Bisexual is the term that is used by people to describe their feelings of physical, emotional and sexual attraction to both guys and girls.
There are also people who have these feelings but don’t identify as bisexual. Some people identify mainly as straight, gay or lesbian but explore their attractions to people regardless of gender.
Our society likes to define people as either straight or gay so it can be difficult to sit somewhere in the middle.
It also means that people may not understand that it is possible and valid to be attracted to both guys and girls at the same time.
There are stereotypes about bisexuals that can influence the way we see ourselves fitting in. Some people describe bisexuals as lucky, open, living out their true feelings and these descriptions can make us feel good about the way we feel for others.
Unfortunately there are also a range of negative stereotypes, for example; fence sitters, undecided, copping out, heartbreakers and experimenters and these are used to make us feel bad about and really don’t fit in with the reality of what it’s like to be bisexual.
There may be some people who identify as bisexual while they are deciding whether they are attracted to both sexes or just one, but this isn’t the same for everyone.
Pressure to conform to narrow ideas of how I should be can make it difficult to accept ourselves as unique individuals who just happen to be bisexual.
“… when people talk about bisexuals as being big risk takers, heart breakers, or just ‘experimenting’, I used to feel worried that maybe I was like that, but that’s not me, I am very stable and dependable.”
Attraction seems to happen before we even realise and often without planning it. For lots of bisexual young people they notice their attraction to someone of the same sex because it feels a lot like their attraction to people of the opposite sex.
“I started to find girls at school attractive in the same way I would feel for a guy.”
Accepting our thoughts and feelings about being bisexual as a natural part of our whole self might happen as soon as we realise we are both-sex attracted. Or it can be an ongoing process of discovery and acceptance.
One person defined realisation as “the acceptance and acknowledgement of past suspicions and curiosities as being more than you may have believed”.
So once you start to realise your attractions to both guys and girls, then you might start to work out what it is going to mean for you.
“Both sexes turned me on physically and emotionally”
“I was probably very lucky in that I didn’t have any massive dilemmas, in fact I find it harder now at 25, and in a stable relationship with a guy, and still finding I miss being with a girl.”
Family and friends
When we first realise we could be bisexual we might worry how friends and family could react.
Our attraction to people of both sexes is normal and it is healthy for us to explore these thoughts and feelings. Understanding ourselves means valuing ourselves and valuing the uniqueness and similarity within each of us.
“(I was worried) that people would think I was trying to be trendy, or that I would really like someone and they wouldn’t want to get involved because I would leave them for someone of the opposite sex.”
Sometimes friends, family, and other people make assumptions and judgements about our sexuality.
Often we know how we feel and yet we may prefer to keep these feelings private for now, until we feel safe enough to talk about this with someone we trust.
Knowing (or assuming) some people could react negatively to our bisexuality can make thinking and talking about these feelings really difficult.
Sometimes family and friends don’t know being bisexual is just as natural being gay, lesbian or straight, and they might feel awkward and uncomfortable talking about bisexuality.
You can get support from others to help work out the best ways to deal with things like telling your friends and family. Supportive friends and family can make a big difference when we are exploring our thoughts and feelings, but mostly, it’s really important to talk to others who have experienced, or are experiencing, similar feelings to us.
“Coming to terms means accepting [your bisexuality] as a reality. Feeling comfortable with it involves pride and not being scared of being open about it when it’s safe to do so.”