Bisexual Women's Perspective: Dating Challenges Beyond Imagination


Last month, I celebrated my 30th birthday. This is not just an age milestone, but a profound exploration of my identity as a bisexual person. It's been a journey of getting to know and love someone, as well as a process of self-acceptance and embrace.



All this makes an elusive identity even more elusive. You don't seem to exist - but if you do, it's to be devalued or fetishized for the pleasure of others (usually men). Yes, attitudes are undoubtedly changing, but I can't help but wonder if millennials like me are missing out on the opportunities of Generation Z: we've been accused of "waking up" but are still struggling with the legacy of this discrimination. As a result, I find it hard to believe that I'm bisexual, experiencing a phenomenon affectionately known as "bisexual panic".

So, hooray for dating apps! Sites like Hinge, Bumble, Tinder, Thursday, Her, and Feeld - I've tried them all - have given me the freedom and power over the last decade to date Anyone I want to date. And, after hundreds of dates with people of all genders, plus a couple of love affairs and heartbreaks (and an overpriced G&T bill that wasn't worth considering) - I may not be a homeowner, but I finally know who I am.

However, the more I admit to being bisexual, the more I realize that biphobia is still alive and well - and the worst part is that it comes from all angles. People often think we have "dual choices," but that's not true.

First of all, even the algorithms are bisexual: ask any bisexual girl and you have to slide past 20 men to see a woman. Then, I'm rarely paired with lesbians, and recently realized that most of the women I've dated have been more bisexual than gay. I blame this distrust on the patriarchal myth that if we had a "choice," we would eventually leave them for a man. (Interestingly, the situation is similar for bisexual men, except that they are perceived to be homosexual: in the end, it all comes back to the men).

Just for reference, this notion of choice is itself a misconception: bisexual attraction is a spectrum, and some people have more sexual or romantic feelings for different genders. So not everyone can go down the path of a straight relationship.

When dating straight men (because bisexuals, it's much harder to meet in person), I realized that biphobia is even more shameless. I've been told, "I bet you're the kind of guy who will sleep with women, but only date men." Or, after chatting with someone at a bar, "I could never date a bisexual. I'm afraid I'll never be able to satisfy her." So damn right.

After four dates with another guy, I received a selfie of him on a date with a girl, "Wanna have fun?" Rude. In fact, the so-called 'unicorn hunt' is real: I've been propositioned by countless threesomes, including a couple who have already proposed to (or slept with) five of my friends. Beware of tall bisexual women in South London! Here's the classic: find a hot girl's profile, then scroll down to find pictures of her boyfriends. Every single one. Every. single. time. I'm not judging, but it's frustrating to be seen as more of a sex object than we are as women.

Then, when you finally meet someone, there's an extra layer of two-way erasure to navigate. That is, with a man, you're automatically interpreted as heterosexual (especially if you act feminine), which definitely has its social privileges, but can leave you feeling neglected.

With women, you're perceived as a lesbian and it increases homophobia: for example, when I was kissing a girl on a date in Soho, a man filmed us and asked to 'join in'. It's the most gay-friendly neighborhood in London, if not the UK!

On top of that, there are some intrusive issues. I don't know if it's because of the "gender" aspect of bisexuality, but strangers seem to feel entitled to ask for a sexual résumé - including in the workplace. "How many women have you slept with?" "Who's better in bed?" "If you had to choose, who do you prefer?" Constantly defending myself is exhausting, and I do wonder if I've internalized this pressure to "prove" my validity by committing to dating.

Of course, as a cisgender white woman, I am very aware of my privilege and the many additional, intersectional challenges that other bisexuals must face. Nonetheless, it's still a minefield!

It doesn't help that many of us are dealing with this issue on our own. Even though we make up half of the LGBTQ+ community according to the last census, we are somehow an invisible, ineffective majority. Few bi-exceptional spaces exist, and we often feel 'not queer enough' because of queer scenes. For example, at one of the cool kids' events, a girl said to me, "Oh, I used to think I was bisexual, too," and laughed. I never went back.

I'm not the only one. Stonewall found that 43% bisexuals have never attended an LGBTQ+ event, and like me, 27% bisexual women experience discrimination from the community. We are also three times less likely than cisgender people to go out with our families. In addition, 42% people hide their sexual orientation at work. This fear of coming out in all aspects of the closet is known as the "double closet".

No wonder it affects our health. Last year, the Journal of Sex Research found that bisexuals in the UK have the worst mental health. Specifically, bisexual women were four times more likely to have long-term physical and mental health problems than heterosexual women. They suggested that this may be due to discrimination between heterosexuals and homosexuals. Similarly, Stonewall reports that 59% of bisexuals suffer from depression, compared to 26% of gays and lesbians. (The U.S. Census Bureau has even found that we're more likely to be chronically infected with the new coronavirus...!)

I have personally experienced these mental health challenges and am a strong advocate for therapy. But not all professionals understand the nuances of bisexuality, so finding a bisexual women's therapist (and perhaps the ultimate unicorn!) is crucial. It's important to find a bisexual women's therapist (perhaps the ultimate unicorn!).

One of the biggest change makers was undoubtedly finding my own bisexual community through Instagram. This happened three years ago, after bisexual influencer, Women Don't Owe You Pretty, posted a thread inviting cooler followers to comment, make friends or flirt. On a whim, I created and shared a WhatsApp group for cool women, trans and non-binary genders in London, not expecting much. But it took off!

Now we have hundreds of members who still meet regularly, and due to the nature of Givon's followers, many are also bisexual. Yes, we still experience bisexual phobia: from being rejected from gay clubs for looking "too heterosexual" to being asked "why are you here?". to being asked "Why are you here? But when you have the support of people like you who just get it, it doesn't have as much impact.

It is no exaggeration to say that these friendships have changed my life. They showed me that there is no one way to be bisexual. No matter who I'm with, my coolness is justified. The best part of my sexuality is the community it gives me.

Now, my bisexuality has become a joyful source of fun, pride, and belonging-something I never want to change. And, thanks to them, I can finally say: I'm ready to find love.


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