bisexuality in a poly relationship for many is acceptable for women but not for men.
A Poly relationship is an opportunity to explore bisexual romance.
There are many reasons why women are more likely to accept bisexual relationships with other women and men are not.
Research finds more women in poly relationships are bisexual than men. Bisexuality among women is tolerated but shunned for men. “[poly communities] are mostly heterosexual men and bisexual women…Bisexual men’s comparatively lower status also mirrors both monogamous and swinging cultures in which women’s bisexuality is highly valued” (1)
Researchers believe that women’s sexuality is more fluid or flexible than men’s. And although they do not believe that women are inherently bisexual, they believe that women’s sexual attraction can shift more easily than men’s.https://tinyurl.com/2p8na439
Women tend to prefer “sexual fluidity” and will consider relationships with other women. In Why Women Leave Their Husbands for Other Women
women appear more willing than men to change their minds about what turns them on, throughout their lives. Men tend to choose a sexuality and stick with it, experts agree. Women are sexual wildcards
Fluidity was proposed by Lisa Diamond (2). She describes 4 types:
1. Situational fluidity
2. Attraction vs behaviour
3. Temporal instability
4. Responsiveness to less-preferred gender
This type of fluidity relates to bisexuality:
This type of sexual fluidity is where someone has the option and capacity for sexual attraction to partners of different genders.
women who experienced more attraction to their less-preferred gender also showed more variability in their daily reports of sexual attraction to their less-preferred gender over timehttps://tinyurl.com/2p8mw3h8
Although the Diamond study was limited to women, many believe both men and women have some degree of sexual fluidity.
although many people with “fluid” sexualities shun the label of bisexual, bisexuals themselves have never once sought to distance themselves from descriptions of sexuality as fluid. To the contrary: Men and women who identify as bisexual often experience a primary attraction to one gender with rarer instances of attraction to the other, or experience their attractions as shifting over time rather than staying stable—which is to say, their sexuality is fluid.https://tinyurl.com/2p9xhkbr
“Erotic potential, heightened among women, is … sexual fluidity. ..the concept of fluidity overlaps with…bisexuality (since fluidity…makes nonexclusive attractions possible), ..bisexuality can be conceived as a consistent pattern of erotic responses to both sexes…in clear-cut sexual attractions to men and women, possessing a potential for nonexclusive attractions.” (3)
Are women really interested in bisexual men?
Conventional wisdom (usually from popular surveys) claims that women prefer bi guys less than straight or gay men:
In a survey of over 1,000 women, conducted by Glamour in 2016, 63% of women said they wouldn’t date a man who’s had sex with another man. (This isn’t just men who identify as bi. This includes all men who’ve experimented with another man, even if it only happened once!) Still, 47% of women said they’ve been attracted to another woman, and 31% of women have had a sexual experience with another woman.https://tinyurl.com/2p8cr64p
“I’m straight and wouldn’t date a bisexual man. I’m not ‘biphobic’ I just am not comfortable with it and that’s ok. I don’t speak against them or have anything against them. I just don’t want to be involved romantically.”https://tinyurl.com/2nw5hnsa
Some of the reasons women dislike bisexual men are because of the myths of the perceived bisexual lifestyle:
- BISEXUAL MEN ARE INHERENTLY PROMISCUOUS
- BISEXUALITY DOESN’T EXIST
- (Bisexuals have a) FEELING LIKE YOU DON’T BELONG
- POTENTIAL PARTNERS BEING UNCOMFORTABLE WITH BISEXUALITY
Pallotta-Chiarolli said: “many women stated that their bisexual partners made better husbands, fathers, and lovers, but there were [also] some women who were experiencing incredible violence and issues of misogyny…There were men who would abuse, threaten, and act violently towards their female partners, usually when they weren’t out, and usually when the men themselves experienced incredible stigmatization, marginalization, and discrimination for their bisexuality. So these men would displace that onto their partners and children ”
It is also possible that male bisexuals are not really interested in women. In Study: Bisexual Men Not Aroused by Both Sexes, Reiger & Bailey (5) observed from a small genital-erection study: “In men, there is no good evidence that something like a true bisexual attraction is out there…”The majority of bisexual men got aroused to men and only to men,…All those who didn’t look like gay men looked like heterosexual men: They got aroused to women. This study fits the picture that … men are very target specific. They have an object of their sexual desire and go for that. … The pattern is that they have this object specificity — it does not change.” .
However Sexologist Paula Rodriguez Rust (6) says a person’s sexual orientation is not determined merely by genital arousal: “The problem with the (Reiger) article is that the findings have been misinterpreted…If you look at the study data, they actually do not show an absence of bisexual sexual response in men. A number of study subjects clearly did respond to both males and females. The study’s conclusion — that it remains to be demonstrated that men have a bisexual response — is curious, because it is not supported by the findings.”
Bisexuality in men is often determined by the relationship between masculinity, internalized homophobia, non-attachment, psychological distress and body image concerns (4)
Historically, research defined male bisexuality as “a style of interpreting or reporting sexual arousal.“
Male bisexuality appears primarily to represent a style of interpreting or reporting sexual arousal rather than a distinct pattern of genital sexual arousal.https://tinyurl.com/52693bmv
“Highly robust results showed that bisexual-identified men’s genital and subjective arousal patterns were more bisexual than were those who identified as exclusively heterosexual or homosexual. These findings support the view that male sexual orientation contains a range, from heterosexuality, to bisexuality, to homosexuality,”
There is a strong biphobia toward male bisexuals:
Biphobia exists. It must be fought like any type of ostracismhttps://tinyurl.com/yckzevwa
based on sexual orientation. Understanding its roots may also bring to
light further information on “closeted” bisexuals, on the difficulties some
bisexuals have in accepting themselves, and/or on the reactions of gay
men and lesbians to “closeted” bisexuals. One must also take note of the
complaints regarding relationships that are showered on bisexual men,
even these are sometimes voiced in an inappropriate way.
negative attitudes about bisexuals, men in particular, were more prevalent than negative attitudes about lesbians or gay menhttps://tinyurl.com/ys999f5m
“Bisexuality is either the bridge to coming out as gay, or we’re greedy and can’t make up our minds. Bisexual women are not really into women, we just hook up in bars to impress men. Bisexual men are really just gay and haven’t come to realize it…” — Jenny Eastwood
This harmful cultural definition [of bisexuality] not only eroded the identities of thousands of young gay men who were terrified to come out, but also the identities of young bisexual people. When a boy, who everyone suspected to be gay, came out as bisexual, it was a widely accepted fact that they were indeed gay, but just didn’t want to admit it. And so the sexual orientation of bisexuality was diluted, invalidated, denied legitimacy Similarly, young bisexual women were constantly labelled as “attention seekers”, if they kissed another girl at a party they were immediately deemed more promiscuous and it was usually interpreted as sexual “entertainment” for straight men and boys.https://tinyurl.com/ycykn3dm
It doesn’t help when bisexual men are often rejected by both straight and gay communities. Straights think bisexual men are “gay” and gay men think they eventually will become gay. Both straights and gays think bisexuals will never settle for monogamy.
I’ve been asked to stop kissing my girlfriend in gay bars on several occasions. From the outside my girlfriend and I kissing is seen as ‘straight’ therefore we are seen as invading gay people’s safe spacehttps://tinyurl.com/2xahtcyy
Bisexuality in general is stigmatized
Bisexuality in general is often stigmatized by both queer and straight people. One of the misconceptions about bisexuals is that we are incapable of monogamy. This is not true. As polyamory and other forms of open relationships become more normalized, those of all orientations are giving it a shot. However, since we’re already known for being sluts (and sometimes we indeed relish this reputation) if you’re both bi and poly, some guilt can accompany, as you fear you’re confirming people’s misguided perceptions.https://tinyurl.com/4cd58h6d
Many feel left out of the “LGBTQ+” culture despite the “B” signifying them. Bi guys often feel stigmatized by the LGBT crowd. In Bisexual and Polyamorous: How My Pendulum Swings
“Why can’t bisexuals choose a side? You’re so greedy!”
“If you’re polyamorous, does that mean you sleep with everybody?”
The flak I’ve received for being bisexual doubles when people discover I’m involved with more than one person. And when I say I go to swinger parties, hands clutch pearls, eyes pop out of sockets, and there’s this overwhelming concern about the state of my health. It’s assumed that I have legions of lovers, but the reality couldn’t be more different. If there’s no intellectual and emotional connection, sex won’t be enough to sustain me. My two principal partners, who I love and trust with all my heart, understand this all too well. The lines of communication are always open, and if the sex were to end for whatever reason, friendship would be the default.https://tinyurl.com/jbuzrjyu
There are many bisexual guys who live as “quiet”, i.e. they don’t come out to anyone except other bisexuals. They can find partners more readily on dating apps where they can include bisexual tags in their profile. Unlike some gay male subcultures, there are no uniform markers for identifying bisexual men in public. Although bisexual men may find potential partners on dating apps, they might not find social acceptance within some cultures. Large urban US cities have neighborhoods whose residents who are accepting of open bisexual activities such as hand-holding, kissing, etc.
There are some bi guys who think their sexuality is NOT their identity. They prefer to be known by their education, religion, wealth or other social status markers.
There are other bi guys who are “just into” the sex or anatomical features of other guys, and are ill at ease with romantic interactions. For more comments see: Does anyone else feel like an LGBTQ+ outsider?
Bisexuality and Polyamory.
A common myth is that all bisexuals are polyamorous. Bi.org readers were surveyed and commented on their experience.
“The findings that bisexuals are less likely than lesbians, gay men and heterosexuals to value monogamy in a relationship dovetail neatly with the fact that bisexuals are less likely to be involved in monogamous relationships than monosexuals are. In other words, bisexuals’ lower rates of monogamy are not due to inability to commit or to practice fidelity, as is stereotypically assumed, but to positive choices in favor of other types of romantic and sexual relationships that might, in fact, be more effective and stable ways of fulfilling sexual and emotional needs for some people”(6) pp. 428
In Bisexual Polyamorous Clients in Therapy , Stephanie Sullivan writes:
bisexual people prefer polyamorous or open relationships in greater frequency than people of other sexual orientations…Polyamory offers an exceptional way to provide a buffer against bi erasure or invisibility and challenges the risk of falling into heteronormativity
When bisexual individuals can express their identity more fully and be visibly bisexual, especially in the context of a polyamorous relationship, they also tend to have more:
- Freedom to have partner choices of all genders,
- Freedom to speak openly about the full range of their attractions and fantasies,
- Opportunities for group sex, and
- Sexual and romantic enjoyment of different genders.
Gay Polyamory and Bi-sexuality. Dr. Sheff has found few gay male poly families.
Bisexuality and Kink.
The BDSM culture is believed to have some tolerance of bisexuality. Most BDSM events that allow open expression of sexual activities are straight or gay. The gay male leather culture is an example of the latter.
For some bisexuals, Bisexuality has been relegated as a type of kink, especially with older generations. For more discussion, see: Is a kinky, polyamorous, bisexual guy really that unique?
- I’m a bisexual guy. There’s a whole lot of break down built into that sentence but there’s the short. The long: I’m a pansexual, gender nonconforming, cis-male passing, person.
- I’m polyamorous. I’ve been in a ltr for about 5 years now with a beatiful woman, whom is also poly.
- I’m kinky. I like it all… whips, chains, and fur suits.
My boyfriend is bisexual and very kinky, we’re also from the South. He’s not into anything extravagant like fursuits, but he enjoys extreme pain. I’m also a little bit butch, so we do look like a very mismatched couple in public without our girlfriend. He’s a very well-dressed, mildly effeminate sort of guy….https://tinyurl.com/2p8eenka
Bisexual, poly, kinky guys are pretty common in poly/kink circles.
Some guys will only practice bisexual relationships in “safe spaces”.
Many guys feel heterosexual activity is the only sexual activity permitted by society. The exceptions are when they are alone with only other men for extended periods (such as military missions), or they are “forced” to perform bisexual acts by a dominant.
In “He gets Bi with a Little Help from My Friends” Ms. Gray suggests making a space for bisexual activities:
Bisexual fantasies are just that, fantasies involving a woman and a man. They’re not gay or straight fantasies where everyone involved is of the one sex. These fantasies are incredibly common, as is male bisexuality or sexual fluidity. We just don’t make the space for it.https://tinyurl.com/2p96ra6x
Male Generational Differences. Recent online surveys (cite needed) suggest that between 14-20% younger (Milennial, Gen z. ) males identify as bisexual compared to less than 4% of “baby-boomers”. Results from popular surveys may also reflect the reluctance of older males to publicly identify as bi, but younger males who are acquainted with the LGBT culture may feel more comfortable with a bisexual identity.
Bisexuality and Polyamory. While it may seem that non-monogamous polyamorous people may accept bisexual relations, the majority of polycule members are either heterosexual or (in a smaller amount) gay (1). Polyamory encourages open relationships and fluid sexuality but people are bound by tradition.
Although less likely to participate in polyamorous relationships, bisexuals might enjoy greater acceptance and stability in these arrangements.
(1) Elisabeth Sheff(2015) The Polyamorists Next Door: Inside Multiple-Partner Relationships and
Families. New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014
(2) Diamond, L. M., Alley, J., Dickenson, J., & Blair, K. L. (2020). Who counts as sexually fluid? Comparing four different types of sexual fluidity in women. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 49(7), 2389-2403.
(3) Diamond, L. M., (2008) Sexual Fluidity. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press (134)
(4) @JustinMKimber has proposed a research study for folks who identify as #bimen. See
Breanne Fahs(2009)Compulsory Bisexuality?: The Challenges of Modern Sexual Fluidity,Journal of Bisexuality,9:3-4,431-449,DOI: 10.1080/15299710903316661
Michael W. Ross, Kristian Daneback & Sven-Axel Månsson(2012)Fluid Versus Fixed: A New Perspective on Bisexuality as a Fluid Sexual Orientation Beyond Gender,Journal of Bisexuality,12:4,449-460,DOI: 10.1080/15299716.2012.702609
Eliason MJ. The prevalence and nature of biphobia in heterosexual undergraduate students. Arch Sex Behav. 1997 Jun;26(3):317-26. doi: 10.1023/a:1024527032040. PMID: 9146816.
Rieger G, Chivers ML, Bailey JM. Sexual arousal patterns of bisexual men. Psychol Sci. 2005 Aug;16(8):579-84. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2005.01578.x. PMID: 16102058.
Jeremy Jabbour (July 20, 2020) Robust evidence for bisexual orientation among men
Daniel Welzer-Lang (2008) Speaking Out Loud About Bisexuality:
Biphobia in the Gay and Lesbian Community, Journal of Bisexuality, 8:1-2, 81-95, DOI:
Rieger, G. Psychological Science, 2005; vol 16: pp 579-584. Chivers, M.L. Psychological Science, 2004, vol 15: pp 736-744. Gerulf Rieger, doctoral candidate, Northwestern University, Chicago. Geri Weitzman, PhD, private practice psychologist, San Francisco. Sheeri Kritzer, board member, Bisexual Resource Center. Paula Rodriguez Rust, PhD, sexologist; editor, Bisexuality in the United States: A Social Science Reader.
6. Bisexuality in the United States
a Social Science Reader