So I’ve kind of been questioning my sexuality for a while now. It started when I was like 11 and thought that I might be a lesbian. At the time I was very ashamed of this and hated myself for it, so I tried really hard to convince myself that I wasn’t. These thoughts of shame continued for years. And whenever I felt a bit attracted to a woman I would repress those feelings straight away. I think I hated the thought of not having a “perfect life” with a husband and kids. Later on around like age 15 I started to think that I might be bi. Because I must like women if I feel so ashamed about it, and I think I like men because I have had in real life crushes on them. But again, I didn’t know if I ever actually was attracted to men or if I just had crushes on them because that is what society expects and almost pressures you into having.
And I don’t know if I’m just trying to convince myself that I’m bi, so that I can have the option of dating men, because I don’t want to date women ( because of my shame)
Recently I have been more open to the idea of liking women, and have gone from thinking I was straight to bi. But the thing is, I don’t have a clue what I am. I feel some sexual attraction to men when I watch porn (sorry if that was too much information) but I don’t know if I do in real life? I have zero sexual or romantic experience (and I’m 18 now, so I feel like that’s kind of uncommon) so I don’t really have any way to confirm what I feel? I’m just so afraid that I’m going to end up with a husband and then figure out that I’m actually not attracted to men at all. I just really want to figure out my sexuality.
So I don’t really know what my question for you is but I’m just feeling kind of hopeless right now. So if you or anyone else has some advice or just want to share some thoughts it would be very appreciated.
Hello, bi woman here.
I can’t say I have all the answers, but I can at least offer some guidance on your journey. The first thing to start with is called compulsory heterosexuality. You actually touched on this in your ask, so I figured this would be relevant for you. Compulsory heterosexuality is the belief that being heterosexual is the norm (and thus the “right way”) and everything else is wrong. That pressure to be into people who are not of your gender that you mention in your post is compulsory heterosexuality in a nutshell.
Adrienne Rich, a famous lesbian feminist writer, wrote an essay about this called “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence.” She asserts that heterosexuality is nowhere near as innate and “natural” as most folks would like to believe because lesbians and other non-het folks exist. Keep in mind she’s writing in the 1970s and 1980s from the perspective of a lesbian woman; I think this will be helpful for you anyway because you can assess the extent to which you relate to her ideas or experiences. You might see yourself reflected in her writing or you might not; either way, I hope it provides some guidance.
I have an article here that references Rich’s essay:
This will discuss and critique the essay and explain compulsory heterosexuality some more.
Another influential factor in your questioning is internalized homophobia. This is when people are exposed to constant anti-LGBTQ+ messages and start to believe it or develop their own biases and judgments. This could be a major source of the shame you feel because, despite all the positive posts and information out there for the LGBTQ+ folks, people are still hateful and share their nastiness for the world to see. Remember that no human being exists in a vacuum; everyone is at least somewhat influenced by the people and media around them. Everyone has their own unconscious biases; it’s our responsibility to recognize and work through them.
This article, from The Rainbow Project, an LGBTQ+ organization based in Ireland, explains internalized homophobia and the effects quite nicely:
I also have a scholarly article all about internalized homophobia and the effects it has on people: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2678796/
It wouldn’t surprise me if you’re wrestling with both of these things and they’re influencing your ability to figure yourself out. Don’t forget that there is a Q in the LGBTQ+ acronym for a reason: folks that are queer or questioning are welcome. In other words, It’s okay to take your time and figure things out little by little. I had some clues throughout my adolescence, but didn’t really start piecing them together until my college years. It took me years to finally feel secure enough in the bi and Demi labels, so it’s okay if it takes you some time to feel the same way about yourself.
You don’t have to have a label right now, nor do you ever. It’s okay to be unsure. I also want to point out that some folks are more fluid than others; bi people in particular tend to experience something known as the bi-cycle.
This article explains it quite nicely:
Basically, the bi-cycle describes the shifting attractions that bi people can have towards different people. Some folks will feel more attracted to gender A for a while and may start noticing gender B more often later on. It’s not necessarily alternating between dating men and dating women; it’s just who you notice more often. This fluidity leaves a lot of bi folks feeling like they’re dealing with imposter syndrome fairly recently.
Feel free to reach out if you have any other questions.
It's okay to not be completely sure what your sexuality is. You shouldn't be ashamed, because it's completely normal. As you said, you haven't had any romantic or sexual experience. You have time to figure things out. And hey, if you get into a relationship, and you learn things about yourself, that's okay.