I am 18 years old and have a girlfriend, but I'm afraid I might be gay.
Let me explain: my girlfriend is the most wonderful person I have ever seen, I find her beautiful, attractive, kind and am thankful I can call her my friend. We have been very best friends for 4 years (I would call us soulmates) when things started to get serious and we got into a relationship. Everything was great, although I never had the "butterfly in my stomach feeling" the 6 months we've had together were the happiest in my life. Then I moved away (another country) for a 6-month exchange programme, so we are currently in a long distance relationship. We are considered the perfect couple by everyone, sometimes I feel like we are meant for each other and I actually can't (and don't want to) imagine a life without her.
Recently, I have realized that I notice guys way more than girls. Actually, thinking about it I always knew I was attracted to men. I've always behaved "different", been interested in rather feminine things and so on, yet I have never had anything with a guy. Although I knew about it when we got together, it never really striked me as important, I had no doubts and being together felt right. Now that I am so far away I am seeing what I'm really interested in, but I don't know if I'm gay or bisexual - which would also determine whether or not me and my gf can make the relationship work.
The thing is: on the street, I notice men way more, I find almost every guy sexually attractive (I catch myself looking at bulges all the time). I have watched gay porn and liked it, I have fantasized about classmates, but I never felt anything for any guy.
When I see pretty women on the street, I find them beautiful, somehow like "art", but I don't get sexually aroused (or at least not as much as with men). I can't remember really being sexually interested in women when I was younger the way my classmates were. But I have never with my girlfriend felt like I have to fake sexual interest, almost every time we made out, had any sexual interaction it felt great (of course there were exceptions but I guess they are somehow normal), and most of the time i even started - she never had to push me to do something. I felt always so good, natural and so right.
This confuses me a lot. Am I gay? Am I bisexual? If so, am I still bisexual enough to stay with my girlfriend?
The thing is: I am still very young and have a whole life in front of me, what I really want is my girlfriend to be happy and to be happy myself. I'm so afraid to one day when we are married realize "fuck I'm gay" and to destroy her and me emotionally.
I feel like I have to talk to her, but what do I say? I mean, If even I am confused, how is she supposed to understand anything at all.
Also, she is on the other side of the planet, it would have to be via skype...
This is something else I wonder about: does it have anything to do with being physically apart? Would I feel different If i was with her or will it feel different when I get back?
I have read a lot about the subject and i know there are options like mixed relation marriages and so on, but I really want to be sure about how I feel. It hurts to think that although it could work out, there might be someone else out there who could be a better boyfriend to her, who could have an easier relationship with her and who could love her entirely 100%, no doubts included.
The only thing I am sure about is that I want us to be happy and that I would love to go on having her as my girlfriend, I want to travel with her, I want to show her my home country and so on.
These days all I can think about is all of this, I wake up thinking "do I have to break up?" And feel very guilty - that also seems to be a sign: why would I feel guilty if nothing was wrong?
Especially regarding the fact that we are thinking about where to go to university to stay as close as possible makes this decision feel urgent, I don't want to attach her to something that has no future.
Dear papa bear, sorry for the long letter and thank you so much for being there and all of the support!
Anonymous (age 18)
* * *
Based on what you have written here, yes, you are somewhere between straight and gay. Sexuality is a spectrum; where, exactly, you fall in the middle seems to be something you still need to work out. This is not at all unusual for someone your age.
The mistake you are making here is that you are laying all the burden of this decision on you and you alone. You don’t need to talk to me; you need to talk to her. This would best be done in person, but I’m not sure how long you are going to be away in a different country. Sounds like you plan to go back to her area of the world to attend college. Unfortunately, it would not be fair to her to make all kinds of plans about, say, attending the same university together, and only then tell her you are having second thoughts about your sexuality.
Therefore, it would be best if you talk to her now. You do not have to decide right this minute whether you are gay or bi, but you should tell her, frankly and sincerely, how you are feeling. Only then will you know how she feels (it could be anything from “it’s over” to “let’s work this out but still be together”). Once you have that information, you can make the decisions you need to make. Papabear went through what you’re going through—much later in life—and suffered in silence for four long years before finally confessing to my then-wife that I had discovered I was gay. It was a very hard time; we both cried a lot. In the end, we divorced but we are still friends to this day.
For all you know, your girlfriend could be having these struggles as well. If you talk honestly with her, you might learn she is bi or pansexual or a lesbian. You don’t know. Or you might learn that she is completely straight and she’ll decide that the two of you need to break off the romantic relationship. If that is the case, it is definitely best to tell her now. It is unfair to string her along in a serious relationship if it is not going to go anywhere. Also, this does not discount the possibility that the two of you can remain very good friends for years to come. Friendships—solid friendships—can be just as valuable as mates in your life.
Bottom line: this is not a one-sided decision in your case. It involves both of you. Therefore, you need to bring her into the dialogue and work this out together.
A note on comments: Comments on letters to Papabear are welcome, especially those that offer extra helpful advice and add something to the conversation that is of use to the letter writer and those reading this column. Also welcome are constructive criticisms and opposing views. What is NOT welcome are hateful, hurtful comments, flaming, and trolling. Such comments will be deleted from this site. Thank you.