March 10, 2008

Q&A: Questioning My Sexual Orientation

Dr. Debby answers a question from a female reader about her possible attraction to women and how to deal with a current male partner who is hinting at marriage.

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Question: I have been in a relationship with my boyfriend for a few years, and he is hinting toward a marriage proposal. I love him and he is my best friend, but I have always been attracted to women. I have had great relationships with men, but my fantasies focus on other women. What does it mean to be gay? I am attracted to women sexually – not men – but I can make deep, meaningful connections with men, while I have trouble establishing friendships with women. Sex with my boyfriend is not bad, but he really has to work to get me to orgasm. How do I figure this out?

Sexual orientation is complex and there is no one way – even among researchers – to decide at what point one is best described as homosexual, heterosexual, or bisexual. Rather than defining sexual orientation solely in regard to sexual behavior or fantasies, some researchers define sexual orientation as the general pattern of romantic and sexual attraction that one feels based on one’s own gender and the gender of the person he or she is attracted to.

That said, emotional and physical attraction don’t always go hand-in-hand. In your case, you have deep friendships with men but greater sexual attraction for women.

Talk To A Counselor

Consider meeting with a campus or community-based counselor who can provide more individualized support and guidance as you work to figure this out. Professional counseling services are confidential and the experience might provide you with additional information about these issues related to sexual orientation, sexual desire and friendship. You can also learn more through a campus or community organization related to gay, lesbian, and bisexual issues or on the web site (PFLAG stands for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays).

What Is Most Important To You In A Long-term Relationship?

It seems like you’re struggling with issues that many men and women – regardless of sexual orientation – encounter.

Specifically, discovering what factors are most important to you in a long-term relationship – factors such as friendship, sexual attraction, trust, support, intimacy, and at what point one is “settling” if you don’t have everything you want in a partner.

I’m sorry there aren’t more concrete answers to these age-old questions. This is an important topic for you to sort through so it is worth spending some time continuing to gather information, think it through and talk over with someone you trust.

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