Can we love two women at the same time? Or, two men? For most of us, that’s not hard to answer. So, what about liking both men and women? Or, people from multiple genders? Surveys show that bisexuals – those who experience multiple-gender attraction – form the largest LGBT group. Yet, there’s a peculiar and sticky stigma surrounding them. When women say they’re bi, they’re not taken seriously or labeled as promiscuous. Meanwhile, signs of bisexuality in males tend to be dismissed outright.
Bi men are often told they are actually gay, or even, that there is no such thing as truly bisexual men. There’s also less collective acceptance of bisexual men than women. To decode why, understand the signs of male bisexuality, and the misconceptions surrounding bisexual men, we spoke to counseling psychologist and certified life-skills trainer Deepak Kashyap (Masters in Psychology of Education), who specializes in a range of mental health issues, including LGBTQ and closeted counseling.
But before we begin to deconstruct male bisexuality, let’s first understand what bisexuality means.
What is Bisexuality?
According to author and bisexual advocate Robyn Ochs, bisexuality is the potential to be romantically and/or sexually attracted to people of more than one sex and/or gender:
- not necessarily at the same time
- not necessarily in the same way
- and not necessarily to the same degree
“But ‘bi’ means two!” That’s what many bi folks hear when they try to explain their sexuality or sexual orientation to others. That’s cause the “bi” in “bisexual” is often taken to denote attraction to exactly two gender identities: male and female. And that’s what most dictionaries said for a long time.
But in 2020, Merriam-Webster changed its bisexual definition, recognizing that gender identity (man, woman, neither, both, fluid, other…) exists on a spectrum and sexuality isn’t limited to the yin and yang of gay and straight. So, what is the meaning of bi in bisexual now? It denotes attraction to the “same gender and different genders”, according to GLAAD.
Related Reading: 18 Types Of Sexualities And Their Meanings
Can men be bisexual?
So, can men be bisexual? That’s a question sexuality researchers have pondered over for decades. Some have – with much controversy – mapped men’s arousal patterns to argue that male bisexuality really and truly does exist. Others have questioned the assumption that people’s sexuality or sexual orientation needs scientific proof in order to be counted as valid. So how can we gauge someone’s sexual orientation? Self-identification, they say.
Gallup surveys have shown that young adults are increasingly identifying as bisexual, with over half of LGBT adults reporting their sexual identity as bisexual. However, among them, bisexual men form a notable minority. So, does that mean male bisexuality is rare?
According to Deepak, although bisexuality is more prevalent than homosexuality, male bisexuality tends to be ignored, denied, or kept hidden due to:
- Social erasure: Society still tends to dismiss male bisexuality as a soft launchpad for homosexuality. In fact, studies show that attitudes toward lesbian and bi girls are more favorable than for gay or bi guys
- Self-erasure: At times, because of social factors, fear, or conditioning, men may suppress bi feelings to focus on one gender to avoid “complicating things”. Some do this so as not to upset the applecart of traditional expectations around marriage
- Media erasure: Media representations and stereotyping of bisexuals, as greedy or hypersexual, or prone to cheating, for instance, also erase bisexuality as a valid sexual orientation
Bi-erasure, social factors, and stigma still make it hard for bisexual men to openly embrace any bi leanings. As Donald Weise recalls in an essay: “As far as I was concerned, I was a gay man who was attracted to women, but I’ve seldom come out about that for fear of becoming an outsider among outsiders.”
Common Misconceptions Associated With Male Bisexuality
What happens if people venture outside heterosexual intimacy or openly leave the so-called sexual norm? Their sexuality becomes their absolute defining characteristic, writes blogger Dan Pearce, who struggled with coming out as bi for over two decades, in Single Dad Laughing.
“It becomes the first thing people think about and often the first thing they mention. Every other part of that person all but disappears,” he adds. Bisexual men would know a thing or two about this. And it has a lot to do with some common misconceptions that shroud male bisexuality and cloud perceptions about bisexual men:
1. A bisexual man is actually straight, gay, or lying
Sexologist Alfred Kinsey created the Kinsey Scale over 70 years ago to suggest that people’s sexual behaviors, thoughts, and feelings exist on a continuum. That they are not limited to gay or straight sexual orientations. Yet, a bisexual man is often told he:
- Is confused
- Could be straight if he tried
- Too straight to be gay
- Too queer to be straight
- In denial and pretending to be straight
- Or, going to end up gay
Studies, like this one and this, show heterosexual, lesbian, and gay folks feel a bisexual man is more attracted to other guys. People feel a bisexual man “must only be attracted to one [gender], and be lying about the other,” a Quora user observes. So bisexual guys are often asked to “pick a side”.
That only leads to bi-erasure, says a Reddit user, “You may [eventually] choose to pick a single human to spend your life with…But in that case, you haven’t picked a side, you have picked a person.”
2. A bisexual man is drawn equally to men and women
“Often, people think that the attraction bisexual people feel toward men and women is split even, 50/50. That is not the case,” says Deepak. More often than not, the sexual and romantic orientations of bisexual men may not line up, and they may not be attracted equally to all genders:
- For some, men may hold more sex appeal (this extends beyond mere appreciation of their appearance)
- Some may be primarily or occasionally attracted to women
- Others may lean more toward non-binary folks
- Some may be drawn to some genders, but not others
- Some may be romantically interested in one gender and sexually in another
- Others may experience sexual attraction toward two genders, but romantic interest in only one and vice versa
- Some may find their preference chop and change from one gender to another in cycles
“I am not 50/50, I wouldn’t even say I’m 25/75… it’s never that simple. Thus, saying we’re 100 percent bi would be more straightforward,” says a Quora user.
Related Reading: The Different Types Of Attraction And How To Recognize Them
3. A bisexual man is looking for a threesome
It is often assumed that bisexual men are sexual omnivores who will hit on their female and male friends alike. That their sex life is deviant and they’re always looking for a threesome with attractive men and women. But just like sexual orientation, sexual preferences are entirely individual.
So maybe they like anal sex, vaginal sex, oral sex, or any other form of sex. Maybe they like threesomes, moresomes, same-sex action, or something else. Whatever the case may be and whoever may hold sex appeal for them, the sex life and sexual preferences of bi men are really and truly up to them.
4. A bisexual man can’t have monogamous relationships
This stems from the notion that:
- Bisexual men are constantly torn between their feelings for men/women/non-binary folks
- Bi husbands or partners will ultimately change their minds or cheat on their partner
That’s why, when bisexual men disclose their sexual identity, their commitment to monogamous relationships or their capability to form long-term partnerships often comes into doubt.
“Monogamy is not about whether someone is bisexual or not. It’s about whether two people are committed to the idea or not. That being said, monogamy doesn’t come naturally to many of us [gay, straight, non-genders included],” says Deepak. The bottom line: there are probably as many monogamy-embracing and monogamy-avoiding bisexual husbands, bisexual partners, and bi boyfriends as the rest.
Related Reading: Are We Naturally Monogamous Or Has It Been Forced Upon Us?
5. A bisexual man isn’t dating or relationship material
According to one study, both non-bisexuals (heterosexuals, gays, and lesbians) and bisexual women are more likely to swipe left on dating bisexual men on dating apps. But in another study of bisexual husbands and wives and women with bi partners, bisexual men were rated as:
- better long-term partners
- good lovers
- caring and invested fathers
- better at forming equitable relationships
Some women with bisexual partners even said they wouldn’t choose to date straight men again. So, are bisexual men dating or relationship material? In The Independent, bisexual advocate Lewis Oakley argues they are: “I’m an out bisexual man who found a woman that loves me for who I am…I’m living proof that there are many lovely women out there who are open to dating bisexual men and an example to others that dating a bi man can work out.”
6. Bisexuality is just a phase
When men come out as bisexual, they are often told it’s “just a phase”:
- That their romantic, sexual, or emotional attraction is something they will grow out of
- That they’ll eventually slip into some form of monosexuality
“When we look at sexuality as a problem, it is easy to dismiss it as a phase,” says Deepak, “But sexuality doesn’t change. You just become more aware of different aspects of your sexuality in time.”
In the end, we can choose to act on our feelings or not, but who we are attracted to isn’t something we can control, grow out of, or edit to fit expectations. And we shouldn’t have to, whether we identify as straight, gay, trans, bisexual, or walk with merry abandon on the Kinsey Scale.
Related Reading: I’m Bisexual – My Best Friend Is My Lover
10 Signs of Bisexuality In Males – Understand Your Sexuality
If a man appears increasingly disinterested in heterosexual intimacy or shows a lack of affection and intimacy, does that make him bi? Are homophobic behavior or a preference for anal sex signs of bisexuality in men? The short answer is no.
Bisexuality is complex. It doesn’t come in a single mold or box. And there are often big differences in how people who identify on the bisexuality spectrum see and express their sexual identity. Or even, define what being bisexual means to them. So, how to know if someone is bisexual? You’ll have to wait for them to tell you they are.
Since there are no hard-and-fast bisexual definitions or rules about what makes someone bisexual and what doesn’t, figuring out if you lie on the bisexuality spectrum can be vastly confusing. Here are some common signs that could hopefully help:
1. Your fantasies have you questioning your leanings
Wondering how to decide if you’re bisexual or have bisexual characteristics? Deepak has some advice: “Check your fantasies and your fears. What are you attracted to and what are you afraid of?” Your sexual fantasies and dreams are often a good indicator of who you are attracted to.
If they regularly feature people from more than one gender – one at a time or all wound up together – there may be more to them. “The body is never confused. It will tell you what it wants. Pay attention to what that is. Don’t just listen to what your brain is telling you about what it could mean,” says Deepak. Next, look at your fears. They will show you why you are troubled – if that’s the case – by your feelings, and hopefully, help you find some clarity.
Related Reading: My Fantasy Sexual Life
2. Your porn history shows you have bi interests
Find yourself Googling what is the meaning of bi? Or, looking up bisexual traits or bisexual definitions? This curiosity may be telling you something. Likewise, your porn history could also hold some clues. “See what kind of porn turns you on. What kind of porn do you enjoy? It is a good indicator, but not a surefire answer to whether or not you’re bisexual,” says Deepak.
Be careful of drawing quick conclusions here, he cautions. “There are many lesbians who enjoy gay porn. That doesn’t mean they are turned on by gay men.”
3. Your fictional crushes cut across genders
When you watch your fave show or a movie or read a book, do you find yourself crushing on characters from not just the same sex or gender you usually feel romantic or sexual attraction for? While this may not be a definite sign, it’s still a pretty telling one and often, the first inkling of bi feelings for some bi folks. And therefore, worth taking note of.
4. You find yourself relating to a bi character
Maybe you were stoked to see Marvel’s Loki coming out as an openly bisexual man in the series. Or, there is some other bi-tastic character that you find yourself increasingly relating to or identifying with. If that’s the case, a little introspection may help you pin down why.
5. Your feelings for a close friend are somewhat befuddling
Do you feel a strong pull for one of your male friends? Or, one of your close friends from a different gender than the one you normally prefer? Does your attraction go beyond mere appreciation? Does it seem your crush on them is more than what it seems?
Here are some questions Deepak says you may have to think over:
- Are you romantically attracted to your friend? Do you crave spending time with them – not just in a group, but one-on-one?
- Are they slipping into your sexual fantasies? Do they hold sex appeal for you?
- Are you afraid of someone finding out about your feelings? Or, avoiding your feelings for fear of being abandoned or rejected or ruining close friendships?
Fear often stops us from looking too closely at our feelings. If that’s the case for you, remember, being attracted to someone is 100% normal even if you don’t quite know what to do about it yet.
6. You can easily picture yourself with people from different genders
This is among the more common bisexual characteristics or bisexual signs. For many bi folks, attraction is more about the person and less about whether they are from the same sex or same gender, the opposite gender, or non-binary or other genders. So, if you can see yourself in a long-term or even an exclusive relationship with or are getting increasingly curious about dating people from different genders, it could point to bisexual traits.
7. The stigma around male bisexuality drives you nuts
When you read or hear about the misconceptions and unfair perceptions surrounding male bisexuality, does it leave you discomfited? Do you feel hurt or troubled when other guys say male bisexuality isn’t real? Or, does it rile you up when they ridicule bisexual people or signs of bisexuality in males? If you are taking it personally or getting super defensive when someone rejects bisexuality, it’s time to ask yourself why.
8. Am I bisexual? That’s a question you’re asking again and again
Maybe something happened or a chance encounter triggered this question. Or, it has been on your mind for quite a while. But if it’s coming up again and again, you probably already have an inkling why. However, don’t put pressure on yourself to be sure, advises Deepak.
“Don’t try to fit yourself into a category. Move on with your life and your body will tell you who you are in love with,” he says. If you’re struggling with your feelings or feeling conflicted or depressed about them, talking to someone – maybe a supportive friend or a counselor – could help.
Related Reading: Practical Steps To Deal With Depression
9. The idea of bisexuality appeals to you
Do you find the idea of bisexuality intriguing or even, bi-mazing? Does it appeal to you? Then it’s a good enough sign you’re ready to explore it or are open to bi experiences.
10. The bi label just feels right
“At times, more than any specific thing, the bi label just feels right to some people,” says Deepak. If the bi tag resonates with you and rings true for you, then don’t let the laundry list of misconceptions and stigma surrounding bisexual people get to you. Go ahead, you do you.
How to talk about bisexuality
Even if you know how you feel, embracing your sexual orientation and being comfortable with your sexual identity will take time. In fact, “Why am I bisexual?” is a question that may surface often. If you’re wondering, “Why am I bisexual?” Deepak has an answer, “You are bisexual for the same reasons you have blue, brown, or black eyes. You are bisexual for the same reason you are bald or have curly, thick, and luscious hair: It’s biology.”
If you’re trying to figure out how to tell your parents you’re bi or come out to anyone else, like a partner or a friend, understand that you may need to:
- Give them a heads up: Set aside some time with them for a proper conversation
- Be prepared for their reaction: It won’t always be what you hoped for
- Give them time: They may need some time to process what you say
Ultimately, the decision of whether and how to tell your parents you’re bi, or anyone else for that matter, is up to you and how safe and comfortable you feel about it.
Related Reading: 10 Ways The Queerphobia Is Coming From Inside The House
How to explore bisexuality
If you’re sure of your feelings, but don’t quite know how to explore bisexuality yet, Deepak has some tips:
- Be upfront about your bi leanings: Don’t try and hide your sexual identity or sexual orientation for fear of stigma. If you are experimenting, let your current and potential romantic or sexual partner know
- Practice radical self-acceptance: Be careful of the stories you tell yourself. Make sure they are rooted in reality. Try and see yourself as who you are, keep true to what you want, and keep embracing it without judgment
- Bisexual men are attracted to people from two or more genders, not necessarily at the same time, in the same way, or to the same degree
- Sexual fantasies, porn tastes, and fictional crushes are often good indicators of signs of bisexuality in males
- Sometimes, the bi label just feels right or more appealing to them
- However, fewer men identify as bisexual than women. This is largely due to bi-erasure and misconceptions surrounding male bisexuality
- Many men who come out as bi are told they are lying, looking for a threesome, or going through a phase
- They are also not considered relationship material or capable of monogamy
- This only dismisses the fact that bisexuality is a sexual identity in its own right and needs to be taken that way
In the end, sexuality is not a one-size-fits-all box that we need to pigeonhole ourselves into. It is more like a map of what we desire. And how we navigate that is up to us and no one else.
#Understand #Sexuality #Fight #Common #Misconceptions