If you’re a straight person in a relationship with a bisexual* partner, you’re in an important position to prove what it really means to be an ally. Your partner likely has to face biphobia and bi-erasure on a regular basis. They may feel that they are no longer welcome at Pride or in LGBTQIA spaces because of their current relationship status. People in their life may take their relationship with you as a sign that they’ve “chosen a side.” People might say that their same-sex attraction was “just a phase.”
So what can you do to help your wonderful bi partner feel loved, supported, and above all, affirmed?
Acknowledging your partner’s bisexuality is the bare minimum. To be a truly supportive partner, embrace their same-sex attraction.
There are many ways to embrace your partner’s sexuality. It can be as simple as buying them a cute bi or pan pride flag pin that you saw on Etsy. It can mean asking them if they’d like to go to Pride, rather than waiting for them to bring it up. And perhaps above all else, it means being comfortable with their same-sex attraction.
You can discuss and compare your crushes. My partner and I happen to both be pan. We’re very comfortable saying things like “[YouTuber we both watch] is so cute in his newest video!” or “Did you hear your girl crush is going to be in a new movie?”
It’s important, however, not to fetishize your partner’s sexuality. Unless they’ve made it clear they’re OK with such talk, you should not use their bisexuality as an excuse to talk about how hot it would be to have a threesome with their best friend, or how much you enjoy fantasizing about them with their same-sex ex. Let your partner lead any kinky talk about their orientation.
Just because you yourself are heterosexual doesn’t mean that your sex life has to be heteronormative. Talk to your partner about what they want in the bedroom. If they’ve had previous same-sex partners, ask what they miss from those encounters. If they’ve only ever had monosexual relationships before, ask about their fantasies.
Remember: your partner didn’t pick a side, they picked you. They love you. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t miss aspects of same-sex relationships, either real or imagined. So figure out how you can give them more of what they want.
Take the time to improve your oral, digital, or anal game, as needed. Consider investing in a couples sex toy to free up some of the pressures typically associated with PIV sex. Look at whether your ideas of who “gives” and “receives” in sex are based on outdated heterosexual ideals.
If you and your partner incorporate porn or erotica in your sex life, let your partner pick some titles that reflect their same-sex fantasies. The erotic content might not turn you on. Focus instead on how much your partner is enjoying it. Isn’t it wonderful they’re sharing this part of themself with you?
Obviously, as a decent human being you should do these things anyway. But it’s especially important for your lovely bi partner to see that their identity, and the identity of other LGBTQIA people, matters to you. Speak out when your friends and family say biphobic, homophobic, and transphobic things. Vote for LGBTQIA-friendly politicians and vote against anti-LGBTQIA laws.
This doesn’t mean you have to turn into a keyboard warrior who fights strangers on the internet. It does mean that you have to call-out the people around you when they say and do unkind things.
Your partner’s sexual identity is an important part of who they are. That doesn’t mean they’re comfortable sharing that part of themself with everyone. You might think that telling your homophobic uncle that your spouse is bi will help him realize that bi people are just like everyone else; instead, you’re probably making them a target for an angry rant from your uncle at the next family gathering.
Likewise, you shouldn’t assume that your partner is out to all of their friends and family, or at work or school. It’s a good idea to have an open dialog about where they do or do not feel safe being out.
Hopefully, if you’ve been in this relationship for a while, you’ve already educated yourself about biphobia, bi erasure, and how to be a good ally. But if this is a new relationship, or your partner is newly out as bi, you might have some questions.
Before you bombard your partner with questions about what their sexuality means for your relationship, take some time to read up. This can prevent you from sticking your foot in your mouth by asking questions based on harmful stereotypes. You can find a lot of great resources on sites like Everyday Feminism and Bi.org.
Once you feel like you have a handle on the basics, you should sit down to have a conversation with your partner. Share some of what you’ve learned, and give them the opportunity to correct any misconceptions or anything they disagree with. Make it clear that you are open and supportive, you just want to understand this new-to-you facet of your partner.
No matter what our sexuality is, we all want to feel like we are loved, understood, and supported by our partners. Your partner had a wide variety of people of a variety of genders to choose from, and they chose you. Keep that thought in your heart and show how much you appreciate being the person they chose.
*I’m using the term “bisexual” here as an umbrella term for all forms of attraction to more than one gender.