Sexual fluidity – are you a lesbian?

I am happily married to a man for over 20 years. Much to my dismay I found that my friendship with another woman turned into an exciting and deeply disturbing infatuation. Although it was never openly acknowledged or acted upon, it did cause some awkwardness and sent me running for a therapist.

Was I a lesbian?
What did this mean for my marriage and my children?
Would loved ones accept me if they found out I was a lesbian?

It was one of most painful but wonderful things that happened. By allowing myself to openly examine my feelings and past instances of similar infatuations, I was able to learn about how common sexual fluidity is in women. Here are some of the facts I learned.

Facts about women’s sexual fluidity, lesbianism and homosexuality.

Sexual fluidity definition: having your sexual responsiveness change depending on the situation or relationship.This may prompt you to desire either sex. This is particularly true for women and they have no control over it.

Sexual orientation in woman is poorly understood as most research has focused on male homosexuality and it has been assumed that it is similar for females. This is not the case. Females are in general much more sexually fluid than males. Their sexual desire has greater variability and expression over a lifespan.

Labeling yourself or others as a “lesbian” is often confusing because are you referring to a) behavior, b) self-identity or c)sexual desires expressed as fantasies or attractions.

Sexual orientation means a consistent sexual desire, over a period of time, for either someone of the same-sex, other-sex or both sexes. Researchers generally agree that it is your sexual desire that determines your sexual orientation, not your behavior or your sexual identity (lesbian, gay, bisexual, heterosexual)

So a woman can sexually desire other women all her life, whilst being happily married to a man and thus self identify as a heterosexual. Even though she may never experience a same-sex relationship, researchers would consider her sexual orientation to be lesbian or same-sex because she consistently sexually desires other women.

Of course it is never as simple as that – what about the odd crush – or what about someone like Anne Heche who was exclusively heterosexual and then fell madly with Ellen DeGeneres and is currently in a heterosexual relationship. Similarly their are long-term lesbians who find themselves attracted to males in their 40’s and 50’s. Sexual fluidity over time is not unusual and wait for it – normal.

According to Professor Lucy Diamond in her excellent book Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women’s Love and Desire, a mature and adaptive approach is to adopt a more changeable identity that is situation or relationship specific. So when you find yourself shaken up and unable to stop thinking about another woman, don’t be ashamed, your reaction is normal and in line with what most women experience. Calm down, you are attracted to the person rather than their gender. Common traits that make others attractive like kindness, humor and intelligence are equally common in both men and women.

Of course, what you do about it will depend on your circumstances and the other persons feelings.

In my case, once I figured out why I was attracted to her – she reminded me of an episode in my childhood when my mother was emotionally unattainability – the infatuation fizzled and now she is just a friend.

regards Sofia (ala Myrtle)

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