With trepidation, I logged into three apps: Bumblebee, HIS (a female-centric dating app), and The ex (a gay-focused dating and hookup app for LGBTQ+ people). On each of the apps, I set my settings to “everyone”: women, men, and non-binary people, all of which had different orientations. I was thrilled to interact with people who shared a queer identity. In the first few months I used the apps, I matched about 30 people, including cis-gender men, who were mostly straight; cisgender women, who were bisexual, lesbian, and pansexual; and non-binary people, some of whom told me they were pansexual.
I have found it helpful to learn more about myself and others who share my sexuality or who simply have experience with other queer people. Ultimately, thanks to using dating apps as a bisexual woman so soon after coming out, I was able to feel more confident in my identity. In fact, I was wondering what was taking me so long.
My Journey to Using Dating Apps as a Bisexual Woman
Although I had sex with women before going out and using dating apps as a bisexual woman, I can’t really say that I “dated” them. For me, dating means considering what you envision for the future, or what you like about each other, among other things. This wasn’t the case when I had sex with women before I came out as bi, because I wasn’t even comfortable entering that label for myself. .
It should also be mentioned that I had never been on a dating app period before going out, so my first experience with them been as an openly bisexual woman. Previously, the extent of my relationship with dating apps was knowing they existed and my friends more often found non-ideal dates than lasting partnerships. This understanding certainly explains some of my hesitation to try dating apps in the first place, but according to a queer-inclusive relationship therapist Rachel Wright, LMFT, it might not paint the full picture.
Wright’s opinion is that I may have internalized the shame of being a bisexual woman, and that may have impacted my openness to using dating apps. “When we’re the bi person presenting the woman, we feel like so many people could sexualize us without our consent,” she says. “It can create hesitation, shame and confusion about whether or not we want to share this.” The thought of experiencing other people’s reactions to me has absolutely contributed to my lack of confidence in my sexuality. But I’m so glad I found the strength to explore anyway.
How using apps as an openly bisexual woman gave me more confidence in all areas of my life
Because I had never been on dating apps before or dated outside of a heteronormative dynamic, I initially felt uncomfortable and uncomfortable flirting with women and people non-binary. Quite simply, flirting with men was what was in my comfort zone, even if it didn’t reflect the full extent of my sexual prowess. But just being on the apps has helped me regain confidence in my sexuality.
“Doing anything that affirms who you are will help you feel more confident,” says Wright. “Check the box “bisexual” on the app is a movement of affirmation. Having a conversation with someone whose gender identity matches the one you are attracted to is a gesture of affirmation. These moves help eat away at the shame someone might feel about being bisexual.”
And, as they say, practice makes perfect. The more I dated and flirted with women and non-binary people, the more confident I felt in my sexuality – both that it was valid and that it was nothing to be ashamed of. Wright says it could also have given me a confidence boost because I was pushing some boundaries for myself.
“When we present ourselves as ourselves and have experiences that are generally positive, it helps to think, ‘Oh, cool. I can be me’” —Rachel Wright, LMFT
By being an openly bisexual woman on a dating app, I took a step towards being who I authentically am in the world. For other queer people, a similar affirmation experience might be like going to an LGBTQ+ mixer or interacting with LGBTQ+ educators on social media. “When we present ourselves as ourselves and have generally positive experiences, it helps us think, ‘Oh, cool. I can be me,'” Wright says.
Having conversations with people from the queer community through dating apps helped me realize that I could, in fact, be me, because others were doing it too. Once that epiphany hit, it was easier to take that energy and implement it into other parts of my life. I realized that I could be openly bisexual at work, when meeting new people and in general. As a result, I gained confidence, not only in my own sexuality, but also in other areas of my life.
“You were encouraged to take it out of that dating app container and try it in a second container, then in a third container, then in a fourth container,” says Wright. “It started in a smaller space – an app – and then all of a sudden it’s happening all over your life.”
Now, instead of pretending I fit in a box to make others feel comfortable, I’m more confident of being authentically myself. He who loves her, loves her; whoever doesn’t, doesn’t. And isn’t that the whole point of trust?
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