What is my sexual orientation?
June 24, 2011 6:55 AM   Subscribe

Am I a lesbian? Bisexual? Or, straight but asexual? Please help. I am, obviously, very confused.

I am a thirty year old woman who has always identified as straight. I have been with many different men and had several long-term relationships, and been married. I am now divorced, for reasons having nothing to do with sexuality. However, I am now strongly questioning my sexual preferences and I need some outside perspective in order to work through this and know what it all means.

For starters, for the past few years I have had no real desire to have a sexual relationship at all. This could be related to my divorce, or it could be hormonal, I really don't know. I do have a sex drive, but I am happy to take care of things by myself and I really feel at times like I could be celibate for the rest of my life if it weren't for my need for companionship (for most people, no sex life is a deal breaker). So, there's that.

Then, there's the fact that when I do fantasize or masturbate, I always imagine women, and they are the primary focus of the fantasy. This has always been the case for me. Yet, I have never considered that I might be a lesbian because I don't see women in real life and feel attracted to them, or if I do, it's very, very rare. In real life, I am physically attracted to men.

This is where it gets really confusing and convoluted, however. Although I am physically attracted to men that I see or date, sex with men and the naked male body doesn't do much for me--in fact, sometimes it turns me off. If I am into it, it's more on an emotional level, not a physical one. But, when I imagine sex with a woman, I feel a little turned off, too, but only when I imagine giving a woman oral sex. Everything else is a turn-on.

I can't imagine not having a relationship with a man. Throughout my life, I have been closer with men, even as friends. But, when i think of being happy in a relationship, I often think of being with a boyish woman instead of a man.

Many of the men that I have dated in my life have asked me if I was bi or if I was secretly a lesbian, and it always confused me that they would ask that because the same men always told me how feminine they thought I was. I have always been a strong feminist and I thought maybe that was there way of expressing their discomfort with my feminism. Now, I wonder if they could see something about me that I couldn't.

What do you think that all of these things say about my sexuality? I have never talked about any of this to anyone, so I apologize if I sound like an idiot. Is it possible that I'm a lesbian and I'm just now realizing it? Or, are these things part of most people's experience at one time or another? Am I bisexual--that seems like too easy of an answer for some reason. I should say also that I know that if I were to realize that I want to pursue a relationship with a woman that it would cause a major problem within my family and my group of friends, and I have considered that knowing this may be playing a part in my inability to see this clearly. I have read some past questions like mine, and they were helpful, but it seems like my attracted in theory/ not in real life thing hasn't been particularly addressed. Thanks for your help.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (33 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
First of all, why do you need to be anything? Be yourself.

If you're interested in going on a date with a woman, go on a date with a woman. Your family and friends don't need to know about every date you go on, right?

Also, you might want to consider seeing a gay friendly therapist to sort some of this stuff out, but you might just want to date a woman and see what it feels like. You may find your own answers there.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:00 AM on June 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

Be yourself. Like who you want to like. Have sex with whoever you want to. If you want to label yourself, your parents gave you a name. You can even change that too, if you'd like.

Try going on a date or hooking up with a woman or women. If you like it - great. If not, then no big deal, either way you learned something about yourself. If it turns out this is the best for you, you can tell your family when it feels right for you. Cross that bridge when you come to it.

What you're feeling is completely normal and you shouldn't be ashamed of feeling this way or asking these questions.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:11 AM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

I too am perplexed about your need to categorize. Who cares which label you slap on yourself, just do what feels comfortable. Avoid what doesn't.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:11 AM on June 24, 2011 [4 favorites]

I have had this problem! In fact, I'd say this problem defined my romantic life until I was...um...about thirty. Or rather, until I'd had enough relationships to have enough distance for reflection.

Here's what I think:

I grew up with everything around me telling me that straight relationships defined love, even if queer relationships were not explicitly denigrated. I grew up with everything around me telling me that men are the more interesting gender and that male attention was the attention most worth having, the attention that validated me as a person. I grew up with a lot of unspoken assumptions about friendships with men - that a close friendship with a straight man should be read as romantic.

And I knew some nice men! If you're told that male attention is important and that close relationships to men are underlyingly romantic, and you meet some smart, appealing guys...well, you don't have to be especially attracted to men per se to have straight relationships, and there will be very good, happy parts of those relationships.

Don't underestimate the power of socialization! It runs deep and contours what we believe about our sexual desires and abilities.

I very rarely want to sleep with men - I mean, there are lots of guys I like, lots of guys I think are cute, lots of guys I'd probably have a casually good time with in bed. But in the strong, immediate sexual-desire sense, no.

It also took me a long time to recognize and access my feelings about women. Like, years. I'd rarely meet women I consciously found attractive. Then I started to notice that my behavior with women was much flirtier than my behavior with men, and that I had a bunch of strong reactions to women that I did not have to men. Not so much that I was consciously attracted to women, but that I noticed them physically and socially much more than men.

(I also realized that if I found a woman attractive, my conscious mind would usually say "oh, she's so weird looking, why does she look that way, why doesn't she..."...it took me a long time to realize that this was some kind of weird defense mechanism. I still do it - women who catch my eye because they are "too plain" or I think they wear weird eye makeup or whatever...those are always the women who, days or weeks later, I'll realize that I have a crush on.)

I also learned to recognize sexual desire in real life - I can't put this into words very well, but I had a lot of "do not feel this, or if you feel it do not recognize it" stuff going on, where if I concentrated on following my feelings and relaxing my thoughts, I could recognize actual desire as it happened. Because what I felt for men was not generally sexual desire per se, I had very little experience of what it would feel like.

If you're all "am I a lesbian?" I'd suggest that you sure aren't straight.

You can be a lesbian or queer or whatever and still have a meaningful history of romantic or sexual relationships with men. Those relationships aren't fake or awful just because they're not in line with your underlying sexual orientation.
posted by Frowner at 7:13 AM on June 24, 2011 [26 favorites]

You'd probably be really into a stone butch. Or just a regular butch. Experiment a little.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:16 AM on June 24, 2011 [4 favorites]

Echoing roomthreeseventeen about an LGBTQ-friendly therapist. You might also want to find one who is familiar with asexual identities. Do you know any queer women? Perhaps befriending some members of the queer community will help make non-hetero sexuality less obscure and murky to you. You may find that you are indeed straight, or maybe gay, or bi, or asexual, or some combination of all of these things. Few of us, particularly us women, occupy strictly one end of the Kinsey scale.

On that note, you might find Lisa Diamond's Sexual Fluidity an interesting read. There are some enlightening case studies in there.

And, if you want to discuss this further with an friendly queer woman, please feel free to meMail me.
posted by Lieber Frau at 7:21 AM on June 24, 2011

I should say also that I know that if I were to realize that I want to pursue a relationship with a woman that it would cause a major problem within my family and my group of friends, and I have considered that knowing this may be playing a part in my inability to see this clearly

Oh hey, this too. Definitely. A relationship with a guy was always the easier path, and that was really powerful. Again, especially a relationship with a guy I liked a lot and had things in common with. I consciously told myself that since I "could" have relationships with men, it would just be easier to go that way. When I was younger and had no notion about sex, this seemed a lot easier - I quite literally didn't know what I was missing by signing up for lots of lukewarm sex initiated by others.

When I was younger, I read a lot of coming-out stuff from the seventies and I always thought "oh, those poor women constrained by social pressures! how hard they must have worked to know themselves! how fortunate I am to be able to choose my relationships!" Little did I know that I was basically in the same situation, only my feelings were buried too deep to see.

As everyone else is saying, there are all kinds of ways to be not-primarily-heterosexual. It's powerful to have some names to attach to your feelings, though, IME.
posted by Frowner at 7:27 AM on June 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

I agree that you should experiment with women. And just like when you started experimenting with men, you're not automatically guaranteed a good time -- but if women play such a large role in your fantasy life, then there is definitely something there to explore.

It isn't uncommon for people to have aesthetic attractions to people who they aren't genuinely sexually attracted to. I think this accounts for being attracted to men, but not actually being sexually interested in their bodies. Gay men commonly have this reaction to women, if you hadn't noticed.

I have a friend who talked for years and years about how she was turned on by women, but she kept dating and sleeping with men, hoping (I think) that she'd end up married with kids, the whole traditional scene. Around the time she turned 40, she finally went ahead and started exploring with women, and her entire life turned around. A few years later she has had amazing relationships, amazing sex, a new circle of friends -- all things that had eluded her when she was traveling the path of least resistance as a straight woman.

What I mean to say is, there is always more to ourselves than we think there is, it's never too late to start digging.
posted by hermitosis at 7:28 AM on June 24, 2011

What do you think that all of these things say about my sexuality?

They say that it's not binary. It's not an either or thing. You're okay and you're going to be okay.

Experiment. Try new things, new experiences. If it feels good and right, then go with that.
posted by inturnaround at 7:37 AM on June 24, 2011

Data point: there exist queer women who are not particularly interested in receiving oral sex. There exist queer women who are not particularly interested in giving oral sex. Same goes for straight women, for that matter. Being uninterested in oral sex with another woman really doesn't prove anything either way.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:38 AM on June 24, 2011 [9 favorites]

Is it possible that I'm a lesbian and I'm just now realizing it?

Totally. Happens all the time.

Or, are these things part of most people's experience at one time or another?

Totally. Happens all the time.

Am I bisexual--that seems like too easy of an answer for some reason.

Ah, this! This. Seems "easy" doesn't it? That someone might have attraction and different-feeling attractions for different genders! Well... why wouldn't you? Millions of people do! And some are happy about it and some aren't. (Ask the bajillions of married women whose husbands are having sex with men, and, believe me, it's bajillions.)

I cannot even count how many men and women both I have had this conversation with, the one that you are having now with yourself. (Pro tip: have this conversation with real-life people that you trust!)

People don't always like to do the things they fantasize about but they are a leading indicator in the right direction.

I suppose the counsel to you is: go to where it's warm. Don't go to where it feels bad. Not feeling like touching other people for a while? That's fine! That will likely change. But do you feel shut down sexually in a not good way? Get someone to talk to about that. But above all, listen to yourself and don't fret so much! Take your time with yourself.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:43 AM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

You're asking questions which call for concrete answers in a field that doesn't tend to have them.

That's understandable - you're trying to figure out your way in the world, here - but how can anyone do that for you when only you live in your head? As your question reveals, even being in there first-hand doesn't guarantee precise answers. So allow yourself latitude here - I think this is one of those areas where the harder you try to grab an exact solution the longer it's going to take.

Suggestions that you seek some therapy are a good one, if you're open to that. You might also just want to meditate on the question yourself, as you're doing and have done here in this question. Try to unravel all the pieces, best you can.

I'll buck the trend here and say that, based on your answers, I wouldn't necessarily predict you as gay or straight or any place in between. Human sexuality can be fluid, and while you have identified the stigma and pressure against you being romantically involved with a woman there's also a societal aspect that's more forgiving of a woman having a one-off same-sex experience than it is of men doing so. So I wouldn't necessarily say that your fantasizing is an indicator (or that it isn't).

I'd ask the rhetorical question of "what's your goal in this question?" You say you know there's be a pushback from family and friends if you pursued a same sex relationship. Does that mean you're not willing to take that heat? That you're only going to take the heat if you feel you really have to? I think you'll make more headway on any subconscious or overt conditioning and resistance if you think about what this really means to your life, regardless of what the answer might be. Sometimes identifying the source of the mental resistance is a great way to help deal with it. You don't have to solve that problem all at once, but being aware of it will make clear thinking a lot easier.
posted by phearlez at 7:47 AM on June 24, 2011

I consider myself bisexual and I could have written large portions of your question. Fantasies about women's bodies, IMO, are probably more widespread than you think, because that's what so much porn focuses on.

I also have the weird thing where my attraction to men is more widespread but lukewarm, and my attraction to women is there in fantasy and theory, and aesthetically, but it's a relatively rare particular woman who really gets under my skin. It has a lot to do with personality, I think. But when I meet a woman like that, it feels really right. I also think "coasting" on generalized male attraction to women is easy and often provides a baseline for escalating flirtation. If that makes sense. But when I meet the right woman, it's really something. So I think maybe you just haven't run into her yet.
posted by Nixy at 7:48 AM on June 24, 2011 [4 favorites]

Is it possible that I'm a lesbian and I'm just now realizing it?
Yeah, I've seen it happening a lot.

Hook up with girl already! And forget about the labels. It's not that you can't go back to date men after.

Throughout my life, I have been closer with men.
It's somewhat common that lesbians have that strong emotional connection with men. All my best friends are men (and I went to bed with a couple of them when I was much younger), and my life would be very very sad and poorer without all the men I love. That's just me, obv, I'm just throwing it out there so you see that this exists.
posted by TheGoodBlood at 8:16 AM on June 24, 2011

you've gotten some good answers here, but I wanted to point out a few more things-

1. what you fantasize about doesn't necessarily reflect what you desire in real life. (this isn't just true about gender, btw.) sometimes it does, though.

2. have you spent a decent amount of time among queer/lesbian women? i am queer, i am rarely attracted to straight women, but queer women are completely lustworthy to me. ymmv.

3. maybe before you jump into anything, start making friends/becoming part of communities where sexual fluidity/liminality/questioning is more normal. this doesn't necessarily mean queer communities -- they can, sometimes, be very policing of identity as well. but there are spaces where fewer assumptions will be made and where maybe it will be easier to find yourself than among homophobic/heterosexist friends & family.

good luck!
posted by sea change at 8:17 AM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

You say you are attracted to men. Do you ever see a man on the bus/in the park/in a shop/on tv and think, "Wow, that's a pretty man. If he weren't a stranger/a movie star 60 years older than me, I would love to get to know him, maybe go on a date, and, oh those suspenders really accentuate his shoulders in just the right way..."

If so, you are probably physically attracted to men. You may have similar thoughts about women - if so, you are probably attracted to women.

As for the fantasy part - do you fantasise that you are actively touching another woman, or are you imagining a woman being touched? If the latter, it may be that you are unconsciously putting yourself into her place - which is very common for women: many like to fantasize about being touched. Heteronormative romance and published erotica, for example, tends to still focus a lot more on the female character and where she is being touched by the male: this is explicitly straight erotica, for a (presumably) straight female audience, but much of the focus is on the female body. In contrast, erotica for straight men is dominated by images of women. I don't think this is because of social norms (aka 'male gaze') but because many women are more turned on by touch (especially being touched), while more men are visually turned on by their partner's body.

tl;dr - fantasising about women may or may not mean you wish to have sex with them; If you start finding yourself strongly attracted to other, real women, then explore it. But if you find your interest in women's bodies confined to fantasy, that's also perfectly normal for straight women.

As for whether you want a relationship right now: do whatever makes you feel good - if you're happy, that's wonderful.

wow, even my tl;dr is too long to read.
posted by jb at 8:20 AM on June 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

I have had sex fantasies about women since I was a kid, but wow, when I gave it a try in my 20s, the reality was just a complete turn-off; it actually kind of put a damper on that particular fantasy ... for a while. Now it comes and goes ...
posted by thinkpiece at 8:35 AM on June 24, 2011

You are a human being with sexual wants and desires. You know what pleases you, and what doesn't, and there's no need for messy things like labels.

As a dude, I have found myself turned on by dudes before. More turned on by women, but hey, I know what I want. I'm friends with a wonderful lesbian. She has dated men, was even married for a point in her life. But now, she identifies as lesbian. She also has the biggest crush on men with good abs. She thinks men with a great set of abs are the best thing that was put on this very earth. They're cute, they're hot, they're attractive, but she's not sexually attracted to them in the least.

What I'm saying through all this is just go out and pursue whatever you find that pulls you in a certain direction. You don't need a title, you just need to know what feels good.
posted by deezil at 8:45 AM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Or, straight but asexual?

Of all the things you might be, you're probably not asexual. You have a sex drive, you masturbate, you find people sexually attractive, therefore, not asexual.

While I find people physically attractive in the sense that I can appreciate beauty; nothing and no one makes me want to get them naked, or kiss them to see what it feels like or touch their skin or hair. The day I realized I never had to have sex again was one of the best days of my life. I am not sexually oriented. If you have these feelings or similar, you probably have some orientation somewhere and you don't necessarily need to label it to start getting a feeling for it.

Enjoy your sexuality!
posted by Sophie1 at 8:59 AM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

Hi, questioning person!

I asked this question (Christ) three years ago. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that I'm bisexual. I know that there are problems with that label--a long history of biphobia within both the gay and straight communities; stereotyped portrayals of bisexual women in both groups that suggest we're tourists, or sluts, or show-offs; people ignoring that label because you're with a man, or woman, and so assume that you're "really" a lesbian or heterosexual.

However, despite all of those problems, it's felt so damned good to use a label that actually encompasses the nuances of my sexuality--a label that's accurate. When I'm in the company of those who are loving and accepting, being able to call myself "bi" still gives me a little thrill. Like, hey, that's me! It fits! No more struggling uphill for a definition!

(Since then, I've also done a lot of reading about biphobia and bierasure. Since you're a feminist, you might find that illuminating, too.)

It might not be the label for you. You might be queer; you might be asexual; you might be a lesbian. Those are nuances only you can figure out, not anyone on the internet. Though I guarantee that, as you read this, you'll know which answers apply to you and which don't. Reading back over those answers to that question I asked years ago, I still feel an instinctive urge to scowl at those answers that just weren't right for me. And an urge to, I don't know, hug the posters who said I might just be bi, despite my problems with that label. Your internal compass is a good guide for this stuff. Listen to it.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:14 AM on June 24, 2011 [9 favorites]

Oh, and people here are suggesting that labels are unnecessary. I think they're very helpful, though, for accurately communicating to partners, friends, loved ones who we actually are. Naming things is scary--it forces us to confront them, makes the abstract real--but it's also both really useful and a healthy way to embrace who we are. Not naming myself didn't help me. It actually actively made things worse. Your mileage may vary, of course.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:16 AM on June 24, 2011 [6 favorites]

I've been thinking more about what you wrote about your family and friends...and coincidentally reading a review of Sarah Schulman's The Ties That Bind: Familial Homophobia"

I've never considered myself, you know, horribly oppressed by family homophobia. I've always known that if I came out to my family they would freak out and there'd be ructions, but in the end they would never disown me. They'd be uneasy, but they'd deal.

But then I was thinking - all through my life, I've known that I could not mention queer relationships or even hint that I might be attracted to any woman - couldn't talk about my big high school crush, for example. I've always known that I had to be silent about that stuff unless I was ready for the big fight. I've always also known that coming out to my parents would hurt them, cause them stress and possibly illness. They would feel -even if they dealt with it and still loved me - that they had failed and that they had to "confess" something about their child to the rest of the family. If I came home and said "I've met the love of my life, she's so wonderful!" they wouldn't be happy, they'd be disappointed - no matter how they acted or even if they changed their minds in the end.

This is not straight experience.

This was a steady, lifelong socialization to repress queer feelings and to value and nurture straight feelings. Who wants to hurt their (basically loving, basically accepting) parents? Even if you're willing to go through the big fight, which is daunting.

My parents aren't awful like some - they would never kick me out or turn against me. They just grew up in a repressive and homophobic environment and had very little exposure to openly gay people, never mind positive exposure. The "positive exposure" would have to come from me.

As you can tell, I'm not out to my parents.

But my point is that you can't live the first part of your life in that environment and expect an easy "natural" growth of queer feelings.

It's been so easy for me to feel that homophobia is something that other people - people in, like, the Bible Belt or the 1970s, people with conservative parents - deal with. And yeah, I have it a lot better than some, but my character has been shaped a lot by the simple, baseline view still prevalent in our society that being straight is best and being queer is at the very least a disappointment.
posted by Frowner at 9:23 AM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

Sexual orientation is a spectrum. You're on it. (Most of us are!)

There are no external rights or wrongs. Just fun, and sometimes ickiness. Have fun!
posted by krilli at 10:00 AM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

it always confused me that they would ask that because the same men always told me how feminine they thought I was.

Everyone's covered most of what I wanted to say, but I did want to point this out, and ask you to think about it. Lots of women who like women are quite feminine. Lots of my girlfriends - many of whom identify as bi - have been, you know, girly. You don't have to be a short-haired non-leg-shaving pants-wearing woman (like me!) in order to be a lesbian or bisexual. I know you probably know this. But your wording here is indicative of some of the socialization that Frowner brought up up top, and it's something that can be pretty invisible to oneself.

There is no one way to "look like a lesbian." (Or a bisexual, or someone who eschews labels altogether.) Challenge your assumptions - especially the ones you're hardly aware of having!
posted by rtha at 10:04 AM on June 24, 2011 [7 favorites]

Not only is sexuality a spectrum, but it varies over time, as well, for many people. I generally consider myself bisexual, but my level of interest in one sex or the other has changed back and forth over time. And sometimes my fantasy life varies differently -- even if I'm uninterested in actually having sex with men, maybe thinking about it gets me hot when I have some Quality Personal Time, for instance.
posted by rmd1023 at 10:09 AM on June 24, 2011

People are beautifully diverse creatures, and human sexuality is a wonderfully complex and fluid thing. Don't worry about what you are or what you are not; a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, yeah? Love who you want to, have safe sex with who you want to, and the hell with the labels. You're a human being, which itself implies so much incredbile nuance and diversity that it defies categorization.
posted by xedrik at 10:49 AM on June 24, 2011

I'm going to disagree with all of the people who say labels are silly or unnecessary. The first time I called myself a lesbian after a long struggle with my sexuality, it was a feeling of... cosmic okayness. I wasn't alone, I wasn't the only one, and identifying with that term told me that there was an entire social structure and community just for people like me.

It's totally okay to have a fluid identity, of course, but I understand why you're struggling with the labels. Now that I've been out for a while I feel more comfortable experimenting with the nuances of my identity, but I really needed that label in the beginning to help remind me that I was part of a larger whole.
posted by zug at 11:06 AM on June 24, 2011 [6 favorites]

zug read my mind, because I was going to come back and say that there is nothing inherently wrong or bad about labels - they can be freeing or constricting, and what you call yourself in your head may be different from what other people call you, or see you as, which may again be different from how you identify politically or socially, and all of this can change over time. Labels can be useful in some ways, and irritating in others. "Straight" is also a label, of course - but it's one that doesn't carry the same sort of "OMG labels BAD!" baggage that its sibling labels often do. Try on names for yourself like they're shirts, and don't wear the ones that don't fit.
posted by rtha at 11:12 AM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Labels should only be used for good :)
posted by krilli at 11:23 AM on June 24, 2011

If it helps, everything you wrote sounds exactly like me, and I am now engaged to marry another woman. I do consider myself bisexual though because I know I have been in love with a man before. For me the big breakthrough was realizing that I am NOT romantically attracted to straight, feminine women, even though I sometimes fantasize about them. Sure, I could have sex with them and have fun, but I could only fall in love with a butch woman. That explained a lot for me. (Well, that's probably not set in stone either, but it's a good working guideline and I'm taken now so whatever.)

Don't worry too much about the idea of oral sex being gross. I think it's pretty normal for a very intimate act like that involving lots of body fluids to seem gross until it's a person you love.

But really, what do you want to do? Would you like trying to date a woman? Then do it. You don't have to decide if you're gay before you try it out - just be honest with the women that you meet about what is going on with you. And don't be afraid to try dating different types of women. Just like I'm not attracted to all men, I'm not attracted to all women either, and I wasn't not gay just because I hadn't fallen in love with a woman before.
posted by ohsnapdragon at 1:41 PM on June 24, 2011

I've had occasional flings with women and tend for some reason to be flirtier around them; fantasy life is probably about half and half. But all the people I've ever actually fallen in love with, or sustained LTRs with, have been guys.

I grew up in a gay-friendly family and live in the Bay Area; not much social pressure here. If pressed I'd probably describe myself as "oh, probably about seventy percent straight?" But in my case I'm not sure that's particularly informative and mercifully it hardly ever comes up.
posted by tangerine at 2:00 PM on June 24, 2011

I can echo the people who don't find feminine women attractive. In fantasies, okay. In real life, they just don't do it for me at all. The first time a butch woman was like "hey there" I almost died from the hotness.

Good luck, and have fun.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:02 PM on June 24, 2011 [5 favorites]

I think a therapist could be helpful, but I also think you should find a local (or comfortably distant) "women's club" (lesbian club, gay bar that accepts women (some don't), or similar) and see what your brain and body tell you when you're there. Maybe even go more than once, just to make sure you've got a large enough sample size of responses from yourself.

Don't go with the intent to meet anyone, per se, but rather to see who you think makes you feel more comfortable, what attitudes pop up in your head as you people-watch, that sort of thing. If someone does try to strike up conversation (or U-Haul delivery), just keep it casual and don't feel pressured to start anything or explain everything.

I think you're on an interesting path of self-discovery and hope you get a lot of enjoyment out of it.
posted by batmonkey at 2:11 AM on June 25, 2011

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