The Big Bi Umbrella
Listen, bisexuality is so damn confusing. Especially when we consider how many other terms exist for "not being totally straight." Think about the last time you signed up for a lifestyle site, for instance. You likely had all sorts of sexuality labels to choose from, including several options that meant "not heterosexual." These could have included bisexual, bi-curious, bi-comfortable, bi-situational, heteroflexible, pansexual, omnisexual, and the list goes on. While I won't take the time to define all of these identities (others have done it before, much better than I could), I thought it would be helpful to share my (Brenna's) experience with labeling my own sexuality as a means of portraying how to wade through the confusion.
I've known most of my life that I wasn't straight. I remember distinctly being in junior high and having a huge crush on one of my female friends. That certainly didn't stop in high school and college, when I could occasionally kiss my friends at parties or other social gatherings. But when you're that age, and a female, everyone laughs it off. Even some of my male partners, after hearing of my lady-on-lady fun in my youth, would say things like, "Yeah, that's just what girls do! They experiment!" When I was in my 20's, however, I realized it was more than that. I found myself sexually attracted to women on several occasions, and it caused me to question my sexuality in a very real way.
What was more confusing to me was this: I never found myself wanting to date any of the women I was sexually attracted to. I would daydream about them kissing me, touching me, us laying with our naked bodies touching. But I never once thought to myself, "Wow, she's amazing. I really want to ask her out for a drink one of these days." So....what the hell did that mean?
This confusion was intensified by a well-meaning yet slightly misinformed lesbian friend of mine. When I had this discussion with her, explaining that I wanted to have sex with women but nothing more, her response was as follows: "Most women fall into that category. But it doesn't mean you aren't straight. If you aren't willing to take a girl out, tell your family about her, treat her just like you would any of your male partners, it means you're not bi."
By the time I entered the lifestyle along with my partner, Brian, I had been fortunate enough to play with a couple of lovely ladies. All of the female interactions I had encountered were so wonderful, and it made me realize why I was attracted to women: The soft skin, the sensuality, the smell, and their ability to communicate about their needs on a different level than most men I had been with in the past. I loved being delicate and sweet with women, a role I rarely took on with my male sexual partners. I longed for sex with women, but still had zero interest in a romantic relationship with one.
And honestly, not much has changed. Over the almost 4 years we have been in the lifestyle, I have encountered some of the most beautiful women you can imagine. I've been lucky enough to touch them, to be in their presence, and I appreciate them on such a deep sexual level. Yet not a single time has a sexual relationship blossomed into anything more, despite complete support from my partner. I have never once thought to myself, "Wow, this woman is amazing. I should really date her." So....am I bisexual?
From a definition standpoint, yes, I am bisexual. Some would argue this, but the widely accepted definition of a bisexual person is, "An individual who has romantic attraction, sexual attraction, or sexual behavior toward both males and females, or to more than one gender." In other words, even if I never date a woman, I am classified as a bisexual woman. In other news....I am technically heteroromantic, meaning I, "experience romantic interest in only members of the opposite gender." Yup, nails it.
And honestly, none of this much matters in the lifestyle, because it's about sex and friendships over romantic relationships. Where it becomes confusing is in the world of polyamory (which we have interest in exploring). If I list myself as bisexual on a poly dating site, the assumption will automatically be (fair or unfair) that I am interested in pursuing a romantic relationship with both men and women. Lifestylers experience this in a little bit different way. For instance, we have had many listeners of our podcast, Front Porch Swingers, reach out over the years saying things like, "I love to kiss women, and even fondle above the waist. But I don't want to go down on them. Am I still bisexual?" And my answer is always the same: "Well, do you experience sexual attraction to women, even if it doesn't include oral sex? Because if so, technically speaking, you are bisexual."
Here's what it really comes down to: People can identify in any way they so choose. It's an incredibly personal choice that shouldn't be dictated by "popular opinion." That being said, it's important to understand how labels in places like swinger bios impact the perception others have of you. If you list yourself as bisexual, and don't take the time to explain in your bio what that means to you, it's to be expected that you may have others reaching out to you for a type of play you aren't comfortable with. It's about communication, clearly explaining your interests and boundaries as you interact with others. Doing so will inevitably result in you finding play partners you are compatible with and that respect the decisions and realizations you have developed regarding your sexual interests.