When and how did you realize you were bisexual?
May 24, 2010 10:04 AM   Subscribe

Sexuality seems to be a very fluid and complex matter, and perhaps bisexuality even more so. My question is, when and how did you realize you were bisexual? And on a side note, I'd like to hear some opinions on a unrequited love situation.

Hi, I'm bisexual male in my early 20s, initially attracted to women but came to have feelings for men in my mid/late teens. Which has led me to this question, how is it for everyone else?

I've read through posts on bisexuality, but I'm interested here in hearing personal accounts and stories, if you don't mind sharing of course. Did you always like both genders, or were you more gay before and later experienced heterosexual attractions, or are you mostly straight/gay but have fallen for one specific person of the same/opposite gender? Ofcourse I'm sure the real circumstances are much more complex and profound than what I stated above. And opinions from people who do not identify themselves as "bisexual" are obviously welcome too if you feel it is relevant. I'm also especially curious about male bisexuality, since I am a guy myself, and also it seems to me (perhaps I'm wrong) that women's sexuality is more fluid than men.

This next question is a little off topic, but I thought I'd post here instead of making a new one.

I deeply care for a friend who is straight, and he knows about my sexuality, but I have never expressed my feelings for him, for several reasons.

First of all, my feelings for him isn't a typical romantic attraction, but it is more like a very intense friendship and love, and when I'm with him, we are just naturally very good friends, without me trying to hide my feelings. But that's not to say I'm not hurt when thinking that he will never like me in the same way, or jealous of his girlfriend or future wife! But that's only a small part of it, and my love for him is predominant and I feel greatful that I got to know him. And just because he's straight, I can't stop loving him, and I'm fine with it. Even if I do fall for someone else in the future, I'm pretty sure I'll like him always in a special way too.

The second and the obvious reason why I haven't told him is because it probably wouldn't change anything for the better. He is extremely considerate and I wouldn't want him to feel like he needs to be careful of what he says or does because he knows how I feel.

But I've been pondering lately about this situation, and sometimes I feel like since we are such good friends, maybe I should tell him out of honesty. I've had these kind of situations before, but it is the first time I feel like perhaps I should tell him, because we have a very close emotional connection, and in a way it wouldn't seem so unnatural if he knew. Especially since I don't expect anything in return from him. But if I were in a position where a good friend confessed his/her love, I might feel a little overwhelmed. But more than anything, I don't want to act out of self complacency. I care about him, and I'd like to just be of his support when I can, and that's all that matters, and I'm sure that's all that I can do.

It's not like I'm desperately suffering from this dilemma or anything, but it's always refreshing and inspiring to hear what someone other than me feels. So if you have any insights, let me know!

Thanks for your time!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (11 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Despite being in a gay-friendly crowd since I was a teen, it never occurred to me to be interested in members of my own gender. I fielded a few flattering offers and still never really ran the idea through my mind. But I had issues of other sorts that I was working on and when I finally LIKED myself, liked being a girl, I left myself open to more of the world. Some short time later I surprised myself when the very very strong urge came on to kiss the girl who had been intensely talking to me at a party. I didn't even mention it out loud for a while because I had to chew on what it meant in my head first. It was several days of the thoughts before I realized it didn't go away with sobriety, daylight, or time. That this was ME. I think perhaps I would have always been bi had I any admiration for the role of women in our society when I was young and it took finally finding that place for females (mainly myself). (Of course, it's not at all that simple, but then the whole story would be a book.)

Your second question reminds me of the intense love I had for a close friend for many years. Nearly a year after my marriage was over, we found ourselves both available and in a position of freedom to express that deep caring. We both discovered over the next few months that our intense love wasn't necessarily sexual, but a deep spiritual bond that no longer felt jealousy over the others relationships once we understood where it was we were really connected. I was a "groomsmaid" at his wedding a few years later. I don't know if my anecdote will be helpful, but I am hoping you find a way to express that love without harming the relationships around you.
posted by _paegan_ at 10:43 AM on May 24, 2010

Unrequited love due to sexual orientation may be one of the most painful steps you will have to go through in your life.

(Been there, done that...)

The tone you give to your question makes me understand intuitively that limerence is involved. If you are positive that I am mistaken in this understanding, the rest of my answer below need not apply.

So if limerence is involved, no matter how you rationalize and what you tell him and yourself, chances are your limerence will grow to be painful, and he won't reciprocate. It will be painful for you and awkward for him for a while, this is normal and part of a "process". To haste this process, I'd recommend you have an open discussion with him. You need to tell him what you feel, and you need to actually hear him saying "I like you but not in this way". Your hesitation is normal, it is a rationalization of your fear of rejection.

If you are not behaving like a psycho (stalking, hysteria, etc), and your friend is not an a-hole, he will emphasize and support you during this process; and your friendship may actually survive the ordeal.

You could see it like grieving: you won't make the next step before you subconsciously register the loss (of a potential romantic relationship), which can happen only after you hear his views on the topic. If you leave things unsaid, the situation will linger, and you will suffer more and more over a longer period of time.

Respect yourself; speak to him ASAP to allow your feelings to outgrow this stage.
posted by knz at 10:55 AM on May 24, 2010

I was about 13 or 14 when I figured out I was into dudes as well as chicks. I'm not sure how I figured it out. But, my bisexuality is mostly, well, sexual. I've never been in love with a man, or even dated one. Just lots of really enjoyable hookups. And now I'm married to a woman.

But, I have had male friends whom I've wished I could lie down and cuddle with. But aside from real drunken nights, nothing has come of any of that even.
posted by Netzapper at 11:05 AM on May 24, 2010

i'm female. i started messing around with girls in a doctor sort or way when i was 8 or so. i remember people telling me how cute a certain guy was and i just didn't understand, so i started asking questions and learning what was cute in boys. around 11 or so i stopped all the doctor play and turned "boy crazy"- i feel this was just a reaction to feeling like i didn't understand what made boys cute. a year or so later i started having dreams - i'd be kissing a boy, feeling nothing - bored really, and then i'd close my eyes, open them and there would be a girl and suddenly it was like the fourth of july - fireworks, tingles, excitement - then i started letting thoughts of girls creep in when i was getting off. somewhere in there i actually became attracted to guys.

so i guess for me, i've probably always been a lesbian that leans towards bisexuality who learned through socialization how to like guys. now, my dating history looks opposite - long relationships with guys and short, intense affairs with gals - but i blame that on having terrible taste in (straight) girls.

after years of heartbreak, my rule became "don't tell anyone you love them if they/you are unable to move forward with a relationship" be it because they're already involved, or because they're straight, or because they're moving in a week. it has about a 99% to increase drama and less than 1% of ending like a movie.
posted by nadawi at 1:03 PM on May 24, 2010 [3 favorites]

My 'aha' moment came when I realised I was nervous to meet her parents.
posted by heatherann at 2:24 PM on May 24, 2010

Oh man, this is right up my alley with the bisexual-unrequited-love-with-a-best-friend stuff. I'm gonna address both your questions, just-- This is a weird, twisty-turny story, and the answers bleed into each other. I've never actually written this all out before, and it's probably the one thing that's most defined who I am today; hard stuff like this can really make you a better person, so, HARK!, or whatever.

I'm female. I'm 25 now. I found out lesbians existed when I was 11. I was horrified. I don't know why. I wasn't disgusted, just horrified. I wasn't horrified when I found out about gay guys; my mom mentioned that her coworker was gay and what that meant, once, and my father practically raised a gay kid before he had me (not his own kid; I think he'd been spurned by his family and fell in with my dad and a bunch of other blues/Southern rock groupies in the 70s) and somehow I just didn't have much of a reaction. So the horror was odd. It wasn't that I subconsciously thought I was a lesbian and it scared me, either; I didn't. I think I had just never considered that women could be gay and it blew my mind. Anyway, I got over the lesbian thing pretty fast because my best friend at the time was a more worldly 11 year old girl -- no sexual history, she just followed a lot of adult music and musicians so she knew about gay people already -- and she reacted REALLY harshly to my horror and told me it wasn't a big deal. I was over it in a week or so -- and when I say over it, I mean completely: I'd actually come to like some lesbian characters in books and movies and such and thought lesbian romances were as cute as any other.

This best friend turned out to be bisexual, like pretty obviously, perhaps by the time she was 12, but definitely by the time she was 13. I was fine with that.

Me, on the other hand... well, I wasn't physically attracted to boys. Every school year, I would purposely pick a boy to have a crush on. Mostly they were boys whose personality I found attractive, but I didn't even really want to kiss them or anything. I actually picked out pretty ugly boys to crush on, to be honest, just because that part was so inconsequential to me. I felt a tiny surge of lust for a boy I had a crush on once during gym because he was in really good shape; toned arms are one of the few male qualities that'll do that for me. But that was literally the sole instance of that feeling during middle school. What nadawi says about learning what to like about guys through socialization rings true in my case; I'd learned that girls were supposed to have crushes on boys, and talk about those crushes, so that's what I did. I knew I didn't really like the guys that much but I didn't think I was faking it, if that makes any sense; I thought that's just what crushes felt like and that everyone talked them up.

I hit puperty sometime around age 12. Once I got around to masturbating, I could masturbate to the thought of straight sex so I still assumed I was straight... except it wasn't exactly that I found guys sexually attractive, it was the thought of the girl. (It's still the case that unless I know and like a guy already, the male form is actually repulsive to me; pictures of muscular male bodies make me sort of nauseated and penises freak me out. When I like a guy, somehow that changes and I'll be physically attracted, though not to the extent I am to any random female body.) I actually did wonder about that a bit; I figured that maybe I just relate to the girl more, so I think about her more. I wasn't entirely sure, though, and it didn't seem like an answerable quandry so I didn't think about it much. I wasn't very bothered by the idea of being a lesbian, at least, I just wasn't sure how to know and assumed I wasn't.

So, uh, back to this best friend, if it's not obvious how this is going.

Unlike me, she didn't pick people to have crushes on or anything. She never talked about boys. When we were 13, we wondered if she had a crush on a boy in her homeroom, but she denied it and I believed her -- partly because I think she really was in that uncertain "I could maybe like him, I guess, I don't know" pre-crush state, and partly because she'd never liked anyone and I never thought she'd start.

Our other friends pushed her into dancing with that guy at the 8th grade homecoming. I felt... mostly I felt a broad swath of negative emotion, nothing so precise as mere jealousy, but I was pretty sure there was some jealousy mixed in and that was really weird. I didn't know what to make of that because I'd never thought of her that way. I wondered if maybe I was jealous because I wanted to dance with the guy *I* had a crush on, but I didn't even like my crush that much -- I'd recycled him from two years prior for lack of better options and he was even less appealing the second time around -- and it didn't seem to add up in my head. I also kind of wanted to punch my friend's dance partner in the face, but he was a really good person, and smart and attractive, and I would have been thrilled if a friend had dated him. So I was just quieter than usual, felt a bit lost, and then never thought about it again.

Okay, so that was my intention, but it didn't exactly work out that way.

My best friend, I think, assumed I was rather ragingly straight; after all, every year she knew me I had worked myself up over some guy or other, and though it was a concentrated effort on my part I was a pretty emotional teenager and could even get worked up into sincere tears over crush-related stuff. I was convincing, not only to others but also myself. So by the time we were 13 she hadn't even outright said she was bisexual or anything -- it turns out she wasn't really sure yet -- but it was pretty obvious to me that she was at least a lesbian. I wish I could explain why it was obvious, but it's hard to put into words -- she was very femme so it wasn't anything stereotypical -- and I wasn't the only one who thought that. And maybe this is part of why I thought that or maybe not, but regardless: she started flirting with me. I think she thought I was safe practice since I was straight. Hard to know. I know now that she wasn't attracted to me at all, nor did she suspect I was attracted to her, but she said some pretty outrageously sexual things to me. The first handful of times it didn't much effect me, I just laughed it off. Then at some point, I don't know why, she said something and I actually stopped and wondered if she was joking, because if she wasn't joking, then I could... but why would I do that?

I really can't do justice to the weird doublethink I had going on. I didn't care if I was bisexual, I just didn't think I was. It's partly because I was just used to thinking of myself as straight -- I had crushes on guys every year, right? -- and partly because I wasn't sure how to handle thinking of her as a friend for three years and then suddenly seeing her in another way -- that's what felt wrong, not the whole lesbian thing, and if I couldn't even consider that then I didn't have to think about the lesbian thing. Afterall if she was joking, and I tried to kiss her or something, that would be way too weird and I'd ruin everything so it just couldn't be true. The time I spent thinking about it would last as long as the immediate moment these things came up; thirty seconds here and there, and then NEVER again until the next time she flirted with me, or whatever. My mental conversations were like, "Wait, am I attracted to her? No, no, that can't be right, nooooo. And so I guess I'm not gay, probably."

Have you ever seen a toddler try to shove different shaped blocks into holes, and it's like they suspect there's a way to put it all together but they can't quite make out what to do? That's what my thought process was like. I could see all the pieces, and I had this inkling that there was an answer, but when I'd pick the pieces up and try to do something with them I just didn't have the capacity for it.

That changed. This friend had a problem with depression and self-harming. One evening, she said something online that lead me to believe she had harmed herself, or was about to do so. I was so frantic that somehow it was easy to tell my mom -- I gracefully screamed that my friend was going to kill herself -- and my mom called her mom, and we rushed over to her place.

When we showed up, she was the first thing I saw when I walked in, and-- She was fine, just dazed and floored that we had bothered because, I dunno, she never thought anyone truly cared about her. Our moms started talking and she wandered the couple steps into her room and I just automatically followed her.

You have to understand, she meant the world to me and I had really, truly thought she might be dead when I showed up. I was completely overcome with a ton of emotions, love and relief and fear and-- honestly, I have never been that out of sorts again in my entire life, and I've lived through my dad actually dying and all the near sexual assaults I've talked about on MeFi before and some other pretty messed up situations. Plus I was 13, so I was not equipped to handle that sort of thing. And then among all those feelings, as soon as I turned the corner into her room and saw her sit blankly down on her bed, this mix of romantic love and lust just slammed into me. In literally less than a second, I had this urge to shove her onto the bed, and, well, interesting to note: I didn't actually know that you could go down on a girl, I thought oral sex was something you only did to guys, but that was exactly what I wanted to do and I had no fucking idea what to make of that, where it came from or why it didn't seem gross. (I had to look it up later and I didn't even know what to search for.) And when that urge hit, that was exactly what I intended to do, before I even realized what I was considering.

Then before I'd even taken the next step I'd thought, wait, our parents are in the next room and the door is open, and that was enough to snap me out of it before the next second when I sat down next to her.

Since all this had taken literally two seconds, not all of my mind had caught up -- it felt like my reactions were lagging several seconds behind in some queue and I couldn't edit them -- and I told her I loved her and kissed her on the cheek. Then, thank god, she went completely catatonic; for her, it was like pressing an off switch, very odd to watch. For me, it was like getting doused with cold water. It only lasted a few seconds, but I felt more in control of myself and I was glad I hadn't really done anything. (Once I was older I was even more glad, because if she'd gone along with it I would have been taking advantage of her mental state, in a way.) The "I love you" was pretty ambiguous, I made no efforts to qualify it, and she took it in a friendly way by default.

I went home. I kept thinking that when I hadn't been consciously thinking about it, my only reason for stopping myself was that our parents were in the next room. It hadn't been, wait, I'm not attracted to her like that. It hadn't been wait, we're just friends. I couldn't seem to doublethink my way out of it anymore; I'd seen where the pieces went and there was no forgetting it. I started having dreams about her, some of which were just entirely lustful, and that seemed weird because she was a pretty awkward-looking kid. I had sort of assumed up until that point that I didn't feel much in the way of lust because the guys I picked to crush on weren't much to look at, but apparently that didn't matter. I didn't know what I was supposed to do about any of it; I was still weirded out by the whole friends-to-something-more possibility, and I didn't think she liked me like that anyway. I decided I was pretty obviously bisexual, so there was that. I didn't really tell anyone because I wasn't sure how I felt about her knowing that -- she might start reading me the wrong (meaning correct) way.

Then high school started. It was much bigger than our middle school so I didn't have any classes with her, I joined debate so that took up all my time after school and on Fridays and Saturdays, and, to be honest, I got pretty argumentative and self righteous and I couldn't have been great company. All this meant that she started pulling away from me; just talking less, seeing each other less. While at first I could chalk that up to my lack of free time, she eventually quit responding to my phone calls and e-mails. That really freaked me out.

So I wrote her a few letters and gave them to her in person. I started out pretty normal, casual, just trying to find out if she was mad at me or something. She might have answered one of the first ones, I don't quite remember, but certainly no response to anything past that. After months, I got pretty desperate and the letters reflected that. I can't remember exactly what I wrote, but eventually I flat out told her I was in love with her.

But the thing is, I wasn't sure if she was actually reading them. It's hard to explain why it seemed likely that she wouldn't -- she would sort of clam up about anything that might be an emotional blow, and she was fragile in a lot of ways -- but as it turns out, I was right. She wasn't. I didn't know that at the time, though.

Finally I got a mutual friend to arrange for her to talk to me in person, this some time after I'd given her the letter telling her I was in love with her. I met up with her after school one day, and obviously I was nervous. She was completely silent, though. That's not an exaggeration, either; if it sounds awkward to meet up for someone to talk and they literally don't say a SINGLE word, yes: it is. I didn't know how to broach the specifics of the more confessional letters, and part of me thought maybe she HAD read them and her silence was just rejection. I was terrified of her rejecting me beyond all doubt so I couldn't bring myself to just ask. It seemed hopeless anyway, since whether she knew or not, she obviously didn't feel the same.

So instead, after asking a bunch of basic questions, I said, "Aren't you going to say anything?"

She said: "There's nothing to say."

After that blood-from-a-stone exercise I just sighed and walked off, and was pretty ruined for like, god, two years over it -- more, depending on your metric. I had no idea if she knew how I felt or not, and if that was why she suddenly hated me. I told people I was bisexual since it didn't matter anymore.

Then a guy asked me out. We dated two and a half years until he broke up with me after high school. My now-husband consoled me and asked me out. We finished college. He finished grad school. We got married. We moved and settled down.

Then last year I got a message from her on Facebook, nearly 11 years after the last time we spoke.

She apologized profusely for how she had treated me. She explained that it was all her fault, that I had been a wonderful friend and she wasn't sure what she had been so upset about but she tended to do destructive things like that to herself. She'd recently been working on pulling her life together after finally getting her depression under control. It was really... nice to hear all that, after wondering for years what I had done wrong. Her explanation also didn't surprise me -- somehow I'd never been able to be mad at her for it, even though it had hurt me so much; I knew how she was and how she had trouble with things and it had always felt like some of that was in play. Hearing from her, though -- that completely surprised me.

And that would have all been so wonderful and simple if it weren't for the fact that she mentioned she was going through some stuff her mom had put in storage and she had found some old letters from me. See, I had always figured she'd thrown them away if she hadn't read them. After hearing that, I wondered whether she threw the later ones away or not; maybe she'd only found the early ones so far. I had no idea if she'd read the really important one; she hadn't mentioned what any of them said, and it seemed awkward to bring it up in case she was trying to spare me the awkwardness or just didn't want to talk about it. It occurred to me that my feelings for her could have made her really uncomfortable, and that even if she wanted to apologize for her reaction it wouldn't necessarily mean she was okay with those feelings.

At first it seemed not to matter whether she read it or not. After all, I'm married now, and it was a long time ago. I managed to tease out in later conversations that she didn't have a clue about that one letter, unless she was playing dumb -- which seemed possible, too. So we got to talking a lot more and hit it off again; we're both into oddly similar stuff and have similar taste in everything despite the whole decade that passed. We got to be close friends, and then I started feeling positively weird about her not knowing; like you're wrestling with now, it seemed dishonest somehow. Also, I have a tendency to flirt with female friends, just in a fun way, but I was a bit tied up by the situation because if she did know and I flirted with her she could get entirely the wrong idea, or it could make her feel weird. I felt really stilted in conversation because I had to keep checking myself. Then on top of that, I am still somewhat attracted to her, just not in a take-my-flirting-seriously kind of way, and I wondered if that was kind of dishonest too.

So finally I decided that the honest thing to do would be to just ask her about it, and if she didn't know, to tell her, and just deal with however she reacted; after all, the whole point is it could conceivably weird her out and she should be allowed to make decisions based on complete knowledge. If there was no question of it bothering her, then there'd be no reason to bring it up. So I told her, and she was floored and took it extremely well and was actually rather touched and flattered by it. So that's how I found out all the stuff she felt at a given time that I wrote about above; she hadn't been attracted to me and doesn't remember purposely flirting, she hadn't read the letters because she was afraid what they might say (she'd thought I might be really mad or something), etc.

That was probably a little less than a year ago and nothing weird came out of it; it was a huge relief for me, and she knows that I care about her a lot and appreciates that. I'm still a bit stilted about complimenting or flirting with her but I've gotten less self-conscious about it; talking about that helped a lot. We're very close and it feels wonderful to have her back.

As for the whole unrequited thing... As I said, I still find her attractive so that could have feasibly been a big problem. However, I managed to get a good perspective on it because of a couple steps most people don't get to go through. Here's what this convoluted journey has taught me:

1. I never thought I'd talk to her again, so just being in contact with her seems like such an impossibly huge blessing I'm ecstatic without needing more. I've always wanted her to be happy more than I wanted her to be with me -- my entire childhood was consumed worrying about how unhappy she was -- so being able to see her happy for any reason is so meaningful to me I can't even put it into words. It really feels like a miracle, every time, and I get choked up over it easily. It's making me tear up right now.

A lot of people don't get to lose a friend and have them come back. In your post, you seem to have a good perspective on being happy for your friend. Really cherish that. Focus on how grateful you are to have him as a source of happiness in your life. Remember that if your life had gone differently, you might not even have him around as a friend.

2. I had over a decade to get over her. This was actually a lot harder than it sounds. What finally worked is I had the example of an insane ex-friend who was absolutely obsessed with a girl who did not at all return his attention and to whom he wasn't even all that close. This went on for years after she'd outright rejected him and he hadn't seen her. I very much did not want to be that guy, even if I had somewhat more justifiable grounds for taking a while to get over my friend. Differences aside, I recognized that it was a mirror on my situation because we were both pining away for someone who clearly did not want us.

So before I could move on, I had to think hard about what I wanted my life to be about -- this guy's life was about this girl that didn't want him -- and to tell myself that happiness had to be possible without her. I'm a romantic at heart but there's nothing romantic about loving someone so much that it hurts; I decided love shouldn't cause me pain, and if it did, I would have to cut it loose. So first I told myself she was not coming back, and to believe otherwise would keep me from a lot of worthwhile things and the happiness I could bring other people. I'd be just like that guy, withholding myself from everyone and accomplishing nothing, for nothing. And then to quell that little voice that kept saying, "But what if she does?" I told myself that if she did, I would be as good to her as I can be, that I would be grateful and lucky to have her back, and I'd be healthy enough to enjoy all the good without agonizing over what I don't have -- for both our sakes. It would be the icing on my already awesome life, not the cake I'd be sitting around starving for.

I'm just surprised things actually worked out that way. I'm also glad she waited as long as she did to apologize, because if she hadn't, I don't think I would have been fully prepared. It's one thing to type it out, but it took years and years to really internalize that stuff -- and just when I'd think I had it down, I'd hit some new level of acceptance that made it even easier.

So maybe you haven't had to live through something similar, but imagine that guy I described. Now don't be him.

3. I have an amazing marriage. If I were single I suspect I'd find it more difficult to keep from pursuing her, but I'm still not sure I would waste my time and the friendship on it. If she were attracted to me I guess I wouldn't see any reason not to, but otherwise it would probably just put a strain on things, and I'd rather keep her around than ruin it by wanting her too much. Like you say, I still like her "in a special way" too, but I find it makes my life more beautiful to have more than one person that I care deeply about -- not in a polyamorous way where I could act the special-er feelings, but I'm happy with what I have.

Some people would be too tortured by that and it would overwhelm the positive stuff. It's for good reason that people suggest not hanging out with someone you love if they can't love you back. It's the easiest solution. It works. Plus a lot of people say they're in love with their best friend, but they're in love with them in a kind of selfish way -- and there's nothing wrong with that -- where they really don't value their friend's happiness more than they want their friend to be with them. Some friendships just don't get to that level before one person develops serious romantic feelings. When it comes down to it, they would actually rather not be around the person if they can't have them romantically, even though that decision is never easy.

But if your primary concern is really their happiness; if they mean enough to you that you'd rather have them in a platonic capacity than not at all; if you could be truly happy to see them happy with someone else -- then it's more than worthwhile to remain friends. It sounds like you have a good perspective here, too. Make sure of that: it should get easier with time, not harder.

Personally, I think being honest about this helps a lot. If you take care with your words, both of you can feel more at ease. It's possible that your friend isn't the type to take that sort of thing well and you would know better than us. But if there's a chance it could go well, I think it could do some good: it will make it seem less fraught, and that makes the situation easier to deal with. Maybe you should mull things over for a while longer and see if it seems less important later, but in my experience keeping something secret gives it more power than it should have.

Anyway, good luck. I hope things go well for you, whatever you decide.
posted by Nattie at 3:35 PM on May 24, 2010 [15 favorites]

I'm female and consider myself bisexual/queer and knew at a very young age, maybe 12. The thing that did it for me, were Jackie Collins novels (Don't ask me why I was reading Jackie Collins at age 12). I just knew when I was reading some of the scenes in the book that it was something I was sexually into.

Frankly, at many moments I have wished I was gay or straight, but I am not. I went for a long period where I exclusively dated women. My only serious long-term relationship has been with a women. But, now I am more or less at peace with it and just figure whatever happens happens.

What I find hardest about bisexuality, is the general population's lack of understanding of it. So for example, people I work with, who knew me as a lesbian, more or less, were a bit confused when I started dating men. And also, my relatives, especially my grandmother, who would just rather I was dating men, getting married, and having a family. So, for me those aspects are the most difficult and complicated.
posted by hazyspring at 3:50 PM on May 24, 2010

I'm a woman, and thus not exactly what you're looking for, but I realized at some point a long time ago that I was interested in both boys and girls. At that point, the heavy compulsory heterosexuality trends some other posters talked about kicked in, and I assumed it'd be okay if I talked about boys and ignored the parts about girls. This wasn't an entirely conscious choice at first -- I realized my bisexual inclinations before realizing i was sexual. I spent a long time identifying as straight, trying to convince myself (and others) that was true. Somewhere in there, I had a moment of "that person's hot. Oh. wait. That's a girl." That part, timed somewhere close to where i became aware of sex in general as something I wanted, was probably the other "half" of realizing things, if it makes sense. Through that all, I was dating and kissing boys/men and assuming that I would just keep doing that forever. Which, to be fair, I might, but it's nice to no longer exclude the option of being with someone because of their gender.
posted by mismatched at 4:47 PM on May 24, 2010

I'm female-probably not a perfect fit, but still.... I think I started to be suspicious about my sexual orientation when I realized that I noticed hot women way more than hot guys. I mean, I am distracted by beautiful women the way men are. I have trouble focusing, I blush, all the stupid crap we all outgrew in puberty. And I have outgrown it with men, but not with other women. I attribute this to the fact that I am simply more relaxed and comfortable with the straight half of myself than the lesbian side of myself. I tried a few relationships with women and missed penetrative sex. Thus, here I am. Married very happily to a man but still occasionally jumping into bed with a woman. I can't imagine slamming the door on sex with women entirely, nor can I imagine eliminating sex with men either. Thus, I land on the bisexual square. And it is very nice that I can envision the entire world as my sexual oyster-no exceptions.
posted by supercapitalist at 8:43 PM on May 24, 2010

Nattie -- amazing story.

To everyone else -- Nattie's epic scroller: very worth it.

Like you say, I still like her "in a special way" too, but I find it makes my life more beautiful to have more than one person that I care deeply about -- not in a polyamorous way where I could act the special-er feelings, but I'm happy with what I have.
...is such an important piece of wisdom, and well-put. In a life in which it's so easy to come to think of yourself as looking for just ONE. REALLY. AMAZING. PERSON to try to life-partner with--a narrative we're beat over the head with--it's important to remember (or to realize) that it doesn't have to be like that. "I find it makes my life more beautiful to have more than one person that I care deeply about." Me too.

I don't really have any advice for the OP, other than, I went through a period in my life where I really tried to convince myself that I was probably bisexual. This was when I was around 16. I went as far as to masturbate to pictures of naked guys, thinking I could "unlearn the heterocentric bias instilled in my sexuality by a heteronormative culture." The attempts, they did nothing. A few years later, I tried making out with a guy. It probably didn't help that I wasn't attracted to him at all (I'm still not sure whether it makes sense for me to say I'm sometimes "attracted" to guys, but my eyes are definitely sometimes drawn to "pretty" guys). The make-out also fell flat: I felt nothing.

It's been a few years since all that (I'm 27 now), and I've basically concluded that the extent of my "bisexuality" is my eyes being drawn to pretty boys once in a while--which is probably what I felt when I was 16, and I thought that that must mean--somehow, deep down--that, given the right circumstances, I'd want to have sex with a guy. Now, that may still be true (there's still a part of me that holds out hope for the "heteronormative brainwashing" theory), but as I get older the likelihood of its being true seems increasingly vanishingly small. The thought of having sex with a guy really feels like the opposite of sexy to me.

So that's about where my story stops being in any way connected to yours, I guess, since it seems like you actually are bisexual, but I just want to keep going a bit and say that, having basically given up on the "might I really, secretly, somehow, be bisexual?" question, it's opened the doors for me to think about other kinds of love, as opposed to other kinds of sexuality. I think what's probably most likely for me is that I'm more or less straight up hetero, but in the absence of having a conceptual framework for understanding feelings for people close to me that don't fit neatly into either "romantic love" or "platonic love," I've tried to use the language of sexuality to figure out my love-confusion. This is probably because theorizing sexuality is so much more what's-happening-in-our-culture-right-now than is theorizing love, and this has been true for my entire life (since 1982). No wonder I tried to fit my love pegs into sexuality holes (uh).

Anyway, realizing that opened me up to some interesting ideas that seemed to apply more to my actual life and experiences. Romantic friendship, for one, which I think I would probably say I've experienced with both males and females. I'm still a neophyte really in this field, but books like Plato's Symposium and Michael Rocke's Forbidden Friendships (neither of which, I hate to admit, I've finished) have been interesting reading. C. J. Pascoe's Dude, You're a Fag, a case study of homophobia in an American high school, had amazing revelations for me about the relationship between homophobia and straight male masculine identity. I can't recommend that one highly enough.

Anyway, that's been my experience as someone "who do[es] not identify themselves as 'bisexual'". Sorry it probably doesn't help you so much with your problem. I'm not sure what you should do.
posted by skwt at 10:39 PM on May 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

I couldn't think of a more emphatic way to phrase it in the moment, but can I change (in your mind):

"--a narrative we're beat over the head with--"

to: "--a narrative we're beat the fuck over the head with--"?

posted by skwt at 11:15 PM on May 24, 2010

« Older Where can I send my mini-shampoos?   |   Can I beat the heat in the dessert in July? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.