The Bisexuality Roundtable (Part 2): Dating While Bisexual

On Friday, we published Part One of the AfterEllen roundtable on bisexuality, and it definitely ignited conversation both in the comments section and on social media. We return this week with Part Two, where AE writers Anna Pulley, Eboni Rafus, Ali Davis, Chelsea Steiner and Miranda Meyer discuss dating, relationships and their favorite bisexual pop culture characters.


Dana: Have you ever had a lesbian not want to date you because you’re bisexual, and have you had the same sort of circumstance with a man?

Anna: Yes, absolutely to the first one. No, to the second one. It’s a weird like double blind—like men never care if you’re a bisexual woman. They encourage it. It’s like, “Yeah. Great for me.” But women almost never—I had to change my status on a OkCupid to gay because I couldn’t date. Like no one would date me so I had to change it back.

Dana: This conversation makes me wish I was drinking. But you bring up an interesting point. So guys don’t have a problem with it. Does that piss you off in any way? Does that frustrate you because that makes it seem like you’re going into a whole other stereotype?

Anna: Yeah. It’s very frustrating. It’s very frustrating to have straight men be your ally. It’s just like, “No. You’re not the people I want to sleep with most of time.” Like why can’t this be the other way around? Also I think it speaks to sort of women’s general insecurities like—I don’t know. It’s just it’s very hard for a woman to be like left for a man or cheated on like by a man. Like there’s something almost like irrevocably harmful about that to a lot of lesbians. Not all of them but I feel like once lesbians get to know you and then you sort of drop the bisexual bomb they’re a lot better about it because they know who you are and like you’re not just some like flirty internet profile with pictures of you and your selfies, or whatever. So that helps but like in general if it’s like super frustrating and terrible. So, you know, what are you going to do?

Eboni: Yeah. I had a similar experience that Anna did with OkCupid. I felt like when I put bisexual, women wouldn’t date me and men just wanted to offer to have a threesome with me.

Dana: It’s like the movies.

Eboni: Yeah. I’m like, ‘This is a stereotype. And maybe it is a stereotype but I mean even when I switched over to say that I was gay I lot more attention from women but I still got some attention from men too, from couples. That’s a big thing. If you write that you’re bisexual you get a lot of messages from couples wanting you to be their—so, but you know, I’m not just saying you go for it, do it, but I’m looking for a long-term and honest relationship. It’s really frustrating when I can’t find someone to date me because of their perception of what bisexuality is. I’ve also dated lesbians who were super paranoid that I was going to cheat and did date me but the relationship wasn’t good because they were very insecure whenever I was talking to guys or friends with guys, and actually more worried about me being with guys than other queer women. So, it’s a struggle from the dating.

Ali: Oh, definitely. I’ve had people just tell me flat out that, “I won’t date you because you’re bi or I would never date you.” And my favorite OkCupid response was I had a woman who wrote me back and she was not a good reader, and I won’t change my status on OkCupid because I don’t want to start something on a lie, like it just feels dishonest. So I went to look at her profile and at the top it said no bisexuals.

Dana: Oh, Jeez.

Ali: It was like something I might have missed. And I got this sheepish reply back and it got weirder where like we exchanged emails where I’m like, “Well here’s where I am and I’ve never cheated on anyone. Why do I get stuck with that weird paranoia rush?” And so she sent me this weird email and goes, “Well, I still wouldn’t date you but maybe we could be friends.” And so she like wants to go on a friendship date. I’m like, “All right. I’m taking one for the team. I’m going to make end rows.” And I was going to go meet her and I get stuck in traffic. I live in Los Angeles. There is traffic.

Dana: You see, you did exactly what she was worried about. [laughs]

Ali: Yeah. I pulled over to call her and to say, “Hey, I’m running late.” And she goes, “I have a bad feeling about this. Something is wrong.” And she sent me this long letter about why and like it was all about this ball of paranoia. There’s no way I could have cheated on her along the way.

Dana Piccoli: It’s not like as if you stopped on the way to like meet a guy. Like you saw him on the side of the road and like pulled over.

Ali: [laughs] But I’ve also had a straight male friend call me once and I thought he was totally with it and he’d never had a problem with anything, but he called me up and he’s like, “I have been listening to the radio.There was someone on the radio and they were saying that a lesbian and a bisexual are different things.” I said, “Yeah.” And apparently a lot of straight guys don’t—I think because of porn. That’s an uneducated guess, don’t make that distinction and they don’t know, so they’re all for it because they think, “It’s this woman who would be with me and another woman.” Um, no.

Chelsea: I’ve never had a lesbian refuse to date me, because obviously I’m irresistible to anyone with a pulse. KIDDING. I’ve just had people not take me seriously, which is frustrating. In terms of straight men, when I was on OK Cupid back in the day I’d get plenty of skeezy messages from skeezy guys and the occasional threesome request. PASS. Before I met my guy, I assumed I would end up with a woman because I had yet to encounter a man who wasn’t A) threatened by my sexuality or B) into it for all the wrong/pervy reasons.

Miranda: Yeah. So like the original question has to do with like the way that men are super gung-ho about dating bi women—

Dana: But have you had any women reject you or say like, “No. I don’t want to date you because you identify as bisexual”?

Miranda: No. Just again because of the circumstances of what I think sort of identifying has been. And so I haven’t really been dating much in the last couple of years, for a long list of reasons. So it just hasn’t come up yet. It might though.

Ali: It’ll come up in the comments.

Miranda: Oh right. But I also wanted to add, not to reinforce stereotype here, but in college the first time that I ever really went beyond kissing a woman I was in a relationship with a man at the time. And it was one of those really like dirt baggy college, super drunken incidents, of which I am not particularly proud, but so after the fact, I had been cheated on myself in the past and so I didn’t want to keep any secrets about it so I went and immediately and told him what had happened, and he told me had to like get back to me about how he felt about it because he had to decide whether it’s counted or not, which I feel like just says so much.


Dana: It’s like a circle—it all goes right back to itself. Now I’ve heard this a few times: People talking about how lesbians are engaging in like a self-fulfilling prophecy by assuming that bisexual women are more interested in men and that by pushing potential bisexual mates away, bisexual women are more likely to find a man to date. What do you think about that theory?

Anna: I think that’s partially true. I mean I think specifically and realistically the majority of women are straight, so we do have to bear that in mind. It’s not just that the bisexual is leaving us for men. It’s that most people are straight in the world and like that’s something they have to deal with unfortunately. I wish it weren’t true. But also yeah, it’s a lot easier for bisexual women to date men than it is for bisexual women to date women, and so what are you going to be attracted to? Like the person that you have to justify your existence for or the person who is like, “Great. I’ll meet you for coffee at six.” Like you’re going to choose that. And it’s hard. It’s hard to like fucking trying to validate your own self and your worth to someone that you don’t even know what’s the point.

Dana: You’re breaking my heart, you guys. It’s breaking my heart.

Eboni: I think that I’m a true believer like the whole like Kinsey scale, you know, everybody’s on a continuum, and so I think it just really depends on the person and where they are. Like I think very few people on the Kinsey scale from zero to six. Very few people at a three where they’re just as much attracted to women as they are to men and it’s 50/50. I think some people are bisexual. Like myself, I identify as bisexual. I date women more often. I have a lot more long-term relationships with women, but I’ve had more hook ups with men. So, I do think that, personally, I would just keep—I would probably more likely try harder. I would not so easily now give up I guess or decide to take the easy way to be with a guy because they’re more accepting of me, because I am usually more attracted to women in terms of—I’d say probably was like, I don’t know, a five or something on the scale. So, I think it depends on the person. I think that I know that after my divorce I had a long period of reflection where I was thinking about—I was writing for AfterEllen and I had this huge queer community. Most of my friends are queer women in relationships with other women, and I had this idea of like what would happen now if I start dating a man? And if anything I think that might have deterred me, I think in a way deterred me from dating a man because I don’t want to lose my community. I don’t want to lose what I had built over the past seven years. And so I think at this point, I’m more likely to date a woman than a man for those reasons.

Ali: There is a little bit, like I catch myself when I see a bisexual celebrity starts dating a man long-term or even like a friend who’s bi and starts dating a man. There’s a little bit of like, ugh, because you know that that’s going to get pointed to as a—

Dana: Like Amber Heard and Johnny Depp?

Ali: Yeah. Where you’re like, “Oh God. “

Eboni: Not that you, Ali, feel upset about that women dating a man but you know that’s going to be another…another person is going to say, “Well Amber Heard dated…”

Dana: Right. It’s just more fuel to the fire.

Ali: Yeah. And you can point it at the term game. I know bisexuals who are in long-term lesbian marriages and they’ll be like, “Well, then she’s a lesbian.” Like, that’s not how it works.

Dana: Once again you go back to the invisibility, the invalidation of identity.

Ali: Right. There are a lot of lesbians in my life who are great about it. It’s not an everyday grinding down thing. Because I’ve taken trips up and down the Kinsey scale. I’m probably about 85% interested in women, and like when I think long term about if I’m every going to get I think in terms of marrying a woman. Yeah. It’s that weird, you do get those pushes every now and then of like it’s not real or you’re going to end up with a man or stuff like, or just the flat out—it’s a very small pool of women who date because there’s a group of women who are otherwise, not going to date me.

Chelsea: I mean, it’s a numbers game. There are WAY more straight men than queer women interested in dating us. But I feel like it misses the larger point of bisexuality, and relationships in general. It’s not about gender, it’s about finding a compatible partner that takes care of you when you’re sick, makes you laugh, and gives you tons of orgasms. We want love just like everyone else, we’re just less picky about said partner’s junk!

Dana: Well, let’s get our millennial opinion here.

Miranda: I’m like the generational correspondent. [laughs] I’m a big believer especially in relationships in self fulfilling prophesy in general like regardless of sexual orientation, if you’re convinced that your partner is going to cheat on you or your partner is going to leave you, it’s probably going to happen just because like you’re pushing—you know what I mean? So that’s sort of one part that I think is independent of the entire issue of sexuality. I think it’s also especially most—I don’t know. Like I’m speaking from a position where I haven’t been in a long term relationship for a while now and so when you’re talking about like a more casual sort of thing. It’s also a lot harder to sort of approach women or like kind of strike up connections because there’s that very real possibility of the negative reaction that you can get, and because you may not present in a way that’s like stereotypically queer. So like a few years ago I read a lot more queer and so on and so forth, and like come up to me a lot, and I was actually thinking the other day like it’s sort of too bad I didn’t identify as bisexual at that point.

Dana: You wasted your awesome Tegan and Sara hair for nothing.

Miranda: Right?! Got an invite to the official lesbian poker night and everything.