You meet a cute guy in at a party and start talking. Wow, you’re really hitting it off! You start going on dates and you’re having a good time, but in the midst of pillow talk, he tells you that he’s bisexual.
You’re totally into him, but you may be wondering: Is dating a bisexual guy different from dating a heterosexual guy? Is there anything you need to be aware of when it comes to dating bisexual guys? Luckily, Her Campus is here to help you figure it out with a few things you need to know about dating a bisexual guy!
1. Everyone defines bisexuality differently
Joyce Smith, a sexual health awareness advocate at Wesleyan University, says that sexual orientation is a spectrum, and it’s extremely important to understand this concept when heading into a relationship with a bisexual guy.
“Everyone defines their sexual orientation differently, and bisexuality can be a lot more complicated than just, ‘I like boys and girls,’” she explains.
Being bisexual also doesn’t mean that your boyfriend identifies as a different gender. “It is crucial to also realize that gender and sexual orientation are two separate concepts that intersect,” Smith says.
Smith’s advice? Going into your relationship, make sure you throw all preconceived notions of what it means to be bisexual out the window. Your guy might define it differently than you, and you don’t want your own biases to hinder what he’s trying to tell you. In addition, his level and depth of attraction to both sexes could differ greatly, so it’s important not to make any assumptions about it!
Jane*, a senior at Wesleyan University who has previously dated two bisexual guys, found that both guys viewed their bisexuality completely differently. “My first boyfriend who was bisexual told me that he had dated more women than men, and that was important to him when defining his sexuality,” she says. “In contrast, my second bisexual boyfriend was attracted to both guys and girls equally, and he thought that was an important part of being bisexual.”
Smith also reminds collegiettes that being bisexual says nothing about a person’s promiscuity. “Unfortunately, our culture sometimes associates bisexuality with being heavily sexual or unable to be monogamous, which is of course not the case!” she says. “It’s a common misconception, and it’s an important one to think about!”
2. You should be respectful and open-minded
You might feel a little weird approaching a beau (or potential beau) about his sexuality; after all, sexuality is an extremely personal thing, and you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings!
Smith urges collegiettes to talk to their bisexual guy at the very beginning of the relationship instead of later on. “Before you talk, make sure you are both aware that you are having a serious conversation about sexual orientation and your relationship status, and make sure that it’s at an appropriate time,” she says. “Trying to discuss your boyfriend’s bisexuality while intoxicated at a loud party doesn’t make for a very thoughtful discussion. Make sure you are both ready and present to talk about sexuality, comfort and boundaries.”
In addition, Smith also advises thinking about what you are going to say before you head into the conversation. “Write down some questions you have beforehand. It’ll get you thinking about what you want to say and how you want to say it,” she says. “A lot of the time, conversations about sexuality and relationships turn sour when people don’t think before they speak!”
Even though your level of openness and honesty might differ depending on your relationship, there are a couple of sexual-orientation-conversation no-nos. “Definitely don’t ask him if he’s ‘sure’ he’s bisexual,” Jane says. “Sexual orientation is already a sensitive subject, and questioning a part of your boyfriend’s identity can feel insulting and could even turn him off to a conversation altogether.”
Jane recommends not talking about past sexual encounters during this first conversation. “It may come across as really inappropriate to ask your bisexual boyfriend how many guys and girls he’s slept with, so keep the sexual partner count off-limits for now!” she says. “Instead, talk about boundaries like you would in any other relationship. Are you two exclusive or able to see other people? This is something that’s important regardless of whom your partner is attracted to, and it could prevent issues with jealously or insecurity later on.”
3. Consistent communication is more important than ever
The biggest rule of dating someone who is bisexual is also just a general rule of relationships: keep a clear and honest line of communication! Marni Battista, the relationship and love expert behind Dating With Dignity, thinks this is especially important in relationships in which at least one partner is bisexual. “If you choose to date someone that is bisexual, you might have questions for them about their sexual preference,” she says. “As is the same with all relationships, the best thing to do is keep communication open!”
Many collegiettes might still be unsure of what it’s like to date someone who is attracted to both guys and girls. However, many women who have dated bisexual guys in college note that this is not really an issue as long as communication is a priority.
Kathleen*, a recent college graduate, wished she had communicated more from the get-go with her bisexual boyfriend, because not doing so played into her insecurities. “I think the problem with our relationship was that, because of his bisexuality, we were a little too open with one another about our crushes on other people,” she says. “If we had set that boundary from the get-go, it probably would have worked much better.”
Jane felt that communication was key, especially because dating a bisexual guy for her was the same in a lot of respects as dating a heterosexual guy. “Dating is dating, no matter whom it is with,” she says. “There has to be trust, attraction, love and ground rules.”
Jane also says that neither of her relationships ended because of either guy’s sexuality. “These relationships ended because of conventional relationship problems, which is something I think some people don’t get,” she says. “One boy moved away and we grew apart, and the other one didn’t put enough effort into our relationship.”
Jane noted that people were always surprised to hear that her boyfriends’ bisexuality was never an issue in her relationships. “I don’t really get the question at Wesleyan, but I did get it from my friends back at home,” she says. “But at the end of the day, I dated people who made me happy, and then we broke up. A relationship is a relationship, no matter which sexes your boyfriend may be attracted to.”
4. People will ask YOU questions, too
Jane, Joanne*, a recent graduate of Northwestern University who has dated a bisexual guy, and Danielle, a recent graduate of Harvard University who is currently dating a bisexual guy, have all had experiences with people asking them questions about their relationships.
Joanne was pelted with concerns when she was going out with her bisexual guy. “When we were dating, I got asked all of the time what it was like, and it annoyed both of us to no end,” she says.
Jane had a similar experience. “For some reason, my friends would get weird whenever they saw either of my bisexual boyfriends talking to guys, especially guys they knew were gay or bisexual,” she says. “My friends would ask me if it bothered me, and of course it didn’t. My boyfriend can talk to whomever he wants. But this sort of perpetual questioning of my boyfriend’s actions as a bisexual male happened constantly in both relationships, which I got very weary of after a while.”
It may get tiring hearing your friends constantly ask about your relationship, but don’t let it get to you. The only thing that matters is if you and your boyfriend are in a happy and healthy relationship!
5. You need to respect his “out” status
Danielle says the one challenge of dating a bisexual guy versus a heterosexual guy is being cognizant of whom he’s come out to. “[You have to be] sensitive about the issue and make sure not to accidentally [out] him to someone that he's not out to,” she says.
Jane had similar issues with one of the guys she dated who had not come out to his family or friends at home. “One of my previous bisexual boyfriends, Josh*, invited me home for Thanksgiving one year, and he had to warn me that he had not yet come out to his family or high school friends,” she says. “I just had to be careful, especially around his friends, not to say anything.”
However, Jane doesn’t think this differs from any other sensitive information that pops up in a relationship. “I think everyone has delicate stuff that shouldn’t be brought up around certain people, like family. I definitely don’t think it’s just bisexual individuals,” she says. “In college especially, people can be very different at school versus when they’re at home, and I think that’s totally normal. My family is very against drinking, so I personally don’t tell them that I drink. When we visited my family last year, I told Josh not to bring up any party stories, so it works both ways.”
Overall, dating a bisexual guy only differs somewhat from dating a heterosexual guy. But no matter what, it’s still a relationship between two people who like each other. Also, if any of your friends are dating a bisexual guy, remember to think before asking any questions about it!
Battista also thinks that college is the perfect time to look at a relationship with someone who’s bisexual. “College relationships usually begin as a way to learn more about yourself and your needs in a relationship, and they are also a good place to try new things, so there is no better time than the present!” she says.
*Names have been changed.