Today I changed my Facebook profile to say that I’m only interested in women rather than “men and women.” It feels like a bigger step than I think it should, but then again, it’s sort of the only step available to me in bringing my public identity more in line with how I actually feel. Expressing myself via checkboxes actually feels a little better than expressing myself via a letter from an acronym, and way better than expressing myself via useless rambly paragraphs trying to describe who I am and how my sexuality works.
At first I felt like I was lying. I sleep with men, don’t I? I have male partners, yes? (And nonbinary ones for that matter?) Maybe I shouldn’t get to say that I’m “interested in women.”
But then I realized that, if saying “I am only interested in women” is a lie, so is “I am interested in men and women” or “I am interested in all genders,” by the same degree. Because it’s also true that I don’t fantasize about sex with men. I don’t feel sexual desire for men. I don’t find them appealing in that way. When I imagine getting married someday, I can only ever imagine a woman next to me at the altar.
I have sex with men because I’m curious, because I feel affection for them, because it feels good. It’s not what I think about when I’m lying in bed alone. I have romantic feelings for them, but those are almost always detached from any sexual desire (except kissing and cuddling, which I don’t view as particularly sexual), and I have to wonder if I only have those romantic feelings because it’s the only way I have ever learned to experience romance. Who can ever know, now.
I’m no longer comfortable making statements like “I am interested in men and women” because it implies that those attractions are in any way similar, and they’re just not. My male partners will, unfortunately, never get to experience actual passionate sexual desire from me. They want to feel sexually attractive to me, but I can’t make them feel that way. I can’t help that they sometimes have to take my hands and put them where they want on their bodies because I can’t always remember how I’m supposed to touch them. It’s not something that feels very natural to me. It’s something I only know how to do because my entire upbringing has in one way or another been preparing me to do it—the sex, and the dates, and the affection, and all of it.
I don’t have to consciously think about how to touch a woman, because I actually want to, and that desire shows me how.