21 January 2009

I want to be a lesbian, but I am unsure of my real sexual orientation

I’m an 18yo girl who is very confused about her sexuality – I have gone from thinking I was straight, to gay, to bi and now I just don’t know. Currently, I really really like this guy but I am not sexually attracted to him. At the same time, I really like this girl and I am sexually attracted to her. I have never found myself sexually attracted to guys, only girls, but my childhood crushes (until I was about 13) were all on guys. Also, this guy is the only guy I have ever really liked, as in, I think I could actually love him, I have otherwise lost interest in guys, but for some reason, I want them to like me and I sometimes get nervous when in close proximity to them. What does all this mean? This might be odd, but I actually want to be a lesbian, not bi or straight, but I’m not sure why. Is it possible to be emotionally attracted to both genders but sexually attracted to one? If this was true for me, am I still technically a lesbian (that’s how I would prefer to identify)?

Dee Gamme

Hello, and thanks for your question!

Sometimes sexual attraction can be secondary to emotional attraction. If you feel good around this guy and he makes you smile, you don’t necessarily have to be physically attracted to him in order to give it a go.

Some couples find the ‘attraction’ only after they’ve started dating or getting more intimate (one can become more intimate without necessarily getting physical). Then on the other hand, sometimes it just doesn’t work. This would be up to you to experiment with and see where it goes.

However, if you are feeling both emotionally and sexually attracted to the girl you mentioned, perhaps it is only an indication that you could have stronger feelings for her than for the guy. Just as you could have more feelings for one guy over another guy.

It’s possible you are trying too hard to box yourself in. Just remind yourself that gender and sexuality is fluid, and can therefore change over the course of a person’s life. Whatever label you want to give yourself, it should be for clarity’s sake and not to limit yourself. For example, you can choose to identify as a lesbian and change your mind at some point in your life. It’s totally ok! You can also choose to identify as queer, pansexual or anything in between, this leaves your options open. It isn’t so much about changing your mind, as it is about being OPEN-minded.

That you want to be noticed by guys isn’t a clear indication that you are straight (or bi). Sometimes we seek admiration from people without having sexual feelings towards them.

If you feel like you prefer to be a lesbian, ask yourself why. Do you like the idea of being seen as a lesbian? Do you feel it’s the way you want to identify?

Speaking from personal experience, YES you can be emotionally attracted to various genders but only sexually attracted to a specific one.

You must choose to identify how you feel most comfortable. The word Queer isn’t as specific as Bi or Gay/Lesbian. Some people use Queer to avoid having to be so specific when it comes to who they’re attracted to and in which way.

If you really have your heart set on the word Lesbian, go for it! There are, in fact lesbians who occasionally date or sleep with men but choose to continue identifying as lesbian, even though some people might argue this would make them bisexual.

Remember that sexuality IS fluid and because of that, don’t feel pressured to call yourself anything specific. Love who you love. Sleep with those you are sexually attracted to. If you feel emotionally very close to someone, you might like to attempt to have sexual relations with them and see how you feel once you’ve tried.

Either way, there is nothing wrong with you, even though this period in your life might be confusing. Give your guy a chance and see if you feel something more than just surface or emotional love for him. Only time will give you answers to the nature of your feelings towards him.

Dee, for Alterheros