There are universal truths when it comes to dating. Regardless of age, race, sexuality, or gender, we all want to date someone who treats us with respect, makes us laugh, and gives us that warm, fuzzy feeling whenever we see them.

It seems obvious, but it’s worth calling out: This applies when you’re dating a bi man, too. Still, there are a few ways that dating a man who openly identifies as bisexual is, in fact, different.

As a bi man in his late 20s who’s been out for quite a while now — and been on, quite literally, hundreds of dates — I feel like I’m pretty well-qualified to share what you should know before dating a bi guy. 

1. Don’t force us to “prove” our bisexuality. Instead, listen and support us. 

I’ve had dates who want me to disclose the intimate details of everyone I’ve dated and slept with to validate my bisexuality. To them, unless I’m sleeping with men and women equally, I’m not bisexual. This is so not true; you can be bisexual and never have dated or slept with someone of the same gender. It’s about attraction, not action. Just because I haven’t dated a woman seriously in a year doesnt mean I’m “effectively gay now.” Your desire to prove to me that the identity I proudly claim is incorrect is not only strange, it’s off-putting. 

Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t ask us questions about our sexuality. You do, however, need to intuit if your date feels comfortable discussing the subject. I, for one, don’t mind talking about my sexual identity on a first date so long as the tone is respectful, but I have friends who prefer not to broach the topic. If that’s the case, don’t make it awkward —  simply change the topic of conversation. 

But let’s say your date is like me and they don’t mind sharing the details of their sexual orientation. All you have to do is listen and express support. When I’m talking about how it felt really lonely being bi and closeted, say how that sounds hard. If I’m talking about a great experience I had with a person of another gender, say it sounds fun. If you believe and don’t judge us, I guarantee you’re going to land a second date.  

2. Openly acknowledge your fears about dating a bi man.

While you may do your best to not believe all the negative sterotypes about bisexual men, like that we’re secretly gay, more likely to cheat on you with a person of another gender, or more likley to spread STIs, you may still have some deep-rooted, unconscious beliefs. We’re not going to blame you for it (whereas we will blame you for repeatedly questioning our existence). We live in a society where biphobia is rampant, and bi men have so many untrue connotations associated with our identity.

Many people I’ve dated pretend they don’t have these negative beliefs only to ghost me, break up with me, or have a bizarre outburst that clearly didn’t have anything to do with my actions, but rather, their perceptions of who I am.

If, as a straight woman, you tell me, “A fear I’ve had about dating a bi guy is that they’re going to cheat on me with a man. I know that’s not the case with most bi men, but I can’t help but worry,” I am going to respect the living hell out of you. I will do my best to address your reservations. I’ll tell you the truth: I’ve never cheated on a partner with a person of another gender (or cheated at all). We can then move past this together. I’d much rather we have a conversation where you admit that you believe some less-than-ideal tropes about bi guys so we can then talk through and overcome them, than I would you claim you’re totally fine with dating a bi guy, but then ghost me two months later. 

3. You can fetishize us a little, but let’s not go wild. 

I, too, think it’s “totally hot” that I sleep with men and women. But if that’s the only reason you’re into me, let’s not date. I’ve experienced fetishization by both gay men and striaght and bi women. Some gay men view me as being more “masculine” because I sleep with women, which is unequivocally false. I’m a “Yas Bitch, WERK” type of queer man.

I’ve also had straight and bi women tell me they are insanely turned on by the fact that I date other men. I’m glad, and we’re in total agreement there. But still, that can’t be the only thing about me you’re into. Perhaps it’s why you initially wanted to go out with me, but you have to learn to like me for more than that.

4. Let us be “one of the boys.” 

I’ve noticed this happens most often with gay men I date. I’ll be in a group with the gay guy I’m dating and a bunch of other friends, and we’ll all start talking about past hookups. When it’s my turn and I happen to bring up a woman I slept with or dated, often, the gay men — including the guy I’m dating — become visibly uncomfortable. The mood of the conversation quickly shifts. Even though everyone there knows my sexual preference, it’s almost like a don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy. When I do tell, I feel as if they don’t view me a part of the group. It’s as if they feel I’m no longer considered marginalized because I date women too, which is not true, especially when you look at health disparities within the bi community. 

That’s why I like it when the gay men I date respond with the same exact enthusaism as if I were talking about a man. “Oh, girl, yasss!!” Or they can respond with something funny and positive acknowledging that I sleep with women too. “Go get that real fish, honey.” 

5. Stand up for us when we’re not in the room.

Odds are, at least one of your friends will say something ignorant or offensive when they find out you’re dating a bi guy. Don’t let it slide. If they say, “Aren’t you worried he’ll leave you for a man?” tell them why you’re not. “No, I addressed this with him, and I trust him.” While we might not know you’re standing up for us in that moment (we’re not there, after all), it speaks volumes to how much you care about us, and we really do appreciate it.