I’ve only been in two relationships in my life but I feel like they’ve each done some damage to me. One girlfriend told me that she hated hairy chests so I started shaving mine. I don’t even like it shaved. My next girlfriend told me she thought maybe I was gay or bisexual because I was so well groomed. What does that have to do with being gay? I actually visited some gay bars and saunas because I believed her. Now, several years since both of these relationships, I don’t feel like I know who I am as a man or sexually either. I’m so lost and confused. Can you help?
Thank you for your email. I’m sorry to hear you feel so lost and confused. It sounds like you lost your ‘self’ and your confidence and started believing what others were telling you rather than trusting your own instincts. Sometimes we don’t even notice when we’re making changes for someone else rather than for ourselves. Since you are now out of both of these relationships, you can take some time for healing and finding your way back to yourself.
I would suggest starting with exploring and investigating your own likes, desires and needs. Ask yourself some questions such as, ‘What do I like to give and receive sexually?’, ‘Who do I feel drawn to sexually?’, ‘How do I feel about my body hair and how do I want it to be?’, ‘What would be my ideal sexual situation?’, ‘What turns me on?’, ‘What turns me off?’, ‘If my sex life was perfect what would it look like?’. You don’t have to have all of the answers straight away, these are just questions for you to ponder. You might find that you end up with more questions instead of answers to begin with. Stay with it and keep sitting with whatever questions arise.
Try not to put your power in someone else’s hands. If someone says you should look, talk or act differently you don’t need to listen to them. Listen to yourself instead! It can be a confusing world out there with mixed messages coming in from our family, school, the media and other places. It’s essential to figure out what is right for you and not to rely on someone else’s opinion.
Whenever life offers you the opportunity to make a choice about something, pause for a moment, take a deep breath and see how your body feels about the options. Your body is like a sat-nav that will guide you in the right direction for you. If your body contracts or feels bad in any way when you think of certain options, you know that’s a ‘no’. If you feel calm, relaxed and peaceful when you think of an option, that’s a ‘yes’. It might take a while to practice this to fully understand the signals your body is giving you.
If you have friends you can talk to about this stuff I would encourage you to do so. If not, perhaps you could find a sexual practitioner or therapist that could support you while you untangle some of your confusion.
I hope these tips will help you on the path to finding yourself and learning about yourself.