Auntie SparkNotes: I'm Having an Identity Crisis
Please help me figure out my feelings because I really don’t know where to turn. I’m a 17 year old girl, and I’m about to be a senior in high school. A couple of weeks ago, my best friend and I were hanging out at my house. My parents were out of town so we decided to have a girls’ night in, and things got a little weird.
She climbed on top of me, and kissed me pretty aggressively. (I’d kissed girls before but always at parties, in front of other people, on a dare or whatever.) I was a little surprised, but before I knew it I was kissing her back, and just like that we were doing the HND.
We both identify as straight and although this wasn’t her first sexual experience, it was mine. I’ve never gone that far with a guy before and though I don’t regret it, this definitely isn’t how I expected it to happen. Afterward we slept in each others’ arms and in the morning she told me she was sorry if she led me on but she was straight and didn’t have feelings for me. I told her not to feel bad because I don’t have romantic feelings for her either. We haven't talked about it since, and our friendship is back to normal, which is what I want.
The thing is, when it was happening, I was REALLY into it. Like, more than I’ve ever been with a boy. And while I don’t want this to happen again with her, I’ve started noticing other girls the way I used to ogle hot guys. I’m so confused because I always thought I was straight and that my first time would be with a boy, and everything I thought I knew for sure has been turned on its head. Am I bisexual? A lesbian? I know I’m attracted to women now but I don’t know in what way exactly, or how much, or if I also like guys, or how to talk about this with anyone I know. I’ve always had a ton of gay friends and I don’t have any personal anxiety about maybe possibly being gay, I’m just incredibly confused. Should I tell my friend how I’m feeling? Or an uninvolved third party? How do I bring it up? What do I say? I’m so lost and I just want to talk about my feelings and sort them out. Please help me Auntie!
Oh, Sparkler. But you know that this is a good thing, right? Because as confused as you are now, what comes next is the absolute opposite of confusion: you're going to get an absolute haul of self-knowledge from this experience that gets you one step closer to figuring out who you are... beginning with the discovery that yes, at least under certain circumstances, you like getting it on with girls.
Which is not to say that you will always, or only, or even generally be into girls. On the one hand, it's very possible that you've gotten an important insight into your sexual identity; since opposite-sex orientation is the statistical and cultural default, it's not unusual for bi or gay kids to just kind of assume that they'll turn out that way, too—and only realize after a life-altering same-sex crush, kiss, or sexual experience that their dogs are barking up a whole 'nother tree.
BUT. Without anything to compare it to, your enthusiasm for this experience as compared with others might also have stemmed from one or several other factors: your personal level of desire that day, the intimacy and comfort of your relationship, or even your friend's skills in the sack (as compared with the fumblings of the guys you've dated who likely lacked any real expertise with the female anatomy.)
And now, your questions: are you something other than strictly heterosexual? Well... okay, probably? You seem to be pretty solid that you're attracted to women in general, and you know that you're capable of having thoroughly mind-blowing sex with at least one, which probably rules you out for inclusion in the Kinsey-level-zero category of sexually inflexible straight people. (No big loss there.) Which is not to say you can't still identify as straight, if that's what feels right to you—but if it doesn't, and neither does anything else, then please don't hesitate to toss the file on your orientation into a mental basket marked "WHO THE HELL KNOWS" until you figure out a better place to put it. The only reason to define yourself as gay, straight, bi, or anything else is if you find it helpful to do so. But as long as the labels are just making you crazy, your best bet is to stop worrying over them in favor of some more productive exploration.
And how do you productively explore? Easy: give yourself permission to. Forget what you've always assumed about your inevitable straightness, let your attractions bloom naturally, and see who piques your interest. Explore your sexuality—on your own as well as with other people—and see what you learn about what you like. Watch movies, read books, consume info about relationships both fictional and non-, and take note of which ones give you the tinglies. And if you can talk through your feelings with someone, then great (it's as easy, and as obscenely difficult, as saying, "I think I like girls"), but also consider that you might learn just as much by listening to people who've been there... like, say, all those friends of yours who've already come out as gay. Maybe you'll hear something that rings true for you. Maybe knowing about how a friend found himself will make you feel less lost. Maybe you'll discover that you're so very not alone in your wondering—and you're not, but it never hurts to hear it.
As for whether or not to seek out your friend, I honestly can't say. If you think she's capable of listening to you—and if you've got nowhere else to turn—then you can try. But if you do, please know that a girl who aggressively initiates sex with you, spoons you all night, and then pulls the "whoops, but I'm straight" card the next morning, is dealing with some serious issues of her own. She's not in a position to offer you healthy insights on figuring out your sexual identity; if anything, she's even more confused than you are.
But it's okay that you are. It's normal and natural to feel confused, lost, and freaked out. Before this happened, your sexuality was a blank slate balanced on a pile of assumptions; now, you've just been handed the first piece of a complicated puzzle you never knew you were going to have to solve. But that first piece puts you in a better place, a more informed and aware and engaged place, than you ever were before. It gives you a place to start. And the rest of the pieces, the ones that will fill in the portrait of the person you'll be, are out there—and I promise, you're going to have so much fun looking for them.
Have you ever had a sexual identity crisis? Share your experiences in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at email@example.com.