Being bisexual and in college, a time in which people generally discover themselves sexually, can be harder than most people imagine. (Illustration by Erik Ojo, Northeastern University)
Thoughts x

Be prepared for an astounding lack of understanding from just about everyone.

While every member of the LGBTQ+ has their own obstacles, bisexuality is probably the most stigmatized and misunderstood sexual orientation. Whether you’re discovering your sexuality now or you already know it, the college dating scene can be difficult for a bisexual student to navigate.

Here are some of the main struggles that bi students face, as well as some great strategies to overcome them. Keep in mind that these aren’t nearly all the problems that exist, but simply some that I have experienced or heard about.

1. Your identity is questioned.

If you’ve ever had someone assume you were either gay or straight with no second thought, you know how it feels. In fact, bisexuals are unique in the LGBT spectrum because they are discriminated against by both straight people and gay people.

It’s just hard for some people to fathom that bisexuality exists, that someone can be attracted to either gender and not have their head explode from confusion.

2. You don’t feel valid.

I’ve been dating guys for most of my life. Not because I’m straight, but because I’ve always been too shy to talk to girls. But there have been many times where I’ve felt invalid for calling myself bisexual, since the immediate assumption would be that I’d be dating members of both genders the same amount, even though thus isn’t the case for most people.

Unfortunately, it’s easy to get placed into a label that isn’t your own, and a stark label can make you feel like you’re a square peg trying to fit into a circular hole.

3. Your sexuality is being fetishized.

Especially for the female bisexuals out there, your attraction to other women may be unnecessary sexualized by some men. It’s known that men tend to like girl-on-girl action (it’s everywhere in porn).

That’s because a lot of men prefer to watch two attractive females rather than one – it’s double the stimulation essentially. Female bisexuals, however, take the brunt of the pressure to hook up with another girl for a man’s viewing, or to have a female-male-female threesome.

4. You’re isolated from family.

Especially in college, having a good relationship with family can improve your financial and mental states at the time in your life when you need both of those the most. Whether you’ve already come out to your family or not, there is a possibility for some distance to form between you and your family. While many parents are now accepting their children’s sexuality more freely, the ambiguity around bisexuality may still be hard to understand and it can put a rift in your relationship.

According to a study done on college campuses, almost half of all bisexual students experienced food or housing insecurity. This means that bisexuals are generally more insecure than their heterosexual and even homosexual peers. For LGBT college students in general, though, there is also a higher risk of lower familial support. However, you don’t have to be a part of these statistics.

Here’s how you can embrace your sexuality in college:

Be confident in your identity

It’s okay to prefer one gender over the other and still call yourself bisexual. If you’re attracted to girls 80 percent of the time and guys 20 percent of the time, guess what? You’re still valid! It’s so important, especially when others try to put you into their own labels, that you remember that your identity is yours alone.

You are the only one who can name your sexuality — not a friend, a significant other or some Internet quiz. And if your sexual preferences change over time, that’s okay too. The beauty of bisexuality is that it doesn’t have to be totally black and white. Your preference can change from one gender to another based on the people who come in and out of your life.

Date someone who understands you

Surrounding yourself with people who empathize with you and are willing to listen is key. This means that they won’t invalidate your feelings toward you identity or try to make you become someone you’re not.

If you start a relationship, mutual understanding includes setting boundaries, discussing concerns and overall acceptance.

Have fun

This last one might sound cheesy, but it’s true. College is truly a time of exploration, whatever that means to you. Unlike in high school, you don’t have to be worried about judgement from others, and the need to “fit in” has mostly passed.

These four (or more) years were designed to help you find your niche and discover your identity. Amidst the chaos of classes, always let yourself explore; the ultimate goal is self-acceptance.

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