How do I Figure out who I’m Attracted to?

When you come out to someone who doesn’t know much about homosexuality, the first question they’ll probably ask you is, “How do you know you’re gay?”

I always reply with the old standard, “How do you know you’re straight?”

The person invariably fumbles around and comes up with some answer centered around the idea of attraction such as, “I’m only attracted to women. I don’t even want to think about having sex with a man.”

To which I respond, “That’s exactly how I feel about it, too.”

Interestingly enough, there are a lot of gay, lesbian, and bisexual kids and teens questioning their own attractions.

But here’s the scoop. You know when you’re attracted to someone. Whether it’s the boy who sits next to you in geometry or the beautiful actress gracing the silver screen, your body sends out clear messages. Your brain thinks, “Wow, he/she is hot.” Your pulse beats a little faster. Your mouth grows dry. If you are male, you may get an erection; if you are female, your vagina may grow wet in preparation for sex. These are unmistakable signs that nobody but the most naïve of virgins could miss.

So, how come there are so many “confused” kids out there? There are probably a lot of reasons. Here are the two most common:

#1. You know who you’re attracted to, but you don’t want to accept it.

I don’t how many times I crushed on women before admitting to myself I was a lesbian.

A few years ago, I worked with a teen client who did the same thing. He said he was “questioning” his sexuality, but when I asked him for a list of the ten people whom he found most attractive, every name on the list was male.

“What does that tell you?” I asked.

His response? “Maybe I just haven’t met the right woman yet.”

No, he certainly hadn’t met the right woman but he had met ten of the right men. This young man, like me at the same age, simply wasn’t ready to deal with his attraction to the same sex. It was safer to be “confused” about the whole issue.

#2. You’re attracted to people of both sexes.

Our society insists on putting everything in neat little either/or boxes. You’re either white or you’re black. Male or female. Gay or straight. The idea of someone who doesn’t fit in those boxes is enough to send some people running for their Victorian smelling salts.

But the reality for most people is that sexuality is fluid. Many people experience intense attractions to members of both sexes, but feel compelled to make a choice between whether they will act on same sex or opposite sex attractions. If you’re attracted to both men and women, you’re bisexual. Acknowledge that reality and celebrate your ability to connect to both sexes.

At some point in your life, you may need to make a choice about which woman or which man you will form a primary relationship with, but there’s no reason to eliminate a whole gender full of contenders for your affection.

Allowing ourselves to be “confused” or “questioning” about our sexuality is an important way of giving ourselves time to deal with who we are as sexual beings. When you are ready, pay attention to the signals of attraction from your body and your brain. They won’t lead you astray.

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