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Asking for a friend: ‘I’ve always identified as straight but I had sex with another man I met on a dating app and I enjoyed it. What does this mean?’

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'Give yourself permission to explore, and remember that it’s okay to be confused'

'Give yourself permission to explore, and remember that it’s okay to be confused'

'Give yourself permission to explore, and remember that it’s okay to be confused'

Q: I’ve always identified as a straight man, but I’ve recently been on dating apps where I have been contacted a lot by other men who say they are straight but are offering sex or oral sex. These are straight dating apps. At first, I felt really confused, as they said they were straight, and on my profile I said I was looking to meet women only. They said they were straight too but kept offering oral sex. One day, I decided to go for it as I felt curious and wondered what the big deal was. It felt kind of weird, but I actually enjoyed it at the time. Since then, I’ve been trying to figure out what this means. I don’t think I’m gay, and I don’t want to settle down with a man, but I want to explore this side of me too. I know some gay people in real life but I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to be like them or thought about sex with men. Does this mean that I am gay now, or that I haven’t really been straight all this time? I’m finding this all very confusing.

Dr West replies: When we scratch below the surface, I think experiences like yours are far more common than people confess to. Sexuality can be fluid, as we grow and change throughout life. This is exciting for some and confusing for others. This fluidity can be an opportunity to explore, but when we grow up in a society that judges other people’s sexuality — even making it illegal in many places — it can be hard to navigate this, and poor sex education doesn’t help either. We don’t fit into neat categories for many things in life, yet we often view sexuality as stable and unchanging over our lifetimes, with the end result being confusion and missed opportunities to be who we really are.


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