Confused about Sexuality

How to Know if You're a Lesbian

Woman looking down towards question mark drawn in sand on beach
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Dear Lesbian Life:

I'm 25 and live with my boyfriend of almost two years. Before him I was with another guy for seven years who I lived with, before that a boy for one year and school boyfriends etc! I've never had a relationship with a girl. I've kissed girls on nights out (non alcohol influenced) but as part of a game as a group etc.

With my 7-year boyfriend I enjoyed a good sexual relationship for about the first year, during this time I became very close friends with a gay girl, things came close to happening but nothing ever did. Then that friendship along with my sex life dwindled into practically nothing - not through lack of his trying.

I met my new partner and sex was great for only about a month and since then I've been less and less enthusiastic about any sort of sexual contact with him- to the point now where it's nothing. I'm concerned that it’s a sexuality issue rather than sexual desire as I masturbate quite frequently (and have done throughout both recent relationships) and my fantasies involve a mixture of men and women. However, if I pleasure someone else in my fantasies it's always women - I don't find giving oral or hand jobs to men attractive at all.

I'm Attracted to Both Men and Women

In the non-fantasy world, I am often attracted to women and men in a sexual way. My boyfriends have said they wouldn't be surprised if I said I was bi/gay – I’m not sure why as I’ve never spoken about my female fantasies with them. It's not just been in my adult life that I've thought that I might not be straight, I remember writing in my diary about it when I was in primary school and its been an idea in my head since that time.

I wouldn't have the first clue on how to find out if I am bisexual or gay. My best friend and my older sister would be horrified if I was gay, so I can't talk to anyone about this.

My current relationship is suffering from my lack of sexual interest - we are currently 'on a break'. I need to do something and wondered if you could shed some light! In your opinion could I be bi/gay or do you think I'm barking up the wrong tree?
Confused about Sexuality

Dear Confused:

Thanks for writing in with your story. I’m sure there are many people who will relate to it. Before coming out as lesbian or bisexual, many women have relationships with men. Often those relationships don’t work out.

It sounds like you’ve been in non-stop relationships since you were 15. That’s a lot! It’s good that you’re on a break right now and trying to figure out who you are. My advice would to be avoid getting into another relationship right away and spend some time getting to know yourself.

You say that your sexual relationships haven’t been very satisfying with men. This can be an indicator that you might be a lesbian. I’m sure if you asked other women who came out after being with men, they will say that they were never sexually satisfied with men. Then again, there might be a percentage of straight women who would say the same thing.

Since you’ve never been with a woman you might be wondering, how can I figure this out? How can I know if I’m a lesbian, or straight, or bisexual or what, if I’ve never been with a woman?

Sometimes being with another woman is the thing that helps some women come out and realize their true sexual orientation. Other times, women just “know” they are gay, even before any kind of sexual experience with the same sex.

Things to ask yourself are: Who do I fantasize about? Do I just want to have sex with a woman, or could I see myself dating another woman? Could I see myself living with another woman and making a life with her? Starting a family? Sharing my life with her?

These are the kinds of questions that will truly get to the core of what your sexual orientation is. Although we call it “sexual” orientation, sex is really only a piece of it. Having sex with another human being can be pleasurable, regardless of your sexual orientation. It’s the deeper connections, I think, that make us gay, lesbian, bisexual or straight.

How do other women figure it out? Read these stories of how women knew they were lesbian.