by COSMY PELLIS
Q: I’m bisexual but have only had sex with guys. I’ve made out with girls but that’s about it and I’m really intimidated to do anything else because I don’t know what to do. Any advice for learning?
A: Thank you so much for trusting me with this question.
Congratulations on recognizing that you’re bisexual—that’s already a huge, first step towards becoming empowered in your sexuality.
It can be hard to navigate your first experience or relationship with a woman after only being with men. Gender roles tell us that men are supposed to take a more active role in sexual relationships and initiate everything. This is not true for every straight relationship, but if you’re used to men making the first move, realizing that you might have to take a more active role in initiating things with women can be a learning curve.
I am also bisexual, so I really empathize with your question. We are up against so much, challenging sexual binaries and gender norms simply by existing as bisexual women. Here are my top pieces of advice that I’ve learned from my first relationships with other women.
Meeting other women who are interested in women can be difficult. Straight women can be flirty with each other, so it’s hard to tell when a woman is just being friendly and when she’s flirting.
If you meet a woman in a conventional way, like in class, at a bar or downtown, you can feel the situation out. Ask her if she wants to get coffee or do something casual, where you guys can talk and learn about each other. It sounds bold, but you might want to bring up sexuality when you hang out with a girl for the first time. This sets the tone that you might be open to starting something with her, and if she feels comfortable disclosing her sexuality too, you can go from there. If it turns out that she’s also interested in girls, you can ask her on a first date! This is a pretty low-risk way to set intentions really early on.
If you’re in a queer space, like a gay bar, a PRISM event on campus or a party that many queer people are attending, it may be easier to make a move on a woman with a lower fear of rejection. In these settings, romantic intentions may be clearer without the need for explicitly stating them. You might find it easier to make a move on a girl (with consent) if you can feel a vibe between you and her.
I usually hate dating apps, but they can actually be a great tool when you feel ready to be with a girl for the first time. Since it’s sometimes hard to gauge whether other girls are bisexual or gay in person, dating apps eliminate this fear because anyone you match with is also looking for women. It’s important to think about your intentions when choosing a dating app; apps like Tinder are more geared towards hookups, while Hinge and Bumble are more tailored towards dates and relationships. There’s also a dating app called Her that is specifically designed for the queer community.
It’s important to be careful with dating apps because sometimes straight men will infiltrate these settings. I have lesbian friends that match with women only to find that they’re looking for a third person in their straight relationship, or they find men’s profiles when their settings are just set to women.
These first experiences with other women are so valuable. For me, being with a woman was the first time that I fully thought about what I wanted out of a relationship and took an active role in pursuing that. It’s a whole different kind of love, and whether you find someone in person or online, it’s guaranteed to be a life-changing experience.
Women can be intimidating. Just like every other part of life, confidence is half the battle. I truly cannot stress that enough. If you’re hitting on a woman or asking her on a date, go in with the utmost confidence you can muster. The worst outcome is that she’s straight or that she’s not interested, and hey, that’s okay! It’s so much better to start getting experience talking to women than to stay scared forever. I promise it will eventually pay off.
It’s natural to be nervous. For bisexual women who have had sex with men in the past, having sex with another girl can feel like losing our virginities all over again. That’s scary. But it’s also so beautiful. We get to experience connection with other people for the first time, twice. Also, you’ve had sex before, and being with a woman will be different, sure, but the premise of the act is still the same.
If you’re with another girl who’s inexperienced in woman-loving-woman (WLW) relationships, take solace in the fact that she’s probably nervous too. You guys can figure it out together, and that is so amazing. If you have your first experience with a girl who’s been with other girls before, it could be comforting to let her take a more active role and guide you through the situation, if she feels comfortable doing so.
Either way, it’s not so scary as long as you go in with confidence. Remember, anyone who’s having sex with you or dating you is lucky to be sharing such an intimate experience with you. Confidence is hard, but the more often you take a deep breath and enter situations with a positive outlook, the easier it gets.
One of the most relieving parts of female relationships is communication. After only being with men, it often feels really validating to be with someone who may understand your emotions a little bit easier.
If you’ve found a partner and you’re nervous to kiss her or have sex with her for the first time, tell her! You guys can talk through it and, hopefully, this conversation will settle your nerves a bit. At the very least, she will gain an understanding of your mindset and your fears. Communication is important in every relationship, and it’s especially important when you’re approaching a sexual relationship. Make sure to approach conversations from a place of open-mindedness and understanding.
I am always accepting sex questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the QR code on page 6! Don’t worry, if I answer your question it will be anonymous.