Queeries: how do I tell my girlfriend my sexuality is changing?
Our Fagony Aunt writes of the courage and gift of honesty in embracing new transitions.
24 Feb 2022
Welcome to Queeries, Aisha Mirza’s advice column at gal-dem. You can follow more of Aisha’s writings and work on Substack here.
Content warning: contains mention of sexual trauma.
I’ve been in straight relationships my whole life. I’ve been with my girlfriend for over three years, and until recently felt like we could be together forever. I love her more than I’ve loved anyone else. The issue is, I’ve started to realise I want to explore more about my sexuality than I have in any previous relationships. I recently uncovered some childhood sexual trauma that’s had me asking big questions about who I am, why I am this way, and what it would mean to accept I might be different from this identity I’ve had for so long. I want my girlfriend to know I love her, and I always will, but I need to learn who I am as an individual. I don’t know how to do this without making her feel hurt or making her feel like she’s done something wrong. Equally, I don’t want to feel all this shame and guilt that’s cropping up when I start thinking about this. It’s all too much. What do I do?
Dear Lavender Boy, my Pansexual King!
Disclaimer: I am of course assuming your sexuality here for funs, and in fact no-one is equipped with the gorgeous, gooey, 360° knowledge of who you are, what you desire and what you really and truly need and what particular labels you’d like to claim, like you are. And it sounds like you know that. Your question holds so much. There’s fear, awakening, reflection, acceptance, bundles of compassion for both you and your love, and answers. They’re all there.
So you’ve been hanging with your girlfriend for over three years and it sounds like you still vibe. Ngl, that is huge! That is a huge achievement and experience and victory in love, the fact of which no-one can ever take from either of you regardless of what happens now. Unfortunately, loving your girlfriend is the problem here. The pain, worry and confusion you’re feeling as these new feelings arise are partly stemming from a deep desire you have not to hurt her. It’s a concern that, were you more detached or generally uncaring, you wouldn’t be feeling so acutely. What I’m saying is, you’re clearly lovely, so cut yourself some slack around the fear of hurting her and trust that you will do everything in your power not to. That is all you can do.
“That is a huge achievement and experience and victory in love, the fact of which no-one can ever take from either of you regardless of what happens now”
If I may borrow from your question, you said, “I want my girlfriend to know I love her and I always will, but I need to learn who I am as an individual”. Tell her. Choose a time and place that eases the revelation somewhat for you both and tell her. I know it’s scary. I know coming out to your own partner is not necessarily what dreams are made of, but you can do it, and she may surprise you! Though it may not feel like it, your honesty is a gift. It takes real courage to deliver this particular kind of gift, but it’s the right thing to do. I hear that you don’t want her to feel hurt, but you can’t control how she reacts or feels or internalises what you’re saying to her. It’s not your responsibility and it’s not your place, but this is your truth, and you’re communicating it clearly and with love. She will be okay – much better than she would be if you kept this from her.
“Though it may not feel like it, your honesty is a gift. It takes real courage to deliver this particular kind of gift, but it’s the right thing to do”
Before you have this convo, you might benefit from asking yourself or brainstorming with non-judgemental friends to clarify what you feel and what you want. What do these things you’re learning about yourself mean? Do you think there’s space in your relationship to explore your sexuality within it? Are you suggesting an open relationship, or a period of space, or a clean break? What do those options look like? What boundaries would you like to put in place? I am not suggesting you share your answers all at once or even that you have the answers to them right now (!). It’s more about creating a space for you to feel around and to ground yourself in what you need, without the pressure of protecting your girlfriend’s feelings. Once you both bring your truth to the table, how you move forward is in your hands.
“Once you both bring your truth to the table, how you move forward is in your hands”
What about you though? Are you gonna be okay? This is a big transition in your life and we want to make sure you’re as supported as possible as things enter into a big soupy flux (in a good way!). You mentioned recently uncovering sexual trauma from your childhood. That alone can feel so disruptive and difficult as it reveals to you parts of yourself that are new or alien. You may have questions: where was that trauma living in your body? How has it helped build the sweet, empathetic person you are? What tf are you supposed to do with this knowledge? Invest in your support network. Do yourself a favour and don’t bother with anyone who gives you a hard time about this (boring!). If you don’t have queer friends, go forth and make some online and IRL. Get a therapist, please.
There are so many reasons for your feelings of shame and guilt. Homophobia, biphobia, the patriarchy and not wanting to break your girlfriend’s heart, to mention just a few!! I wholeheartedly support you in saying, “I don’t want this. This is not my burden to bear.” The simple truth is, you haven’t done anything wrong babe. Continue on your path towards honesty, self-discovery, kindness, pleasure and liberation and watch those feelings shift into relief and joy.
May you suck dick and be free.
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