A study has examined why many bisexual men choose to stay in the closet.

A study has examined why many bisexual men choose not to tell their partners – especially their wives and girlfriends – about their bisexuality.

The study included in-depth interviews conducted with a large, ethnically diverse sample of men who had never disclosed their same-sex behaviour to female sexual partners.

Stats data has previously shown that men were half as likely as women to identify themselves as bisexual.

Many of the men who participated said they wanted to avoid the stigma and homophobia they felt certain would lead to strong negative emotional reactions and profound changes in their relationships.

Eric W Schrimshaw, associate professor of Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, said: “Our results clearly identify the need for public education campaigns to dispel myths about bisexual men – that bisexual men are not gay, do not have HIV, and are not necessarily non-monogamous.

“The anticipated negative reactions from female partners suggest the need for strategies to assist behaviourally bisexual men disclose their sexual history in ways that minimise negative reactions and work with the couple to preserve the relationship”, he said.

The report found the men did not report a heterosexual identity, identity uncertainty, or other identity issues as reasons for non-disclosure. This was instead linked to wanting to avoid anticipated responses such as “ridicule, rejection, and victimisation”.

Earlier research suggested that high levels of emotional distress among behaviourally bisexual men are a result of concealment of their sexual orientation. “The current findings provide new insights into why non-disclosure could result in greater emotional distress”, said Schrimshaw, who led the research.

Full findings of the study were published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behaviour.