Sex + Dating

I'm a Bisexual Woman. Here's What You Should Know About Dating Me.

bisexual woman
Daniel Fishel/Thrillist

As a bisexual woman who's been open about my sexuality throughout my entire adult life, I've compiled quite the collection of ways people (including those trying to date me) have been assholes about my bisexuality. Yes, it's true that bisexual people are all magical unicorn-dragons -- but aside from that, most of the assumptions people have about us are based on harmful stereotypes, and we're probably not going to date you if you subject us to that crap.

Let's get these two out of the way first: no, you can't watch. And yes, my sexuality is real.

Whether you're kind of into this bi chick you met in your English class, or you've been dating one of us for a decade, here are some tips for understanding where we're coming from and what you should know so you don't come across as a bi-phobic asshole.

We're not all into threesomes. I repeat, WE ARE NOT ALL INTO THREESOMES!

I mean, some of us are into threesomes, which is fine. But that's not the first thing that should pop into your mind or out of your mouth when a woman you're interested in or dating tells you she's bisexual. Variations on this cliche/stereotype include responses like, "Oh, that's hot!" or "Can I watch?"

We don't stop being bi when we exclusively date you. You didn't "turn" us. Our previous relationships were not phases or experiments. And we most certainly didn't just "need to be with the right man/woman." We're bisexual. Really.

Some of us have trauma related to our identity

Many of us have been in really bad relationships, and bear the physical and psychological scars. Sixty-one percent of bisexual women have been stalked, sexually assaulted, or physically assaulted by an intimate partner during their lifetime, significantly higher rates of abuse than among lesbians or straight women.

The vast majority of abusers of bisexual women are straight, cisgender men. As long as bisexual women are stereotyped as promiscuous, incapable of fidelity, and hypersexual -- stereotypes that partners often use as excuses for abusive behaviors -- we will remain victimized at higher rates. Try to remember that some of us may need a little extra patience and understanding.

No, we can't and don't have to "choose one"

That doesn't mean that if you have a vagina, we're going to leave you or cheat on you because of our insatiable urge for dick. Your insecurities are your problem. Don't take them out on us.

Don't make assumptions or judgments about our sexual histories

This is one of those things that you shouldn't do to anyone ever. Slut-shaming is NEVER OK. But it's especially important in this context because bisexual women are so often assumed to be promiscuous (not that there's anything wrong with that).

Some of us have a lengthy list of sexual partners of multiple genders; others have been only with people of one gender; and still others have never been in a sexual relationship. Just because we haven't been with people of more than one gender doesn't mean we're not really bisexual.

Being sexually open-minded doesn't mean we're down for everything

This point is particularly relevant, in my experience, to straight/cis men with sexual hangups. To get to the point… we're probably not going to be freaked out if you like butt stuff, and we're not going to shame you or call you gay.

That said, don't expect us to be down for all of your unfulfilled sexual fantasies either – just like lesbians, gay men, and any other group, we have boundaries, and some of us are just vanilla.

Our attractions to different genders aren't always equal or similar

Many of us experience and acknowledge different kinds of attraction and experience different levels of attraction to different genders. For example, I'm more sexually attracted to men, but I'm more emotionally attracted to women. Sometimes the two coincide; other times they don't.

We aren't necessarily just attracted to cisgender men and cisgender women

The bisexual spectrum includes people who are attracted to a diversity of gender identities and expressions. Our past relationships may include partners who identify as transgender or non-binary, so don't make assumptions about the kinds of people and bodies we're attracted to.

We don't always feel welcome bringing straight men to LGBT events

Bisexual people have a complicated relationship with the larger LGBT community, and too often we're made to feel like we're not "gay enough." Spaces dominated by gay men and lesbians regularly fail to include us, and we're assumed to be straight or gay based on the gender of our partners. There are times when bringing a straight male partner to an LGBT event makes us feel unwelcome.

We won't call ourselves lesbians to make lesbian partners feel better

Among the lesbian-identified women I've been involved with, there is a common theme of them wanting me to be a lesbian. I've always assumed that this stems from the assumption that bisexual women can "pass" as straight -- as if pretending to be something you're not is some sort of privilege. This tendency makes us feel like you don't trust us to define ourselves, or like we're not "gay enough" to be part of the LGBT community.

We're fantastic and we're everywhere

Of course, like any group, some of us are miserable human beings. But the bisexual community as a whole is incredibly diverse and one of the most resilient groups of people I've ever been a part of. The fewer assumptions you make about who bisexual women are, the more likely you'll be to have the privilege of dating one of us.

(And don't forget about the magical dragon-unicorn part.)

So there you have it. Go forth and date bisexual women without being an asshole.

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Beth Sherouse is a writer, recovering academic, and social justice activist. You can follow her on Twitter @DrGBeth.