Sexuality and Love: Am I a Lesbian?

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Reader’s Question

I’m an 18-year-old female, and I have been experiencing some of the symptoms that seem to be similar to “HOCD”. About a year ago, I discovered porn. I viewed straight porn first and experienced little arousal; then I stumbled upon lesbian porn and experienced enough arousal to climax. At this point, I didn’t really wonder whether I was a lesbian or not, I just recognized the porn as something separate from my real life where I wanted to have sex with men and relationships with men. I have had three relationships with men, in two of which I have felt extremely intense feelings for the men emotionally and sexually. I have been in a relationship with a man for the last half a year. I can confidently say I was completely in love with him. I had my future planned around him and was ready to commit to him for a long time. Then, two months ago I was thinking about how aroused I get by lesbian porn and lesbian thoughts and how little I get aroused by straight porn and straight thoughts and automatically questioned, “Am I a lesbian?”. Right after this, this is all I have been able to think about for almost two months.

The feelings for my boyfriend have dropped almost completely and I do not have nearly as much desire to have sex with a man as I used to. I’ve pictured being with a man vs. being with a woman, and I can really only see myself ever being in a committed relationship with a man. I have never been attracted to women in reality, but I am now finding myself asking, “Do you find her attractive?”, “Do you have the desire to get to know her?”.

I’ve been a confused wreck and it’s been taking over my life. There are many days where I completely come to the conclusion that I’m straight, but then I find myself going “What if you become a lesbian in the future?” or, “What if you marry a man but then become a lesbian while you’re married?”. Also, after I just hang out with my girl friends, I always think “you’re definitely not a lesbian”, but then the next day these compulsive thoughts fill my head again!

Lastly, I have not ended the relationship with my boyfriend. When I was happy with him, I was extremely happy. I’m just so afraid that this is a phase and that when the OCD vanishes, I’ll miss him and regret breaking up with him. I would appreciate any kind of advice or input as to what I should do next or as to what I am experiencing. Thanks!

Psychologist’s Reply

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First, don’t be hasty to self-diagnose. Second, don’t confuse being sexually active with being in love. You’re 18, you’re an adult. If you’re under the influence of powerful hormones, want sex but are not sure of your sexual preferences, then you’re free to explore and experiment as you are doing now. The only advice I can really give you is to play safe. Exploring your sexuality is one thing, but I see nothing in your wonderings to suggest that you are anywhere close to being ready for marriage.

Regarding sexual preferences, there are many reasons to have sex with someone. You could love them or think he/she is hot. You could be angry or jilted by someone else and want revenge or spite sex. You could be lonely and want a sex partner of convenience. I’ve found that it is not so predictive of a real sexual orientation only to look to your sexual partner. Instead, consider this: you wake up on a Sunday morning, you feel lazy and yummy, you had a good time last night and you have the day off today, you roll over in bed and plant a big kiss on your partner’s lips. Question: is your partner a man or a woman?

I think it is much more predictive of one’s sexual orientation to think about who you want to wake up with rather than who you want to bed. That is the person you will form a relationship with, the person you’ll be with after you’re sexually satisfied.

At this point, you do seem confused about completely impersonal arousal (porn) vs. your interest in long-term relationships. I urge you not to consider making any commitment to a long-term relationship until after at least six months of knowing the person. Actually, in your case I’d suggest that you make that a year. No one gets married in order to get divorced. As for exploring your sexuality, may I recommend that you drop in on the local LGBT center and find a counselor or group to talk to. I think you’ll find a very open-minded, non-judgmental person to listen to you. I think you’ll also find that the relationship issues are pretty much the same regardless of sexual orientation. Enjoy your exploration and your youth; I do not see these questions as pathological or diagnosable. Just be safe and have fun.

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