Just the Tip is a sex and relationship column from queer non-monogamous kinkster Jera Brown. Here you will find interviews with sexuality researchers and educators as well as smart and compassionate responses to anonymous questions. If you would like to be interviewed or have a sex or love question you’d like Jera to answer, email firstname.lastname@example.org or DM Jera on Twitter @thejerabrown.
In January, Her, a dating app for the LGBTQ community, used one of their “Question of the Day” posts to have app users ask me their sex and dating questions. These are two of the questions that came from the post.
Can I really call myself bisexual if visually men don’t turn me on?
Is attraction just about who we know what want to sleep with at first sight? I sure hope not.
Especially for queer folks, I think there’s often a type of person (related to gender, masculine or feminine-leaning, dominant or submissive, etc.) that we’re just more comfortable around and have a better sense of how to act on our feelings toward. It doesn’t mean that all our other feelings or types of attraction are invalid.
We validate certain kinds of attraction over others and make them core parts of sexuality. Society tells us who we want to marry and sleep with should be the same person and sums up our sexuality. This isn’t true. And it leaves out so many parts of what our sexuality can encompass.
Attraction is not just one thing. Physical attraction isn’t a big deal to some people. Or how you want to act on attraction might look different from individual to individual: the desire to kiss or cuddle, the overwhelming urge to eat ice cream with them all the time, or have their babies, or stay up all night and stare into their eyes.
Attraction is also not an on/off switch — like either you have it or you don’t. For some, attraction builds slowly. Demisexuals, for instance, need to build a strong emotional connection before feeling sexual attraction.
In one of my recent posts, I wrote about how labels should be conversation starters, not closers. What I mean by that is that we shouldn’t assume a strict definition for what a label means. If we use it, at least to some extent, it’s ours to define.
What label (or sets of labels) make it easiest for you to start the conversations you need to have in order to feel seen and understood?
What might identifying as bisexual add to your life? And what part of you would you be denying or hiding if you don’t?
Or maybe it’s some other word that feels more true and authentic: lesbian, queer, bisexual, demisexual, bi-romantic.
And remember that we change and grow. Maybe one word fit for a time but won’t feel as true next year or 10 years from now.
Exploring labels helps us explore who we are and helps us evolve into a new, more confident person.
Don’t get stuck on whether or not you can identify in a certain way. Explore why you’d want to. Asking that question will help you identify what you want. I hope it brings you closer to things that bring you joy and confidence.
Why is it so hard to tell if someone is into you?
Because we’re all afraid of being rejected. All of us.
Sure, some people are way more confident and forward. Of course, some people flirt with everyone as a self-defense mechanism. “If I flirt with everybody, then the people I really like won’t know.”
And even when an interested person is throwing hints your way, you might second guess them. Why? Because it gets your hopes up and … you’re afraid of rejection.
This fear is natural. It’s a means of protecting yourself from hurt. It’s not bad or wrong. Fear is a natural instinct that keeps us alive and safe. It just needs to be questioned or ignored at times.
There are signs. Bustle wrote this piece about 45 ways to tell if someone is into you — everything from extended eye contact to quickly making plans.
And one of the follow-up questions is … so yeah, they enjoy my company, but like, how do they like me?
The best way to know is to be vulnerable first.
“Hey, I think you’re cute. Can I consider this a date?”
“I’d love to kiss you some time. Like maybe now.”
I’m super awkward. Thank God my partners find my awkwardness cute. I’ve learned that I can be nervous and scared, but as long as I’m brave enough to admit these things and act anyway … things work out when they’re meant to.
I still get rejected.
But I also find people who want to kiss me or go on second dates or maybe fall in love.
And you will, too.