Q&A: How Do I Know If I’m A Lesbian?

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QUESTION: How do I know if I'm a lesbian?

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Learning what one’s sexual orientation may be is not as easy as taking a quiz or having a blood test. Sexuality is a developmental process and, though most people tend to have a gut feeling that they are most physically and emotionally attracted to women or to men or to both women and men, other people take a little bit longer to figure out what their attractions are like.

Sexuality and relationships are important in many people’s lives, and there’s no rush to figure out which category you fall into whether that’s lesbian, bisexual, or any other category.

Early Signs

Most women and men tend to notice attractions to others as teenagers or as young adults. Sometimes people recall having childhood crushes on boys or girls when they were growing up, and may look back on those crushes as an early sign of their sexual orientation.

Often when people are trying to figure out their attractions, they may notice whether they feel turned on or whether they get butterflies in their stomach when they are around women, men or people of either gender. Others think more about the gender of the person they envision living their life with as a romantic partner.

Helpful Resources

If you’re a teenager or a young adult, you might find it helpful to look through some of the resources at YouthResource.com, a web site that’s a project of Advocates for Youth and is meant for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning young people.

On this site, you can explore sections that are focused on these issues of how to know whether you’re straight, gay, lesbian, or bisexual as well as how to talk to friends and family about your sexual orientation and how to meet other people who have similar feelings and attractions as your own.

Another web site with a range of resources is LesbianLife.About.com, which offers articles and links to other sites for lesbian and bisexual women of all ages.

Further Reading

You can learn more about lesbian relationships by reading Lesbian Couples: A Guide to Creating Healthy Relationships by Meriless Clunis and Dorsey Green.

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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