Hi, I’m Daryl. I’m a bisexual, cisgender woman in a long-term, committed relationship with a straight, cisgender man. This statement has the tendency to confuse a lot of people, so I wanted to take some time to explain what that means — both to me personally and in general.
I was a girl who grew up falling in love with other girls from afar. But I was terrified of what that meant, because I wasn’t brought up in a family that talked about sex, let alone sexuality.
Whenever I met a boy who gave me those same butterflies-in-your-stomach feelings, I latched onto those crushes with all the desperate intensity of a tween in an existential crisis.
I’m not ashamed of my sexuality now — hence why I’m here to talk about it openly — but, as it happens, I did meet a man with whom I fell deeply and madly in love.
When you’re a bisexual woman with a male partner, you pass as straight. You don’t have to talk about being bisexual all the time. You don’t have to explain yourself to everyone, or to anyone at all. But your relationship does not erase or negate that part of yourself; a boyfriend or husband is not a ticket, full-steam-ahead to heteroland.
But this, along with a seemingly-countless number of other myths about bisexuality, are perpetuated so often and with such vigor that it really felt like time to shut it down with some facts.
So, here are 7 myths about bisexuality, busted by a bisexual woman:
Myth #1: Bisexual women are just having an exploratory phase
This is probably (no, definitely) the most common myth I hear about bisexual women. It stems from the idea that bisexual women are just confused, curious, or haven’t “met the right man yet.”
Yes, many bisexual women will end up in long-term relationships with men, because they ARE INDEED ATTRACTED TO MEN as well as women. Though I didn’t vocalize it until very recently, I’ve known I was bisexual since I was a kid. This was not curiosity that popped up in college and evaporated once Prince Charming arrived at my door with a heterosexual glass slipper.
If my personal experience does not sway you, allow me to provide you with some science:
In a study published in Developmental Psychology, a scientist followed a sample of bisexual women over the course of a decade. Only 8 percent of all the women who identified as bisexual in adolescence changed their sexual preference to straight or lesbian by the end of the study.
Myth #2: Bisexual men are gay, but afraid to say it
There is a telling scene in HBO’s Insecure, in which Yvonne Orji’s character admits to a male love interest she’d had sexual experiences with women in the past. When he tells her that he, also, has slept with members of the same sex, she is disturbed enough to end the relationship.
When talking with her friends about it, the consensus is that he must be, without question, gay, and she should run for the hills.
This scene speaks to the hypocritical way bisexual men are often treated, and just how much male bisexuality is stigmatized over female bisexuality. Personally, I rarely meet someone who is shocked or repulsed by my bisexuality (confused and curious is the typical reaction), but the same cannot be said for men.
Roughly 2 percent of American men (compared to 5.5 percent of women) identified openly as bisexual in a CDC study. While those numbers might seem low, it means that there at least 3 million bi men in the US alone. Millions of bi men who don’t need to be constantly accused of being confused, afraid, or insecure.
Myth #3: Bisexual people are more likely to cheat
This is one of the more upsetting myths I encounter regularly, but it often it comes in the form of questions from well-meaning and curious friends.
“Are you happy just being with a man?” They ask. To that I say, if I’m in love and sexually satisfied in my relationship, why wouldn’t I be happy?
A straight woman might still find an actor on TV attractive even though she’s in a relationship. That’s not cheating, that’s just reality. She doesn’t want to leave her partner or go behind his back because WOW there are so just many men out there. As a bi woman, I happen to find many TV actors and actresses attractive, but the same concept applies.
And the science supports this: By the end of the 10-year study following bi women, 89% of them were in long-term, monogamous relationships and did not feel the desire to cheat.
Myth #4: Bisexual people are sex-crazed
There’s an idea floating around that if bi people are attracted to twice the population, we must be, like, really thirsty.
If twice as many “options” are available to us, we must be sleeping with people left and right, right? Gotta catch ‘em all?
“Perhaps that would be true if bisexuality worked the same way as Pokemon battles, but sadly those are two very different things. Bisexuals are no more promiscuous or pious than your best friend or classmate or that one friendly stranger you met in a coffee shop yesterday,” Ashley Colombo wrote for The Odyssey. “Everyone treats sex and intimate relationships differently, regardless of individual sexuality. Bisexuality is not synonymous with insatiable lust.”
Myth #5: You’re not actually bisexual unless you’ve dated both men and women
Experience does not equal preference. I’ve spent most of my adult life with my (male) partner and as such, have never had a long-term relationship with a woman.
But — wait, let me check really quick — yep. Still bi.
Myth #6: Bixesual people in straight relationships “don’t count.”
I am the “B” in LGBTQIA+, but that doesn’t mean I always feel like I fit in. Bisexual people can be ostracized and erased by straight and LGBTQIA+ communities alike, existing on the fringes of both. We are often made to feel as though our sexuality is less real and less valid than others’.
Yes, I pass as straight. With that comes a mountain of privilege. I have an expectation of safety and acceptance many gay, lesbian, and transgender people are never afforded. As such, I can accept that I need to be an ally as well as a member of the queer community, and I have the opportunity to speak up for those who are treated more poorly than myself, and whose voices are less readily heard or accepted than mine.
But I still count. As mentioned many, many times throughout this article — I am still bi as hell, and I want bisexual people to receive support, resources, and visibility within the LGBT+ movement.
“When bisexual people ask to be included, we aren’t being nitpicky about names. Adding a ‘B’ to your name is a nice gesture, but visibility and acceptance is the real issue. Achieving that goal will indeed require that the whole community work together,” reads the manifesto on bi.org. “And that means reminding our gay and straight allies to include us explicitly in relevant discussions.”
Myth #7 Bisexual people are equally attracted to both genders
Because sexuality exists on a spectrum, bisexual people are not always attracted to men and women in a perfect, 50/50 split. Personally, I’m probably attracted to three or four men for every woman I find attractive. For others, the opposite might be true.
I have been asked in the past: At what point on the spectrum should a person identify as “gay” or “straight?” 75 percent in either direction? 90 percent? 100 percent?
To that I say: No one is policing this. There is no quota of romantic thoughts you need to meet to become a card-carrying member of either or any identity. But if you’re experiencing romantic feelings toward people of both gender-identities, you’re probably bi or sexually fluid on some level. And that’s not just OK, it’s great.
What myths do you hear about members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and how do you respond? Start a discussion in the comments!