Lesbian Life/doubts about sexual orientation
QUESTION: Dear Domina,
I'm a 40 y.o. woman who's been married for 4 years, no kids. In the past I've had very few relationships. The reason for that was probably my very low self-esteem, fear of sex, shyness and other problems, but maybe also my doubts about my sexual orientation. I've fallen in love mostly with men, but sometimes with women. However, I don't perceive that falling in love in sexual terms, but rather as my strong desire to be loved - held, caressed - by that person. My mother was rather unempatic and I've always felt the lack of motherly love and I think my desire to be loved was so strong that
even as an adult I fell in love not because I was sexually attracted to a person, but because I wanted her/him to become something of a mother to me. That may be the reason why I couldn't figure out my sex orientation because sexual drive was a bit supressed. In fact I still am more into holding, kissing and caressing than into sex.
I've only been with men (and had only two of them in my life). I've never disclosed my interest in women. For 4 years I've been married, happily in the sense of feeling at ease together and being good friends. I really love my husband, sex is quite satisfactory though not great (and not frequent), but my husband doesn't turn me on. I have to think about sex scenes to get turned on; it's always been like that with me. Seems I'm not turned on by real people but by watching/reading/thinking about sex. However, for the last two years I've been thinking intensively about women, have fallen in love
twice, and I can't stop, don't want to stop, thinking and dreaming of them. I'm still not entirely sure if that attraction is sexual. I had a few dreams of having sex with a woman and even was woken up by an orgasm twice, but my daydreams include mostly holding, kissing and caressing rather than actual sex. I know I'm a person who needs time and growing intimacy to go all the way with anyone, but with my husband and my previous boyfriend intimacy didn't help to feel desire. More so, I'd say I felt more turned on at the beginning of my relationships, when we just sat and held and looked into each other's eyes, when his body and all that could happen between us was still a mystery, than when we actually went to bed.
Do you think it possible I'm a lesbian who until recently was so obsessed with being loved that she fell in love with basically anyone who showed her attention, and only now that someone's given me unconditional love, am I beginning to discover my real orientation? Or maybe I'm simple a person for whom "grass is always greener on the other side of the fence"?
I'll appreciate your response.
ANSWER: Hello Lydia,
Thank you for your question.
It is possible your are a lesbian or bisexual. Having had few sexual relationships, it would have been difficult finding your true sexual orientation. However, many straight women do have fantasies about being with other women, in a loving way, or in a sexual way. It is quite a normal fantasy. And, some women can be lesbian/bisexual, but be in a loving/sexual relationship with a man their whole lives.
What concerns you about the possibility of being lesbian? Do you feel you are missing out? Is this something you want to act on? Or are you happy being where you are and just having the fantasy of it?
Also, sometimes we hook up with sexual partners, and after a while, the sex is not so great. Even if we still love them and we have a strong friendship with that person. Usually the grass is greener when you've been in a relationship for a while, and the sexual infatuation you first felt dies off and turns more into a loving one. This is the natural process of sexual relationships, it seems for many couples.
Personally, I don't think monogamy is our natural state of being, at least sexually. Most animals are not monogamous, and I don't think humans are wired that way either. Monogamy is more of a social constraint, something we are taught is right. That doesn't mean you can't spend your life with someone and love them though, but just the sex may not be as fulfilling as time goes on.
I think because you haven't experimented much sexually, and with relationships it is natural to be interested in exploring your fantasies more at this time in your life too. Many people do this in their teens, so get it out of their system. But for you, you may have many feelings that have yet to be explored. A woman's libido tends to peak in their 30s and 40s, so having more sexual fantasies is normal. And, lots of women fantasize during sex to reach orgasm too. That's quite natural. Sex and love is not what we learned about in fairy-tales, unfortunately. We are much more complicated than that, physically, mentally and psychologically.
So, I guess the answer is, yes, you may be lesbian or bi, or you may just be having normal fantasies. I guess what matters is how you feel about it. It is also normal to feel guilt if your sexual orientation is not the "norm" or what society tells us it should be. But, however you are wired sexually is okay.
I'm not sure if this helps to answer your question. But if there is more about this you want to discuss, I am happy to give you my opinion, or other resources that can help you.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Dear Domina,
thanks a lot for your reply, I really appreciate it. Since you've asked a few questions, I decided to answer them and maybe then you'll be able to give me a more specific reply.
"What concerns you about the possibility of being lesbian? Do you feel you are missing out? Is this something you want to act on? Or are you happy being where you are and just having the fantasy of it?"
Well I definitely feel I'm missing out, although I do love my husband and he loves me, which makes the whole thing a bit complicated. The first three years we were together I was happy, although not for sexual reasons, but because I was loved. At that time I didn't have any romantic fantasies about men or women (I did have sex fantasies though and they were usually about group sex, as had been my fantasies for a long time, but I've never regarded them something I'd really like to experience, but only a way to turn myself on), and then some two years ago I started dreaming intensely of women. Presently when I watch or read erotic stories, they're usually lesbian, as man/woman sex bores me to death. When I think of myself right now I feel I'm lesbian, but I'm also cautious in formulating opinions because I've read that some bisexual people have periods of being attracted to a specific sex and then it may change, so it's hard to say whether I only now discovered my orientation or whether it will change again.
Actually I've been thinking of going to a sexologist and talking to them so that they help me determine my orientation, but the thing I'm most afraid of is that they'll tell me I'm heterosexual, because my feelings about it are completely different. I'd rather they told me I was lesbian, even if it complicates my life, which is already complicated anyway.
Do these explanations shed more light on my sexual orientation? Also, what do you think of the idea of consulting a sexologist? Thanks in advance!
Thank you, yes that helped clarify it a lot.
I would say, you are most likely lesbian then. You in your heart know how you feel and to whom you are drawn to. About bisexuals being attracted to one sex and then it evolves. That could be said of most orientations as we grow and learn more what we like. Not everyone is born knowing their orientation automatically, that usually evolves and is influenced by a lot of factors.
But it sounds to me that you already know your own heart. And, sexual orientation doesn't have to be sexual. I know that sounds strange, but you can be lesbian but want to abstain from sex. Or want more of a loving relationship rather than a specifically sexual one.
Yes, I do think a good sexologist can help. I don't think they will tell you that you are one way or the other, but will help you to figure out what you feel. So if you feel Lesbian, you are Lesbian. They will not try to persuade you one way or the other. But, having someone you can talk to about it and trust is very helpful as they can help you work out the issues that will arise with whatever decisions you make.
There are many lesbians who find out later in life their true orientation and some are partnered to a man, so you are not alone. You could also try LGBT support groups (maybe online to start with) to see if that would help as well. But I would start with a counselor first who deals with sexual orientation issues.
Hope my answer helped.
Thanks and good luck with your journey,