I might be attracted to women. Should I tell my boyfriend?

The question:


I’ve been in a relationship for many years with the same guy. I love him, but I’ve recently discovered I might be more attracted to members of the same sex. Should I tell him? Should I end it? Is there something psychologically wrong with me?

 

The answer:


First and foremost, there is absolutely nothing that is psychologically wrong with you for having questions about your sexual orientation.

Sexual orientation refers to one’s sense of personal and social identity based on emotional, romantic or sexual attraction (to one or both sexes), the behaviours that are expressed as a result, and membership in a community of those who share that orientation (according to the American Psychological Association, 2008).

 

One’s true sense of sexual orientation is not a choice – and can occur on a range, falling in one of three main categorizations: heterosexual (attracted to members of the opposite sex), homosexual (attracted to members of the same sex), and bisexual (attracted to members of the both sexes).

 

Population survey data suggest that approximately 1 per cent of Canadians identify themselves as homosexual, and approximately 1 per cent identify themselves as bisexual.

 

It certainly is not uncommon to love someone in a heterosexual relationship, yet find yourself attracted to members of the same sex. Questions about your orientation do not negate your love for your partner – but may impact the direction of your current and future relationships take.

 

It would be important for you to explore issues around your sexual orientation further before you make any impulsive decisions about your relationship. If you feel that your partner is someone you could talk to openly, and without judgment, you could certainly gently raise the issue with him.

 

You could assure him that you love him, and that you want to be completely open and honest with him so want to let him know that you have started to question whether you are more attracted to females. It is also perfectly appropriate for you to start to get some clarity on your own before you decide how to approach speaking with him, as this may be a difficult and emotional conversation to have.

 

Confiding in a close friend may be a way to start talking about it and navigate your feelings. There are also a range of community agencies and professionals that specialize in issues around sexual orientation. You may want to explore some of these resources.

 

Questioning your sexual orientation and making changes in your life (and communicating to loved ones about this) may be a difficult journey, and so I would encourage you to try to take care of yourself emotionally, and ensure that you have a strong community and support network to help you navigate through the coming weeks, months, and years.

 

Excerpted from Dr. Joti Samra’s “Ask the Psychologist” weekly column in The Globe and Mail.

 

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