Queer Advice: “I am so scared that I’ll always be alone.”
I’m a teenage girl. I’m going through a major sexual identity crisis and am feeling really alone and confused. As a kid I was never attracted to boys, and used to dream of kissing my best female friends. When I thought about getting married, it was always to a woman. Boys made great friends, but I never saw the appeal of having a boyfriend. Why would I, when I wanted the cute girl in front of me to be my girlfriend so badly? All this was before I knew what a lesbian was.
When I was about thirteen and a half, everything changed. I started getting physically attracted to boys. I still felt no emotional attraction, and had no desire to date them.
Now I’m seventeen, still have only felt sexual, never romantic, feelings towards men, but now my attraction to women has stopped. I still fall in love with girls and melt into a puddle of goo when a cute one looks my way, but I’ve stopped getting turned on by them. I’m stuck in a weird limbo, unable to make an emotional connection with men, and a physical one with girls. I’m scared I’ll always be alone and unsatisfied because I’ll never be able to find someone that I can love with my heart and body. This is tearing me up inside, and I don’t know what to do. I hate myself for how I am, and I am so scared that I’ll always be alone.
Answer from Dr. Griffin
What bothers me most about your letter is your statement that you hate yourself for how you are. I’m sorry you’ve been so torn up about this. You seem to be in touch with your body and your emotions, which is admirable at your age. Most people do find that their bodies and emotions get confusing during puberty, which is probably a big part of what you’ve experienced.
There’s also this. Contrary to common belief, “sexual orientation” is not as simple as it sounds; some people even think that the whole paradigm is flawed. Many people, especially women, do not find that their attractions are primarily driven by the sex or gender of the other, but by other factors. Recent studies indicate that women’s arousal is more complex than men’s, and that their arousal patterns often shift around during their lifetimes. Also, women are more likely than men to need multiple cues to get aroused. That “puddle of goo” you become around that certain girl may translate into sexual arousal if she kisses you!
You have a lot to learn about yourself, and the best way to do that is to trust heart, body, and mind to guide you every step of the way. Don’t worry about finding “The One” right now; later, you are likely to appreciate having experienced more than one relationship among the 7 billion people available out there. (Well, I guess not quite that many if you limit yourself to people around your age who speak your language!)
Get back in touch in ten years and share what you’ve learned. I hope by then you love yourself and are proud of your interesting and unique romantic and sexual identity. You do not have to label it.
Lisa Griffin, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the State of North Carolina. With nearly 30 years of clinical experience, Dr. Griffin specializes in gender identity and sexual orientation issues, working primarily with gender-variant, transgender, and queer people (children, adolescents, and adults) and their families.
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