t cheating because I think it contributes to the assumption/stereotype that bisexuals are incapable of being faithful; that we will always be looking for something “on the side.” All those are super harmful ideas that I don’t want to contribute to.

        • I guess I just don’t seem them as incomparable. I don’t think about woman-sex and man-sex, I just think about who I’m attracted to, which is more often than not a woman but sometimes a man (and sometimes someone who is genderqueer or non-binary).

          • Definitely! I would say I agree with that, and am still evolving and working to internalize it.

            Past me: “I really like this dude I’m seeing, but there’s just something so *different and special* about girls, and I want there to be a perpetual exception in our relationship for exploring that.” (Note: I never did actually have a relationship in which I acted on seeing other women.)

            Current me: “I really like this person I’m seeing, and there’s something so *different and special* about ALL people, and I want my partner(s) and myself to be able to explore that with those other special people.”

            I do think it’s a thing every couple can talk about in the context of their own relationship. Some [cis, in this example] couple might discover that what they find most fulfilling is for her to see other women, while he is monogamous and faithful. I generally think that relationships that thrive have as much equality as possible, but… who knows.

      • YES. Back in middle/high school, I was occasionally hooking up with a close friend, who always had a boyfriend (she was often single, but never for long). The rules with these boyfriends were always, “with other guys it’s cheating, but girls don’t count.” I went along with it because I got to be with her, even if it wasn’t ideal (I was also 11-15 at the time). She was having fun with someone she loved as a friend and had feelings for. I was wishing I could really be with her. It would never have worked out for us to date for real, because we lived too far away, and also she was into a lot of risky stuff I had no interest in (drugs, etc.). But the idea that because I was a girl, it “didn’t count” the same way, that stung.

        She was my first. She always counted to me.

  6. Thank you for this thread. I came into relationships only recently at 21. I had had attractions to multiple genders since 14, but hoped for years things would settle into a pattern. Nope, bisexual for sure. I finally decided to say “fuck it” to waiting for a change that would never come and put myself out there in the dating world. My first date (and eventual first love) was a man. We were together for a year and a half, mostly long distance, before breaking up a few weeks ago. It was extremely depressing to end our romantic relationship, but we remain each other’s closest friend. I’ve had time to reflect on it all. One thing that made me uneasy was my own tendency to get caught up in a particular “life script” when dating a man. There’s so much well-wishing pushing you in one direction- marriage and children. Even if you see yourself wanting that it’s hard not to second guess how much of it is yourself and how much of it is the influence of everything around you. And people did treat me differently when I was dating. My mom got me a hope chest as a sign of her approval (side note: anyone else had this experience? I genuinely do not know a single soul who also owns a marriage chest stuffed with tablecloths and towels). My straight friends were aflutter with happiness, but my queer friends seemed more disappointed. I think they thought I really was just a closeted lesbian in the beginning, and my dating sort of ruined that thought. It was like I had chosen the wrong side. Currently I’m not sure what my dating life will look like in the future or if it will exist at all. I have given myself a year to fully get over the loss of my last relationship and to decide whether to continue to pursue such things. I anticipate a lot of growth.

    • Good luck! Sounds like you’ve got a really interesting journey ahead of you! I’m sorry your queer friends can be jerks. It might be because a lot of people are just jerks. I can see at least three people who are jerks from where I’m sitting right now, but I still hang out with them ;)

      (p.s. only just realizing the etymology of “jerk,” and wondering if it’s totally inappropriate for AS or really appropriate for this particular thread)

  7. Hi, I’m bisexual woman married to a man. I’ve been on a few dates with women, but honestly almost every romantic or sexual experience I’ve had was with my husband. He knows I’m bi because we were friends first, and he knew me when I was experiencing my first major heartbreak over a woman. I probably would have told him either way, but a large part of my bi identity stems from that incident, so it’s hard to say. My husband and I started out as friends with benefits, and there were a few times in which other women were involved, but that never developed into anything overly sexual especially for me and the other woman. I am still interested in exploring those missed opportunities, and I think he is open to bringing another woman home, but we haven’t talked about it since before the wedding, and I’m worried to bring it up because I do feel a lot of pressure not from him but from myself and from society to not perpetuate the greedy bisexual stereotype. It’s slightly more complicated than all of that, but that is some stress that I feel as a bi person.

    • I say fuck the greedy bisexual stereotype if it keeps you from having a completely consensual and fulfilling sex life. You don’t have to live up to anyone’s standards but your own (and maybe your partner’s).

  8. I’m so happy this thread exists!

    My longest relationships have been with straight cis men (and I’m currently in a relationship with one). In college I had romantic/sexual encounters with a few women, including one I dated for about six months. I loved her very deeply and I still think about her often, seven years later.

    Now, being in a serious relationship with a man, everybody assumes I’m straight, and there’s no reason for any person to ask if I’m anything BUT straight, so I never feel like I have the opportunity to correct the assumption. If I were to tell people that I’m bi, I worry that it would come across as a random, odd, egocentric, unprompted “announcement.” So I just keep my trap shut.

    Close friends know, and they support me. My boyfriend knows, and he supports me. Sometimes I try to tell myself that those people knowing is what really matters–but if I search within for even just a few moments, I can easily unearth my dissatisfaction with the fact that an important part of my identity is invisible to most of the people around me.

  9. I’m so happy to see so much support here!! I’m 26 and I only publicly came out as bi about a year ago. It’s kinda sad but one reason it took me so long is that one of my good friends for the last several years is bi and had dated and slept with multiple women and made me feel like I wasn’t queer enough because I hadn’t. I had those worries of, am I not bi until I’ve slept with a woman? Am I not bi until I’ve dated a woman? And it did take me finally sleeping with a woman to come out publicly because it was such an affirmation for me of yes, what I’ve known for a decade is true, but I shouldn’t have to prove anything to anyone. I think there were some weird jealousy issues with my friend, and she felt like I was “taking” her identity or something, and I’m glad to see that in general, the bi community is actually wonderfully inviting and accepting and I am finally feeling part of the LGBT community like I’ve always wanted.

    • @erika00177

      It’s kinda sad but one reason it took me so long is that one of my good friends for the last several years is bi and had dated and slept with multiple women and made me feel like I wasn’t queer enough because I hadn’t.
      I can relate to this so much! A girl I was friends with (and at one point had been massively crushing on whilst stupidly assuming she was straight) came out as bi in the context of announcing how she made out with girls while drunk, and to me it felt kind of implied that if I hadn’t kissed or dated girls then in her eyes I wouldn’t count as bi and would think I was somehow “copying her.”

      • Nooo I messed up HTML

        It’s kinda sad but one reason it took me so long is that one of my good friends for the last several years is bi and had dated and slept with multiple women and made me feel like I wasn’t queer enough because I hadn’t.

  10. Hi Autostraddle peeps :) I’m Scylla, and I’m a bisexual woman married to a man. I have never dated/had sexual experience with women (unless you count cybersex…) and only recently came out as bisexual in certain spaces. I have, however, been aware of my attraction to women as well as men since my late high school years. I don’t believe I “became” bisexual (which is a silly thing to say anyway, but I hear it from people sometimes) so much as that my bisexuality became increasingly apparent to me as I’ve grown older and continued to educate myself about LGBT issues and causes.

    Recently I read a post about how to define bisexuality and I like the “attraction to two or more genders” definition best. I’m sure I’m attracted to men and women, as I’ve felt and experienced both, but I’m leaving my horizons open for people of non-binary gender because that just feels right for me. What I’ve come to understand about myself is that gender is a negligible part of the equation when it comes to love and attraction. I’m interested in the whole picture: physical, emotional, mental. In fact, as I’ve gotten older (in my late 30’s here) and my libido has cooled, I find the latter two–an emotional connection, and mentally stimulating interactions–to be of greater importance in keeping my interest in a relationship (though sexual attraction is definitely still part of it). If my husband ever admitted to me “I’m a transgender woman” or “I’m a genderqueer person” one day, I would be completely on board and supportive, because those identities do not change what I love and find attractive about the person I married. If I were single, I’d be looking not for a man or a woman or any other specific gender, but for someone who brings out the best in me, someone who accepts the worst of me, someone who shares my interests, someone I can have amazing conversations with, someone I feel comfortable with in my personal space, someone who I feel the same way about as they feel about me.

    The first time it really struck me that I’m capable of loving and desiring multiple genders was actually through anime. Yes, Sailor Moon was one of them (I’m a HUGE Haruka/Michiru fan <3) but the anime that really drove that point home for me was Shoujo Kakumei/Revolutionary Girl Utena. The one thing I found extremely appealing about Revolutionary Girl Utena is that it never focused on the gender of character pairings in the show. Admittedly, many of the relationships turn out to be harmful and damaging to said characters–but nonetheless, when Juri admitted attraction to Shiori, the issue was not that they're both girls, but the interplay of jealousy and desire between them. The show centers around duels between individuals bearing the Rose Signet, and the winner of the duel is ritually engaged to the Rose Bride, Anthy, regardless of whether the winner is male or female. Utena herself is a young woman who aspires to be a Prince and save the Rose Bride from being passed around from duelist to duelist without any care for her feelings. Both the Utena TV show and the movie strongly allude to a bond between Utena and Anthy that transcends friendship. But Utena also expresses attraction to men–the original Prince, Dios, for example, as well as Touga and Akio at various points in the show. One could thus argue Utena is bisexual, though in Revolutionary Girl Utena, no one uses 'lesbian' 'gay' 'bisexual' or any label related to sexual orientation, which makes the show feel truly like gender plays a distant role in what moves the characters to love, hate or desire one another.

    Following that revelation, I've gradually found an avenue to express my desire for multiple genders, despite going through monosexual relationships with men. My interest in tabletop roleplaying was pivotal in this, as I'm able to take on the role of characters that express varying gender identities and sexual orientations. Why didn't I seek out non-male partners while single? I could sum that up in many ways: I wasn't entirely sure back then whether I was truly bisexual or just bi-curious, and didn't want to hurt anyone. I was working through issues with depression and anxiety which made me very asocial and afraid to "stick out" as a bisexual person in both straight and gay communities. I thought that a relationship would grant me safety and security, which at the time I associated with male figures (this is a rather old-school Freudian sort of view, but I had a difficult relationship with my father, so I feel I was looking for a stable relationship with a man who could make me feel safe instead of terrified.)

    My coming out happened within the past couple months, and I would say it's almost entirely because I have broadened my social circle to include more LGBT people, and have seen first hand what they struggle through just to be accepted as who they are. It's through listening to and reading about these struggles that I decided I wanted to speak out in favor of my own sexual orientation. Bi-erasure and bi-shaming are real things, and one of the best ways I can think of to combat these is by showing people that bisexual people exist. We're your friends, your family, your co-workers, your neighbors, your lovers, your spouses, your employees, your public service workers, and everywhere. And now that you see us, we can work on stamping out the harmful assumptions people make about us: that we're invariably promiscuous or destined to cheat, that we "have" to settle on one gender or "prove" to anyone we're really bisexual. None of those things are true and we should be proud to be who we are!

  11. I’m another one of those bi ladies who saw the title of this thread and teared up a little bit. Thank you so much Autostraddle for letting me know that you see me. I honestly can’t thank you enough.

    In high school I had somewhat of a reputation of being a slut, and I think to most people my bisexuality was less a part of my identity and more a part of what made me a slut. The rest of what made me a slut was going through different boyfriends at a more accelerated speed, which when added to a general culture of slut-shaming and misogyny created this reputation for me. A lot of my internalized biphobia comes from a thought of mine that, no matter what I do, this perception from others that I’m a slut is going to continue following me throughout my life.

    I identify really strongly with other comments about how bi ladies in relationships with men can sometimes start to overcompensate by shouting our identity to the high heavens in an attempt to be seen. I notice myself doing it a lot but am not sure how to avoid it. I so desperately want my identity to be validated, but every time I mention my boyfriend, I know I’ll be pushed into the straight or ally corner again.

    I’ve been dating my current boyfriend for two years and it’s the healthiest, most stable relationship I’ve ever had. But at the same time, I often worry that if he ends up being my life partner, I’ll never get the visibility that I want so badly. I’ve been in a relationship with a woman before, but since she’s trans, transphobia and transmisogyny come in. Sometimes it gets bad enough that, when I talk about having dated a girl, even other queer people will say awful things about how she doesn’t really “count”. I feel really stuck in that I’m definitely most comfortable in a monogamous relationship, and that I’m very happy with my boyfriend, but at the same time my internalized biphobia and transphobia tells me that if I never date someone who will be read in public as a woman, I’ll never know what it truly means to be bi or queer at all.

    I know I’m not the only one who feels this way sometimes, and that’s what’s so powerful about this thread. Thank you all for being vulnerable and sharing your stories.

  12. I feel like a bright light just shined on me/we/us. So y’all also exist? And you’ve also been made to feel out of place, not queer enough, too queer, and the butt of jokes told by lesbian characters and performers on every platform of entertainment and media? Huh.

    I have a lot of feelings. I’m just gonna scroll through and indulge in this rare representation and moment.

  13. I just started crying a little. I have often felt guilty and lonely because I pass, but it’s so true: passing is erasure, not privilege. I wish more than anything that I didn’t pass as well as I do. I feel like some sort of lunatic, desperately trying to insist to people that I’m not straight, even though I’m engaged to a dude.

    Just last week I had an upsetting experience with a co-worker which left me feeling empty, and because this post is all about feelings, I finally get to deal with it. One of my co-workers, a gay man, was talking to me about his boyfriend, and how he was debating breaking up with him because his boyfriend had just tearfully admitted that he was pansexual, and my co-worker felt “betrayed” and like he “couldn’t trust him not to change his mind and pick a woman” over him. He was going on and on and on about it, asking my opinion, so I told him that as a fellow pansexual, I understood where his boyfriend was coming from, and he probably lied about it early in the relationship because he feared this EXACT reaction.

    Long story short, the discussion turned from my co-worker’s boyfriend to my sexual identity, and my co-worker proceeded to tell me that I just “don’t seem bi.” He went on at length about how he “just couldn’t believe it” and I “seem so straight.” If you know me well, you’d know that I am, essentially, a low-femme gay woman who happens to be in love with a man. I was left having to defend my queerness to a fellow queer person, and felt even more invisible than I do on a daily basis. I spent the next five minutes telling him when I came out, how I came out, who I am, and after all that he just shook his head and said, “Wow, you just seem so straight!”

    My queerness has not been accepted by much of my extended family, as they just don’t see it as relevant, since in their eyes, I’m lucky to be engaged to a man and passing. I even was told I don’t have a place in my extended family by an aunt and cousin, just because I identify as bi/pan and “won’t let it go.” So to hear from a queer person that I don’t fit in, and I’m not gay enough, and it’s so shocking that I’m queer was really upsetting and I felt so empty and useless.

    I feel like my sexual identity is one big failure sometimes: I’m too straight to be gay, but too gay to be straight, and my experiences with bi-erasure are made fun of and undermined by so many binary people who see me as “lucky” for passing.

    I don’t feel lucky for passing. I feel invisible. And I’m desperately trying to be seen for who I am.

    • Oh, girl, I feel you <3 Sometimes it feels like being bi is the opposite of being "greedy" and getting "both sides" because really it just feels like you don't belong anywhere. Passing is definitely erasure and denying your identity hurts. It's sad that many people in the LGBT community are still behind on this.

    • As a straight male, it’s hard to believe how different your world is from my own, or that of most men. As I read your post, you are bi and unable to find a stable and accurate sexual identity that you can be in comfortably. You seem kind of adrift along gay-bi-straight – too many choices, too few roles.

      Think how that looks from here: My wife basically lost interest in sex after our last child, now 18, was born – sort of never returned from the hit sex inevitably takes with a new arrival. That was the culmination of what I had sensed already with the births of the other two – her interest in sex was primarily to have kids, something she kept from me. So with the last child, she no longer had any interest and sex faded away into mediocrity, then nothing. She does not think about it any more, and I stay away because I really don’t want to be with someone that isn’t into it. The choices are (pardon me) cheat, beat the meat or hit the street — at best unfulfilling, at worst a nightmare that destroys multiple lives, including those of children. So, sitting here at the opposite extreme, having too many choices looks like a kid in the candy store. Being married to a bi woman looks like crazy fun fantasy from here.

      Since of course you need my advice, what I would suggest is basically tell your fiance that your gay side can’t be disowned and the two of you need to figure out how to accommodate it. Presumably this leads to some sort of acceptable outlet for yourself, with/out him involved. The one thing I thnk you should not do is try to disown or shut down part of your sexuality. I have dealt with just that for years and it is no way to live. Put succinctly – be glad you have so many choices and find the ones that work for you.

      • Ray, did you not read the line at the top that says “this is a space created primarily for bi and multi-gender attracted women! If that does not describe you, you are welcome to be here, but please don’t make the space about you”??

        I’m taking your “Since you need my advice” line as ironic, but still–responding to someone who has just said “I don’t feel lucky for passing, I feel invisible” by telling her she should see her life as the fulfillment of YOUR “crazy fun fantasy”–in a forum that is supposed to be a safe space!–is fetishizing and objectifying. Not OK.

        Since you seem to think it’s your role to dole out advice (even with your ironic caveat, that’s what you’re doing), here’s some: Your options in your situation are not “beat, cheat, or hit the street.” Go to marriage counseling. Have an honest conversation with your wife about your relationship. Consider whether an open relationship would work for you. Find a therapist or friend to talk to, not a forum that is explicitly not a place for you to project your fantasies. Or: get a fucking divorce.

        • Thank you for your post! After reading Ray’s post I felt uneasy and almost cancelled my email notifications for this thread. I couldn’t put a finger on it, but I felt uncomfortable and like the tone of this space had changed from something I was really excited about to something I felt a little icky about. You got right to the root of it and called him out intelligently and bravely. Thank you for making me feel good about being a bi woman in this thread again. I just started feeling weird that there are straight men with no connection to bi women whatsoever posting and mansplaining here. Why are they here? Is this because of the fetization of bi women? It’s inappropriate. This is one of the few little safe spaces where bi women can be themselves. I specifically never tell casual acquaintances or co-workers anything that would lead them to my sexual orientation because I’m so uncomfortable with the fetization of bi women. Ray and other dudes without a connection to bi women: please let us have this space.

      • Your clearly malfunctioning and non-communicative relationship is not helpful to the conversation.

        Your assertion that this woman speaking in a space designed for women needs, wants, or solicited your advice is presumptive and insulting.

        Your point of view is part of the problem. You see this woman as some fetishized perversion from your view. Your world view is part of the problem we bisexual women face.

        she does not have a “Gay Side”. She is a bi/pan person who is BI or PAN not Straight and Gay. She is not Straight some days and GAY when it suits your pornographic purposes. This is not something she switches sides for. Her identity is continual, not a light switch.

        She was not expressing the want or need to go out and have sex with women. She was expressing the need to be accepted and recognized as bi/pan WITHOUT any demonstration or proof. she does not need to adhere to you or her gay male coworker’s rules on HOW TO BE BI/PAN.

        Your comments are harmful. Your presence is not welcome. You do not have the right to tell anyone they have it lucky because YOU do not understand their struggle.

        And you didn’t even understand what she was venting about.

        • …sigh. Yet another close minded ‘progressive, anti-sexism equal rights for all (unless I don’t agree with them)’ SEXIST BIGOT. Worse yet, a believer that ‘women are little girls who need protection from the opinions of others’ – who infantilize adult women.

          I have a daughter that just graduated college, where she was spectacularly successful at the path SHE chose. The only thing I ever said to her about sex roles or gender – and believe me I meant it – was to focus on what she wants out of life and how to get there – NOT on the unfairness and sexism of the world ahead of her, which is the public obsession of ‘feminists’ who could focus on how women can deal with the obstacles that are unique to them. More succinctly, in this country feminists are consumed with ‘outing’ rather than ‘overcoming’ and she is better than that – REAL feminism.

          ______________________________

          If you made it this far… I am a woman. My name is Raysa, the name of my Israeli grandmother. My tribute to her is my windmill quest against contemporary feminism – I lurk in drag in feminist blogs and come out (so to speak) to scorn the brand of destructive faux feminism described above. I am a longtime feminist, from its start in the sixties, and was briefly bi (2 yrs in college), gave it up for Lent (yes, that’s a joke) and never went back, though we stay in touch (did even before Facebook). I’m personally familiar with the confusion and untethered identity, though I don’t think they disoriented me as much as some of the others here.

          The previous post that bent your nose was an accurate description of my marriage, regendered (t-marriage?); I am a sexual being with no acceptable choices to express it. I endure rather than take a chance on destroying what matters most to me.

          I write in drag deliberately to elicit what I see as contemporary feminist bigotry and lockstep dysfunction, the poison that invaded the original feminism I did and do support – and taught all my children, m and f. It was and is a source of strength in my life, which has included raising three kids, none waylaid by the sloughs of helplessness, especially that of gender. I’m now retired, but am also an authority in my academic field (wrote a paper with over a thousand citations), made the key breakthrough that enabled a startup company to get to the big time and made a fortune in the ’90’s on Wall St. Believe what you want, nmp – but you might want to consider words from a woman who has a history of accomplishment in a difficult, sexist world. I also survived, barely, breast cancer in my forties. That is REAL feminism I am very proud of, especially when young women see in me a role model.

          If you will put aside your own bigotry that causes you to be offended by the ‘maleness’ of my post, perhaps you will see the actual message (see your own prejudices, probably not).

          That is: You are not the only one with painful gender role issues. I live with one for which there is precious little validation or even recognition. You have many choices for how you choose to deal with it – I have none, and can only daydream of those with creative and fulfilling sex lives. My own response would be to connect with my fiance, and together find the right choices – disowning your sexuality is a very bad thing.

          Maybe some of you will hear me, though from experience I know the ones who repost will be the ones who do not. You don’t need to reply and try to attack me – it’s not you I’m trying to reach. I’ve heard it all anyway. God only knows what damage you are wreaking on capable young women. At least hear someone tell you the truth — you have a long road to adulthood so open your mind and get started.

          • tl;dr “Surprise, I was trolling to make a point! Also, I think young feminists shouldn’t complain so much and pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, like I did!”

          • Raysa,

            There are a lot of assumptions in your posts (as a “man” and as a woman). You have made it clear that if anyone disagrees with you or “attacks” what you have said, that they are not hearing or listening to you and somehow not as evolved or as much of a feminist as you. But here it goes anyway.

            For one, you’re tone is very patronizing. You assume that the women in this group are all young, and even if they were, there is no reason to approach them as if they’re feelings and experiences aren’t as valid as your own. In addition, I question your choice to infiltrate a thread such as this where many many women have expressed relief out of finding for the first time a space that they feel reflects they’re own experiences. I have to question why you feel so threatened by women expressing their emotions, and expressing their experiences of being silenced and invalidated based on their sexuality. Why you see this “weak” and as some kind of anti-feminist onslaught I do not understand. Second Wave Feminism partially came about through consciousness raising groups where women talked about and shared their feelings for the first time in women only spaces. How is that different than this?

            In addition, you seem to be confusing your problem of being in a sexless relationship and not being able to express your self sexually with sexual orientation. Your situation with your partner would be upsetting and difficult for anyone. However, having a sexless long term relationship/marriage etc. is not based on the sexual orientation of the people in it. There are many gay/lesbian, bi and straight people in unhappy relationships. My being bi means I am emotionally and or attracted to more than one gender. It does not mean I am wanting to be with multiple partners any more than you or any other straight or gay/lesbian person. The idea that bi people have more “choices” than gay/lesbian and straight people is problematic at best and enforces bi-phobia. I can not choose who I fall in love with and decide to marry any more than you. Being attracted to more than one gender only means I am open to falling in love with more than one gender. Not more than one person. And if someone defines as polyamorous that also does not mean they can control or choose who they fall in love with and when, it only means they are open to having an open relationship with multiple loving partners. But being poly has nothing to do with orientation either. There are many gay/lesbian and straight poly people out there.

            So your words and assumptions that 1) everyone here is young 2) young people’s experiences are not as valid as your own 3) that women sharing emotions in a mostly women’s space is enforces weakness and “destructive faux feminism” 4) that bi/pan people have more “choices” in relationships and that those “choices” include being with multiple partners at once are all extremely alienating and harmful.

            I have to be honest hear, I question your intentions. You do not identify as bi. You say yourself that you were “briefly bi” in college for 2 years. You seem to be saying this not as a way to claim you identify as bi but as a way to contribute to the false idea that being bi is just a phase that young women go through while “experimenting” in college. So you are not someone who is coming from a place of understanding what someone who is bi is going through. You say you are here to be heard, to reach some of these young women. Yet your delivery simply railroads the legitimate experiences of every woman here, whether you understand where she is coming from or not. If you are who you really say you are, it seems you have fallen into the pattern of wanting things to not change, of wanting the feminism of the 70’s, romanticizing it even, and now feeling threatened by the natural progression of every movement. Second wave feminism was a strong, powerful important movement but it was rife with racism and homophobia. Every movement starts with people coming together and speaking in a safe space about their shared experiences of discrimination. A space where people can build confidence and pride. That is what is happening here.

            You have not approached what you say your goals are in a manner that I trust. You piggy backed on someones heart felt post and attacked her. You then attacked the women who responded with some legitimate examples of how bi-phobic your comments are. I even question if you are a troll and should be reported. But I don’t see an option under your name to do that. Thankfully there have been some positive posts from some actual men. And this thread has been full of heartwarming positive, honest, risktaking sharing.

    • “a low-femme gay woman who happens to be in love with a man” – Thank you for your phrasing of this. It’s similar to how I feel and makes perfect sense to me. But when I tell people I am a queer woman who happens to be in love with a man it feels like the queer community thinks “I’m too straight to be gay”. I certainly identify with the sentiment of being too straight to be gay, but too gay to be straight. Frustrating…

  14. Getting linked to this thread was one of the best & brightest things to happen to me today / this week / this month. Thank you so much, delightful people. <3

    I could make this comment a thousand times longer and rehash all the points brought up above–is there a queerness cutoff I'm failing to reach? If I'm the only person on my block cheering at the bi group walking in the Pride parade, how dirty are the looks I'll receive? Has anybody ever proven that "straight-passing" is a legitimate complaint leveled against bi/pan folk or is it the LGBT community's version of welfare queens?–but I think the number one "THIS" response I had was people automatically assuming I'm straight and how much it makes me want to screech at them like a flock of bats.

    The dude I'm currently dating: great! His friends: very straight! It's the first time I've dated in a social group where I'm the only LGBT person and I feel like I need some kind of banner of visibility, like a rainbow mohawk or a necklace that says "BISEXUAL" in big plastic letters, to remind them that I'm not straight and I don't want to hear casual prejudices & the occasional slurs (you know the ones) because they think it's cute.

    So, really, the major downside to my current relationship is that he comes with other straight people, and they are e x h a u s t i n g. I did a lot of work with my own friendships to basically excise the people in my life whose microaggressions weren't worth dealing with, but romantic relationships are about compromise, right? Compromising and deciding whether minor comments are worth putting down my beer and becoming a rage monster at an otherwise lovely barbecue.

    • I feel this on so many levels! There are times where I’ve wanted to have big neon letters above me in dazzling colors proclaiming “queer!!!” and able to accurately reflect my multi-gender attractions. Microagressions can tend to be a deal breaker for me, especially as a person who doesn’t identify with any gender but presents very feminine, I sometimes feel like a a fly on the wall thats infiltrated a conversation that can perpetuate homophobic and transphobic vibes and none to pleasant to the ear to hear. I tend to pick and choose my battles. Sometimes its worth calling them out on it, but other times it isn’t or I really consider putting myself out there and risking possible aggression or hostility- it takes a bit to read whether a person is open minded enough to listen, but for the most part some of the best things you can do is continue to claim your space and identity as bi and refuse to let it become invisible. Your identity is legitimate and still exists no matter who your with, what you eat and where you go, and it keeps folks who may not know better from “forgetting” or not validating it.Owning it takes courage, ( I wish I could always live by my own words) but its empowering and helps create the space your bi identity rightfully deserves. :)

      • Ok, here’s my problem with dating a dude with mostly-straight friends. When I get sexual/flirtatious vibes from women I assume to be straight, I am super confused. Are they flirting with me? Or that just not part of their world? If I was doing/saying what they are saying to ANYBODY, I would consider it flirting, but because they are part of this straight friend group, dating men, etc, I’m just super unsure of how to read it.

    • “Compromising and deciding whether minor comments are worth putting down my beer and becoming a rage monster at an otherwise lovely barbecue.” Amen! I’ve been that girl quite a few times.

  15. Autostraddle, thank you. Straddlers, thank you for your stories. They are my story.

    What I see here is that so many of us have struggled with our identities for years and years, struggled with confusion and fear and feeling outcast and fake. This is a real thing. Research shows that bisexual people struggle with their identities more and for longer than gay people. Heck, this thread shows it!

    I see that the experience of many bi straddlers is that they came out the other side of their confusion and feel out and proud and strong in their identities. This is true for me. I actually went back in the closet (it was the worst) and it took a lot of soul-searching and self-validation to come back out. I’m staying out now. The air is much fresher out here.

    What is coming up for me in reading this thread is that it is vitally important we bisexuals claim our space. I believe that if we claim our space, eventually others will accept that we are here and deserve that space. So the question that I keep asking myself is, how can I claim my space? What can I do to affirm bisexuality? I am out and proud on social media, I talk with friends and family about it, and I’m going to be a primary care provider who really gets it. That feels good. Folks, what else?

    • What is coming up for me in reading this thread is that it is vitally important we bisexuals claim our space. I believe that if we claim our space, eventually others will accept that we are here and deserve that space. So the question that I keep asking myself is, how can I claim my space? What can I do to affirm bisexuality? I am out and proud on social media, I talk with friends and family about it, and I’m going to be a primary care provider who really gets it. That feels good. Folks, what else?

      This is so great and honestly made me tear up a little bit. Thanks for claiming space in the world and encouraging the rest of us to do so!

    • One thing this thread has validated for me is that it’s okay that I have struggled (and continue to struggle) for so long about my identity. That I’m not the only queer bisexual who has taken longer to start dating or questioning my attractions or felt confused because our identities as queer bisexuals are not affirmed anywhere around us. I am happy that there are many more gay and lesbian characters in the media nowadays but it would have helped me a lot (would still help me now) to see queer bisexual women like us in movies, books, etc.

  16. I was so excited to see this thread! I am a pan cis-woman dating a bi cis-man. I only discovered my pansexuality about 4 years ago when I was in a relationship with a woman. The relationship didn’t end well unfortunately, but I’m really grateful it happened. I was amazed at how one girl turned my idea of who I was on its head.

    I think many of my family members consider it a phase, but it made me feel whole. Finding my label after I fell in love with her was like coming home.

    I appreciate this thread so much! I feel seen and I think so many of us in this fringe position really need to hear that sometimes.

    • “feeling whole” and “coming home” – these feelings are so real, and the fact that I feel them and other people feel them about claiming identities, with or without labels, is what gets me past the worst self-doubt.

  17. Hooray for this thread! I am joining the folks who finally signed up for an account because of it.

    I id as queer, though I’m trying to get better about claiming the bi label as a way to combat bi erasure and my own internalized biphobia. The latter has been rough for me, because I have been attracted to/involved with more men than women over time, and constantly struggled with not feeling queer enough. Most of the time I’m open to multiple genders – and the longest and best relationship of my life with a woman – but sometimes I’m just interested in men. And at those times, I’ve had trouble: if I were really queer, shouldn’t I *always* be open to dating women?

    I’ve gotten better at relaxing about this over time, and focusing on patterns in my attraction that have less to do with people’s gender identity. Like: I am most attracted to people with a dry, sarcastic sense of humor, radical politics, and queerness of one kind or another.

    This preference for a partner’s queerness has killed an otherwise great relationship with a straight cis dude. For all his other wonderful qualities, he just couldn’t ever connect to my queerness on a personal level, and I couldn’t stick with that. I’m currently dating a cis queer/bi man, which is so much better, as we can talk through our mutual bi erasure in being together while combatting it by saying things like “you’re such a cute little queer” in public.

    • Thanks for adding this @professorqueermo – it’s interesting what you say about your sexual preferences changing at different times.

      I really hear you on the difference it makes being with folks – men especially – who are queer-thinking themselves. I’ve had two significant relationships with men, the longer – and better – being with a guy who I knew ‘got it’, I never felt like I had to explain myself or reinforce my identity with him (though I had some internal insecurity/biphobia and ‘fraud’ feelings.) The other was a much straighter relationship with a much straighter guy, and though he was great, ultimately I knew deep down he wasn’t queer enough for me and ended it.

  18. I just breathed a sigh of utter relief.

    I have always seen myself as queer-loving-lesbian (bisexual for my parents) and had yet to feel any kind of feels for a man.

    Which means that I am currently freaking out because there is a guy. And I like him. And it looks it might be more than just sex.

    So far I have been in love, in relationships and in lust with women, and have only ever been in lust with guys. I have had my fair share of fluid sharing with men but it has never gone beyond the whole friends with benefit thing.

    And enter that guy, and … how do you do with guys? I have the vague feeling it is like with ladies but guys, they thing differently and oh my emotions, how do you share those? (do I sound panicky? maybe it’s because I am and I feel like a 13 years old with a crush who likes her as well)

    I am slightly scared of scarying him away with my fluidity and “I have never been monogamous before” vibes, which I never thought about before because more often than not partners found my bisexuality as a ‘hot thing’ and as a reason to ask me if I’d be down for a m/f/f threesome one of those days. And they were just partners for the sexy times and not … potential boyfriend material.

    (this is becoming very aunt agony territory)

    Anyway. I’m having a mild freak out and this thread, the existence of it, to be able to talk about it : so. much. win.

    (my ex paramour of awesome was a bisexual lady and I didn’t have any trouble with her persuing manly interest and falling in and out of love with them. She taught me to be more open and fluid in life)

    • I mean, some people might disagree with me, but there really isn’t a whole lot of difference when it comes to sharing your feelings with a man than with a woman. i mean, some men are the biggest “girls” I’ve ever met. They are fragile and emotional and sometimes jealous, but often quite funny and gentle and creative. There’s the whole patriarchy thing, and the bisexual fetishization thing which I would totally totally watch out for and take as a red flag if you see it, but there really are some gems out there and chances are if you been getting down with hip ladies, this guy is a pretty hip dude. So go forth! It might work out! It might not! One way to find out though…

      Let me know how this goes.

  19. Have any of you had experiences with your male partner feeling insecure/inadequate/unattractive to you because you also like women? I think part of the trouble my partner has had with it is that he’s so fucking straight he doesn’t understand how anyone who was into women would ever date a dude. It’s gotten better after multiple conversations about how we both feel oppressed by presumed gender roles in our hetero relationship (he’s somehow also almost as insecure about not being masculine enough??) but I still wish I could do a better job explaining to him that his maleness is part of what makes him beautiful to me, if not a prominent part, and I don’t feel the lack of sleeping with women any more acutely than most people feel the lack of sleeping with other people generally in monogamous relationships.

    • in all seriousness though i really think the idea of considering your partner’s gender as like, the be-all-end-all of your relationship is part of the problem – it’s no more intimidating to me if my partner is into multiple genders than it is to consider the fact that they might be attracted to … anyone?

      I don’t feel the lack of sleeping with women any more acutely than most people feel the lack of sleeping with other people generally in monogamous relationships.

      exactly.

    • Definitely. My only committed, long-term relationship was with a cis male for 6 years. He knew about my bisexual orientation; he asked questions on occasion but only to understand me and not for any ulterior motive i.e. “omg, we could have threesomes?!” (we were monogamous, so that was never relevant). I appreciated that he didn’t equate bisexuality with “slutty sorority girls” porn, and aside from When we talked about my attraction to women, he seemed secure enough in his masculinity or maleness that it did not cause a problem—and our discussions about it never involved jealousy or objectification. I would suggest voicing your feeling re: his maleness is part of what makes him beautiful to you.

  20. I just realized that I am bi, myself. I’ve been in a relationship with a man for almost nine straight years so my queerness was always apparent in the way I spoke with him, but it has always been somewhat of a secret. I’ve had crushes on women, but I never knew what to do with it. After all, I’m in a monogamous relationship.

    When I realized that I was bi-/pan-sexual… Things made sense. It felt freeing, but I also realized that I feel into another trap. How do I tell my parents? How will it affect my conversations with coworkers? How can I ever express it while in this relationship?

    I talked to him at length about it. He’s a heterosexual cisgendered man. I was always confused about him never having any interest in any men… I never realized how weird it was to be bi. The conversation between us made it clear that I can start exploring my bisexuality and try to pursue other women. I guess we’re now monogam-ish? Poly? I’m not sure… I’ve been working on it since then.

    I still feel weird about it all because I’m trying to figure out what to do with this new identity. I’ve been telling my closest friends when it made sense, but it’s an odd transition. I still feel weird about how long it took for me to admit it. I’m trying to figure this stuff out right now.

    I don’t think I’ll ever tell my family about it.

    I have another friend who is navigating that too from the other end, so to speak.

  21. Thanks for the thread Autostraddle!

    I have read a few comments on here, and have heard many times throughout my life, stories of bi women often being with men for a long time and then coming to the realization that they are also attracted to women.

    For me, I have always seen myself as a lesbian, but have over time realized that I am also attracted to men. It is an odd thing to come to terms with. I am in a relationship with a woman right now, but I wonder if in the future I could even date a man. Would I know how? I wouldn’t want anyone thinking they “turned me straight”.

    Sometimes, when I find a man attractive I will ignore it as to not compromise the identify I have built for myself. Other times, if I do comment about an attractive man, my friends and family – both LGBT and straight – get very confused.

    This is why I like to mainly think of myself as a queer person – fluid in both gender and sexuality. Looking for others in a similar mindset. Being somewhat genderqueer makes me wonder if “bi” is even the right term for me. I find myself wondering if “bi” even exists within the genderqueer space.

  22. This is such a great thing! Thanks Autostraddle! I feel like up until this point I’ve never had a space where my attraction to multiple genders were completely validated or given the opportunity to be spoken about, I really appreciate this! <3 <3 <3
    I have to say that being a person who identifies as queer and presents most of the time feminine it's a bit tricky to navigate dating and feeling comfortable and safe enough to disclose to the person I'm dating my orientation. I recently found this to be a case of consideration when I went out to dance some swing in Chicago and ended up spending the majority of the time with a cis-guy that I found to be attractive and a fun dance partner. I go to a pretty liberal and inclusive college, so it came as a surprise to me that outside of that bubble my queer identity if often invisible. What was more surprising was when my dance partner started saying things that were subtly homophobic in nature and assuming I was straight, I'd play it off as nothing, but it was the first time I felt nervous and a bit scared as to what would happen if he found out I dated women in the past, and even more so with the thought that I didn't identify completely as a woman myself either. I'm not one to disclose my dating history or how I identify– in fact if I were to use words it would usually be "queer" and to a queer person themselves, as often times I felt that using "bi", especially to folks who were straight and not involved in the LGBTQ+ community they'd often misread it or write it off as straight or not as legitimate as being completely gay. I think right now when it comes to dating, particularly men, there is a real lack of advise as to how to go about it as a person who does identify as queer and accounted as such. I relate to many of these commenters and the feelings of being a bit of a traitor when I have been with men briefly because even if they did recognize and knew of my queer identity, it would often not be read or recognized by others or I'd feel paranoid that it wasn't being read as such, especially when doing specific LGBTQ+ work that i found important. I think the same can be said for the women I've dated- I'd feel worried about disclosing my identity and multi-gender attractions for fear of not being taken seriously or being read as promiscuous or a potentially "poisonous bi-girlfriend that leaves them for a dude"… Lol. I'm single at the moment, but I think I may also find a bit trickier with the more recent self-discovery of not identifying with any gender as something that's an actual thing, and while its very exciting to know that what I do feel is not confusing at all, my decision to keep a mostly feminine appearance makes it very nerve racking to disclose it to anyone for risk of negative or unsafe reactions, and I'd rather just be out to myself than to risk having one more aspect of my being becoming a target for harassment, negative reaction or harm done to me. You never know how someone is going to react, and its only recently I realized that when dating someone, my safety and well-being have to be taken with much more priority and I have to really consider what I chose to disclose to someone. It's not worth being with a person if you live in fear that they may reject or even become hostile about revealing an intimate part of yourself, I feel like now I must be more careful and mindful as to what the person is like in order to really be sure I trust them enough to be with me so intimately… on an internal and physical level.

    THANK YOU SO MUCH AGAIN FOR THIS THREAD GUYS!!!!!!! <3 <3 <3

  23. I wanted to add my name to the list. I am a bisexual woman that is married to a cis man, but continues to have attractions to cis men and women, trans men and women. I came out as a lesbian when I was 17 and a bisexual woman when I was 24. I always thought I suffered from internalized homophobia, as I really struggled to define myself as a lesbian. I kept wanting guys to hit on me. :) Turns out, it was not internalized homophobia, but I was a bisexual woman that sought and pursued the attention of men and women. Go figure.

    I’ve been involved in the BGLTQ community since I was 17, but I really stepped away from it for a bit after I had two children. I would get subtle (and not-so-subtle) indications that there was really no place for me there. I was married, I had children, and what was if again? Oh yes, I was dripping with straight privilege. Never mind that I am publicly and vocally out and discuss my bisexuality at every turn. Never mind that community-based bi erasure masquerades as “straight privilege” to some. I stepped away from the community for about 5-8 years. Give or take. I am back now, though, reclaiming my space.

    The question I most often get is, “If you are married and have kids, why even bother disclosing your bisexuality?” Oh, so many reasons. One – it’s a numbers game. You will have to start counting us when we demand to be counted. Two – it’s an essential part of who I am , like my identification as a cis woman, a mother, a wife, an avid reader. It’s me, and it has shaped me, my experiences and who I have loved. Three – because I refuse to be told my self-identification is irrelevant or indulgent. How about fuck you?

    So, I’ll follow this with interest. I look forward to the conversation.

  24. Hi everybody! What a great thread!

    I prefer to go without a label, but for practical purposes multi-gender attracted is about right.

    I’m a couple of months into something new with a dude, and it’s the first ‘relationship’ type thing I’ve done after coming to terms with my unlabeled self. In addition to thinking about a lot of the issues that you all have brought up, I’ve begun to notice some odd personal quirks (that maybe go right to the heart of my discomfort with labels).

    For example. There’s no question that I like and am attracted to him, but he has a very masculine face and the way I feel about that is…. confused. Conversations? Fantastic! Sex? Hell yes! But sometimes I look over and feel like, ‘who is this man-face’?

    Does this happen to anybody else?

    • This is interesting. I can’t say I relate to the face thing, but I do find there is a wide diversity in what kind of “look” I go for. Like, I sometimes look at my boo and am like, How did I end up with someone like you? That’s more about my boi being really clean-cut looking and bro-looking, while I usually go for more grungy, hippy types.

      You like his face, though, right? It’s a good face? That’s what really matters.

      • Oh yeah, totally a good face; it’s just disorienting at times. After posting, I got to thinking and realized that I had a similar reaction to a guy I dated several years ago. Got used to it eventually.

        I wonder if part of it is that when the sex and gender of the other person aren’t dealbreakers, that blurs the line between ‘orientation’ and ‘type’? I know that whenever I try to think about it anyway, I always end up confusing myself.

  25. I am so so so grateful to you and this thread! I can’t wait to read everyone’s comments and know that I AM NOT ALONE!!

    I am a 38 yr old woman (who is frequently mistaken for 27), very femme presenting; I have predominantly dated men but have always known I was attracted to women too. Growing up, there were NO resources for me – nobody to talk to about my feelings towards my little girlfriends, nobody to help me understand that the enjoyable sexual feelings I had when we engaged in exploration of ourselves and each other was normal and healthy. So I grew up and pushed those feelings away. I liked boys a lot too and that was NORMAL in my community so best to just do what’s normal.

    At 38 years old (after the requisite “5 minutes of lesbian in college” phase), I am formally coming out as bisexual. I am focusing on exploring my identity in terms I never had the courage to even think about, let alone act upon. I am making out with women, I am engaging in interesting and beautiful body exploration with women and I COULD NOT be happier.

    It’s very difficult to find your place in the LGBTQ community when still so many of the community thinks that bi people are just fakers, or just do it for fun, or any of the other judgey shade I feel thrown at me regularly. There are no meet ups, resource groups, or any way to connect up with others in the community. I feel like especially as a pretty femme (although funky) woman, I am constantly justifying my existence in lesbian bars – I know I’m being stared at with the look of “why are you here?”. It makes the coming out process that much harder.

    Solidarity with my fellow bi-identified females!! We are out here ladies, and I’m no longer going to be afraid to stand firm in my place and connect with all the rest of you!

    • WOOHOO! Congrats on formally coming out! It is hard to find community, but partially because we don’t talk about it and we don’t see each other, a lot of the time. The majority of folks in the LGBT community are non-monosexual, but we are treated like a minority in our communities. Partially because we don’t see each other!

  26. Wow, thank you so much for this open thread! As a queer person who has not yet dated anyone, I feel so many of the pressures and judgments from all sides very strongly. I have internalized so much negative junk and it makes me question and second-guess myself to a maddening extent. Aside from ‘queer’, I still haven’t really found a label that resonates. For a variety of reasons, I do tend to be more attracted to women and nonbinary individuals than cis men.

    I think what I’m really trying to say is thank you, autostraddle community, for once again validating my intense feelings and helping me to unpack a lot of stuff. It’s nice to not feel alone in this. <3

    • I feel what you’re saying. I personally am attracted to lots of people of many genders. I find it much harder to find men who are not jerkfaces. Otherwise, I might be more attracted to them. But they are hard to find. Apparently many of them are dating some of the fine bi/queer/pan folks in this thread. When I meet a guy who is not a dillweed, however, I am much more likely to develop a crush on him.

  27. I am so glad that this thread went up today. Yesterday I was in the middle of one of my crises, panicking over my closeted bi self, and worrying if I was even bisexual at all.

    I was raised very religiously and married an awesome guy at age 22. After a couple years, I started to notice my attraction to people that were not men, but I buried it because 1. I was very religious 2. My family would be disgusted, and 3. I was already married to a man, so why did it matter? I was still attracted to him, so it wasn’t an issue.

    Fast forward a few years, and my secret became quite painful, more than I thought it would be. People always talk about straight-passing privilege, which may exist, but it doesn’t come without its twin, bi-erasure, which just sucks so bad.

    I’ve tried to tell a few people, but most people dismiss it as not legitimate because I’ve only had sex with a man. At times I question that myself, although it seems pretty shitty to dismiss someone’s sexual attraction if they haven’t “sealed the deal.”

    My husband is very supportive and has encouraged me to date other people, but it’s terrifying and it seems like most queer folks don’t want to date someone in my position, which I understand. Ugh.

    On a positive note, I am so glad to see you all here. I feel an awesome sense of community for the first time, and I am glad to hear your stories. I have read Autostraddle for a while, but I always felt a bit outside. I made an account just to comment on this thread, and I hope Autostraddle keeps making space for Bi/Pan/Poly+ folks!

  28. I was profoundly annoyed by the questions people asked when I began dating a man, and want to share then.

    1-“So the lesbianism was just a phase?”

    2-“Are you going to grow your hair out again and stop pretending to be all butch?”

    3-“Looks like you finally figured out you’re straight.”

    1-Way to invalidate all of my previous relationships. It wasn’t a phase, it was a valid and real connection I had with someone I loved.

    2-For me, being butch has nothing to do with liking women, it has to do with liking me. And I swear, I’m going to freaking shave my head next time someone asks if I’m going to grow my hair out.

    3-Still bi. That will never change. If you are given a choice to choose cake or cookies for dessert, and like both cake and cookies, you still like cookies if you chose the cake. My husband cake just happened to be my favorite flavor. If he’d been a cookie of the same flavor, then that’s what I’d choose.

  29. Wow! So surprised this thread is here, and so overjoyed! I grew up so preoccupied about homophobia and so determined to pretend to be straight that I totally ignored or didn’t believe my own crushes on boys. It took a lot of soul searching to realize that crushing on boys wasn’t (always) a facade I constructed, it was part of my authentic self.

    I identify as bisexual/fluid but I’ve dated and slept with so many more men/masculine presenting people than feminine people that sometimes I wonder if that means I’m straight but then I’m like NO I am what I am, and I’m working to not care as much about labels.

    While I present super femme, I definitely have super strong masculine energy (I loooove science, critical thinking, logic, being direct, spreading my legs on public transit) and maybe that’s why I’m mostly attracted to men? Which is super weird because I identified as a lesbian for a few years and go to a woman’s college and then things seemed to flip. I find women gorgeous and attractive and I’d really love to date more women but I have a pattern of ending up with men, even in mostly female spaces.

    Also the privilege thing is so weird. I dated a gender fluid person for a while who later identified as a trans man at the end of our relationship, so while we were dating I never called him my boyfriend but he’s my ex-boyfriend and then coworkers and family and people assume I’m straight when I talk about him.

    I studied abroad in Buenos Aires and I while I would never walk alone or with a woman at 2am through the city, I didn’t think twice about doing that with a man.

    Also, if I kiss a boy in public, I still worry that someone’s going to be nasty to us until I remember that the person I’m kissing is a man and we look straight.

    • It took a lot of soul searching to realize that crushing on boys wasn’t (always) a facade I constructed, it was part of my authentic self.

      Such a good point! It’s so sobering to continue to discover ways that homophobia and biphobia have interfered with us really knowing ourselves or living live authentically.

  30. Thank you for creating this space! I’ve been very lonely and honestly, a little ashamed. I’ve dated both men and women, but whenever I’m with a man I feel like a) I worked so hard to accept my attraction to women and JFC, now I’m with a man and b) like I don’t have the right to be in queer spaces. More than once people have told me I can’t be bisexual if I have a partner who identifies as a man. Or that I’ve had too many partners who were men.

    Apparently, queerness is a numbers game and I need to have an equal ratio of men/women partners if I want to be a “real” bisexual.

    I’m always reassuring friends who identify as both ace and lesbian that they still count even if they aren’t into sex. But my self doubt originates from the same “rules of being an actual queer” I tell them don’t matter.

  31. Just a reminder, y’all — there’s a lot of talk here about setting up/joining Facebook groups, which is awesome, but there’s also already a group on Autostraddle Social for bi/pan/queer women! It’s really extra nice for us when the conversation stays on Autostraddle, because it allows our community to grow here on the site and it keeps our number of page impressions higher, which helps us make a few more cents off of advertisers (instead of Mark Zuckerberg making money off advertisers on Facebook).

  32. The discussions about privilege vs erasure are interesting. The way I see it, what’s happening when you’re a woman with a guy and the world assumes you’re straight is both privilege (ou’re not going to that encounter abuse from a passer-by that is a very real threat to so many people in visibly queer relationships, this is surely a privileged position?) and erasure (see a gazillion comments above!)

  33. Thank you Autostraddle!

    I have identified as bisexual (pan technically) forever, but have only dated girls so far. I have always been worried about the feelings & external bullshit that I might encounter if/when I do start dating a guy. Its rough to see that these fears are legitimate and real for so many of us, but I’m mostly grateful to have these stories on-hand for when I am experiencing erasure and need a bit of a pick-me-up.

    So much love to everyone!

  34. Does anyone ID as butch/MOC/etc and bi? I’m a masculine-leaning person who has never ruled out attraction to men, but never experienced it or felt any desire to be with a cis man til recently. While I feel open to exploring, I’m also really nervous about navigating that experience as someone who is more used to identifying with men than being in a hetero interaction with them and all the expectations that I imagine would be involved.

    • Yeah! I don’t really have advice to offer, but I love when butch/MOC/etc bi-ness is visible; it almost never is (in my experience), and I think that’s contributed to some of my uncertainty at various points about ID’ing as bi.

    • I would identify as soft butch/MOC, and I’m married to a guy. He actually prefers women with short hair, so that worked well for me. ;) But yeah, I steal his boxer briefs, he doesn’t care at all. In the 11 years we’ve been together I’ve actually gotten more and more comfortable in my MOC/dapper presentation, and he’s never been anything but supportive. We’ve grown and changed together, and I’m incredibly grateful for it.

      There are some bits and pieces of weirdness for me that pop up from time to time, in terms of wanting to be the Big Spoon, etc. but that’s mostly on me, since he never has an issue with it if I actually work up the nerve to say something/do it. I also benefit from ours being a monogomish relationship, so I see other women sometimes, and I get my wide spectrum of needs and wants met in different ways with different people.

      Anyway, what I’m trying to say is, there are dudes out there, unicorns though they may be, who are comfortable enough with themselves and the world that they will be nothing but supportive and loving toward you, if you are into them and true to yourself. I’ve found that those types of guys are often all the more appreciative of finding someone who can meet them on equal terms, too, since they are often also erased and/or denigrated by popular culture and representations of “masculinity.”

    • Yeah, though I’m trans too, so that adds a further complication to dating. My gender presentation is fairly fluid, if MOC leaning, so it’s mostly a no labels thing; but on some days? For sure.

      There are guys out there, who I am sure will be completely into you and supportive of you, but the subtle microaggressions can make life hard (love all the talk on this thread about that). Like any relationship, it takes good communication, and the further apart your life experiences are, the more work it takes.

      I’d say don’t be nervous, but be cautious. Attraction can be pretty spontaneous, but facts are that I’m going to screen men a lot more carefully than women, especially if they are not queer themselves.

      There are plenty of positive, well intentioned men who will be completely into you, but microagressions are still going to impact your relationship; and they need to be able to listen and be open to their own identity evolving as part of a relationship with you. Even if they are not queer, the relationship *is* with you as a part of it, and they need to figure that as a living breathing person and not just a history.

      As for the broader social expectations…Well, there’s no getting around the fact we live in a heteronormative society; so you need a partner who’s going to pull alongside you and push back against that for you and with you too, just like a queer one would.

      I had to call it off with a guy I was head over heels for, and am still close friends with, because he was unwilling to change and evolve with our relationship: there was a point we’d reach where he could no longer listen. Perhaps it’s simply a trust or intimacy issue, or boils down to privilege, but it’s always been far more of a struggle with cis-dudes, in my experience: and that’s even with those I trust enough to be close to, for reasons I don’t need to state.

      Also, you have the option of exploring it without involving yourself in a committed relationship too ofc.

    • Yep, I was butch long before I realized I was bi. It’s been my experience that cis guys attracted to me are mostly comfortable with my gender performance and happy to share stereotypically masculine and feminine interests.

      My problems have been less with heteronormative behavior expectations within the relationship and more with encountering surprise MRAs who thought I’d be like a broski with benefits or something because I’m “not like most girls.” It’s a huge, HUUUGE red flag if they show signs of thinking femmes inferior or holding stereotyped negative views of what they think are typical women. Even the ones who self identify as liberal/progressive/feminist/ally can still turn out to be sexist or biphobic, in which case I strongly recommend you run like hell because they’ll eventually remember you’re female and treat you like shit. You can’t educate the ones who react poorly to any criticism and they will only get more abusive over time.

      I’ve had a great relationship with a cisbi man for close to a decade, so it does work out sometimes. Our arrangement is unconventional but suits us. Passing for het is hit or miss, we’re bad enough at it that we’ve both inspired viewer gender confusion in public and have gotten gay or les slurs with eggs/fruit thrown at us from cars while walking on more than a few occasions. I don’t really consider us a hetero couple.

      Good luck, if/when you go exploring.

  35. Thank you Autostraddle and all the commenters! This is getting to be the length of a book and hopefully someday I will read you all.

    I am bi/pan but have only dated girls so far. I have always been worried about the feelings & external bullshit that I might encounter if/when I do start dating a guy. Its rough to see that these fears are legitimate and real for so many of us, but I’m mostly grateful to have these stories on hand for when I am experiencing erasure and need a community/pick-me-up.

    So much love to everyone!

  36. I’m so glad AS is making this space! I definitely have a relevant dilemma I’d love people’s thoughts on. I’ve been dating a very great bi guy for a while now, and we’re getting to the point where we’d really like to start meeting each other’s families. I’m friends with his mom on FB already, and she is a very sweet woman who likes to talk about crafts and things with me. She (as well as her husband) is also a pretty conservative Christian. I really want to meet this family and be my authentic self with them, but I feel like being out to them would out my sweetie as well bc of the nature of our relationship and my queerness. How can I make it clear that I need queerness to be respected around me (at the very least) without pulling someone I love out of the closet?

    • Have you shared all your concerns with your sweetie, and discussed them and his closet status? You don’t want to pressure or out him without his consent of course, but his thoughts on the situation and level of dependence on his family might give you some direction. It could be that the closet is mission critical for him, or he accepts the risk, or he intends to come out at some point in the future. He probably knows best as to how his family will behave and should be invested in keeping things as pleasant and safe as possible for you and himself, so talk it out with him.

      Would being out orientation wise but not gender wise around them be workable or any less unpleasant for you than entirely closeted, in the event there isn’t a better option?

      If being out is a no go and you need to avoid being a captive audience to bigoted drivel over Sunday dinner, you could try playing the ally card, if that situation even comes up in the first place. If I don’t want to listen to someone’s bs or argue over it, my usual tactic is to request we agree to disagree and drop the subject. If bigoted rants are expected, he could just say he’s bringing a liberal to dinner and let’s please not go there. With the power of heteronormative assumptions and denial, they’ll probably just suspect you of being hippie scum.

      Good luck to you and your guy, hope everything works out.

  37. I may not sleep tonight because I want to read each and every comment. This is no TL:DR, it’s So Long and Awesome: Who Can Sleep?

    I am a pansexual woman-identified female. I’m currently with a man in a mostly-closed relationship of over three years. The year before we got together was the most concentrated time of sexuality-exploring and experimenting time that I think I’ve had. And then I met this guy. I wasn’t going to date men for awhile, I said, I was going to do the women and genderfukt thing until I found someone amazing. I DEFINITELY wasn’t going to date this guy, because I was furious at him for allowing a performer at the stage shows he ran to do anti-trans performances. He was a jerk, I decided, and there’s only one thing to do with jerks: educate them and/or walk away. He turned out to be a very good student. And a good teacher. And most of the things I was thinking would be great to find in a person. But he’s a straight white guy! Of all the people, really?! I hadn’t dated a straight white guy in I don’t know how long. I felt like I was betraying the pansexual identity I’d been exploring. But, since pansexual does in fact include straight white men, I couldn’t just dismiss him out of hand. That and I really do love him.

    Before he and I got together, a lot of people in my life who knew me decently well thought I was a lesbian. Those who had just met me at work could be forgiven for thinking I was straight because I complied with the work dress code. There are times when I choose not to correct someone because I’m exhausted at the thought of explaining pansexuality yet another time to someone who more than likely will decide that I am wrong about myself and can’t possibly know more than them on this subject.

    As far as staying connected with the queer community, I’ve got a pretty good “in” at my church, where it’s about half-and-half queer and not queer. Also the poetry community in the area tends to attract the queer ones. Both of those groups are pretty good about including even those queer people in what might look like straight relationships.

  38. 1st off: beautiful thread. ;*

    I am a bisexual woman dating a man. In love and currently building a family with him.

    He knows my sexuality and history of dating women. He loves me for who I am exactly as I am. Though in the past, male partners that I’ve had have been threatened by my sexuality, feeling uncomfortable when I hang out with *any* gender given my lack of preference for either. It took a long time for me to find someone who didn’t experience these insecurities about my sexual preferences.

    As far as my sexuality goes, it doesn’t really affect our relationship. We are monogamous (shout out to my poly babes though) and secure in our love for ourselves and each other.

    I am happy to have found such a great partner, regardless of gender. :)

  39. I needed this. I needed this thread, and I needed all of you wonderful people. Thank you so much, Autostraddlers.

    I love my cis hetero boyfriend, and I want us to be each other’s family, to build our adult lives together, to have children. I love that he asked if he could take me to Pride events. I love that he asks me about bi erasure/visibility. I love every centimetre of his face and my heart rips open when I see him smile and laugh. He is not without fault, but he is always trying to be a better human, and he encourages me to do the same.

    But I want to be with women. I have never met a woman who I love like I love my boyfriend, but that is exactly what I want. I feel a deep need to love and be with another woman–other PEOPLE.

    My boyfriend has known that I’m bisexual since before we became a couple. He’s always looking to learn more about feminism and about being a better ally. He tries, and he engages my mind. I love that. He also knows that I fully believe that polyamory is 100% legit and awesome, but… A couple months ago (shortly after moving in together for the first time), I told him that I was interested in having a vaguely open relationship of *some kind,* but I wanted us to take our time to figure out our boundaries and decide what would work for each of us as individuals. It broke his heart. And then it also broke *MY* heart, because the truth was that I just wanted to be with women, but I didn’t even verbalize this to him. My boyfriend has promised that he won’t leave me because of this, but he’s not ready to even talk about it. I don’t want to choose between the love of this wonderful person, and the need to be with women and non-men people, but I’m still scared that this is exactly what will happen.

    I’ve read so many posts from bisexual women who, like me, love their male/male-identifying partners, and are perfectly content not having anyone else, or have no regrets about not being with more women. I am super happy for you, but I do have regret. I do have self-doubt. I do have unmet needs. Maybe the regret and the needs come partly from the biphobia/self-doubt that festers in the back of my mind, but… I don’t have any more words.

    Thank you so much for letting me say this.

    • I don’t have advice, because I’m in a somewhat-similar situation, but I just want to say I HEAR YOU. And I’m feeling some of the things you’re feeling, and I think there is a way for everyone’s needs to be met, but it’s so hard to figure out/imagine what that way is.

    • I don’t have advice either but I hear you too, and wish you the best. I have had the experience of being scared that my future would involve either the enormous loss of a person, or the enormous loss of never being with women. I agree with Lou, I do believe there are ways to be found through this stuff – best of luck <3

    • I am in SUCH a similar situation; reading your words made my heart ache. I got engaged two years ago to the most wonderful, kind, accepting, loving person on the planet, but it’s becoming clear to me that seeing a future without ever having been in a relationship with a woman is heartbreaking to me. I have no advice, because reading your words actually felt like I was reading my own inner dialogue, but I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for showing me that I am not alone in this.

    • Thank you for being brave and sharing this. I was sorta kinda in your position back when – married to a man I adore with all my heart, but also deeply yearning to be with a woman (my partner was my first serious relationship so I’d never even been with one), and unsure how to broach the subject. I was immensely fortunate in that he was the one who put it to me that it would be OK if I sometimes wanted to see other people. And I’ve been even more fortunate to have had several very gratifying relationships with women since then.

      I’ve discovered that I need both to feel fulfilled, and that’s OK. There’s zero wrong with that need. Different people play different roles in our lives. It does nothing to diminish any of them. I put it like this – our hearts are vast things, with infinite capacity to love and care for others. Adding one person, even someone you want to spend your life and build a family with, does not push out any others. They can all live there, together. We have to be respectful, and honest, and communicative, of course–as we do with everyone we care about, romantic or otherwise.

      It sounds like your guy needs some time to process whatever feelings he’s having about the idea, and that’s also OK. But definitely keep talking to him about it, tell him how you feel, too. Try to meet in the middle. Maybe it works out better than you ever imagined. Maybe he gives a firm ‘no’ (and you go from there). Better to know than to spend your life wondering, though, right?

      I wish you all the best!

    • holy shit, are you me? i could have written every word of your post. this past year, i even tried to meet people and went on a date or two but as much as my partner was (and is) intellectually on board, he just couldn’t deal when it was happening… he was really distraught, which makes me feel like the worst person in the world. we’re just kind of still at a stalemate at the moment. i still think it’s going to be important to me to keep exploring, especially because he was one of my first sexual partners and i was actually his—i just feel like we need to know more about the world, but i also know i want to keep him as my mate, and i could never cash that in just for curiosity. i honestly have no idea how this turns out, but i hope all of us can get our needs met with patience and compromise and compassion, sometime some way. lots and lots of love!

    • I feel you. I really loved this guy and we were living together and had all these plans…and I just broke up with him about a month ago because I knew I had to have sexual/romantic experiences with women, and he knew that he wasn’t going to be ok with that. It sucks, I am really sad about loosing this amazing love and relationship. I hope it’s for the best.

    • Hi – I have felt this way before. And I needed to leave in order to spend a long time learning how to put myself and my needs at the center of my life. This both had to do and didn’t have to do with my feelings about wanting to date women. But I will never forget how it felt to watch “The L Word” next to him (and then privately, secretly, by myself, when he wasn’t home), and feeling my heart clutch with what I wanted so much and thought I could never have.

      Flash forward a decade and I’m at peace with myself and my relationship to love. Anonymous, I wish the same for you. I think you’re going to be ok. <3

    • I feel the same way.
      I have been attracted to many different types of people from a young age, but never had a word for it, or true understanding of it until very recently.
      My problem is I have children, and am pretty fem (but also a lil rough around the edges) so I pass as straight. I have had a intense urge to have a real relationship with a woman (not just hook ups), but here I am dating a man that I care deeply for. He knows I’m bi, but didn’t take it well at first. On one hand I feel like I could spend many happy years with him, but on the other I feel like I’m cheating myself out of an intense desire and an undeniable part of who I am.
      Even if I made the choice to branch out and date women it feels impossible to be accepted, children and all

    • I feel the same. You’re incredibly brave and lovely for sharing your experience, I hope with time you’ll be able to start talking through everything and working it out! I’ve been with my straight cis husband monogamously for 15 years, he’s known I was bisexual from the start. I love him so much, and have always been very focused on keeping our relationship healthy and happy. We have children too which adds to my determination to stay together. Although I was out to friends and family, I had never really accepted it myself, I felt like it was an embarrassing anomaly. About 8 years ago I started to really feel like I needed to explore my feelings towards women, rather than just fantasising. What has followed has been a slow discussion with my patient but often terrified husband about the idea of dating others to meet our differing needs (we got together young so both feel that we have some exploring to do). We’re both wanting long term relationships, we need depth of connection rather than a series of brief exchanges. But although he’s OK to talk about it, he often losses sleep over the thought of us going out and doing it, and I feel so guilty for opening up what seems like a Pandora box of confusion. I feel as though at this stage of life, as a mother – I ‘should’ be settled, but what I seem to be doing is breaking every rule in the book of how to not mess things up. Then I think that that’s not who I am, I always do things differently and would hate to follow ‘the rules’ (I just occasionally appear to, due to lack of confidence!). It’s only been the last year where I’ve been able to fully embrace and accept being bisexual (pan). I think in part this is because of the amazing explosion of positive articles about it. This thread is amazing, it feels so good to know I’m not alone, and can speak freely. Up until recently, I’ve only ever known 1 other bi person (in reality there were more, but I’ve only recently known!), I never felt like I qualified to be part of the queer community, to know that I do and can join in means all the world to me – thank you Autostraddle! (I’m also another one who just joined as a member due to this thread!).

      • As a poly, kinky, pansexual woman who also happens to have a tiny tyrant of her own: NO, you do NOT have to feel like you should be “done” just because you have children. Yes, it absolutely will complicate things, you will have to think about logistics most parents and poly people will never even imagine, but don’t you dare hide part of yourself “for the children”! Think about it: what kind of message does that send to your children? “I hid something about me that really matters because I felt society would think it was wrong/out might inconvenience someone else.” Not not NOT what you want to teach your children. Not gonna lie, you’re going to do a huge amount of talking: to your husband, to any future partners, to your kids. However, my husband and I have been poly just about from the start, and we’ve been together roughly half my life now, and as long as we’re good about communicating with each other, we’ve done okay. It’s been rocky sometimes, but we’ve gotten through the military, severe depression, being stuck in my parents’ house for 4 years, cancer, and now a child, and you know what? We’re still poly, I’m still pansexual and kinky, and I think we’re stronger because we never denied part of our identities, we got what needs the other couldn’t satisfy met elsewhere and with permission, and because we kept talking to each other. It *can* be done. *hugs* If you like, you can poke at me anytime with questions, and I’ll give you whatever advice I might have, or just listen if you need an ear.

        • Thank you for posting Kethry, that’s just what I needed to hear! *hugs* My main frustration is that I can see it working in practice, but can’t seem to lose the inner critic..! My children know I’m Bi, and I totally want to approach things in a positive way, it’s just taking a lot of courage to get there mentally(!). I’ve only recently felt able to be myself (as opposed to the self I thought was expected of me), it’s taken quite a bit of determination to not waver from being unapologetic about who I am, despite it being the best choice I’ve ever made. I just wish that inner critic would go away!

  40. If you’re bisexual with no history of female relationships, people often assume you’re angling for attention. Male partners might be wary of your gender expression; people might generally assume you’d down for a polygamous relationship; others will reject the idea that you don’t have a physical ‘type’ because your interests are based on gender expression, not bodily nature.

    These are all predictable reactions, but the LGBTQI community’s disdain for you as greedy is perhaps the worst — especially when you really care about commitment and tend towards serious relationships.

    What do you think we could do to change this perception?

  41. “How do you stay involved in the queer community, especially while dating a man?”

    I don’t.

    Varies by community, but most LGBTQ+ communities per se have made it abundantly clear that women like me are not welcome. Or if we are welcome, it’s this sort of uneasy detente where we’re only welcome if we promise to keep quiet about major important parts of our lives.

    No thanks. I’ve actively opted out of the official LGBTQ+ scene in my area and spend time in the burner scene instead, which is highly bi/poly/queer-in-a bunch-of-nonstandard-ways and super welcoming. I highly recommend people check out other alternative-y communities in their areas; they might find them similarly genial. They may have their own set of faults, but I’ve never felt any kind of awkwardness about my sexuality.

    Autostraddle is the exception rather than the rule when it comes to LGBTQ communities being welcoming of bisexual women currently dating men- and why would I waste time trying to ingratiate myself with a community that doesn’t want me there?

    (This thread is way long and I am way late and probably no one will read this far down, but answering because I don’t know that anyone else gave this specific answer.)

    • That is so fucking sad. I’ve definitely felt this way too. Or like everyone is looking at me as an impostor. It’s been important for me to find other bi/queer/pan women to hang out with. They exist! Bring them all together and have a party and love each other.

    • I’m so sorry you had that experience of your local queer scene. Personally, during the 7 years I was in a committed monogamous partnership with a man my entire circle of friends (and his) was the queer scene local to us. I didn’t experience biphobia there or feel I had to prove anything, we were just accepted with the rest. In the mainstream ‘gay scene’ I’ve encountered more biphobia. But I don’t want new-bis to read this and automatically assume they won’t be accepted in queer spaces – by my definition of ‘queer’, they should be!

      • I’m glad you had a better experience than I have! I realize in my last paragraph I didn’t make the “varies by community” exception I made in my first, and I should have done that- I’m sure there are a goodly handful of nice, accepting LGBTQ+ -centered communities out there somewhere.

    • I’m sorry that the LGBTQ+ community excluded you. Your head is screwed on and we should all dig that.

      Have you done anything to stand up to people’s perception? I ask because I think it might be up to us confident ones to make the change.

  42. I had three books I intended to read on this megabus ride before I found this thread. =p This is great!
    Some experiences I’ve had that I was wondering if anyone else can relate to. ..

    Progressive supposedly lgb allied friends being completely unsupportive when I talked about coming out to my parents. Even aghast, like “why would you do such a thing?” I’m pretty sure they would have told a gay or lesbian friend they were brave.

    A family member theorizing that I am bi because our society puts so much pressure on women to be sexy and it’s seen as a sexy trend. (What? !)

    A good friend who’s got radical politics, is an activist with tons of queer friends consistently telling me that she thinks I’m actually really gay.

    My brother in law informing me that it would be really hard on the family if I ended up with a woman.

    An acquaintance, upon finding out I was bi through seeing me make it with someone, ask me “so is it just a sexual thing for you worth women? ”

    When I told someone who knew me mostly from queer spaces that i was going to visit a sweetheart in California and used male pronouns she asked if he was trans and when I said no she raised her eyebrows and said “so you’re. …open. ” which. A).if he was trans that still makes me bi and b) why would you treat me differently for being non monosexual?

    I have had a few longer relationships with men and understand that feeling like you have to downplay them to keep your queer cred. I also sometimes hesitate to talk about being poly and being bi together because of those mean bi stereotypes.

    I’m curious too about people’s feelings on labels. I have an emotional attachment to “bi” because when I first heard it I felt suddenly possible as a real person. I was very sheltered and raised conservative. I knew I was attracted to girls and boys, thought I was wrong to be attracted to girls and fought it and wondered if I was a lesbian. I found out about bisexuality as a thing when I was told the boy who had a crush on me was bi and when my friend told me what that meant it was like this huge light shone down on me and suddenly i was a possible human being! I also identify as queer, which I like for its subversiveness, it’s politics, it’s inclusiveness, and how it doesn’t refer at all to the binary. Pansexual is probably accurate for me, but I just don’t feel connected to it. It’s interesting to me how it’s not just the dictionary definition that matters, but my personal emotive history with these words. Thoughts?

    <3 to you all! I'm grateful for this space to discuss!

    • I think it’s so real to identify with a label based on the way it makes you feel. The terms are so ephemeral and constantly changing anyways. If you ever start to cozy up to another term then take it! I also like to identify as bi as a political statement because visibility is important.

      Sexy trends: the “sexy trend” of kissing girls at high school parties is actually what kept me in the closet as a middle schooler. I didn’t want to be labelled an attention whore, or a slut like the other girls were. But it looked like they were having fun to me.

      confused strangers: somebody once said to me (okay, wait I’m gonna name drop here because it’s just too good for the story: this person was Steve Coogan) said “so do you have a boyfriend or are you a lesbian?” and I was all like “both.”

    • Other people have said this above but I identify with bi meaning attracted to one’s own gender and others/attracted to two or more genders. I sometimes feel weird using it because so many people understand it as implying a binary, but I also like using it, like Hannah said, for visibility and because I feel connected to it.

    • I feel you on having a gut response to labels. Queer just feels right to me. Interestingly, I’ve come to think of bi as more political for reasons of challenging bi erasure. Unfortunately, when I say “queer” people often hear “lesbian.”

      Thanks for sharing all those stories and experiences. I’m sure a lot of people can relate. I know I can!

  43. There are so many comments here that I want to respond to, but mostly I just want to add another voice saying that I’m grateful for this thread and for everyone who’s shared on it.

    I’m not with a man right now, but my relationship with my sexuality and myself is still shaped by the experience of being a queer woman with a man. I had never been with a woman and was out to my boyfriend as bi but to no one else. Over the course of our six years together I felt really tortured by things that weren’t directly related to the relationship, and it ultimately seemed like my sexuality was what was torturing me, and that was so upsetting. I’d gotten to the point, as a teenager, before this boy, of feeling sort of excited about my bisexuality and eventually claiming that identity, but it became something so fraught, like it embodied this big loss – either I’d never be with a woman, or I’d have to leave this person I loved. I avoided queer spaces, and women in general. I felt physical pain when I saw queer couples. I read autostraddle obsessively and never commented. I had so much trouble with sex, and so much anxiety about it.

    I eventually left my boyfriend in part because of my sexuality. I had a wonderful girlfriend. I came out to a lot of people. And I’m still navigating so much of this. I find that I don’t like to refer to my ex-boyfriend to new acquaintances, because it was so exhausting for so long to be perceived as straight and I hate the feeling. I found, when I was part of a queer community for the first time, that even then I shied away from using “bi” and letting it be known that I’d been with guys. I wonder about my gender identity sometimes, and my gender presentation a lot of the time. I was afraid of femininity for so long because it seemed to reinforce the invisibility. When I feel drawn toward masculine presentation I wonder if it’s still partly fear of being seen in the wrong way, or not being seen. I still question myself and struggle with accepting that I don’t need to prove anything to anyone.

    It’s powerful to hear how many of us are so deeply effected by this stuff. And it’s really helpful to hear wonderful perspectives from amazing, strong people. <3

  44. I’m a bisexual woman who has only really dated men, but I’ve had sex with women. I married young, and when I divorced, I finally was able to express my sexuality. I am again in a serious relationship with a man. But there’s a wrinkle. We’re open. Which means I’m having sex with other partners (of all varieties), but am still not able to shake the bi-erasure because of the additional stigma around plural relationships and arrangements. We live in a small city, and there could be professional consequences for me.

    Being able to finally have sex with women has reassured me of my identity. It’s also led to a whole other layer of insecurity. It’s hard to swipe right when you’re pretty sure that you don’t have enough experience to offer anything to that super cute lady who calls herself “super gay.” I don’t want to waste anyone’s time with my learning curve.

    • YEP. Pretty much my experience exactly, complete with open/poly current relationship, and ALL THE ANXIETY about thinking I’m “gay enough” to pretend like I deserve sex (let alone love) with a woman who is experienced at being with other women.

    • Just jumping in to say that I’ve been on the other side of that equation before, and I absolutely didn’t find it a problem. Would recommend being upfront about it, so things aren’t mysteriously awkward. But other than that, I know there are lots of people who just wouldn’t find it a problem.

      • Thanks for the support, ladies. I’m working on talking with women more, so it helps to know that there are so many other women looking for or open to just what I have to give. And I’m definitely upfront about my status with potential partners. Actually, the biggest reason is because it helps fend off the possessive and potentially dangerous men. Which is a whole other thing.

      • i’ve always just imagined the massive eyeroll from lady-loving ladies when they come across a profile or whatnot from girls like us: “oh, you’ve got a boyfriend? but you’re still interested? but not experienced? that’s adorable. good luck with all that.” it’s awesome to hear that the situation is not always a 100% immediate write-off… :)

  45. I’d like to talk a bit about the “greedy bisexual” stereotype. For a long while, I suppressed being polyamorous because I felt it made me a bad queer woman. I felt I had to prove I was “good enough” for a romantic relationship by being offended by the idea that I’d be into a threesome. How dare someone think that just because I like men and women, that I’m immediately down to have both at once!!! Being bisexual doesn’t mean I can’t be monogamous! It’s this weird respectability politics, right? I felt I had to be a “model bisexual” or I had no right to be happy. But you know what? I like threesomes. I like having multiple male and female partners. I’m a greedy bisexual. Sorry I’m having more fun than you?

  46. “Oh you’re dating a man, you must now be straight or seen the error of your ways” is the worst thing anybody can tell me SOLELY based on the fact that I date men too. Nobody seems to really understand the basis of bisexuality and they try to tell me I should be more gay if I am /really/ bisexual. Ugh.

  47. Oh my god, I’m seeing so much of my story in these posts! I have a final tomorrow so I’ve only read part of the comments. Tomorrow afternoon I will be reading all of them! So excited for this thread – and so many feelings already.

    I grew up thinking I was straight because my mom always said women were attractive – without differentiating attractive from attracted to – so I thought being attracted to girls didn’t mean I wasn’t straight. I was even in the Gay-Straight Alliance and didn’t figure it out, hah. I realized it in my early 20s. But I never dated much – 2 boyfriends, and I married the second. It wasn’t that I was never interested in dating someone other than a man (otherwise I wouldn’t identify as queer…), it just didn’t happen. When I first told my now-husband, his reaction was the typical “how do you know if you’ve never dated a woman?” He realized that’s silly very quickly, and is incredibly supportive.

    But in queer spaces, including here a lot of the time, I feel like I don’t/shouldn’t count as pan/queer. A lot of my family doesn’t know because my mom thinks I shouldn’t tell them – not because they’d be angry or upset, but because “you’re married to a man, what’s wrong with them thinking you’re straight? You’d just be confusing them and oversharing.” :( I know they’d be totally fine with it (I’ve seen how other queer and trans family members have been treated, so I’m not concerned), but I still don’t bring it up. And my mom has no (apparent) problem with it, either, but her issue is that she very much dislikes sexuality labels and doesn’t want anybody to use them. So she thinks telling people is bad because none of us should be labeling ourselves. At the same time, I HAVE heard my mom say disparaging things about bi people (not other LGBTQ, though), though she brushes it off as a joke…

    I don’t know, though, have I avoided telling family members outside my immediate family because of my mom or because I just don’t think it’s relevant? I don’t like being seen as straight because I’m not, and I do correct friends so they know, but it doesn’t come up with family members much so I just don’t say anything. Is that internalized biphobia? I have no idea.

  48. firstly, YAAASSS at the whole freaking idea about this. secondly, I’m only 19 and I found out that I was in love with my best friend when I was 15. I didn’t know it was more than just physical attraction after I actually dated another one of my best friends when I was 17. (I dated guys here and there in the meanwhile) I then concluded that I was legit bi. I knew I wasn’t gay because I did like guys. ANYWAY, I’m dating a really great guy now and the first thing I told him before we started dating is that I was bi. he literally “okaaay, so?” I was like “wait what? you’re not weirded out or disgusted?” yes, the guys I dated before felt all awkward the moment I told them I was bi. I mean, these are the guys that watch lesbian porn and get off to it but can’t accept it when the girl they apparently “love” is bi? it’s also sad that people don’t get the whole definition of being bi. long story short, I’m happy with where I am now in my life and I’ve never been happier being who I am!

    p/s: I need help with family though. I recently opened up to my dad and he’s totally fine about it. my aunt shot me down like a criminal convincing me that I wasn’t bi. mum? forget about it. she’d flip if I told her! I don’t know what to do. :(

  49. Oh my god thank you so much. I’ve been reading autostraddle for four years and this is the first time I’ve ever felt like I could be a part of the conversation. That’s not a dig at the site, it’s always inclusive, but I can’t tell you how nice it feels to be explicitly recognized. I know everyone has said that but +1.

    Thanks for all your stories, everyone. For me, the problem is that I want to come out as bi but I feel like my feelings for women aren’t worthy of discussion because I love my boyfriend. But then I feel like I’m lying all the time and it sucks. Also, I don’t know how to publicly discuss the topic without making my boyfriend feel shitty. I’m sure there’s already a ton of wonderful advice on this topic in the comments, so let me just say I love you all and I’m so grateful for this.

    • I know how that feels and I think it’s important to acknowledge that it does suck. When I was in a similar place I told myself for a long time that it shouldn’t be such a big deal, my sexuality didn’t need to be a thing in my life if I had a boyfriend. But like you said it feels like lying and not being known and it’s shitty. I found a bisexual support group in my area and the feeling of walking into a room and for the first time being assumed to be queer, regardless of appearance or who my partner might be, was amazing. I hope you find good support/community/other stuff to remind you that your feelings really ARE worthy <3

      • Lira can I ask you about the bisexual support group? I’ve considered them before but it always seems like they have like 4 members and I’m always worried it’ll be weird and awkward. What has your experience been like?

        • Hey! I definitely get those concerns. I was lucky to be living in Boston where the Bisexual Resource Center is, so there may have been more people involved than typically would be. But even when it was a very small group I found it helpful. I wasn’t able to go all that many times and didn’t get super involved, but it was so validating to be immediately understood as welcome in the space. It drove home for me how many different kinds of bi narratives there are, how big the umbrella is, and made me feel much more comfortable identifying with the term. It helped to air some things that had been living in my head, and I think even more it helped to see things about my experience reflected in other people, in real life, in one room. Good luck if you end up checking one out!

    • Personally, I think there is nothing wrong, even in a monogamous relationship, with finding other people attractive. Developing harmless crushes, even. If your boyfriend is not jealous when you are ogling Magic Mike XXL, why would he be more jealous of you being attracted to women? I guess he might be worried that you want something he can’t give you. That might be true for you. But if it’s not, and you are only interested in actually being with him, it shouldn’t be a threat. Even if it is, there are ways to talk about and deal with that. Either way, if you feel like you have to edit yourself to be with someone, that is not a great feeling and it can mess up a relationship in the long run. Coming out as bi doesn’t invalidate your relationship with your boyfriend. I hope he’ll feel the same way!

  50. Thank you thank you thank you for this thread, and also for all y’all commenting today. I went from knowing one (count ONE) other queer woman in a relationship with a man to knowing… well…. lots. That’s really affirming.

    Especially because my first quasi-relationship (and only relationship with a woman) was with a woman who would later say that she was just confused and it didn’t mean anything to her after all… We were not on the same page about that. But I’ve only been in one relationship since then (my current one, with a man), so I really feel you all about the ways we find to invalidate our own bisexualities.

    I have been with my current (male) partner for four years, and it’s so so different than what I had imagined for myself. I had just come out as gay when I met him and was looking to date women. So that was a surprise. I feel really lucky to have a partner who wants to process feelings all the time and who is so kind and who sees me so well for who I am.

    We are planning to get married eventually and though I find penises gross (my partner’s mostly included) I love building our life together and feel my needs very well met most of the time.

    However, there are experiences (romantic, sexual, etc.) that I always expected and envisioned having with women that I haven’t had. And expecting to have those formed part of my sense of self. The tricky thing now is that they still form part of that sense of self, but it’s much more tricky to imagine how to have them. I don’t feel like I need to make out with women to be validated in being queer, but I still WANT to. My partner and I have talked a lot about it, and he’s up for thinking of creative ways to meet both of our needs in the relationship. I know exploring polyamory would be one way to do that, and I like the idea of being able to explore some experiences with women while still having the relationship I have with my partner. However, I certainly don’t feel (like many of my poly friends do) that I’m “wired for” polyamory, or even very interested in it.

    I dunno. Just wanted to share, and am interested in hearing if anyone else has been in a similar spot.

      • Yes, he does know, and it doesn’t bother him much. I think it helps that he also thinks penises are gross, so we can laugh about it. Neither of us have a particularly high sex drive, so sex wouldn’t be a big part of our relationship anyways, and as it is we compromise, and I’m fine with that.

    • I am a 19 year-old panromantic homosexual cis female dating a cis male. I’ve been with him for almost two years and I don’t expect to leave him anytime soon. However, I label myself as a panromantic homosexual. I don’t find penis attractive. I didn’t really find my boyfriend that attractive physically. I was attracted to him romantically so from there I have been able to weigh the important factors and find him sexually romantic but I still find women sexually arousing. I feel that I will not be with my boyfriend all my life although it is not limited to only him. I don’t think I want to spend my entire life with only one person, whoever it may be. People change, I don’t feel like forcing each other to stay living as you are is the best way to go about things if times get rough. I’m not saying just quit as soon as it gets hard, I’m saying give up when it becomes unbearable. But anyways, I am with this man and I love him very much but I just feel like I cannot possibly be with him my whole life. Not exclusively, anyways.

    • I relate to this so much. I id as bi and did so before meeting my now partner. He is a cis straight male and respects/understands my queer identity so much (even though I have zero experience with anyone besides cis men). He’s so understanding. I really relate to what you say about penis though lol. I thought I was alone in this or that something was wrong with me for not particularly or always finding penis very attractive or arousing, but I guess I’m not alone. I often feel that I am mostly into women and that if I hadn’t met him, I probably wouldn’t be with a guy. It sounds weird, but I feel like sometimes it just happens that way. I

      I guess I hold onto the relationship because I love him and he taught me how to love. He is also my best friend, which is something I value immensely in a partner. I have a low sex drive and intimacy can be difficult for me regardless because of trauma I have in my childhood that I carried into adulthood. I am YEARS late to this discussion, but just finding your comment made me feel less alone. If you see this, I’d love to discuss. <3

  51. WOULD YOU JUST LOOK AT ALL THIS AMAZING BI PRIDE.

    This post might have just become my favourite Autostraddle post off all time, and I’ve been here since 2010.

    Here are some of my bisexual thoughts and grievances:

    First, some history. Was pretty interested in LGBT issues as a pre-teen and young teen. Got my first crush on a girl when I was 15 and I was pretty stoked that I got to be in the cool queer kids club (please note that there was no such actual club at my school, nor a GSA, and I didn’t have a single non-straight friend until I went to university). I guess maybe a part of me knew I might be bi before then but I needed some evidence of actual attraction to feel like I could consciously claim the label. I came out to my parents when I was 18, and came out in general (like, would be happy outing myself to most people / in most circumstances) when I was 19. I don’t have very much romantic or sexual experience (it hasn’t really been a priority until recently), but pretty much all of it has been with men. The men I’ve dated I met at my campus’s LGBTQ+ centre (and they were poly dating situations as well), so luckily there wasn’t any feeling of being less welcome. Of course, that did mean that after we broke up, hanging out and volunteering at the centre were more fraught, because one of my exes was bound to be around. So I guess it was a pretty queer relationship in that way too : p

    I’ve experienced my share of fluidity. For a while (the entire year I was 20), I felt very little sexual attraction to anyone, and then just very little to men (but I was still quite romantically attracted to them). This was one of the most bewildering and distressing situations I’ve been in. I eventually figured out that I am attracted to more feminine men, and that I’m generally most comfortable being a “top” in the bedroom with men. Let me tell you, this is not a preference or activity configuration that gets a lot of play in mainstream or countercultural or even marginalized narratives. I have an interest in some bdsm things, but the “man=top and woman=bottom when they are having vanilla sex with each other” idea is so deeply ingrained in everything ever, that even wanting to be the one taking the lead, setting the pace, and focusing on doing things to the other person and how they’re experiencing what you’re doing when you’re a woman and your hypothetical partner is a man, once you’ve figured out that it’s even possible / a real thing, feels kinky. Thanks patriarchy.

    Although it’s possible I haven’t had enough romantic or sexual experience with women (been on a date or two is pretty much it) to uncover hidden depths of insecurity and internalized homophobia and biphobia, right now the thought of dating or having sex with a woman feels *delightfully* free of all the symbolic and personal baggage that dating/sexing men comes with for me, especially as boys/men have attempted or succeeded at molesting/sexually assaulting me (while no woman has done that to me so far). Figuring out how to enjoy and feel safe having sex with men in the wake of these events has definitely been its own nearly decade-long journey.

    Interestingly, as far as top/bottom roles go for sexual activities with women, I’m pretty sure I’m label-free. And I’m attracted to a much wider range of personalities, body types, gender expressions, etc in women than I am in men.

    I’m very lucky that my two closest friends are a woman who ID’s as queer and is exclusively interested in women, and a woman who ID’s as bi, and they are both very supportive of me and involved with the queer identity/community at large. So I never have to feel alone in my queerness or bisexuality.

    Okay, here are some pet peeves. If I never have to hear about a “gold star” lesbian woman or gay man or non-binary person who only dates other non-binary people again in my lifetime, it will still be too darn soon. It is straight-up biphobic (it’s sometimes also used in a transphobic way, but even if it’s not that doesn’t make it any less biphobic). I am not some B-grade, second best, level of queer for a) being attracted to men at some point in my life, and/or b) experiencing some confusion about my sexuality and deciding to explore it. The idea that someone could be tainted or contaminated or rendered less pure by virtue of consensual genital contact with a man is super messed up! And really alarmingly close all sorts of patriarchal and puritanical ideas about purity, virginity, and women as property, btw.

    Relatedly, I am so done with people being snide about people who are questioning their sexuality and who being proactive about their confusion and ambivalence and exploring it. It’s fine if you don’t have any interested in dating or having sex with someone who is figuring themselves out. But one’s sexuality can be a complicated tricky thing to work out, and that journey is not any less valid if the person ends up figuring out they ID as straight or heteroflexible at the end of it. It’s not retroactively exploitative if someone says “I don’t really know what’s going on with me right now but I want to find out” and then at the end they conclude that they are not attracted (romantically and/or sexually) to women. When you are in the middle of questioning your sexuality, you don’t know where you’ll end up. Otherwise you’d already be there. And there’s no way to tell someone who’s questioning and will eventually ID as gay, or bi, or queer, from someone who’s questioning and will eventually ID as straight or heteroflexible. We have to work hard to give everyone room to figure themselves out, while encouraging everyone to be upfront about their needs/intentions/whathaveyou to the whatever extent possible.

    All right, I will add more later in a reply if I think of it, but I think this is everything for now. Thank you Autostraddle staff and commentors for making this thread and this day so beautiful.

  52. Bisexual girl here, currently single. And I wanna talk about the thing that has been on my mind since I started talking about my sexuality with people. Keep in mind that I’ve been in relationships with both guys and girls before. The thing that I always get told is that I’m experimenting. Straight people say that I was just experimenting when I was dating girls, lesbians say that I was just experimenting when I was dating guys. It seems like no one can accept the fact that I’m bisexual. It’s like bisexuality is non-existent to them. And I’m fucking SICK of hearing that. I just wanna find a way to make everyone around me understand that I like people! No matter if they are female or male. If I like their personality and they like mine I’ll develop a crush on them and eventually date them (well not always :P )and that makes me BISEXUAL! Basically my question is… Does anyone else go through this? And is there a way to stop them from saying that I’m experimenting and make them understand that I’m just fuking bisexual?

    • Ummmmm…..well…… real deal is that some people are always going to be jerks. If these are your real, actual, close friends, you should consider sitting down with them and having a heart-to-heart about how their comments are hurting you. Chances are they don’t realize how mean they are being. If these are not your friends….f*ck them. I mean, not literally. But like, just walk away from them. You don’t need that negativity. Unfortunately, some people are always going to say or think offensive things about bisexuals and we can’t change that. We can change how much we react to it, though, and we can choose to be in communities and with friends who are bi-inclusive.

  53. I saw this thread come up on twitter, started to read it, and I feel so many of you!! I immediately made an account. Hello everyone!

    I’ve identified as bisexual since I was about 15 or 16. I initially thought I was a lesbian when I started getting crushes on girls, but then realized I was bi when I was attracted to men as well.

    I’ve been in one relationship with the same person since I was 18, coming up on 10 years. We’re not married, for a variety of reasons. That person is amab, and we’re both bisexual. While it’s great to be in a relationship with a fellow bisexual who understands, the world still doesn’t get it. And I’ve spent 10 years feeling like a fake queer because I’ve been in a relationship that appears straight to the outside world. I was actively trying to date women as soon as I got to college, but I met my partner and here we are 10 years later. I’ve had many crushes on women, including a few of those super intense high school infatuations. But yeah, even though I regularly find women attractive, I still felt like a fake. I’m still in the closet to family (except my sister) and at work. My partner’s also mostly still in the closet.

    But recently my partner realized they were a transgender woman (still using they pronouns for the time being). So I guess I don’t really fit into this category anymore, as they are going to start transitioning soon, so essentially, we’re both going to have to come out (although doubly so for my partner, it will be much more difficult for them).

    I just wanted to post my experience in case it helps someone. It’s so nice to see so many of you out there. Thanks for validating me. :)

    • Thanks for sharing all of this, Liz! And good luck to your partner and to you as your relationship continues to change and grow deeper and you come out in the ways that are right for you. It’s great that you have each other to lean on!

    • Hi Liz! I understand what you mean about your relationship appearing straight to the outside world and how that can feel like you are not actually being a part of the queer world. My first serious relationship is with my current boyfriend. We’ve been together for almost 7 years and I met him when I was 18. He is straight/cis, and other than a couple of drunken talks, we haven’t really addressed the fact that I’m a bisexual woman. Also, I haven’t come out to my family yet because my long term relationship has been with a man… so there is no explaining to do. Still, there is that part of me that has been silent for so long, because to everyone else… we are the straight normal couple.

  54. I really like Autostraddle, and I pass through most days (and signed up to be an A+ member!) even though I often feel a bit like an interloper as a bi woman married to a man. For you guys to say that you see me even in while in that relationship (because my spouse isn’t going anywhere!) is a big deal. I try to be present and visible as a queer woman (because I read “femme” and stand beside a man so oooooooobbbbbviously straight right?!?!?!) in a world that just does not understand me as queer and to be understood and accepted as part of this queer community makes those day to day struggles lighter. I would love to see bi-inclusive language more often and bi-focused articles too (like you’ve done such a lovely job – at least from my cis-perspective- incorporating trans-inclusive language and articles. Keep doing your great stuff and keep aiming to greater stuff!

    • “I would love to see bi-inclusive language more often and bi-focused articles too (like you’ve done such a lovely job – at least from my cis-perspective- incorporating trans-inclusive language and articles. Keep doing your great stuff and keep aiming to greater stuff!”

      So say we all!

    • Agreed! I absolutely love AS, but there have been many times they default to “lesbians” when they mean “women who are attracted to women.” This thread is a HUGE step in the right direction though.

  55. This thread is awesome and so desperately needed in the community!

    Though I have never had a hesitation to call myself bisexual once I figured out I was indeed bi, I have always kept it very quiet unless specifically asked. The subtle yet incredibly obvious judgmental opinions of other queer peers over the year have always made me want to avoid mentioning it, even though I have always been adamant I’ve been bi and have never wavered on this.

    A lot of that judgment does come when I reveal I’ve never had a relationship with a woman. I have had quite a few women come and go that I have had both physical and emotional feelings for, have even been in love with a woman before, but because I never officially went into any relationship with her/any of these women it doesn’t seem to “count” to other people in the community. I am now married to a man that I love, but I do feel like being married to a man means my identity is further erased in other people’s eyes. I always feel like I have to constantly qualify myself to be included in a community that preaches a lot of acceptance but has a lot of hidden stipulations. I don’t know many bi people, either, and I wish I did because I would love to have a sense of community for this part of me.

  56. This has been an amazing thread to read through, and like many other folks, I’ve been sitting here with tears in my eyes. So many of you have articulated so many parts of my experience, and I feel grateful for this space.

    (I hope that this isn’t weird or against Autostraddle rules): do any of you live in Chicago? Would anyone be interested in meeting up sometime? It would make me super happy to know more bi and pan people.

    And thank you everyone for being your awesome unicorn selves!

  57. I love this! I feel very welcomed so thank you for that. I’d like to share a bit of my experience and possibly have some advice.

    I’m dating my bff who is a guy and also bisexual (almost 2 years together!) and everything is awesome with one exception, sometimes I feel like a jerk because:
    – I’m a very jealous person :((
    – I’m usually more jealous of guys :/ (I know, I know)

    To me this is a very shitty thing to feel and my bf calls me out on it which is fair tbh. So what I’d like to know is if there’s someone out there that can relate to this and maybe give me some advice on how to NOT feel like that. does this make sense? thanks :) (sorry for my english, I’m not american)

    • That’s a really honest thing to reveal about yourself. Thank you for sharing it with us!

      I think jealousy, in general, comes from a place of either internalized fear or from mistrust. If your BF isn’t breaking any rules of your relationship and has given you no reason not to trust him, maybe you are feeling a little bit of internalized biphobia. I mean, I think you know that it is silly to be more jealous of guys, as much as it would be for him to be more jealous of girls. Why do you think you feel this way? Deep deep down inside are you worried he’ll leave you for a guy because you “can’t compete” with a guy? Are you worried because you feel that way about yourself, too? I don’t know. Only you know.

      Getting to the root of why you feel jealous can help and then talking about it with your BF and, ultimately, unlearning the behavior. There may be certain things that trigger your jealousy and figuring our what those are can help you notice the behavior. Of course you can’t stop being jealous overnight, but you can stop the behaviors that come with jealousy and you can fake it until you make it. Say to yourself, “I have no reason to be jealous right now” until you really believe it.

      Good luck!

  58. I’m bisexual and dating a man I he totally supports me liking women and being bi its challenging I’m in a committed relationship with my boyfriend and I can’t interact with women in the same way as I do with him overall its pretty awesome :)

  59. I’m pleased to see that Autostraddle took this initiative. For a while, I’ve unfollowed websites like Autostraddle, HuffPostGay etc because I sensed hints of biphobia on multiple occasions. I decided to focus my energy on organizations/groups that focus solely on Bisexual people. Bi-net https://www.facebook.com/groups/binetusa/, Bisexual History https://www.facebook.com/groups/BiHistory/, Global Bisexual Netowork https://www.facebook.com/groups/12391992191/ and it’s feels pretty awesome and affirming.

    Generally, LGBTQIA organizations/media outlets can do more to be inclusive of the BTQIA. I’ve been out bisexual for 3 years, I’m 23 years old. I’ve dated men, women, and folks in between. I’ve volunteered on mental health chat lines where I speak on LGBTQ issues & I’m surprised by the amount of people of all genders who express attraction towards multiple genders yet are scared to admit to themselves & others the truth. Something about multiple gender attraction scares society. I often find that folks want me to quantify, qualify, pathologize my sexuality. I tired of it!! I am who I am.

    #bipride
    xoxo

  60. Hi, I’m Cass and I’ve finally came out as bisexual/queer two months after being in the closet for 15 years. I was in a relationship with a man for 8 years and I was married to him for a time, even though was deeply in love with him,it was also my way to prove my “heterosexuality” because I was happy being with a man,sure surely I was not gay. I even prided myself on being a super staunch “straight ally” for the LGBT community. So surely since I was not a homophobe and I was with a man with plenty of gay friends,I was totally straight.

    But at the same time this pull was also inside of me,it started when I was 11 years old when I had a crush on on a lady teacher,and then two years later,another lady teacher.

    But I repressed it,very deeply,I mean, I like guys!

    Then,freshman year in HS I got a killer girl crush on the lead singer of Evanescence and my first sexual fantasies of women started happening,which scared the crap out of me. I brushed this off and convinced myself that “every straight girl has that one girl they would go gay for”

    Junior year, I met my future ex-husband and feel for him,hard. This was the validation I needed. I was with in sexually and romantically,so I knew I was ” straight” and a lot of the “bi girls” in high school were attention whores (so I thought being bi was not a real thing).

    Not to mention the small,southern town I grew up in is VERY homophobic and uses religion as a means to hate,which scared the crap out of me.

    I gradated high school and went into military school,then I got ANOTHER girl crush in military school and did not tell a soul. ( I chalked it up to missing boyfriend and repressed it.)

    Years later, I star ed a job and started crushing on my boss….(Same pattern,denial…repression).
    Then it happened with a co-worker(same pattern..repression…then I learned she was gay and her being flirtatious did not help.

    Of course during all this I’m still fancying guys. I’m trying to explain to my self I’m straight.

    Then nine months ago, it happened face on.I was very intoxicated and I made out with a girl.The instant my lips touched hers,my first thought was, “Fuck I did not want to be right,this confirms everything was afraid of.”

    But I chalked that up to being drunk and I dismissed it to drunken antics.
    But it kept digging at me.
    I was not even digging the girl, what would happen it I was around I girl I was into?

    And then it hit me like a ton of bricks.I was closeted.

    I felt the weight over me,it was heavy and torturous. But I could not be like that. My parents could not have ANOTHER queer kid(who is now back in the closet),not to mention having a gay father. No! I needed to be straight.

    I finally came out to my best friend extremely drunk two months ago.
    And then pride happened.
    I made out with a girl,sober as a judge and it confirmed it was NOT drunken antics,she was hot and I wanted to kiss her.

    I’m not totally out,due to the fact that I don’t want to do a big coming out because it is not thing that defines me.
    Granted,if I start dating a chick that,would have to be the big coming out.
    Especially with my dad’s side of the family,they already think he is burning in hell.

    But I’ve started to notice how bi girls get treated differently.
    My younger brother and now subjected me to the butt of every lesbian joke and my mother thinks I’m going to only now date women.

    I mean don’t get me wrong, I would love to find a great girl,if that is what it is in the cards,but I’m just as open to a great guy.

    My lesbian friends find it disgusting if I’m flirting with a guy and they trying to encourage my “gay side”.

    But I’m not gay,I’m also not straight.

    I’m about to move to another small town for college and I’m afraid that sexuality will affect my career as a classical musician( does anybody know any BI opera singers?),especially one trying to make an online following though social media and YouTube.

    I would love to reach out to other bi-girls,and find common ground.

    Like a good queer girl,I have a tumblr.
    http://cassiekutev.tumblr.com/

    I would love to get to know you guys! Thanks for this,it lets me know I’m not alone.

  61. Oh my god, I am so loving this thread! Thank you to the editors for opening up this forum, and also thanks to everyone for posting. I read many comments on my way home from work, and plan to delve in much more, but I’m really enjoying the discussions of bisexuality and intersections with kink, trauma, and/or ability, as well as the ugly two-headed coin of “passing privilege” and erasure. It’s totally vindicating.

    I had my first crush ever on a girl named Christine when I was 5, and also discovered a thing for boys about a year later. Even as a kid I rode the butch/femme spectrum pretty hard; my fashion sense has always been an uneasy mix of late-90s thrift store prep Carrie Brownstein and mid-10s high femme CB. I wasn’t super conscious of it until middle school, when an older girl started spreading a rumor that I was a lesbian on my bus route and got the entire bus to start bullying me. Seventh grade was a nightmare, but it made me reckon with my misconceptions of LGBT folks AND forced me to grapple with my own complicated sexuality. (That girl, Sylvia, came out as a freshman in high school the following year and had to transfer schools because of the bullying and death threats she received. I found out a few years later from some older friends, and it made me have so much more empathy for her.) I formally came out to my peers in high school, and aside from one open lesbian I was the only out kid in my school. Everyone else was in glass closets and basically came out after graduating. (The only family member who knew was my older brother, who advised me against coming out.) But I still dated guys because there was really no other option.

    During my first month of college, I was raped. It drove me back in the closet, and my attractions to women only manifested themselves in borderline predatory ways when I was drunk at parties, and other girls would be open to making out and minor sexual exploration/titillation. I feel pretty awful about how I behaved in retrospect. The tiny college I attended also had slim pickings for queer women, though a couple of girls who I thought were straight came out long after college. In fact, one of my biggest college lady crushes outed herself on FB last week! I finally had sex with a woman about six months after finishing college, and it was a horrible sloppy drunken experience that I have not yet had the pleasure of repeating, haha. Spent most of my twenties in the closet, getting into another abusive relationship with a dude that resulted in repeatedly being raped.

    I met my husband in the aftermath of that relationship, and he is extremely comfortable with my sexuality. I’m at the point in life that if something GOD FORBID should happen to him, I would probably just date women exclusively for a very very very long time. Even though he’s a straight dude, he’s also a feminist ally and incredibly supportive. I’m much more open now than I ever have been, and while I haven’t properly come out to family, I don’t necessarily hide it either. (I linked to this page on FB, perhaps my mom will read this.) I have never really felt QUEER ENOUGH to embrace it due to lack of opportunity to date/fuck other female-identifying people, but this whole thing is making me rethink that stance.

    tl;dr: I’m queer, I’m here, my husband is used to it.

  62. I am a bi woman engaged to a straight man and I really stressed about who to invite to our wedding. I only want people there that would support me even if I was marrying a woman. I don’t want people in my life that are “accepting” me just because I am in a relationship with a man. Telling people this scares me because I grew up in a Christian household and a lot of my family “friends” are doing the whole, “Jesus still loves you even if you are a sinner for liking the same gender” thing. It’s hard trying to cut the negativity out of my life.

    • Yeah, I feel this when thinking about getting married. I’m like, how can I make the ceremony “alternative” enough so it’s just as alienating to homophobes? Lol (not quite the same as what you said but still)

    • I have also given that dilemma a lot of thought, and I’m nowhere near planning a wedding! One thing I really appreciate about being with a woman, not wondering who’s supportive of the relationship and my queerness.

      That sounds like a really rough family situation. I hope you have the support you need, even if you can’t find it in your family circle.

    • I feel you so much on this. I know that my mom would see me dating a guy as an answer to her prayers, a sign that I was finally cured. It’s hard feeling like you can’t share your joy with people, because they will use it to invalidate your identity.

    • Some people invite family that annoys them because they’d rather do it the easy way and that’s ok if that’s what you want. Some people have their wedding two states away so Aunt Linda and her homophobia who doesn’t want to sit in a car for 16 hours won’t feel so inclined to come even though TECHNICALLY you invited her. Or just absolutely only send rainbow colored invites to your queer-friendly family and friends. You can always tell the photographer to leave Aunt Linda out of the pictures too so while she’s there that day she’s not there in the memories.

    • I hear you. One thing that helped me – not on the invitation front, there was no way getting around inviting some folks – but on the wedding front was getting as much queer and gender non-conformity into the wedding ceremony and reception as possible. Quotes from queer folks and a statement on acknowledging those past and present who are not able to access the legal and social protections of marriage, etc.

      Did it help that there was a double rainbow that day? YES.

      Congratulations and good luck! I’ve found apracticalwedding.com and offbeatbride.com to be great resources for the whole spectrum of weddinging, including the Guest List. Just know that the stress you are feeling is very very valid and you are not alone.

  63. Yayayay great thread, I’m loving reading everyone’s comments.

    I’ve been grappling more and more with my sexuality recently. I’ve dated folks of many genders, and I’m currently in an open/poly relationship with a man (though, since moving cities recently I haven’t really been doing much with the “open/poly” part!).

    Because of my “queer style” (read: short haircut, masculine-of-center dress), I was recently targeted by an anti-gay street preacher downtown. He looked me in the eye and pointed at me and said I was “living in sin” and that “it’s not a choice”. It was super scary but I also stared him down and since then I’ve been thinking about how my presentation and sexuality are intertwined (and also not intertwined?). I wasn’t walking with boyfriend when the street preacher called me out, and when I’m not walking with my boyfriend I guess I look pretty “gay” (I probably look “gay” with him sometimes too ha). But I could be straight, looks have nothing to do with it. But I’m not straight. Gah!

    So essentially, I’ve been thinking a lot about the privilege/erasure conversation and I’ve basically come to the conclusion that saying it’s one or the other is pretty impossible. I mean, we’ve rejected the binary in so many other situations, let’s do so with this! It’s just too complicated, and it doesn’t serve anyone to simplify it.

    Thanks again for the thread. <3

  64. WOW I am so delighted there are so many comments on this thread!

    I came out as bi at 15, and I was super confident in that until the past few years and fucked up relationships. Usually if asked, I say I’m queer. I love the word and the connotations, but it’s also partially because of the stigma around bisexuality/internalized biphobia, and partially because I feel like bisexual doesn’t fit me as well as it used to, since I’m less into men than I used to be, even though I know that bisexuality is an umbrella. I stress about the whole thing a lot–every time anything about my orientation comes up, if I don’t give a five-minute monologue, I feel like a liar.

    A Camp was pretty much the best thing. I was terrified that I wouldn’t be considered “gay enough,” and then everyone was SO AWESOME. (Thank you, Stef, for babysitting me through that revelation.) The other thing that’s been helping me understand my bisexuality is pretty messed up. I knew that bisexual women have high rates of drug/alcohol use, poverty, domestic violence, and poor access to health services, but it took me forever to connect my experiences with all of those things to my bisexuality. Turns out they’re actually inextricable.

  65. Queer woman married to a man, have dated women, out to spouse and close friends/randos. I suppose technically I’m bi, but I enjoy the identity of queer because I feel like it incorporates gender-fluidity as well. It’s super hard to explain to people why an identity that isn’t a sexuality I intend to act on is still a big part of who I am. My partner is very cool with everything, but I do think he’s uncomfortable when I make a special effort to present as queer. But I’m with a man, if I don’t make a special effort that part of myself is invisible. We are in a straight relationship and that is our sexual identity so he doesn’t see why I need to emphasize a separate sexual identity. It’s just because I… want to be seen for who I am, want to fight bi invisibility, want to advocate, want to help normalize LGBTQ identities. I also struggle with when lesbians tell me I can’t use certain words or take ownership of LGBTQ causes. I feel like I can’t argue, they’re the experts, they certainly own their minority group…but I feel marginalized. And then feel guilty for feeling marginalized by my privilege.

    So complicated, guys!

  66. Thank you for doing this. Visibility is so important to bi women. As a woman who has dated both men and women, I’ve struggled with LGBT friends admitting they think of me as less of a queer woman because I am in a relationship with a man or because I have less experience with women than men. The LGBT community is important to me and my identity as a queer woman is very important to me. So thank you for acknowledging that I have a place in it.

  67. I’ve never dated anyone of any gender and am stressed out at the thought that I’ll have to come out (as not straight / not gay) no matter who I end up dating someday. I’m pretty guarded about being queer offline, and part of that is just that I’m a shy and very private person, and part of that is maybe just out of habit (being closeted sucks but at least I know how, whereas I don’t know how to exist in the world as generally and casually out), and a large part of it is because I’ve met so many people who were completely fine with gay people but completely disparaging of bi people. For maybe the past year I’ve been wrestling with whether I want to come out at work, and I really think I would be ready to do so if I were gay, but instead there’s just this…complication. When my coworkers ask me about guys I feel like I’m lying when I don’t tell them I like girls, but I actually WOULD be lying if I let them think that I ONLY like girls.

    I have a hard time imagining dating most straight cis men (not because I see trans men as “honorary women” or any transphobic bullshit like that, but because they are part of the LGBTQetc. umbrella and know what it’s like to come out). Most straight cis people I know, no matter how much I love them, I feel a bit like we live on different planets sometimes. But there is the occasional guy for whom I totally feel like “For you, I so would,” and I suppose that’s the point — a personal relationship isn’t about how you feel in general, it’s about how you feel about that specific individual human, and that doesn’t change who you are. Or what do I know, I’m totally relationshipless. Anyway this is a lot of rambling but, Autostraddle, I can’t tell you how much this post means to me. “You belong here, you are one of us, you get a seat at the table too” — that’s what you’re saying to us with this post.

  68. I am 24 years old and I have viewed myself as heterosexual for a large portion of my life. I recently have given respect to the fact that I have been attracted to women as well. I have still never been with a woman. I realize through reading some of these posts that a large part of my current struggle is that I can easily remain in the safe zone of male/female relationships. I am scared to leave that privilege and I am scared to explore myself at 24 in a way that is completely foreign to me. Only like two people even know this but I can say thank you and it is empowering to see this space and to feel the desire to contribute.

    • I can identify with this so hard–I was also a “late bloomer” in that I convinced myself to deny my attraction to women for a really long time. Hooray exploring! Hooray empowering! Welcome welcome welcome…you are not alone :)

  69. I’m thankful to see this thread! I was always attracted to females since I remember being attracted to males. I started dating males in high school, but given I went to a private Catholic school, no one was “out” and I was severely underexposed to the lgbt community. At the age of 29 I, for the first time, acknowledged that I was attractive to females, too, and had my first sexual experience with a woman. Until a year ago, I hadn’t had a relationship with anyone except cis-men. Then a transgender man caught my eye. I dated him for a bit and then another transgender guy caught my eye. It’s been frustrating that cis-women haven’t seemed to want to give me a chance for anything more than sex. I’m polyamorous and engaged to a cis-man, so that could play a part now, but even before my fiance came in to the picture, I never found a girl who wanted to date me. It’s been an odd adventure, to say the least!

  70. I’m glad to be a woman of color on this thread who can start sharing experiences of complicated experienced of dating only people of color, of all genders.

    I’m in a polyamorous partnership with a beautiful cis Native Chicano man. I date femmes as well, and I have committed loving relationships with a few femmes. I’m extremely communicative about sex and intimacy, and have emotional commitments that manifest in many ways: dating, emotional support, creative support and just plain partying/spending queer brilliant times together.

    I’m in love with my bisexuality. I always felt affirmed with the cis men I’ve chosen to date, especially since my last two partnerships with beautiful men of color have been so liberating and expansive in their visions of what liberatory love can look like. It’s really hard, since I don’t always have the language and time to be as intimate as I’d like to with some femmes I’m crushing on, but I also recognize this is a growing period for me to explore love with folks in ways that are cultivating and truly genuine. Being poly + queer takes a lot of time and attentiveness, so I want to always show up for my lovers. Sometimes that looks like dating for a summer, taking a break, being monogamous with a lover, switching it up and figuring out my needs.

    My queer friends are hella loving. They recognize masculinity sucks sometimes, and I keep my hetero relationship out of my queer spaces so I have the autonomy to practice love without the hetero energies, but it varies in what that looks like. I love dating men. I don’t think that negates my queerness.

  71. Hi!
    I’m a bi lady dating a man and was wondering for others in similar situations – I always feel a tiny bit weird when people refer to us as a ‘straight couple’ because I am not a straight human. I totally understand people saying this and I don’t think it’s malicious in any way but it doesn’t seem to fit. Has anyone else felt like this??? Any solutions you’ve come across?

    • :(

      This has not happened to me, but I’m sorry it has happened to you! People labeling other people and making assumptions is the worst. I think if it did happen, I’d probably say something like, “That’s not the label we use,” or “Actually, I don’t identify as straight,” or something like that.

      …Then again, I never think of the right thing to say in these kinds of situations until like two days later, so probably I’d just gape and go “um, um, um…that’s…um…” ;)

    • I think if there is a way you prefer for your relationship to be identified, definitely share that with your close friends and whatnot. And, if it makes you more comfortable to refer to your bf as your partner, that tends to clue people in to some queerness in the midst! As a queer lady who refuses to think of myself having straight sex or relationships, I had had mixed success getting other people on board, but you know your life and deserve to own it!

    • I definitely understand where you’re coming from. I’m an ace-spectrum woman of uncertain romantic orientation in a relationship with a straight man, and I feel weird when people assume that me/my relationship is straight – because I’M not.

      I don’t have any solutions that don’t involve outing myself, though, which I don’t usually want to do. :/ Good luck figuring something out that works for you!

  72. Thank you, Autostraddle, so much!

    I’m a bisexual cislady, and, though I’ve had very serious crushes on women–and have actively sought out lady-to-lady dates online–I tend to be approached by men more than women (partly because I present as pretty femme usually). As a result, I’ve only ever been romantically and physically involved with men. Now, I have a wonderful male partner, who I love SO much–our relationship is wonderful! He knows I’m bisexual and is very supportive of my identity. But I’m worried that if we stay together forever (hurray!), then I won’t get to explore my feelings towards women, and that somehow I will never evolve, Pokemon-like, into a true Queerchu. I don’t want to bring this up to my partner, because I’m worried that he’ll think I’m not interested in him, or fulfilled by our relationship (which I am, to both!). Has anyone else ever had this situation?

    • Yes yes! I have been there. Have you and your partner ever discussed opening your relationship, or perhaps dating someone together? There are lots of non-monogamous structures out there you could try that would let you stay with your partner AND keep exploring your sexuality :)

  73. I am in my late 30s & have always identified as bisexual or non-gender specific and it seems as the years go by, I find more and more resistance and less acceptance- from both men and women, regardless of whether they are straight or gay. Just wanted to thank you for this thread. I needed this today, and it is comforting to see echoes of the same issues & conflicts that I have experienced over the years. I will be back to read the rest of the comments later, but I am truly grateful to have stumbled upon this. Thanks, ladies, for making my world seem a little less lonely this evening.

    • As a person in my 20s, I find that people my age are very accepting, while older folks in my circle are less so. I wonder if it’s generational, or that as people get older they fall more in step with traditional roles and give themselves less room, so have less room to give others. Thanks for sharing, I’m glad this could be a space where you felt comfort and community!!

  74. I did post something similar to this in the comments of another section, but I’m really curious how many other people feel this way.
    I’m seeing a fair bit of ‘when I date a woman, I feel equal in our relationship (which I like). When I date a man, I feel like I am expected by him/family/friends/society to conform to heteronormative gender rolls and to submit to him in some ways (which I do not like).’. Is this true for many of the people here?
    And then there’s the thing I have difficulty with – I need/want to have a relationship with ‘traditional’ gender rolls (in which I am the stereotypical female), even when dating women. I really can’t handle the idea of my partner not taking the lead in decisions, sex, dates, etc. I’m not really sure where this comes from – everyone here has grown up in a society which has imposed gender rolls, and yet most people seem to be unhappy with them in a romantic relationship (I should specify that I am NOT happy with gender rolls outside of a romantic/sexual relationship). Since this is the case, it doesn’t make sense that I feel this way because society and nothing else. To be perfectly honest, I feel a bit embarassed by this, like I’m not a proper queer because I have internalized sexism or something (which, for the record, I don’t think I actually have a lot of).
    I don’t know, maybe I’ll grow out of this and maybe I’m being stupid but I feel really confused and out of place, even within the bisexual community. I’m heteronormal, but not hetero, and therefore not normal either :/

    • I’m femme and bi and also prefer “traditional gender roles” in my own relationships. I’m also a staunch feminist. To me, feminism is about choice and supporting other women’s choices (which is to say, if you like having someone take the lead, then I think that’s awesome!). I also enjoy doing traditionally feminine things like cooking and taking care of my house – I don’t think think that’s internalised sexism – it would be more fucked up to do things I don’t like just for the sake of not being traditional (although in my case it might be because I am quite kinky and submissive also). It’s only problematic if you make someone else take the lead/be traditionally “masculine” when they don’t want to, imo.

    • It’s very hard to extricate internalized societal expectation from what you might personally want! And honestly, I think sometimes you don’t even need to. It’s totally legit that you may be a passive/submissive femme, and that’s completely okay, and doesn’t need to be mapped to heteronormative expectation.

      Sexuality and interest is fluid, and you might change, but I don’t think it’s something you should feel you need to “grow out” of! And maybe it is societal pressure telling you this, and as you work to disinternalize toxic beliefs you might lose this interest, but you also might not. It definitely won’t make you happier to change because you feel you should, or to castigate yourself for something that you think is too expected! The best thing is to 1. be okay where you are! I promise it’s okay to do that!! and 2. when you do work to change something, for that thing to be to be true to what makes you feel right, and when you want to, to seek that out with people who feel right doing so. <3

    • It sounds like you know what works for you in relationships, and I think that’s great. It’s not like you’re saying “this works for me, so it’s the destiny of all women! Feminism is a lie!” haha.

      I think there are lots of people in the world who have a relationship style like yours, and it’s possible for a someone-takes-the-lead relationship to be healthy or unhealthy. Some people do it because of social conditioning, but some people do it because it’s honestly what works best for them. For some of those folks, society is also pushing this real hard on their entire gender in unhealthy ways.

      That’s true of any stereotype, and it doesn’t mean you have anything to be ashamed of! If butch lesbians ain’t ashamed to fall within a lesbian stereotype, why should you be ashamed of what you want, what works best for you? You do you.

  75. Oh man, this is so great.

    I struggled with trying to figure out if I was queer or not in late high school and college, and somewhere along the way I heard lesbian women lament about women who were “just experimenting,” women they’d hooked up with who turned out not to be interested in a more serious relationship (and therefore not gay, somehow?) So I was already very shy about approaching men, so now there was no way I could approach women, because could I really be ONE HUNDRED PERCENT SURE that I was gay enough for her?

    After I started dating my boyfriend (and had gained more sexual confidence) I was still interested in women and he was open to me having relationships with women. But I didn’t really know where to go to meet women, being in an open relationship. Tinder didn’t exist yet, and I assumed OkCupid would be women looking for more serious relationships. (I was was corrected on this later, but again, didn’t want to be one of those Awful Experimental Girls.)

    So my first lesbian experience occurred through Craigslist. That is kind of its own story, but the conclusion was definitely “I am not a Fake Gay, I definitely like women!”

    Since then it’s been hard to meet women other than online (through OkCupid now), and online dating has been kind of rough (I’d met my boyfriend interpersonally, and had no experience with online dating previously.) I put a lot of pressure on myself to be attracted to the women I meet (again, don’t want to be the Fake Gay!) which stresses me out, and obviously chemistry doesn’t work that way. I don’t have to be attracted to every other bisexual woman. I’ve actually been on a hiatus from dating women for about a year, since breaking up with my girlfriend and some health issues I had. But I might try Tinder next.

    • Also wanted to add that when I came out to my mom (my parents aren’t homophobic) she was like “Okay, I love you of course but I don’t know why you’re telling me this?” (Presumably because I was with my boyfriend…) It hurt.

    • Man, this is something I deal with so much, with both men and women actually. Sometimes you cool on someone! Sometimes, you’re not necessarily looking for a relationship! Sometimes, you’re letting other people police your truth, and you know what? I finally told myself: hey! it’s okay to experiment! No one knows the inside of your head and your heart but you, and if they’re making you feel NOT GAY ENOUGH, that’s rude and, honestly? Not really about you.

      Go forth, do you, and if anyone makes you feel Not Enough (for any reason!), well. That’s on them.

  76. Wow, okay, first of all, I was overjoyed to the point where I teared up when I saw that this was a thing, thank you for providing bi women with a space to be open about who they are, Autostraddle.

    I was wondering, does anyone else feel slightly more anxious when coming out or even hinting at your bisexuality when you’re in some kind of a romantic relationship with a guy than with a woman or a nonbinary person? I’ve casually and seriously dated different folks of different genders, and typically the women and nonbinary folks I’ve been with so far have been accepting and receptive, but something about opening up about my bisexuality to straight cis guys I’m involved with always makes my stomach twist just slightly. I’ve had some adverse and biphobic reactions from men–even ones I wasn’t super involved with romantically–about my bisexuality which ran the gamut from seemingly innocuous but still harmful stuff like “Oh, I guess everyone’s a little bit bi” to “I’m not sure how I feel about being with you then, it feels too much like a competition” to the ever-present threesome stereotype. I dunno if it’s a product of the age group I’m in (I’m relatively young, I just turned 22 and I’ve only dated folks around the same age), stereotypes, or what, but even when I feel like I’m comfortable with a guy, am I really comfortable with him if I feel like he doesn’t understand an important part of my identity? Now I start to worry about this whenever any guy and I start forming a relationship, and I feel like I shouldn’t have to. Does anyone else experience this in some form or am I just overthinking things?

    • When I met my boyfriend I was super “I’m gonna be out and also bring up the possibility that I might want to be with girls in the future” and there were definitely some teething issues. He freaked out that I was thinking about potential open relationship so early on and also made the “hot bi girlfriend” assumption. But I persevered because he is really smart and open-minded and just had not had any exposure to different kinds of thinking and as soon as he did, he got it. It was sort of like a litmus test!

    • I’ve experienced this too in some degree. When I think about it the most of the guys I had dated seriously in the past were bisexual themselves, so it was something we both had a common understanding about. But with guys that I would be getting to know that were straight and debating whether or not I’d want to go out with them I only recently began to feel nervous about disclosing it, especially when they’d early on would make subtle homophobic comments and seemed like the kind of person who had more aggressive or negative opinions regarding LGBTQ+ matters. It recently also became a concern when I realized I didn’t have/identify with any gender but still choosing to present feminine. Just recently in an encounter I had with a straight cis-guy outside of my art school bubble it hit me that some of what he was saying made me feel nervous or a bit scared about disclosing my multi-gender attraction and past relationships with women, and even more so about not having a gender, which probably would have gone over his head and at worst made me feel very vulnerable and unsafe if I told him. I think it may have to do with it being something that disrupts the continuity of what they some think are their assumptions being accurate and enough to know a person. At the moment I present mostly feminine and for the most part probably will in the future too, though I think it also is something in my experience that would cause for a shock or surprise or uncalled for commentary when I’d come out- because I don’t “look queer”or don’t want to acknowledge that people can have multi-gender attractions and dating a guy does not erase that from my being. I haven’t dated a straight guy since freshmen year in high school, but I’ve definitely felt that nervousness or “I’d-rather-not” feeling just hanging around straight guy friends that I knew didn’t completely get it or wouldn’t want to make the effort to be supportive.

    • Wow, I feel so lucky right now. I’ve never hesitated to tell anyone I was dating that I was bi… except my first partner, I suppose, because I was still trying to figure it out when I was with him. In retrospect, I think he knew before I was able to articulate it (helped that my first threesome was with him). He’s still my best friend and so has been able to witness me being more open, accepting, and vocal about my own identity. Anyone else I’ve dated has been aware and equally accepting. Everyone should be so lucky.

      This thread is the first I’ve heard of partners not being supportive, and it’s SO discouraging! I will admit that part of the reason I think I felt so open about letting male partners know I am bi was because I expected the typical male caveman response of “hurr, HOTTT, let me watch u make out with a chik now plzzz”. Luckily, none of the men I’ve dated have said anything remotely like that (though everyone gets excited about the door opening for threesomes!), and I now feel ashamed that I was apparently more willing/excited to voice my identity for THEIR pleasure. I’m confident now that when I come out to people it is because I am reaffirming my pride. And if they’re not supportive, it’s a dealbreaker for me.

      I’ve never had to come out to a woman, and hadn’t really thought about that process since I’ve always assumed if (WHEN?!) I manage to snag a date with a woman-identifying person it would be through online dating, where my bisexuality is already prominently announced. It’s probably a great thing that online dating cuts down so much on the coming-out process. Everything is already on the table!

  77. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m seeking it out or because bi erasure is slowly being eroded (hopefully the latter!) but it’s so great to feel more part of a bi community (I mean things like this thread, and also things like the #StillBisexual videos). So hi other awesome bi ladies!

    I am 34 and remember being very into other girls even as a child. I also knew even then that I never wanted children so maybe I was just super aware of my feels even back then. I had several (secret) girlfriends as a young teenager (though I didn’t think of them as such at the time) and then had my first boyfriend when I was 14. I think I came out to my (gay) sister around then. She has never brought it up but I sort of feel she disapproves or doesn’t believe me. To be honest, I can understand why a person could find it hard to believe – I find it impossible to imagine what it must be like to really be mono-sexual.

    Since then I’ve had a string of long-term opposite sex relationships, interspersed with a few one-night stands with women. I used to feel like I wasn’t bi enough to come out as bi but after I broke up with my last boyfriend about 5 years ago, I was on my own for about a year and a half and went through a lot. I started spending a lot of time with a group of very open-minded gay men and came out to my straight friends. I learned a lot about what I want and what I don’t want from a relationship.

    When I met my current boyfriend, I was in a really good place and things have only got better and better. He’s also been able to admit his own same sex attraction because our relationship has been a safe space for him to do so – he’s had same-sex sex before but always identified as straight, probably for similar reasons to me (bi-attracted but mostly hetero-romantic). We are in a monogamous relationship (mostly, he knows that I have a very strong attraction to a girlfriend and knows we kiss sometimes) but that might change some time in the future.

    I’ve always been a feminist but I’ve read a lot more feminist and bi literature recently and it’s helped me unpack internalised biphobia and also internal struggles about presenting as femme. I’m all about lifting up traditionally feminine traits.

    My dad asked me recently, after I wrote a blog post about how annoying it is to be called a fag hag when hanging out with other queer people, whether I like women and I said yes, so I guess I came out to him too.

    I used to care more about whether people (particularly other queer people) were aware I’m not straight by using “partner” etc. but now I’m more like “I feel sad for you that you just assume things based on what they seem like on the outside” and don’t care…Although I do tend to get quite riled up when people make comments about bisexual stereotypes. It doesn’t happen very often though, because I tend to live in a bit of a bubble of awesome people ;P

  78. I am also going to chime in and say that this thread is amazing! I’ve been reading Autostraddle for ages, but this is the thread that finally made me go “I need to respond to this!”

    I have so many feelings similar to what a lot of you have been expressing. I’m 26; I’ve never been in a serious relationship with someone of any gender, but I present as very femme and most people don’t know that I’m bi. I actually had a conversation with my mom last year where a bunch of friends and I were playing the game Slash while she was in the room. I guess our answers were fluid enough that the next morning, she flat-out asked me what my sexuality was, and my heart was pounding so hard when I answered “Bisexual.” I come from a super religious family, and the fact that she was okay with it felt so amazing.

    I think due to my presentation and general shyness, I’ve had many opportunities to date men, but I’ve never really gotten involved in queer communities to have the same opportunities with women. And I’ve always pushed away chances to date men – not necessarily because I don’t like them, but because I don’t want to erase my identity by presenting as straight. Not to mention the fact that a lot of guys think bisexuality is synonymous with threesomes, particularly (from what I understand) when you’re meeting them in non-queer environments. Plus I have this inner voice that really wants to come out to all of my religious family, but I know that few of them would take it seriously unless I actually date a woman. Is it weird to be so worried about a future invisible identity when I’m already invisible by not speaking out?

    I actually had a chance to work in a remote place that I opted not to go for, because I feel like exploring my sexuality is more of a priority for me right now. Unfortunately, despite being back in a big city, I have no idea how to go about it. I only have male gay friends, not female, and whenever I’ve gone to a gay bar I think I’ve just been taken for a “fag hag.” That said, I love the fact that you’ve created a safe space for all of us to talk about our identities. Thank you so much!

    • “Is it weird to be so worried about a future invisible identity when I’m already invisible by not speaking out?” No! I worry about this too with my family especially, which is why I choose to come out to them. I also really relate to you saying you don’t want to date men because you “don’t want to erase my identity by presenting as straight.” This is exactly why I didn’t date during high school. I looked around and thought “Well, I don’t fit with the straight women and I don’t fit with the lesbian women and I don’t want to pick a side so I guess I won’t date”. Even now though I still feel pressure to “present” as queer which is nearly impossible unless I walk around with a girlfriend on one arm and a boyfriend on the other. Funny thought!

  79. My last girlfriend was hesitant to date me knowing I’m bisexual. She said that all her bisexual (female) friends ended up with men. I tried to protest that I am seriously equal opportunity and have no opinion or way of knowing whether I’ll end up with a man or a woman.. (SO many people ask me that, by the way!) and then I realized.. of all my bisexual (female) friends, they really have all ended up with men :P ! So… are there stats on this? Was it just a coincidence, or do a big majority of us end up in hetero relationships? It would make me a little sad if so, like an invalidation of my identity. I’d love to hear your thoughts, especially if you’re 30+ and have a ton of married friends.

    • I worry about that too. It goes along with the worry of people saying you dating women was a phase. It’s not a phase. I’m still bi even when I’m in a relationship. I’m still attracted to more than one gender. That’s never gone away. I’ve been like this my whole life. I am bi and with a man and plan on marrying him. I have several friends that say they are bi, but who have never dated women. I, of course, still believe them, when they say they are bi. But I do wonder in some cases if they were just too scared to actually try dating women. It’s really intimidating! I don’t blame them. Or maybe they just never found one they liked that was also into women. Totally possible. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t make them any less bisexual. And ending up with a guy isn’t really an end at all. Marriage is not an endgame. You can still work out with your partner ways that work for both of you to enjoy sex with not just them. Whether that means threesomes or swinging with other couples or having and open marriage or a poly marriage – w/e works for you two! So just because you may marry a man, it doesn’t necessarily end your bisexual experience as an adult if you don’t want it to and your partner is into it too.

    • I think it often boils down to simple maths, compounded with all the obstacles that already face same sex relationships: there are a lot more men attracted to women than there are women attracted to women, and they have a lot more social support going about it too!

      Plenty of bi-people also tend to lean one way or the other, in terms of experiencing attraction: nothing wrong with that either, nor does it render any of their relationships less meaningful. Your identity is your identity and struggling with self worth and trust is, unfortunately a part of many relationships: in the end you get to decide for you.

  80. I havent really read all the comments but I really appreciate this post.
    I’ve been married for almost 11 years and because we married so young I didn’t know I was pan (although I did have some girl on girl relationships before him I always thought I just was exploring) until we separated for some time and I dated a girl as an adult. She was gay and made me feel so bad when she told me she had to be careful and try not to fall for me because bi girls always broke gay girls hearts. She always made me feel like I was faking it and made me feel guilty. I couldn’t handle it.
    My husband and I ended back together and we are happy but I feel invisible at times and I know it comes from the erasure of being pan dating a dude, and he acknowledges my pansexuality in a really mature and feminist way. He has never made it sexual or not important.

  81. I struggle understanding my sexuality as the only two relationships I had prior to my current were very unhealthy (one with a woman and one with a man). They were both fairly long at 2 and 4 years consecutively, but the outcome was a very unhealthy relationship with sexual contact. It took me a long time to confront my identity as a bi catholic woman. I still wrestle with theological and social questions regarding bisexuality. During my second year of college I was in a happily monogamous relationship with my boyfriend. He tries to understand the struggles I have with my identity. He truly is a kind soul and has done a lot to help me through my past. I told nobody of my identity as bi and was running from it. Then, I began to have deep emotional talks with a female friend of a friend. It never went beyond mild flirting, but recently it had made me realize that I no longer want to feel ashamed of myself. I feel a strong desire to be physical with a woman without sexual contact. I feel terrible as my feelings for my boyfriend haven’t changed. Does anyone have any experience they would kindly share about any experience with being with both genders in similar context? Pardon my ignorance. I’m very new to the community.

  82. Until recently, I dated men and only occasionally slept with women. Now I exclusively sleep with women and identify as lesbian.

    I never know how to feel about using the label bisexual. Am I ignoring my past by choosing not to call myself bi?

  83. I’m a bi woman dating a man, and I have mostly dated men. Because of this, I often find it hard to be accepted into the lgbt+ communities around me, because I feel like I’m “not gay enough” for them, and like the only way I’ll be accepted is if I constantly talk about my attraction to women. This may be due to the fact that I don’t have a “coming out story”- I simply just started dating a woman and made that I formation public. No one really ever talked to be about it, not friends, not family. Maybe that was how they were showing their support of me, by not making a big deal about it, but instead I’ve mostly felt like they all just decided to ignore it-either that or they’re not ok with it and just didn’t want to tell me. I don’t really know how to react to that, or how to react to the fact that I feel like I constantly have to prove the fact that I’m interested in women to be accepted by others who are part of a community that I consider myself to be a part of.

    I would love some advice on how to better integrate myself or on how to better respond to this from some other ladies out there who’ve dealt with the same thing.

    Much love and thanks in advance!

  84. How do you all feel about using the term “partner” for your boyfriend/husband? I really like it because 1. his gender is almost always irrelevant when I refer to him, 2. people take “partner” more seriously than “boyfriend,” and this is the person I want to spend my life with, not pass notes with in middle school, and 3. people who don’t know my partner are less likely to assume I’m straight, which I’m not. That said, I worry that I’m contributing to bi erasure by giving myself a cheap way to fit in to queer spaces.

    • I like partner for long term relationships for basically all the reasons you mentioned. I also really dislike husband and wife, fiance, other more traditional terms. I tend to associate them with gross 1950’s gender roles that I don’t want to have in my relationship.

      I personally wouldn’t really worry about if it’s bi erasure because if I’m talking about my partner, it’s pretty likely that I’ll either use a pronoun or his name at some point.

  85. Hi! My name’s Ella, and I haven’t really found a label that feels right other than queer. I identified as a lesbian for 3 years before finally admitting that I was attracted to men. It’s great to see other commenters saying the same thing! I felt kind of paranoid about it, I feel like people judge me as being one of those “fake” lesbians popping back into the closet, but I still am just as attracted to women as I was before I started being with men. Although I’m still attracted to women, I feel so isolated from the queer community. I used to feel so secure in my identity. Now that the way I view myself has changed, I’m worried I’m losing touch with my roots.

  86. Oh thank you so much for all of this. I know I’m probably too far down in the comments for this to be read, but ever since I signed up for an account two years ago I’ve been waiting for a thread/post like this. I don’t know that I have anything important to add except that I’m glad to be acknowledged. It was actually this website which kept me from taking really drastic action- I couldn’t previously reconcile the idea of being bi with the idea of otherwise being very decisive, organized, and ambitious in my life (I guess I bought into the idea that it was greedy? or something?). Options I was considering included divorce, suicide, or coming out as something I wasn’t for the sake of looking like I had ‘picked a team’. But I’m extremely happy in my life now, I’m out, I don’t have to lie about ex-girlfriends- I don’t have to lie about anybody’s gender or anybody’s orientation. I don’t give a shit anymore. My mental health has improved so fucking much that I can’t believe I was where I was two years ago. I owe a lot of that to Autostraddle, so this post in particular means a lot to me.

    This doesn’t mean that I feel confident enough in my queerness (even though I’ve known what I am my whole life) to go to something like A Camp or even a meetup. But maybe someday. Still not 100% clear on how welcome people like me are.

    • “Still not 100% clear on how welcome people like me are.”

      I’ve been both disappointed and pleasantly surprised in queer women’s spaces. There have been disapproving comments about male-female relationships, but then there are those times when I mention a boyfriend, wondering if I’ll get a negative reaction, and suddenly everyone else is saying “yeah, I’m bi too, and…”

      and of course the times when no one else is bi, but no one cares whether I’m a lesbian or bisexual. But finding out that all those intimidating, potentially disapproving lesbians are actually bi? That’s pretty great.

  87. It filled my heart to the BRIM to see that this thread exists, and that it had over 700 comments! OH my goddess! I’m so filled with Auto-love!

    I struggled at what to say when I saw this. I have identified as bisexual for the entire time I have been openly not-straight, even to myself. I dated men all of high school, and in some way, I really did love them (and enjoy sex with them). But since admitting that I like women, I just can’t imagine going back. I can imagine maybe having flings with men, but as far as the grand scheme of my life goes, all I see is women– in relationships, friendships, just in my life, I love women so much. But I still can’t shake the past, and the occasional non-serious crushes on guys. Even more so, I can’t shake the *fear* that I might end up with a man despite my current feelings, and I will never be able to escape the hushed conversation about how I “used to be” gay.

    My cousin came out as a lesbian in college. Since grad school, she’s been living with the same man for years. Everyone says she just wanted attention, and she did it to piss off her mom and grandma. I don’t want them to talk about me like that, despite the fact that I cannot currently imagine a future with a man.

    So where does that leave me? Lesbian does not totally honor who I am, but it feels so right in comparison to how much I love women, and how much I love the queer lady community. Riese’e writing on this topic has done a lot for me– bisexual honors who I was, gay honors who I am right now, and who knows who I’ll be tomorrow or 20 years from now, but all of those things are still true.

    I choose to feel bi pride, because it makes me feel nonmonosexual pride, which feels very close to my heart.

    I don’t think I was as excited about this forum as I would have been a year ago, when I was feeling truly bisexual in the way many people define it. But writing on it here, even feeling gay as I do now, feels so therapeutic. I just said a lot of things I have not managed to articulate in any other way.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I wish I had gotten in on this before there were over 700 comments so that I could comment back at everyone. This has just been so wonderful.

  88. Going to echo almost everyone here and say A) I almost cried when I saw this and B) I wish this was a permanent thing. Its own Facebook group or something. There’s so, so much I want to say, like enough stuff that I’ve often thought about writing to You Need Help about it, but it’s really late so I’ll just say, thank you guys, so many fucking thank yous, for this. It is such a relief to feel validated. ❤️❤️❤️

  89. Hi hi hi all the bi peeps!

    I just…I haven’t read every comment but I see so many stories that I identify with…and that’s really new for me. I love Autostraddle but I don’t always feel like I have a right to be here – not because of Autostraddle or the wonderful community here, but because its all tied up in my feelings of not being a “real” bisexual.

    I currently identify as bi but am only out to my long-term male partner and a few close friends. For much of my life, I’ve identified as straight. I’ve only every dated men, only ever kissed men. I didn’t realize or consciously acknowledge that I was bi until a few years ago – even though my parents are loving and supportive people, I don’t think I ever felt they would understand or support me being anything other than straight and I think that subconsciously affected the way I saw