I Like Men and Women, But Do I Have to be Bi?

Dear Dategirl, I have been in relationships with both men and women, which makes me bisexual, I guess, even though I really hate identifying as such because it sounds like a clinical condition. However, I know that I'm not strictly "straight" or "gay." I'm comfortable with my sexuality and with not needing to label it, but I've recently started online dating and am not sure when to come out to new people. Match.com doesn't have a "bisexual" category, and I'm hesitant to write it in my profile for fear of attracting weirdos with fetish issues. My profile is currently aimed at the male audience, and there are several guys I'm interested in meeting, but I'm not sure when or how to tell them that I've dated women in the past, and that I haven't "converted" to the other side—I'm just me! I know it doesn't have to be something I mention on a first date, but it's really hard not to feel like I'm leading people on. I want to give people a chance to get to know me before they write me off or decide that they "like" me for the wrong reasons, but I also don't want to waste my time with people who are so insecure with their own sexuality that they can't handle mine. How soon into a dating relationship should I disclose? And how could I bring up the subject in such a way as to maximize the chances of the other person being open-minded about it? Also—why is it that men and women tend to react so differently to bisexuals? Why do lesbians seem to feel angry, bitter, and betrayed by bisexuals, whereas straight men are either turned on or see it as a challenge? Are gay men as threatened by bisexuals as lesbians are?Elizabeth

Even though I'm straight, I feel that my L Word devotion gives me a little insight (ladies, feel free to flame if I'm off base) as to why gay girls get annoyed by the bisexual thing: Nobody likes a dabbler. Just as I've found out the flaccid way that most bisexual guys are on a brief vagina layover on their way to full-time residency in Weenerville, many a nice girl has been heartbroken by a confused young bi who goes back to boys the second she either graduates or sobers up. Which is not to say that bisexuality is a myth—obviously, sexuality is usually fairly fluid—but a few bad apples, whatnot. When I asked my friend Dan for his take on the matter, he didn't sound so much threatened as annoyed. "Most bisexuals I've met are guys who like to have sex with guys, but can't or won't identify as 'gay.'" Ah, yes, the down low. Yawn. And let's not even talk about the epidemic of moronic cosmo-soused straight girls you see making out with their female friends in an effort to titillate the baseball-hat-clad buffoon on the next bar stool. I blame Joe Francis. You know, the incarcerated "brain" behind the idiotic Girls Gone Wild franchise. Lesbians have sex with other women because they love ladies—not to give some frat boy a boner. So yeah, bisexuality has been given a bad rap. On one hand, you want to be honest. On the other, you don't want some guy thinking you're a free pass to three-way fun. (Because, believe me, far from being threatened, most guys are going to be thinking man sandwich when you tell them.) Since Match.com doesn't even give you the option of declaring your lack of preference up front (which is kind of weird), you should just dispense this information like you would any other tidbit about yourself—on a need-to-know basis as it comes up. Unless you have a large tattoo of your ex-girlfriend on a body part you can't hide, it's generally a good idea to avoid talking about exes for the first couple of dates anyway. This way you get a chance to weed out the freaks and the Republicans. And when it does come up, just mention it like it's no big deal. Because it's not. Judy McGuire is the author of How Not to Date (Sasquatch Books). Dating dilemmas? Write Dategirl at dategirl@seattleweekly.com or c/o Seattle Weekly, 1008 Western Ave., Ste. 300, Seattle, WA 98104. 

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