Another day, another study proving that people have some weird AF misconceptions about bisexuality. New research published in The Journal of Sex Research shows, like many other studies, that bisexual women are more likely to be thought of in a negative light than other women.
The study asked 261 heterosexual participants (154 men and 107 women) to provide descriptions of heterosexual women, lesbians, and bisexual women. They also were presented with descriptions of two characters on a date and asked to give an evaluation. And the results? Well, they won't come as a surprise to any bisexual women out there. Bisexual women were described as more confused and promiscuous than other women. They were also evaluated as more neurotic, more extroverted, and more open to experiences. Now, not all of those are bad things — but good or bad, they all have literally nothing to do with being bisexual. The study also found that these stereotypes are not learned by seeing bisexual behavior, but rather come through assumptions about bisexuality. In other words, they're just prejudices with no basis in reality.
As a bisexual woman, this all sounds all too familiar to me. Bisexual women are often thought of as either greedy or going through a phase — or, even worse, "faking it" to impress a guy. We run into these misconceptions all the time. But it's time to stop perpetuating these stereotypes and start talking about what it's actually like to be bisexual. Here are seven things you should know.
1It's Not An Exact Science
Some people think that being bisexual means your sexual experiences have to be 50/50. Seriously, if you say you're bisexual people want the receipts. They want to know how many men and women you've slept with, how long you check out a man versus a woman, and of course, "WHO DO YOU LOOK AT FIRST?!"
But it's not an exact science. I probably was more man-leaning for a while, but then it shifted. Some people never act on their bisexuality at all, but that doesn't make them any less bisexual.
It also may take a while to realize that you're bisexual, or you might know right away. And that's OK, too. I know bi people who didn't have any experiences with women until their 30s, but that doesn't make them any less valid.
2Bisexual People Have Higher Rates Of Mental Health Issues Than Straight Or Gay Folks
Although a lot of people think bisexual people are basically just whining about bi-erasure, there are some real problems in the bisexual community. Studies have shown that bisexuals have higher rates of anxiety, depression, and even suicidal tendencies than straight or gay people. Part of the problem is not feeling like we belong in the straight or queer community, and another part of the problem is that we feel uncomfortable seeking help set aside for LGBTQ folks. Either way, it means people aren't getting the help they need — and that's an issue.
3It Can Be Hard Navigating The Queer Community
One of the reasons bisexuals don't seek help meant for queer people is that not everyone in the queer community is cool with bisexuals. Some people think it's just a matter of time before we retreat back into our heterosexual privilege — or that we're just experimenting. It can be really stressful finding out where you belong. My girlfriend is a lesbian and, though her close friends were all very welcoming, many of those in her wider LGBTQ circle made it clear they were skeptical of me because I was bi. It was a rocky transition.
It gets even rockier when you consider the fact that we still experience queer-phobia. When men shout "dyke" at my girlfriend and I or try to have a threesome with us, it's really upsetting. But I feel like I'm not allowed to be upset or talk to other gay people about it because I won't be taken seriously.
4Some People Straight Up Won't Date Us
One of the ways people made it clear they weren't convinced about me and my girlfriend as a couple was by making it very known that they refused to date bisexuals. Yes, that's a thing. Some people, regardless of gender and orientation, just straight up say no to you if you're a bisexual.
In fact, on some female-focused dating apps women can request on their settings not to see bisexuals at all. I mean, I wouldn't want to end up on a date with someone who wouldn't want to date me, but it's still not a nice feeling to know that other women who are attracted to women would rule you out automatically.
5We Are Not Confused, Horny, Or Greedy
6We Don't "Transform" Into Gay Or Straight When We Get Into A Relationship
People suddenly thought that when I started dating my girlfriend that I became a lesbian overnight. Even men that I had sex with for years wondered if it meant I actually secretly hated their penis the whole time. Now, there were obviously some issues with them feeling threatened or emasculated, but this is really common.
So let me say this for the people in the back: we're still bi. Whoever we're dating, whoever we're having sex with or not having sex with, we're still bi. I'm always bi, just like I'm always a Gryffindor. You can fly that effing flag as high as you want.
7It's *Not* A Phase
Some people might experiment sexually and find out they don't like something — and that's fine, that's what experimenting is for. But bisexuality is an orientation, it's not a phase. One study found that 92 percent of people who identified as bisexual still identified as bisexual a decade later. That is not a phase.
Being bisexual is not something I've ever felt ashamed of, but I've definitely found it challenging at times because of people's assumptions and treatment. It's 2018. It's time to get over these misconceptions about being bisexual. If you want to know the truth about what it's really like, we're here — just ask us.