What Does It Mean to Be Bi-curious?

Verywell / Madelyn Goodnight

If you've heard of someone using the term “bi-curious," it’s completely normal if you’ve found yourself wondering what that term means.

In short, if someone identifies as bi-curious, then they are open to engaging in romantic or sexual relationships with people of varying gender identities. For example, a cisgender woman might be open to dating another cisgender woman, a cisgender man, or someone who is nonbinary.

This article further discusses what the term bi-curious means, how it differs from bisexuality, and what it's like to date as a bi-curious person. It also covers the stigma bi-curious people face and offers ways to provide emotional support to those who identify as bi-curious.

What Does Bi-curious Mean?

Verywell Mind spoke with Alex S. Keuroghlian, MD, the director of the National LGBTQIA+ Health Education Center at The Fenway Institute

Alex S. Keuroghlian, MD

My understanding is that the person is interested in exploring physical, emotional and/or romantic attachments with more than one gender.

— Alex S. Keuroghlian, MD

He goes on to make an important distinction that “we can’t necessarily know what the person means when they say it.”

According to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center, considering oneself bi-curious could fall under the Q in the LGBTQIA+ acronym. That's because the "Q" can stand for queer or questioning.

Since someone identifying as bi-curious may be asking some questions of their own, Keuroghlian says the best way to deal with the uncertainty is to clarify the meaning with the person personally. 

Bisexual vs. Bi-curious

Some people are a little harsher on the term bi-curious; however, some believe that the "B" in LGBTQIA+ should include those who are bi-curious.

"Some people may take issue with the term bi-curious because they may view it as making light of a more core fundamental sexual orientation identity that bisexual people may have," explains Keuroghlian. "But people may also not take issue with the term bi-curious. It’s important not to make generalizations about what people mean when they use these terms."

There are still professionals who work in academic or medical settings who would consider the term as being distinctly separate from the term bisexual.

"Bi-curious is really just a slang term that some folks use to describe a lack of clarity in understanding their own attraction," says Aron Janssen, MD, Vice Chair, Pritzker Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health. "Folks will use that term to describe a sense of exploration of sexual identity, which is not the same as bisexual."

Keuroghlian explains that when people refer to themselves as bisexual, it “means that they have physical, emotional and/or romantic attachments to more than one gender.”

That said, the term bi-curious implies more of a sense of exploration. In other words, they're potentially saying that they’re exploring their own thoughts on the subject of sexuality.

“Bi-curious implies more of an exploratory aspect to a person’s experience than the term bisexual might, but there’s going to be a lot of individual variability in that,” says Keuroghlian.

What Is It Like to Date as a Bi-curious Person?

Bi-curious people may find themselves on dates with more than one gender as they're exploring their own feelings. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) even made lots of news headlines when they released a surveyin 2010 that revealed that more and more women in early adulthood were experimenting with bisexuality.

The survey found that about 11.5% of women between the ages of 18 and 44 have had at least one experience with another woman in their lifetime. This survey may have had less to say about men since gay and bisexual men are much more likely to face stigma and discrimination.

Stigmas Bi-curious People Face

Unfortunately, as Keuroghlian notes, "anybody who doesn’t identify as straight and cisgender faces stigmas in society." That said, bisexuals are some of the most stigmatized people within the LGBTQIA+ community.

Alex S. Keuroghlian, MD

We know that bisexual people experience some of the most stigma within the LGBTQIA+ community, and can experience stigma from both the gay and lesbian communities and the straight communities. I think even expressing that you’re wondering if you’re attracted to more than one gender can lead to experiencing stigma.

— Alex S. Keuroghlian, MD

Taking Care of Your Mental Health If You're Bi-curious

If you're from a small town where there aren't many resources for therapists or other professionals you could speak to, reach out to supportive loved ones in your life. That said, here are some tips that will help you find the right therapist if you're in the market.

"I think it's always helpful to have somebody that you can talk to and share your experience with and to do what feels right to you at any given stage in your life," says Keuroghlian. "Your identity exploration—it’s not a race to move toward any particular identity."

If you're looking for a support group or more information, Verywell Mind has compiled an extensive list. There are also some steps that you can take if you're still trying to discern your sexual identity.

How to Support Bi-curious People

If you're wondering how to support someone in your life who is bi-curious, letting them know that you're available if and when they need to talk may be the best bet. Definitely make sure you're not asking pressing questions or rushing them to define things for the sake of your own comfort.

"I would thank the person for sharing that with you and ask how you can support them," says Keuroghlian. "And let them know that you’re always there to talk if that would be helpful."

1 Source
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Walters, ML, Chen J, Breiding MJ. The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 Findings on Victimization by Sexual Orientation. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2013.

Additional Reading

By Brittany Loggins
Brittany is a health and lifestyle writer and former staffer at TODAY on NBC and CBS News. She's also contributed to dozens of magazines.