We’re always hearing that we could be having better sex, a better orgasm, or a better relationship. But how often do we hear the nitty-gritty of how we can actually better understand our deepest desires and most embarrassing questions? Bustle has enlisted Vanessa Marin, a licensed sex psychotherapist based in San Francisco, to help us out with the details. No gender, sexual orientation, or question is off limits, and all questions remain anonymous. Now, onto this week’s topic: How to explore your bi-curiosity.
Q: I’m wondering if you have any advice about how to explore bi-curiosity. I’m in my senior year of college, and I've had what I think are small girl-crushes for as long as I can remember. The only problem is I’ve never actually done anything with a girl. I came close to making out with my friend while we were drunk and at a party together, but I’m worried about making things weird between us. I’m also currently dating a guy, and I don’t know how he’d feel about all of this. Any thoughts?
A: Anyone who has taken a Human Sexuality 101 class knows about the Kinsey Scale. Famous sex researcher Alfred Kinsey believed that sexual identity was a continuum, with gay on one end and straight on the other. He theorized that most people fall somewhere in the middle, meaning most of us are "a little gay" or "a little straight."
I tend to agree with Kinsey’s model. In my professional and personal experience, most people tend to have at least some interest in being with a member of the same sex. You’re definitely not alone in being curious! Here's how to go about exploring.
What Does It All Mean?
Some people get anxious about what their bi-curiosity "means." They worry about being judged or labeled by others, and may even be judging themselves. The questions I hear most frequently from women are, "Does this make me bi?" and "Am I supposed to come out of the closet now?"
Let me make this absolutely clear: You get to choose how you identify yourself, and with whom you want to share this information. If you try kissing a girl, it doesn’t automatically make you gay or bi. If you liked kissing that girl, it doesn’t make you gay or bi. A little experimentation doesn’t define you, and nobody needs to know that you’re dipping your toes into girl-on-girl action — unless you want them to know. You’re in charge here.
How To Decide If You're Ready
Start by exploring the idea of hooking up with another woman using your imagination. This may sound like an overly simplistic piece of advice, but it can be quite useful.
Consider what qualities and physical characteristics you’re attracted to in women. Think through discrete sexual acts, like kissing, groping, or oral sex, and notice which ones seem appealing and which ones seem out of your comfort zone. Try masturbating while fantasizing about being with another woman.
As you’re doing this fantasizing, notice what comes up for you. Pay attention to how your mind reacts, and compare that to how your body responds. Your mind may be feeling nervous or unsure, while your body may be giving you an enthusiastic “Hell yeah!”
If you want even more of a trial run before doing anything physical, try flirting with women out in public or putting a profile up on an online dating site. See how taking these additional steps makes you feel.
Selecting A Partner
If you’ve had a close call with your friend, you probably recognize the potential pros and cons of hooking up with a friend. Plenty of women have had drunken make-out sessions with their girlfriends, especially in college. Friends are easy because you already have a certain level of comfort with each other. However, it can make things awkward between the two of you the next day. Unless you feel confident that a hook-up wouldn’t make things weird with your friend, I’d suggest experimenting with someone else.
Finding someone to hook up with can feel a little embarrassing, and might take some time. Start paying more attention to the women in your classes, in your dorm, and at parties, and notice who you’re attracted to. See if you can strike up a little flirtation. You can also try online dating sites, or look into LGBT support groups at your university.
Doing The Deed
A lot of women end up exploring their bi-curiosity while tipsy. Drunken hookups can be a lot of fun, but they probably won’t help you figure out where you stand with the ladies. If you’re genuinely curious about your attraction to women, you’ll probably want to try hooking up when you’re sober.
You don’t have to spill your entire story to your hook-up partner, but if you want to go further than just a little making out, you may want to consider sharing that it’s your first time with a woman. Whatever you decide, be respectful and kind to the gal you’re messing around with. Don’t make her feel like a subject in a lab experiment.
Once you’re in the midst of your hook-up, just enjoy it! Don’t think about what it means or whether this makes you bi or not. Notice what you’re feeling in your body, but don’t analyze it. Have fun!
It may be useful to decide beforehand that all you’re going to do your first time is make out. Don’t put any pressure on yourself to go all the way, and give yourself the opportunity to back out before feeling in over your head.
But What If You Have A Boyfriend?
If you’re in a relationship and are interested in experimenting, talk about your sexual boundaries with your partner. Be respectful of your relationship, and don’t hook up with women behind his back. Plenty of men are open to the idea of their girlfriends experimenting with another woman. You can talk through your interests and ask what his comfort level is.
Of course, be aware that he may not want you fooling around with other people, regardless of their gender. If that’s the case, you’re going to have to make the tough decision about what feels more important to you — giving yourself the freedom to explore, or being with your boyfriend.
The Bottom Line
If you’re feeling even the slightest bit of curiosity, I encourage you to give it a shot. I’ve never worked with a client who felt bad about exploring their sexuality, but I have worked with plenty who expressed regret for never experimenting. As long as you’re thoughtful and respectful, the worst possible outcome is that you discover your fantasies aren’t nearly as exciting in reality.
Image: Orange Is The New Black/Netflix
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