I don't want my sexuality to be a juicy topic of conversation
Dear Dr. Pam,
I’m 28-years-old and, as far as anybody is concerned, I’m straight. I’ve only ever had boyfriends… until now. A couple of months back I met a woman and I was almost immediately attracted to her, we got along really well. I knew she was gay and I was curious. We met up a few times and things turned sexual.
Now we see each other two or three times a week and I’m really happy, even though this is all a bit new to me. I haven’t told anyone yet and it’s making me feel guilty, like I’m lying to my friends or disrespecting my girlfriend by not ‘declaring’ our relationship. But I don’t know how to broach the subject.
I really don’t want my sexuality to be a topic of conversation but I know, however good my friends are, that this is a juicy topic! Also, I don’t know how I feel about having to ‘decide’ my sexuality. You never have to ‘come out’ as straight, but because I’m sleeping with a woman I feel this pressure to label myself for other people. I’m stressed when all I really want is to enjoy this new experience and this lovely person I’ve met! What can I do?
Dear ‘Juicy topic’,
You may feel you're alone with your thoughts about not wanting to feel pressure to define your sexuality – and I'm completely with you on this one. There are some people who identify very strongly as, e.g. straight or gay (or bisexual or asexual) but there are others who feel their sexuality is more fluid.
I've always felt strongly that people who feel this way should never feel pressured to identify themselves one way or another. They – and you – are perfectly within your rights to love who you want to. And people who feel the way you do you simply fall for the person rather than the gender.
I think it's wonderful that you have the courage to explore your curiosity and have started a relationship with someone you care about. But sadly even happy relationships have to face hurdles – and your hurdle is about other people's expectations. Here are a few tips to try:
- Stop seeing the expectations of other people as ‘pressure’ – you don't have to see their expectations in this way. Instead see it as their issue not yours. What counts are your expectations for your relationship and your personal happiness.
- You don't have to explain yourself any more than you choose to. When you introduce your new girlfriend to friends you're simply introducing her as another person that you care about. You're in control of deciding whether or not you say anything in advance – i.e. to let them know you're now in a same-sex relationship.
- Try having higher expectations for your friends – that maybe they won't be so shocked and maybe they won't put you under any pressure to now define yourself as lesbian. Sometimes expecting the best when you tell someone something means you actually get the best.
- Keep repeating the fact to yourself that you are in control of the situation. Your relationship with your girlfriend is entirely about the two of you. The more you reinforce this thought in your mind, the more confidence you'll have.
- If you have any doubts about how you'll handle introducing her to others discuss it with her. She may have some excellent suggestions and obviously you care for her and you value her opinion.
Final tip: If things get serious with your girlfriend it's understandable for you to be concerned about your parents’ reaction. There's something about our parents' importance to us and our need to have their approval that means we question how we tell them something new about ourselves.
But calm your nerves and think through how you’d do this, maybe with the support of a brother, sister or other trusted relation. I hope by the time you come to this decision you're feeling strong enough just to introduce them to your girlfriend.
Be strong and be true to yourself – a woman who chooses love over gender, and that's a fantastic thing.
Take care, Dr Pam x
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