by Irina Gonzalez
Dating online can be filled with lots of tricky questions from the start. Do you tell your date that you’re between jobs? Do you confess that you’re a cat dude and already have two fur babies? And how much of this information is, or isn’t, appropriate to reveal in your profile or on the first date?
For bisexual users, though, the question of what to reveal and when hits even closer to home: When do you “come out” to a new date?
For many bisexuals, this is not an easy conversation to have. Today, there is still an abundance of stereotypes that can color a person’s perception of our sexuality.
Some accuse us of being predisposed to cheating. Others wonder if we can ever be happy in a monogamous relationship. Frequently, we get sexualized (like when a straight man automatically assumes a bisexual woman is completely open to a threesome).
So, when it comes to revealing our status as the B in LGBTQIA, it’s always a delicate conversation and timing is, well, crucial. But when exactly is the right time?
For many bisexuals, putting their sexuality in their profile is the way to go, since it allows you to automatically avoid people who may be uncomfortable with bisexuality. “I’m proud of my bisexuality and don’t want to spend time with people who aren’t down,” said S.E.*, 32.
However, putting “bisexual” in a profile can have its downsides, as Priscilla, 33, found out early on. “I sometimes got couples who were interested, and/or men who simply wanted to ‘see me’ with women, which I then had to explain was not what I was looking for or into,” she said.
Others believe that revealing your bi status on the first date, or the first few dates, is the best option.
“I do one of two things: either a first date info dump,” said B.J., 35, “Or if it comes up that my romantic partner is into a three-way with another guy (I exclusively date women, though am attracted to men), I’ll bring it up then and tell them, ‘Let’s do it!’”
By being open and honest about your bisexuality early on, it allows you to avoid wasting your time with people who “think I’m a phony”, as Elinor, 28, put it. “If someone isn’t cool with it for whatever reason (and some people really aren’t), I’d rather know up front,” Christi, 41, agreed.
Telling your date your sexual orientation early on allows for a certain degree of emotional safety, too. If the person is not willing to date a bisexual, as many of us have experienced, then feelings can be spared earlier on.
“I’ve had a number of lesbians tell me they don’t like dating bi women because they worry we are experimenting or just curious,” Christi said.
For some bisexuals, it is precisely this hesitation from heterosexual or gay dates that leads to a preference for dating other bi or pansexual people.
“There’s less explaining to do,” said Natalie, 38, of her preference for dating other bi or pan people. “Even when I’ve been in relationships with lesbians, the disapproval from their friendship group has created issues. One time, I went to a lesbian bar with my then-girlfriend, and I received uniform coldness. Eventually, a friend of hers informed me that they thought I was going to leave her for a man anyway, so they didn’t think I was worth investing in.”
The relationship ended soon afterward, due to Natalie’s girlfriend cheating on her with a man — because she had been convinced that Natalie was doing the same. “I was not,” she said.
It’s stories such as these, of misunderstandings and doubt, that drive many bisexuals to be wary of straight or gay dates. However, many remain hopeful that by simply being honest about our bisexuality early on, these issues can be avoided.
“Back in my dating days, I would try to slip it in casually in the first four dates, or roughly a month of dating” said Victoria, 37, who is now married.
“Your sexuality is too big to hide,” said Isabel, 32. “It feels like lying, and I don’t want to begin any potential relationship by lying.”
*We’ve used initials and first names to protect the privacy of our interviewees.