"Share and share alike": Why multiple partners aren’t just a bi thing


“Polyamory, open relationships and cheating are tricky for bisexuals to talk about…”

In my experience in a heteronormative world, it’s much easier for me as a woman to find a boyfriend than it is to find a girlfriend. If I click with one of every 10 men who like me, and one of every 10 women who like me, chances are I will meet those ten men before I meet the ten women. Perhaps if I was a little more active in the LGBTQI community and less shy; but I’m not. Men come to me, as that’s how they’re taught to be. And they are always more interested when they find out I like women too.

I’m sure there are women out there who enjoy the male attention they get for being with other women. I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with that in and of itself, as long as the women involved all feel the same way. But it does bother me when it’s assumed that all bisexual women are like this. I find that men will usually assume my bisexuality to mean I will be happy to have a threesome with them, or that they can have another girlfriend at the same time as me and it’ll be fine because I might like her too (and hey, more threesomes again) or that I might one day bring home another girl for them. Conversely, it’s also seen as a negative thing because apparently I’m liable to cheat. Being bisexual means I am supposedly incapable of remaining faithful to one person because I will always want at least someone of another gender, if not multiple people of any gender. We all know all this. We all hate the stereotype. Those of us in faithful monogamous relationships just wish people would stop assuming these things. But what about those of us who aren’t?

Polyamory is tricky for bisexuals to talk about, as are open relationships… and cheating. We don’t want to risk perpetuating the stereotype. Confessing to having cheated means not only the usual guilt and hurt that comes with that situation, but the worry of having cemented the idea that all bisexuals are like that. Perhaps bisexual women will cheat on their boyfriends with women because they want lesbian experiences, and cheat on them with men because they really only like the lesbian experiences for the attention it gets them from men – more men. Perhaps the only way around this is polyamory. Not true.

But our opponents in discussion will immediately discredit us if they hear anything of us behaving this way. I have cheated in the past. I’m not proud of it. But I certainly don’t want to imply that I or any other bisexuals conform to the stereotype solely for the fact of being bisexual. Somehow I am vilified for my wrongdoing more so than people of other orientations might be. It becomes assumed that that’s my nature. Have they forgotten how much infidelity happens in the straight world? Among gays? Even emotional cheating for those of us in asexual relationships. Since when was cheating exclusively a bisexual issue?

Lots of people have worked around the urge to be with other people by having relationships that are polyamorous, polygamous, monogamish, any of the many terms that might be applied to non-monogamous relationships. Naturally it helps if one or all people involved are bisexual because it gives more options. But it’s not and never will be a requirement. The concept of a relationship between multiple gay men or lesbians is perfectly plausible, and happens just as frequently as any other polygamous relationship. Sometimes there may be one straight women with multiple male partners, all of whom may be straight and have no relations with each other, or the same with one straight man and multiple straight women.

I like to use race to explain why having multiple partners of all genders is not a necessary part of being bisexual nor anything to do with it really. If you are a straight woman and you have no preference when it comes to race, do you need to have a black boyfriend, a white boyfriend and an Asian boyfriend? Do you extend that to two white boyfriends, one Swedish and one Italian? Do you find multiple Asian boyfriends so that you can have one Chinese, one Korean, one Thai? Do you feel lacking because you don’t have an Indian boyfriend? Chances are, even though you could theoretically be attracted to any of these men, you stick with the one – unless you are also polyamorous. In which case you may be with some or all of them. But you’re still not bisexual. Having multiple boyfriends doesn’t require that you have a girlfriend to complete the set. Because sexual orientation and relationship orientation are separate and can happen in any combination. Of course some of us will fall into both categories of bisexual and polyamorous; but lots of other people are straight and polygamous, gay/lesbian and polygamous, bisexual and monogamous. There are far more monogamous folk in the world than there are polyamorous; it stands to reason that for every one of us you talk to who is polyamorous, there are another 20 who aren’t.

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Tamora Cross

Tamora (or more commonly, just Tami) is a 23-year-old girlchild who firmly believes in coffee, cats, and more cats. She lives with three charmingly handsome men of the feline variety, and has somehow acquired a dog who thinks he is a cat. Frequently found in a different pair of coloured contact lenses to the previous day, a baggy jumper and probably something with Hello Kitty on it, she likes changing her hair, sewing, DDR, drinking red wine and singing in Japanese or French. Not all at the same time though. Obviously.

2 Responses to "Share and share alike": Why multiple partners aren’t just a bi thing

  • janis hetherington says:

    I hate the word CHEAT. It implies you have not set the record straight( or Gay,excuse the pun!!) and told a prospective screw that that is what you/ they are…a screw. If you want commitment that is something else that includes all the ‘gubbins’ that entails. Joint ,ownerships,wills (YES WILLS ARE VERY IMPORTANT) sproggets etc. If ( and I believe these decisions can be made) you can indeed set up home with someone who understands that your sexual proclivities are NEVER going to be a threat to your joint stability that is an ADULT ideal.
    It really is hard to establish but it is the only honest way if you know you wish to be truly OPEN. Honesty..that is the quest.

  • Archer says:

    There are other schools of thought on this. Some bi people feel that being bi, for them, does actually mean that they want to have a male and a female partner. Surely that’s as legit as any other interpretation on being bi.

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