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Advice: The trouble with dating while bisexual

Anna Pulley, @annapulley

RedEye's sex columnist

11:04 AM CDT, May 29, 2013

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I've been bi my entire life. It was never an issue in both my marriages (to women) as I was monogamous. But now that online dating has taken over single life, I find myself having to declare my sexuality prior to getting to know someone. I don't want to lie and identify as straight, but I tried an experiment recently and identified as bi and it was as if I said I had leprosy. Yet I find when I'm getting to know someone and there's a connection clearly apparent to both of us and discuss it, 99 percent of the time, it's a non-issue. Straight and even bi women seem to have a predisposed prejudice against bi men (unless they know them), and it is a drag, especially because the majority of the preconceptions are utterly wrong: we're "in transition," we're disease carriers, we'll cheat on them with men, we're in denial, etc. Any ideas on how to handle this? Also, sometimes I am with a man who I think is bi or gay but I can’t tell. I don't want to embarrass him or myself by coming on to him should he be straight and I don't want to be inappropriate and bluntly ask about his sexuality. Other than dropping hints like, "What kind of bars do you like to go to?"--Anon.

You could do what I do and learn to incorporate bonobo chimps into every possible conversation. If bonobos are too slutty for you, you could also try fruit flies, whiptail lizards or black swans--just to name a few of the bisexual animals that can serve as conversational fodder should your gaydar fail you. In fact, more than 1,500 wild and captive animals have been found to engage in bisexual behavior, which I know because I’ve been forced to defend bisexuality so many times that I’m now always looking for reinforcements. If using animals to validate your sexual identity is off-putting to you, you could also wear a tiny bisexual flag pin, which you will then have to explain to everyone who asks because no one knows what the bisexual flag looks like. Either way, you’re outta the closet! Ta-da.

I know it can be awkward to bluntly ask about someone’s sexuality, but you can be direct without having to ask them if they like to hold penises. So flirt! Read the cues. Drop gay cultural references. Or come out to him first and gauge his reaction.

As to your first question, I’d recommend taking a gander at last week’s column, where I talked about how to broach difficult conversations with new dates. It’s about polyamory, but the same principles apply. Bisexuals, especially bi men, face a lot of stigma and I applaud your efforts to be honest, but if coming out in person rather than online works better for you, then keep doing that. (Because let’s be honest, since when is a dating profile a bastion of truth-telling?) It’s everyone’s choice of course, but I think it’s important for bisexuals (and bisexuals in opposite-sex relationships!) to be out to people in their lives because it helps to counter all those stereotypes you listed in your question, and it also helps to fight against invisibility, which is one of the leading factors of depression and anxiety in bisexual men (another fact I learned to counter bi stereotypes).

So please, keep coming out, and keep fighting the good fight. I know how tiresome it is to have to defend yourself constantly, but you will be rewarded with ample karma margaritas. That’s how karma works, right?

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