When you first start to consider that you might be bisexual, a whole new world of possibilities suddenly opens up. Essentially, your personal dating pool just doubled in size at a time when you’re still trying to figure out your own identity. It can be a lot. Here’s how to explore your bisexuality without getting overwhelmed.
Feel out what this means for you, however you want
There’s a big misconception that goes along with coming out, so let’s dispel it right away: You don’t have to immediately start getting physical with people to prove to yourself or others that you “really” are bi.
Haley Jakobson, a writer based in Brooklyn, explained that there is a lot of pressure on newly-out people to “prove” their sexuality, but that pressure is unfairly and unequally applied to the LGBTQ+ community. She pointed out that it would be bizarre for an adult to tell a child they couldn’t possibly know they were straight until they kissed a classmate of the opposite gender, so it should be seen as equally inappropriate to say something like that to a newly-out bisexual adult.
Kissing and physical touch may not even be your primary objective in this journey, either, and that’s totally fine. Jakobson pointed out that engaging in community could be a priority that outweighs intimacy and suggested going to queer bars, posting on LGBTQ+ community-based apps and forums, and listening to podcasts and reading books about sexuality.
“These are all things you can do without actually, you know, smooching someone,” she said. “I think that when we say ‘explore sexuality,’ we kind of immediately think of getting intimate or fucking someone, and I think that’s not great because that’s a lot of pressure.”
She added that there is “trial and error” involved in finding compatibility and chemistry with anyone. Don’t rush into that. There is no right or wrong way to explore. Go as slowly as you need or want to. Spend some time messaging back and forth on a dating app. Flirt at a queer bookstore or club.
Be patient with yourself
Once someone begins identifying as bisexual, Jakobson said, there are plenty of potential issues to contend with. There can be feelings of imposter syndrome, internalized biphobia, and patriarchal expectations of what a bisexual person even is to deal with, she said.
There are stereotypes and stigmas associated with bisexual people, too, and that sort of external force can really wear you down. Bisexual people can be seen as promiscuous, unable to “just choose” a side, or interested in leading people on. It’s not wholly on you to shatter these misconceptions, so remember to do what is best for yourself and not shoulder the weight of society’s incorrect takes. There are people doing great work in the space — writing like Jakobson, or podcasting or posting or advocating in myriad ways for the community — but you don’t have to do that if you aren’t yet comfortable. Work on your own journey day by day.
Instead of focusing on any negativity, embrace the good and fun parts of your queerness, Jakobson said. She noted that she thinks about herself and her sexuality through a joyful frame: “I’m so valid and I’m hot and cool and sexy and just this endless container for love and that deserves to be celebrated.”
You’re not alone, so find your community
No matter how old you are, where you live, or what culture you were raised in, coming out can be a little hard — and acting on your newly-confirmed identity can be hard, too.
Jakobson recommended talking to other LGBTQ+ people online, finding a queer-friendly therapist, and “coming out to people who are just going to be absolutely overjoyed for you.”
“In the coming-out journey we can easily focus on the people who won’t get it but go first to the people who will feel so honoured that you are able to express your identity to them,” she said, adding you should “lean into the joy or just kind of deal with the hardship as it comes.”
You can take small steps to feel more involved in the community, go at your own pace, and make friends as you do it all. Remember that you’re worthy of love, respect, and a welcoming attitude.
Sometimes, no matter how many how-to guides you read, this will be overwhelming, but with a little grounding and a group of supportive friends around you, you’ll be fine.
“I choose everyday to lean into the parts of my queerness that are just fun and light and easy,” said Jakobson, “and because I do that, I’m able to hold the parts that are overwhelming.”