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Dating can be nerve-wracking—you want to present your shiniest, best self to someone who’s essentially a stranger. But what aspects of yourself do you want them to see right away? Are there certain parts of yourself that you aren’t fully comfortable sharing, or that make you feel a little too vulnerable? Are there certain things you shouldn’t share with someone on the first date? When is it appropriate to announce that you live with 37 cats or that you’re secretly Spiderman?
Understanding your own sexuality can be equally confusing and tumultuous. Because of the pressure and violence that accompany being queer, coming to terms with who you are isn’t always an easy ride. So if you’ve found a letter in LGBTQ+ that speaks to you, congrats! You’ve already made huge steps toward being comfortable in who you are. (At the same time, though, you don’t have any obligation to confine yourself to any given label—you might identify with many, none, or feel like your sexuality is constantly changing and evolving. That’s cool too.)
The difficulty with bisexuality in particular is that it’s very frequently erased—people tend to assume that your sexuality reflects the gender of whomever you’re dating, and so this can mean having to come out constantly because people simply can’t tell.
Thanks to online dating, we have the opportunity to indicate our sexuality before we even begin talking to someone. So for some, this is an easy way to avoid engaging with people who aren’t comfortable with bisexuality. It’s important to note, however, that the perception of bisexuality is still riddled with ideas of objectification, sexualization, and non-monogamy (which is totally cool, but not everyone’s bag), so revealing that on your profile can be super vulnerable. Personally, I’ve always put my bisexuality on my dating profiles—I think it’s important for my own future and self-preservation that I be as upfront and honest as possible to avoid matching with someone I won’t get along with.
If the idea of disclosing your sexuality on your profile makes you uncomfortable, you can see instead how you feel during a first date. It’s much easier to assess people in person than through a phone screen, so you can really judge for yourself whether you feel comfortable sharing that information with someone. There’s a lot of nuance that comes with face-to-face conversation that is quite easily lost via text (yes, even with emojis). Telling your date that you’re bisexual this early into the relationship allows more opportunities for emotional safety—you can save yourself from wasting time and emotional energy on someone who isn’t down with your sexuality. Or, you can wait even longer—there’s no universal right time for anyone to tell their potential partner that they’re bisexual. You shouldn’t feel any obligation to tell someone straight away, but if the relationship continues and you haven’t mentioned it until you’re standing at the altar, you may have waited a little too long. Carrying that dishonesty will be heavy for you and your partner.
You could get a bit creative with how you tell them, too—write a letter to them, sing a song, or hang a bisexual flag in the corner of your apartment and wait for them to notice. There’s no right or wrong way to open up to a new or existing partner, but the pressure of keeping such a huge part of your identity from them will inevitably take its toll.
For me, openness and honesty have always been my leading morals. If I’m talking to someone romantically, I want them to know that I’m bisexual and that I’ll never compromise that for someone else’s wishes. Being open and honest is the best way to start any relationship, as it’s then much easier to find out if the two of you have a future.
Ultimately, if you’re on a date with someone who isn’t comfortable with your sexuality, you’re on the wrong date.