While society is arguably more accepting of diverse sexualities these days, figuring out how to define your own personal sexual identity can still be confusing—especially when you're still trying to make sense of what all these terms mean. Figuring out your sexual orientation might be difficult or take time, and that's OK.
If you think you might be bisexual, you might be experiencing a mix of feelings: perhaps confusion, a bit of fear, and maybe, just maybe, a bit of excitement as you're starting to identify this part of yourself. Ahead, we talk about how to know if you may be bisexual and what to do next if that may be the case.
What does it mean to be bisexual?
A bisexual person is someone who is romantically and sexually attracted to more than one gender, which might include women, men, nonbinary folks, and other genders.
Although the term was traditionally associated with attraction toward men and women, specifically, our understanding of sexual orientation and gender has evolved, and today bisexuality is not boxed as binary.
"In the past, we commonly thought of bisexuality as being 'attracted to both sexes,' but this more contemporary definition offers and honors gender identity over biological sex and is more inclusive in that way," Jesse Kahn, LCSW-R, CST, sex therapist and director at the Gender & Sexuality Therapy Center, tells mbg.
Bisexuality conforms to no rules when it comes to the type or amount of attraction a person must feel to be considered bisexual. It is not a box to fit into but a doorway to discover one's authentic self.
According to a 2022 Gallup report, 7.1% of U.S. adults identify as LGBTQ+. Of those LGBTQ+ folks, a whopping 57% are bisexual, making it the single largest group within the LGBTQ+ community.
9 signs you may be bisexual.
There is not one single process for identifying one's sexual preferences; the experience can vary from person to person. That said, here are some of the most common signs that you may be bisexual:
Your feelings confuse you.
Regardless of your identity, feelings in general can be confusing. However, one sign that you may be bisexual is feeling confused about your attraction to other people, especially when it comes to what genders you are or aren't attracted to. Bi feelings can be confusing—especially if you've grown up in a traditional household or have preferred one gender for most of your life.
You've had confusing friendships in the past.
Have you ever felt a weird connection with a friend but were too afraid to confront it? Do you always find yourself afraid to "cross that one thin line"? That may be a sign of bisexuality. Confusing "nonromantic" or "quasi-romantic" relationships can be a common experience for bisexual people.
You've felt drawn in by people of more than one gender.
For many people, physical attraction is often the first step when it comes to developing deeper feelings for someone. One of the most common telltale sign that you may be bisexual is if you feel an undeniable attraction toward a person's appearance and looks, regardless of their gender.
Your sexual fantasies aren't always heterosexual in nature.
Do you fantasize about physically being with people of various genders? Has your porn history begun to expand to include scenes outside of just the heterosexual norm? These are all signs you're likely sexually attracted to more than one gender.
One's gender doesn't stop you from wanting a relationship with them.
Bisexuality equips you with the capacity to fully love and date multiple genders (or even all of them!). Visualizing a long-term relationship with someone outside of their gender is a good sign that you may be bisexual. You might be more comfortable with one specific gender over others, but if you could see yourself dating people of different genders, that may signal some bisexual inclinations.
You are attracted to fictional characters, regardless of their gender…
…or relate more to bisexual characters on your favorite show, movie, or book. Though this does not immediately confirm you are bisexual, having a sense of attraction, connection, or pride with these characters can be good indicators that you might be one.
You have answered lots of "Am I Bi?" quizzes online.
Ever tried to take an online quiz to confirm if you're bisexual? This could mean that you are having conflicting feelings or emotions over yourself or someone, and finding answers online seems like the only way to help. You may brush it off as a silly little quiz, or you may do it "just for fun," but questioning to this extent alone is something many LGBTQ+ people experience.
The "bi" label resonates.
Labels can be overwhelming for everyone. However, when you read or hear about bisexuality and what it means, you find yourself validated and understood. If you're comfortable using and being called this label, it's a good sign that you may indeed be bisexual.
"Many people will also define their sense of bisexuality on their own terms as well, so it's important to be curious about not just what terms people use to identify themselves but also the importance of that identity to them personally," Caraballo adds.
You just know it.
Something in you clicks—you just know it. Many recount their experience as just the realization hitting them, like they have known it all along. All it took was one encounter, one experience, or one moment of reckoning, and everything fell into place.
"Ultimately, each person will relate to and define their sexuality differently," Kahn adds. "It's about what words mean to you and your communities, and why that word choice is most accurate or meaningful to you."
I think I may be bisexual — what now?
Bisexuality is a unique identity that is worthy of acceptance and all the same rights as any other sexual orientation. Resonating with this identity may be overwhelming at first, but it is an exciting journey toward self-discovery and self-love.
Here are a few things to keep in mind if you think you may be bisexual:
"It's important to people who are learning more about themselves in this area to give themselves a lot of grace and compassion," Caraballo says. "There are a lot of external messages and voices that contribute to our internal programming and belief systems. This can make feeling secure in your identity difficult."
While there may be misconceptions and prejudice surrounding bisexuality, know that it truly is something to celebrate. Your identity is valid, and understanding your sexual preferences better is always a good thing.
Take your time.
"If you're having a hard time figuring out your sexuality, just remember that there's no rush to figure anything out and that coming into your sexuality is a fluid experience that can change over your lifetime," Kahn reminds.
Don't pressure yourself to "come out."
On that note, you may be wondering whether you need to "come out" to others about your newfound identity. Coming out is very personal, and it's all up to you. Some decide to come out as a way of introducing their true selves, while others don't feel the need to do so. You don't have to come out if you don't want to or before you're ready, nor do you have to be open about your sexuality and preferences to everyone.
Keep learning about queerness and unlearning heteronormativity.
"A large part of realizing one's sexuality often involves unlearning heterocentric and queer-phobic cultural narratives and beliefs that we've all internalized," says Caraballo, "while creating space in yourself and perhaps with others to explore and stay connected to what YOU like, want and desire."
Find a support system and community.
Of course, not everybody will understand your bisexuality, and you'll probably receive a wide range of reactions, especially from the people you care about. So surrounding yourself with people who understand, support, and love you is one of the best and more important parts of this journey.
Keep in mind that you need to open up to people you trust and feel comfortable talking with. Caraballo suggests relying on your more accepting friends and family members, as well as therapists familiar with supporting LGBTQ+ people, for ongoing support in your self-discovery process. This support network can help you process new knowledge and emotions that you are unfamiliar with. It is always easier to work it out with someone else.
Spend time in queer spaces.
"Spending time with LGBTQ+ folks, or in those spaces, often allows for more clarity and experiences to draw from as you move forward on your journey of self-discovery and acceptance," Caraballo says.
In all of the confusion, it can be comforting to hear stories from other people's experiences; knowing that other people may be going through the same things as you are can allow you to gain confidence and find reassurance that everything will be OK.
Caraballo also suggests exploring queer books, movies, and other media.
Know how to protect yourself.
Regardless of your identity, knowing how to protect yourself sexually should be one of your top priorities. This involves deciding on your sexual nonnegotiables, identifying what you want and don't want to do with your partners, and communicating your emotional needs.
Misconceptions about bisexuality:
It's always just black or white.
Many tend to confuse bisexuality as the attraction to men and women alone. In reality, you can be both bisexual and nonbinary, and being bisexual can include attraction to nonbinary people. Bisexuality is just about being attracted to more than just one gender; it's not specific to just men and women.
You need to be equally attracted to all genders.
There is also a notion that bisexuals' attraction is split 50/50 (e.g., equally attracted to men as to women). In most cases though, bi folks are more interested in certain genders than others.
Bisexual people are attracted to everyone all the time.
One of the most popular myths about bisexuals is that they're "playing on both fields" to "take every chance they get." This misconception attaches a stigma that bisexuals are more promiscuous than others, given their much bigger dating pool–which is false. In reality, just like a straight woman isn't attracted to every man she meets, a bisexual person experiences attraction only to specific people who fit their fancy.
It's just a phase.
Bisexuals often hear the phrase "pick a lane," suggesting that bisexuality is just a phase and they are bound to choose one gender in the long run. On the contrary though, bisexuality is not just an experimental or transitional phase.
How do you know if you're a bisexual woman?
A bisexual woman is attracted to two or more genders. Beyond that, bisexuality in women can appear in many different ways. For example, perhaps you're typically attracted to men but occasionally experience attraction to women or nonbinary folks. Or you may be equally attracted to women, men, and nonbinary folks, with gender playing less of a role in who you end up liking.
How do I meet other bisexual people?
You can seek out LGBTQ+ community spaces in your local area (try googling "LGBTQ community" or "LGBTQ center" plus the name of your town) to potentially find other bisexual folks, or try visiting the Bisexual Resource Center website for more ideas. Dating apps can also be a great place to meet like-minded people.
Bisexuality is not only a phase. Bisexuality is not playing on both fields. It is an expression of feelings, identity, and preferences that are not bound by stereotypes.
However, having to define yourself and identify your preferences need not be rushed. You can take it slow. Explore the idea, see how this label feels, and know that at the end of the day, only you can decide if you are bisexual or not. While labels can provide comfort and validation, your sexual identity is just one part of who you are and one single puzzle piece in the journey to loving yourself better.
Marj Ostani is a self-developing artist and storyteller producing feminist-centric works in BIPOC communities. They have a bachelor's degree in film from the Colegio de San Juan de Letran in Manilla, Philippines, and their works have been published in Next Shark, Bitch Media, Archer Magazine, Bobblehaus, The Scoop Asia, and more. Marj Ostani Studio is on a mission to build a community of artists centering women, queer, and non-binary stories through conscious creative expression.