⚤ Coming Out to Your Lover As Bisexual

I’ve come out to my parents as being in a mixed-orientation relationship with past bisexual girlfriends 💖💜💙

☆ Whether someone I’ve dated came out to me as # early on or 3+ years after we were a couple, Coming Out was beneficial to our relationship 🌈

[Positionality of the author = cis-heterosexual male]

There is no “end point” to coming out (Orne, 2011).

“In fact, bisexuals are significantly less likely to come out to the important people in their lives compared to gays or lesbians” (Haus, 2020).

“Coming out to your straight partner can seem scary, but it can also open up and deepen your connection. If you’re coming out as bisexual or pansexual, it may be more straightforward, because it’s clear you’re still attracted to them.”

— (Robyn Exton)

Timing of Disclosure — Ferreira De Melo, 2022

Research on Mixed-Orientation couples has found

“somewhat of a general consensus that earlier disclosures may be better… the hard part is the couple’s disclosure of their Mixed-Orientation status to their family.”

Bisexuals & Coming Out — Maliepaard, 2021

“Most had experienced acceptance of their bisexual orientation by their partner(s). This might of course be the result of “selection” during the dating phase” (Maliepaard, 2021).

(i.e., bisexuals may be selecting partners that are more likely to be accepting of their sexuality in the first place)

Even so, “there may be an unwelcome period of concealment while the partner’s likely response is assessed (Li et al., 2013)” (Michael Neath, 2019).

Coming Out to a Lover — Mary Nedela, 2019

“They needed to understand if a partner might be accepting of their identity prior to disclosure (Li et al, 2013).

Participants in Li and colleagues (2013) and Bradford’s (2004) studies emphasized the ongoing struggle with deciding to disclose. They discussed

the difficulty of disclosing a bisexual identity in relationships, since it must happen in every relationship, which is not something that individuals of other sexual orientations experience.

Further, participants reported that the decision to disclose to partners had implications for their ability to rely on supportive partners (Li et al., 2013), but were cautious regarding self-disclosure due to previous experiences of invalidation and denial of their identities (Bradford, 2004). That is, in order to reap the mental health benefits of having a supportive partner, disclosure of identity must be done, but they needed to understand if a partner might be accepting of their identity prior to disclosure (Li et al., 2013).

Therefore,

bisexual individuals may decide to delay disclosure until they began to understand the level of support they might receive from their partners (Li et al., 2013).”

Lovers & Allies — Kwok et al., 2020

“Most bisexual women expected partners to be allies and advocates on behalf of their sexual, gender and racial/ethnic identities. In relationships with both female-identifying and male-identifying partners, participants expected their partners to respect their bisexual identities and ensure that their identities were not invisible.

Participants thought it was important for their partners to act as advocates,

actively dispelling stereotypes about bisexuality and their other minority identities.

Participants felt their bisexuality was invisible regardless of their partner’s gender and wanted their partners to be intentional about acknowledging their bisexual identities in public and private.”

(N = 14 Mixed Orientation Marriages) [a]

Dyadic Outness

— “Mixed orientation married couples that are out within the LGBT community experience greater acceptance of gender non-conformity.”

Coming Out To Their Spouse

“Three couples discussed the emotional implications of disclosure on the marriage relationship. Eric, a bisexual husband, acknowledged the burden he put on his wife by coming out to her. “So in a way…the burden of keeping the secret has shifted from me to her, which I don’t know is necessarily fair.” (Eric)

Mary, a heterosexual wife, reported feeling a heightened sense of protectiveness towards her husband. “I feel a little more protective about, you know, helping keep his secret from those who really shouldn’t know, who might give him grief” (Mary).

“Heterosexual spouses reported some reconsideration of their own sexual identity after learning that their spouse is bisexual.”

(Apparently based on the realization that they’re attracted to individuals that are also attracted to people of the same sex. There’s not really a term for that sexuality preference yet).

Outness to Kids

Seven couples reported having children ranging in age from infancy to adulthood. They reported differing degrees of disclosure to their children from not out at all to partially out. This was based upon couple preference and the age of the child.

Bi Men with Straight Wives — Michael Neath, 2019

“Heterosexual women have foreseen high anxiety attending relationships with bisexual men, due to the perceived risks of their infidelity with another man, becoming homosexual, or carrying disease (Armstrong & Reissing, 2014; Callis, 2013; Souto Pereira et al., 2017).

There may be an unwelcome period of concealment while the partner’s likely response is assessed (Li et al., 2013). Fox (1993) found that among 349 bisexual men, the predominant reason for nondisclosure was the fear of losing their partner.

Buxton (2000, 2005) wrote that wives’ concerns, post disclosure, have several recurring themes. Wives of bisexual men can feel sexually inadequate in meeting their partner’s imagined needs; deceived and short changed; confused and fearful that the relationship may end; and fearful of others’ reactions.”

Bisexual Men — Stokes et al., 1996

“In a study of 60 bisexual married men, Brownfain (1985) found that only ~50% of the wives knew “in some degree” about the husbands bisexuality, even though the average length of these marriages was almost 20 years.

Results of other research on married bisexual men is consistent with these findings (Coleman, 1982; Earl, 1990; Matteson, 1985; Wolf, 1985).”

Outness (Sparknotes)

Of Black & Hispanic women dating bisexual men, only 21% knew their boyfriend was bisexual, compared to 80% of White women with bisexual boyfriends (Padian, 1989).

A study by Angela Gregory (2009) found that bisexual women dating men were less likely to come out than bisexual women dating women.

A study of 38 bi/gay men in mixed-orientation marriages in Israel found that 57.89% of them had come out to their wives (Adler & Ben-Ari, 2017).

Bisexual men have been found least likely to disclose to family members and friends (Barringer et al., 2017; Price et al., 2019).

Note → Biphobic lovers may use the threat of outing/disclosure as a form of abuse (Head & Milton, 2014).

“A bisexual relationship is any relationship in which at least one of the parties is bisexual” (Daphne McClellan, 2006, p. 246).

Related Articles

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“@nbcsnl star Kate McKinnon highlighted the impact DeGeneres had on her own life when the comedian came out on her popular sitcom in 1997. On realizing she was gay, McKinnon said: “That’s a very scary thing to suddenly know about yourself … and the only thing that made it less scary was Ellen doing it on TV.”

Sidenotes

Thomeer et al., 2021

Women with husbands “take over less of their husband’s tasks when he is distressed because he does fewer tasks to begin with” (Thomeer et al., 2021).

Indeed, men with wives do less housework than women with husbands, gay couples, & lesbian couples (Solomon et al., 2005). In contrast, women with wives took over more of their distressed spouse’s tasks.

Finally, men with wives “reported encouraging their distressed spouse to talk less often than all other respondent groups” (Thomeer et al., 2021).

Romantic Orientation ≠ Sexual Orientation

Research finds that bisexuals are less likely to report romantic attraction to both sexes than monosexuals were to report romantic attraction to one sex (Clark et al., 2022; Lund et al., 2016).

Among allosexuals, concordance for romantic orientation & sexual orientation was highest for heterosexuals & lowest for bisexuals.

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Dr. Jarryd Willis PhD

I'm passionate about making a tangible difference in the lives of others, & that's something I have the opportunity to do a professor & researcher.