To Be, or Not to Be…
Bi-curious, That is the Question!
Society is obsessed with labels; however, many adamantly and defiantly argue that they are not labeling themselves or others, but will hashtag all the labels on social media. This dichotomy confuses those who are trying to
find themselves in any capacity, especially sexually. As a mental health professional
actively working with a population who tend to be exploring their sexuality in the
swinging lifestyle I am often asked about bisexuality vs. bi-curiosity.
I want to start by recognizing that there are those in the LGBTQ+ community that
has vocalized their disdain for using the bi-curious label instead of bisexual. One very
valid and important perspective comes from Brooklyn Thomas in her article
Stop Calling Yourselves “Bi-curious,” where she provides that identifying as bi-curious
contributes to biphobia. As a bisexual woman, I appreciate her viewpoints regarding a classic bisexual person; however, I am writing this article for those specifically in the swinging lifestyle who are exploring sexual preferences and desires.
Wait, What Are the Differences?
While both are perfectly normal, I have many clients that identify as bisexual simply because they were unaware there are other options; all the while having never been with a person of the same sex in a romantic capacity. Allow me to clarify the difference, as defined by dictionary.com, bi-curious means one is open to exploring sexual relationships with people of a different gender than those to whom they are usually attracted; while bisexual is defined as relating to an individual who is romantically or sexually attracted to both men and women. An individual who experiences an intense attraction for the sake of sexual pleasure, experimentation, and/or self-discovery, or might be in a committed relationship and only fantasizes about having an intimate adventure with another person of the same sex can be considered bi-curious (Friedrichs, 2019).
There are times when even after I provide the definitions of these terms’ clients are still confused, and since almost everything I do in counseling is unorthodox, I often ask a simple question to help clients identify where they fall in the bisexual/bi-curious continuum:
“If I were to blindfold you and have you put your hand down a
willing participant's pants, would you care what you grabbed?”
As a bisexual woman, I am excited to put my hand down anyone’s
pants and more than willing to play with whatever I find without
hesitation, but I have found that those who are leaning towards
bi-curious report that they would be shocked yet intrigued to find
opposing genitals than their primary preference.
What Does it Actually Mean to Be Bi-curious?
I have found that many people this lifestyle to be a little bi-curious. Bi-curiosity can develop at any age and any stage of life and can be wanted as well as unwanted. Unfortunately, being bi-curious in the swinging lifestyle looks different for men and women, and honestly, I feel that is unfair. Primarily, men are expected to be straight while women are expected to be more fluid with their sexuality.
Let’s go a bit deeper down that rabbit hole. Men who are bi-curious tend to hide their curiosity due to the fear of being judged or being seen as less of a man. Anecdotally, the men who list themselves as bisexual or bi-curious on swinging websites tend to have fewer couples reach out to them.
There is an exception when it comes to the younger players in our lifestyle. Those in their 20s and early 30s are less judgmental in terms of sexual fluidity. Side note: the parents of the “participation trophy generation” get so much hate for raising entitled children but they did something right when it came to producing young adults who openly accept sexuality as freedom of expression and not a societal pressure; good job Gen X.
Men, if you are curious to explore a bit more there are resources available to connect you with other bisexual/bi-curious couples in the lifestyle. Be honest about your interest and have fun exploring.
Ladies, the flexibility the lifestyle affords you and the outright encouragement you receive from everyone to be bi-curious can be overwhelming if boundaries are not established. Being bi-curious does not mean that you have to go farther with a lady than you are emotionally prepared for at the moment. In the heat of the moment, you can get caught up in the passion, the excitement but you have to wake up with yourself the next day. I cannot tell you how many couples I have in my office who are experiencing turmoil in their relationship because the lady felt pressured by her partner at the moment to go further than she was mentally prepared for at the time.
Identifying as bi-curious does not mean you have to step into a strap-on and go to town on a woman from the start of your journey. While I am sure that most men would not mind watching this occur, start small and build up your comfort level. Explore before you indulge.
The Nuts & Vaginas of it all
However, one chooses to identify is their personal choice but realizing that you are not alone in this journey is comforting to those who are newly identifying as bi-curious. This is your journey. Yes, you have a partner standing beside you, but but at the end of the day, you are the one who determines your sexual preferences, not your partner. Each experience is unique and each time you play will be different. It is completely acceptable to freely explore your sexuality with one couple but then have strict boundaries with another. Don’t worry about hurting anyone’s feelings or being judged because of your sexual appetite at that moment. It doesn’t matter if you are straight, gay, queer, bisexual, bi-curious, or mostly heterosexual as long as you are comfortable with yourself at the end
of the day, call yourself whatever you would like to.
Stephanie Sigler NCC, CST, LPC, PhD
Evolve Your Intimacy
100 W Central TX Expressway, Suite 208, Harker Heights, TX 76548