I need everyone to quiet down for a second. Yes, this is a real bisexual talking to you right now.
Don't make any sudden movements because, if you do, you might scare me away. Then, society won't believe you when you try to tell them bisexual people actually exist, and one was just talking to you. Just kidding. In all seriousness, figuring out how to tell if you’re bisexual can be an incredibly confusing experience — not to mention the fact that mainstream media has long tried to ignore the existence of bisexual people. So all in all, the journey to discovering your sexuality hasn’t exactly gotten any easier. (However, I’m happy to report bisexual people are real and we're out here, probably dreaming about both a young Justin Trudeau and Kate McKinnon and how we really, really, really like both of them.)
For many people who now identify as bisexual, it took us a while to get to the point of confidently knowing and identifying as such. And that’s OK. With some introspection on your part, some input from an expert, and a nice stranger on the internet potentially connecting some dots for you, figuring out if you might be bisexual can be a little easier. Here are some signs that identifying as bisexual could make sense for you:
1. Try to understand what bisexuality means.
Wanna know a great thing about being able to identify your own sexuality? You get to do it yourself. That's right. No one else gets to, buddy. What does that mean exactly? Well, it means that you get to decide if the definition of bisexuality sounds, to you, like it fits how you feel attraction.
The definition of bisexuality is a tough one to nail down, mostly because many individuals who fall under this umbrella identify a little differently. While bisexuality was once attributed to an attraction to both men and women, this definition isn’t inclusive of genders and sexes that fall outside of the traditional binary. Robyn Ochs, a bisexual educator, writer, and activist, crafted a much more inclusive understanding of bisexuality: “I call myself bisexual because I acknowledge in myself the potential to be attracted, romantically and/or sexually, to people of more than one sex, not necessarily at the same time, not necessarily in the same way, and not necessarily to the same degree.”
As Ochs mentions in her understanding of bisexuality, your past relationships and attraction don’t mean you have to identify a certain way now. For example, if you've only been in relationships with men in the past, but now, you feel attracted to both men and women, you could very well be bisexual. Similarly, if you know you're attracted to two different sexes and/or genders, but you want to prioritize relationships with one over another, that still constitutes bisexuality.
2. Reflect on the attraction you’re feeling.
Several times in the past, I've heard people ask, “How are you supposed to know if you're sexually attracted to another gender and/or sex before you have sex with them?” And the thing is, I understand the line of thought. But, how does a straight person know they’re interested in having sex with the opposite sex before they’ve actually done it? How did you know you were interested in the first gender and/or sex you felt attraction toward before having sex with them? Our bodies literally tell us these things.
Typically, as your sexuality develops, you may begin to feel sexual and/or romantic attraction to certain people naturally as you get older (unless, of course, you’re asexual, which you can learn more about here). Dr. Dawn Michael, PhD, a clinical sexologist and certified sexuality counselor, tells Elite Daily that, if you’re trying to figure out if you’re bisexual, it’s important to reflect on the kind of attraction you’re experiencing. She says that sexual attraction goes beyond liking someone as a person or just “finding them attractive” objectively. Rather, your sexual and/or romantic attraction to more than one gender and/or sex should “happen more than once.” “A person can be attracted to the person themselves regardless of the gender and never be attracted to another person of that same gender again,” she says.
So, if you’ve noticed you’ve begun to consistently experience sexual or romantic attraction to a gender and/or sex in a similar way you’ve experienced it with another, you could be bisexual.
3. Feel empowered to explore your fantasies and experiment safely.
I'm just going to come right out (ha) and say, occasionally, what you fantasize about can sometimes be an indicator of what you’re attracted to. But full disclosure: You can have fantasies about anyone or anything, and not actually want that someone or something in real life. “People fantasize about all types of sexual scenarios and don't act on it,” says Michael. “Just because a person has a fantasy it does not mean that they want it to be real, nor do they have to feel pressured into trying it or feel shame for having sexual fantasies.”
This also isn’t to say that the type of porn you may watch is indicative of your sexuality. Porn is tricky. We see two people doing sexy things to each other, and all of a sudden, we're knee deep in a sexual crisis. But you can enjoy gay and/or lesbian porn without that affecting your sexuality. “Porn is a safe way to realize what turns you on, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you want to do it in real life,” sex therapist Megan Fleming, Ph.D., told Women’s Health. She continued, “In lesbian porn, there really is a focus on oral sex and clitoral stimulation as the main event.” Since many people with vaginas enjoy clitoral stimulation, this could relate to an interest in watching lesbian porn.
However, if you begin fantasizing about having sex with more than one gender and/or sex, allow yourself to safely continue exploring that fantasy, and perhaps even experimenting (again, safely and considerately), if you want to and feel comfortable doing so. Michael does stress that simply having sex with someone of a different sex and/or gender than you usually do “does not mean that a person is automatically bisexual.”Rather, if, after doing so, you continue feeling a pretty regular attraction to more than one gender and/or sex in general, you could be bisexual. At the end of the day, just don't use porn or your fantasies alone to define your sexuality. Look at those in conjunction with any consistent sexual attraction you’re feeling, and go from there.
4. Decide if labeling yourself as bisexual feels right to you.
I'm not here to tell you exactly what or who you are — that’s for you to discover on your own. (I still have to ask people to answer questions about me for personality questionnaires because I can't do it myself.) But as I mentioned before, the great thing about the fluidity of sexuality and how personal it is, is that you label (or choose not to label) your sexuality for yourself. After all, you know yourself best. So, if you've read up on bisexuality, you’ve thought long and hard on how you’re experiencing attraction, and you think this label works best with who you are, whom you're attracted to and how you’ve been feeling — and you're comfortable and happy in that identity — then congratulations, “bisexual” sounds like it suits you just fine.
This post was originally published on Oct. 9, 2017. It was updated on Aug. 9, 2019 by Theresa Massony.
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