August 25, 2008
Understanding bisexual attraction
Friendship, love, sexual desire – the laws of attraction are complicated and confusing. How do you know what feelings to trust, and which to ignore? Kia Momtazi looks at the issue from a bi perspective…
Being bisexual is both a blessing and a curse. Because we’re perceived as being able to plunge back and forth between gay and straight dating pools at our convenience, bi-girls are often resented for having it all too easy. Yes, having a wider range of potential partners can be considered a gift. But being attracted to such different kinds of people quite often feels more like conflict than abundance.
Attraction is complicated; it can come in other, subtler forms than an obvious throbbing in the loins. Plus, there are those other parts of the body—our hearts and minds—that weigh in pretty heavily when choosing potential partners.
So what’s a girl to do? Who to do it with? When and how should those lines be crossed, and how often? Experimentation can be healthy and necessary, but when bisexuals are compelled to engage in it, it tends to make people uneasy.
Still, exploring our attractions is one thing, being sloppy in the process is another. If we’re striving for wider acceptance from the communities we’re stuck between, we could do ourselves a favor by being a little more careful with our romantic entanglements.
We might first try getting a little clearer on the different kinds of attractions we experience. Meanwhile, no matter what they are, we need to accept them fully. (If we don’t, how can we expect others to be able to?)
Ultimately, it’s how we act on our desires that matters, and we should do so with care, consideration, and honesty.
Love, lust and chemistry
I’m not sure if any sex-research gurus have officially broken things down this way, but my experience is that physical, emotional and mental attractions are distinctly different – though often overlapping – entities.
When I’m physically attracted to someone, I usually feel it right away. My body is triggered by their body, which makes them appear ripe and inviting. At the mere sight or smell of them, I’m overcome by visuals of us coupling. I generally just want to eat their face.
When I’m emotionally drawn to someone, it’s a different sensation. It’s not an instantaneous lust generating from the pelvic region; it’s the feeling of caring for someone in my heart. I hurt when they hurt, I’m happy when they’re happy, and I feel an ache of tenderness when I see them sleeping or in an otherwise vulnerable state.
Mental attraction is the real doozy for me. It’s the kind that builds after a number of great conversations, e-mails, or even a series of titillating text messages—when I feel like this other person totally gets it, gets me, makes me laugh and inspires me to be a better person. This passion is ignited in my brain, in direct response to the thoughts, words and tastes in life that they express.
Quick shag, good friend, or future partner?
Some bisexuals may find they’re physically drawn to both men and women, but have stronger mental or emotional chemistry with only one of the two. Others might feel equally attracted to both sexes in all three areas. I also think it’s possible for someone to identify as straight or gay all their lives until they meet that one special person – woman, man, trans, whatever – for whom the trio of attraction is so strong that labels take a backseat to love.
Sadly, that magic combination can be pretty darn elusive. Ever gotten it on with someone you didn’t even like that much? Pure physical chemistry can make for some hot hookups, but can’t sustain a relationship on it’s own. On the other hand, you may feel deep emotional and mental connections with your best friends, but still have zero interest in going to bed with them.
It’s trickier when our mental or emotional attractions segue into physical ones. When you spend all your time together, make each other laugh and know each other so well, it’s easy to get curious about what it would be like to kiss and connect physically as well.
Think about it, talk about it
Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules for acting on our desires; confusion and curiosity are inevitable to some degree. But imagine what could happen if bisexuals could be clearer with ourselves and our lovers about what we’re feeling. More dignity could be maintained for all parties, and people eventually might not feel as threatened by our sexuality.
A little introspection and communication will go a long way. If you realize that all you want from someone is sex, fine – just don’t lead them to think you’re looking for a relationship. Conversely, no matter how wonderful you might think someone is – or how wonderful they think you are – if you don’t feel any physical spark, there’s precious little to be gained by trying to force the friendship into erogenous zones.
Of course, if you meet someone that puts a hurricane in your pants, a song in your heart and a fire in your mind, don’t worry about what gender they are – just don’t let them get away.
Related Lesbilicious stories:
Why do lesbians hate bisexuals?
‘Sex is the easy part!’ Interview with Tristan Taormino, open relationships expert
Do we still need pride?
Lesbilicious at Brighton Pride 2012 asking lots of people their opinions on whether or not we need pride.
September 2, 2012