Resources for Teen Girls Questioning Their Sexuality
Lookin' good, ladies!
Teenage Mental Health
Alright, ladies, let's talk.
One of the few topics in life we all think about the most yet never really discuss in real life (especially in female society) is sexuality. Sure, we might ogle handsome, shirtless men, but for some reason, we exclude discussion of sexuality that sends our attentions towards those of similar bodies.
I am not here to persuade you against the feelings you're having. In fact, I want to help you figure out exactly what your urges mean and provide you with the best tools available to come to terms with who you really are. Sound good? Let's go!
What does this mean for you?
No matter what you're feeling or how frustrated and confused you might be, it is okay. Who you are shouldn't ever fit into a tiny box. Feelings and attractions are complicated! Just because you're a girl and like boys doesn't even really mean you're straight. It could just mean you're attracted to this specific boy. Likewise, just because you're a girl and like another girl doesn't mean you're a lesbian. It just means you're attracted to this specific girl.
Nothing is concrete and your feelings and attractions will change depending on who you meet.
Sexuality is a spectrum.
First of all, we must begin by discussing what sexuality is. You might be thinking it is simply how we describe our attractions to other people, or that it fits into nice, neat categories like gay, straight, or bi. Really, that is far too easy of a description.
Since you're already a teenager and already experiencing sexual desires, let's be open and clear.
Sexuality is a spectrum, meaning that it is almost never as easy as gay, straight, or bi. To understand this we have to talk a little bit about the difference between sex and gender.
Sex, or biological sex, is the physical parts you have. Although many people think that we can be just male or female, not even that is really true. Every body is different, and each person fits along a line of sex characteristics.
Gender is the way you act and think. In Western society, we believe that there are two genders, male and female, and that people who are biologically male are masculine and that people who are biologically female are feminine.
That's not the case. Gender changes across time and culture. What is masculine in the U.S. today was not always masculine in the U.S. 200 years ago. Gender is fluid and never nice and neat.
In fact, even your gender is different from that of your other biologically female friends. Just because you have the physical sex characteristics of a female does not mean you act the way society says you should. Hey, if you're questioning your sexuality, you're already breaking the mold! That is never bad.
When it comes to sexuality, we have to remember that our unique sexual identity is different from that of everyone else. Nothing fits into a nice, tidy box when we talk about identity and sex, so be sure to keep an open mind.
For much more specific information on the types of sexual orientations, please read my article, Types and Meanings of Sexual Orientations."
1. It's normal.
Feeling unsure about your sexuality is more normal than you may realize. In the past, people had to keep their insecurities under wraps more than they do now. You're alive during a wonderful point in history where people are way more open-minded than they were before!
You're figuring out who you are and that includes figuring out who you want to be with. And hey, some people are just so special and important to us that we'll break rules we didn't even know we had to be around them all the time.
Don't beat yourself up about this. Embrace the fact that you're so aware of yourself that you can even feel unsure! That's an amazing gift, and I urge you to take this as an opportunity to get to know who you really are.
2. Be or Be With?
In our community, one of the hardest things to determine about sexual attraction is the difference between "to be" and "to be with." Let me explain what I mean.
Sometimes, we find ourselves very strongly drawn to specific women (or men or whoever else). We think they are beautiful, powerful, insightful, intelligent, and all kinds of other great things, and we start imagining ourselves with them sexually.
When we are drawn to these magnetic types of people, we can't always figure out what our urges really are. If you look within yourself without judging, you can usually pull out some clues. You just might find that you actually want to be this person and live their life.
"To be with"
Or, you might find that you actually want to be with this person sexually. If you find yourself imagining what it would be like to have sex with them or perform other sexual acts, you're sexually attracted to this individual.
At the same time (just like before), nothing is clear-cut. You can want to be someone and wonder what it would be like to have sex with them without actually wanting to perform those acts.
This little thought exercise is not a guaranteed way of figuring out your feelings, but can help you travel through your confusing thoughts with something to look for.
Many people question their sexuality.
3. Friendship and Romance
When friendship and sexual attraction combine, we can get into some pretty prickly territory. This often happens in young women because they are going through their own sexual awakening (I know it sounds cheesy) while also beginning to form lifelong bonds and deeper relationships.
But, this is also the trickiest part. Since society tells us to keep our eyes on the prize (AKA finding a husband and making babies), the mere thought that we could fall off the grid makes us nervous and extremely uncomfortable.
If you have a very close female friend and you're starting to feel sexually attracted to her, you have a choice to make. You can either try to learn more about these feelings and confess how you feel to your friend, or you can keep everything bottled up inside. Just remember that many women feel uncomfortable at the thought of "straying from the path," and could lash out at you in a variety of ways if they feel they've been misunderstood or embarrassed.
If you're reading this article because you find yourself attracted to a particular friend, please tread very carefully. Read this whole post, be cautious, and realize things might not go as you want. Just be brave and honest with yourself, and it will be okay in the end.
4. Sexual Health Resources
Think that lady-on-lady love is safe for all parties involved? Think again. Just because you can't get pregnant doesn't mean you can't get a whole, nasty slew of infections and diseases.
Before you get involved, you must learn the risks of participating in any sexual activity and also how to protect yourself physically and emotionally.
The absolute BEST resource on these issues is Scarleteen. Unlike many of the sites and readings you may have experienced in the past, Scarleteen exists to provide honest, realistic advice to teens and 20s without any judgment. Plus, it's supportive and helpful for anyone going through any frustrating times.
6. Avoid drugs and alcohol.
Many young people in the LGBTQ community get into drugs and alcohol for a wide variety of reasons, and I understand that. But, this will just fog your mind and prevent you from being able to think rationally. Plus, they can put you in dangerous situations with
5. Find an understanding adult or older sibling.
Whenever you go through a time in your life that feels particularly difficult, reach out for support. Of course, this topic and issue are a little loaded in our society, so be careful who you ask for and try to avoid feeling offended if they turn you away. I know that's hard to do, but you don't need anyone telling you're a bad person or anything like that!
If you have a caring older sibling or friend you can go to, please do so. This can be a lifesaver!
7. Accept yourself.
The most important lesson you can learn as a human is to accept yourself. You can strive to improve yourself and hey, you can even try to stop doing certain really annoying or bad things, but you must accept who you are on the inside. This includes how you look, where you're from, how you think, and more.
If you're pushing yourself to think and feel a certain way and you're feeling incredible pressure and insecurity because of that, you're doing something your gut knows isn't right. Follow your instincts, be yourself, and quit saying you aren't good enough.
8. Join supportive groups.
There are tons of LGBTQ groups around these days, often even in high schools. If you're able to attend even as a "supporter," you can get a sense of the community.
But do me a favor and remember that not all gay, straight, bi, trans, or questioning people are like these individuals. Every person is different from the rest, and some personalities pull out major traits in groups that wouldn't otherwise arise. If you don't like one group, you might want to find another.
Having other people in your life who understand and support or who can even empathize with where you are in your life can be a huge push towards becoming a healthy adult. Open up!
For parents and guardians
I understand that this can be a very difficult or frustrating time for you. Many parents have expectations of who their children will be, and when they fall from that path, it feels like you've done something wrong.
Embrace the fact that your daughter is looking within herself to examine her thoughts, needs, and desires. This is an amazing step to take on the path to adulthood, and having a supportive parent or guardian can make this process much less traumatic. Remember how awful dating was when you were a kid? That hasn't changed.
If you struggle because you do not feel this is the right lifestyle for your daughter to be inspecting or joining, that's okay, too. You can learn about it together. Just like any social group or sect, there is good and bad. Help her find the good, and you can provide her with a wonderful support system both in the family and without.
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