When it comes to sexuality there is no such thing as a cut and dry answer. Even for people who identify as straight, sexuality is still a rather fluid construct. In terms of bisexuality, there seem to be more questions than there are answers.
The broadest definition of bisexual (bi) is “experiencing attraction to more than one gender,” according to GLAAD. Not to be confused with pansexuality or even polyamory, bisexuality means that you are attracted either sexually or romantically to both same and opposite sex individuals. It does not mean it necessarily happens at the same time or even to the same degree, but rather it does happen and is a part of who you are.
While there are plenty of terms out there to define a person’s sexuality, there is no one word that truly fits the bill. However, when it comes to being bi, you might be wondering what makes it different from some of the other sexualities.
Understanding the Difference Between Bisexual and Other Terms
Unless a person specifically tells you what their sexuality is, you may not know exactly how they would define themselves. If a person tells you that they are gay, you most likely understand that this means that they are men attracted to other men. If they say they are lesbians, once again you know this means that they are a woman attracted to another woman. But when it comes to terms like bisexuality versus fluid or pansexual, you might have some questions.
While bisexual people are attracted to both their own gender and the opposite gender, for people who identify as fluid, find that their sexuality changes over time. They may or may not be attracted to the same-sex and might find that they are attracted to a specific person versus putting emphasis on the sex of the one they are attracted to. It is a lot like never being attracted to men (as a man) and then one day finding another man attractive and essentially crushing on them.
For some people these terms are interchangeable. But the difference between pansexuality and bisexuality lies in the idea of what gender means. In terms of being bisexual, many people see it as someone who is only attracted to the same-sex and the opposite sex. Basically as a woman who is bisexual I would be attracted strictly to men and other women. However, when it comes to pansexuality, the idea of gender is tossed out the window.
Pansexuality is a much broader term because it essentially allows for attraction of any person, whether they are male, female, straight, gay, transgender, non-binary… Whatever that person is, that is what a pansexual person is attracted to.
Beyond the Definitions
Looking beyond the definitions of what it means to be bi, there are different levels of bisexuality. One can still be bisexual and never have dated someone of the same-sex. At the same time, one can still identify as being bi and only have dates people of the same-sex. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to proclaiming your sexuality, especially when it comes to attraction.
As a woman, you can find yourself attracted to other women, but only date men, and still consider yourself to be bi. You may also find yourself drawn more to one sex over the other.
It is truly up to you to decide what works for you in terms of your sexuality.
Sexuality in general is on a spectrum, and even those people who define themselves as gay/lesbian or straight, might have bisexual leanings.
If you are trying to find a word that works for you, then understanding what the different sexualities are is important. Even if you find yourself attracted to a woman after having only ever having been attracted to men, that doesn’t mean you have to label yourself as being bi.
Instead, think of bisexuality as having longterm attractions to both the same gender and the opposite gender. If you have always been attracted to both men and women, then you are likely bisexual (or pansexual).
Sexuality is messy. There are no right or wrong answers. Instead, there are vague ideas and theories that allow us to define things for others and have a label when we want it.
If you want to define or label yourself, then by all means go for it. But if you are just looking to understand yourself and your desires, then hopefully just accepting that you like what you like is all the answer you need.