Confused About My Sexuality (Please Help!)

Questions and discussion about your sexuality and how it's a part of who you are as a person.
LavaLamp
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Confused About My Sexuality (Please Help!)

Unread postby LavaLamp » Tue Nov 07, 2017 9:50 pm

Hi, everyone!

I want to apologize in advance for the length of this post. I know that some of you may see this and decide it's too long to read, and that's perfectly okay! I don't blame you! If anything this will have allowed to get some of my thoughts written down in a somewhat organized manner, so it's okay if I don't get any replies. Thanks anyway for getting this far!

I've got to admit, I've been so lost trying to figure this out. A little bit of harmless (but necessary) background here, I am 20-years-old and I'm not very experienced with relationships. In middle school I had 3 boyfriends (but do those count?), in high school I didn't date at all (though I was asked out), and last summer I had a brief semi-long distance relationship with a guy I met at the restaurant I work at. He lived 4 hours away, but his family had a cabin around where I worked. He was wearing a college shirt, and I mentioned that I happened to attend that college. Turns out not only did we both attend the same college, but we were in the same year. He left the day after we met, but we exchanged numbers and got to know each other pretty well. After a few weeks he asked if he could call me his girlfriend, and I, as someone who desperately wanted a relationship and was excited to have met this boy with whom I shared a lot in common, of course said yes. He traveled up to where I lived a couple of weeks later so that we could spend time together over the weekend in his family's cabin, and I was excited but nervous. Long story short, I have never felt more physically uncomfortable.

He was the perfect gentleman, and we had decided ahead of time to take things slow, but I still hated every second of hanging out with him. Kissing him felt sloppy, and I couldn't see why he seemed to enjoy it so much (or why anyone would enjoy it, for that matter). He loved to cuddle, but I absolutely did not. It got to the point where holding his hand made my skin crawl. He left to go home and was very sad that we would be separated again, but I was relieved. Figured I needed time to adjust to being in a relationship and get wrap my head around the physical intimacy before I saw him at school. But after a month I didn't feel any better; in fact I felt worse. I tried so hard to let myself relax and enjoy being around him, but I couldn't. I had to end things. I couldn't figure out what was wrong with me that I couldn't enjoy myself. The guy was certainly attractive, I wanted to be in a relationship, craved romantic, physical closeness with someone, but the idea of kissing a guy suddenly sounded horrible. I didn't enjoy the kisses I'd had in middle school either, but we were all so young- I figured it'd get better with age. It didn't.

Not 2 weeks later I was watching one of my favorite shows, and I felt like I got slapped in the face and punched in the gut all at once. The show was Supergirl, and my favorite character, Alex, was discovering something about herself that she never knew before. A woman on the show, Maggie (an out lesbian), had mistakenly thought Alex was flirting with her. Alex assured her that she wasn't and rushed off. Later in the episode Maggie apologized to Alex for assuming things, and Alex said that she had been thinking. She said that the one area in her life she couldn't make perfect was dating, though she tried to. She never liked being intimate. Just figured that wasn't the way she was wired. She had never thought it could mean anything else, but now she was thinking that maybe there was some truth to what Maggie had insinuated before. I was blown away. It was like looking in the mirror.

Over the past year I've been trying to piece it together in my head. I thought I had crushes on boys when I was younger, but now I'm not so sure. I think maybe when I was really young I just wanted to be their friend, and when I got older I just wanted boys to like me. I was a tomboy growing up and didn't care for girls too much, at least not the ones who were opposed to getting dirty, and I'm fairly certain I never had a crush on a girl my age. But (and this is a big but) I've always adored certain actresses and characters. It started when I was really little and would watch Xena, then Charmed (loved Piper), then NCIS (Abby and Ziva), Agents of SHIELD (Jemma Simmons), Grey's Anatomy (Lexie), Supergirl (Alex), and Person of Interest (Root). There are SO many more, but my point is they're all girls. No matter what show or movie I've ever watched, my favorites were always the girls. It's actually a running joke among friends and family. I would google the actresses' filmographies, watch as much of their work as I could, watch interviews, and stare at pictures. I convinced myself that was normal, but I never told anyone about it. I didn't want people to think I was weird.

Fast forward to last year after I watched my favorite character realize that the reason she never liked being with guys was because she was actually attracted to women and had never let herself consider that option. It's taken me over a year of trying to figure it out, and I'm still so confused. Did I actually have crushes on boys when I was little, or am I making that up? Does "obsessing" over those actresses and female characters mean anything, or is it harmless? Did I really not have crushes on girls my own age, or am I repressing that because I reeeeeeeeally don't want to be gay? I have several gay friends who I am really very close to and I see the struggles they go through. As cowardly as it sounds, I don't want to go through that too. I'm afraid. So I don't know if I can trust my brain to be honest with myself. I want to figure this out, but am terrified at what this could mean. If anyone has any sort of input, as small as it could be, I would really appreciate it.

I'm sorry again for the length of this post. Haha I guess I've been thinking a lot. Kudos if you read the whole thing!

thewrit3r
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Re: Confused About My Sexuality (Please Help!)

Unread postby thewrit3r » Wed Nov 08, 2017 5:43 am

Hi, LavaLamp,

Don’t worry about your post being too long - I read the whole thing. And my response will probably be long (if not longer) and this might be all over the place so I apologize if it’s hard to read.

I guess first where I want to start off is saying that sexuality is complicated, as I’m sure you found out. Unfortunately no one can tell you what your sexual orientation is but yourself, but that doesn’t mean you have to have it all figured out. Honestly I don’t even know if I have it all figured out. That’s kind of life, though, but remembe it’s okay to not have everything figured out; I’m 100% sure no one has everything figured out.

As far as your attraction to guys vs. girls, it’s possible that you were attracted to males at some point in your life, but that’s changed now. That’s perfectly fine too. Contrary to popular belief, people’s sexuality can change over time. Like I said, sexuality is super complicated and sometimes it fluctuates. So you weren’t necessarily never attracted to men; maybe you’re only attracted to women now.

Another option is, of course, that you were never attracted to men but thought you were supposed to because of heteronormativity. Unfortunately, there’s still a lot of homophobia in the world, so it’s understandable that you would not want to acknowledge your feelings for women. It’s also understandable that you do not want to be gay because you’ve been told all your life that being anything by heterosexual is wrong.

If I could, I would erase all the homophobia and hatred in the world, I would. But even if I can’t, I will continue to dismantle these harmful beliefs and reinforce this: there is NOTHING wrong with you. What you are experiencing is common and it’s not wrong. You’re a beautiful person and if you are gay then that’s just another part of you. I think it’s quite beautiful that people can experience love to people of multiple genders, nationalities, etc. When you think about it, love has never hurt anyone. It’s one of the strongest strengths you can have in the world.

I know that was a lot, and I know you have to belief that about yourself. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your friends who are gay, you could continue speaking on here or other LGBT+ friendly websites. But if they really are your friends I hope you would be able to talk to them eventually. Emotional support is so important, and I think there’s something to be said about face to face interaction. Not that you can’t help here, of course, but having someone you could physically go to for support is equally important and just strengthens your social support.

(As a side note,’m glad you were able to get some solace from what you saw on TV. I love Supergirl so I know which episode you’re talking about :) if anything this shows that we are starting to make change in the world on treating people with respect)
"The writer is by nature a dreamer - a conscious dreamer."
-Carson McCullers

Heather
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Re: Confused About My Sexuality (Please Help!)

Unread postby Heather » Wed Nov 08, 2017 1:58 pm

I also want to add to this that while I don't watch this show (should I, you guys? I seem to keep hearing about it), television, as a media, is TERRIBLY guilty of biphobia and of cultivating or participating in a ton of bi-visibility. In your questions here, one thing I am seeing is a lot of influence of how this show presented these issues, in ways that sound unsurprisingly tinged with the idea that people are gay or straight, attracted to this gender or person or that, without the in-between where the majority of actual people in real life land. :(

I say that because I wonder if some of this might be less challenging or confusing for you if you remind yourself that it may well be that you are now or have been a bisexual -- or queer, pansexual, whatever you like to describe this -- person; that it might not all be or have been about being just gay or not. Maybe -- again, only an example, only you can know what your story is, and probably mostly in hindsight -- you have always been queer, and earlier on, you were a kind of queer that had you more attracted to guys and girls alike, or a wider range of them, but lately you're more the kind of queer that's widely and more strongly attracted to women, but not very many men. Or a kind who finds men attractive in some ways, but isn't into having any kind of sex with them. Who knows. Point is that there's more than just gay or not, and while everything else is a LOT of everything-elses, remembering that can sometimes make things feel a lot less complicated, and make just figuring out who we are now, and what we want, a bit easier, I think.

Know what I mean? Not sure if that all helps you or not, mind, but in case it does, there it is. :)
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

LavaLamp
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Re: Confused About My Sexuality (Please Help!)

Unread postby LavaLamp » Wed Nov 08, 2017 7:53 pm

Thanks for replying, both of you!

thewrit3r, I actually have spoken to 2 of my closest friends from high school about it, and while they were both unbelievably supportive, it didn't really help sort out my thoughts. The one girl I talked to identifies as bi, and she said she had been waiting for this conversation since high school. She used to push me to name guys I found attractive because she was "trying to figure out my type." I could never really name anyone, but if she gave an example I could say whether or not I found that boy attractive. Really, she had just noticed that I wasn't nearly as into boys as she and our other friend were, and she was trying to get me to see that for myself. She was the one who encouraged me to reach out to online forums and talk to people who have been here before haha. The other girl I talked to is straight and said she had also been waiting for this conversation, but since last year after I had broken up with the guy I had been dating. She also noticed I wasn't into boys in high school but didn't think anything of it. She especially took note of my "obsession" with female characters and actresses. Apparently I mentioned something last year that really got her thinking, but she chose not to mention it to me, choosing instead to let me come to it myself on my own time. A good call on her part, I think. I would've have spooked if she had brought it up to me, I'm sure.

Heather, it makes perfect sense. I'm going to relate this to TV again (I adore TV and movies haha), but there was also a scene from Grey's Anatomy that kind of resonated with me, but not until after I started questioning things (about a year after I had seen the episode). Two female doctors who previously thought they were straight slept together and had different reactions to the experience, though they both enjoyed themselves. The one woman compared it to getting glasses, like she didn't know what she was missing before but things were so much clearer after. So she realized she was a lesbian. The other woman didn't feel that way, and realized that she was bi. I guess what I'm struggling most with is trying to recognize and classify what I'm feeling about guys and girls. I legitimately don't know if what I'm feeling for these people is attraction, and I don't know if I can trust myself to be honest. Did I really have crushes on boys, or were those just friendly feelings? Do I want to BE like those girl characters / actresses, or do I LIKE them? I don't know how to separate the 2. Also, I'm still not confident I'm not just making all of this up.

(For the record, I do really love the show Supergirl. They tackle a lot of current issues in a somewhat subtle way (for example, equal rights for aliens = equal rights for illegal immigrants / refugees), and I feel like they're always handled well. In addition, the show is full of strong female characters, which is kind of my kryptonite. (heehee) Plus the show is funny, and I do love the acting!)

thewrit3r
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Re: Confused About My Sexuality (Please Help!)

Unread postby thewrit3r » Thu Nov 09, 2017 5:11 am

It’s really personal if you are attracted to men and women. Maybe if you can spend some time alone with your thoughts without media or other people telling you how you’re “supposed” to be it could make things a bit easier. I still think we don’t have everything figured out but maybe you’ll understand your feelings more.

I wouldn’t dismiss your feelings. You’re not making this up. You’re trying to figure out your feelings and you’ve probably heard negative messages about people “making up” their feelings if they aren’t straight but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I think if you trust yourself to be honest you will come to a better understanding of your feelings.

It’s possible that you did have feelings for boys in the last but those feelings have changed over time. Not that you don’t like men anymore but maybe you like fewer men than you did in the past. If you are attracted to more than one gender you don’t have to feel equal levels of attraction; for instance, you may be more emotionally attracted to men but physically attracted to women.

Honestly, the past about not knowing your feelings resonates with me. I too felt like I was “obsessing” over female actresses as well as women I knew in real life and I wasn’t sure if I had feelings for them or not. At the same time I knew I was attracted to men and had been for quite awhile, but I felt a different sort of feelings towards women. I really don’t know how to categorize myself and I’m trying to be okay with that because sexuality is way more complicated than it’s sometimes made out to be. It’s not just “hey I’m gay/straight!” a lot of people fall somewhere in the middle.

Last note, maybe if you approach this in an exciting way - like you’re discovering a new, exciting part of yourself - it might take away some of the stress you’re feeling :)
"The writer is by nature a dreamer - a conscious dreamer."
-Carson McCullers

LavaLamp
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Re: Confused About My Sexuality (Please Help!)

Unread postby LavaLamp » Thu Nov 09, 2017 5:34 pm

I'm sure you're right about spending time alone with my thoughts. I tend to throw everything I have into things when I get focused on them, and that isn't necessarily a good thing all the time. My one friend suggested to me that if I try to force myself to figure this out quickly, then I will probably remain confused, and I won't trust whatever I come up with. I completely agree with her, but I really want to know for sure ASAP. It's frustrating that there doesn't seem to be anything I can do to expedite the process besides laying back, letting myself feel what I'm going to feel, and paying attention.

I feel a little better about thinking I'm "making things up" now. Just because it took me longer to recognize what I was feeling for ladies, that doesn't mean those feelings weren't always there. I just didn't recognize them at the time. I'm still not super convinced I didn't make up crushes with the boys I knew growing up, but I'm very open to the idea that I did have feelings for them, but that those feelings changed as I got older. I hadn't ever considered that. I also hadn't put too much thought into how bisexuality exists basically on a spectrum, and one doesn't need to be attracted the same amount to men and women. I guess I did know that before, but for some reason I hadn't really considered it when I was thinking about how it could apply to me. That's something I will absolutely remember going forward.

I spent a lot of time trying to figure out if there were signs pointing to me not being completely straight that I had been overlooking or ignoring when I was younger. Like, for example, the thing with the actresses. That's definitely always been there, and I never thought anything of it. I did subconsciously try to hide the depth of my... infatuation? (not sure if that's the right word here, but let's go with it) with those women from my friends and family because I didn't want them to think that I was... well, gay, but again, I didn't think that meant anything. I've been hiding that from people for a long time, but I've also been hiding it from myself in a way, if that makes any sense. I guess I'm just wondering if there are any more of those type of things lying around, ya know? I guess the best thing I can do on that front is to be open to anything, but also not to expect anything. Haha it's going to be hard not to dig.

Definitely trying to find the excitement, and I think I'm coming around! I'm still pretty scared, but like I said earlier I've been hiding some of this stuff for a really long time. I've never really felt like I was ever my actual, authentic self, and I am pretty excited to figure out who that is!

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Re: Confused About My Sexuality (Please Help!)

Unread postby Mo » Mon Nov 13, 2017 4:58 pm

In a culture where people tend to be "assumed heterosexual" by default, that assumption can make it a lot harder to recognize and understand feelings of same-gender attraction. If you grow up hearing that attraction to men is inevitable, normal, encouraged, etc. and attraction to women is either discouraged or never mentioned at all, that can absolutely impact not only your most active feelings but your ability to really understand them. So, it doesn't seem unusual to me that you feel like you've been hiding things from yourself to some extent.

I do think thewrit3r makes a great point by saying that bisexuality doesn't mean "I am attracted to just men and women, in exactly the same way, exactly the same amount." Bisexual folks an feel attraction to more genders than just men and women but also it doesn't mean they are into every gender to the same extent! It's very common to have preferences; sometimes those are fairly constant but often people find that exactly who they're attracted to, gender-wise, can fluctuate over time.
I realize you've said here that you'd really like to feel sure of things soon, and I hope you can! But I do want to remind you that if you ever feel like your sexuality shifts or changes in the future, that change doesn't negate any of what you feel now or make those feelings less real.

LavaLamp
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Re: Confused About My Sexuality (Please Help!)

Unread postby LavaLamp » Mon Nov 13, 2017 10:00 pm

Hi, Mo! Thanks for replying!

I really appreciate your thoughts here. Before I decided to come to this forum I was still questioning whether or not I was attracted to women. I didn't want to be, but I knew I was doing myself a disservice if I wasn't being honest. So I'm trying very hard to be completely honest with myself, regardless of if I think I'll like the end result. I've accepted that what I've been feeling for certain women is probably (almost certainly) attraction, and I do feel much better having admitted that. It makes a lot of sense. My issue now is trying to figure out if I'm also attracted to guys. You, thewrit3r, and Heather have all brought up the possibility of bisexuality, and that isn't something I had really considered before, so I'm a little behind the curve on trying to figure that one out!

I was thinking back on the crushes I had on the boys my age when I was younger, and I realized that the only guys I didn't eventually feel uncomfortable around were the guys I didn't end up doing anything with. Like, even if I held hands with a boy or hugged a boy, I immediately didn't want to be around him anymore. I felt weird. On the other hand, if I never crossed that physical boundary, I was never uncomfortable. That's only in a romantic context though. I have plenty of guy friends that I am more than comfortable being physically affectionate with, but as soon as there are less-than-platonic feelings involved I balk. It seems as though the same holds true now. At least it did last year with my most recent relationship. Would that still make bisexuality a possibility?

I know now that I could be attracted to multiple genders with differing intensities, I understand that. It makes sense. And I get that my feelings could have changed over time. That also makes sense. I guess I just want to better understand what I was feeling when I was younger so that I have a better grasp on what I could be feeling now or in the future. Haha I don't know if that makes sense, but that's where I am right now!

thewrit3r
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Re: Confused About My Sexuality (Please Help!)

Unread postby thewrit3r » Tue Nov 14, 2017 8:59 am

I know it’s frustrating not being 100% sure how you feel but trust me a LOT of people are the same boat. I think I changed my sexuality on here 3 times! What you feel now doesn’t negate what you felt in the past; it’s like if you used to enjoy a hobby at a younger age but now it doesn’t interest you anymore for whatever reason. I don’t know if you feel this way but you don’t have to be bisexual, maybe you were never interested in guys. Only you know. But maybe you were, and that’s changed over time. Don’t invalidate your experiences. Same gender attraction often is erased, and so is attraction to multiple genders. But the truth is everyone experiences sexuality differently; it’s not so narrow.
We’re so much harder on ourselves than others but consider if the situation was reversed. If your friend said they were unsure about their sexuality, would you think it’s frustrating that they don’t know their sexuality? Chances are you wouldn’t. I know that doesn’t make things super easier but maybe if you treat yourself like you would a friend you’ll relieve some of the stress you’re feeling with being unsure.
"The writer is by nature a dreamer - a conscious dreamer."
-Carson McCullers

LavaLamp
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Re: Confused About My Sexuality (Please Help!)

Unread postby LavaLamp » Wed Nov 15, 2017 1:34 pm

That's a very good point, actually. Haha I definitely have to remember to go easier on myself (as do we all, I think). And I'm very lucky- I have a couple of very open-minded friends who are more than willing to talk through things with me, and they've been nothing but incredibly supportive. They've also known me all through middle and/or high school as well as college, so they've been present for all these instances I'm so confused about. Neither of them have been at all frustrated with me for being unsure of my sexuality- in fact both of them have encouraged me to take my time working through my thoughts, and they haven't pushed me into doing or saying anything I'd be uncomfortable with. Adopting their take on things would probably make things much easier. I'll try to remember to do that!

It's definitely been helpful to not only be able to share things with them, but also with you folks on here haha. Sure they've known me for a very long time, and that's given them the benefit of not having to rely completely on what I've been sharing with them- they were there for all of it. But it's helpful to share with you all because you're all so unbiased. You have such clear eyes in this, and I'm very grateful for all the help you've been able to offer!

thewrit3r
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Re: Confused About My Sexuality (Please Help!)

Unread postby thewrit3r » Thu Nov 16, 2017 7:10 am

Trust me, I don’t have all the answers but I’m glad I was able to help. And feel free to come back here if you have any other questions :)
"The writer is by nature a dreamer - a conscious dreamer."
-Carson McCullers

Mo
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Re: Confused About My Sexuality (Please Help!)

Unread postby Mo » Fri Nov 17, 2017 3:40 pm

I'm so glad you have a few friends who are able to give you help and support around this! It sounds like they've been a really positive presence in your life. :) It's great that you've felt comfortable opening up to them - and to us! I know that can be hard.


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