Whether you identify as a woman or you were raised to be one, there’s no one way how to know if you like girls. Society conditions women to believe that they can only be attracted to the opposite sex, and if you have spent your life having close friendships with women or exclusively dating men, it can be difficult to tell whether your attraction is sexual, emotional, or a combination of the two. That’s why — when a person wonders, “Do I like girls as more than friends?” — the answer is rarely something that's cut and dry.
For me, as a young girl it was hard to visualize my queerness because most of the stories that I had been exposed to involved hetero love. Even lesbian stories seemed to be written with women characters as stand-ins for men, and it was hard to find a story that resonated with me. As Dr. Alexandra Jacowitz, a New York City-based licensed clinical psychologist and clinical director, tells Elite Daily, “Discovering your attraction for women can be a confusing but exhilarating experience. Especially after being bombarded by society’s heteronormative messaging, it can be a truly freeing experience to question your own status quo.” And luckily, it’s now bit easier to find stories about queer women with shows like Feel Good, Riverdale, Ratched, and more.
Figuring out your sexuality is an important journey of self-discovery, and I think everybody owes it to themselves to explore the limits of your attraction. Why limit your love to only one half of the population unless you are really, really sure? If you find yourself wondering, “I think I like girls, but I don’t know for sure,” then here are some ways to test out your attraction.
Talk To A Queer Woman Or Femme
Questioning is a part of the LGBTQ+ spectrum, so if you think you might be attracted to other women, you are already a part of the queer community. For me, talking to queer women and trans femme friends about my attraction to other women was an important first step. Even if you have only been into a single girl in your entire life, you still owe it to yourself to explore those feelings, regardless of where you fall on the spectrum.
“Women’s sexual identity trajectories can be fundamentally different from those of men. Therefore, talking to other queer women about their coming out stories can be a great way to make sense of the complexity of the queer experience,” Jacowitz explains. And she is right. Talking with openly queer people allowed me to parse out my sexual orientation, as well as find validation and emotional support from friends who were already close to me. It was incredibly affirming to be able to talk about the unique complications and specifications of my attractions with people who knew me well.
However, if you don't know any queer women, be warned that it might not be the best idea to ask the first lesbian you come across to sit down and have a chitchat about your sexuality. People might feel like they're being pigeonholed for their orientation or used if you don't know them well. Try finding out whether there is a lesbian publication in your city or a local queer figure whom you could write to about your identity and ask for some advice. I find that people who have more of a public image are often willing to connect.
Think Back To Your High School Crushes
In high school, I definitely had crushes on other girls, but I suppressed them because I didn't realize that my feelings were romantic. One friend and I would make out during sleepovers, but we always claimed that we were "practicing" for boys. When she got mad at me, I would worry about it just as much as I would a lover, once even calling her phone incessantly because she had stopped talking to me.
It really wasn't until I had met and become friends with other queer people that I realized I had feelings for other girls in high school. Being in a community that normalized and accepted non-hetero attraction helped me see myself more clearly. “Some women have experiences growing up that immediately stick out to them as inherently queer because they were somewhat sexual in nature (i.e. a crush or a shared kiss),” says Jacowitz. “However, many queer-identified women have no trace in their adolescence of any budding interest in women. If the latter represents you, it can be helpful to reflect on which relationships were the most emotionally engaging and (even platonically) intimate.”
If you're questioning whether or not you're into girls, it means you're already open to the possibility. Reflecting or journaling about your earliest intimate relationships with the same sex is a great way to get in touch with yourself.
Imagine Hooking Up With A Girl
I feel like everyone talks about having a girl crush. For some reason, admiring and claiming a "crush" from afar is totally acceptable to most women, but acting on it doesn't seem to be. That being said, I know that you have probably talked about having a girl crush in your past.
Now, I want you to think about her the way you've probably allowed yourself to fantasize about a girl. Do you want to touch her? Kiss her? Where? Do you want to go down on her? Do you want her to go down on you? Do you wish one of you had a penis? You know, there are ways to simulate that.
Jacowitz also adds that “fantasizing can be a great way to explore your sexuality without risking anything. You can live in your mind and let it take you wherever it wants you to go.” Allow your mind to wander without judgment and explore all the things you might legitimately want to explore. You aren't violating anybody if it lives in your head, nor do you have to act on anything you dream up that makes you uncomfortable. It's your imagination. Let it roam. Maybe you can even write your fantasy down and make a short erotica piece out of it. Totally your call.
Watch Some Queer, Woman-Directed Porn
It can be hard to find lesbian porn that isn't made just to satisfy male fetishes, and you can tell when girl-on-girl porn involves women who aren't actually into other women. Straight women enjoy lesbian porn, too. A lot of male-dominated porn doesn't reflect what women desire, and porn is all about fantasy, anyway.
“Watching ethically created queer porn made by women can be a great way to explore a more authentic queer sex experience that is unadulterated by the male gaze,” Jacowitz says. “This can also be an opportunity to tune into your body’s signals and focus on how you feel in the moment.” Regardless of whether or not you decide to give sex with a woman a whirl, porn is a great low-stakes way to figure out how far other women might be able to turn you on.
Need a reco? The Crash Pad Series, filmed for women and by women, is available online. It's described as "indie dyke porn," and has even won a feminist porn award. It also led to this spinoff site, which shows realistic queer relationships between all kinds of folks. JuicyPinkBox also has loads of cinematically filmed queer porn, although the cast is not very diverse. Redtube has some good gay porn, as well as Tumblr. It might take a little sifting through to find what you're looking for, but you'll most likely come across something that is to your taste.
Feeling squeamish about porn? You can take a lower-key route and check out lesbian television shows instead. The L Word is probably the most famous one, as it is pretty much entirely about women dating other women and wasn't made with men in mind.
Read Books About Queer Women
The First Bad Man by Miranda July is an excellent one if you're thinking you might like girls. It's also hilarious and generally entertaining. Even if you decide that you don't want to act on your suspicions, it will be a worthwhile read.
Zami: A New Spelling of My Name is an important book by one of my heroes, Audre Lorde. It combines biography, mythology, and history in portraying her relationships with women who shaped her — including her queer identity — over the course of her life. The descriptions are lush, and the pace is fast.
When Watched is a collection of short stories by Leopoldine Core about all types of relationships. The characters include trans people, close friends, and lesbian couples, and the sex scenes are well-written and feel true to life.
If you're into the classics, try Orlando by Virginia Woolf. Knowing that she wrote it about her lover Vita Sackville-West makes you realize how liberating a relationship with another woman can be.
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston is one of the best stories about queer femme love that I have read, hands down. It has everything you could want in a queer story: leather jackets, converse sneaks, time travel, and subway sex. Just trust me on this one — you won’t be disappointed.
Check Out Lesbian Reddit
If you don't have a strong local queer community, the internet can be a wonderful tool for making some new gay friends. Browsing Lesbian Reddit can help you tune into what the ladies are talking about and can assist you with finding a community.
Let's face it: Going to a gay bar is super intimidating. Most of them cater to men. And even if your city has a lesbian bar, that doesn't mean the women who regularly go will necessarily be your type. On the internet, you don't even have to talk if you don't want to. You can read along and know that there are (or aren't, depending on how you feel) others like you. You aren’t alone, even if it feels like it sometimes.
Switch Your Bumble & Tinder Settings
It's pretty easy to switch settings on dating apps so that you can flip through both men's and women's profiles. This is a low-key way to test the waters and figure out how it actually feels to swipe right on another girl. You don't even have to put any pressure on yourself to meet up with her if you're not ready yet.
Jacowitz agrees, saying, “It can be a scary step but ultimately might give you a lot of data about yourself. Not only can swiping give you an idea of who you gravitate towards but your level of engagement in the process overall might be very telling.” If you are nervous because you don't have any experience with another woman, that's totally OK. Be honest about your background. People are generally pretty accepting and will want to meet up with you even if you've never dated women before.
If you still don't feel like any part of the LGBTQ+ acronym reflects you, that doesn't mean you aren't attracted to women. Labels aren't really important when figuring out your feelings. Louis Ortiz-Fonesca, senior program manager for LGBTQ health and rights with Advocates for Youth, says, “[The] best way to approach identity or the 'plus' in LGBTQ is to believe and honor someone's truth and identity over any definition and LGBTQ glossary.” So if the labels stress you out, forget about them.
And if you have done all of the above and you're still not totally sure how you feel, know that experience is not a qualification for queerness. You are valid in your sexuality regardless of whether you have been sexually involved with others. Take it at your own pace and remember that there is someone else out there who has gone through it before.
Dr. Alexandra Jacowitz, licensed clinical psychologist and clinical director
Louis Ortiz-Fonesca, senior program manager for LGBTQ health and rights with Advocates for Youth
Editor's Note: This story has been updated by Elite Daily Staff.
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