Jorge is a bisexual guy who has mentored other LGBT people over the years. He likes to share his experience with others.
So your boyfriend just came out as bisexual. You were taken by complete surprise (or maybe not so much?) and now you’re not sure how to deal with it.
After all, won’t this mean he’s twice as likely to cheat? Won’t he be unsatisfied dating only one person when he likes more than one gender? But wait! What if he’s secretly gay and he was just telling you he’s bi to test the waters?
Well, you can relax. I’m a bi guy and I’ve dated both men and women. I’ve also never cheated.
That’s right. Even though I can be attracted to people of any gender at all, I have never needed to go behind my partner’s back and never needed to act shady about my orientation. I am also upfront from the beginning. The people I date always know that I am bi. It looks like your boyfriend wants to be honest with you, too.
Having said that, you may still have some trepidation and not know how to handle the news that your boyfriend is bi. In this article, among many other things, we’ll cover:
- What it means when your boyfriend is bi (and what it doesn’t mean)
- How to deal with and process your boyfriend’s orientation
- What you should do about it (if anything)
The Fact That He Told You Means That He Trusts You
First and foremost, your partner is being honest by coming out to you. This is a good sign. Give him some credit. He could have just as easily kept it a secret, especially if he had no plans of acting on it. Instead, he chose to share something very personal with you, so before falling prey to all the assumptions society might have programmed you with, try to maintain an open mind and listen to what he has to say.
Granted, depending on what you’ve heard about bi men until now, listening without judgment may be a hard thing to do.
So Your “Straight” Boyfriend Just Told You He’s Bi
There are probably lots of thoughts running through your head. If you’re shocked that your boyfriend is bi or even that men can be bi in the first place, you’re not the only one. It’s common to wonder:
- How long has he been bi without telling me?
- Why wasn’t he upfront when we first started dating? Did he just not know?
- Does this mean he’s been seeing men as well as me?
- Does that mean that he’s up to something more than friendly when he meets up with his guy friends? Could one of them even be his ex and I didn’t know?
- Am I not enough for him? Is my boyfriend more likely to lose interest in me because he’s bi?
It’s natural to feel all of this, but it’s also important to know that there’s likely no reason to be paranoid. He’s with you for a reason. If he didn’t come out because he was trying to break up with you, then if anything it means that he loves and trusts you enough to share something really personal.
What Does It Mean When a Guy Is Bi?
Now, you might be wondering what it means when a guy is bi. You probably understand the literal definition, like everyone does (that he’s attracted to people of any gender), but what does it mean in practice? How does being bi affect who he is and how he lives his life?
Well, this varies. Not everyone is bi the same way, and the fact that he’s bi doesn’t mean he’s attracted to just anyone. Plenty of bi people are extremely picky, they just don’t consider gender to be an important criterion.
When a guy in a straight relationship is bi, it could mean:
- That he has dated both men and women.
- That he actually hasn’t dated any men before, but it’s a possibility in the future.
- That he never intends to date a man at all but acknowledges that he’s attracted to men.
It really depends on the guy. Being bi isn’t any specific “lifestyle,” so it’s best not to assume that all of a sudden he wants his life to change because he finds men hot. That’s really all that it means to be a bi man: That you find people of any gender hot. The end.
And you know what? Now you have one more thing in common!
How to Deal With Finding Out Your Boyfriend Is Bi
“But I don’t know how to feel about this! Even if I should ‘logically’ have no problem with it, I have conflicting emotions!” you might say.
Look, I totally get it. You might be especially thrown for a loop if there was no shred of “queerness” in your relationship to begin with (for example, if you are not bi yourself).
Is a relationship 100% straight if one of the members of it is on the LGBTQ+ spectrum? If not, then what does that mean? Is something going to change between you? Do you have to start going to parades now?
There are also tons of expectations that come with "straightness" that you may not have even realized you had because it was just what was “normal” to you. Now you may feel that this normalcy is being challenged because your boyfriend is bi and this feeling of the unknown might make you uncomfortable.
Maybe . . . you’re even disgusted to an extent. Maybe you can’t help but wonder in the back of your mind if he’s less of a man, and you quietly question his masculinity, even if you’d rather not.
1. Ask Yourself Why It Bothers You (If It Does)
Hey, I’m not here to shame you. It’s actually fairly common for a woman to be bothered that her boyfriend is bi, and it’s not entirely your fault.
Chances are, you’ve been programmed by society to look at bi (and even gay) men as inherently different from straight men. When this happens, you’re bound to feel uncomfortable when someone steps out of the “box” that you had designated for them in your mind.
You might even be mad that he didn’t tell you earlier, as if it’s something he should be required to offer as a disclaimer from the beginning.
But you know what all of that is? It’s actually internalized homophobia.
Society Can Influence Your Thinking More Than You Realize
It's quite possible to pick up a lot of homophobia or biphobia from society without even realizing it. This can then affect the way you view bi and gay people in subtle ways.
You may even have gay friends and be really gay-friendly on a political level, but in the back of your mind assumed that men with same-sex attraction were in a completely different category from straight men. You were fine with queer men as long as they played their "role" in your life as gay friends, but then you were bothered to find that your boyfriend straddled the line between these worlds.
The fact of the matter is that there’s nothing special that makes a bi (or gay!) man different from a straight man, besides the fact that he’s also attracted to men. Bi guys have existed since the dawn of time and are more common than you think. (They just don’t often say anything about it, for obvious reasons.)
It doesn’t mean he’s less of a man or that he’s secretly feminine or something like that.
So take a look at your own biases. How are they affecting your judgement here? Before you get mad at your boyfriend, think about what sort of assumptions are causing you to see him differently now, even though he is literally the same person that he was before he told you.
2. Try to Avoid Making Snap Judgments
Just because your boyfriend is bi doesn’t all of a sudden mean that:
- He wants to leave you for a man.
- He’s promiscuous.
- He’s going to take on stereotypically “gay” traits that he didn’t have before.
- He wants to be more submissive or engage in . . . certain acts with you or someone else. (You know what I mean.) Lots of bi or even gay men have no interest in this.
- You have to do something differently than you did before.
So relax. Take a deep breath. And most of all . . .
3. Give Yourself Time to Process
If you’re open to the idea that you may have some internalized biphobia and you want to change it, that’s commendable. It’s important to admit these things to oneself because otherwise change is not possible.
Even if you’re open-minded, though, this transformation does not happen overnight. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Give yourself time to process the fact that your boyfriend is bi, because he may have inadvertently shattered a lot of the illusions you had about what it means to be straight or queer.
It’s OK to take your time to try to figure out what this means. You may even want to journal about it to get all of the feelings out in a safe way. A good boyfriend will understand this, as long as you present your need for space respectfully, of course.
Did You React in the Moment and Hurt His Feelings?
Did you read this article too late and you already reacted in a way that hurt your boyfriend’s feelings? Did you say something biphobic or something that insulted his masculinity?
Well, I’m not going to lie to you, that’s not exactly an easy thing to recover from. Put yourself in his shoes. Imagine that you mustered up the courage to reveal something really personal about yourself and the person you trusted reacted with judgment. It would put distance in your relationship, wouldn’t it?
Another problem is that if you react badly, he may be tempted to lie and tell you that he was just joking or that he was confused. This might give you some temporary relief, but chances are high that his orientation didn’t magically change just because you judged him—he’s just hiding it now that he knows where you stand.
Have a Serious, Mature Talk With No Judgment
To avoid all this, sit down and have a serious talk with him. Explain that you reacted badly because you were shocked, but tell him that you are sorry and that he didn’t deserve judgment for something he can’t help. Let him know that your reaction is more about you than it is about him.
After all, there is nothing wrong with his sexuality. Even if you don’t like it, that doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with being bi. Keep this difference in mind.
If you help him to feel safe enough to be honest, then you can ask him follow-up questions and increase the chances of getting honest answers. For instance, you can ask:
- When did he start feeling this way? Was he avoiding telling you this whole time?
- Is he asking because he wants to experiment with men?
- Is his orientation a big part of his identity?
Try to be as neutral as possible when you ask. If he came out to you, then he wants to share this part of himself; all you have to do is make him feel safe enough to continue.
What to Do If He Cheated on You With Another Man
What if you follow this advice and get him to open up, but then he confesses that he’s hooked up with men during the time you’ve been dating?
Then dump him.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it for you. Unless you have an open relationship, that’s cheating. Even if you feel differently about him sleeping with other men than sleeping with women, his intention was still to sneak around behind your back. Do you want to maintain a relationship based on dishonesty?
How to Accept That Your Boyfriend Is Bisexual
Accepting that your boyfriend is bi is not much different from accepting any other part of him. Human beings are complex. As you get to know someone and deepen the relationship, you will inevitably find out all kinds of things you didn’t expect—even things you might not like.
If you run away at the first sign of something that challenges you, then you probably won’t be able to build relationships that last with anybody. In this case, it really depends on how much importance you give to the fact that your boyfriend is bi. Is it really a deal-breaker, or were you just shocked because of preconceived notions you had about bi people?
Do you really want to shatter an otherwise good relationship over something that may not affect you at all?
The fastest path to acceptance is to simply remember that your boyfriend has many aspects to him, most of which you love. You started dating him for a reason. Those reasons don’t suddenly evaporate because he likes men.
How to Support Your Bi Boyfriend
Alright, let’s say that you have come to a point where you can accept your boyfriend’s bisexuality. If he’s just learning this about himself, it’s probably a confusing time for him, too. How do you support him and help him be more open and confident in his sexuality?
Here are some tips:
- Keep the lines of communication open. Encourage him to be more upfront and check in with him regularly to make sure he’s doing OK.
- Reassure him that you accept who he is. Make it clear that he can tell you things about himself and that you won’t judge him.
- Be respectful with your questions. Don’t pry too much. Don’t insist that he get detailed about his preferences if he seems uncomfortable. Allow him to have these boundaries; he doesn’t “owe” you this kind of information.
- Avoid jealousy and paranoia. He’s the same guy he was before. If he was loyal before, chances are he’ll still be loyal. If he was a cheater, well . . . now he’s a cheater with more options. (But maybe you shouldn’t date a cheater. Just a thought.)
- Respect his privacy. Keep his orientation to yourself unless he is ready to come out to others and tells you it is OK. You may think, “Oh, I’ll only tell my best friend because I need to vent,” but your friend may not keep it a secret. People love to gossip about the sexuality of others. Next thing you know, a handful of people will know. Your boyfriend may never trust you with a secret ever again if that happens.
Are you still struggling with the news that your boyfriend is bi? Are there still some worries in the back of your mind?
Here are some quick answers to common concerns.
Will My Bi Boyfriend Leave Me?
Maybe, maybe not—but if he does, it is unlikely to be because he is bi. I am bi myself and have never left someone simply because I was bored of their gender and needed to switch it up. That’s more of a stereotype than anything based in reality.
Lots of women worry that their boyfriend will leave them when they find out that he’s bi, but if he was trying to break up with you, he probably would have said so. Furthermore, people break up all the time for completely different reasons.
Don’t worry too much that your boyfriend will leave you. He’s with you, so chances are that he loves you, and he told you, so chances are he trusts you deeply. Being bi doesn’t mean that he’s suddenly going to drop you for some guy.
Why Do I Feel Weird That My Boyfriend Is Bi?
If you feel “weird” that your boyfriend is bi, it’s probably because of social conditioning that you have concerning bisexual men. Going by society’s standards, it wouldn’t be too surprising if you have some subconscious ideas that make you uncomfortable with your boyfriend’s bisexuality.
You May Be Harboring Weird Assumptions
For example, a lot of people think that bi men don’t exist and that they’re actually secretly gay but just won’t admit it. Other people think that bisexual men are promiscuous and more likely to cheat. You may also have a subconscious belief that being bisexual means that your boyfriend is less manly, which comes from that old stereotype that queer men are automatically more feminine than straight men.
On a more crude level, you may also be bothered by the fact that your boyfriend may want to physically “receive” the same way that you do from men. This is also just an assumption. Maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t. Not all gay and bi men do this, either, by the way.
You May Be Trying to Fit Male Relationships Into Straight Roles
You might also feel weird because you are unconsciously looking at a relationship between two men through the lens of heterosexual “roles” and misapplying them to the situation. Maybe you can’t fathom why your boyfriend would want a man to “play the role of a woman” for him, or worse, you’re disgusted by the idea of your boyfriend being “a woman” for someone else.
This is all silly, though. Relationships between men just don’t work that way. Viewing them through the lens of heterosexual roles doesn’t make any sense. You may just have to accept that he experiences men differently than you do, in a way that you may not understand because it does not follow the straight dynamic.
Do your best to rid yourself of preconceived notions. Keep an open mind. See your boyfriend for who he actually is, and not what some stereotype has taught you to believe.
You may be surprised in time to find that this ordeal has actually deepened your relationship and brought you closer together.
© 2021 Jorge Vamos