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Fact Sheet

Being bisexual

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Photo by: nerdcoregirl

What does it mean to be bisexual?

People who are physically and sexually attracted to both men and women usually identify themselves as bisexual. However, not everyone who has had feelings or experiences with both men and women describe themselves as bisexual.

Sometimes, people are happy to explore their sexuality, but will identify themselves as mainly straight, gay or lesbian, or have no label at all. Other times, it can be hard for people to come out as bisexual because society doesn’t accept people who are attracted to both men and women.  For this reason, being bisexual can cause feelings of isolation for some young men and women, because they feel a lot of pressure to be either straight or gay. Some people find bisexuality hard to understand, but remember: there’s nothing “wrong” about feeling or being bisexual.

Why are some people bisexual?

There is no real explanation of why some people are bisexual, and some are not. The main thing to remember is that being ‘Bi’ is not a disease or illness to be cured or fixed. It is part of the broad spectrum of human sexuality.

What does it mean to be pansexual or polysexual?

There are some people who find "bisexual" to be a limited label because it implies that gender is a binary (i.e., can be divided into two categories: men and women) rather than a spectrum of  gender identities. Some people therefore identify as pansexual to indicate that they are attracted to "all genders" or "polysexual" to indicate that they are attracted to "many genders." It is completely up to you what label, if any, feels right for you. 

How do I know if I’m bisexual?

There’s no easy answer to this question. You can’t fill in a questionnaire or take a test that will give you a definite answer. You might be bisexual if you recognize that you’re attracted to women and men, but these feelings don’t necessarily have to come up at the same time or with the same intensity. What’s important is that you don’t deny your feelings and that you take time to explore your sexuality at your own pace.

It’s also important to remember that you’re definitely not alone, and you don’t have to deal with your questions or problems by yourself. You might have friends or family members who have had similar experiences and can talk with you about your feelings.

If you’d rather speak to people who aren’t directly involved in your life, you can also find a support group in your area though the Human Rights Campaign or some of the other resources listed below. If someone tells you that bisexual people are just confused about their sexuality, that bisexuality doesn’t exist, or that you can change, look for someone else to talk with.

How do I know if someone else is bisexual?

You probably won’t know unless someone tells you. You can’t tell whether a man or woman is bisexual just by looking at him or her, or by the group her or she hangs out with. It’s important to remember that bisexual, straight, gay and lesbian people don’t “look” a certain way or confine to common stereotypes.

Bisexual relationships

Regardless of your sexuality, it’s important to be open and honest with your partner about your feelings and attraction to other people. Beyond that, there are no predetermined rules to follow in a bisexual—or any type—of relationship.

And, a person who is bisexual can be in a monogamous relationship with someone of the same or opposite sex. To be bisexual does not mean that a person has to be with someone of both sexes at the same time.

For more information

There are many misunderstandings about sexuality and sex, and exploring your sexuality might be a confusing thing to do, whether you’re straight, gay, a lesbian, or bisexual. If you’re curious to learn more about your sexuality, you might want to check out these additional fact sheets:

Information in this fact sheet was also provided by

The Human Rights Campaign
Gay-Straight Alliance

Other helpful resources

Trevor Project and Trevor helpline (1-866-488-7386)
GLBT National Resource Database
National GLBT Talkline (1-800-246-7743)
National GLBT Hotline (1-888-843-4564)
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network
The National Day of Silence (brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools).
National Coalition for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Youth
Youth Resource, a website by and for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning young people
PFLAG, Parents, families, and friends of lesbians and gays

Last reviewed: Mar 5, 2013

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Comments

Responses

  • avatar2

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    AquaMalachite

    I’m bisexual, and I know it. I’ve kissed my best friend who is also a girl, and it felt good. My other friend (also a female) has a crush on me, and I plan on getting together with her. But, I have a major crush on my cousin (is that bad?) who is a boy.
    The only problem is that I don’t know how to explain it to my parents. I asked them what would their reaction be if they had a gay/bi child and they said that they wouldn’t support them and/or throw them out of the house.
    Now I’m PETRIFIED because I’m only 13. Not to mention, all the kids at school call each other gay, so I’m scared what they might do to a student who’s actually bisexual.
    My friends support me, but what about my own family? Their the ones that are supposed to support me the most, so why don’t I feel it?

    • avatar1

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      ReachOut

      While you’re fully dependent on your family for support, it can sometimes be better to adopt a “wait a little while” approach to sexuality.  They may need a little more time to adjust to the signs that you’re “not completely straight,” and then they may be more accepting.  Often what people say when it’s just a “what if” is far different than what they say when it’s reality, and they realize it’s their own child they’re discussing.

      This fact sheet will give you some things to consider, about eventually coming out to them:  http://us.reachout.com/facts/factsheet/ten-things-to-consider-when-coming-out

      Best of luck,
      The ReachOut Crew

  • avatar2

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    amethystt

    Hi, I am very confused about my sexuality. I’ve always been into guys. Like, I see myself in the future married to a guy. But recently, I also see myself married to a girl.
    I have never had a boyfriend or a girlfriend my entire life. I’ve never been kissed by either gender either.
    I find girls more attractive than guys, but I also like guys. I find more masculine girls more attractive.
    By parents are against LGBT and I’m scared to come out to them. Honestly, I dont even think I need to come out, since I dont even know what I am.
    How will I figure this out?

    • avatar1

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      ReachOut

      Hello!  Sounds like you’re doing a lot of soul-searching and wondering where you fit in.  That’s fine and normal!  None of this is anything that has to be decided on a deadline.  It’s ok to just live your life, and see what happens.  Why not put yourself into a variety of social situations, and see if things become more clear?  You’re probably right about not needing to come out to your parents until you’re far more settled with everything.  Read this fact sheet for some things to consider when you’re thinking about coming out:  http://us.reachout.com/facts/factsheet/ten-things-to-consider-when-coming-out

      Did you know that we have forums to discuss this and anything else on your mind?  To get there, you can click the word “Forums” at the top of the page, or go here:  http://us.reachout.com/forums/forum.php

      Take care,
      The ReachOut Crew

  • avatar2

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    AquaMalachite

    Hi,
    I’m a 13 year-old girl who a bit confused about my sexuality. I’m attracted to both boys AND girls, but I don’t really know how to handle it.
    Boys don’t really catch my eye like they did in the past before. Now, I’m starting to realize that my eyes are drifting over to females instead. And that sort of scares me.
    I told my best friend that I was bisexual when she slept over the night before my birthday, and that’s when I had my first kiss. I think it was the most magical (sorry for lack of precision) thing that ever happened to me! If my insecurity wasn’t holding me back, I would have asked her out by now!
    The only problem: Both of my parents don’t support gays, and for some reason think that bisexuals are confused idiots that are lower than dirt. The only problem it that I’m bi, but they don’t know.
    I guess I’m worried that their going to find out and wonder why I told my closest friends (and even one of my mother’s friends who promised to keep her lips sealed) and not them. Not to mention, I don’t want them thinking that their own daughter is lower than dirt.
    I know that I’m still really young and I have the rest of my life to ponder on this, but it’s something that I want an answer to NOW.
    I’m terribly afraid that their going to find my journal and read all of the entries about my female crushes, since I don’t really write about males. (maybe because none of the boys in my school like me because I’m the DUFF)
    But I need help, and I need it soon! D:

    • avatar1

      Reply - Quote

      ReachOut

      It seems like you’re really anxious to resolve all of it now.  Some of this may change over time (which is really normal!) and you might stir things up with your family unnecessarily.  But if you really think it needs to be addressed, you might want to read this fact sheet:  http://us.reachout.com/facts/factsheet/ten-things-to-consider-when-coming-out

      It often happens that people (like parents) THINK they feel one way, until they’re confronted with the idea that their own child might be gay, bi, etc.  Then, suddenly, they realize that their old ideas weren’t quite right.  You may find that to be true with your parents. 

      If you’d like to talk things over with your peers (anonymously, of course) feel free to join the forums.  You can get there by clicking the word “forums” at the top of this page, or by going here:  http://us.reachout.com/forums/forum.php  We’d love to see you there!

      Try to stay open to a lot of things—you’ve got a lot of years to figure things out!

      We support you!
      —The ReachOut Crew

  • avatar2

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    PleaseSomeoneListen18

    I’m 17 and I’ve been asking myself if I was bisexual since I was 13 in 8th grade. As a matter a fact that’s how I got my first kiss to happen. I asked my friend if she could kiss me to see if I liked girls lol. But anyway it’s been 4 years and I’m still not 100% sure. So much has happened. I was left straight up confused when I was a freshman. But then the next year when I was 15 in sophomore year I transferred schools and I found my people. But most of all I found her, my best friend. Our relationship is what gets me super confused. She’s pansexual and genderfulid. I have never had such intense feelings for a girl in my life!!! We almost dated twice but due to reasons it we never happened. I have had multiple boyfriends. But not a single girlfriend. My feelings fluctuate like crazy. I go from really liking guys to really liking girls. It’s never even. I wish I just knew if I was bisexual or a confused straight girl going through a phase. Because if I truly am Bi then my family will banish me. They did it with my gay cousin. Sexuality is a subject never to bring up in this house. I’m just a scared and confused teenager who needs help.

    • avatar1

      Reply - Quote

      ReachOut

      There’s no deadline on deciding your sexuality—you don’t even really have to “decide.”  It’s okay to just “be.”  Why not just like who you like?  It sounds like it’s been working for you so far.  Eventually it will become more clear to you.  Read this fact sheet as you think about coming out to your family:  http://us.reachout.com/facts/factsheet/ten-things-to-consider-when-coming-out

      Did you know that we have forums to discuss this and anything else on your mind?  To get there, you can click the word “Forums” at the top of the page, or go here:  http://us.reachout.com/forums/forum.php

      You’re awesome,
      The ReachOut Crew

  • avatar2

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    amazingamelia

    I’m 15, and for a lot of my life, I thought I was straight. I had always had crushes on guys, and I hadn’t even considered the possibility that I was anything else. But, in the past 6 months at least, I’ve started having crushes on girls as well, as well as thoughts about being with women. The more I think about it, the more I think that I’d rather be with a woman than a man. However, I still find men attractive, just not in a sexual way, whereas I’m attracted to women in a sexual way. Does this mean I’m bisexual, and if so, is it possible to be more attracted to one gender than the other? My parents are accepting (I think, but I really don’t know, they’ve never talked about it) but because I only had crushes on guys when I was little, they’re sure I’m straight. However, right now I’m not. I have no idea if this is a phase or not, but I’m scared of no one taking my feelings seriously. Do you think these feelings will go away? If not, how do I tell my parents?

    • avatar1

      Reply - Quote

      ReachOut

      It sounds like you have these feelings, but maybe need just a little more time to be sure that it’s permanent.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  If you have a good relationship with your parents, you could tell them how you’re feeling.  It’s cool that you think they’d be accepting.  Or, you could let it wait a little longer, until you feel more certain.  This fact sheet might give you some helpful information about coming out:  http://us.reachout.com/facts/factsheet/coming-out/

      You might like to discuss all of this in our peer-to-peer forums, where you can talk it over with people your own age, anonymously of course.  To get there, just click “Forums” at the top of this page, or go to this link: http://us.reachout.com/forums/forum.php The log in you made here, also works there.

      Hope to see you there,
      The ReachOut Crew

  • avatar2

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    xengab

    I came out a year ago to my parents and I told them that I am BI and they dont get it. I understand that Its hard to get some kind of news like that. But hoe I can help them to get it or at least to make them see that this is me.

    • avatar1

      Reply - Quote

      ReachOut

      Sometimes it seems like parents have the hardest time understanding a child’s sexuality. They’ve known the child the longest, and have visualized them as an adult, probably in an opposite-sex relationship. Coming out to them changes all of that. They might just need more time to adjust to their own changing reality. They may think you’re in a “phase” and didn’t really mean it. 

      Often the best thing you can do to help your parents accept things is to just live your life and be happy.  Usually that’s what they really want, and if they see you adjusting well, and being happy, they may start to really understand. 

      This fact sheet, about coming out, might have some helpful information for you:  http://us.reachout.com/facts/factsheet/coming-out

      You can also join our Forums to discuss this more with your (anonymous) peers.  To get there, just click “Forums” at the top of this page, or go here:  http://us.reachout.com/forums/forum.php

      Hope to see you there!
      —The ReachOut Crew

  • avatar2

    Reply - Quote

    bullyhater99

    hi im a 15 year old young man and ive had sex with both genders. Both feel amazing, but my family doesnt like the idea of me being bisexual. They say its just a phase and im “bicurious”. What should i do?

    • avatar1

      Reply - Quote

      ReachOut

      Maybe you don’t really need to do anything but live your life.  Would you do anything differently if your family showed great approval for bisexuality?  Sometimes you just need to let some time go by, and give people a chance to adjust to changes. 

      Be true to yourself—your family will come around!
      —The ReachOut Crew

  • avatar2

    Reply - Quote

    LovelyRoses01

    Hi,
    I’m a 15 year old girl, and I think I might be bi.. But I don’t know for sure. I just know that if I see a picture of a hot guy, and a picture of a hot girl, I feel the same way. And that if I in my mind imagine making out with a guy I would like it and if I in my mind imagine making out with a girl I feel like I would like it as well. It’s just that I’ve never been in love, never had a relationship and I’ve never kissed anyone. But I don’t feel like I’m really curious about how it would be to be with the same sex, but I feel like I KNOW that if I would be with the same sex I would like it. But because I haven’t had any experience does that mean I’m just bicurious or bisexual?
    Could someone please help me out on this, I’m so confused!
    Thank you in advance smile

    • avatar1

      Reply - Quote

      ReachOut

      It’s okay to just let things rest for a while, and see where life takes you!  You don’t have to “declare a side” immediately—just live your life for a while, and see how your emotions and feelings evolve over time.  You don’t need a label!  You’re just you!

  • avatar2

    Reply - Quote

    aubrey_cathleen

    hey um well… i think i’m bi, and i’m only a teen and a lot of my friends, make fun of bisexual, people. and my best friend is bi but i think my other friends would feel awkward around me and i haven’t told any 1 yet espically my mom who is like super religious i dont think she will execept me the way i am

    • avatar2

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      ForeverYoung0016

      Same here!

       

       

      • avatar1

        Reply - Quote

        ReachOut
        • avatar2

          Reply - Quote

          rosalinda

          i know what people who get made fun of for it are going though it happens to me but it doesn’t madder to me because it doesn’t madder what people think it madder’s what you think about your self so if you bi or gay or lezbian don’t worry about what people think please stand up for you’re rights don’t let people push you around in school or bully you any where about it because just ignore it and just think about what you think they don’t madder so it will be okay kids will give you a hard time but again don’t worry about them.

          • avatar1

            Reply - Quote

            ReachOut

            Such a great and positive message rosalinda! Thank you for taking time to post it for others. We’re glad that you have found a way to cope and get through tough times and be yourself. It’s a beautiful thing to accept yourself no matter what. Just remember that if anyone is bullying you, you can tell adults or persons of authority. It’s okay to have some help and support along the way. Stay strong!

    • avatar1

      Reply - Quote

      ReachOut

      Don’t feel pressured to tell anyone anything until you’re ready and until you’re sure! It’s nobody’s business but yours. You might like to talk about this in our discussion forums, though… Just click on the “forums” button at the top of the page, or go to http://us.reachout.com/forums/  We would love to see you there!

      Take care,
      The ReachOut Crew

  • avatar2

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    sweetiiepiie

    So I’m 21 and I’m bisexual. I’ve known I’m bi since I was 14 or 15. My friends are totally cool with it and I just came out a couple months ago. But now I’m confused. Like I’m not good enough for a guy or girl. I’ve only been in a relationship with a guy. I have dealt with self esteem issues in the past so I’m not sure if that’s what making me so doubtful. But I’m also scared to meet a girl. How do I know if she would be willing to date me?

    • avatar1

      Reply - Quote

      ReachOut

      Hey there sweetiiepiie. We’re pretty sure you’re good enough and definetely dateable! Dating can be hard and awkward, but just be yourself. The right girl will come along.

  • avatar2

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    George

    I’m a 21 year old bisexual male who is struggling with the fact that my parents do not agree with it.  One of my parents has disowned me.  It really hurts.  Does anybody think I will get over it.

    • avatar1

      Reply - Quote

      ReachOut

      This must hurt you tremendously—we’re so sorry! You didn’t say how long it’s been since your parents have known about your bisexuality, but maybe it’s something that they’ll adjust to over time. If they were shocked by it, they may already be regretting things they said or did, and you might need to give them some space and time, and let them get used to reality. If they don’t adjust, though, you’ll still be OK. You will find people to bring into your life that love you and support you, and you will thrive. We believe in you!
      —The ReachOut Crew

  • avatar2

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    therockerguy

    Hello,

    I am a 21 year old guy in a 4 year straight relationship with a girl I love with every inch of my heart and care about her more than I care about my family. She’s everything to me and I am everything to her. Recently I found myself thinking if I am str8 or bi and I’ve hand my very first sexual contact with another guy. I didn’t want to destroy my relationship for something I wasn’t sure. I ended up feeling bi but that’s a difficult road to walk and I can’t say anything to her because she’s not that open-minded. The bad thing is I feel guilty and I have no one to talk to. Except my best friend(guy). Did I do right? What shall I do?

    • avatar1

      Reply - Quote

      ReachOut

      It sounds like you’re going through a tough and confusing period. You might want to check out some of our LGBTQ Fact Sheets at http://us.reachout.com/facts/romance-sexuality-and-pregnancy/glbt As fo.r your relationship, only you can decide whether to tell your girlfriend or not. Either way, it’s a big deal and it sounds like you need some space and time to reflect more on your sexual identity and relationship. Best of luck.

  • avatar2

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    jafferlovelydostshaik

    Hey
    what will b happen on continously doing handcumjob
    i have completed my 3 years by doing it.
    And i was worried that now i didn’t have sufficient sperms to made my future wife pregnent.
    pls tell me is i have loss my sperms?

    • avatar1

      Reply - Quote

      ReachOut

      Healthy men produce millions of new sperm every day. There’s no reason to believe that you won’t have enough to father children.  If your wife had trouble getting pregnant, a doctor or health professional might test your sperm count, but it’s doubtful that it would have anything to do with what you describe.

      Good luck!
      —The ReachOut Crew

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