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I already came out, but I doubt my sexuality every day

J
asks:
I'm a sixteen-year-old girl and recently realized that I am bisexual. My parents and brother have always been very clear that they will be accepting of whoever I am, so I came out to them only a few weeks after figuring things out myself. (They were indeed fine with it.) I also came out to a bunch of friends pretty quickly since most of my friends are queer, too. But now I’m really confused. I know that I am bi, but every day I doubt it. Some days I think that maybe I’m just a lesbian and have a bunch of internalized homophobia, and other days I am really freaked out that maybe I’m just straight and have been subconsciously lying to myself and everyone for attention or something. But when I really think about it and ask myself “do you find this certain guy attractive” and “do you find this certain girl attractive” the answer is always yes to both. I just hate doubting myself and my brain feels like it’s always in turmoil. Did I just come out too soon without giving myself time to accept my own identity? Is it normal for bi people to doubt their sexuality so much? Am I actually wrong about what my sexuality is and that’s why I’m doubting it so much? Thank you for taking the time to read this, I really appreciate it.
Mo Ranyart replies:

I want to start by answering your question about whether it's normal or common for bisexual people to doubt their orientation, because it's something I've seen often, both in my experience as a volunteer here at Scarleteen and as a person with a lot of bisexual friends and acquaintances. I'm not sure exactly why that is, but I do know that there are plenty of misconceptions about bisexuality out there, and I think it can be easy to internalize them. When people ask "Are you sure you aren't just confused?" over and over again, at some point it becomes hard not to think, "Wait, am I confused?"

Of course, I can't make any definitive judgment about your sexual orientation; even if you're feeling some doubts about it, you are the best possible authority on your own orientation. What I can say, though, is that if you're noticing attraction to people of multiple genders—and it certainly sounds like you are—there isn't anything else you need to do in order to "count" as bisexual.

You say it yourself: when you consider whether you find yourself attracted to particular guys or girls, the answer is yes. I can't say for sure that bisexuality will be the sexual orientation that fits you best for the rest of your life, but it sounds like that's what fits you best right now, and I think that's the best thing to focus on.

To be clear, I don't say you may not consider yourself bisexual forever because bisexuality is mostly a "stepping stone" identity on the way to being something else entirely, or because it doesn't really exist (definitely untrue, but real, arguments that have been made before, sadly), but because some people find their orientation to be somewhat fluid over time, and this may or may not be the case for you. It sounds like you're worried that you'll figure out you're straight or a lesbian in the future; if there's a point where either of those feel like a more authentic or accurate description of your sexual orientation, it's all right to let yourself be that, instead. Deciding that your orientation is different, a month or a year or a decade in the future, wouldn't mean that your current understanding of yourself is wrong.

Having said that, what I'd rather focus on is affirming what you've come to know about yourself now: that you're bisexual. In case no one has said this to you yet: congratulations on figuring this out, and on coming out to some important people in your life! Since you seem to have a lot of queer friends, I'm wondering if you've talked to anyone about these feelings of self-doubt you're experiencing and about what your process of coming to understand your orientation has been like.

Sometimes people get stuck in the idea that all of their own uncertainties or ambiguous feelings mean their identities are fake or invalid, but that their friends are all "the real thing" because they're so sure of themselves. We can't always see the confusion or uncertainty that our friends are feeling, though. You may find out that you know a few people who have been wrestling with the same sort of worries you're dealing with right now; it's possible that talking to your friends about those feelings will make it easier for you to understand and accept your own uncertainties.

I want to leave you with a quote from the introduction of a collection of interviews with various people about when and how they came to understand their orientation:

Keep in mind: there's no deadline you have to meet for figuring things out, no rule that says you ever have to know your orientation for sure at all, no one "right" way to be any particular orientation, and no specific path you have to follow to get there. It's not something anyone else can decide or decipher for you.

More than anything else, I hope you'll show yourself as much kindness, patience, and support as you'd surely offer to any friend who chose to come out to you. It's all right to be confused or uncertain, but I hope you can trust that voice in you that's crying out "I'm bisexual!" more and more often as time goes on.

Here are a few other articles and advice columns about bisexuality or questioning your orientation that you might find helpful or comforting to check out:

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