A friend of mine and a fellow psychologist, who is married to a woman but considers himself as strictly gay, has told me emphatically that there is no such thing as a bisexual. According to him, science indicates that you have to be either attracted to men or women but biologically you cannot be attracted to both. He bases his beliefs on the rat studies of the 1980’s involving the use or hormone injections and more recent studies that seem to link gay or heterosexual orientation to the mother’s hormone production during pregnancy. In either case, to him, it seems to be either or, but not both.
However, nine million Americans who claim they are bisexual, or at least feel attraction to both men and women, cannot all be wrong. In a recent study (2011) conducted in Northwestern University, researchers found “evidence that at least some men who identify themselves as bisexual are, in fact, sexually aroused by both women and men.” These findings overturn their earlier studies (2005). Using more stringent guidelines, the researchers recruited subjects from online bisexual venues. The participants had to have had sexual experiences with at least two people of each sex and a romantic relationship of at least three months with at least one person of each sex. In both studies, men watched videos of male and female same-sex intimacy while genital sensors monitored their erectile responses. While the first study reported that bisexuals generally resembled homosexuals, the new one found that bisexual men responded to both the male and female videos. The earlier study suggested that bisexual attraction was due to subjective arousal rather than a genital response. The second study clearly showed that bisexual men did indeed have a genital response.
So what do these studies mean for us bisexuals? It is reassuring to know that we are indeed sexually aroused by both men and women (as if we didn’t know that already). For many years, I have been under the delusion that I was sexually (genital arousal) attracted to men but psychologically (subjective arousal) desired intimacy with women. This is simply not true. We cannot separate the two. Arousal and desire for intimacy go together. Genital arousal leads to desire for intimacy and intimacy leads to genital arousal, whether it is with a man or a woman.
What has been confusing in the past is that my relationships with men were based on a quick fix, genital arousal with no subjective involvement, simply find a willing partner and engage, whereas my relationships with women demanded courtship and foreplay leading to intimacy and arousal. While I was married, I did a man thing; I compartmentalized. I got my gay fix (genital arousal) quick and easy and saved my moments of intimacy (subjective arousal) for love making with my wife. Because of the emotional intensity of my gay encounters, I came to the inevitable conclusion that my real drives were gay. But this is simply not the case; it was merely my personal way to deal with my powerful sexual desires for both men and women.
So what is the solution? Simple me – I still think the answer is love. Find love and have sex, not have sex and perhaps find love. We seek intimacy and enjoy the genital arousal within the boundaries of a meaningful relationship. This can be with a man or a woman. We are bisexual. This requires an open relationship where feelings and desires are open for honest discussion. And if we are not yet in an intimate relationship than it is perfectly fine and certainly enjoyable to experiment and have genital and subjective experiences with both men and women until the right person comes along.
 Rosenthat A.M., Sylva D., Safron A., amd Bailey JM. .Sexual Arousal Patterns of Bisexual Men Revisited. Biol Psychol. 2011.