Bi, Looking for Love, and All Too Familiar with Rejection

7/16/2018

istock/oneinchpunch

I have a new crush. I haven’t had one in a while, so it’s really exciting. He’s smart, funny, handsome, and femme. All the stuff you (or at least I) like in a partner. He also is 100% gay. He has no sexual interest in women whatsoever.

Excluding one trans woman I dated seriously who was straight, I haven’t dated anyone who isn’t bi since coming out as bi roughly four years ago. This hasn’t been on purpose, but I do think it’s often easier to date other people who are bi/pansexual. The thing I run into most in New York isn’t that people won’t date me because I’m bi (although of course that’s happened), but “Will I be able to give him everything he wants because I’m only one man (or woman)?”

This is a common insecurity that’s come up with a couple of the gay guys I’ve dated more casually in the past few years. I always do my best to assuage any reservations they have with, “I like you, don’t worry,” or since I’ve been in more poly/open relationships since 2015, then I say, “Well, this is why we’re open. And I’m sure there are some things sexually you like that I can’t give you, so go out and get them!”

The man I’m dating now, let’s call him Nick for the time being (and pray he doesn’t read this), isn’t worried about that at all. He knows when I say I like him, that I like him. He knows that while we’re not at the point of monogamy just yet, that I’m open to the idea of it if we get there. (Don’t want to jump the gun!) And while the notion of monogamy scares me, partly because I’ve become so accustomed to a poly/open way of life. I’m happy to compromise, and at least start as monogamous until we build a sense of trust and love, and then, when we’re both comfortable, open things up.

In dating Nick I’ve realized something. I keep letting my past negative experiences shape my future ones. I assume that how people have treated me before is how others are going to treat me now. Of course, this is wrong, but on the flip side, I do want to learn from my mistakes. So it’s good to take some precaution when something has happened to you repeatedly. In my case, the “something” is the (monosexual) person I’m dating having some insecurities about my attractions to all genders.

As I briefly mentioned, my bisexuality isn’t something that bothers Nick or makes him insecure at all. Partly because he has a number of bi/pan/sexually fluid friends, but also because he, himself, is a secure person. He also has a very solid understanding of sexual fluidity and gender fluidity. (He, himself, is very fluid with how he presents gender.) In addition, he sees no reason not to believe me because I’ve been naturally forthcoming and haven’t lied to him about anything yet.

So all of these worries that I had about dating a gay man were really in my head. I had built up this wall as a form of protection. I was tired of monosexuals rejecting me or feeling some sort of way because I’m attracted to all genders. As we all know, walls to keep people out, both figuratively and literally, do not work.

I think as bi people, many of us have built up walls when it comes to dating, especially when we’ve experienced a lot of rejection due to our sexuality or if we’ve either implicitly or explicitly witnessed biphobic comments. (I don’t think this is true only for bisexual people. It’s true for transgender, POC, people with disabilities, and nearly any other marginalized person/community.)

In order to date happily we need to take more risks, not pre-judge, and break down these walls. It’s tough, because you’re going to open yourself up to more rejection. And while rejection gets easier as you get older, it still hurts. And when you’re getting rejected constantly, you develop a sense of learned helplessness, which is defined as “the act of giving up trying as a result of consistent failure to be rewarded in life.” You begin to think that dating isn’t for you, and/or you’re doomed to die alone. This isn’t true. Say it again if you need it. This. Isn’t. True. I know men who didn’t have a serious boyfriend until their late 40’s, now they’re happily married.

But looking at every new person you date with a fresh pair of eyes, without comparing him/her/them to the previous people you’ve dated is crucial. While you open yourself up to more rejection, you also increase the chances of having a fulfilling and meaningful relationship.

So as cliché as it may sound, we need to open ourselves up more to love.

Zachary Zane
Zachary Zane a Brooklyn-based freelance writer, speaker, YouTuber, and activist whose work focuses on (bi)sexuality, gender, identity politics, relationships, and culture. He's a contributing editor at The Advocate Magazine, a columnist at Bi.org, and currently writes for The Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Out Magazine, and PRIDE.