"I don't think I could date someone who's bisexual", my straight, cisgender female friend told me.
"Why not"? I said, doing my best to hold in my contempt. I think in her mind, the fact that she was having this conversation showed how liberal and progressive she was. She didn't see any problem in writing off all bi men as romantic partners.
"Because there would just be so many options for him", she said, as if lamenting her sorry fate as a straight, cis female.
"Well clearly not", I retorted. "I mean, you're not willing to date bi men, and many gay men aren't willing to either. I'd argue that we actually have fewer options than both straight and gay men when it comes to having serious, romantic relationships."
"I guess", she said. "But I'd just be nervous."
"I don't know", she said, while looking down and away.
"Maybe because you assume bi men can't be monogamous? We're all cheaters? Our sexuality somehow relates to our moral character?" I asked in rapid succession. I knew the answer to the questions I was asking, but I wanted to have her say it. I wanted her to admit to herself and to me, her bi friend, that she believes false, biphobic misconceptions about bi people.
"I don't know. I'd just be nervous. I think I would get paranoid. I'd think every person he met was a threat to our relationship."
"So it's not because you think bi men will leave you for a guy?"
"Is it because you can't trust bi men?"
"Of course not!"
"Then what is it"? I asked, leading her right into the root of the problem.
"I'd get jealous, okay?" She was clearly exhausted by my interrogation. "People get jealous, Zach. It's not that I'm discriminating against bisexuals."
I wanted to say by writing off an entire group of men she's absolutely discriminating against bisexuals, but I didn't want to start the "preference vs. racism/sizism/biphobia/femmephobia" debate.
"You're right." I said, "People do get jealous, which is due to insecurities. So you're not willing to date bi men because you're insecure."
I know I was going a little hard on her, but if she thought a conversation about not willing to give bisexual men a chance to date was going to go over easy, she was sorely mistaken.
"I guess so. I just...yeah, I guess I'm not personally confident enough in myself to date bisexual men."
This isn't the only conversation I've had like this. A number of my close female friends have told me that they wouldn't date bi men. When I get to the root of the problem, prying the way I do, their response is always the same: a combination of implicit biphobia and insecurity.
I remember when I first came out I thought the dating world was going to be at my fingertips. I was so excited to date and meet people of various genders. My excitement quickly faded when many women (and men too) refused to date me because I was bi. I remember thinking I would never find true love.
This isn't just my experience. A recent study conducted by Glamour, which polled over 1,000 women between the ages of 18-44, revealed that most women refuse to date a man who's had sex with another man. In other words, the majority of women in the study refused to date bi men.
At this point, I've now been out for a while, and no longer wallow thinking about the many people of various genders who refuse to date me. The reason why? I've come to see the silver lining.
It's a great filter of character. When people are open to dating a bi person, that openness typically doesn't exist in isolation. It's connected to a number of equally important attributes that you would want in a partner.
First, it means that they are secure in themselves (unlike my friend).
You need to be secure in yourself in order to not get jealous or think that he/she/they will leave you for a person of another gender.
Second, it means they're independent thinkers.
They're able to recognize that the stereotypes about bi people are false. They're not people to believe what they hear and to believe fallacies just because it's been shoved down their throat. They can think critically and come to their own decisions.
Third, they're probably not super heteronormative.
This is good for you. Because odds are, you don't want to engage in traditional gender roles. You don't want to behave like a straight man dating a straight woman or vice-a-versa. You want to embrace your queer identity and have your queer life. You need to date someone who's not super heteronormative in order for that to occur.
Fourth, they're more open to new experiences.
If they haven't dated a bisexual person before, but are open to it, I'd be willing to bet they're open to other new and exciting things as well. And of course, who doesn't want to date someone who's open to exploring and experiencing new things?
So while it may be frustrating that people refuse to date you for being bi, without even getting to know you, at least now, you don't have to waste time. You don't have to go on three dates only to find out that your values actually aren't the same.
We may not think about it this way, but we're actually lucky. We're lucky we don't have to go through all the BS straight people have to go through. We get to know right off the bat if someone wouldn't be a good match for us!
Just another great thing about being bi!