I suppose you can say it's a harmless question, but for me it's actually quite loaded. There are a lot of different issues that come up when I'm put on the spot about being in a relationship, and specifically being in a relationship with a man. I can't really be angry with anyone who's asked, but here are a couple things to consider...
It's difficult to know who I am when people constantly make assumptions about my identity. Then, there's a special type of confusion and erasure that comes with being bisexual. First, there's the notion that I "pass for straight," especially because I'm femme. The fact that I don't "look bisexual," whatever the hell that means, often leads to people assuming that I want to be in a relationship with a man. I'm struggling enough on my own to understand my sexuality, so I don't particularly enjoy others making it worse. Especially when it's none of their business.
Then there's the broader issue of societal heteronormativity. We subscribe to a "straight until proven guilty" method of talking about relationships. I feel uncomfortable when people come at me with "do you have a boyfriend?" It tells me that the person has assumed my sexuality without bothering to ask. Why are you assuming my straightness? Why don't you say, "so, do you have a partner?" or "are you seeing someone?" or simply, "are you into dating?" Better yet, let me bring up my dating/sex life on my own terms and don't pry. For a lot of LGBTQIA+ people, openly expressing one's sexuality is a safety concern. I can never be sure how others are going to react, even if we've been friends for a long time. Imagine having to re-come out every time you have a conversation with a stranger or acquaintance. It's emotionally exhausting the first time, let alone the tenth, twelfth, twentieth, etc.
Aside from all of that, and especially for women, there's a sense of disappointment when you politely answer "no." People react with such pity, like I'm so helpless and empty inside because I don't have a boyfriend. On the contrary, school is great, work is engaging and my friends are lovely people. I enjoy being single. I enjoy focusing on myself. I don't like how the pitiful reactions advance the notion that I should be on this dutiful quest to find a man, that somehow I can't possibly be happy on my own. Sometimes I even get asked by relatives or family friends if I have marriage plans in the works? I don't even have weekend plans in the works! When I force a chuckle and say "no," then I inevitably get the "oh don't worry, you'll find a man someday." A man? Who says I want one of those?
Another unavoidable part of this whole debacle is that it brings up a lot of self-esteem issues. It's no secret that I've struggled with body confidence since I was a little girl. I've felt ugly and undesirable because of my size. Little comments stick with you, like in eighth grade when one of my male friends told me he'd "never date a fat girl" or when a group of fuck boys freshman year of college said, "fine, don't hang with us, you're a fat bitch anyway." I feel alienated talking about dating with my friends, like it's a conversation I'm not supposed to be a part of. So when people ask me if I have a boyfriend in the back of my mind I can't help but think, "why even bother asking?"
So yeah, it's "just a question." I'm only asking you to to think about it. A lot of cool things happen when you use your brain.