How do I know if my girlfriend is a lesbian?

Dear Alice,

My girlfriend really likes looking at women more than men. She is always commenting on their bodies and how well "that woman" looks. She is 29 years old and has never really enjoyed men until me but steps away from making a major commitment to me. Is it possible that she likes women?

How do I know if my girlfriend is really a lesbian?

Dear How do I know if my girlfriend is really a lesbian,

Have you considered asking her? Of course, this is the direct approach, although it's not for everyone or for every situation. The indirect approach would be to start a conversation about homosexuality — have you or has she ever thought about it? You share your past experiences and thoughts, and she shares hers. You may not get a straight answer (no pun intended), but maybe you'll gain some insight.

Let's put aside any thoughts of your girlfriend being a lesbian for a minute and consider this: is it possible that she's looking at women because she feels insecure with her looks? In today's appearance-obsessed culture, it's difficult not to feel self-conscious about how we look, especially when we compare ourselves to others — including all the "buffed and beautiful babes" plastered on billboards and buses. "I wish I had thighs like hers," or "I wonder if those are real?", or "Man, if my upper arms were as cut as his." Your girlfriend may be asking indirectly for reassurance from you that she is attractive. Let her know how you feel about her; and, don't focus so much on looks, but more on what you like about her as a person (i.e., her smile, laughter, wit, sense of humor, etc.). Another thought: does your girlfriend comment on men to her female friends, but holds back on doing the same with you because she doesn't want to hurt your feelings?

If your girlfriend did/does like women, would this slam the door on your special relationship with her? Or, is it one of many amazing facts of life that the two of you will learn about one another as you grow old together? To deal, or not to deal, with new-found knowledge is up to you. Whatever happens, you should be applauded for taking the time to consider your situation.

Last updated Jun 16, 2015
Originally published Jan 30, 1998

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