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Sexual Orientation Crisis

Published: February 20, 2013
Dear Sexual Orientation Crisis,

I am kind of in a sexual orientation crisis. When I was 13 I realized I was bisexual and from then on I was emotionally and sexually attracted to both men and women. However shortly after I graduated high school I started to change again. My sexual attraction to the opposite sex remained the same but my attraction to same sex declined big time and now it is practically non-existent. Does this mean I am straight or something? Is it just a phase? I am very confused. I was always told that sexual orientation was genetic and couldn't be changed so I was wondering if there was something wrong with me. Please help.


Dear Sexual Orientation Crisis,

TeenHealthFX would first like to say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. Whether you are gay, straight, bisexual, or you are someone who has found that at different points in your life you are have or haven’t been attracted to people of the same sex, we want to assure you that you are normal, you are okay and nothing is wrong.

Sexual orientation is considered to be genetic in that a person cannot will his or her sexual orientation to change. For example, if a man is gay he would not be able to will himself to be straight, he would not be able to work through being gay in therapy in order to become straight, or use any other method to switch his sexual orientation. He can control his behavior and could choose to be with a woman and live a “straight” life – but nothing would change his feelings or who he is naturally sexually attracted to.

That doesn’t mean that some people don’t go through periods of time where they have different sexual preferences. For example, adolescence is a time of sexual curiosity and sexual exploration – and some teens will find that they are attracted to the same sex or both sexes, but then discover that it changes as they move into adulthood. Some people may find that they are generally attracted to people of the opposite sex but then come across one person in their life of the same sex who they are attracted to. Not everyone fits perfectly into labels of gay, straight, or bisexual, and some people may find their sexual attractions change over time and that they might label themselves differently in various chapters of their lives. For example, you might say that you considered yourself to be bisexual as a teenager, but you find you are basically straight at this point in your life.

The important thing to remember is that there is no right or wrong here. Your feelings and attractions to others are real and it’s perfectly okay if they change over time. Your attractions changing naturally over time is different than you trying to willfully change them. Again, it doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you. However, if you find that this is really throwing you for a loop and you are having trouble dealing with it or processing your feelings, consider meeting with a therapist so you can work through your feelings about this and perhaps come to a place of peace with it.

If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area. You can also contact your insurance company to get a list of in-network mental health providers or check with your school social worker or psychologist to get a list of referrals in your area.

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