You Need Help: It’s A Hard Knock Life For Bisexuals

Welcome to You Need Help! Where you seek advice and we try our very best to give it.

This has traditionally been done by way of individual Formspring accounts, Autostraddle’s Tumblr and a Formspring Friday column, which has all been very fun and insightful. But, because Formspring has a character limit and we’re wildly optimistic w/r/t our time-management skills, we thought we’d go one further and let you use our ASS private messaging to share advice-related feelings, too.

For more info on sending in questions, see the bottom of this post. Let’s get down to bossing people around on the internet! Today’s contestants include someone who’s trying to figure out what happened in her open relationship, and a lady whose lady is bisexual and wants to stop getting shit about it. Enjoy!

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Q:
I’m bisexual in an open relationship with a lovely boy and the other night I hooked up with a girl I just met who I wasn’t attracted to simply because I’ve never kissed a lesbian. I would have slept with her if I could. He’s disappointed in me. Why did I?

A:
Ok, here’s the thing: I know this isn’t how you want this answered, but is this about why you kissed this girl, or about why you’re now in a fight with your boyfriend? (Sorry if that’s now what you call each other, I’m just gonna go with it lacking any other information about terms you use.) I think, based on anecdotal evidence and OKCupid, that open or poly relationships are made up of a (straight?) dude and bisexual/queer girl fairly often, and in that situation it can be easy to get your sexual-orientation feelings mixed up with your relationship feelings because who you’re attracted to and who you act on that attraction with are parts of your relationship. I recognize that these things get kind of messy and interrelated, but bear with me.

I don’t know why you kissed her. No one else can tell you. Because you wanted to? Because she was there? Like Everest? People kiss people for a lot of reasons! I just watched that documentary where people kiss like the Eiffel Tower and fences! If this is your way of asking “Am I actually gay???” because you kissed a girl for reasons you can’t fully explain or even though you suspected your boyfriend wouldn’t like it, you will need to figure that out on your own. If you’re worried that you kissed her because you feel like you need to prove something to yourself or others, that’s worth thinking about, and I encourage you to do it (on your own, your boyfriend may not be the best person to hash that out with.) I can’t tell you the answer, though. But I CAN answer the second question of why your boyfriend is “disappointed” and you’re feeling guilty, which is: you guys do not have the parameters of this open relationship nailed down.

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It sounds like he thought there was a “only when overwhelmed by passionate, uncontrollable lust” clause which you were unaware of. Ideally, (and of course this kind of only happens in a perfect world) there are no rules of your open relationship that only one person is aware of. You need to talk to him, but not about her, about you two. Why did this bother him? Does he feel like it’s okay for you to be with other people only if you have a certain magnitude of feelings towards them? How much of a margin do you get for not being sure about your feelings? Figure these things out with him! If the other person has a secret set of rules and guidelines aside from the rules and guidelines you’ve actually established (because you have, right? Like earlier? You’ve established boundaries??) then there is more trouble in your future. Sorry!

Q:
I’m a gold star who has always dated other gold stars. My girlfriend now is bisexual. I have NO problem with this. I figure if she likes me now, it shouldn’t matter who she has liked in the past, right? But other people in my life dont see it that way? People ask me if she’s gay, and I don’t know what to do with their reactions when I tell them she’s not.

A:
First, I’d like to apologize for making up the last line of your question after “people ask” because formspring cut it off. But I feel like that was the gist of it, no? Correct me if I’m wrong.

Basically, I feel like there are a few ways you can handle this. Are you ready?

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1. Talk to your girlfriend. Not like “this is an issue in our relationship and we need to fix it” talk because this isn’t an issue for you guys, this is an issue for other people, and obviously you get that. What I mean is that your bisexual girlfriend has probably dealt with this SO MUCH and SO OFTEN and it may be worthwhile to say “Hey, dealing with people who act shocked by your being bi or refuse to take it seriously is really new to me, and I’m upset and not sure how to handle it. Do you have strategies that work, or something you usually say, or any advice to pass on?” Note: this is not necessarily the best option, because your girlfriend may end up feeling like she is having to take responsibility for other people’s obnoxious attitudes, and also at this point in her life may just feel really “over it” as far as talking about what being bisexual means or how to deal with it. Which is totally understandable! So you can also try one of the following:

2. Pick one sentence, preferably a short phrase, and decide to just use it every time. I read about this technique in a workbook given to me by my therapist, so you know it’s legitimate. The idea is to just use it coolly and calmly without letting the other person take the conversation where they want it to go, until they lose interest and stop. Here’s how this could go:

Them: Whoa, your girlfriend is bi?

You: Yup.

Them: So that means, like, she used to date guys?

You: Well, now she’s dating me.

Them: But has she dated other women?

You: Well, she’s dating me right now.

Them: Is she, like, really sure she likes girls?

You: I mean, I’m a girl, and she is dating me right now.

See how boring that conversation is? No one would want to keep having it! But you’re not being rude, and you don’t have to defend your girlfriend. Perfect!

3.  Thirdly, you can take my preferred route, which is to be kind of an asshole. If the above technique is refusing to engage in a healthy and assertive way, this is refusing to engage in a childish and passive-aggressive way, by acting like a dick and making fun of them and refusing to answer the question. I guess that is technically not advisable, but hey, you know what else is childish? Interrogating people about their sexual orientation or that of their partners! Here’s some examples:

Them: So does being bisexual mean she has a boyfriend at the same time? I don’t get it.

You: Nope! It actually means she can shoot lasers from her eyes.

+

Them: Aren’t you ever worried she’ll cheat on you?

You: I guess, but I’m more worried about how she insists on us singing Lyle Lovett songs as a duet while we have sex.

+

Them: So is she, like, into threesomes?

You: She’s actually really into pottery from feudal-era Japan, which is weird but kind of cool! It turns out it’s really expensive, so I need a new job.

SO! Does that solve EVERY PROBLEM you have? Probably not. But maybe it’s a start! Let us know how it goes!

Also, as always, let us know your own suggestions in the comments, and/or tell us how angry you are that we talked about bisexuality, either one.

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Rachel is Autostraddle's Managing Editor and the editor who presides over news & politics coverage. 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.

204 Comments

  1. I believe that many people are “weirded out” by such a claim because those who identify as bisexual as far as I know have not concretely established their identity.
    Have they defined their sexuality as serially monogamous or as just turning back and forth between genders?

    In my experiences with bisexual women who wanted to date me, well those women were still actively sexually involved with men. They often feigned offense when I rejected their advances, but they must have expected it.

    In addir=ion as a lesian, it’s offensive to see many celebrities identift nas bisexual merely o gain a lesbian following.

    Basically I have never seen a bisexual women hose primary relationship ,was with a woman, they are always with men as use women as sexual playthings.

    • That is the opposite to every bisexual woman I know. Actually every single one.
      Obviously your experience is your experience but I just think that your description is way off base.
      Also, I don’t think that bisexuality is about defining if you are ”serially monogamous or just turning back and forth between genders”. Its about being attracted to both men and women, to any degree. Everyone ends up deciding if they want to be serially monogamous or have open relationships or be polyamorous, because thats how life works. When I realised I am bisexual it had absolutely no impact on the way I approach dating and it never even occurred to me that it would. The only thing thats changed since is that I have dated women which is obviously fucking awesome.

    • I can’t speak for everyone who wants to put themselves in the bisexual category (urgh, categories…), but for me, that is rather the point – not having to “concretely establish an identity.” I want to battle against any suggestion that there are boxes to which we are assigned regarding our gender and sexual orientation.

      I’m also not sure what serial monogamy or regular switching between genders has to do with defining a sexuality, an identity. They are not mutually exclusive concepts either. A bisexual woman might be a serial monogamist (the definition of which tends to suggest long-term, exclusive relationships) and also switches between the genders for these relationships, e.g. dates Bruce for 4yrs, dates Sarah for 2yrs, dates Maggie for 3yrs, dates Mark for 2yrs…

      The problem (if we need to call it that) with the bisexual women who wanted to date you was that they were not offering exclusivity to you. I imagine this would be just as distasteful if it was a lesbian suggesting a romantic liaison whilst maintaining sexual relations with other women, too.

      It is probably the most annoying part of bisexual misrepresentation (often leading to biphobia) in the media. Threesomes, cheating and non-monogamous behaviour are not prerequisites for being bisexual. You just need to be open to dating anyone with whom you connect, regardless of their anatomy/gender identification.

      I use the term pansexual… though I wish I didn’t need a term. It isn’t an elegant word, but it is closer to expressing my belief in spectra rather than discrete categories. It also goes some way to move from the idea of duality within the term bisexuality which, for some people, sometimes connotes ‘two at a time’, ‘needing to have equal interaction with both genders’, ‘regular switching between genders’, etc.

    • Excuse me? How dare you make assumptions about bisexuals like that. How would you feel if I said “most lesbians are just angry man-haters who obssess so much about their own sexuality that it becomes their defining feature?” Offended? You bet.
      So, it’s bad enough that I get hated on by straight people/asked inappropriate questions about my sex life by seedy guys, and can’t come out of the closet to my family because they’ll disown me. But I have to put up with this shit from the LGBTIQ community, too?!
      IF YOU HAVEN’T NOTICED, THERE IS A “B” IN LGBTIQ.
      And, for the record, I’m bisexual and equally attracted to men and women. I’ve been with my girlfriend for 6 months.
      I have no idea what you mean by bisexuals having “not concretely established their identity”. Until I was about 12, I thought EVERYONE was bisexual because I always knew I liked both boys and girls, but that most girls pretended to only like boys. Even when I was four years old, all of my Barbie dolls had both a boyfriend and a girlfriend.
      My sexual identity is as concrete as your bigotry, ignorance and biphobia. Fuck you.

      • This is a very angry comment, but this:
        “I have no idea what you mean by bisexuals having “not concretely established their identity”. Until I was about 12, I thought EVERYONE was bisexual because I always knew I liked both boys and girls, but that most girls pretended to only like boys.”
        Adorable !

        • Haha, sorry about the anger. I was just really pissed that someone would post blatant biphobia on a website that is supposed to be safe for and supportive of ALL women who like women. Disgusting. Also, less than an hour before I wrote it, I had to listen to my mum (in relation to one of our arguments about whether same-sex marriage should be legal) saying “nobody wants their child to be gay because of how society will treat them. I would never want any of my kids to be like that” and when I said “what if they were bisexual?”, she said, “haha bi before you try? That’s disgusting. Bisexuals don’t even exist.”

          And this is why I will be crying myself to sleep tonight.

          • Haha I love her and she loves me, but we don’t always see eye to eye! Hoping she’s a little more easygoing on you. ;P

          • Well she said all of those things three years ago when I came out to her. Now she thinks my girlfriend is awesome and actually tries to read about LGBT stuff. There’s hope ;)

          • “nobody wants their child to be gay because of how society will treat them. I would never want any of my kids to be like that”

            i love when people say this because what they don’t realize is that they are, in fact, “society” – and they’re also generalizing society. it’s a weird vicious-cycle if you really think about it.

            also, Dan Savage, although he is a commendable individual for co-creating the “It Get’s Better” project, he has made numerous generalizing/stereotyping comments in regards to bisexuals.

          • He has and, trust me, I’m as aware of that as anyone. However, I don’t have a problem recommending him as an advice source when he does get shit right, which he does in this video (about coming out to homophobic parents).

    • Good call, have the first comment on a post about stereotypes about/rejection of bisexuals be downright stereotypical/rejecting.

      You say you’ve never seen a bisexual woman whose primary relationship was with a woman, CONGRATS YOU HAVE NOW MET ONE YAYYY.

    • I find the “feminist” part of your name pretty ironic.

      Here, I’ll give you two things to think about. The first is that I’m a bisexual woman who’s (not legally, sigh) married to another woman. I still drool over Jon Hamm and James Franco, but I also drool over Mila Kunis and my wife. And I don’t cheat. Did that blow your mind? Good.

      The second is this: let’s say you like redheads and brunettes equally. They both offer different, awesome things, and you just can’t say you like one more than the other. So you find yourself in a serious relationship with a redhead, and everyone thinks you must ONLY like redheads. Does that mean you never liked blondes? You can’t find blondes attractive now? If you broke up with your redhead and dated a blonde, would you want people to say you must’ve never liked redheads after all? That’s stupid, right? Yes, it is.

    • It’s funny because I would agree with this comment that if someone is in an open relationship, they should be understanding that some people would not be into them based on that. If they’re getting offended, it’s probably because you’re bringing their bisexuality into it when that actually has nothing to do with a predilection for non-monogamy.

      • THIS. So much of the anti-bi hate turns out to really be anti-poly hate, but then people conflate the two.

        HELLO, PEOPLE. Any sexuality can be poly, it’s not just a bisexual thing. And so what if there are bi women who prefer romantic attachments with men and keep women mostly sexual? I’m in this sort of arrangement (I actually consider myself more lesbian with an exception) mainly because I’ve been with my boyfriend long enough to trust him heart and soul while I’ve only just really dealt with my queerness head-on *and* have only started getting involved with women, and no one’s really been interested in being in a deeper relationship with me yet. Doesn’t mean that’s not an option, just means it hasn’t happened.

        People and their sexualities are way too complex to be put into boxes and extrapolate from there.

  2. ARgggggggh. I really dont understand it when people react like that to someone being bisexual. It must be infuriating! My ex girlfriend is gay, and (to my knowledge) noone was ever like ‘o.m.g….a BISEXUAL???!’ to her and I’ve never had anything like that either. I would go with the shooting lasers answer though, good call.
    There used to be lots of biphobic threads on AfterEllen and for the life of me I don’t understand how someone could deny themselves the chance to be with someone that they like and are attracted to just because of how that person identifies their sexual orientation. Its weird.

      • I had this reverse of this at work yesterday – I’m a cashier and the two cashiers on either side of me were het dudes talking about this one girl who comes there every day who is apparently really hot, and my ears perked up. I was about to join in but I realized I’ve been working there for a week and I don’t think I’m ready to come out yet to my co-workers. I’m just not ready to have that “Wait, you’re a lesbian?” / “Actually, I go both ways” / *confused face*/*stupid questions* conversation with them yet.

          • Yeah, I know it’s not exclusive to us, I just feel like bisexuality is a particularly confusing concept for some people. Like, there are way too many people who think being bi means I need both sexes to be satisfied. It’s either/or, not both/and!

        • The conversation can be awkward, but personally I don’t know what I would do with my day at work if I wasn’t checking out the chicas with my male coworks/bi-flexible female coworker/bestie.

  3. I’m gay, and I’ve never understood this biphobia thing. I guess I’m a bit of an anomaly in that given the choice between dating someone who’s gay versus someone who’s bisexual (a superficial choice to begin with), I’d choose bisexual. It’s more interesting.

    Both of the women I’ve dated are bisexual. It never worried me. I mean, if your girl’s bisexual it just means you are THAT MUCH MORE AWESOME because she’s with you out of ALL of her options. And you’re better off being all “yeah, I’m awesome” rather than “oh no, what if she wants a boy instead of meeeeeeeeeee?” because that’s dumb.

    • “I mean, if your girl’s bisexual it just means you are THAT MUCH MORE AWESOME because she’s with you out of ALL of her options.”

      You know, this may explain the weirdness some people have about bisexuals; it’s because we have a wider field of people to choose from and they’re worried they won’t measure up. It’s like nerds in high school being worried about dating the popular girl/guy who has legions of admirers.

      Although being bi doesn’t necessarily mean you have legions of admirers. I just WISH it did…

      • I second the ‘legions of admirers’ comment; a bisexual woman can’t date homophobic men or biphobic women, and gets shit from all angles at times. It kind of shrinks the pool a bit more than expected.

  4. I mostly refuse to label myself as bisexual because well, firstly I refuse to label myself, period. But also because in people’s mind it seems to require a notion of equality, as in “I like women JUST AS MUCH as I like men” and/or “I have dated AS MANY women as I have dated men”.
    But that’s just not how it works !

    I am as attracted to women as I am to men, in general. It doesn’t mean that’s a given: there have been periods of time when I was more into men, at the moment I am much more into dating women. This isn’t something that is happening per se, it has to do with my lifestyle in general : I’m hanging out almost all the time within the LGBT community, therefore I am more subject to meeting attractive gay women whom I am gonna want to date and/or hook up with.

    Aside from that… Being “bisexual” has nothing to do with being polyamorous or unfaithful or “needing” to date both genders at the same time.
    This is for one person to figure out, but I refuse it to be related to bisexuality.
    I am monogamous. Always have been, probably always will be. I get jealous. I don’t want my partner to be okay with me seeing other people either; but even if they were, that’s not something I would do. Just because I don’t have the will to, or don’t feel the need to.

    If I did, it wouldn’t necessary mean that I would want to have sex/date a man while being with a woman… It could just as well be another woman.

    Just because I’m bi doesn’t mean that if I were to cheat on my girlfriend, it would be with a boy… It might just as well be with a girl. Because it is a matter of PEOPLE.
    It is about the PERSONS you meet, the person you’re with. Gender/sex don’t matter to me as much as the person does.
    So I guess that’s that.

    • +1. That’s why I prefer to label myself as “queer”. I understand that my preferences/lifestyle makes me a minority. Part of my sexuality is romantic and physical attraction to women. However, my sexuality is fluid; I understand at some points in time I prefer one or the other, or just happen to date one or the other more because of my current situation. I also find myself disagreeing with the concept of binary gender so things get really blurry. I also align myself strongly with the gay community, even though I often receive heterosexual privileges. That’s where being able to say, “Hey, I’m queer, I love and live in ways that most people I know don’t,” incorporates who I am so much better than “I’m bisexual, I love men and women for sex and relationships but I’m often seen with guys because I’m in a social situation where there is more eligible straight bachelors than non-hetero bachelorettes.”

  5. Never understood the hysteria surrounding bisexuals either. Why should I care if my girlfriend is bi? She’s fucking me now, she’s me-sexual. And yet -you- have a problem. How many fucks do I have to give? None. None to give.

    Also Rachel, you’re spot on regarding parameters. For open relationships to work everyone needs to be on the same page. Communication, it’s a thing.

  6. You guys, thank you, thank you, thank you.
    Thank you for being so much more understanding and non-biphobic as that first commenter and as my own mother! It’s so nice to see lesbians standing up for bisexuals, because we often get a lot of hate from them. Again, thank you. :)

  7. Wow, Bisexuals are an angry lot huh? A little touchy aren’t you? The first comment said more about this womans experience( can I call her a woman, or is that just putting her in a “box”) She has every right to NOT to want to date Bisexuals for whatever reason, just as much as you have every right to want To date whoever you want.
    I’m a goldstar, and don’t want to date Bisexual women, which doesn’t mean I’m a man hater or a Bi hater. Some of my best friends are Men and Bisexual. At one point, I was attracted to a male friend and we talked about the possibility of hooking up. He told me that he wouldn’t want it to be just a one time thing, and that in the end, he would always feel second best. This was an Epiphany when it came to my relationships and why I always felt second best in my relations with Bisexual women. Is that Wrong for me to feel that way? No, it’s just how I feel. It is what it is. So just because someone doesn’t want to sleep with you because you’re bisexual, doesn’t mean they’re judgmental or
    hate you, it means they’re taking care of themselves, and you, by not getting involved in a situation they know they are not equipped emotionally to handle. No fault. No blame. We all come with different skill sets.
    Oh, and by the way, I find men attractive, but know that I’ll Always prefer women, so there’s no point even going there…

    • Just so you know… This is one form of biphobia, and one of the reasons why many bisexual women (me included) will refuse to label themselves as bisexual… And therefore contribute to bi-invisibility.
      More often than not I will just say that I’m gay… Because it makes things easier for everybody, especially me. After all, it could have just been a phase when I was trying to figure out whether I liked men or not, and since for the last couple of years I’ve only dated women and be seen with women and hung out within the LGBT community… Nobody’s gonna question that.

      You could be dating a bisexual woman and you wouldn’t know it. Because after all, it is just labels. And if that’s what it takes to make you comfortable enough to date her, then I get why she wouldn’t tell you she’s bi. That’s dishonest, but there would never be any way for you to find out. Unless you are only dating gold stars, but even then, you would never know if it was true or not !

    • Yes, damn straight we’re an angry lot, and with good reason! We have to put up with biphobic shit from both the straight and non-straight communities… and from people like you!

      Also, you say you find men attractive, even though you prefer women. Sounds to me like a bit of a self-hater…

    • I can understand you feeling wary of getting involved with a bisexual woman, given that some bisexuals are seriously involved with men and only pursue women as hook-ups, given that some bisexuals define themselves that way because of an only incidental attraction to women but really only see themselves dating men, given that some bisexuals aren’t monogamous…

      SOME.

      You’re entitled to your feelings, and I agree that denying that those feelings exist isn’t productive. BUT — there’s a name for those feelings, and it’s prejudice. We all have prejudices about certain groups – everyone’s a little bit racist – and denying that we do isn’t helpful.

      What is helpful is recognizing those prejudices for what they are, and confronting them. If you write off a woman as undateable the moment the words “I’m bisexual” leave her mouth, you’re not dealing with your feelings well. You’re just basing your decisions on prejudice, like racial profiling but for dating. If you notice yourself having those feelings, examine why you’re having them, think about what you know about THIS PARTICULAR WOMAN and whether any of that corresponds with any of your feelings about bisexuals in general, well, yeah, that’s more work, but you’re evaluating a person based on herself rather than an identity group.

      Also, you yourself fit the general definition of bisexual (I’m not trying to label you – I know that might not be how you view yourself, but if a bisexual is just anyone who has some attraction to both sexes, that’s you). So you’re “gay enough” to date lesbians – where’s the line? I’ve mostly dated women and only had serious relationships with women, but I consider myself 50/50 in attraction to men and women and can see myself in a serious relationship with either sex. Am I not gay enough to date lesbians? Am I not straight enough to date men? Am I not supposed to date anyone until I pick a side and, in doing so, lie about who I am?

      • Yeah, I’ve never met a lesbian who “just doesn’t want to date bi women!” who isn’t stereotyping us in some way. Because if you weren’t, then that distinction wouldn’t matter quite so much.

        • And yes I realize I am opening myself up to stuff. The only possible thing where this preference makes sense to me, though, is where it’s really really important to you for some reason that your girl has never been into men just like you have. Because that is really the only difference between a lesbian and me: I like men, too. She doesn’t.

          And no, wanting a girlfriend who won’t cheat on you with a man is not the same, because bisexuals aren’t necessarily any more likely to cheat, and it won’t necessarily be with a guy, it could be with another girl. (And why is cheating so much worse when it’s with the opposite sex? Doesn’t cheating always suck? I’ve never understood this.)

          • “And no, wanting a girlfriend who won’t cheat on you with a man is not the same, because bisexuals aren’t necessarily any more likely to cheat, and it won’t necessarily be with a guy, it could be with another girl. (And why is cheating so much worse when it’s with the opposite sex? Doesn’t cheating always suck? I’ve never understood this.)”

            Yup. Yup yup yup.

    • I don’t understand this whole business about not wanting to feel like second best or whatever. I mean, if a bisexual woman leaves you for another woman, are you gonna be like, “oh, since it’s not a man she’s leaving for, it’s not as bad”? Why does it matter what sex she leaves you for? If she leaves you, it’s probably because she is in love with another person or some other reason. It’s not because she just really wants dick. If it was, she would be straight not bi. Also, we are not our genitalia. And by “we”, I mean all human beings. When you are attracted to someone, is your first thought to wonder about their genitalia? No? Then why do you think bisexuals see people only in terms of their genitalia? It’s so sad and disappointing that you’re not even straight. If you were, it would be just another case of homophobia, nothing surprising there. But you’re part of the lgbtqi community, are bisexual yourself and still harbor such prejudice against people like you? You disgust me, but I also pity you.

  8. I dated a bisexual woman for a long time and she only ever dates women as a general rule, even though she has experienced attraction to men.
    But I do see a lot of that “Oh I wouldn’t want to date a bi girl” from other lesbians I know.
    I think that’s probably because they know a lot of bi girls who have boyfriends who are okay with their girlfriend hooking up with girls. I have met some bi girls in this situation before, and I can see where it would be easy to get your heart broken if you fall for that girl and you aren’t on the same page about your relationship styles (monogamous, polyamorous, open…whatever).
    But that has way more to do with individual people not communicating what they want and need rather than with the bisexual community as a whole.
    So if your heart has been broken, it has nothing to do with whether that girl was bi, and everything to do with whether that girl was honest and communicative.

  9. I’m just going to pull aside all my lez/lady-homosexual-identified peeps for a sec who have exhibited some biphobia. Gather ’round, y’all and listen closely.

    PLEASE STOP SAYING SHITTY SHIT TO/ABOUT BI WOMEN. IT’S MEAN AND PEOPLE DON’T SLEEP WITH/DATE/MARRY MEAN PEOPLE. YOU’RE RUINING IT FOR THE REST OF US. kthnx.

    Also, “can I call her a woman, or is that just putting her in a “box.” Without a HINT of irony, ladies and gentlemen!

  10. Huh. Seems like we’re really not a secure part of the community yet, when threads on articles like this have to be focused on defending ourselves, rather than the issues at hand. :(

    Thank you all who have spoken up for/as bis. Hopefully one day we won’t have to do that so often.

  11. “refusing to engage in a childish and passive-aggressive way, by acting like a dick and making fun of them and refusing to answer the question.”

    That really is a marvelous route to take; I love it the most. Sometimes it backfires, but even then I don’t regret having taken it. It’s just so scenic.

  12. While I understand where bi-phobia comes from, it feels to me like it’s a result of misplaced agression more than anything. I had a girlfriend who left me because she realised she was straight. It would have been REALLY easy for me to conclude “bisexuals are jerks” but instead I stopped and though about it logically and realised “SHE’s a jerk I just happened to end up with for a while.”

    Recently I’ve come to dislike labels in general. I’ve identified as lesbian for quite a while now but have recently found myself attracted to a specific man. It was actually scary when I realised it and the thought of peoples reactions if I speak about it publically now terrifies me. Especially since I’m in a heavily male dominated university program and am well aware the only reason a few of the guys never asked me out is because they never though they had a chance with me. Which for all except this one is still the case.

    • This is kind of an aside, but that happened to me with the dude thing… first I was a repressed queer, then I got over it and was a queer queer of the lady-loving kind, and THEN I went and fell smack bang in love with a dude. It terrified me because I felt like I was going to lose my identity and community. And in many respects I did, and it was shitty to realise how narrow-minded people are.

      It’s ok though… you just have to be who you are, you’re the exact same person you were before you had feelings for this dude. Many people are smart and kind and will accept you for what you are in all your complexity. The ones who don’t aren’t worth your time.

      In terms of being asked out, it is annoying, but I am guessing if you are with this guy you won’t get asked out much… and if you’re not maybe you can brush aside advances with oh sorry I’m gay, I know there was that thing with X, but I think it was just a one of thing caused by him looking so much like kd lang / Ellen de Generes / Justin Beiber / whoever you need to quip about to get the dude off your back.

    • I can kind of understand why people are into misplaced aggression; blaming the other person (when you’re still kind of into them) or yourself, which is sometimes the case, is the more mature and harder thing to do. It’s easier to rely on generalizations.

      Straight people do it, too; back when I identified as straight, I was under the impression that “boys don’t like smart girls” because none of them were into ME. Of course, if I had been more mature, I would have seen lots of very smart girls getting attention from boys, and realized it was because of my own difficulties expressing attraction (in that I either didn’t say anything or I went way overboard).

  13. I am a “gold star” lesbian, as it may be, who found myself interested in a bisexual girl yeeeears ago. I remember one of my lesbian friends being horrified that I would even consider dating a bisexual girl because “come on, you deserve so much better than that.”

    Better than what? I didn’t get it. What did it matter if she had dated boys before and may again date boys in the future? As long as she was exclusive with me, I didn’t know why I should be worried about something like that. Liking both genders doesn’t make you any more inclined to cheat. In fact, both times that I was cheated on, it was by lesbians who cheated on me with other women. So…yeeeah.

    I believe bisexuality is totally a real thing and that people fall all over the spectrum of sexuality. I just happen to fall on the totally homo side of things but who am I to judge people who fall elsewhere? I think all of this focus on categories and labels is just a ridiculous waste of time.

  14. I have seriously run out of fucks to give about the views of narrow-minded individuals who lack the cognitive ability to differentiate between their own negative experiences with bisexuals and all bisexuals as a group. How anyone can engage in the stunning hypocrisy of stereotyping bisexuals while complaining about unfair stereotyping of lesbians is beyond me. As T.S. Eliot would put it if he too were an uppity bisexual, the mystery of stupidity is a pit too deep for mortal eyes to plumb.

    It definitely hurt when I realised I had to be an andro-to-butch WASP athiest lesbian to be accepted as a legitimate queer in my local community. It hurt quite a lot, because my family find my bisexuality as abhorrent as they would my homosexuality and it would have been nice at the time to have had my community accept me for what I am and not try and force me to be something I’m not. Actually it hurt so much I stopped referring to myself as bi, in a desperate attempt to dodge all the negative bullshit that got thrown up whenever that word was used.

    Happily though, I’ve gotten to a point where I no longer give a shit about the approval of people like some of the biphobic commenters we’ve recently had around AS. I’ll fight to the death for their legal rights, but frankly I don’t want to be part of an exclusionary and hierarchical club where BTIQs and people of colour have to beg white LGs to just be let in the door. It’s taken a while to get here but I now realise there are so many accepting people, bi and non-bi, out there that we really don’t need the haters… in fact I’m guessing they’re a vocal minority. I think from now on I’m just going to laugh at the people who stereotype… increasingly I see a diverse queer community growing around me that is beautiful and vibrant, there’s no other quarter I need approval from.

  15. I think part of the problem with bi stereotpyes is that they are perpetuated all around us. I’m surprised nobody is bring up the category of straight girls who like to get drunk and make out with other girls for male attention. Perhaps they don’t identify as bi, but I think they somehow get put into that “box.” Also…the Katy Perry song…you know the one. It’s stuff like that. Girls who only date boys but “experiment” or “use girls as a plaything.” Again, I don’t know how they identify, but I somehow feel that regardless, this behavior negatively affects how bi women are portrayed and viewed.

    Some people think it’s a “transitional” phase because that’s how it was for them. I thought I was bi for the longest time, until I realized I was simply gay. However, just because my bisexuality was a “figuring things out” kind of phase…it doesn’t mean it’s that way for everybody else. Who am I to judge? Who is anybody?

    • And I don’t really see how “making out with my girlfriends to get male attention” would fall under “being bisexual”. But I guess that’s just me !

      Other than that, I like Riese’s take on being bisexual, which is roughly “it wasn’t a phase, I really did love those men, so I am bisexual. Saying I’m gay would somehow unvalidate those relationships when, at the time, they were really real and really did love them and was attracted to them”. Just because you’re not into men/women anymore now doesn’t mean you weren’t at some point… Or that maybe, someday, you will again.

  16. I agree with this. I actually think the bisexual experimenter who is really straight and ends up with a dude after making out with straight girls/heartbroken lesbians is a mythical creature dreamed up by straight men and perpetuated by people who should know better?

    ^needs more punctuation^

    • Well, she said she’d never made out with a lesbian before, she never said she’d never made out with another bisexual woman. A lot of bi women, *especially* those in her situation (in an open relationship with a dude), find it hard to find lesbians who will date them and accept them. So they mostly end up just dating each other.

  17. I know I’m posting kind of late in the thread, and this is actually my first time posting on Autostraddle, BUT…I think I’m equally disturbed by Fem’s comment. I’m a lesbian, but I’m so tired of the bi community getting flack from all angles. I’m also glad somebody brought up KP’s song…I think that many aspects of the media and music have a strong tendency to trivialize bisexuality, especially in the way of the cheap sexual fantasy of man or a threesome. It leads to the awful misconception that bisexuals are somehow more sexual than others, and “need” both sexes to be “fulfilled”, when in reality it’s as simple as being attracted to both men and women (and possibly identities in between or beyond that spectrum). Really, it just comes back to this whole labeling in neat boxes thing. It’s incredibly frustrating and I commend those who can find ways to beat ignorance.

  18. wow there are a lot of feelings here. i can’t even give advice on this because i’m not bisexual and the most experience i have ever had in this depo. is my guy friend asking me to hook him up with my bi roommate…… so no credentials here at all. i will say i love all kinds of sexual (non and otherwise) people, i think it’s widely known. hugs to you all, but none for gretchen weiner!!!

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v247/sagacia/everyoneshouldjustkillcaesar.jpg

    p.s. who picks their friends according to sexuality?? who does that?????

  19. I’m happy that people here are being called out on police-y stereotyping asshattery considering how much of it I see unchecked every day. I’m proud of the readership/people running this site for working to create a safe feeling community on the internet, which I’m sure most of us can agree is very difficult to do.

    THAT SAID, I fully support telling everyone your bi gf has rad laser vision and bionic capabilities like the Inspector Gadget of sexy liberated sexiness.

  20. Question: Is it possible to only want to date other lesbians as a lesbian and not be called biphobic? This also applies to bi women who prefer to date lesbians.
    So are one’s preferences prejudiced? Where is the line?

    I personally find a lot of peoples’ preferences suspect on these matters because we have been conditioned a certain way and it would be nice if people just examine them once a year like getting a pap smear. Making sure your preferences are not based o hpv-like bigoty or warts. Ew.

    • Interesting point you bring up here. I personally prefer to date girls who only date girls. Somehow I feel like I can identify/connect with them better. I’ve dated all kinds of people in my quest for self-discovery (trans/men/women), and have found that my preferences land in the “likes gay women” category. I don’t connect with bi women in the same way that I don’t connect with men. It’s more than just a physical attraction for me. I personally have no problem with bisexuals, I’m just not inclined to date them.

      Also, for some reason, it kind of makes me feel weird to date a girl who in attracted to men/would want to sleep with them. It’s not in the way of the “I’m insecure and afraid she’d leave me for a guy,” more of an “ew that kind of grosses me out” kind of thing. I don’t know. Maybe I’m weird. I also feel like I’m having trouble really articulating how I feel and I’m not sure how this will come across…

      • Out of interest, how would you interpret the feelings of a bi woman who said she had nothing against lesbians, but didn’t date them because dating them ‘grossed her out’, and felt she just didn’t connect with them? My assumption would be that her feelings were probably based on stereotypes about lesbians, even if she had dated several, and that she needed to think about that.

        (Also, do we really have to have a debate about whether or not we date a category of people whom this website is (partially) designed for?)

        • I wouldn’t try to interpret her feelings because feelings are often illogical and she would absolutely be entitled to them.

          I don’t see how being grossed out by the idea of a girlfriend liking to sleep with men has anything to do with stereotypes and assumptions. It’s a matter of personal preference. I don’t see why it’s something that would need to be debated. People like who they like. Some girls are only attracted to girls who have really “girlie” personalities…while others prefer those who are more androgynous. I happen to be really attracted to girls are really into girls and don’t date men. Also…bra opened up the topic…I was simply giving an honest opinion. That’s it.

          • So if she’s a bi woman who had never had boy-girl sex, would you be into her? I understand it’s not really something that you can explain, but I’m just curious.

            Anyway, what you’re saying doesn’t offend me, really, and I’m usually harsh on lesbians who say they’re “just not into bi women!” But I’m just not getting that offensive vibe from you. I get it that some lesbians just feel like they can connect better with women who also have no interest in men. I feel like people like you are in the minority of “lesbians who don’t date bisexuals,” though.

          • I’m glad I’m not coming across as being offensive…I try not to!

            It doesn’t really matter to me if they have had boy-girl sex or not. It’s the idea of really wanting it that makes me feel kind of weird (again this is in a serious dating capacity only). I’ve had gay friends/girlfriends who have had such a limited experience with dating/sleeping with men, that they feel like they can’t 100% rule it out because they haven’t actually experienced all of the things. A curiosity is one thing…but a strong desire is somewhat different. I guess I just have a hard time relating to that and I find it somewhat off-putting in a partner.

    • I also find people’s preferences on these matters often suspect. I like the analogy you used for examining them.

      Someone saying they don’t want to date bisexuals can be taken as warning for bisexuals not to date them. Whether it is a preference or rooted in bigotry. I think the should examine this preference as you said. However, if they do have a bit of biphobia I am somewhat glad I know I don’t want to date them anyway.
      It is when someone says they do not date bisexuals and list off a bunch of reasons of “bisexuals are all X way” that I take greater issue. You don’t want to date bisexuals? Fine, I don’t really want to date you then. Just don’t proceed to generalize and stereotype about bisexuals. Especially don’t do that and then insist you absolutely must be right.

      I could see perhaps, a lesbian preferring to date other lesbians because she feels she relates to them better (but if the right bi girl came along… why not?). That I would see more as a preference and not biphobic.

  21. my ex gf tried to teach me to be scared of bi girls, but i think that was more because she likes to date straight girls and then got mad when they were done experimenting and went back to boys (their words, not mine. they admitted they were just seeing if they might be gay, and half the time would just identify as “experimenting” when they were with her)

    my most recent ex made a point of telling me that she would never date a bisexual, because they would always leave her for men. and that they only dated her because she looked boyish. it was so bad that she told me she didnt care if i hooked up with other people, as long as they were biologically female.

    so i’ve dealt with a lot of biphobic people, who claim it’s because they don’t wanna get hurt. i don’t care what people identify as, because as long as the rules they’ve set up in their relationship work for them, and they follow them, then it doesnt matter. because there are some bisexuals that want a bf and a gf, i knew a couple in high school, one was dating the girl i liked and that girl hated it, but she felt like she had to deal with it. and there was a bunch of girls in the army that would claim bi, but they would announce that bi was just another word for greedy and that’s what they considered themselves. but i also know a bunch of bisexuals that are completely monogamous. some of them date primarily men, some of them date primarily women, and some of them date equally. so it really doesnt matter, because one experience with someone that is bisexual doesnt mean it’s the same for the rest of them. same as any label.

    • THIS: “they would announce that bi was just another word for greedy and that’s what they considered themselves”

      I’ve heard this many a times, not from bi people themselves, but from the biphobic party. However, this translates to me as, “You’re having way more fun than I am and I’m jealous.”

    • “so i’ve dealt with a lot of biphobic people, who claim it’s because they don’t wanna get hurt.”

      so basically this sentence has been said about black people and that is still considered racist. (i understand everyone has made this analogy, but it’s just SO ACCURATE)

  22. On the topic of biphobia:

    Since lots of the bi ladies are speaking I pose a question to them. Internalized biphobia – anybody else have some? I know personally that it’s a near constant struggle to accept myself as is. To remember i really don’t have to prove i’ve a gay side.

    So in response to the biphobia topic, anybody else struggle against it internally? Cause I hate having to feel like proving myself. And am kinda sad and tired now..
    Love me?

    • I identify as bisexual~ish, though I’ve been proven time and time again that there are very few men out there I like. I’m worried to come out as any label simply because I’m afraid I might turn around and feel the need to change it someday. Also feel the need to constantly analyze and weigh the attraction I feel to people – does liking this girl make me gayer? This guy make me straighter? Wtf am I?

      I do feel the need to pick one or the other, if only to be able to tell people about myself. So many people think bisexuals are just “confused” or sexually “greedy” that I don’t like calling myself that. But I don’t feel gay or straight.

      • See, I figure that I’m living proof that bisexuals are not more promiscuous or sexually “greedy” than others, and that we’re not just straight girls trying to titillate men. Just because anyone who knows me well knows I am the furthest thing from promiscuous or doing-everything-for-the-male-gaze. So when I tell people I’m bisexual, anyone who knows me even the least bit would be foolish to start throwing around those accusations, and it causes them to think about how ridiculous the stereotypes are.

        Of course, not every bisexual is or even should be in those categories. That’s just the case with me. And I do get “you’re just confused” a lot, because of my lack of romantic and sexual experience.

        • ” And I do get “you’re just confused” a lot, because of my lack of romantic and sexual experience.”

          My friend, who is also bisexual, gives me a variant of this line due to lack of experience with guys; “But how do you really know you’re bi?” It makes me facepalm very, very hard.

        • Ditto, I’ve been with one partner my entire life, and it’s been going on for 6 years. It’s a guy, but it is the ONLY GU I’ve ever been attracted to. It’s a pickle for me – my actual romantic history is strictly heterosexual, but aside from me, my attractions have been almost all homosexual. And so I’m stuck with the term “bi” because it’s the only thing that people will accept, and even that’s a stretch because there have been people who won’t accept my attraction to girls until I’ve been with one. I don’t even want to get into the whole backlash to feeling more inclined to identifying as a lesbian. I don’t think it’s fair for me to label myself over ONE person, but apparently it’s audacious for me to identify the other 95% of my attractions because I’m in a hetero relationship.

          • *high five*

            I only dated women up until my husband. If anything ever happened, I am 100% sure I would be dating women again. The people I am attracted to are women. It’s just fate or something that happened to put my best friend and soul mate in the body of a man.

            I struggle with it internally, too. However, the bigger struggle is external. To gay women, I’m some sort of traitor. To straight people, I must have been going through a phase. To me, I completely know who I am, but I don’t feel like trying to make any of them feel better about it or want to make them understand.

      • “I’m worried to come out as any label simply because I’m afraid I might turn around and feel the need to change it someday.”

        story of my life. I actually deal with a lot of guilt for previously IDing as bi/pansexual and now IDing as lesbian because I feel like by doing that I just made people think that bisexuality is nothing more than the ~biway to gayville~

        • Same. I’m 19 and I dread the day that I may have a definite preference. I believe that sexuality is fluid and can be cyclic (lots of studies and anecdotal evidence for such too) but MOST PEOPLE DON’T.

    • I had a crush on this queer girl from my school, who had previously only dated women, though she identified as at least somewhat interested in both men and women. Recently, though, she started dating a guy and currently her sexuality isn’t listed on Facebook and I thought to myself “I bet she’s really straight and never really was that into girls.” And I immediately caught myself and I was like “wait WTF am I saying???? I’m just like the people I’m always calling out on AfterEllen!!!!!!!” I’ve also noticed I tend to get really excited if a lesbian on OkCupid is into me vs. a bi woman.

      Also, I’m one of those bisexuals whose preference, when I have one, changes a lot, and I’ve noticed that when I feel I’m leaning toward women, I’m usually honest about it; but when I’m leaning toward men, I usually feel ashamed to admit it. I think that the “barsexual” trend has really made life difficult for ladies who are Kinsey 1s and 2s, especially on lesbian sites where a lot of women have bad experiences dating those straight-leaning bi girls.

      • Yeah, I got mad at a friend who was on FB and looking up old classmates. “Oh, she said she was bi, but she’s been with a guy forever. She was probably just looking for attention. Look, she doesn’t even list her Preferences!” I glared at them and pointed at myself. End argument.

    • I get that too, especially the “having to prove gayness” urge. I can’t stop wondering if I’m faking one side or the other–does any attraction I feel towards guys come from being raised in a heteronormative society? Does being more interested in dating girls right now stem from wanting to make sure that the discovery-of-queer-identity-hell phase does not go to waste?

      I try to tell myself, “You’re attracted to both and that’s okay; you’re attracted to one more than the other right now and that’s okay. You’re okay!” but then I go all, “But whyyyy, why girls right now? There must be a reason!” The reason is that they’re sexy. Relax, self.

      And I even tend to throw the “no experience, so how can you be sure?” argument that Rose mentioned at myself. Yeesh. So yeah. Internalized biphobia is probably a good word for it.

      (Also also! Since I’m already oversharing, might as well announce that this is my first Autostraddle post. Skimming this community has made me happy and excited to be attracted to girls, which is kind of a New Thing for me, so thank y’all for existing.)

    • YES. I am totally part of this club. Back in high school when I first came out as bi a lot of people told me that I was “just kidding myself” and “being greedy” so for the longest time I totally bought into that and kinda went out of my way to prove that I like boys and girls, and I think I still do it sometimes?

      Oh man. Now I’m sad and tired too. Sad hugs all around.

  23. I went through a phase years ago of having significant prejudice against bi women; when I read biphobic comments I cringe out of shame for my previous attitude but I also want to engage with people because I was lucky enough to have people engage with me when I made these kind of comments. It is better to learn the hard way than not to learn at all.
    So many of these stories begin with ‘a bi woman did this to me’ and my intolerance began in much the same way. I dated a bi woman for years, she left me for a guy. Her parents, who had hated me for allegedly making her gay, adored him, and while she had hesitated to so much as hug me in public while we were dating she didn’t hesitate to share pda with him.
    The p.d.a thing bothered me, I felt like she was taking advantage of the privilege that relationship was given over the relationship she’d had with me. I had a point about her family’s double standard. But it was also convenient for me to shield myself against accountability for that breakup by saying it wasn’t anything I did, she was just an opportunistic bisexual.
    I began to make reactionary generalizations, out of a perceived need to defend myself against feeling similar pain in the future or admitting I fucked up the relationship. People would tell me I was biphobic for making such generalizations and I felt offended that they could lump me in with bigots. I told myself that I wasn’t some privileged bully calling people epithets, I was just a member of an oppressed group trying to defend against pain. And often that is the difference between a garden variety homophobe and a biphobic lesbian- one came to their point of view from a position of power; the other, from a position of pain.
    But pain doesn’t excuse us from accountability. No one likes to be told that their reaction to pain is actually causing others pain, so we run from this realization. When we get called out we feel ashamed and many of us react to that by digging in even deeper.
    Eventually I met a bi woman who reacted to my biphobia incredibly generously, by pointing out that she wasn’t offended by it because she knew it had nothing to do with her, but she did think it was harming me to hurt others, and that one day I would feel really shitty about it. She was right. It occurred to me that I’d backed myself into a corner, I’d been an ass and couldn’t change that. But given the choice of denying my own mistake and clinging to that prejudice, or saying ‘I’m sorry for being an ass, I’ll stop now’, I went with the latter and at least I can say it was the best I could do.

    • Thanks for your story. That’s great that you were able to look beyond that, and I’m sorry your first bi gf treated you so badly.

      From my perspective as a bi girl: “Opportunistic bisexuals” definitely exist, but I mean, so do gay and lesbian people who pretend to be straight. I feel like there aren’t as many opportunistic bisexuals as people say (when people discuss how the majority of bis end up in opposite-sex relationships, they need to keep in mind the 9:1 straight-to-queer ratio) and it puts undue pressure on bis in opposite-sex relationships to “prove” that they chose that person for the “right reasons.”

        • Definitely don’t see it as diminishing my experience. I was speaking of ‘opportunistic bisexual’ as a concept in my head, not as a real pattern. I think that term would be on par with ‘man-hating lesbian’, in that it’s deployed to reduce people who one feels threatened by and doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously. Some bi wome experience snippets of hetero privilege when they’re involved with men, that doesn’t mean they’ll be assholes about it.
          We all have bad experiences with relationships with all kinds of people. The fact that a woman finds men sexually attractive doesn’t indicate she will cheat on you, tell lies or put the empty milk carton back in the refrigerator. Writing someone off when you hear the word ‘bi’ is a bullshit form of selection.

          • Personally I hesitate to say that bis experience “hetero privilege.” We experience “passing privilege” when we’re perceived as straight – as do certain gay people who are sometimes mistaken for straight (femmey lesbians, masculine gay men, I’ve heard of gay friends being mistaken for straight when they’re just being particularly chummy with an opposite-sex friend) – but I don’t think it’s the same as the privilege that people who are actually straight experience. There’s still a part of yourself that’s being denied when you’re experiencing passing privilege, which isn’t true for straight people. Even bisexual people who are fine passing as straight usually do feel that denial on at least some level. As for those of us who are proud of our bisexuality and hate being mistaken for straight, it can be quite frustrating.

          • I think there is more to hetero privilege than passing as straight. If a bi woman is in a relationship with a man then she experiences hetero privilege in other ways. She can marry her partner and is entitled to all the legal benefits that go along with that. She and her partner can adopt children etc. There is a whole list of things an opposite sex couple can do that a same sex couple cannot. While femme lesbians and masculine gay men may pass as straight, they are still denied basic rights in many countries around the world. Obviously, if a bi woman is in a relationship with another woman then she loses these kinds of privileges but I do think it is inaccurate to say that bi people do not experience any hetero privilege at all. Like donnamartingraduates said, bi women experience snippets of hetero privilege when they are in relationships with members of the opposite sex.

          • You’re right. I’m focusing more on the de facto, personal kinds of privilege and forgot about the legal ones.

          • IMO, that’s not hetero privilege, that’s being-in-a-state-sanctioned-opposite-gender-relationship privilege. (We need a better word for that!) It’s a privilege that plenty of heterosexual folks can’t access, and some gays and lesbians can. For instance, trans het people can’t get married in many jurisdictions, because the state misgenders them, whereas trans gay folks in the same areas can. A gay man and a lesbian who are (non-sexual) partners for life who want to celebrate that with a wedding, like Andrea Dworkin only more openly, get that privilege. Straight polyamourous people don’t get that privilege. Straight monogamous couples whose relationship is socially disapproved of for any reason (e.g. race, religion), so they can’t marry or adopt etc don’t get that privilege. Yes, het people do have privilege in being, as a group, more able to access marriageable-privilege. But it isn’t. in and of itself, het privilege.

            Once you think of the permutations it becomes obvious that we shouldn’t call those particular privileges straight privileges. It only seems reasonable to do so for bisexual people because of the idea that we’re half straight. Which we’re not.

            Also, while we’re on the topic of privilege: http://radicalbi.wordpress.com/2011/07/28/the-monosexual-privilege-checklist/

          • I’m going to step back and agree with Evie’s point about the terminology I used here; saying ‘snippets of hetero privilege’ meant that I rendered invisible the difference between being bi (or queer) in an ‘opposite-gender relationship’ and being heterosexual. Bi people don’t get the ‘opposite-gender relationship’ simply by virtue of being bi.

            I did read the list and I bookmarked it, it has a lot of points I would definitely use in these kind of discussions. I’m usually skeptical of privilege checklists, because intersectionality of privilege and marginalization are incredibly difficult to convey in such a generalized list, and as I’ve stated before (just an opinion) I think the texture and nuances of biphobia change according to which monosexual community inflicts it.
            Of the points that stuck out for me though I would highlight these:
            -“Society assures me that my sexual identity is real and that people like me exist.” Even if ‘lesbians’ are hated or accused of being confused we have far more access to that validation than self-identified bisexuals.
            -“When seen with a partner I’m dating, I can be certain to be recognized as a member of my sexual identity group.” This applies very well to my previous error.
            -“I can cheat on my partners or act badly in a relationship without having other people put this down to my sexual identity or have my behaviour reflect badly on all the people in my sexual identity group.” THIS.

          • Thanks for explaining, Evie and donnamartin. That’s the problem with words like “hetero privilege.” Yes, bisexuals sometimes experience those benefits of appearing to be straight in a straight-biased society. However, we still are not heterosexual and thus do not approach these things in the same way heterosexuals do.

    • May I say you are made of so much win for evolving? Not just in your attitude toward sexual ambiguity, but also just recognizing that whenever you realize you’re wrong about ANYTHING that the right thing to do is own that and change your ways instead of defensively digging your heels in. Applause. Much applause.

      Also, I get the hurtfulness of the “hetero privilege” in public. I never felt shy about being appropriately affectionate with my gayer than gay ex girlfriend, if anything, she was the paranoid one. I was always ready to take the disapproving stares in stride (though I wasn’t stupid…in some places like say, a BFE Georgia fair with Confederate flag stands, we didn’t “act gay” because it was potentially dangerous). The double standard made me so angry. How I felt like holding her hand was so risque. She actually started binding and making wearing looser fitting pants with button ups when we went some places outside our gay-friendly bubble so she would be mistaken for a guy and feel more comfortable. I never encouraged or discouraged this. I didn’t want her to feel like she had to be someone else, but I wanted her to do what made her happy. Plus, she looked ridiculously hot.

  24. When it comes down to it, bi/gay/lesbian etc are all labels. I hate labels – it just puts up barriers to understanding the basic truth – we’re all people and a lot more similar than we are different.

    • Although I understand that sometimes labels can put up barriers, I was confused and depressed for many years until I discovered my sexual identity (my label) and my label has also given me an amazing online community right here.
      So, ya know, labels aren’t all bad.

  25. Come on, let’s be real for a moment. You ALWAYS have a preference. Always. If you are “bi,” you are more for one team than the other. It’s like saying “Here, pick a color to have on your wall for life out of these two.” You will pick a color, you are biologically made to do so.

    I find men attractive, hell I could sleep with them and spend the rest of my life with one if I couldn’t find a chick I like because they are fun and awesome like all people. But, I want a woman, straight up. I have a preference. On a scale of 1-10, it is never 5. It is always 4/below or 6/above.

    This is a place where anecdotal evidence has cause for use. Out of the 20+ bisexual girls I have known, 18 of them are with guys now when in their youth they were with women. How much is because they couldn’t find a chick they like? I don’t know. I think some would be with a girl if they had more options. Out of the 30+ “lesbians” I have known, 10 are now with guys.

    You don’t know people if you don’t know that most women who label themselves bi don’t end up with men. Maybe it is because of a phase or maybe it is because the pool is so small, but it is exactly why most lesbians don’t want to date them because as a lot, you are a flaky bunch. It’s called a generalization for a reason. Deal with it.

    For the record, I don’t label myself a lesbian, I don’t give a fuck. But I haven’t touched a guy in 15 years. Take it for what you will.

    • Actually, no, when you’re saying that everyone “ALWAYS [has] a preference,” anecdotal evidence of around 50 girls you know is not enough. All bisexuals is a much bigger group than 50 people, and to apply the people you know to that group is a hasty generalization. (You’re not even going into bisexual men, for starters.)

      Also, re: “It’s like saying ‘Here, pick a color to have on your wall for life out of these two.’ You will pick a color, you are biologically made to do so.”

      First of all, not all humans are “biologically made” to be monogamous. Second of all, picking a man (for example) to spend the rest of my life with is not picking “men” as a group. A person’s gender is just one aspect of them. For all you know, I could have a strong preference toward women which just doesn’t matter because this PARTICULAR guy is too fantastic for me to care. It’s the same as with any other preference one might have – hair color, race, body type, etc. Marrying an Asian person would not mean I have an Asian fetish, it would just mean that I love THIS particular Asian person. See how that works? So the one person your friends “end up with” is not necessarily a statement about their sexuality as a whole.

      • Hell yes to this comment. As a pansexual, the idea that dating someone of any particular gender automatically means I have a gender preference makes me feel very uncomfortable and somewhat identity-erased. I don’t like people because of their gender, I like them based on their overall personalities.

        P.S., thanks for noting the existence of polyamorous people, so many folks leave them out when discussing relationship models.

    • You have a preference. That’s you. Awesome! You do you.

      But I’ma do me, and I can honestly say that even though I’ve chosen to spend my life with a woman, I’m still equally attracted to men. (And that doesn’t make me “better” than any of the bisexual women who married men. That just makes me a bisexual woman who married a woman.)

    • “You don’t know people if you don’t know that most women who label themselves bi don’t end up with men”
      There are too many “don’t”s in this sentence? I haz a confused?
      lol but really although I don’t agree with you I don’t think this comment should have earned so many down votes, those are supposed to be used for “wildly offensive or derailing” comments, like Laneia said above. Not because you disagree.

    • I find it funny and slightly said that you were calling us out, but when people called YOU out, you either couldn’t be bothered responding or you had nothing to respond with… classy.

      Also:

      ‘It’s like saying “Here, pick a color to have on your wall for life out of these two.” You will pick a color, you are biologically made to do so.’

      Err, you are claiming we are biologically wired to have a lifelong wall colour preference? That makes no sense :p

    • Biologically ? Really ?
      To be very litteral, I have to say first that I know people who would be UNABLE to pick just one color. Honest, they couldn’t. They would be stuck in between forever and if it were under threat of getting killed, they might even die before they’re able to choose one. Or they will pick one, and spend the rest of their lives pining over all the other colors they let slip away. Erm.

      Now, let’s be real, as you’re asking us to do.
      True, I do have a preference. But the thing is, just like with colors, people come in more than just TWO shades.
      Let’s say cold colours represent all the array of women you can meet, and warm colors are men.
      So I love hot pink, because it’s a bold and confident colour; and I happen to like turquoise for the same reason. However, I wouldn’t go for baby pink or pastel blue, because they’re not assertive enough. But I also understand that some people will only like cold colours, and not warm colours, ever; because well, pink just isn’t their colour. Who am I to judge ?
      But I don’t really see how you could say that it’s impossible to love turquoise and hot pink just as much. Biologically, liking one doesn’t prevent you from liking the other.

      Oh, and calling us “a flaky bunch” is plain insulting.

  26. I’m a bisexual girl who is currently dating a lesbian. We’ve been together for 5 years now, but even then, she has issues with dating me because of my bisexuality. She insists that I’m a lesbian but on other days she insists that I’m going to leave her for another man.

    She says bisexual women will cheat on their partners. I sense real insecurity here about herself. I said what’s the difference, you could cheat on me too with another woman and she says it is different. I don’t get how – part from I could cheat on a man. If I cheated on another woman would it be ok? I don’t think so!

    • I’m so sorry!

      This actually sounds like emotionally abusive behavior – she is continuing to put down/deny your sexual identity, something that is part of who you are.

      And you are right about the insecurity thing. I went on some dates with a woman once who continued to bring up my sexuality (I’m bi) and was clearly uncomfortable with it. I was completely open about myself and my dating history from the beginning, as usual. But it was clear that she had serious issues with it, so I stopped seeing her.

      Perhaps if there had been more chemistry from the start, I would have stuck it out longer and challenged her assumptions more. But I don’t want to be in a relationship where I am continually having to defend who I am, especially at this point in my life. In a healthy relationship, your partner should not make you feel bad for who you are. It’s called UNCONDITIONAL love, people.

      In general, though, I think as long as you are up front about yourself and are comfortable/confident with who you are (like, don’t talk about your bisexuality as if it’s some horrible disease), most women won’t care.

  27. Honestly, this is exactly why I haven’t come out to some of my friends yet.
    Either they’re gonna tell me “Everyone is bisexual these days” or they’re gonna ask me if I “want so sleep with everyone” now. Just because I’m bisexual doesn’t mean I sleep with anyone and everyone that comes my way. I do have standards, you know?
    Fidelity means a lot to me and once I fall in love with a person that’s it for me. I am completely faithful, all bisexual means in my case is that I’m capable of falling in love with people of both genders (or with genderfluid people, if you wanna think outside of the box) and I can appreciate their form.
    Also, not all bisexuals are into threesomes, not all bisexuals “get bored” of one or the other gender and then cheat on them and just because I’m bisexual it doesn’t make it OK for the guy/girl I’m with to check out other women “because [I] know what it’s like”.
    Sometimes I feel like as long as you’re gay, people might not like you, but they can pigeonhole you. If they can’t do that, you become some sort of disruptive factor in their calculations.
    It’s actually been in a lesbian community where I was told I should leave the forum because “bisexual women are responsible for AIDS spreading in the lesbian community” and that “bisexuals just don’t know who they are yet and go back to their husbands once they’ve had sex with a woman.”

  28. Honestly, i personally don’t fear any specific sexual identity, but i can venture a guess why some people do.

    I decided that i am attracted to anyone that can love me for me, whether they are a girl, a boy, a transgender or a hermaphrodite. Who cares what is below the belt? If someone can treat me with respect and understand me with every fiber of their being and love what i am, why shouldn’t i pay them back that amazing respect? What i’ve learned, and even at my young age is that love is love, and it comes in many forms, and can be expressed in many different ways, sometimes physically and sometimes emotionally. If someone is emotionally there for me in a way that meshes well, hell yes! Physically is awesome too!

    The thing is- some girls just don’t like girls that like guys, the same way some people just aren’t attracted to fat people or blonde people or skinny people or strong people. People have preferences, even I do!

    The key is to understand that if someone can’t love you for you they aren’t worth your time anyway. It’s a universal thing that is hard to accept, especially if we fall head over heals for someone who just decides that they can’t get over our differences.

    Start loving you and eventually someone will follow. Everyone has a someone who is waiting for them;}

  29. There is a difference between sexual orientation and sexual preference. Some of us were not born one particular way. There’s also a difference between labels, which can be useful descriptors, and boxes, which can be confining.

    When I first came out as queer and a femme, I was completely ecstatic to hear some fellow femmes (and some unlabeled women) talk about how, yeah, they have and still might fuck dudes, and yeah, they have and still might like it- and yet, their preferences are towards women. Most all of these women friends identify as dykes, and more than several are currently life-partnered up. This reality tends to bug people who want to put these folks into a category of their own choosing, rather than respecting how these women choose to define themselves and how they choose to live, love and fuck in this world.

    Sexuality is so fantastically complicated and nuanced, and also so deliciously natural. Mmmm…Let’s all just have more sex n love, more respect n less judgements, please!

  30. Aside from the controversy regarding the offensive comment, can I just say I’m THRILLED to see an active bisexual (or pan, fluid, etc…) presence on this site? As someone who is still dealing with overcoming some of the social stigmas attached with this identity, it is wonderful to see bisexual and lesbian identified women on this site bonding over their common experiences.

    Bisexual isn’t any less real or less gay…it’s just a bit more flexible because that’s what happens to feel right on an individual level :)

    • Hi.

      I have a friend who has a very strong preference towards dating white lesbians who is south asian. At first I was suspicious of her preferences, plus to other people they took it as biphobic and racist but she never expressed her preferences while making rude remarks about non-white women and bi/pan/etc.

      I think the moral of the story is that i don’t think it is wrong to only want to date lesbians/bi/moneyed/etc. Just don’t be an ass. Also if you are not in someone’s preference and they did not say anything rude don’t throw out the words biphobic or whatever, of course you can think it…

        • I knew someone would think I was equating bisexuals and pansexuals with those who questioning/confused. They are two separate categories. I just don’t want to date either, really because neither of those categories include self-aware lesbians. I just like lesbians. I suppose I could’ve included straight women to that list, but that seemed obvious.

          The thing is, people always have preferences. Whether it’s by race, religion, politics, income, gender, sexual orientation, whatever. I have a few preferences, one of them is a preference for self-assured gay women! Since this article was about the questions or complications that can arise when bisexual women are dating lesbians, I just chimed in (unnecessarily) that I don’t think I’ll have to deal with these issues. I have in the past but don’t intend to again.

          • Wait, now you’re even more confusing. Why are self-assured lesbians so much better to date than self-assured bisexuals or pansexuals? If I called myself a lesbian, would you date me, regardless of my past with men? Because I’m self-assured of my identity, regardless of what labels you want to put on me.

            And you still haven’t gotten around to what exactly those “issues” are with dating bisexuals.

          • Um, isn’t this article about issues that may (or may not!) arise for bisexuals in relationships? Did you even read the two questions posed and answered in the article?

            And yes, I would not date you.

          • Yes, I did read the article, and it’s about dealing with hardheaded people like you about bisexuality. I still fail to see what the actual issues are for you, since it’s been established that these “issues” are biphobic projections of the person’s insecurities about infidelity and mistrust. And yet you still think you can dodge the biphobic bullet justifiably.

            Good, I wouldn’t want to date you either. You seem like someone with her head up her ass.

          • You resort to attacking people who disagree with you a LOT. I’ve seen it in many threads. There is a zero-percent chance of me trying to have a real discussion with you about this or anything else, on that basis. Good luck with everything!

          • Classy? Fine, I don’t have to pretend to be classy if it means I can call you bigoted when you are. And I’m not attacking you, if you read carefully, I asked for you to clarify your point. You turned that around and accused me of “not reading the article”. You want to point fingers at dropping the class-act first, I’d reexamine your posts, too.

            There is a big difference between you and me on why we can’t ever have a real discussion (which you’ve conveniently dodged). You judge people like me because we date both men and women. I judge people like you based on your actions and prejudices. I at least gave you a chance.

          • Yeah, um, the auto-hostility from you immediately was a big ol’ flowery invitation to have a real discussion. My apologies for not recognizing it as such and pouring my heart out to you. While I appreciate your assumption that I must be “biphobic” because I have “insecurities about infidelity and mistrust,” I must kindly interject. I think that there are many wonderful bisexual women who genuinely feel attractions to both genders and are genuinely interested in monogamy. I don’t think bisexual = cheaters. Not every person who prefers to date/not date a specific race is racist and not every person who prefers to date/not date lesbians is biphobic, though the accusations and name-calling are a lot of fun. I have no problem with bisexuals and, yes, I have bisexual friends. I just don’t want to date them. The reason for my preference is pretty simple, but I think I’ve had my fill of name-calling and angry mobs with pitchforks for one thread. I oh-so appreciate you giving me “a chance,” as you say, but I’m just gonna check out of this fun little talk. Adieu!

          • Again this not about you/bi/pan women of the universe and calling magic muffin biphobic. She just likes dating lesbians. I had a hard time letting my projections of isms go based on how suspect I think one’s preferences made me feel. I had to no give a fuck if a person did not want to date me based on class/race/sexuality. Rejection sucks and as long as I did not have any fucks to give, well I just had to move on.

          • idk its kind of like asking a straight girl to date a woman: if she’s not interested in women, she’s not interested in women.

            if a certain type of lesbian doesn’t want to date a woman who has been with other men or could choose to be with other men then she wont do it; sure we could argue all we want but the real issue is that we scream our heads off at people we believe to be bigoted (i don’t believe this) while there are so many other beautiful people out there who wont judge us for who we’ve been with or could be with, but that generally will fall head over heels for us no matter where we’ve been.

            there are plenty of other things we can save our pretty voices for.

            it has been such an interesting thread with many different view points and that’s why it’s been so fun, so don’t become a hater when you hate to be hated! i think part of the biggest struggle, but biggest gift in life is to just accept people for how they are.

            Isn’t that the most important thing to stand for? We can’t change people, i’ve heard it over and over, but we can learn to deal with it.

            i hope everyone has a swell monday!

            -sharedsilhouette

          • @Etana That’s true, and I completely agree with that. However, there is a huge difference between just not being attracted to bisexuals vs. purposely rejecting them because of that orientation (to avoid any “problems”). Like, I’m not normally attracted to black women, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t go out with a woman because she was black. That’s the difference between preference and prejudice.

  31. Gay women rock. ALL OF THE GAYS.

    Although maybe a little late, I wanted to add this in:

    My girlfriend happens to be bisexual. It is a part of her. And I love her, so I love her bisexuality. It never occurred to me to think any other way. Frankly, I would be just as hurt if she disliked the fact that I am a lesbian for no reason other than ridiculous stereotypes.

    I personally did use bisexuality as a bit of an identity-stepping stone. This does not mean that everyone else automatically had the same experience. You do you, as it were. For me, I definitely needed that label for the identity-limbo I went through while I was still figuring out my sexuality, but by no means do I believe that is the case for my girlfriend, nor do I presume that anyone else who claims that identity is going through a phase of some kind.

    My girlfriend and I are both gay. I may identify as a lesbian, and she may identify as bisexual, but this does not change the fact that we both fit under the queer community umbrella. Yes, I’d be distraught if she cheated on me with a guy, but I’d be just as distraught if she cheated on me with another woman. Gender doesn’t define whether or not it counts as cheating. Cheating is cheating. If I cheated with another woman, I’d be just as much of an asshole. And the likelihood of her cheating is not any higher simply because of her sexual identity.

    My girlfriend is attracted to men and attracted to women, but she LOVES me. That is all that matters.

  32. like i said before- people just have preferences, and that’s okay because i know that if someone prefers not to be with me, then i probably shouldn’t be with them.

    it’s unfortunate that being pansexual or queer or fluid limits our choices, but its okay. right now i’m totally in love with a guy, who is also pansexual and prefers men the same way i prefer women, but you just can’t help who you love! isn’t that the hugest argument that our community has when people judge?

    i know that someday, if not today i’ll find/i’ve found someone who wont care at all about my past or who i’ve spent it with.

    ..chances are so will all of the struggling fluid people on this thread because everyone is beautiful and deserves to be loved.

    xoxo
    -sharedsilhouette

  33. I feel sad now, you guys. I hate biphobia and I especially hate that I feel like I’m perpetuating it because I do fit some of the stereotypes (actually I don’t, but I appear to). Because guess what? I’m 16, I’m bisexual, I’m in a serious relationship with a (bisexual also!) boy, and we have an open relationship, and he has a male fuck buddy and I hooked up with a really, really hot girl last night. And look, we look like we just use people of the same sex as “playthings”. It’s not fair. I don’t want to have to deal with this. I know I’m privileged because my heterosexual relationship lets me “pass” as straight, were I so inclined. But I don’t want to pass. I want to be part of the LGBT community, and I want to be accepted by that community as a for real part of it. Because I am, you guys, I really am. I’m “gay enough.” I’m not “greedy” or “confused” or “attention-seeking.” I’m not a straight girl trying to titillate people. I’m queer as hell, and I have to deal with homophobia too, and I can’t even feel safe in the safe place. Please, you guys, I just wanna be.

    • I love the flowchart part –

      “Question 1. Do you like boys? If yes, then you are heterosexual. If no, then proceed to question 2.

      Question 2. Do you like girls? If yes, then you are homosexual.

      So, for the first 20-odd years of my life, I never got to question 2. I liked boys, so clearly I fit into the first category. Even though I had multiple crushes on girls.”

      STORY OF MY (ADOLESCENT) LIFE.

  34. I really love all the bi-righteousness and support here. So many of you have made excellent points, and I feel comforted knowing there are more people out there, bi and not who don’t judge my orientation (as inadequate as the label is, considering I don’t support the gender binary). I’ve heard all the stereotypes and all of the insults, and it can get discouraging. I ran into all this nonsense when I came out in college. I only came out because I realized there was anything to come out about. I had an open mind, but I’d always been skeptical that I could ever be attracted to a woman. I fell in love during my first semester with a girl who lived down the hall and was proven wrong. I didn’t confess to people that I was bisexual. I just allowed it to be known that I was in a relationship with someone biologically female. I was lucky to be at a pretty queer friendly women’s college and to have a very loving and supportive family. I did not have to contend with closeting myself to avoid being rejected by them. But even they have unwittingly said hurtful things to me. Recent example: I’m currently single, and I’m on a dating site listed as bisexual. My mom was like, “Do you really think that’s a good idea? It’ll probably deter a lot of men. They’ll be all insecure.” It was so clear to me at that moment that she really secretly hopes I marry a man, though she’ll never be unkind to me if I choose another path. I responded, “Well, I wouldn’t want to date someone with that attitude toward my identity anyway, so it’ll weed out a lot of unworthies.” She shrugged, but she looked a little grim. In the end, I want to just broadcast the words from a Buddy Wakefield poem I’m getting tattooed on my arm soon: “STOP INVITING WALLS INTO WIDE OPEN SPACES.”

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