Jennifer Wilber is a writer, teacher, and bisexual rights activist from Ohio.
Though the LGBT+ community as a whole has become more accepted by society in recent years, there are still many ridiculous myths surrounding bisexuality that are believed by gays, lesbians, and straights alike. These myths perpetuate untrue stereotypes about bi individuals and make it even more difficult for those to identify as bi to feel accepted by society. These myths make it more difficult for bisexuals to "come out" and come to terms with their own identity in order to live a more authentic life.
Bisexuals Are Confused / It’s Just a Phase
One of the most prevalent myths that many straight and gay people still believe about bisexuals is that they are confused and haven’t figured out their sexual orientation yet. It isn’t uncommon to hear people accuse bi-identified men of actually being gay, but not ready to “come out all the way” yet. Bi women are also often accused of going through a “phase” before eventually settling down with a man (it is interesting that bisexual men and women are both assumed to actually be interested primarily in men, though that’s a topic for another article).
Bi People Are Always Polyamorous / Can’t Be Monogamous
Because people who identify as bi are attracted to men and women, many people assume that they cannot be happy in a monogamous relationship. While some bisexual people do prefer to be in polyamorous relationships, most are happy in monogamous relationships, just like anyone else of any other orientation. Being bisexual just means that one is able to be with either a man or a woman, not that they need one of each at all times.
All Bisexuals Are Promiscuous / Are More Likely to Cheat
This is a very common myth about bisexuals and it relates to the myth that people who identify as bi cannot be happy in a monogamous relationship. It is a myth that being bisexual means that you have to have at least one partner of each gender at any given time. The assumption goes that, because bisexuals are attracted to multiple genders, that they cannot be satisfied with one person and will eventually cheat. Bisexuals are just as capable of having a monogamous relationship as straight or gay people and are no more likely to cheat than anyone else. People of any orientation can be promiscuous as well, and it has nothing to do with what gender or genders a person prefers.
People Who Claim to Be Bi Are Just Looking for Attention
Women who identify as bi are especially likely to be accused of simply looking for attention from males. Any interest that women have in other women is seen as being strictly for the benefit of male onlookers, due mainly to the patriarchal idea that female sexuality exists only for the male gaze. The media portrays bisexual women as promiscuous attention seekers, but this representation does not reflect reality. Bi women are just as serious about the women they are interested in as they are about the men they are interested in.
Sexual Orientation Changes Depending Upon the Gender of One's Partner
A woman dating a man is generally assumed to be straight, while a woman dating another woman is usually perceived of as gay. The same goes for men. This is especially true for married people, who are assumed to have finally “picked a side.” Assuming that someone’s orientation has changed to “straight” or “gay” because they got married or entered into a serious relationship erases their identity. Attraction to other people doesn’t go away just because someone got married, regardless of orientation.
Only Women Can Be Bisexual
Because of the pressure that society places on men to be “macho,” bisexual men are often assumed to be gay, but in denial. This isn’t true, and men are just as capable of being attracted to multiple genders as women. Due to cultural expectations, women are much more likely to be openly bi than men, though this doesn’t necessarily mean that there are actually more bi women than men.
Everyone Is Bisexual
Some people also make the claim that everyone is bisexual, which stands in contrast with some of the other myths that claim that bisexuality doesn’t exist. Because sexuality exists on a spectrum, some people claim that everyone must be, to some extent, bisexual. While it is common for most people to have some kind of same-sex attraction or fantasy at some point in their lives, this doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone is bisexual. This claim is an attempt to delegitimize bisexual identity by claiming that everyone has same- and opposite-sex attractions but end up choosing one “side” or the other.
You Can't Be Bisexual Unless You've Been With People of Both Genders
While no one questions a straight or gay person’s orientation before they have had any experience with their preferred gender, many people think that bisexual’s identities are invalid unless they have had experience with both men and women. This is a myth, as sexual orientation reflects who one is attracted to, regardless of actual experience. Orientation cannot be changed based on who your partners are.
Bisexuals Are Transphobic
Because of the “bi” prefix, some people tend to accuse people who identify as bisexual of being transphobic. Bisexual means that one is capable of being attracted to one’s own gender, and other genders. Because of the existence of the term “pansexual,” or attraction regardless of gender, bisexuals get accused of being transphobic. This is ridiculous, as many bisexuals are capable of being attracted to trans-identified individuals. The claim that bisexuals cannot be attracted to trans people is in itself transphobic, as it insinuates that trans people are not actually men or women. There are also many people who identify as both bisexual and transgender.
Bisexuals Are Accepted by Straight People / Bisexuals Are Accepted by the LGBT+ Community
Bisexuals are often ostracized by both the straight community and the LGBT+ community. Within the LGBT+ community, bisexuals are often seen as not being “gay” enough, especially when they are in a relationship that appears to be “straight.” Straight people are also often prejudiced against bisexual individuals in certain communities where the LGBT+ community as a whole is still less accepted. Some simply refuse to believe that bisexuality even exists.
It is important for people to stop spreading these myths about bisexual people. Not only do they hurt people who identify as bi, they also hurt the greater LGBT+ community. Gay and lesbian people may sometimes believe these myths and use them to reject bisexuals without even attempting to get to know them as individuals. Straight people also believe these myths and stereotypes, which may make them even less accepting of the LGBT+ community as a whole. These myths are unfair and hurt many people, and it is time we stop believing them.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: How do I know if my wife is bisexual?
Answer: The easiest way to find out if your wife is bisexual is by asking her.
© 2018 Jennifer Wilber