Q&A: I Am Bisexual And Afraid. Should I Make Myself Like Men?

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QUESTION: I have recently come out to myself as bisexual. I was afraid of this for a long time, because many individuals do not believe in bisexuality. I tried for a long time - since I was a little girl - to be perfectly, completely straight, but couldn't quite manage it – saying "quite" makes it sound easier than it has been, actually. My father was emotionally and sexually abusive to me, and I wonder if this might have impacted my sexuality. I am afraid of many men, but I am also attracted to several; the problem, of course, is that I am also attracted to several girls and women. I am twenty years old. Should I take my bisexuality seriously, or should I keep on trying to make myself like only men? I'm frightened and confused!

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Male and Female

Photo: Ben Husmann


Many women and men feel as you do – that the coming out process is not only about coming out to other people, but that it starts with oneself.

What Do You Think?

It sounds like you are already clear that you have experienced attraction to women and also to men. That said, you are the one who gets to decide how to label yourself, if at all.

Not everyone uses labels to describe their sexual orientation. And even people who do sometimes choose labels such as “queer” or “questioning” that allow them more room for movement and more time to decide what label, if any, they feel most comfortable with.

You Are Not Alone

Data from our National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior show that about 4% of women in the United States identify as bisexual. That means that there are literally millions of women and men in the United States who identify as bisexual.

Take Your Time

At twenty years old, you are very young. It’s fine to take time and to explore your sexuality and see how you feel with your attractions and your romantic and sexual experiences. You get to make the decisions and there is no rush.

That said, some people find it helpful to adopt a label, especially if it connects them to a community in which they find support, friendship, and a sense of belonging. You may like connecting with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender groups in your community – check out pflag.org.

If you are a college student, you might check out what kinds of social groups or student organizations your college offers. Your health center or counseling center may also offer individual sessions or groups related to sexual orientation, coming out, or sexual self-discovery.

Checking out Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project – through his website or book – may also be a good resource for you. If you are feeling frightened or confused, don’t hesitate to seek support from trusted friends or through counseling or therapy.

If you are feeling frightened or confused, don’t hesitate to seek support from trusted friends or through counseling or therapy.

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Read Dr. Debby Herbenick’s response.

Dr. Debby Herbenick (M.P.H., Ph.D.)

is a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, Associate Director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University and author of several books including Sex Made Easy and Because It Feels Good: A Woman's Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction.
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