There are some wild misconceptions about bisexual people. The first is that you're either secretly gay or just experimenting. The second is that you are always the sexuality of your current relationship. (If someone's partner was ginger, you wouldn't assume they only fancy ginger people, would you?) And the third is that all bisexual people find it hard to act on their queer feelings.
Of course, that third point can be common (the world is still heteronormative, after all). But it's not the Universal Bi Experience. Some bi or pansexual people have only ever been in same-gender relationships and wouldn't even know where to begin when it comes to dating a different gender.
As someone who has only ever been in long-term relationships with other women – but who doesn't necessarily fancy one gender – non-gay culture often looks weird and complicated. Why are men sometimes mean to women they like, for example? Do straight people have “tops” and “bottoms”? Is flirting the same, regardless of gender?? Truly, it’s a minefield out there.
With all of the above in mind, here's a guide to exploring your bisexuality if you've only ever been in same-gender relationships, according to experts.
Remember that there isn't just one way to be bi
The first thing a lot of bi people ask themselves is “but am I bi enough?” says Zachary Zane, sex columnist and sex expert for Promescent. Time to get rid of your preconceived notions about bisexuality. So what if you've only ever been in same-gender relationships? There isn’t some secret “bisexuality test” you need to pass.
“Bisexuality is a spectrum,” says Zane. “All too often, we have this idea that being bi means you're equally attracted to men and women. That's not the case – it's also exclusionary of nonbinary folks!”
Maybe you're romantically attracted to one gender, but sexually attracted to all genders. Maybe you only fancy more than one gender sometimes, but not always. It doesn't matter. You're bisexuality is still valid even if it doesn’t look like the next person’s.
Apps! Apps! Apps!
Not used to being in “straight” spaces? Wouldn't know how to approach someone of a different gender? Wouldn't want to be with someone who freaks out when you tell them you've only ever been in gay relationships? The great thing about no longer living in the nineties is that we get to bypass all of the aforementioned, with apps.
“I'd state either in your bio or early upon talking to someone that you've only hooked up with people of the same gender, so this is new to you,” says Zane.
“They may reject you afterward, and so be it, but otherwise, you'll be nervous when meeting up or hooking up with someone of a different gender for the first time. You want to be as comfortable as possible during the meetup, and the best way to do that is to let them know you're new to all this!”
It can be helpful to date other bi folk
On the other hand, if you can't be arsed explaining to some straight girl or guy exactly how many times you’ve eaten pussy or dick, Zane says it can be helpful to mainly date or hook up with other bi folk.
“My advice to everyone bi is to date other bi folk!” he says. “Especially if you've experienced biphobia when trying to date. That's why I recommend listing you're bi on your dating bios, so you attract other bi folks. As a woman you will get fetishised and constantly solicited for threesomes – just go ahead and block. As a guy, you'll have signinant fewer matches when you list you're bi, but you'll notice you'll match with many more bi folk, or you'll match with men, women and non-binary folks who love dating bi guys!”
You might feel uncomfortable at first – and that's normal
Every sexual and/or romantic experience is going to be different, regardless of gender or genitals or whatever else. That said, it's normal and fine to feel nervous about hooking up or dating a different gender when you're so used to living, laughing and loving with your own.
“We have to allow ourselves to sit with that discomfort,” says Tawney Lara, a bisexual sober sex and relationships writer. “I'm a big fan of honesty and communication. Tell your date or potential hook-up that you're nervous or anxious. If they're cold about it, they're not worth your time. If they're willing to listen and help you talk or laugh through it, they're worthy of you!”
Remember: Dating a different gender doesn't mean you're no longer queer
Just because you might enter a “straight-passing” relationship or hook up, doesn't mean you're going to immediately start chugging Bud Lights, listening to tropical house and throwing gender reveal parties. You're just as queer as you were yesterday.
“I experience biphobia from queer folks as much as I do from straight folks,” says Lara. “Bi folks are so misrepresented (until VERY recently) so that misunderstanding is somewhat understandable.”
“I think a struggle that happens often is that you no longer feel like you're queer,” adds Zane.
“You'll also struggle in gay spaces. I'm poly, and when I bring my boyfriend to the gay club, it's awesome. When I bring my girlfriend, I feel like we're strangers in this space, and we can't make out otherwise we'll appear like that disrespectful straight couple occupying a queer space. So my advice is to remember that you are still queer enough even when dating someone of the opposite gender and are in a ‘straight-passing’ relationship.”
And finally… enjoy yourself
Sex is supposed to be fun. That’s the whole point of it. It’s not a serious endeavour. It’s actually really weird and funny. So remember that even if you’re doing something new or unexpected, try not to overthink it too much.
It’s kind of a privilege that anybody gets to share your body in the first place, so as long as everything’s safe and consenting, put your pleasure first.