Q&A: Confused About My Sexuality

Coming Out Q&A

Confused About Sexuality Q&A

Many of our readers have reached out with great questions about relationships, sexuality, coming out, and dealing with adulthood. With their permission, we thought it would be helpful to share some of these questions and answers with others out there who might be in similar situations or pondering the same questions.

As always, we're so grateful to have the support of readers from around the world. If you have a question, you can ask us anything here.

Question from a reader:

Dear Chia & Poppy:

 

I'm a girl, and I've never liked girls when I was little, and only started liking them when puberty hit. Then I only started liking girls, and didn't like guys.

 

What's going on?

 

- Confusion

 

Dear Confusion,

Thanks so much for taking the time to reach out and feeling comfortable enough to share your story with us! Understanding one's sexuality is not straightforward or the same for everyone, so we completely get how this can be a really confusing period of time.

The reason why this is so challenging is because there simply isn't a test or a set of concrete factors that will tell you definitively what your sexuality is (even though I searched for "how do I know if I'm gay" quizzes when I was younger, hoping for some clarity ) because it's very personal to each individual. It took me nearly two decades to figure out and come to terms with my sexuality, whereas Poppy already knew and accepted herself before her teens, so it's truly different for everyone. 

To provide background, I was quite similar to you in that I did have crushes on boys when I was much younger (and most/all of my friends were boys at that time). However, as I got older, I noticed that it was friendship that I enjoyed with boys but I had no desire to be with them romantically or physically and I found girls to be more attractive. I largely buried those feelings because I desperately didn't want to be gay at that time (I came from a conservative background where being LGBT was not accepted) and tried to convince myself and others that I liked boys. 

It wasn't until high school that I first dated a boy (due to peer pressure), and I realized that I was way more excited to see my female friends for a platonic meetup than I ever was to be alone with him. I felt absolutely nothing when we first kissed, and I ended up breaking up with him after a few months. On the other hand, even if I just imagined kissing one of my best female friends who I had a crush on at the time, my heart would flutter.

Having that juxtaposition helped solidify my understanding of my sexuality, but it would still take several more years of processing and confronting this reality before I came out to myself and then my close friends and family. Throughout that time, I kept holding on to the possibility that I was straight but that I just "didn't meet the right guy yet" or that I was "in a phase", but when I was honest with myself, I realized that I continued to consistently crush on women in my life. That all said, I very much can relate to the confusion of trying to understand your sexuality.

I think the main takeaways that I've learned (and can hopefully be helpful to you) are:

  • Sexuality isn't binary for most people -- While I know now that I'm a lesbian, it doesn't mean that I can't see why someone else would be attracted to a man. I still have "friendship" crushes on guys because I really enjoy their personalities and I can tell when a man is objectively good looking, but, for me, I simply don't want to be with a man physically. That said, there are people who lean more toward women than men, or vice versa, but are physically attracted to both. Some people may have also legitimately liked one sex for half their lives, and then that changed later on. It's not always clear cut!
  • Everyone has their own timeline -- Like I mentioned above, Poppy figured out her sexuality before she was even in high school, but I took substantially longer. There may be personal or environmental or other types of blockers (or perhaps no blockers) for everyone, but I don't regret taking the time that I did to assess and accept my sexuality. That process has made me very confident in and proud of who I am today, but I was certainly extremely confused. Try not to rush or stress over labels -- there isn't a deadline, it's definitely not straightforward for everyone, and it usually becomes more clear as you have more experiences or more time passes.
  • Never be afraid to be honest with yourself -- This is a general rule that I live by for most things in life. I come to understand myself more by being brutally honest with myself, even if it means confronting things that I may not like. For example, I strongly disliked one of my best female friend's boyfriends back in high school and I initially tried to point to reasons why he wasn't a good fit for her. But, when I confronted myself, I realized that I was jealous of him because I had a crush on her. This was initially hard for me to admit because I didn't want to seem selfish (or be gay at the time), but by being candid with myself, I came closer to the truth. This also means exploring all avenues of thought! Like you mentioned, it may be that you simply "want" to be a lesbian, and that's okay. Take the time to investigate the potential reasons why and it doesn't mean you'll get all the answers at once, just don't be afraid to have an honest exploration of these questions. This is an exercise I still do today when I'm trying to break down why I felt a certain way (for example, "Why did what that person said make me angry?", and asking and answering a stream of consciousness of questions, "Is it because of X? or Y? or Z?" "What if it was because of X?" "Has this happened before?" "Was I just in a bad mood?", and so on).

    Everyone is unique, has their own timeline, and sexuality isn't universally straightforward, but I promise you're not alone in this and the stress and confusion can give way to being more confident and knowing yourself (regardless of the outcome) more intimately than someone who hasn't been faced with this question. That's a really empowering thing.

    I hope that was at least somewhat helpful!

    - Chia

    ---

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