Jorge is a bisexual guy who has mentored other LGBT people over the years. He likes to share his experience with others.
How to Come Out Without Making It a Big Deal
Did you just realize that you’re into both men and women, and you’re wondering how to tell your girlfriend you’re bisexual? Or maybe you’ve known you’re bi all along, and though you’ve been in a relationship for a while, it has simply never come up.
People talk a lot about coming out as gay, but coming out as bi can come with its own varied reactions. As a bi guy myself, I’ve been pretty lucky that the reactions have mostly been mild. If you have an open-minded partner, you probably have nothing to worry about.
However, if your relationship is still relatively fresh, you might not be sure what her response will be.
Everyone has different levels of experience with bi people, and maybe you’re concerned that your girlfriend might get the wrong idea about you. You might be worried that she’ll write you off as gay and dump you for being bi.
Or . . . she could totally be into it. You won’t know for sure unless you take the leap.
So, how do you tell your girlfriend that you’re bi? And should you even tell her?
Should I Tell My Girlfriend or Wife That I’m Bi?
Let me just start out by saying that there are no “shoulds.” Contrary to what some people say, you do not owe anyone all the details of your inner life. Assuming you’re not planning to cheat, you are not obligated to share your attraction to men with your partner any more than you’re obligated to share every single kink or fantasy that you have.
Having said that . . . why wouldn’t you tell your partner? If the topic happened to come up, would you lie about it or avoid answering? If so, it’s important to start asking yourself why you distrust your partner, or why you think being bi is a such big deal that it could affect your relationship. Does your girlfriend seem like a judgmental person in general, or is it an irrational fear on your part?
The Benefits of Being Up-Front Early On
Personally, I’m very up-front about the fact that I am bi with the people I date. My partners already know from the beginning.
I don’t make a big deal out of “coming out”; I just don’t hide the gender of the people I’ve dated when we talk about the past, so it becomes obvious soon enough. This way, I can weed out people who would prefer not to date a bisexual man, and I can avoid getting into a relationship with someone who is secretly biphobic. Everybody wins.
If You’ve Already Been Together for a While
Now, your situation might be very different. If you’re not in the early dating stages anymore, you’ve already built up a relationship where she probably assumes you’re not bi. It may come as a surprise to her when she finds out her basic assumption was wrong, and it could change the image she had of you in her mind.
In a serious relationship, this can bring up some extra concerns. For example:
- Maybe you’re worried she might get mad that you “kept” this information from her.
- Maybe you’re planning to tell her because you want to experiment with other men and need her to be OK with this.
- Maybe you’ve already been with other men on the side and are struggling with how to confess what you did.
This article will mostly focus on that long-term scenario: I’m assuming you’ve already established a relationship together that has some sort of future.
Every Situation Is Different
Should you tell your girlfriend you’re bi if that’s the case? The answer here is more individual, but you might want to seriously consider it if you’re making plans to move in together or get married.
I don’t think it’s accurate to say she has a “right” to know, but it would be a glaring omission if you went out of your way to keep it secret. It’s much better to put it out in the open now than to have her find out later by accident.
There is a time and place for this revelation, though. You may not be ready yet. If you do think that you are ready, check out the tips below.
5 Tips for Coming Out as Bi in a Straight Relationship
Whether you just figured it out or you’ve been keeping it to yourself this whole time, it’s normal to be a little wary. Not everyone has an enlightened view of bisexual guys. Some women may flat out not believe you or even insist that you must be secretly gay because they can’t fathom a man who likes both.
Hopefully, your girlfriend is free from this nonsense. Depending on where you live in the world, there might be a good chance that she is accepting. More and more, people are accepting of different sexual orientations, so you might be surprised to find she has a mild reaction.
At any rate, here are a few pointers on how to work this all out.
1. Get a Handle on Your Emotions First
If you feel weird or insecure about the fact that you’re bi, there’s nothing wrong with that. We all start somewhere, and sometimes society does us no favors with the kinds of homophobic and biphobic ideas that we’re conditioned with.
Don’t suppress your feelings of shame, or any other negative feelings you may have about being bi. This kind of stuff can be deep-seated, so it won’t work to just brush it off. You may not even realize that you’re carrying some of this baggage until you notice yourself making judgments against other bi or gay guys unconsciously.
Instead, spend some time with yourself and process these thoughts on your own. You may even want to seek a therapist if the issue bothers you enough.
You’re much better off if you come to a place where you’re reasonably secure with yourself before you come out to others.
2. Don’t Make It All About Sex ( . . . Just Yet)
The news that you’re bi may be very shocking to your girlfriend. To soften the blow, try not to be too graphic at first when you describe your desires. You may be eager to share all of your fantasies the moment she seems accepting (especially if you were trying to steer towards a three-way), but even if she acts casual about it, she might still need time to process.
Similarly, if she’s visibly upset, you might be tempted to console her by telling her it’s “just sex” to you. Some bi guys are not romantically interested in men at all and only find them physically attractive. If you’re in this boat, it might seem perfectly logical that this knowledge would comfort her, since it means you’re not about to run off and shack up with some dude.
Let me tell you, though: This will not make her feel better. Your intentions may be good, but this could put all kinds of images in her mind that will make it worse. She could even be offended that you’re so casual with men and start to wonder if you’ve been “using” her for sex as well. It could trigger a snowball of thoughts that you may want to avoid for the time being.
Also, if she’s the type of person who can’t compartmentalize romantic and physical attraction, then she may not believe you anyway.
Stick to the Basics
- Tell her that you’re attracted to men as well as women. Make that really clear, so she doesn’t think you’re trying to tell her you’re gay.
- Don’t turn it into a big issue, but reassure her that this isn’t some ploy to try to dump her. Let her know that you’re still attracted to her.
- Let her have her reaction.
After she’s had time to process and accept the news, then you can start getting into the fun stuff if that was your intent.
3. Act Like It’s No Big Deal
Tell her that it’s no big deal that you’re bi and act like it’s no big deal. The truth is, (assuming you haven’t cheated on her) coming out as bi really is no big deal. There is nothing wrong with your sexuality, so don’t act as if you’re confessing to a crime or asking for her permission to like men.
Confidence is key. The more calm and self-assured you are, the more likely the other person will be to remain calm as well. It also shows that you’re not open to having your sexuality questioned or doubted by others.
With fewer explosive emotions, you can have a more rational, drama-free conversation. Calmly remind her that you’re the same person you were before you came out. Let her know that this doesn’t have to affect your relationship.
If she seems to have doubts about whether it’s even possible for a man to be bi, explain to her that the reason she might not have met a lot of bi men is because they hide it. Lots of guys are afraid of judgment or of not being believed, so they don’t advertise that they like both men and women.
Remind her of how she could be biased. Tell her that she might actually know a bi man (or several) already, but that she simply assumed he was either gay or straight due to his current relationship. It might not hurt to even mention a famous man who is known to be bi, but who dates women.
4. Bring It Up, Then Let It Go for a While
She’s going to react however she wants. It may not be the reaction you want at first, but that can change. As long as you were clear and you said everything you needed to say, there’s no point in beating a dead horse.
If she had a good reaction and your plan was to ask for something else (such as “permission” to start hooking up with men), then give it some time before you bring up the next thing. Sometimes people need to sit with the news, so it’s best not to pile too much stuff on her all at once.
If she seemed to have a bad reaction, wait until she’s the one to bring it up next. Don’t try to convince her to be OK with it. Don’t obsessively ask her what she thinks of you. She will let you know in her own time.
However, if she seems like she’s in denial and refuses to acknowledge what you told her at all, then that’s a different story. You may be facing a bigger incompatibility in the relationship than you might have thought. You can try to hide this part of you and pretend it’s not there for the rest of the relationship, but if it was important enough for you to come out, then it seems like it’s something you really didn’t want to sweep under the rug.
It’s up to you how you want to respond to her reaction. Just don’t beat yourself up waiting for her to give you a favorable one. That brings us to our next point.
5. Don’t Hold Yourself Hostage to Her Acceptance
What if she doesn’t accept the fact that you’re bi? What if she judges you for it or won’t even believe you?
That’s a bummer for sure, but you can’t change who you are. And you can’t let her judgement affect your own self-acceptance. If you allow her reaction to affect your own opinion of yourself, then you are giving up a piece of who you are. Soon enough, you may find yourself hiding even more truths just to please others, and piece by piece, you may become someone you don’t even recognize.
Don’t do this to yourself. Don’t wait around for your girlfriend’s approval to feel good about the fact that you’re bi. Make your self-acceptance a priority and don’t waver just because she has a problem with it. Besides, no amount of external approval from her or others will magically make up for a lack of self-acceptance on your part.
If you’re not yet sure whether you can face her reaction and stay strong, that’s perfectly fine. Take your time and watch for signs of your own self-acceptance or non-acceptance before you come out. One sign you’re not quite ready is if you’re worried about what others think . . .
What If I Get Dumped for Being Bi?
Are you worried that your girlfriend will dump you for being bi? Yeah, that’s a possibility.
Not everyone is accepting of people who aren’t straight (or who won’t pretend to be straight, anyway). As we’ve already discussed plenty above, this is just a risk that you’ll have to be willing to take. Yes, some women might be turned off upon finding that their boyfriend is bi, but others may actually be happy about it (because you have more in common).
Either way, what is more important to you: Keeping the peace by sweeping uncomfortable truths under the rug, or having the courage to stand by who you are 100%?
What If My Girlfriend Tells Other People I’m Bi?
Are you concerned that your girlfriend may gossip to others about the fact that you like men, and you’re not ready for other people to know? Would you be extremely upset if she mentioned it to even one friend or family member?
Then don’t tell her.
Just from experience, I have to say, most people can’t keep this sort of thing to themselves (unless the information embarrasses them, too). Maybe your girlfriend is one of those rare individuals who actually takes secrets literally and will never gossip a single word about it to someone else, but she probably isn’t. I’m just being real here.
Be Prepared for Other People to Know You're Bi
As long as she’s not the sort of person who thinks a bi boyfriend reflects badly on her, your girlfriend will probably share this information with a close friend, even just to vent. She will likely rationalize to herself that it’s not gossip because it’s her best friend and they always share secrets.
But even if your girlfriend is fairly discreet about it and only tells one close friend, that friend of hers has no reason to be so protective of your personal business. Most people love to gossip, especially about the sexuality of others.
If this is no problem for you, then don’t worry about it. Let people talk.
Just know that if you come out to your girlfriend, there’s a chance that you are indirectly coming out to more than just her. Be ready for other people to know, especially if you break up over it and she has less incentive to keep it discreet.
This is why it’s important to reach a point where you’re not ashamed of or embarrassed by your sexuality. When you accept yourself 100%, the fact that other people know will have no power over you.
Coming Out as Bi Because You Want to Act on It
Now, let’s talk about your intent. Why is it that you want to come out as bi to your girlfriend?
Is it because you simply want her to know about this part of you, with no other motives? Are you coming out because you want her “permission” to sleep with other men? Or are you trying to confess that you’ve done so already without her knowing?
Instead of Cheating, Just Be Up-Front
Look, you don’t need anyone’s permission to be who you are, but cheating and then hiding it is a low blow that could ruin any relationship.
If your partner expects monogamy, then you absolutely should be up-front with her if you’re planning on physically acting on your desires. Hiding this from her just because you’re afraid of her reaction is a cowardly thing to do. Even if it’s “just sex” to you, a lot of women don’t think that way and would be just as offended as if you had cheated with a woman.
If You Haven’t Done Anything Yet
Let’s say you haven’t done anything yet, but you want to ask about it. There’s no shame in that—it's just a bit more delicate than simply coming out as bi.
Think about it: You’re asking her to be OK with you laying someone else’s pipe. Imagine if she asked you to let her do the same with another man. It would take quite a bit of convincing, wouldn’t it? (Or maybe it wouldn’t, if you’re into that.)
Let’s be clear—there is nothing wrong with asking. But don’t be too shocked if you encounter a solid brick wall of resistance from her.
She Can Change Her Mind If You’re Not Pushy
Having said all that, it’s not impossible for her to change her mind. It just means that you’re going to have to be sensitive to her boundaries. You’re going to have to:
- Be direct about what you want. Don’t beat around the bush. Don’t hint. Just say it plainly and lay all your cards on the table.
- Be specific. Tell her in what ways you would like to change the relationship boundaries and why. If you just want to casually get physical with a male friend on the side, say this. If you want to actually date other men, make that clear.
- Avoid turning it into something transactional. Don’t tell her, “If you let me sleep with other men, I’ll let you sleep with other women,” or something along those lines. Not only is this lame and comes off as if it’s all about your own fantasies, but it’s also irrelevant (especially if she's not bi herself). It’s one thing if you want to open up the relationship, or you don’t mind that she sleeps with other people—but it’s another thing if you turn sex into some kind of trade.
- Emphasize that you still love her regardless and that you’re only suggesting this for your own reasons of self-exploration.
- Let her take her own time to decide. Don’t push things.
And while we’re talking about not being transactional, it is indeed possible that she may react with sarcasm or hostility and say something like, “Oh yeah, well then you won’t mind if I sleep with other men (or women), right?”
Don’t take this too literally or fall into the trap of calling her bluff. She’s probably just upset and trying to communicate that you “shouldn’t” have asked for something that she feels is inappropriate.
Whether a woman is offended that you even asked will vary from person to person, and it’s just a risk you’ll have to take if you want to broach this delicate subject.
But You Can’t Force Her to Change Her Mind
Ultimately, there is nothing you can do to change her mind. Good luck trying to tell her that her feelings are wrong using logic, too. You can offer all kinds of arguments. You can try to reassure her that it won’t affect your relationship, but the truth is that you don’t really know that.
Exploring your sexuality is exactly that: A trek through the unexplored territory within you. It’s not just an external, superficial experience, so it’s not always something that magically won’t affect the other parts of your life. This means that there are unknowns.
Accept the Uncertainty
For all you know, opening up your relationship could open up Pandora’s box the same way that it can happen with strictly heterosexual couples who become polyamorous. This can be good or bad. It could spell the end of your relationship or it could bring you closer together. You just don’t know for sure.
So talk about it. Be clear about what you’re willing to risk. How important is it to you that you get to experience this part of yourself in action? There’s no right or wrong answer. If you find that you truly would rather break up and be free to explore this, there’s no shame in that either—just be honest about it.
Coming Out as Bi Because You Already Cheated With a Man
This happens to more men than you might think.
Let’s be honest, it’s way easier to get sex from another guy than it is to find a compatible woman. There are apps that basically guarantee you will find yourself naked with another dude within the hour, and if you’re not into the modern methods, there are plenty of men-only saunas and other cruisy spots to choose from.
Maybe the temptation was too much for you and you experimented one day behind your girlfriend’s back and now you feel guilty. Sometimes it’s hard to figure yourself out without experimenting, and sometimes you may not want to come out to people until you’ve figured yourself out, so it's kind of a catch-22.
The Right Thing to Do
Well, this sucks. Looks like you have your work cut out for you.
There’s a small chance she won’t be mad or won’t consider sex with men to “count” as cheating, but I wouldn’t hold my breath about that. Most women would probably consider this to be infidelity. Don’t delude yourself: There’s a reason you kept it from her, and it certainly wasn’t because you thought she’d be happy about it.
You already know what the right thing to do is in this scenario. You don’t need me to tell you. If you cheated, then confess. There’s no point in dragging this out for years or carrying the burden of this secret for the rest of your relationship, especially if you feel guilty about it.
Just rip the bandaid off and tell her. Your relationship might survive or it might not. She might see your cheating with a man as different from cheating with a woman or she might not. She might think it’s gross or she might think it’s hot. Who knows?
You’ll only know once you muster up the courage to own up to what you did.
Are You Ready to Be Who You Are?
Regardless of your circumstances, it can take a lot of courage to be honest, but coming out as bi to your girlfriend can add a new dimension of closeness to your relationship. And, of course, it’s especially critical to be honest if you ever plan to act on your attraction towards men.
Either way, take your time. The world isn’t going to end if you don’t come out tomorrow, so prioritize your own feeling of alignment with yourself before anyone else’s opinion comes into play.
© 2021 Jorge Vamos