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Gay/Lesbian Issues/lesbian/straight sexuality confusion

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Question
Hi Reece, I have a question concerning my sexuality. I am a 24yrs old woman, who was never in a relationship with a man (I would shy out during the dating phase, especially if he would show any physical interest). I have one bad experience from my childhood (a man caught me and my friend in an alley and was feeling us up, but we ran away before anything serious happened), but I can say I got over it (after all he did not feel us up on any real-intimate parts of our bodies, according to the police, he was crazy and only wanted to hear our heartbeats). In the last year I had a long-distance relationship with a man, but I ended it before we even met. At one point he was sending me his half-naked pictures (only his chest was naked) and I was repeled even by his upper part of the body - it pretty much scared me. Then one of my close female friends told me she had recently had a lesbian sex and that she loved it. After a couple of days she told me that she really liked me and I realized I probably like her too. We met after I came back home from my studies and ended up in a relationship, it is going to be 6 months now and I really like her a lot, but I still have doubts about my sexuality. I have quite frequently dreams where I am having sex with men. I also get to meet every now and then the guy I was in a long-distance relationship with, which is not helpful since it makes me think about the "what if..." stuff (we meet on the bus once a week and ignore each other). Also, lately, my girlfriend's effort to get me to bed and have sex with me repels/disgusts me. She has had sex with both men/women, and so she can say that sex with me is better and that it's turning her on like nothing else ever did. However, since I have never been with a man, I cannot say the same, and lately I wonder if maybe men would work for me better? I feel like I have to work really hard to get heated, while my girlfriend has no problems at all. I know I should not compare myself to her, but it is frustrating to see that I am turning her on so much, knowing, that she is not doing the same for me. I do think she is beautiful, but I am not drooling over her and, especially lately, do not feel like having sex with her (or even kissing her). I will be grateful for any advice/comment at all.

Answer
Thanks for question Mary. I can understand that you may be feeling some concerns given the history that you shared and your feelings with you current girlfriend. After reading your message, I have a few things for you to consider that may help ground you or provide a platform to think about other things.

1. There is no correlation with sexual violations and sexual orientation. There are many heterosexual women have experienced sexual inappropriateness as young people and are still heterosexual today. Also if there was a correlation, than there would be a high prevalence of sexual abuse amongst lesbian and bisexual women, which there is not. What happened to you was wrong and inappropriate. Intimate touching can happen on any part of your body, not just the genitals. Know that you or your friend did not cause this to happen and that it was not your fault.

2. Regarding your sexuality. Here are a few things to consider:

• Is it important to have a label and if so why? There are many people who prefer not to label their sexual identity for many reasons including that they simply rather not label themselves, they are not ready, and/or labels are too restrictive to define their feelings, emotions and attractions.

• Consider asking yourself, “Who am I sexually and erotically drawn to?” You mention that it may be better for you to be with a man. Why do you think this is so? Is it because you have sexual feelings for men? Is it because homophobia doesn’t support same sex relationships? Is it because you aren’t happy in your current relationship? If you are unhappy in your current relationship, you may want to share this with your girlfriend so she knows how you feel so you can both make informed decisions what you want to do next in your relationship - stay together and work on it, take a break, shift the sexual dynamics of your relationship, etc.

The “what if…” happens commonly in relationships. Finding partners that are a good match for us can be challenging. What’s important is whether the question emerged because of the quality of your relationship (whether you find it positive and fulfilling), whether you are sexually attracted to men and want to explore that part of you, or some other reason altogether that is drawing you away from your partner. I recommend weighing what is best for you, and think about what you need to feel more grounded. Try to be upfront with your girlfriend as she has a right to make decisions for herself based on your circumstances.

• Have you experienced feeling sexual desire for any sex? Perhaps you may be asexual who prefers the intimacy of women. Asexual people do not have that sexual drive for a particular person but may value an intimate relationship with a partner. Some asexual have sex (because their partner enjoys it) and others do not. Google ‘asexual’ and you’ll find a wealth of information.

• Know that there are many things in our environment that may impact our desire. Stress, depression, anxiety, the quality of your current relationship or partner compatibility, medication… a whole host of things can affect desire. I can understand how and why you may feel repelled to have sex with your girlfriend. If you feel pressured or even if you pressure yourself the feelings of repulsion may come up. Some people have sex to get ‘get off’ and others have sex with their partners to express their bond. If you think that it’s more of an environmental issue than a relationship or compatibility issue, consider sharing this with your girlfriend so she understands what you may be going through. If she has a high sexual drive, perhaps she may want to consider self-pleasure/masturbation. This may take some pressure off of you and build her self-confidence that she doesn’t need a person to get herself off.

• Regarding your dreams. They may be just that, dreams. It’s very common for people of all sexual orientations to have dreams of people or genders that they are not attracted to in real time. Just because a gay person may have an erotic dream about someone of the opposite sex, it doesn’t necessarily make them less gay.

It’s akin to someone having a dream about them screaming at another person. It doesn’t mean that they are an aggressive or abusive person in fact and may be a gentle, nice and respectful person.

Lastly, consider visiting your closest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender resource center. They usually have counseling or know who would be friendly and open counselors for you to talk to. Having someone real-time to help process your thoughts and feelings can be truly helpful. Also they may be able to connect you with people/groups who share similar concerns. Some people found these kind of support helpful.

With all this being said, coming into your sexuality is going to take a lot of thought, honesty and time to process. Sexuality is a journey and is a truly unique experience for each and every one of us. I hope that my answer gave you food for thought.

Kind regards,

Gay/Lesbian Issues

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Reece Malone

Expertise

I can answer questions on sexual orientation, gender identity, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and transsexual sexuality (youth and adult), coming out and disclosure, transgender and gender-non conformity including transition process, how to support a partner of someone GLBT, sexuality and faith/spirituality/religion, safer sex and harm reduction, comprehensive sexuality education, and questions from service providers working with LGBT individuals and families.

Experience

I'm currently a full time sexuality educator and facilitator specializing in sexual orientation and gender identity. I hold the positions of the Education Program Coordinator at the Rainbow Resource Centre (supporting LGBTTQ individuals, families and allies) as well as clinical sexologist at Four Rivers Medical Clinic in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. My roles include: sexuality education, counseling/therapy, media spokesperson and consultant. I have sat on several non-profit sexuality organizations as well as been a consultant to the World Health Organization/Pan American Health Organization as well as the Public Health Agency of Canada. For more information visit: http://www.reecemalone.com

Organizations
American Association of Sexuality Educators Counselors and Therapists, The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, The American College of Sexologists, The Canadian AIDS Information Treatment Exchange, The Canadian Professional Association for Transgender Health, The Sexual Health Educator's Network (Manitoba), The International Society for Sexual Medicine.

Publications
Malone, R. (2010). "ShoutOut Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Transphobia and Heterosexism." Rainbow Resource Centre. Winnipeg, Canada. Malone, R. et al (2010). "Your Questions Answered. Gender Identity in Schools." Public Health Agency of Canada. Ottawa, Canada.

Education/Credentials
Undergradate degree in sociology - specialized focus on human sexuality Masters of Public Health (Sexology) Doctorate of Human Sexuality

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