by Lindsey Brooks, Ph.D.
If you’ve read many articles or research on bisexuality and mental health, you’ve heard all about the “stresses” and “risk factors” for bi+ folks.
I’m a proud member of the bi+ community. I’m excited to share the positive psychological aspects and strengths of our community for a change.
And yes, I promise, there are many.
For example, coming out as bisexual is shown by recent research to be associated with improved relationships, a feeling of living more authentically, and improved mental health (Brownfield et al., 2018).
I see this reflected in my own work with bi+ clients: The stronger you feel within your own LGBTQ identity, the more you can genuinely connect with others. This connection has powerful benefits for a sense of happiness and belonging. (It’s also important to note that not everyone has the privilege and safety to come out, and not sharing your identity may also be an equally important choice for your mental health.)
In my work with the bi+ community over the past decade, I have witnessed many strengths of the bi+ experience. Here are some of my favorite strengths of being bisexual, based on my experience with bi+ clients and supported by recent research (Scales et al., 2010).
- Self-awareness. Recent research suggests that bisexuals make up more than half of the LGB community (Gates, 2011), but have less visibility than their LG counterparts in our culture and society. In the journey of becoming self-aware, it may take time and introspection to first understand that bisexuality even exists, much less understand your own bisexuality. Making sense of your attractions across the gender spectrum can take time. During this reflection time, you can gain more clarity not only on your sexuality, but on who you are as a person. What a wonderful bonus gift of a bisexual identity!
- Strong sense of self. Being bisexual in a binary world often means dealing with people who invalidate, erase, or simply refuse to believe your identity. This can be very painful! And, it also gives you practice at reaffirming for yourself, over and over, that you know who you are. You learn to provide yourself that unconditional love and acceptance. Over time, this can build a powerful inner strength and sense of self-love.
- Infinite capacity for empathy. The bi+ experience creates a great amount of space to empathize with a wide range of life experiences, including multiple marginalized groups from cultural, sexual, and gender diverse communities. Perhaps it’s the experience of relationships with people across the gender spectrum, or the experience of feeling “in between,” that allows for this empathy to grow. I find this deep empathy benefits bisexual folks both personally and professionally in so many ways.
- Positioned to be an ally and advocate. As a bi+ person, you are more likely to move in and out of different community spaces. Perhaps you have queer, straight, and bi+ communities you move within. This gives you opportunity to be a bridge between these communities. You can speak up and advocate when you hear biphobia in the straight or gay community. You can speak up and advocate when you hear homophobia, transphobia, racism, or sexism in any community. As a trusted part of more than one community, your voice can carry weight and influence that others may not have access to.
- Write your own script. There is no societal script for what it means to be bisexual. This gives you space to write your own script, and to create relationships and make life choices that work for you. This makes room to break gender expectations, explore what LGBTQ relationship boundaries work for you and your partner(s), and live by your values. You get to define your own life in a way that fosters creativity and joy!
What are your strengths as a bisexual person?
My strengths as a bisexual sixty year old male are ,deciding to accept myself as a bisexual male ,eventually coming out to family and friends and living my life as a bisexual male and not being ashamed and not caring what other people think
That is so great to hear! -Adam
Great!! Love is love.
I only just came to terms with my bisexuality. Understanding it can be a difficult life lesson. But the points above are very true and, IMHO, applicable only to bisexual people. Starting with how to fit in, to what world, to what community. Sometimes being hijacked by these communities. Playing the role of “not being enough”, having a “phase”, being greedy and selfish. But these are just societal perceptions of what bisexuality is. That doesn’t mean it’s true. The last point is crucial, especially in a blank world, as we live in. I’m slowly writing my script. I understand the power that I hold: I can choose to procreate or don’t. Natural selection at its finest. But I am writing my own script. It’s a game-changer. As long as I keep trying to be a better person, helping others and myself, being a somewhat role model to my bisexual folks in my circle, I think I’ll be alright.
Beautiful! – Adam
Bi is twice as good!
Happy BISEXUALITY day 2022!!
Wow.good for you.
It has been a long journey for me to the awareness of my bisexuality. I struggled with crushes on both boys and girls while I was in school, but always tried to ignore or repress the boy “interests”. I thought it was sinful. But, I continued to have the crushes. In high school I had my first gay sex experience. It wasn’t great. But, at that moment I knew I was definately not straight. I dated both men and women in college, and eventually married a woman. Who is still the love of my life. We had three children, and now grandchildren. Althought I was happy, a part of me wanted a man. I had to deal with it. I made a friend from work, who turned out to be bisexual too. We got into a relationship. I needed to be honest to everyone, so I came out. My wife was understanding, but didn’t like it. I eneded the toxic relationship with the guy, but I now live as an out bisexual man. For the first time ever, i am happy with myself. My strength: winning the struggle within. I am now 60 years old.
I came out to myself as bi after being diagnosed with ASD and ADHD some years ago and started accepting myself as such. When I was a young teen I was a real slut and absolutely loved it but then life took over, married, family, career and then diagnosis.
My entire understanding of myself got turned upside down, reset. I had to start rebuilding ‘me’.
I came out to my wife who to her infinite credit just was ‘ok, no worries’, she encourages me to have fun, like wise. I have a lover in another country and from time to time we meet and to say it’s intense is a massive understatement. I’ve accepted myself after 40 years of denial and I’m very happily bi. Best of all worlds