Struggling with my sexuality and crushing on a married woman
Hey there BB forum users,
I'm having a hard time and I know I really need to talk to someone. I would usually talk to my counsellor or my friends (most of whom are LGBT) about my struggles but these feelings are so unusual for me and so difficult to explain that I felt like this forum might be the best place to start opening up about this. So to begin, I'm almost 21 years old, I work as a trainee aged carer and I've known I'm somewhere in the "bi sphere" since I was about 12 years old. The "struggling with sexuality" part of the title is because I've gone through some periods of confusion because I'm not "half straight/half gay" nowhere close. I'd say my ratio is about 80-85% in favour of men with 15-20% of my attractions being women and to add to that, these attractions are pretty much never sexual attractions, rather they're sensual/romantic ones. Last year, I finally decided to just go with what felt right and call myself "bisensual" because I can be sensually attracted to anyone despite preferring men so why not? Now comes the kicker: About a month ago, I realized the intense desire I have to be close to one of my coworkers (we'll call her "Mari"), isn't just because I admire her... I have a colossal crush on her even though she's about 20 years older than me and married with kids. Initially I was disappointed that I had built such a good age gap friendship with Mari (as well as many other older workmates) and then I had to go and ruin it by catching feelings but then I justified the feelings, "This feels good and if I keep it to myself and don't act on it, I'm not hurting anyone right?" but as I got increasingly worried that I'm not feeling guilty enough for being attracted to someone who has a husband and kids, I decided to start trying to get over her by force: "You should be ashamed of yourself, you freak." But I can't stop thinking about her, I've never felt this way for a woman before and only for very few men. She called me pretty with my new haircut the other day and I got butterflies and I sometimes even imagine myself kissing her. So fast forward to now, my social anxiety is the worst it's been in a long time and I think it's to do with Mari and my fear of the people I work with finding out about my sexuality and my inappropriate attraction to her. I've considered online dating since I've been feeling ready to put myself out there and I definitely need the distraction but I'm worried, I'll still want what I can't have. Sorry for the novel.
Hi Ghost Girl,
It's really cool to hear that you have been going through a journey of self discovery and figuring out how you feel towards people. I see sexuality as a spectrum so I certainly understand what you mean about the percentages!
As for your feelings towards your co-worker - they're really natural. Being attracted to other people is such a normal thing in life and you're not a freak for feeling this way. It's great that you acknowledge the boundary of your relationship with Mari as she is taken and I think it's totally fine to feel attracted to someone as long as you don't cross any boundaries. You sound like a really smart person so I doubt that you would.
Hi Ghost Girl,
Feelings are very intense, aren't they. And there's just something so primal and special about feelings for another person. You are a very kind and thoughtful young woman. But I don't think that you need to worry about your coworker or her family in this case. As she is much older and in what is most likely a secure marriage and probably heterosexual, the worst that would probably happen is that you embarrass yourself somewhat if you ever did something to act on your feelings (or not - she could be flattered but still not interested). I'm not trying to tell you what to do or not do, but rather explore your feelings a little.
I've thought about this concept quite a lot throughout life (I've always been very introspective and philosophical), and from what I can see sexual orientation must be a spectrum - but one that is heavily influenced both by our biology and our culture. You see it used to be illegal everywhere to have intimate relationships with others of the same sex, and frowned upon by our culture. Fast forward to now and there is a lot more acceptance, although still people that do not like it. My half-informed view of why it must be is that we are formed during pregnancy out of the same blueprint: it's not like there's immediately a male or female foetus - although there is the Y chromosome if the person is to become a male. But all the brain circuits that regulate who we are attracted to probably are the same - where we are intended (in terms of what benefits the survival of the species) to be attracted to the opposite sex. However the human brain is so complex that there isn't like one circuit for heterosexuality and one for homosexuality, but one incredibly complex thing that falls anywhere between. I think it more or less results in this spectrum that social moth talked about above.
Something I have always wondered is, could anyone in the world fall in love with a member of the same sex? I think possibly it's true. That we will never know, as our parents and our culture etc. affect things such things too. However, I think it is a beautiful little story you told above (sorry to call it beautiful when you are experiencing distress as a result). You are very young and it is a beautiful and terrifying thing to have romantic feelings. Sometimes the romantic/sexual feelings will probably coincide for you. Don't shy away from exploring them - this is what "life" is, go ahead and experience it fully!
P.P.S. who knows what would happen if your coworker knew: it could be like I said: she could be flattered, could feel awkward and not want to talk anymore, could be complex considering you've got a professional relationship together, she could even feel the same (although it seems strange those kind of things happen sometimes). So just to reiterate, only you can decide what the best way is through what is essentially a very personal problem causing distress for you (again sorry I called it beautiful because I just sometimes think feelings are beautiful - they're causing a problem for you but that doesn't mean there's not a part of them that is beautiful.
If I don't hear from you, Best Wishes!
Thanks for your super well-written and interesting response Here2Talk, it definitely helped rather than hindered! You seem like a super introspective person and your reflections about attractions and the way they make us feel excited and terrified, really resonated with me and I’ll definitely take your advice about experiencing romances and life in general, fully and without remorse. Thanks for your well wishes, I’m wishing the best for you too.
Keep giving great advice and philosophising!
Hi again Ghost girl.
Good to hear from you. How is the social anxiety and fear of your bisexuality being discovered going?
I wish I knew how to get over the idea of your crush. In a way it’s like a lot of things in life. when something makes us feel alive - as romantic thoughts do - then letting go is a process of grieving. It’s literally painful. Imagine a purely sexual fantasy - people have these all the time, eg when they walk past an attractive person in the street; luckily this doesn’t cause problems usually because they recognise that it’s just a fantasy, which you acknowledge as probably no chance of happening. But your feelings get so strong in romantic attraction because we’re designed to have relationships with people. Did you imagine lots of (I’m not being rude here) interactions with her? Quite often we build up narratives in our mind of what our lives could be like; if this narrative has brought you enough pleasure then it could be hard to let go of. Like I said it’s literally like grief...
I once heard therapist Leslie Greenberg say that the only way to shift an emotion is with a stronger emotion. I feel for you in a small town.. I guess how like yourself would a partner “have” to be? It’s good to not pick somebody who is nothing like you, but in the same sense maybe you could aim for at least some core qualities... like caring, you mentioned. They are caring men out there. Introspective even. Maybe someone you werent expecting pops into your life some day and provides your life with this rich fabric of personality you never considered desirable.... attraction is a weird thing, it’s not really scientific it’s more like mystical in my experience...
regarding the small town, could internet dating be an idea? Just a thought... My best friend met his partner of quite a few years that way and they are both very artsy and creative and seem to be very happy