Entering your birth date, birth time, and birth city into an astrology website won’t tell you whether you’re bisexual.
Neither will a blood test, nasal swab, or online quiz.
The guide below on bisexuality, however, may help you answer that question for yourself.
A dirty dream featuring a hottie of a gender you don’t typically get down with can be hot (hello, sleep orgasm!).
But it can also be discombobulating. According to certified dream analyst Lauri Loewenberg, though, a sex dream alone isn’t reason enough to get your panties in a bunch about your sexuality.
“The only time a sex dream may give you some inclination about your sexual orientation is if before you had the dream you were already questioning your sexuality,” she says.
Otherwise, the sex dream doesn’t actually represent a physical or sexual want, but a psychological need.
While anyone of any gender can have feminine or masculine energy, “in dream psychology, the presence of a female in a sex dream suggests that you’re craving more feminine energy,” says Loewenberg. Meaning more nurturing, sensitivity, or creativity.
“And the presence of a male in a sex dream suggests you’re craving more masculine energy,” she says. Meaning more assertiveness, authority, or aggression.
If you haven’t already been questioning your sexuality in your waking life, Loewenberg suggests figuring out what you can do to fill that energetic need.
Would it be great if you could take an internet quiz to get all the answers to your (bi)sexuality questions? It’d certainly make things easier for a questioning person like yourself!
But here’s the thing about (bi)sexuality: you don’t have to check off certain boxes or answer a set of questions a certain way to qualify.
So, no quiz can tell you whether you’re bisexual.
(And any quiz that claims to be able to tell your sexuality is full of sh*t!).
“Only you can determine whether bisexual feels like a label that best fits you,” says bisexual activist Robyn Ochs, editor of the anthology “Getting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around the World and Recognize.”
Bisexual activist Shiri Eisner, author of “Bi: Notes For A Revolution,” suggests asking yourself the following questions to determine if you’re bisexual:
- Does the term bisexual give me a sense of comfort?
- Does the term bisexual give me a sense of adventure?
- Is it fun for me to think about being bisexual?
- Does the thought of being bisexual or identifying as bisexual make me happy?
- Does it make me feel good about myself?
- Does the term bisexuality give me a sense of challenge?
- Does it give me community? Or support?
- Does it give me anything else I’m after?
If you answered yes to any of the above, she says: “Just use it. You’re absolutely valid.”
The mostly widely accepted definition of bisexuality is from Ochs herself.
“Someone who is bisexual acknowledges in themselves the potential to be attracted — romantically, emotionally and/or sexually — to people of more than one gender, not necessarily at the same time, in the same way, or to the same degree.
“The ‘bi’ in bisexual can refer to attraction to genders similar to and different from one’s own. People who identify as bisexual need not have had equal sexual or romantic experience — or equal levels of attraction — with people across genders, nor any experience at all; attraction and self-identification determines orientation.”
You’ll notice that this definition does *not* state that bisexuality is an attraction to men and women.
While it’s certainly possible for those to be the two (or two of the) genders someone is attracted to, “bisexuality doesn’t state which genders you’re attracted to,” says bisexual activist Vaneet Mehta, creator of the hashtag #BisexualMenExist that went viral in spring of 2020.
“Anyone who’s still peddling the idea that bisexuality reinforces the gender binary is uninformed, ignorant, and hasn’t been listening to the bisexual community,” he says.
“Despite many of the memes that would suggest otherwise, bisexuality doesn’t have a look,” says Mehta.
Once more for emphasis: Bisexuality does *NOT* have a look.
“There are people of all ages, all genders, all races, all ethnicities, all cultures, and styles of dress who are bisexual,” he says.
The question of what makes someone to be any sexuality is certainly an interesting one. Is it nature? Nurture? Some combination? Something else entirely?
The problem is this question is only ever asked about sexualities that *aren’t* heterosexual.
“[This question] is rooted in heterosexism,” says Ochs. “Because it assumes that heterosexuality is the default sexuality and only normal, and all other sexualities must have been caused by something going wrong or awry.”
“Nothing causes bisexuality any more than anything causes heterosexuality,” she says.
And to be very clear: Nothing went wrong or awry with anyone who is bisexual.
“There is nothing wrong with bisexuality,” says Eisner.
Your sexual orientation alone doesn’t have any bearings on your risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or unwanted pregnancy.
It’s the sex you have, who you have sex with, and the precautions you take (or don’t take) during the sex you have to reduce those risks that have bearings on your risk for STI transmission or unwanted pregnancy.
How to reduce STI transmission
Anyone of any gender, anatomy, or sexual orientation can contract an STI if they have oral, vaginal, or anal sex, or otherwise swap body fluids with someone with an infection.
No matter your sexuality, you can reduce your risk for STIs by knowing your current STI status, knowing your partner’s current status, and using barriers (and using them correctly!).
How to reduce risk of unwanted pregnancy
For pregnancy to happen, a sperm has to meet an egg.
So if a person with testes (which produce sperm) and a pre-menopausal person with a uterus (which is where the eggs are stored) have vaginal intercourse, pregnancy is a risk.
Using birth control can help reduce that risks.
We live in a society where everyone is assumed to be heterosexual unless otherwise stated, says Rachel Wright, MA, LMFT, a psychotherapist, licensed marriage and family therapist, and sex and relationship expert.
Wright adds that this can make people feel like they have to share if they aren’t heterosexual. But this isn’t true!
“Your sexuality is yours to share when you want to, if you want to, with whom you want to,” she says. So if you never want to tell anyone, that’s your prerogative!
“Tell who you want to tell when your discomfort around them not knowing your sexuality begins to cause you more discomfort than the thought of them knowing,” she suggests. “You also want to have a good inclination that it’s emotionally and physically safe for you to come out.”
Signs someone will provide a safe, affirming place for you when you come out include they themselves being bisexual or them having a bisexual partner, child, or sibling.
Someone is also a good person to come out to if they’re an ally to the LGBTQIA+ community.
Signs someone is an ally often include:
- They share their pronouns in their email signature.
- They regularly offer direct financial support to queer organizations and queer individuals.
- They uplift members of the LGBTQIA+ community both online and offline.
- They hold political and social views that are in favor of the LGBTQIA+ community.
“You can also try gauging what someone feels about bisexuality by asking about related (but sufficiently vague) topics, like TV characters or news events,” says Eisner.
Long term, not sharing your (bi)sexuality with people can have negative mental health effects, according to Wright.
“Not coming out can cause something called cognitive dissonance, which is the discomfort that occurs when who we are in our minds and who we are for the outward world are different,” she says.
“Cognitive dissonance can cause all sorts of mental health issues like anxiety and depression.”
Another consequence of not sharing your (bi)sexuality? It can lead you to feel shame around your sexuality when there’s nothing to feel ashamed of.
“Hiding something causes our brains to think there is something to hide, which can cause shame,” explains Wright.
“You may feel like you need to have a lengthy speech prepared to come out, but you don’t,” says Mehta.
The language you use to come out may vary based on whether you’re talking to a friend, teacher, parent, partner, or potential partner.
How you do it can be as simple as any of the following:
- “I just wanted to let you know that I’m bisexual.”
- “The last time we talked about our sexualities, I told you that I was lesbian, but I recently learned more about bisexuality and now I feel more comfortable with that term.”
- “I don’t have a big, long speech prepared, but I just wanted to let you know I’m bisexual.”
- “Oh! Before you hang up, I just wanted to tell you that I’ve been bisexual.”
You might cross all your fingers and toes that it goes well, but it’s possible for someone’s reaction to be hurtful, harmful, or even downright dangerous.
No matter what, your safety is your number one priority! So, if the person is reacting in a way that’s making you unsafe or in a way that suggests they may lash out in the future, relocate ASAP.
If you’re in immediate danger, you can contact The Trevor Project at 866-488-7386. They provide help and support for people who are in crisis.
If you had the conversation over the phone, you might say, “Your response to this information is hurtful, so I’m going to disengage from this conversation,” and hang up.
If you did it over text you might say, “Your response isn’t making me feel supported, so I’m going to stop responding,” and then stop responding.
“Connecting with a bisexual mentor or bisexual peer can go a long way in helping you feel seen in supported in your identity,” says Wright. For that, she recommends turning to social media.
For Mehta, Twitter was the best platform for finding support. “Twitter and the people I’ve met there have played a huge role in helping me feel affirmed in my bisexual identity,” he says.
For you, that online community may be on Tik Tok, Instagram, or YouTube.
If you’re experiencing increased feelings of stress, sadness, sleepiness, or any other signs of anxiety or depression, Wright recommends looking for a queer-inclusive therapist.
“A queer-inclusive therapist will have a deeper understanding of what the process of coming out as bisexual is, as well as a deeper understanding of the ways internalized biphobia and monosexism affect your everyday life,” she says.
You may be bisexual, you may not — the only person who gets to determine that is you!
Once you determine what your sexuality is and what sexuality label best suits you, you get to decide who you share that part of yourself with.
And when you do share? You deserve to be celebrated.
Gabrielle Kassel (she/her) is a queer sex educator and wellness journalist who is committed to helping people feel the best they can in their bodies. In addition to Healthline, her work has appeared in publications such as Shape, Cosmopolitan, Well+Good, Health, Self, Women’s Health, Greatist, and more! In her free time, Gabrielle can be found coaching CrossFit, reviewing pleasure products, hiking with her border collie, or recording episodes of the podcast she co-hosts called Bad In Bed. Follow her on Instagram @Gabriellekassel.