I believe that sexuality is fluid. I also understand that I don’t necessarily need to label myself, but wrapping my head around my sexuality still feels frustrating and confusing sometimes.
Am I only interested in women, or is my sexuality broader than that? How do I know that I feel attracted to someone? Why is attraction all so simple for everyone else but not for me?
However, I have recently come to terms with the fact that I may never identify with any particular sexuality label.
Why do I feel such a need to label my sexuality? Why does it matter if I’m gay, straight, bisexual, asexual, or pansexual? What if I don’t fit in the boxes people have made? Those boxes feel limiting and I feel claustrophobic. Can’t I just simply be who I am without tying myself to one sexual identity? Is not labeling my sexuality wrong?
The truth is that I don’t want a label. I want people to like me for me: my passions, my personality, my intellect.
Some people say that they always knew that they weren’t straight. For me, though, that wasn’t the case. I didn’t realize that I wasn’t heterosexual until high school. Looking back, I can recognize that I had crushes on girls as early as 5th grade, but I also had crushes on males. I don’t think I’ve ever felt sexually attracted to a man before, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen in the future because I believe that sexuality is fluid.
As for my romantic orientation, I consider myself someone with strong emotions, someone who loves easily. I fall for people when my personality meshes with theirs in such a way that know I’d want to be “more than friends.” With these chosen people, I enjoy activities like cuddling and holding hands. I also love giving and receiving thoughtful gifts, and I like having intellectual conversations, too.
However, I am not much interested in sexual encounters, no matter who they’re with. On the rare occasion that I want to have sex, it’s almost always with a female-identifying person because I don’t currently feel sexually attracted to men. (Also, my attraction isn’t limited to just female- and male-identifying persons. I have been in a relationship with someone who doesn’t identify as either.)
Searching for the right person to be in a relationship with is complicated. Almost always, the other person finds sex to be important in the relationship, which is totally valid but not my preference. Clearly, sexuality, especially my sexuality, is complex and confusing. I am open to new experiences, and I am open to sticking with what I know.
Here are my tips for those who are struggling to define their sexuality:
1. Be gentle with yourself through the process.
I felt so much confusion and shame about my sexuality. I bottled it up inside, until one day, I just exploded. It’s OK to feel confused, nervous, frustrated, and even indifferent. Just let yourself feel. Be mindful of your emotions, and try not to suppress them.
In the last 10 years, I felt so much confusion. I turned that uncertainty into anger towards myself and blamed all of my emotions on myself as if my sexuality were a choice. My anger created a dangerous environment for me, but when I came out to my friends, I was surprised to find that they accepted me. They told me that it’s OK to not know your sexuality, which was exactly what I needed to hear.
2. Be honest with yourself and others.
When you are honest about your sexuality, you can build healthy trust in your relationships. When I wasn’t honest in my relationships, though, my lack of trust caused issues. Until I was honest with myself, I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. Fortunately, being honest with others about my sexuality really helped me.
3. Go with what feels right in the moment.
You don’t have to know who you are 100 percent, nor do you have to stick with the same label forever. You are not alone in your journey to define your sexuality. In fact, many people are unsure of how to define themselves! Sexuality is just one of those parts of life that doesn’t necessarily need a direct answer. Embrace your freedom to define yourself how you choose!
4. Accept yourself as you are.
No matter how much pressure you feel, you don’t need to fit the boxes that society has tried to squeeze us all into. Let yourself feel confused because all emotions are important. Accept yourself as you would accept a loved one. Would you tell your friends all the horrible things you tell yourself? No, so treat yourself with the same respect.
5. Most importantly, know that you are loved.
No matter how you do or don’t identify, know that others love you simply for being you. You deserve love from everyone around you and from yourself. Let yourself feel your emotions, but more importantly, let yourself feel loved.
Even if you feel like you are the only one who can’t seem to define their sexuality, you are not alone. There is a community out here wanting to love and support you every step of the way. So reach out, let love in, and continue being you because you are amazing no matter how you identify!
Previously published on Thought Catalog.