5 Harmful Myths About Bisexuality, Dispelled

This Pride Month, let’s dispel some common myths about bisexuality.

5 Harmful Myths About Bisexuality, Dispelled

5 Harmful Myths About Bisexuality, Dispelled

5 Harmful Myths About Bisexuality, Dispelled

Updated
June 26, 2020
Medically Reviewed by
5 minute read

This Pride Month (and every month) of the year, it’s important to celebrate people of all genders, sexual orientations, and preferences. Part of celebrating everyone for who they are is understanding what various sexual orientations mean, what they are and what they aren’t. When it comes to bisexuality in particular, there are many misconceptions and myths to be dispelled. Bisexuality — being attracted to or having relationships with more than one sex or gender — is sometimes completely left out of discussions about the queer experiences. Some believe it to be a phase or just a person who “is confused.” These are just a few of the many myths about bisexuality that need to be dispelled. Here are five common misconceptions about what it means to be a bisexual person — and the truths behind the myths. 

1. Myth: Bisexuals are confused.

How old were you when you had your first crush? 9? 10? How sure were you about what you liked and didn’t like in a partner? How sure are you now?

Why it’s not true. 

Sexuality is fluid, and it’s common for our interests — from the traits of the partners we seek out to those partners’ genders — to ebb and flow over time. This isn’t a matter of confusion; it’s human nature to explore our options and learn about what we like. Bisexual people aren’t any more confused than straight or queer people, but they are often perceived as such by a world that assumes there’s only one right way to experience attraction. The decision to date people of multiple genders is generally an intentional one, not a side effect of confusion. 

2. Myth: Bisexuals are overly promiscuous.

This myth stems from the notion that bisexuality is a convenient cover story for people who are interested in having sex with as many people as they can. Again, it’s false — and it has harmful effects for bi folks.

Why it’s not true. 

There are two things to note in unpacking this myth. First, there’s nothing wrong with being promiscuous. Whether you are bi or not and hook up with a ton of people, power to you. Second, there’s nothing definitively linking bisexuality to promiscuity. There are promiscuous people of all sexual orientations, just like there are monogamous, slow-and-steady folks who identify as straight, gay, and bisexual. Certainly some people who are bisexual may want to take advantage of their varied attractions by having more sex, but like all sexual experiences, that’s a personal choice — not a statement about a broader community. 

3. Myth: There’s no such thing as bisexuality. 

Some people will simply deny that bisexuality is a sexual orientation at all. The reasons for such a denial have to do with the other myths listed here. Erasing bisxuality from the queer experience is often just due to ignorance, which is why it’s so important to educate yourself on what bisexuality is and the ways sexuality exists on a spectrum.

Why it’s not true. 

Not only is this statement a misconception, but it’s accusing the many people who identify as bisexual of lying about their own lived experiences. The truth is that of the roughly nine million LGBTQ+ adults in the United States, more identify as bisexual than as lesbian or gay. And young people especially are more likely than ever before to identify as “not straight,” with many forgoing defining their sexuality at all. 

To deny any of this is to suggest that bisexual people are lying about their own lives and feelings. For a group that already faces striking mental health disparities when compared with their straight and gay peers, that’s a low blow. 

4. Myth: Bisexuality is a phase people grow out of when they settle down.

Society is obsessed with defining us by our destinations rather than our journeys. What you want to be when you grow up is perceived as more important than what you want to learn along the way.

Similarly, when it comes to romantic and sexual identity, we are fanatical about deciding who people are based on who they “end up with,” if anybody. For bisexuals, this means it’s often impossible to be perceived as “still bisexual” if you settle down with a partner; the outside world will likely make an assumption about you — i.e. that you’re either gay or straight — based on your partner’s gender. 

Why it’s not true.

Bisexuality is no more a “phase” than any other sexual orientation. Folks who commit to one partner are still capable of feeling attracted to other people and other genders. 

5. Myth: Bisexuality is anti-transgender. 

“Bisexual” isn’t the only word used to describe attraction to multiple genders. Pansexual, queer, and other terms have their own nuances, but can be used to describe the same or similar feelings. However, because of the prefix “bi” in the word “bisexual,” there’s a common misconception that bisexuality upholds the gender binary, or the wrongful idea that there are only two genders, male and female. This couldn’t be farther from the truth

Why it’s not true. 

First, sexuality and gender identity are two completely different concepts. Second, the specifics of who a bisexual person is attracted to varies from person to person — wait for it — just like with any other sexual orientation. Some bi folks are attracted to transgender people and some are not, but there is nothing about bisexual identity that inherently excludes trans people. In fact, the definition of bisexuality mentioned above — attraction to more than one gender — is crafted intentionally to avoid forcing people into boxes like male and female, and to avoid using incorrect language like “both genders.” And many trans people themselves identify as bisexual, and vice versa. 

The Bottom Line. 

Bisexuality matters. As previously mentioned, bisexuals make up a slight majority of the growing LGBTQ+ community. But even if we didn’t, we deserve to be treated with respect, dignity, and compassion simply for being people. Anti-bisexual stigma and discrimination has some harmful impacts for bi people, from poorer health outcomes to higher rates of intimate partner violence. It’s on all of us to stop spreading the misconceptions that contribute to this stigma and correct the record.

O.team

Reviewed for Medical Accuracy

The O.school team is here to provide you with the most medically-accurate information around sex, sexual wellness, pleasure, relationships, and dating. Every article we publish is vetted by our medical review board, ensuring that readers are provided with answers you can trust.

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