Every day, I see and face biphobia like this, and I’ll bet you do, too.
- Assumptions about your identity based on your partner’s gender (e.g. “You must be gay (or straight) because your partner’s gender is x”)
- People denying bisexuality even exists, especially for bi+ men
- Not being considered a “real” bisexual unless you’ve dated or had sex with people across the gender spectrum
- Queer groups only focusing their efforts on the needs of L & G folks
- Invisibility of bisexuals in everyday language and media representation
And while bisexuals have amazing levels of resilience–which you can read more about in The 5 Secret Strengths of Bisexuals–studies have shown that internalizing society’s biphobia, or having a partner who isn’t supportive of your bi+ identity, can take a toll on your mental health (Taylor et al., 2019).
We deal with some tough stuff as bisexuals, but the good news is that there are lots of proven, effective ways to cope with biphobia.
You can bolster your resilience and keep yourself on a positive path with your mental health. Here are just a few ideas to get you started. Remember, you don’t have to do them all at once, but maybe find one idea that’s a good fit for you.
- Understand unhealthy thought patterns. Notice any common biphobic negative thought patterns you may have about yourself. Pay close attention, because they can sneak up on you when you’re not noticing.
You might think, “I’m not bi enough because…,” “I’m not a real bisexual because…,” or “My partner seems uncomfortable with my bisexual attractions, maybe there is something wrong about being bisexual.”
Try to pause these thoughts from taking you over by saying, “This is just biphobia talking, I don’t have to believe these thoughts.” Repeat over and over. You will probably have to do this many times for yourself until you get the hang of pausing these thoughts.
- Change your self-talk. Once you’re more aware of your thought patterns, begin to use more positive self-talk to replace them. Try instead: “I can define bisexuality for myself,” “My identity is valid, not matter who I’ve dated or slept with,” and “I deserve a partner who supports my bisexuality.”
- Make a gratitude list. Make a list of all the reasons you are grateful for being bisexual and the awesome strengths you have as a bisexual. Maybe even add the names of bisexual role models or fantastic bisexual people in your life. Look back at this list when you need to call upon your strength.
- Build a bi-supportive community. Find bi-supportive friends and community you can lean on when things are hard. They can remind you that you are important, valid, and valued. They can share their similar experiences and remind you that you’re not alone. As a special bonus, the more bi-supportive friends you have, the more likely you are to find a bi-supportive partner.
- Learn mindfulness skills. Learning these skills are great for anyone and everyone, but they are especially powerful for bisexual folks to help cultivate an internal sense of strength and well-being. To help you feel ready to go back out in the world after a particularly tough day, start small by practicing mindfulness just 3 minutes a day with a free app like Calm or Headspace. Increase the time as you feel ready.
- Work on bi+ advocacy efforts. Helping to create systemic change can be empowering and help you feel in control. Think about small everyday ways you can advocate for the community. Think about big systemic changes and how you can help organize bite-size steps to make them happen. An important caveat here: when embarking on advocacy make sure to balance self-care with activism. While advocacy can be super-empowering, it can also lead to burnout if we don’t keep things in balance.
Pick just one of these simple tools to commit to doing regularly for yourself and see what a powerful impact it can have on your mental health. I see it be effective over and over again for my clients.
What are your go-to coping tools? How do you bolster your resilience? I’d love to hear people talking about this at our next BABN get-together!
*** This is a repost for a guest post I originally did for the Bay Area Bisexual Network. See original article here:
Taylor, J, Power, J, Smith, E & Rathbone, M. (2019). Bisexual mental health: Findings from the ‘Who I Am’ study. Australian Journal of General Practice, 48 (3).