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.
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:
- I think I might be gay, a lesbian or bisexual;
- Coming out;
- Ten things to consider when coming out;
- Being gay;
- Being a lesbian
Information in this fact sheet was also provided by
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