I'm really not. Really.
September 18, 2010 3:19 PM   Subscribe

My friend asked if I was bisexual and I am feeling really angry about it. Should I be mad at her?

So I'm a guy in my mid-20s and my friend is a girl who is a few years younger. We've known each other for about five years and have been pretty close. We chat on a weekly basis about all sorts of things and she has come to visit me a few times in the past year. All things considered we have a good friendship. Last night she tells me that a mutual friend, guy in early 20s who is gay, asked her if I was bi. At first I thought it was some kind of joke, but when I realized she seriously wanted to know my answer I was really taken aback.

I was really angry at her question and her willingness to think that I was bisexual; I'm really not. We've had long conversations in the past concerning our respective relationships and it just feels like now she's telling me, "Oh don't worry about your bad luck with the ladies, there's always the guys! You're bi right? You like men?". She wouldn't be asking me this unless she thought it could be true, right?

My experience with relationships has been pretty poor, the few that I've had haven't lasted for more than a few months. Granted I just started even going out on dates and it is getting better as time goes by, it's always been a sore spot for me. Add in a twist, I have a gigantic crush on this girl and if it weren't for the distance I would tell her how I feel. This whole thing feels like a slap in the face.

Should I be feeling this angry? Am I over blowing the whole thing? I don't know how to handle this without seeming like I'm either bi and trying really hard to cover it up or just really homophobic.

email: timcashback@gmail.com
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (36 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I have a gigantic crush on this girl

I'm going to guess this is likely the primary reason you are upset. You feel like your chances with this girl have been dashed for good. Maybe you feel like you are going to appear gay to every other girl and thus none of them will ever want you. But this, of course, isn't true: as you yourself said, your luck with the ladies is improving.

What the ladies really like is self-confidence. Laugh it off and move on.
posted by thejoshu at 3:28 PM on September 18, 2010 [15 favorites]


If you ever have the option of being mad or not being mad, go for not being mad. There's no reason to think she views bisexuality as a bad thing, so it's not like asking if you are a nazi. She was asking on a friend's behalf, so she might have felt some obligation to ask whether or not she thought it was likely. And finally, examine the possibility that you're not really friends with this girl, but maintaining contact because you're in love with her and hoping she'll come around. You might have more success in your dating life if you had less contact with someone that you're pining over but is unavailable.
posted by bluejayk at 3:28 PM on September 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


it just feels like now she's telling me, "Oh don't worry about your bad luck with the ladies, there's always the guys! You're bi right? You like men?".

I'm guessing she didn't mean it that way at all. Anyways, as I understand it, bisexual folks don't date X gender because they've been unsuccessful with gender Y. The people I know who identify as bisexual like men and women just about equally!

Just tell her you're not bi... I'm sure she didn't mean to offend you.
posted by torisaur at 3:28 PM on September 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is it possible internalized homophobia could be a little bit (or a large part) of your reaction to this?
posted by saveyoursanity at 3:30 PM on September 18, 2010 [53 favorites]


If somebody asked me something like that, I think I'd be a little irked at their forwardness, but nothing worse than that. It's not like they would have accused me of something.

OTOH if a guy I had a gigantic crush on asked if I was bisexual, and also told me he was asking on behalf of a mutual female friend, it would be all I could do not to boot his ass into the middle of next week.

But then I might wonder how I could blame this guy for asking, since we supposedly are friends and I've obviously done an excellent job of hiding my feelings from him. I might wonder if part of my problems were caused by my own unwillingness to ask for the things I really want.
posted by tel3path at 3:30 PM on September 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


It sounds like she was asking because her gay friend may have been interested in you. I think you're overreacting. It has to hurt that a person you have a crush on is seemingly trying to point you in the direction of a relationship with someone else, though.

You handle it by telling her "no, I'm not bi" and letting it drop.

"Oh don't worry about your bad luck with the ladies, there's always the guys! You're bi right? You like men?". She wouldn't be asking me this unless she thought it could be true, right?


The possibility that you like men may have crossed her mind, but keep in mind that people who are attracted to those of the same sex aren't gay because they had no luck with the opposite sex. She isn't trying to imply that you're a failure at love. Take a deep breath, brother, and ask yourself if it's worth tormenting yourself over an unrequited crush.
posted by corey flood at 3:31 PM on September 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have a gigantic crush on this girl

Theeeeeeere it is, right there. This is why you're angry. Because, in your mind at least, this puts you in her "friend zone." It's not about your lack of dating experience with other people; that's a red herring, and the sooner you acknowledge it, the better. It's okay to have hurt feelings about this, but you very likely would not be so hurt and angry if it weren't for the fact that you've been carrying a torch for this girl.

As far as "how to handle this," just tell her you're not bi, and do it calmly without flipping out on her. You could very gently ask her, "Why would you think that?" if you really want to know why she even entertained the notion that you might be bi, but that might lead to a very uncomfortable place for both of you.
posted by Gator at 3:33 PM on September 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


The fact that you're (potentially) this angry about the question suggests that you've got some issue here. Given the circumstances you've described, she was clearly asking as a prelude to setting you up with her gay friend, so there's certainly no slur intended on her part; the negative reaction to the question is all on your side.

So no, you clearly shouldn't be mad at her. But you should be asking yourself why you had such a strong reaction. This is not to suggest that you're actually bi or gay and in denial (though this is possible). It's more that it looks like you've got some unexamined prejudices that you'd be better off confronting.
posted by fatbird at 3:33 PM on September 18, 2010 [13 favorites]


On the one hand, it can be annoying when someone doesn't know us as well as we think they should. It's like getting a birthday present that doesn't at all fit our interests. "Wow," you think to yourself, "did you really think I'd like this? How well do you actually know me?" Plus, this is a girl you're crushing on, and it hurts a bit that of all people she doesn't know something that you consider a very important part of you. So on that note, I understand your anger.

On the other hand...the way you've worded a couple of things here seem a bit problematic (like about her "willingness" to think you might be bi). It might be useful to see if you can separate this from the loaded nature of sexual identity. Take seafood. You've never been a seafood fan. Your favorite food is steak. When you talk about food you talk about how much you love red meat, or when you go out to eat as a group you always choose a steakhouse. So this girl heard from someone else - another seafood fan - that you might be into it, so she asks you if you are.

The natural reaction is to say, "Seafood? Nah, not my thing," and the conversation moves on from there. Would you be this upset at the girl if this was all about food habits? If not...well, your anger is coming from more than just feeling a bit bad about someone not knowing you as well as you think they should. I don't want to say it's definitely homophobia - but I don't want to say there's not any of that in there is part of the mix. I think you need to do some soul-searching on your own about why it might be so horrible if someone thinks you're not completely straight.

Please don't be angry at the girl for asking. For some people, being bi is the equivalent of liking both steak and seafood, and they can't imagine why in the world anyone would be offended for maybe liking both. I really think part of your anger is related to your crush, and it's not fair to put that anger onto her.
posted by Salieri at 3:35 PM on September 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


So, I'm a bisexual dude... so, that flavors where I'm coming from on this.

But, she just asked, is all. She wondered if, in fact, you might like to date a dude. I can understand where this can look like she's offering you some conciliation gift. But, she was just asking.

Your answer is, "Nah, I'm straight," and everybody goes on with their lives.

Depending on this girl's social circles and personal world view, it's possible that flexible sexual identities are part of how she views the world. It's got nothing to do with how she sees you, but has more to do with offering you the freedom to define your own identity on a continuing basis. Personally, I've seen so many people drift through so many different kinds of relationships that the very idea of unvarying, lifelong sexual identity strikes me as a little bizarre.
posted by Netzapper at 3:36 PM on September 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


A good place to start here is to look at WHY you're so angry. There's no point to the question "should I be angry?" if you don't understand the anger itself, or your other feelings that are contributing to the anger.

From an objective point of view, your description makes it sound like your friend-crush didn't assume anything about you, and didn't misrepresent you to anyone.
posted by so_gracefully at 3:36 PM on September 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


It sounds like she was asking because her gay friend may have been interested in you.

This was exactly my feeling when I read your post. As a female who is frequently [relatively speaking] asked if I am bi, or vegetarian, or a democrat I just sort of roll with it. If one of those questions pushes my buttons, it's usually a good time for some reflection. With the teeny bit you've told us, it doesn't seem that your friend was trying to say or imply anything bad. I think you may be feeling like it's a slap in the face because of your crush. If you can avoid being mad, I'm right there with bluejayk, it's almost always a better option to not be mad.
posted by jessamyn at 3:37 PM on September 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


You're not right or wrong to feel upset by this. It's upset you, and now you need to sort that out.

However, she didn't say you were gay, or assume you were gay. She asked her close friend (you) a personal question--a question she probably felt comfortable asking because you and she had discussed relationship issues previously. It'd be fine to respond, "I'm not comfortable talking about it," but I don't think it's entirely unreasonable for her to ask. I ask my friends personal questions all the time, and they do the same. Sometimes we hit a nerve. It's a hazard of close friendship.

I think you should consider what you want out of your crush on this girl as you sort out your response. Are you hoping that she'll become interested in you, or that you'll muster the courage to ask her out, or that you'll get over the crush? Because if you're hoping that she'll become interested in you, I think that's going to feed a lot into your anger at this situation--if you're hoping she'll think of you as her ideal boyfriend, it's going to feel like a baseball bat to the gut when you realize she honestly doesn't know whether or not you might be interested in her male friend.

The way to respond without seeming dishonest or homophobic is to say, "I can't believe we've never talked about this! I'm flattered, but you should tell your friend I'm totally straight. What about you? Do you think you could ever date a girl?"
posted by Meg_Murry at 3:45 PM on September 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


If I had a dollar for every person who thought I was not just bi, but in fact gay as a french trombone, I would be a millionaire.

Doesn't bother me. I know what I am, why should I care what anyone else thinks? Besides, I do know a lot of show tunes and other stereotypically gay things. You gotta relax about this, your question reads a little homophobic to me, coupled with the fact you have a crush on this girl.
posted by smoke at 3:47 PM on September 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


Should I be feeling this angry?

Nope.

Am I over blowing the whole thing?

Yep.

I don't know how to handle this without seeming like I'm either bi and trying really hard to cover it up or just really homophobic.

"Nope."
posted by Sys Rq at 3:48 PM on September 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


OP, there are many reasons she could have asked this question, and it may or may NOT be about you:
--Perhaps she is a lesbian or bi= and wants to have a conversation about it. So she asks you, and you reciprocate the question. I know it sounds odd, but I know one male friend who came out of the closet this way with a similar conversation
==Maybe she likes you. You are friends, You enjoy each the company of one another. Over time, a person can wonder, why not? Now there are better ways of asking the question, but ...it is another possibility
--As others stated above, she may have been asking to set you up with the other guy if you were interested.

I wonder if you are angry because, well,your signals are not being read (crush crush crush) -- and then she asks you if you like men.

We don't know your friend. But if she is your friend/sensitive -- she probably just wants you to be happy. Setting you up with someone or opening the door for a conversation --I would assume taht she is trying to help you.
posted by Wolfster at 3:49 PM on September 18, 2010


She wouldn't be asking me this unless she thought it could be true, right?

Sounds like you need to brush up on Ask vs. Guess.
posted by Rhomboid at 3:55 PM on September 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Nah. This is not an angry moment. It might be a "WTF??" moment for you, but you give her your answer (no) and move on. Be grateful she asked, rather than coming to her own conclusions. If you WERE and the opportunity had passed you by, that would have been a loss. And if she'd assumed yes and you aren't well, that would have been both aggravating & embarassing for all parties. Instead she asked. You may feel squoodgie about it, but there's no reason to be mad.
posted by Ys at 4:10 PM on September 18, 2010


She does think it could be true. It could be, as far as she knows.

We bisexuals don't come with giant nametags that say HELLO, I AM BI, rainbow tattoos, stereotypical mannerisms, or anything but sexual and/or romantic feelings for more than one gender.

To be upset that someone might think you're bi is okay. No one likes to be misread.

But it's not something to be angry or offended about.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:12 PM on September 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Just say, "No, I'm straight." While it sounds like this girl only sees you as a friend, or at least sees you as unavailable to date, even if you were bi, it wouldn't mean she would automatically not want to ever date you. She didn't ask you if you were gay, she asked if you were bi.

This seems like a really easy answer. Just tell her you aren't bi and don't seem mad about it when you do. Just answer it as if she asked you any other regular question (like the steak/seafood example above).
posted by elpea at 4:13 PM on September 18, 2010


I'm a straight man in my late 20s. I don't understand how asking this question (not assuming anything) is something to be angry about. "when I realized she seriously wanted to know my answer I was really taken aback." Huh? I don't see the connection between realizing she "seriously want to know" and being angry at her for this. Why isn't she allowed to ask a yes-or-no question about you where the answer happens to be no?
posted by John Cohen at 4:17 PM on September 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ok, so here's what happened, probably.

Gay friend: anonymous is a great guy. Is he by any chance bi? 'Cause if so, I'm totally hitting on him.

Her: [about to blurt out "no, he's straight." But then thinks "but I don't know that for a fact. I know he dates women, but I can't remember him ever saying he's exclusively straight."] I'll have to ask, I guess.

I don't see what's to get upset about.
posted by ctmf at 4:29 PM on September 18, 2010 [28 favorites]


If you want to be optimistic, change the preceding slightly.

Gay friend: anonymous is a great guy. Is he by any chance bi? 'Cause if so, I'm totally hitting on him.

Her: [about to blurt out "no, he's straight." But then thinks "but I don't know that for a fact. I know he dates women, but I can't remember him ever saying he's exclusively straight."] Even if he is, you can't have him. He's mine.

Later:
Her: Are you bi?
You: Ha, no. Straight only. No interest in the men.
Her: I thought so. ["Score!"] Want to watch a movie at my place next time you're in town?
posted by ctmf at 4:35 PM on September 18, 2010


p.s. My snarky self-deleted answer was "You should totally get angry when someone you like wants to know more about you." Which now that I think about it, is fair advice for you if you change "get angry" to "be encouraged."
posted by ctmf at 4:41 PM on September 18, 2010


She doesn't know you like her, so she can't know this hurts you. You're really just mad at yourself for not making your feelings clear to her before it might be too late. Don't let a crush fester for five years, man!
posted by Nixy at 4:59 PM on September 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


It sounds like you're already a bit insecure about where you stand with this girl (wondering "does she like me or not? Do I stand a chance with her?") and then, to have her ask if you are bi feels like a slap in the face, because you're wondering what that means she is thinking about you. Perhaps, you wonder, she's thinking that I am effiminate? That I'm somehow less than "all man"? You're letting preconceptions about what being gay, or bi, reflects about your masculinity and signifies about her attitudes about you.

If I were really into a certain woman, and then I found out that she thought I was gay, I would probably be upset, too. I am not saying that's a rational reaction, but I can imagine that's how I would feel.
posted by jayder at 5:50 PM on September 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


A gay friend asked because you caught his eye. She was sent to find out whether or not he had a chance.

Some people dislike the idea that straight is the "default" sexuality. That is, if the only evidence she has that you're not into men is that you've never hit on another male overtly, she may not consider that enough to make an assumption on. Maybe you're just private about it. Maybe she just wasn't around to see it. Maybe she knows you're into her a little bit, so you at least like women, but who is she to know or say beyond that?

"Should" you be mad at her? You can feel however you want, but I personally think it'd be a waste of energy in this case.

Sidenote: long distance relationships can work. Maybe you should go ahead and say something about how you feel. Better than never knowing and letting situations like this drag on, yeah?
posted by vienaragis at 6:11 PM on September 18, 2010


Being mad that someone should casually ask you if you're bi is, in fact, homophobic. If you really didn't think there was anything wrong with being bi, this issue would have no charge for you.

That doesn't make you a bad person - it makes you normal. But it's worth examining your reaction. One thing to consider, if redefining your relationship to queers and queerness is a goal, is to learn more about gay people, read some books or watch some films or whatnot about gay and bisexual lives, and get a more realistic sense of what bi means to the people who are. If you do this for a while, you may find that next time someone asks you if you're bi, you may just say, "Nah, I don't think so." and not feel upset at all.
posted by serazin at 6:42 PM on September 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have a gigantic crush on this girl

Yeah, so I don't think this is necessarily homophobia. Sure, it could be I guess.

But I would be hurt if I had a huge crush on some guy and his friend (who is a jock) had a crush on me and this guy asked me if I liked jocks. I would be like "I DON'T LIKE JOCKS I LIKE YOU!!!" It's the pain of "how could you try to set me up with your friend??" Your hurt is manifesting as anger probably.
posted by salvia at 6:47 PM on September 18, 2010


Should I be feeling this angry? Am I over blowing the whole thing? I don't know how to handle this without seeming like I'm either bi and trying really hard to cover it up or just really homophobic.

I'm thinking your anger probably has to do with two things:

1. You like this girl. When she inquired about your sexuality on behalf of this other dude, it may have felt a bit like "Wow, not only does she not return my feelings, but she's so disinterested in me that she doesn't even know I'm straight!" While there's no reason to believe that's what she meant to imply, I understand why you'd feel a bit stung.

2. A lot of guys, gay and straight, grow up having the words "fag" and "gay" used against them as a weapon. You don't have to be a homophobe to reflexively flinch a little when somebody seems to be poking at your sexuality (which is, ultimately, your own business) in this way, if that's something you grew up with. You might consider whether this is a part of your reaction.

I wouldn't worry too much about whether you're justified in being angry, because clearly something set you off. I might suggest that this is even a pretty good opportunity to let your friend know about your feelings. For example: "Oh man, you thought I might be bi? No, I'm pretty straight. Actually, I'm surprised you didn't know—I always had a bit of a crush on you, too bad we're so far away now..." and laugh it off.

Is it possible that would relieve the pressure of this friendship a bit?
posted by cirripede at 7:12 PM on September 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Why would you be angry about this? I mean, how would she know the answer to this dude's question - a lot of people are bisexual and don't really bring it up in casual conversation. And the crazy thing about bisexuality is that, just because someone has referenced a previous partner of one gender or the other, that doesn't necessarily mean anything.

I mean, unless she was homophobic to you about it? Though it doesn't sound like that was the case - she's asking for another friend, who was merely curious. Right?

Personal anecdote time:

I'm bi. I can go months or even years without a switchup in the gender I'm currently dating. So people I know, even friends, might not know I'm bi until I specifically say something about it. This all pisses me off sometimes, especially because people generally assume you're straight unless you make overt statements about same-sex romantic experiences. Which means that sometimes I feel like I only really "count" as queer when I have my tongue down a girl's throat.

So, ummmmm, no, I don't think you should be offended. Unless you're someone who relationship hops quite a bit, or whose bisexuality manifests in threesomes and polyamory, how on earth would this friend even know?
posted by Sara C. at 8:07 PM on September 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Last night she tells me that a mutual friend, guy in early 20s who is gay, asked her if I was bi. At first I thought it was some kind of joke, but when I realized she seriously wanted to know my answer I was really taken aback.

Um, I usually tread lightly and speak gently, but not for this one. I have two things to say to you:

First: lighten up. You're both young, and you may have known her for five years, but there are bound to be things you still don't know about each other. I have friends I've been close to for over two decades, and we still surprise each other sometimes. She didn't say "you seem bi", she didn't say "you act like you're bi", she has a friend who thinks you're cute and when she told him you like girls, the friend said "well, what if he's bi? ask him!" and so she asked you. Nothing more than that.

Second: why are you feeling angry? I can think of three reasons: one, you're bi, and you're afraid to admit it. If that's the case, I can't help you. Two, you're not bi, and you are homophobic. I somehow don't think that's it, because you don't seem to be bending over backwards to claim you're not. So I think it's number three: you think she should know you really well, and you've now realized she doesn't.

So with that last one, I can help you. I dated a girl for several years, and was roommates/close friends with another. Then, they both chipped in for a birthday present for me, and it was something very specific, and so far away from the person I was and what my tastes were that I was appalled and angry. Just like you are now.

It took me a while to get over it, but I did get over it, and over time I learned what I mention in my first paragraph above. As you go through life, lots of people you think "get" you actually won't "get" you, and that's just the way life is and people are. I guarantee you, there's something you think you know about this girl, and if you revealed it, she'd be just as angry as you. Few people ever truly know anyone else. We're lucky when we form that kind of connection. Don't expect it, and don't take it as a personal affront. Life's too short.
posted by davejay at 9:32 PM on September 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


Unless there's a hidden subtext I'm missing here, this isn't about sexuality, it's just about finding out about the other people we share the world with. Think about it this way: Would you be offended if she asked you if you were Jewish and you're not? Or if you're from California and you're not? Or if you're getting your PhD and you're not? Or if you're into building giant model train layouts in your living room and you're not?

Why does this question offend you when none of the above probably would? People come in all different types and do all sorts of different things. Social interaction asks that we make various attributes of ourselves known to each other, either through direct statements or through indirect social cues. If you want to keep something about yourself private, you can always say "well that's private" or tell a white lie if you prefer, but presumably she felt that, given the length and depth of your friendship, it was a question you would be willing to answer.

Instead of asking you, would you rather she just guess whether you're bisexual? What else wouldn't you want her to just assume about yourself
posted by zachlipton at 9:43 PM on September 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sexuality is private for some people. Just because he's upset by the question when she should know better doesn't mean he's homophobic. It's like people assuming I'm a child so they treat me like one, when I'm a grown woman. That shit does irk me. Why does he have to be homophobic to be bothered by the question? Or like a black man who is light skinned and people call him white as if to say he is less black than his family. Is he racist against whites because he doesn't like to be called white? Please.
posted by InterestedInKnowing at 10:50 PM on September 18, 2010


"Are you by any chance bi?" is not a rude question, IMO. Just say "no" and move on.
"You're bi, right?" seems kinda rude.
It also seems like this girl is not really into a relationship with you, especially if she's trying to set you up with her gay friend.
posted by Gilbert at 11:28 PM on September 18, 2010


Is it possible that you're aware of the level of biphobia in women (even in bisexual women) and you've felt more or less like someone strapped a rocket on your back and launched you into The Undateable Zone with a question?

Finding out that you've been suddenly voted the mayor of Friendsville can rankle, no matter who voted you in or how they campaigned for you. That may be the source of your ire; the question may be relevant only in that it informs you, out of the blue, that you are not in the running.
posted by adipocere at 1:04 AM on September 19, 2010


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