In his latest guest post for The Queerness, Steve Topple discusses them minefield that is dating as a bisexual man.
I have concluded that being a bisexual man is, well – challenging.
“Wow – you get the best of both worlds!”, people have told me (I would if I was getting any in either world, yes); “Twice the fun!”, others have said (working on the assumption I have ‘fun’ in the first place). But generally, the forward-facing reaction since I came out has been wholly positive.
But it’s that feeling of what people don’t say that niggles me.
Take online dating. Having been single for nearly two years now, I’m a member of Match, OkCupid and Gaydar. I like to cast a wide net. But out of these platforms, only OkCupid is actually of any use to people who don’t define themselves as gay or straight. Not that it’s proved much ‘use’ to me so far, as my love life is still as barren as Ken Livingstone’s political career is looking.
“Wow – you get the best of both worlds!”, people have told me (I would if I was getting any in either world, yes).
Whenever I’m on Match, I feel a bit of a fraud. You’re not given an option of sexuality in your profile – even though 23% of the UK population don’t class themselves as 100% heterosexual, with this rising to 49% among 18-24 year-olds. So, it comes down to the dilemma of whether you write it in your bio or not.
Now, while this doesn’t sound like some major Nelly and Kelly drama, it is to me as a newly bisexual man. It’s a minefield on what is a predominantly straight dating site as I just know (or assume) that if I put ‘bisexual’ on my bio, het women are going to run a mile screaming “HE SUCKS DICK AS WELL!!!”. Or so my head tells me.
So, do I leave it out and tell people in the course of online conversation? Even this sounds positively terrifying, as there is a chasm between chatting to someone online and talking in the flesh and these kind of intrinsic details about yourself may be conveyed in wholly the wrong manner. That is, women may think I’m just hitting them up for some kind of Sean Cody-esque gangbang. Or so my head tells me.
I just know (or assume) that if I put ‘bisexual’ on my bio, het women are going to run a mile screaming “HE SUCKS DICK AS WELL!!!”.
So, I just don’t say anything on Match. I think it’s probably a topic best left for discussion in person. Not that it really matters, anyway, as the number of online conversations I’ve had in six months has rocketed to the dizzy heights of two. Money well spent, I think.
Then there’s Gaydar. While this dating site is all very well if you’re looking for some quick sexual gratification in the back of a grubby Ford Focus on a Wednesday lunchtime, dating as a bisexual man is a whole different ballgame. The other bisexual men (in my experience) tend to all be anonymous and only there so they can chat to you about what you’d do to their wives as they were doing something to you, while concurrently they have a Barclays at the other end. Most probably with their wives asleep next to them.
I find the gay men equally as hard to fathom. No-one ever seems to approach you for a genuine ‘date’; although I don’t think putting “You probably won’t like me” as my header helps. It’s mostly just ‘winks’ and “Mmm! Hot pics :P” (I’m sorry? Did my fierceness burn you?) from 55-year-old men who obviously missed the bit where I put a maximum age of 40.
Not that it really matters, anyway, as the number of online conversations I’ve had in six months has rocketed to the dizzy heights of two. Money well spent, I think.
There’s also probably the whole ‘Bi Now, Gay Later’ thing going on – if you need that translating, it means many gay and lesbian people think us bis are merely on a ‘journey’ towards all-out ‘gayness’, like some desperate X Factor contestant who really can’t sing but has been put through to Judges’ Houses for the humiliation-led humour of it all. Few gay men in my age bracket approach me, which that head of mine (again) tells me is because I’m bisexual. Or I’m just a twat. Either/Eyther.
THEN, there’s the even more terrifying platform of social media. For example: I’ve got back in touch with someone I was good friends with during my teenage years. She’s fairly recently become single (like me), we shared many of the same interests when we were younger and appear to still do, have been briefly chatting quite amicably and live locally to each other. Oh, and she’s beautiful, funny, intelligent and talented. I’d ask her out on a ‘date’, but I’m bisexual. My head tells me it’s a problem.
Now, it’s not entirely the bisexuality bit that’s the issue here. It’s the fact that the last she knew of me, I was gay and engaged to another man.
There’s also probably the whole ‘Bi Now, Gay Later’ thing going on – if you need that translating, it means many gay and lesbian people think us bis are merely on a ‘journey’ towards all-out ‘gayness’.
Yes, I know. I don’t make life simple for myself. My ‘coming out’ as bisexual was from the position of being ‘homosexual’ for 14 years, and many people whom I knew years ago still don’t realise who I really am and think I’m gay.
That bloody head of mine tells me that she’ll run a mile because I’ve been straight, gay and now bi – and therefore probably not to be trusted. Or she’ll just be repulsed. Or won’t understand. Or doesn’t even like me, anyway. Or something (throw in the bit about me being an alcoholic and she’ll probably block me virtually and ‘ITRW’).
But this is the thing. Being bisexual in a world dominated by the poles of ‘Straight’ and ‘Gay’ is a nightmare. However much society claims to be tolerant and inclusive, trying to date as someone whose sexuality is not black or white is fraught with complications. Whether they be inadequate online tools, lack of representation in the media or something as fundamental as the insecurities in your head because of how you think the world still perceives you, hurdles are constantly placed in your way.
That bloody head of mine tells me that she’ll run a mile because I’ve been straight, gay and now bi – and therefore probably not to be trusted.
I should find this easy, as I’ve been here before – and when I came out as ‘gay’, aged 21, I’d had job interviews that were more alarming. The ‘event’ which people have parties about now didn’t bother me.
But while times have moved on for many in the LGBTQ+ community, for the ‘B’ that’s literally stuck in the middle, we appear to have made little progress – and I feel we can’t shake off the stereotypes.
We don’t bite, you know! We’re not sluts! We’re not all sexually unquenchable deviants! We’re not dirty and somehow tarnished! We’re not on a fucking journey! We’re just human and would quite like a relationship, please!
Or maybe it’s just all in my head.
Do correct me if I’m wrong – but I don’t think I am.
Follow Steve on Twitter (@MrTopple)
4 thoughts on “Note to bisexuals: Dating? Don’t bother. You’re not allowed.”
Great post, and I can’t help but agree with you on many of the points you make. And truthfully, I believe I am in a relationship that is about to end, and as I think about the possibility of dating again, I feel overwhelmed.
Yeah, you’re obviously right. I had bisexual on my OKC and had a total of 6 conversations with women in about a year. I switched my orientation to straight tonight and have had 2 conversations with women in the past 2 hours. It’s discouraging to be open and honest.
I think since there weren’t really any adults who lived a lifestyle that I felt represented my internal dialogue, I had to figure the entire sexuality thing out on my own. Every time I tried explaining myself to people, whether therapists, friends or parents, they just pushed me towards straight or gay. Maybe I felt better in the moment, but insidiously that would seriously damage my psyche. I had substance issues too which were probably closely connected to just a general lack of societal support (i.e. not seeing bi people in sitcoms, people assuming my sexuality, regular life bumps etc.). Being bisexual was so mentally taxing as a teenager, that now my confidence with dating & harmless rejection is more fragile than it needs to be. I’m happy about where I am now in my mid 20s, but the lame online dating thing doesn’t help. It’s nice knowing teenagers nowadays will have way more online resources where they can feel like the regular person they are.
Good article, brother. Good luck.