Love, Self

6 Red Flags To Watch For When Coming Out As Bisexual To Your Heterosexual Partner

Photo: getty
Red Flags to Watch For When Coming Out as Bi to Your Opposite Sex Partner

Getting to the "let's talk about our exes" part of a new relationship should be an exciting milestone. It means you're invested enough to dig deep and consider the ways you want your relationship to be different than past relationships.

But when you’re bisexual, not openly out, and wanting to come out to your opposite sex partner, it can be a conversation riddled with anxiety and dread. I've had these conversations many times and I've encountered men who were intimidated, disgusted, aroused, and everything in between.

Bisexuality is often misunderstood. Some of the prevailing stereotypes are that bisexuals don't exist, or they’re either gay or straight and don't want to admit it. Or they just can't make up their mind. Or they're sexually promiscuous and don't want to narrow the pool of potential partners.

None of that is true, so I didn't want my sexuality to be a point of contention or fetishization. Gauging men's reactions to my coming out determined whether we would continue to see each other.

RELATED: This Is What Being Bisexual Really Means (To Me, At Least)

After having enough of these conversations over the years, I started to think I would never meet a man who wasn't bothered by my attraction to and relationships with women. I had a hard time imagining what an appropriate response would look like until I received one.

I came out as bi to a man I'd recently begun seeing and he calmly replied, "Okay." After waiting in awkward silence, expecting the worst, I could've fainted from relief that this didn't warrant a discussion.

That was when I learned that the only appropriate response an opposite sex partner can give when you come out as bi is "okay." Anything but unqualified acceptance is a red flag.

A strong visceral reaction from a partner lets you know immediately something is wrong, but there are more subtle reactions that are indicators of bad news to come. Here are 6 red flags to watch out for.

1. They're shocked or skeptical.

This usually translates to "You don’t look like someone on the LGBTQ+ spectrum!" At best, surprise about your sexuality means he probably doesn’t have meaningful relationships with queer people, so non-straight relationships aren’t normalized for him. At worst, it’s an invalidation of your sexual identity.

He might even be thinking your relationships with same-sex partners didn’t "count." Proceed with caution.

2. They expect you to be remorseful.

If your new man is bothered by your previous relationships with women, he might expect you to make grand overtures to prove you're really attracted to him. He might want you to say your past relationships were a mistake, or that you'll never date another woman again now that you’ve met him.

This amounts to wanting you to atone — and you don’t owe that to anybody. Sexuality isn’t something you should have to apologize for. If your partner implies it is, you should think twice before committing further.

RELATED: Why I Regret Telling My Husband I'm Bisexual

3. They treat your bisexuality like it's a phase.

People who don’t understand bisexuality tend to see relationships as "gay" or "straight," and consider you "gay" or "straight" depending on who you're partnered with. If your partner sees you as a straight person because you’re with him now, that's a problem.

"That was then, this is now" may sound understanding on the surface, but it's dismissive and means they see your sexuality as a phase rather than a permanent state of being. It’s important for the person you’re with to understand that your bisexuality doesn't change, no matter who your partner is.

4. They need constant reassurance that they're better than your same-sex partners.

It could be because he's wondering if you're really lesbian and not bi. Or he might be wondering how he stacks up to your same-sex partners. Either way, if you coming out affects his confidence, that's a warning sign. Coming out shouldn't have him suddenly worried about his performance in bed.

Having to constantly reassure him about his place in your life is exhausting because it signals he either doesn't trust you or he’s doubting himself to the point he's willing to let it affect your relationship. That isn't fair to you, and it's a bad sign for the longevity of your time together.

5. They make jokes about "turning" you straight.    

If he jokes about turning you straight, he probably wishes you were. A male partner of mine once responded to a comment from a mutual friend who said "You two make a cute couple" with "Good thing I turned her straight!" He thought it was a joke. It wasn’t.

Not only does thinking he can turn you straight show a lack of understanding about sexual diversity, it’s disrespectful! Changing someone's sexual orientation shouldn’t be an aspiration or goal of his. If your partner acts like it is, look out.

6. They get paranoid when you hang out with your queer friends.

If he starts seeing all your queer friends as threats or competition, he might be worried you're going to leave him and he might want you to stop hanging out with the people he's intimidated by. He may not trust you, he might have a problem with your bisexuality, or he might have deep-seated homophobia that's coming out given his new proximity to your friend group.

Giving up your community, especially a marginalized community that thrives on solidarity, shouldn't be an expectation in a healthy relationship. Even if your new partner has convinced himself his fear comes from a good place, you’ll have to tell him that’s not the case.

RELATED: 19 People Reveal The Harsh Reality Of Coming Out As Bisexual

Mandy Shunnarah is a writer based in Columbus, Ohio. Check out her website, Off the Beaten Shelf.