Dear Dr. NerdLove:
I’m a 32 year old gay man. At least, that’s how I have labeled myself, and my sexual and romantic life has been with men. But I’ve always found some women attractive. More recently, I’ve found myself more and more interested in women. I think now I’m actually now more sexually attracted to women than to men. (It sounds really weird, and it’s been even weirder to live through. But bi people have told me that this experience is really common among them). And I’ve done some things to explore my desires for women — and, yup, they feel as real as any straight guy’s. So I’ve accepted that I’m really bisexual, and I want to make women a part of my life. But the obstacles to doing that seem formidable.
I know that most women won’t date bisexual men. Talking with bi guys on-line, they all have nightmarish stories of constant rejection, so much that some have given up dating women at all. I need to find women who would be open to someone like me. I don’t know how to find them. I know to rule out women who might have some religious or moral objections — no loss there. I also know that I’m open to dating women that many straight men would rule out — older women, “bigger” women (who actually really turn me on, BTW). But I really need some kind of hint as to what women might give me a chance. (FWIW, I am disease-free and would be monogamous in a committed relationship). A bi woman would seem ideal, but a lot of them won’t date bi men either.
I also am intimidated by what I know about the straight dating world. The straight women I know all have horror stories about the things men have done to them. The straight men I know all have stories of frustration finding available women and being subjected to various “head games” by women. But something must work, since most of the people I know are in relationships. I’m also put off by the rigidity of straight dating — the man must initiate, the man must pay for everything, the man is expected to make more money. All of these things are much more flexible in same-sex relationships. I know that women have good reason to be wary of men — I’ve had my own bad experiences with men, so I really understand. But I would probably get frustrated quickly with a woman who expected me to always conform to a fixed role.
I don’t know where this is going. I don’t know whether I want a full-blown romantic relationship with a woman, or something more casual. Unlike a lot of the straight people my age, I’m not looking to get married now! But I know that men wanting to “keep it casual” are a dime a dozen, and women constantly complain about men who won’t commit. Once again, I don’t how to find women who would be interested in a casual relationship where I would still be exploring my sexuality. Maybe a woman who recently got out of a relationship and just wants to have fun would work for me. I might be a better bet for a woman who doesn’t want kids, since I’m now in the stage of life where a lot of women get serious about their biological clocks.
I actually think I could bring a lot to a relationship with a woman. My friends would tell you that I am smart, funny, and charming. I dress well and work out regularly. I have an advanced degree and a solid job. I have plenty of female friends (I haven’t dared to discuss my sexual exploration with most of them, and I wonder how they would take learning that their gay buddy was hot for them — which I am!). I am beginning to think that I am moving into a more heterosexual phase of my life, given how strong my desires for women are. But the obstacles to my achieving fulfillment seem huge — I am scared that I’m going to just end up as another lonely, frustrated guy who dreams of being with women but knows they will never have him.
Bisexual Guy Looking For Chicks
One of the things that we as a culture have slowly been discovering is that sexuality isn’t binary. Hell, most of the time, it’s not even a spectrum, it’s a combination multi-axis graph and sliding scale and sometimes people will slide around on that graph. While there are folks who are resolutely gay, straight, bi or pansexual, there are also folks who discover that their sexuality has changed over time. Sometimes it’s a case of they’re straight or gay but realize there’s one person who’s outside their preferred gender that just flips their switch and revs their motor. Some times they may be bi or pan but realize that while they may be open to a sexual relationship with people across the gender spectrum, they only have romantic feelings for one gender. And other times, people may start off as completely gay or completely straight and over time discover that their sexuality is more fluid than they realized.
Which is where you are these days, BGLFC. Turns out that your sexuality was more of a moving target than you realized and you’re discovering this new side of yourself. And hey, congratulations on finding these new, fascinating sides of yourself!
Now before we get deep into the weeds here, keep in mind: I’m a straight, cis guy. That’s going to affect my perspective and my dating experiences, so I may have some blindspots and miss things that would be glaringly obvious to someone who’s lived through dating while bisexual. And, as always, I encourage my bi and pan readers to chime in with their own experiences and thoughts in the comments.
So with that in mind: your concerns are reasonable, BGLFC. It seems odd that in the year of our Lord 2019 we’d be in a place where bi and pan people get shit on by the gay and straight community, but it does happen. There’re a lot of folks who have shitty ideas about what it means to be bisexual — that you can’t be satisfied unless you’re in a relationship with people of both (or all) genders at the same time, that you’re actually monosexual and just deluding yourself, that you’re just a stopping point on the way to being fully gay or fully straight… the list goes on and on. The truth is that there are assholes out there and assholes are gonna ass. But the fact that assholes exist doesn’t mean that good people don’t.
There are more good people out there than there are assholes; it’s just that assholes are louder and more visible. The key is to remember that there’s a difference between being more visible and being the majority. It’s especially pernicious when the most visible conforms to your anxieties and fears. It creates a sort of confirmation bias; you give undue importance to the things that line up with what you already believe and discount the things that don’t conform to those beliefs as being exceptions… if you notice them at all. So when you’re already anxious about trying to start dating in a world you’re unfamiliar with, it’s understandable that you’re going to give greater credence to the nightmare stories. But the fact that they feel more correct doesn’t mean that they are correct. It just lines up with what you expect to hear. And since humans have an inherent bias towards negativity, where negative thoughts or emotions hit us harder than positive ones, it’s natural that those are what you’re going to focus on.
That’s why you have to recognize that some of the fears you have, especially ones that come from second and third-hand stories, are out of proportion to reality. Some of them are simply funhouse mirror versions of reality, where what you’re expecting is a warped, distorted view of how things actually are. Others are letting the negative impressions overwhelm the facts on the ground. Yes, there are women out there who won’t date bi men. That’s not the same as all women, or even the majority. They just loom larger because hey, you’re a bi man. Yes, culturally, guys are taught to be the aggressors. But that doesn’t mean that men have to be the sole active participant while women have to be the passive recipient… and there are plenty of folks on both sides who cheerfully buck those traditions.
Because that’s all they are: traditions. And as a bi man, not only do you stand outside of many of those traditions, but the people you’ll be most compatible with are likely to be non-traditional themselves. Someone who’s comfortable with your sexual fluidity is far less likely to be hung up on traditional gender roles within the relationship.
It’s ok that you’re nervous. You’re entering into a world that’s just different enough from the one you knew to make everything feel new and setrange. But while the obstacles that you’re anticipating do exist, there’s a difference between what you fear and what you’re likely to actually encounter. It’s smoke and shadows, making everything look larger, more intimidating and more insurmountable than they actually are. There are things you can do to protect yourself from getting your heart broken. Keep your expectations reasonable at first, without overinvesting any one person with too much romantic importance. Maintain and enforce strong boundaries, which will minimize the people who’ll play head games with you. Learn to recognize the people who you’re actually compatible with, not people who you want to be compatible with because hey, they’re hot and a blowjob would be nice tonight.
But more than anything else: the only way you’re going to overcome these anxieties is to actually put yourself out there and start to confront them. You’re going to need to start actually getting into that dating pool and seeing what the reality is on the ground. You don’t have to dive in head first; you can ease yourself in via apps like OKCupid or Tinder. OKCupid, especially, can be useful for finding women who’re open to dating bi men.
I won’t lie: it can be intimidating. Dating often is, regardless of your sexuality. But intimidating isn’t the same as impossible. Nor is difficult. But nobody promised that it wouldn’t be difficult. They just promised that it would be worth it.
First, let me say how much I enjoy reading your column. You are funny, smart, and give solid advice. My question is rather simple, but I feel like I am overthinking things.
I am a single 27 year old girl with a very outgoing and witty personality. I make friends all over the place, but I never seem to meet any guys that I want to date. I work two jobs and I’m very involved at my church – so I meet plenty of people, but never anyone that I am interested in or vice versa. I have goals I want to meet and I’m on my way to hitting them. I have had successful relationships in the past. Dating is great – my parents have modeled a great committed relationship to me all my life and it’s something that I want very much, but I feel sort of stuck in my singleness and I don’t like the casual dating thing. I do not want to settle, but work limits my free time right now. What are some things I can do to get myself out there? I’ve tried online dating only to go on bad dates or be ghosted, and mostly get responses from older men looking for a hookup. Is there a light at the end of this tunnel? How can I get myself out there without compromising what I want in a partner? I am feeling very “Forever Alone” as I approach 28.
No Date, No Life
First things first: there’s no settling down without settling for, NDNL, and that’s as true with life as it is with dating. When you have multiple goals that you’re pursuing, sometimes those goals are going to conflict with one another.
One of the hardest things about dating is the same as anything else you want to do in life: paying the opportunity cost. There are only so many hours in the day, and any activity you do is going to have to come at the expense at other things you want to do. Having two jobs and being incredibly involved at your church is going to eat up a lot of your time, especially if you want to make sure you have time to do other things like, say, sleep. So that’s going to have to be something you take into consideration as you decide how you want to conduct your love life. You have to decide where your priorities are and what you’re willing to give up in order to achieve them.
If you decide that, seeing as you’re close to your goals – and I assume you mean professionally – then it may make sense to you to focus on those for now and let dating be a lesser priority until you’re not busier than a one-legged woman in an ass-kicking contest. If you really want to find a guy you really click with, that will likely mean deprioritizing other areas in your life. Maybe it means you take longer to achieve those goals. Maybe it means not being quite so involved in your church. Or it may mean learning to be cool with a more casual relationship until you have the time to really invest in something more committed.
The thing to keep in mind is that any of these priorities is just fine, if that’s what you want. If you feel like your time is best spent locking down those goals, then that’s awesome; go get your money! If you feel like you want to pursue love more than your career, then hop on the love train and let’s go. It all depends on what you feel is best and most important for you.
There are ways of meeting dudes beyond lousy Tinder dates. The friends you’re making may not be people you want to date, but they very well may know the guys you would. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to ask if they have any single friends that you might click with. It may also be worth your time to broaden your approach by leveraging your interests and your passions to meet people in person. You’re more likely to find someone you dig at a MeetUp for something you really enjoy than rolling the dice on Tinder or hitting the bars.
And remember: it’s ok if you want to put off relationships for a bit. While it’s understandable that our culture’s obsession with living in your 20s can put a whammy on your head, you have time. Despite any bullshit you may hear – from men and women alike – about being too old or waiting too long, there’s no such thing as “too late” for love. People fall in love and get married in their 30s, 40s, 60s and 80s. While yeah, some people do die without finding love, you have no idea if that’s going to be you until you actually die.
Now with that having been said: it’s important to recognize that finding a relationship isn’t the end of the story. If you want to keep that relationship, you have to be willing and able to invest in it. And if you don’t have the time to do so… well, meeting the right guy in the right place doesn’t matter if it’s not also the right time.
It can take a little time to figure out just where you want your priorities to be. But just remember: they’re your priorities. You’re allowed to set them where and how you feel is best.