What is bisexuality? Understand what it means to be bisexual
Good then Drew Barrymore says she’s bisexual-But what does that really mean? Even if you think you know, trust me, it’s more complicated than you probably think.
About 13% of people identify as bisexual, according to THANK YOU. But what it means to be bisexual isn’t always easy to define, even for experts.
The short version, as defined by GLAAD, is “to feel an attraction to more than one genre”.
But others see it a little broader: “I would define it as a sexual attraction, consumed or not, towards individuals of both sexes and / or towards individuals who define their sexuality in a non-sexual or gender-fluid way. says Matt Lundquist, a clinical social worker and licensed therapist in New York City.
What bisexuality looks like in practice is often super nuanced, according to Joe kort, Ph.D., therapist specializing in sexual identity. “It’s really up to the individual to decide – you have to ask yourself ‘what does this mean to you?
How is this different from pansexuality or fluid sexuality?
A woman dating both men and women could potentially identify as bisexual, pansexual, or queer – there’s no way to know that unless she tells you. Let’s break it down.
Bisexuality vs Pansexuality
While bisexuality is defined as an attraction to more than one gender, pansexuality completely abandon the idea of gender. “Someone who identifies as pansexual says they don’t care about gender when it comes to sexual attraction,” Lundquist explains.
People who identify as pansexual can be attracted to any combination of men, women, people who identify as non-binary, heterosexual, gay, and trans. In other words, the labels around gender and orientation aren’t really relevant when it comes to pansexuality, which is why you’ll often hear pansexuals saying they’re attracted to “people.”
Bisexuality vs. Fluid sexuality
Fluid sexuality is its own thing too. Here’s the main difference: People who are sexually fluid can define their sexuality differently over time and depending on the situation (or person) at hand.
Kort uses the example of a person who generally identifies as monosexual and suddenly finds himself in a person of his or her non-preferred gender. “The key is that the attraction doesn’t necessarily generalize to other people of that gender,” he says, it’s just that particular crush.
Bisexuality vs. Queer sexuality
Queer is kind of a catch-all term. “It encompasses a wide range of non-traditional and non-heterosexual sexual orientations as well as a wide range of non-binary and non-traditional gender expressions,” Lundquist said.
Basically it’s a label for people who want to ditch the labels. “Queer can mean someone who is straight but doesn’t want to be tagged with these restrictive binary labels,” Kort explains. “The definition of queer is like a fingerprint,” he adds. “It may be different for each individual.”
Here are some other terms you might want to know:
So … how do you know if you are bisexual?
At the end of the day, sexuality is a spectrum – it’s not about fitting perfectly into a label. And that means there isn’t just one way to find out if you’re bisexual.
Here’s a useful way to think about it, though: “A person may know they are bisexual if they have a longstanding attraction to multiple genders,” says Kort. The key is, it’s a generalized attraction to an entire group – in other words, if you mostly love men but have a crush on Ruby Rose, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re bi.
It’s not perfect science, but Lundquist recommends being okay with the mess. “Letting those feelings exist, not putting them aside and being okay with the complexity of sexuality,” he says, “can help you understand what your sexual orientation means to you.”
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