I have tried out different labels, asexual, queer, lesbian, straight and nothing seems to fit right…

so ive always sort of felt i was bisexual. since probably around 8, however recently (probably like 13) i realized that thats not true. i feel uncomfortable around men, im not sure if its just like a phobia or something to do with my dad (as i never knew him) the idea of kissing or intimately touching a man makes me extremely uncomfortable, ive had boyfriends in the past and being physically close to them is really really hard for me. even emotionally i dont know how to let them in, im worried it will always be this way as ive tried so many things and its all yet to work. i have tried out different labels, asexual, queer, lesbian, straight and nothing seems to fit right. for a little while asexual is what i went with even though i didnt think it fit right, because im not sexually attracted to anyone. being close to girls has always been easier for me, ive even kissed a few, hugging hand holding etc etc just works better but im not sure if its because i dont like females or because i do. it all just sort of blurs together and i never know what im feeling. i grew up in a home that wasnt very affectionate and so i was thinking maybe that had something to do with it? my parents didnt like eachother that much and fought a lot and again, i thought that mightve been a reason as to why i cant make meaningful relationships. i dont know really maybe this was a bad idea but if there was anything you could help me with, or anything you could like clarify for me it would be great. please get back to me :).
Hi there lala,
Thanks for trusting AlterHeros with your question. As I understand it, you are having some confusion with your sexuality, and you’ve explored and considered a few different labels.
It’s completely normal to be unsure of your sexuality. Many of us are at various points in our life. There are plenty of factors that have an effect on how we view our sexuality, and you’ve touched on a lot of them in your question. It seems to me that you’ve been thinking about this a lot, which is very common, especially when we’re at a young age and in the process of starting our first relationships.
Those of us who don’t identify as straight (regardless of the exact label we use) are often the ones that analyze and think critically about our sexuality the most, because we know it doesn’t quite fit with what we’re seeing from many of our peers. This can be confusing and stressful, but you’re under no obligation to “figure out” your sexuality and put a label on yourself. Sometimes labels about sexuality are helpful and they are able to quickly and neatly explain complex emotions and feelings, but when you’re a person who doesn’t quite connect with any existing label, it can cause distress. The problem here is not with you. The problem is our society’s obsession with labelling people in order to simplify us. You are allowed to be complex, and you are allowed to change over time.
Let’s talk about asexuality specifically. Asexuality can mean a few different things. It might mean you have a low (or no) sex drive, meaning you don’t (or rarely) tend to be aroused or feel sexual. It can also mean you don’t tend to have romantic or sexual feelings. It can also mean various other things to other people. Asexuality is a completely valid identity, and for some their degree of sexuality can fluctuate and change over our lifetime (or even over the course of a day!). At one point you may have no sex drive and nothing may arouse you, and then at a later point you may have strong sexual desires. It’s not a constant unchanging state for everyone. This is perhaps why you describe identifying with the asexual label but not quite feeling like it fit – it’s possible that sometimes it fits you and other times it does not. This is a part of the fluidity of human sexuality and it’s very normal. It’s something that isn’t talked about enough, but everyone experiences it to some extent. For some it can be intense (for example from no sex drive to a high sex drive), while for others the fluctuation is more moderate.
You describe feeling uncomfortable around men and that this might be related to not knowing your dad. You’re correct that our life experiences can have an impact on our sexuality, but they don’t determine it alone. Many people view sexuality as innate and unchanging, but the reality is that external factors like life events and specific relationships or people in our lives can have an effect on us and change how we view our sexuality. This is especially true for people who have a natural tendency to be more fluid.
You also expressed that you’re unsure about your feelings with girls. You say that you feel comfortable around girls, though, and that’s great. It is definitely normal to gravitate towards people who make us feel at ease. As for whether or not you’re sexually/romantically attracted to girls, that might be something that takes some time and experience to figure out. Don’t rush yourself, it’s completely normal to be unsure.
You also mentioned that the example that your parents’ relationship set, as well as growing up in a home that was not affectionate, might be impacting your sexuality and your ability to form close relationships. Our home situation and family relationships absolutely play a role in our future relationships, and the way that we approach them, but you are in no way trapped by the reality of your family dynamic. You will be able to form meaningful relationships (if you want to), despite the less than ideal example set by your parents.
Certainly, a difficult home life can make relationships feel a bit more complicated, and not develop as naturally as you might like. It is your awareness about your background that is exactly why your past won’t stop you from forming relationships. Knowing that this is something that is difficult for you means that you know you have to be more careful and considerate with how you approach close relationships.
Just because your parents didn’t set a perfect example, doesn’t mean that you can’t create your own wonderful relationships. You are in control of your life, and although you might need to put in more work, or approach relationships in a different way than others, that does not mean that you can’t have real and deep connections. The truth is, we all approach relationships differently, and we all have a past that affects how we interact with others.
I just wanted to finish off by thanking you again for your question and to ask that you simply be patient with yourself. I know that when you’re in the midst of questioning your sexuality it can feel like you need (or want) to come up with an answer right away, but the reality is that there is truly no rush. You in no way need to choose a label now, or ever. You’re also allowed to identify with a label that currently makes you feel comfortable, and then choose a different one later if that first label no longer feels right. There are no rules to your sexuality, and the most important thing is that you feel comfortable and secure in your relationships regardless of who they are with and regardless of whether they are sexual/romantic relationships or friendships. Side note: relationships that are not sexual or romantic can be just as (or more) meaningful than those that are.
Sexuality can be confusing, but I hope I was able to provide a little clarity, or at least relieve some anxiety. Good luck with everything, and feel free to contact us again if you have any further questions.
Thanks and all the best,
Matt at AlterHeros

About Matthew Scott

Matthew completed a BSc. in Psychology at the University of New Brunswick before moving to Montréal where he currently resides. He is passionate about queer issues, volunteerism, community involvement, music, and houseplants.

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