Over the years, through my involvement with bi groups and poly groups, I’ve noticed, as many others have, an overlap between the two communities. However, there are bi people, as we all know, that are not poly and who do not wish to be. On the other hand, there are bi people who could not imagine being bi without being poly.
I try to explain to non-bisexuals that there are bisexuals who are attracted to women AND men and bisexuals who are attracted to women OR men. People who are attracted to women AND men are (sometimes) attracted to both for very specific reasons. In other words, they are attracted to men BECAUSE they are men and to women BECAUSE they are women. Which is, of course, fine. And some (not all) of these people feel that women and men are complementary and that they need this complementarity in their lives. They may fulfill this by having simultaneious relationships with males and females in a non-monogamous context, in a monogamous but cheating context or in a serial monogamy context.
Other bisexuals are attracted to men OR women. In other words, they are attracted to people without regard for their sex or gender. These may be the people that say things like: “It’s not about the plumbing, it’s about the person inside.” This is, of course, fine also. Among many of these people, one can find individuals who are monogamous or non-monogamous. The latter folks are not necessarily out to get an equal balance of relationships with females and males.
Now, I’m not trying to create categories here so that I can put people into boxes. I just find it fun to articulate things that I’ve noticed about variations within the bi community and looking at how this flows into poly. It also helps me explain my own patterns and changes in those patterns over the years.
For example, I used to consider myself an “AND” bisexual. I was attracted to both women and men for very specific reasons and wanted to be polyamorous so that I could have both in my life. Now, I think I’m a mix of both. I’m an “AND/OR” bisexual.
From a purely sexual point of view, I’m an “AND” bisexual. I like male bodies and I like female bodies. Sexually, I like women because they have clits and breasts. Sexually, I like men because of their arms and their penises (penii?). Emotionally, though, I’m an “OR” bisexual. I can/want to be emotionally involved with a person without regard for their sex/gender.
What led me to realise this about myself has been the questionning of my own gender identity, ongoing for the past 2 1/2 years. Once I started to climb out of the socially imposed box labelled “woman” with the appropriate list of traits and once I stopped seeing women and men as bundles of gender-appropriate traits, I stopped “needing” to be emotionally involved with men AND women and started “wanting” to be involved with people who had traits that were compatible with mine.
What I mean is this: I am attracted to people who have their own unique bundles of traits and that are not limited by gender norms. For me to be emotionally attracted to someone, really does have nothing to do with their plumbing. And I *do* see myself, someday, wanting a “primary” relationship (see my previous post about maintenance of autonomy and identity) with someone but I don’t care if that someone is a female, male, both, neither, whatever.
However, I *do* also see myself wanting sex with women AND men (or whatever) because I have a strong sexual desire for female AND male bodies.
So here is the bottom line: my ideal form of polyamory includes sexual friendships with both women and men but not necessarily deep emotional ties with both. In fact, I only have so much emotional energy to go around at this point in my life (that might change) because of my status as a mother (I know, not all parents feel like me about that, this is strictly my own feeling), because of my job (which can be very emotionally demanding) and because of the ongoing process of inner healing and caring for myself that I am currently undergoing. Therefore, I can only see myself in a deep
emotional relationship (at this point) with one person.
And yes, I still see this as polyamory because, if relationships that I
would have with people other than my hypothetical primary partner would mainly be sexual friendships, they would be friendships nonetheless (ie. we do other stuff too) and, as with all friendships, there is a form of love.