When I first came out as bisexual, I thought the world would be my oyster. I had spent my whole life consumed with my sexuality. My confusion (and closetedness) prevented me from truly connecting with others. I was always hiding a part of me that needed to get out. After realizing and accepting I am indeed bi, I thought the hard part was over. I thought I could date both men and women with ease. I thought I could connect with everyone, and my love life would be flooded with suitors of different genders.
I was horribly mistaken.
Many straight women and gay men refuse to date me. They believe false misconceptions about my (bi)sexuality: I can't be monogamous, I'm inevitably going to leave them for someone of another gender, or I'm in denial of being "full-blown" gay.
This isn't everyone, and I've happily dated both men and women since coming out. There is, however, one thing in common with all the people I've dated successfully. They are all far more secure in themselves than the typical millennial. When I date people with any hint of insecurity, the relationship fails immediately. This shouldn't be the case, but it's the sad reality. To date a bisexual man you need to trust him completely, be strong when you hear, "You know your boyfriend is gay, right?" and ready to take on the struggles of dating someone who is bisexual. Most people aren't ready to sign up for this, especially when they could date someone gay or straight and not have to deal with these complications.
Unfortunately, few men and women are that secure of themselves in their twenties. (I know I'm not.) Few men and women are willing to take on the additional hardships of dating someone bisexual when dating is hard enough as is.
So dating as a bisexual guy is not all it's cracked up to be.
But once in a blue moon, I meet someone who wants to date me because I'm bisexual. I've had a couple of gay men tell me, "It's so hot that you have sex with women." I've had women tell me they prefer to date bisexual men because bi guys are more sensitive than their straight counterparts. When I first heard some say he's attracted to me specifically for my sexuality, I was in shock. Once initial surprise wore off, I was not-so cautiously optimistic. Maybe the dating world isn't as bad for a bi boy as I thought.
When so many people don't want to date me because I'm bi, I can't help but be attracted to the people who do want to date me for that exact reason. My sexuality turns so many people off; I love it when it turns people on. For a brief stint, I even filtered OkCupid searches to find people who were solely looking for bisexuals.
I know I shouldn't want to date folks who only like me because I'm bi. When gay men think it's "hot" that I'm bi, they only think this because they believe sleeping with women somehow makes me more "masculine." They think "real men" sleep with women, which is of course, ridiculous, and mildly homophobic. Women who prefer dating bi men think we're more "feminine" or attuned with our emotions than straight men. While I like to think that I am more attuned with my emotions than most men, this has nothing to do with being bisexual.
I am being fetishized. I didn't initially realize it because it isn't as blatant as when visible factors, such as skin color or a big body part, are fetishized. You just don't hear she's got "bi fever," but it's apparently a thing. Those who prioritize my sexuality, regardless of whether it's in favor or against, have one thing in common: preconceived notions and stereotypes. Yes, the stereotypes are less harmful for those who want to date me specifically because I'm bi, even positive, but they are still stereotypes.
Even knowing all of this, I can't help but love being fetishized. I love the attention, and I love being desired, sure, but it's more than that. It's being wanted intimately for a fundamental part of me that most people fear. It's having someone think that this thing about you, this thing that society has trouble accepting, I accept. I not only accept it, I'm attracted to it. I like you because of it, not in spite of it.
I know these are not the right reasons to be liked. I know that I can't date someone who likes me solely because of my sexuality, which has led me to one major conclusion.
My sexuality needs to be secondary when I date.
It's ironic to think that after years of struggling and hiding my sexuality, I don't want it to be at the forefront of my relationships. But I don't want to be defined by my sexuality. I want people to like me because I'm a funny, smart, driven, sensitive guy who values real connections over anything else. I want people of any gender to like me regardless of my sexuality. I want them to like me because they are attracted to me physically and mentally.
My sexuality should have nothing to do with it.