Should I explore my sexuality?

Originally Published: February 14, 1997 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: June 28, 2012
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Dear Alice,

I'm about to enter college and female, and, just recently, I've been attracted to a few girls. I also get aroused when I see two women having sex or kissing. I've had three boyfriends in high school, and I think I am still attracted to men. I would really like to experiment with girls to see if I am a lesbian or a bisexual. What should I do?

Dear Reader,

Your willingness to contemplate and possibly explore your sexual feelings and attractions are key to bringing you satisfaction and peace of mind, both in and out of the bedroom (or living room, or car, or wherever you choose). Participating in safe sexual encounters and activities, whether with men, women, or both, can provide wonderful opportunities to learn about your likes and dislikes, passions, and goals. Keep in mind that sex and attraction are just two parts of establishing a healthy relationship — the personality of the other person, how well the two of you interact, and the way you feel about him or her or when you're around her or him may also be major factors you want to consider. It's possible that you might find yourself being attracted to women more often than men, but it might also depend on who the person is, rather than her or his sex or gender.

Many people's sexual feelings and attractions can change over the course of their lives. In other words, who you're most attracted to today might not be the same as who you'll be eyeing five years from now. While this may seem to complicate matters, the good news is that you'll have the freedom to explore sexual attractions as they arise; just because you might experiment with women now doesn't mean you won't ever kiss a man again (or vice versa). Staying in touch with your feelings, and reflecting upon them often, will help ensure that that you are doing what's best for you now and in years to come.

Questioning your sexual orientation or sexual identity is by no means a sign of a problem; however some people do find that speaking with a counselor can help clarify desires, attractions, and issues of identity. If you're at Columbia, and think that talking to someone would be helpful, you can make an appointment at Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) by calling x4-2878. The Columbia Queer Alliance also has lots of information about different on-campus resources you can turn to if you want to become involved in or further explore the LGBTQ community. You can also check out the related Go Ask Alice! Q&As below.

While you may feel confused about your attractions right now, you should know that your feelings are completely normal, as is exploring them. Enjoy!

Alice