How to Know if You’re Bisexual (According to Experts)

Are you curious if you might be bisexual? If so, you’re not alone. Many people feel confused or uncertain about their sexual orientation at some point in their lives.

It can be difficult to know where to turn for answers but don’t worry; there are ways to tell whether or not you fall into that spectrum.

According to experts, the following are signs to know if you’re bisexual.

Tavi Hawn, LCSW-C

Tavi Hawn

Consultant | Founder, Reclaim & Rise Therapy | Author, “The Gender Identity Guide for Parents

First, a hot tip is that the term bisexual (bi) has always been used by some to describe attraction to people of many genders, not just two.

Another fun fact: You can also experience romantic and sexual feelings as a spectrum when you identify as bisexual. It doesn’t mean you’re equally attracted to each gender.

Some people might experience more sexual attraction to one or more genders and romantic attraction to just one gender, for example. Some people are attracted to different characteristics of different genders. And others are attracted to the individual, regardless of their gender.

And let’s be clear that it’s a stereotype (with maybe some biphobia thrown in) that bisexual people are more likely to cheat on a partner or are attracted to everyone all the time.

Being bi isn’t a phase, and bi folks are still bi, even if they’re in a long-term monogamous relationship.

Your confusion with your sexuality might be telling you something

Sexuality can be confusing af no matter your age! The confusion might be telling you something.

At any age, you might notice or experience feeling confused about a friendship with somebody of another gender that you didn’t think you were attracted to.

You start to notice those crush-type feelings, maybe getting a little nervous or giddy around your friend in a way that feels like, “Wait, this feels more like the way I’ve felt with romantic or sexual crushes, not platonic friends. Uh-oh! What do I do?”

Related: 7 Physiological Signs of a Crush, According to Experts

Maybe you’ve noticed one of your friendships has gotten really intense or involved in a way that feels more like a romantic relationship. Maybe you have childhood memories of friendships feeling that way. For some of us, recognizing these feelings and admitting them to ourselves was one of the first signs we weren’t straight.

It can be a little daunting to figure out that you’re bi if you’ve gone for much of your life assuming you were straight, but I promise you will be okay!

Side note, feeling confused about their sexuality is not something most straight people go through.

That warm feeling in your pants can tell you a lot

Maybe you’re having sex dreams about people of different genders. Now, this might not necessarily mean you’re bisexual, but it can be an indicator, especially if combined with other things that are going on. You may not be ready to take steps to explore this in real life, but in the meantime, enjoy those dreams!

You might feel turned on when watching sexy scenes in movies or reading erotic scenes in books that involve people of various genders. Maybe you have crushes on all the actors in a movie.

Sometimes bi people start to have the realization of their identity after noticing that they’re frequently fantasizing about sex with people of multiple genders or a different gender than they’ve slept with before.

This might happen while getting it on with one person or when you’re masturbating too. The fantasy might turn into a desire to try those activities.

You might be bisexual if you start seeking out “how to” guides on sex techniques with a gender you haven’t previously been with. Maybe you’ve made out with people of various genders at parties or sleepovers or had a threesome that you enjoyed.

You have asked yourself questions about your sexuality

Sometimes people who know us well have picked up on some flirting behaviors, facial expressions, roaming eyes, sexual or relationship patterns, etc., that we have buried in our subconscious.

Related: How to Flirt

Or maybe that question keeps sneaking up in your mind: “am I really straight/gay, or is it possible that I’m bisexual?” It’s great for everybody to ask these questions as part of self-awareness, and sometimes when the question returns, again and again, it means your core self is telling you something important.

If you tend to hang out with a lot of other bi people or queer people, you might be bi

If you notice that you feel more comfortable around bisexual people and in the queer community, that’s usually a sign. There’s often a friendly joke in queer circles about how many of us started out as “eager allies” to 2SLGBTQIA+.

Maybe you’ve been an ardent advocate for bi people and put the smackdown on any biphobic comments you hear. You might just be a kind and passionate person, or….you might be bi.

If the term bisexual feels like a good fit for you

Each person gets to decide how to describe their own sexuality and identity. If the word bisexual feels good to you, then that’s the right way for you to identify at this moment in time.

Labels for yourself can change throughout your life because we grow, change, and learn about ourselves all the time. You can also choose not to label your sexuality.

If you’re discovering that you’re bi, congrats! Find support from other bi people and enjoy the journey.

Erika Dawkins, PsyD, MEd

Erika Dawkins

Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology, Widener University

If folx was hoping to find some concrete ways to make the final determination of their bisexuality or otherness, sadly — this ain’t it.

The truth is that sexuality, like so many other facets of our identities, occur on a continuum, a spectrum you will develop over time and ebb and flow in terms of salience in our lives.

The reality is that there are a number of factors that go into how we might identify ourselves, and there may not be enough Cosmo quizzes or yes/no questions in the world to help us ever decide for certain and forever.

If we really consider the areas that often can lead to us making decisions around our orientation and support our attraction (or don’t) — like sexual behaviors, fantasies, attractions, and emotional connections — we might find that they don’t always align with how we identify.

For many who do arrive at the place of being able to identify as bisexual confidently, the road there may have been filled with more twists and turns than one might imagine.

It can be helpful to have some suggestions on how to navigate your own path, and that’s what we’ll try and do here.

Have a general working sense of what ‘bisexuality’ means and what it might feel like

While there is some variation in the field about the current working definition, generally, bisexuality can be defined as “an individual’s attraction to more than one gender or sex.”

This attraction could vary over one’s lifetime, and as you see by definition, the idea is to be inclusive of all gender and sex identities and that a person does not have to choose just one in terms of their attraction.

Understand the various ways that you’re attracted

Bisexuality is not just about having sex or even sexual attraction towards multiple genders or sexes. Many of us have been in a position to objectively find someone attractive and not have the desire to move past the point of recognition.

Some of the reflections around how you feel about people you’ve been attracted to can include saying, “I could see myself ‘being with’ this person (or someone like them),” and that happening with similar genders and/or sexes over multiple instances.

Dip your toe or dive into testing out your understanding

Now here comes the potentially really fun and helpful part. You can try and get a better sense of your attraction by exploring it a bit more outside of your own thoughts.

This means not just the physical or sexual part because you can have those fantasies and desires and not have any wish to be with someone in that way; it means looking at all the ways you’re attracted and exploring those in a way that feels safe and transparent and consensual with a willing potential partner.

With some of the knowledge gained from these suggestions, the rest is up to the individual.

Deciding if a label is necessary or appropriate for one’s lived experience — if it “fits” — is really up to the person.

It’s understandable that this can maintain feelings of frustration or unrest for individuals looking to make a concrete decision and those around them, and this is one of the joys of life — finding our way and being able to give voice to it. Here’s to the journey!

Brenton Guice

Brenton Guice

Registered Dental Hygienist | Provisionally Licensed Professional Counselor, The Mental Hug

Before discussing bisexuality, I find it important to note that bisexuality is not a mental health diagnosis or condition. If one is bisexual or feels like they are, it refers to having a preference for two varying gender identities.

As gender identity and sexual orientation are extremely exclusive to the individual, ultimately, you will be the one who knows whether or not you are bisexual.

Therefore, do not utilize the following information as a way to confirm your sexual identity — more so that the information may serve as a guide to understanding yourself.

Here are four possible signs you may be bisexual:

Your sexual preference goes beyond gender

When one identifies as bisexual, it is common to have more attraction to the energy of a person. You may have more sexual interest in one gender but find the persona or heart of someone of another gender extremely attractive.

An often overused sentiment, “It’s not what’s on the outside, but the inside that matters,” can be applicable to this in the sense that you are attracted to the energy of a being rather than their gender identity or physical appearance.

Your crushing hard on men and women

Perhaps you’ve been attracted to different male and female characters in movies or TV shows throughout your life but just defaulted to the societal norm of heterosexual interest.

Whether that decision is based on survival (i.e., if expressing interest in bisexuality or homosexuality could have meant bullying, parental neglect, safety concerns, or social isolation) or just what seemed right.

It is not uncommon to go years without truly understanding sexual preference — many adults find themselves struggling with identity development in middle adulthood after they’ve more freedom from social pressure and abilities to form stronger boundaries.

The “just a phase” phrase upsets you

This phrase is often thrown out at those who may be having difficulty expressing their gender identity or sexual orientation. The unfortunate aspect of this phrase is that it undermines the individual from having autonomy and respect in their decision.

If you find yourself gutted when hearing this phrase, it perhaps may indicate a level of passion you have toward discovering your preference and want the same for anyone else going through the same struggle.

You have a gut feeling you’re bisexual

Intuition may be leading you in the direction it feels more authentic. Therefore, if you’ve found yourself to be taking sexual orientation quizzes, reading various articles or books, or listening to varying podcasts about bisexuality, it is possible your instinct is right.

Related: Instinct vs Intuition. What Is the Difference?

Perhaps you’ve found yourself highly anxious, feel intense pressure within the chest, get stomach aches or headaches, and are irritable when feeling limited to dating someone of the opposite binary gender.

Though not definitive, it is possible it is your intuition trying to give you signals that there is more opportunity for love out there. That love is not gender-restricted — it is fluid and unconditional.

When trying to discover yourself, those who truly come beside you and welcome you unconditionally are the ones to keep by your side!

One important detail to remember in anything involving sexual orientation is knowing that you get to decide when you want to explore, discuss with others, or identify as such.

You can do it on your terms, when you’re comfortable, and when you’re ready.

There is no written rule that you have to tell someone — therefore, if you want to be selective about who you tell at the beginning, that is absolutely okay.

It is critical also to protect yourself in the sense that you can take your time with this. Having a network of support is helpful, but understandably, not everyone has this available to them.

There are many resources out there as well as support groups that can offer guidance and advocacy for anyone within the LGBTQIA+ community.

Know that if you feel you are bisexual, there is help out there, and you definitely do not have to figure it all out on your own.

Ellen Eve Mischinski

Ellen Eve Mischinski

Educator and Sexuality Coach

If saying that you’re bisexual feels good, then you’re bisexual

How we talk about bisexuality has shifted and evolved over time, especially as our categorizations for gender have shifted.

These days, the most common definition is “someone who is attracted to more than one gender,” and it’s often used as an umbrella term for anyone who isn’t exclusively homosexual or heterosexual.

The bisexual umbrella can encompass people who identify as bisexual, pansexual, multisexual, polysexual, and more.

A beautiful thing about bisexuality is that it can manifest in a variety of ways — it doesn’t just mean 50% gay and 50% straight. It’s an entire spectrum. And no, it doesn’t mean that nonbinary people are excluded.

The term has stuck because there is a history of community and activism that we don’t want to lose, even as we’ve grown beyond the limiting etymology of the prefix “bi.”

There are no hard and fast rules about who gets to be bisexual. The label is meant to be descriptive rather than prescriptive.

That’s to say, it should reflect how you feel and your desires, not tell you how you should be. There aren’t any boxes you have to check; your dating and sexual history don’t define your identity.

There’s no right way to be bi. If that label resonates with you, you can choose to embody that identity in your own unique, authentic way.

How do you know if you’re bisexual? If saying “I’m bisexual” feels good, then congratulations — you’re bisexual! If it doesn’t, there are plenty of other identity labels out there for you to explore, but you also don’t need to feel pressure to pin it down.

The ways we, as humans, experience sexuality and desire are complex and multifaceted. It can’t always be conveyed in a single word.

Some people prefer the more nebulous term “queer,” while others prefer a list of labels that specifically describe their sexual and romantic orientations. Both options are perfectly valid.

It’s all about finding the words to share your internal experiences, so finding your ideal way to express that is an extremely personal journey.

Being bisexual is not being on the fence but how you feel inside

At 23, I began questioning my sexuality. Was I a lesbian? The word sounded wrong on my tongue. I had dated men in high school and college, but at this point, the last two people I dated were women.

The struggle with my sexual identity then was thinking I had to choose. This was the early 90s, and “love is love is love” didn’t exist. It wasn’t taboo to be gay, but there was less wiggle room than there is today.

At the time, a friend, who identified as bisexual, invited me to a bisexual women’s group. There I heard women sharing their experiences. A married (to a man) woman with children talked about falling in love with another woman.

Some women said they were attracted physically to men but emotionally to females.

Hearing their stories alleviated my struggle to think I had to make a choice. It gave me breathing room and allowed me not to put myself into one box, a box I was never comfortable being in.

Not because of the stereotyping of being a lesbian but because I was still attracted to men and thought I would have to give that up.

Even while being in love with a much-older woman in the middle of a secret affair, I still didn’t identify as “lesbian.” (I know, I know. If it quacks like a duck…) Deep down, I knew I could still love a man.

Over the years, I’ve had my share of arguments with my partners, both men, and women.

They didn’t like me calling myself bi. The man said I was straight because I was with him. The woman said I was a lesbian because I was with her. I had to explain myself to them.

Their insistence on my identity felt like they were trying to extinguish who I was. Who I am.

Being bi, at least for me, is not about being on the fence, it’s not about not being able to make a decision, and it’s not about keeping my options open. It’s about how I feel inside.

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