“If a man has been intimate with another man, I would be turned off. It’s a dominance thing,” says Ashley, 23. “There are so many men out there that it’s easy to disregard the ones who might want a man as opposed to a woman. I’d be extra insecure because they’d be that much more likely to cheat on me. If they actually like both genders, it doubles my competition.”
Ashley’s views might seem presumptuous and extreme, especially considering a third of young Americans do not identify as entirely heterosexual— but they’re quite common. A 2016 Glamour survey of 1,000 woman found 63% wouldn’t date a man who’s had sex with another man, yet 31% of these women have had a sexual experience with another woman.
More recent research published in the Journal of Bisexuality, asked people of all sexual orientations to review dating profiles of men and women where nothing was altered but their sexual orientation. The results indicated that straight women perceive bi men as less attractive than straight men and are less likely to date and/or have sex with them.
Even Amber Rose, a key player in the sex positivity movement, has problematic views regarding bisexual men. “Personally — no judgment — I wouldn’t be comfortable,” she said on her podcast. “I just wouldn’t be comfortable with it, and I don’t know why.”
I’ve experienced this prejudice firsthand. Years ago, I was in a long-term relationship with a woman who freely shared in a group of friends that she’d had a threesome with another woman. When I expressed interest in doing the same with another man, she told me she’d puke in that situation.
“I’ve been out as bisexual for two years and haven’t dated many straight women in that time — it’s felt much easier and safer to date men or queer women,” Robert, 28, says. “I remember going on a first date with a straight woman, set up by mutual friends, that seemed to be going great for a while — until I came out as bi.”
As soon as the words left his lips, Robert says everything changed. His date’s expression became concerned and almost annoyed, the conversation fell flat, and the rest of the evening felt extremely awkward. “She didn’t ask me a single follow-up question about my sexuality. Apparently it was an instant deal breaker,” he says. “Neither of us reached out to the other after that date.”
According to Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli, Ph.D., whose research directly addresses the relationship between straight women and bisexual men, women are influenced by our patriarchal society to believe bisexual men lack a certain masculine dominance that we’re taught is desirable.
Bi guys and the women who date them are often told their love is inauthentic. Bi men are assumed to be gay, and the women who date them are pitied because they must be unaware of this fact.
There is also a very strong association with cheating — that bisexual men will have sex with other men behind their female partner’s backs because they’re not out to their partners as bi. “Those things do happen,” Pallotta-Chiarolli admits. “But when we’ve explored the reasons why, we found there is a strong link between [bisexual men] being closeted and cheating on their female partners with men because they didn’t feel confident communicating their wants and needs. If there was less stigma against bi men, more would be out.” Based on this, we can assume that the association with cheating would decrease.
Still, this is just one of the many ways bisexual men are condemned by society. Bi guys and the women who date them are often told their love is inauthentic. Bi men are assumed to be gay, and the women who date them are pitied because they must be unaware of this fact. “If we could all be a lot more aware of sexual fluidity and diversity and how it can work in many different relationship configurations, we would see a minimization of some of this [criticism],” Pallotta-Chiarolli says.
Of course, not all women are turned off by bisexual men. Take Becky, 33, for instance. “I’ve always been attracted to bisexual men, though I didn’t really realize it until recently,” she says. “When I was 16, my boyfriend told me he’d experimented with a friend of his, and from then on, every time the three of us were together I wanted something to happen.”
Becky favors bisexual men, because she considers herself “kinky” and has found they are more likely to be open to being sexual with other men and taking on submissive roles in the bedroom. She’s also captivated by the confidence it takes for bisexual men to accept and be open with their sexuality.
Katie, 27, likes dating bisexual men because she believes they are better communicators. “My bisexual partners have always been open with their sexuality, which helps build trust from the get-go,” she says.
Bisexual men also happen to be less phased by gender expression as they openly question the traditional confines of masculinity, and that’s a quality more women are seeking. Pallotta-Chiarolli’s research suggests bisexual men are considered better fathers for similar reasons.
In many cases, the decision to date a bisexual man comes down to what an individual seeks in a relationship. If a woman has a particular set of sexual interests or is seeking a less traditional partnership, a bisexual man may be the more ideal partner. However, if a woman is seeking a traditional, heteronormative, and monogamous relationship, then, based on the individual bi man’s values, they may not be the right fit.
“Women say that once they’ve been with a bi man, they could never go back to a straight man,” Pallotta-Chiarolli says of her research. If you wish to find out why, go explore. If not, keep doing you, boo. But don’t judge others for their broadening their horizons.