When I was a mere youth (spoiler: I'm still a youth. I just mean when I was a youth youth) trying to figure out my sexuality, I literally thought my world was ending. I was all, why the F*CK can't I figure this out? Why can't I JUST like these sweaty, wet-puppy-smelling boys? Why do I feel all weird and tingly when I'm around magical, nice-smelling, unicorn-esque girls? Then, once I was a little older and knew WTF sexuality was, you could find me frantically googling, "Am I bisexual?" while probably eating a Lunchable as a fully-grown teenager.
Let me just say, the journey to where I am now — a raging, loud, bisexual who's f*cking awesome at winged eyeliner — has not been an easy one. For one, winged eyeliner is the hardest thing in the goddamn world, definitely not for the faint of heart. But in terms of my sexuality, figuring it out involved a long introspection process that obviously benefitted me in the long run, but still made me have to pick apart myself, piece by piece, and put me back together again. Part of why this process was so confusing for me was because I didn't really know where to start in figuring things out.
So if you're in the same boat I was in, the best place to start is within yourself. To make this process easier on you — and in honor of International Celebrate Bisexuality Day today — here are some questions you should ask yourself to get you started.
1. Do You Feel Attracted To Two Or More Genders?
Now, the thing is, I can't tell you if you're attracted to multiple genders. That would probably make things significantly easier for you, yes, but unfortunately, it can't happen. I know how to do about, like, four things in life total, and telling you whom you're attracted to is not one of them. You'll have to figure that out for yourself, based on what you feel inside.
For the purposes of this article, we're going to focus on general sexual and romantic attraction. However, romantic attraction and sexual attraction are two different things, and your romantic orientation and sexual orientation can be the same or different. If you're interested in learning about your romantic vs. sexual orientation and attraction, go here.
OK, so, where were we? You know how when you see someone you like or if you're around someone you like, you kind of get a warm, tingly feeling in your body, particularly in your nether regions? You might even think to yourself, "Wow, yes, that person is Nice™, and I would really like for my face to be on their face and my body to be on their body." Of course, how you experience attraction may be different from the way others do, but generally, if you find yourself gravitating toward a person, thinking about them constantly, and feeling like you might want to be intimate with them, then odds are, you're attracted to them. And if you feel this way about more than one gender at all (the ratio of these feelings for each gender does not have to be split evenly), then congratulations! You might be bisexual!
2. What Do You Find Attractive About These Two Genders?
OK, after answering that first question, if you've come to the conclusion that, yes, you might be attracted to more than one gender, let's break that down further: What do you like about them? Asking yourself this question will help you figure out whether or not your attraction leans more in a romantic and/or sexual way, or in the way of general admiration.
If what you find attractive about both genders is more all-encompassing, including more physical aspects of their appearance (i.e. in addition to being attracted to their personality, you're attracted to things like their eyes, their lips, their body, etc.), then it's likely you could be experiencing genuine romantic and/or sexual attraction to both genders, in which case, let me teach you the secret bisexual handshake after this. However, if your attraction to one gender centers more on the things they own, the profession they have, the fact that they have so many friends, the talents they have, and so on, then you could just feel admiration toward them. Perhaps you wish you could be friends with this person, or you wish your life was more like theirs.
Let's get one thing straight (LOL), though: Whatever you learn about yourself in this respect is OK. And it's also OK to still be unsure. You may not have an answer right away. Keep doing some introspecting as time goes on, and you'll have a clearer answer, I promise.
3. Have You Ever Done Something Intimate With Someone Of The Same Gender?
And if so, did you enjoy it, and would you like to do it again? If you've kissed or gotten even ~more intimate~ with more than one gender and thought, "Wow, that was great," and you're feeling ready for round two, that's a pretty good indicator that you might be bisexual, so tell me what jacket size you wear, because I'm getting us all jackets.
Of course, if you have hooked up with someone of the same gender, but you're still feeling pretty confused about the whole thing, that's OK, too. It just means you have a little more exploring to do before you'll know for sure whether or not you're bisexual, as your confusion could be related to a number of other things. Maybe you're not actually bisexual, sure, but it also could be that maybe you weren't as attracted to this particular person as you thought you were. Maybe nerves got in the way of you fully experiencing the moment.
Regardless, if you're unsure, keep exploring. And if, after a few less-than-thrilling encounters, you're not dying to keep exploring, that's totally OK, too. You might have just been a little curious about your identity, rather than being bisexual. Exploring is fine. Whatever your identity is, even if it ends up not being bisexual, is fine. You're fine.
4. If You Haven't, Can You Imagine Yourself Doing Something Sexual With More Than One Gender?
Let it be known that hooking up with someone of the same gender is NOT a prerequisite to being bisexual. You can still feel attraction to someone without sucking their lips right off their face. (And similarly, you can hook up with someone of the same gender, and not identify on the LGBTQ+ spectrum.)
Still, if you haven't sucked their lips right off their face, can you imagine yourself doing that with someone of the same gender? Can you place yourself in an imaginary intimate scenario with them? And when you do, do you enjoy it and low-key (high-key, let's be real) wish it would happen in real life? If you can imagine this scenario, and you feel comfortable, happy, and excited about it, then you could be bisexual, bud.
Remember, you don't have to hook up with someone of a certain gender to feel attracted to them. I don't think any of my straight friends ran around saying, "Hmm, I'm not sure I'm attracted to guys because I haven't had my first kiss yet." (Although, if they had said that, I'd respect it.) All I'm saying is, if you figure out that your attraction to more than one gender is real, regardless of your hookup history, then bi-golly, you just might be bisexual.
5. Are You Comfortable With The Label Of "Bisexual"?
The most important thing you need to ask yourself if you think you might be bisexual is whether or not you, personally, are comfortable with that label. If you understand what bisexuality is, you think that best encompasses what you feel in terms of attraction, and you feel good about calling yourself bisexual, then please excuse me for one second while I set off some fireworks for us to celebrate the fact that you could, indeed, be bisexual.
And even if you do feel attraction to two genders, but you're not comfortable with the bisexual label, then fret not, because you certainly do not have to identify with bisexuality if you don't want to or if you're not comfortable with it. Isn't that great? I think it's pretty freaking great.
While figuring out your sexuality is nothing short of confusing, it is able to be done, I promise. It just takes a little introspection on your part. And while I'll admit to being the first one to run away screaming bloody murder from anything that makes me have to confront deep truths within myself, I guarantee, once you sit and think about these questions for a little while, you'll probably see things much, much clearer.
This post was originally published on Sep. 23, 2017. It was updated on Aug. 16, 2019.