Now you see me, now you don’t: The truth about bisexual dating
First dates can be a nerve-wracking experience that make single life seem like the way forward. Bisexual dating is even more complex.
The butterflies before your date arrives. The relief when you realise they’re not a catfish or that your tipsy judgement isn’t too awful after all. The stumbling through the make or break first hour. The thought of fumbling happening once you get through all that stumbling.
Modern dating is a bit of a minefield. If anything, there is too much choice – and not just because bisexuals supposedly have more options with our dates. If online dating has demonstrated anything, it’s that there is a whole host of eligible singletons out there just waiting for you to buy them a drink.
But, at what point do you come out to your date? That’s not a question most have to think about, but it is an all-too-real and all-too-common experience for bisexuals. How do you tell the total stranger sat opposite you that you’re bisexual, without just blurting it out? ‘Hello my name is Alice and I like guys and girls, shall we get a bottle of wine?’
Thanks to years of hard work by LGBTQ activists, people in certain corners of the world feel more comfortable about coming out than ever before. A recent survey found that 43 percent of those aged 18 to 24 don’t identify as gay or straight and fall into the wide and wonderful middle-ground. But, expressing your bisexual identity in a society that doesn’t fully recognise it can still be tough during those first few moments of awkward, sober chat on a first date.
Becky, a 22 year old bisexual activist from Manchester says straight men she dates sometimes see sexuality as little more than a kink. Understandably, she’s not thrilled with it.
“I was on a date with a guy a couple of weeks ago and did the whole awkwardly dropping in that my ex is a girl and the first thing he said was that’s hot and then asked if I was a little slutty,” Becky says. “In what universe is that an okay thing to say to anyone, especially someone you’re on a date with?”
26 year old Adam has just moved in with his long term boyfriend and says that they’re constantly mistaken for brothers – even when holding hands in the street.
“Because there is so little accurate representation of bisexuality in pop culture, when you enter a relationship you completely lose your bisexual identity,” he says, frustrated.
His mission statement about his sexuality is fairly simple to understand. Or should be.
“When I am with a guy I am gay and when I am with a girl I am straight. There is no in-between.”
Straight people don’t have their sexuality continually assessed because they’re at it with someone of the opposite sex. So why should it be any different for anyone else?
If sexual identity is linked to relationship status, then bisexuality is completely erased.
Izzy, 24 is social secretary in the LGBTQ society at her university, putting on speed dating events across the campus. She’s sick of being told that her interest in both sexes is a short-term thing that she’ll grow out of. Believe it or not, being bisexual isn’t quite as temporary as an interest in boybands or YouTubers.
“I feel almost obliged to tell my dates immediately – like if I don’t I am being somehow disingenuous,” she says. “But then, you have to deal with the fallout of someone telling you that you are going through a phase.”
The Bisexual Resource Centre is the oldest organisation worldwide that provides resources and funding to create a stronger community for bisexual and pansexual individuals. Based in the US, it supports projects around the world.
Co-president Kate Estrop says that they have seen a massive increase in people contacting the organisation seeking community groups for bisexuals and advice on how to deal with harassment.
“They face stigma from the straight community and, to a greater extent, from the lesbian and gay communities,” says Kate. “They have ‘passing privilege’ as heterosexual and therefore aren’t ‘queer’ enough. Bisexual women face the stigma of being more ‘slutty’ and indecisive. Bisexual men are simply seen as being on their way to being gay.”
“Humans love dichotomies. You are a cat or dog person, coffee or tea drinker, morning person or night owl, male or female, gay or straight,” Estrop explains. “So, why are we so uncomfortable with the shades of grey that fall between straight and gay?”
Will we ever get to the point where coming out will no longer be part of a bisexual’s first date banter? Whatever your sexuality, dating can be a bit of a minefield.