Several studies exploring women’s sexuality have concluded that not all girls who identify as straight actually are. As for ‘why?’, there are different hypotheses here and there—from the possibility of females being born bi to contextual factors like contemporary sociocultural influences.
If you are not going around yourself wondering why you ‘suddenly’ feel warmer for/want more from women than you ‘should,’ you’ve probably heard of straight women who are.
Stories abound from cishet ladies who have only dated men (some without ever having crushed on, let alone make out with a girl) unexpectedly falling in love with one. For others, it’s drunken same-sex hookup on a wild night that brings about these questions.
In other words, the issue of a self-identified straight woman being attracted to women is more common than you might think. And while I don’t presume to have all the answers, here are some likely reasons I’ve been able to gather.
Table of Contents
For many women who go through with their first ‘lesbian’ encounter, I believe curiosity lights up the same areas in the brain as desire. Of course, it can be a phase that will pass. Sometimes, it is also the case that there is a very close and intense relationship (or sexual desire) with another friend and you may feel attracted in a different way.
Sometimes, that goes away again. And that doesn't have to lead to a lesbian way of life. But: It can also be that it is simply suppressed. Life is not always a straight path.
If with women who have never had a same-sex encounter, the attraction for other women might always be there. Because they continue to get with men, they can convince themselves they are totally straight and will rationalize their girl crushes as appreciating the feminine more than fellow straight women.
Maybe their perceived (hetero-)sexual orientation had to do with it, or they are just not ready, but they somehow manage for years without harboring sexual desires for the girl they like. However, when an unplanned massage with another female friend takes place, it opens their mind yet again to the possibilities.
Now, I’ve come to realize that my Oliver twist inclinations might do more to fuel an attraction than a desire to date women.
As someone who comes from a predominantly traditional society, I know how the straight label can be forced on you as much as anyone. No one comes out to tell you you’re supposed to be attracted to men, but everything you consume since birth basically conditions you to be.
You could be sexually attracted to women without question and still actively talk yourself into fitting into the known norm because the alternative was just way too risky. If you also sort of fell into heteronormativity like most “straight women” out there, being attracted to your sex now might mean you actually never were.
So, if one has a thing (sexual or otherwise) for women and doesn’t hate being with the opposite sex, what does that mean? If life was simply black-and-white, you can skip right to the part where you try to fit you into the bisexuality label, but we now know enough about the concept of sexual fluidity now not to.
You could use the Kinsey scale to help you determine as concisely as possible where you fall on the scale, but not even that is detailed enough for everyone. Just as straight doesn't always mean totally straight, you could be bi-, pan-, omni, gray-, poly-, or demisexual.
On the other hand, you could be mostly straight with the occasional taste for the fairer sex, gay at heart, or even asexual.
Certain pop culture depictions, like the stereotypical “college experience,” can also be why you’re attracted to women. See how, for instance, direct and indirect influences from media to normalized culture describe wild youthful exuberance years in terms of bending your sexuality, getting high, and generally being reckless.
Some people get to that stage and pick their poison of the three, whereas you might just go with one or two. In that sense, liking girls despite being convinced you’re totally straight might not mean more than your friend who fell in the habit of smoking pot because they are now in college.
A close but not quite the same reason as the above is good ol’ peer pressure. It’s unlike the right of passage scenario where it’s like a coming-of-age move, yet also quite similar in that it’s usually the manifestation of aggregate, often even unconscious conditioning.
This is even more likely now more people are attaching themselves to the rainbow flag for cool points. If all your friends are on the spectrum, feeling left out as a straight girl might subconsciously make you more open to exploring your own sexual fluidity.
The best part is they need not actively preach the lifestyle for this to happen. Usually, just them leaving their normal lives is more than enough.
Unfortunately, there are also cases where it takes dating an extremely toxic guy for some women to realize their attraction to their own sex. It’s not the same as #2 above because the need for change isn’t necessarily motivated by craving variety. It’s trauma and fear that comes from associating the evil their ex did with men as a group rather than the individual.
It’s probably not quite as straightforward, but your attraction to girls might be a greener pasture situation if this is your case. You could be idealizing what being with a girl would feel like, just as we all tend to think the grass is greener on the other side.
For many of us (people whose self-identified sexual orientation doesn’t necessarily match their sometimes penchant for the same gender), the attraction is mostly fantastical. We let ourselves get ideas sometimes, just like we might fantasize about other men we find attractive without necessarily thinking to act on them, but that’s about it.
Reality steps in, reminding you of why you’ve been suppressing such thoughts in the first place, perhaps, for fear of being eschewed, to keep up appearances, and whatnot. But as you grow to learn and accept more of yourself or find yourself in an environment that progressively validates same-sex attraction as any other, you're less inclined to deny it.
This “place” can be physical, mental, or just an age you get to where you’ve had enough of putting other people’s convenience over your happiness.
Meanwhile, gender identity can also explain the confusion in your sexual orientation/attraction. Like sexuality, gender is also fluid and, as you probably know by now, doesn’t always correlate with your birth sex. Being expected to fit into typical depictions of what you’re perceived to be based on what’s between your legs might cause a disconnect when it doesn’t align with your true self.
For instance, if you’re born female and are mostly attracted to guys, you might run with feminine gender expression and identify as straight even when you don’t feel it within.
This might seem ridiculous, but it’s also possible to develop attraction out of obligation to someone else, e.g., your hubby. Some women would go to the ends of the earth if their husbands asked, especially when it comes to pleasing them sexually.
A totally straight married woman with no internalized homophobia might be more readily down for a threesome involving another woman than her male counterpart if the roles were reversed. To him, making out with her fellow lady depicts attraction strong enough to get him going. Meanwhile, that may not necessarily be how the wife sees it.
The inability to separate strong platonic feelings from romantic ones is another explanation for attractions that don’t add up considering your perceived sexuality. This is not a good reason, but just as legit as any other on this list. It’s what happens when you feel so strongly about a friend that you haven’t felt in a friendship context before.
Getting attached to a female friend in a way you only ever have with people you’ve been romantically or sexually involved with might make you mistake that for attraction to the said friend.
Now I know this one is a bit obvious, but it’s worth mentioning as well. Your attraction to girls might just mean you appreciate the feminine a bit more than your run-of-the-mill straight women. Maybe a girl crush now and then but for reasons other than sexual.
It might be for how gorgeous they look, how they carry themselves, how they smell, their brilliance, or a host of other reasons. Such non-sexual attraction to people of the same sex often grows from a need for friendship and a sense of connection.
Finally, it’s also worth acknowledging that some things, like same-sex attraction after picking a side on the sexuality spectrum, can’t be explained. Experts have explored different angles from biology to psychoanalysis and everything in between, yet they haven’t been able to provide empirical evidence that satisfactorily answers the question for everyone.
Again, what matters is to know what you’re feeling and that you’re not alone in it, no matter how difficult to explain you find it. There was a time when the only known labels in this context were homosexual and heterosexual, but look how wide the range has become today. And if you still haven’t found one that accurately describes yours, I wouldn’t bother.
Just as long as you manage to communicate it clearly with those who matter, starting with yourself, you should be good.
Yes, it’s totally normal for women to have the hots for another woman. What that means as regards sexuality depends on just how into girls she is compared to the opposite sex and which side of the spectrum she’s keener on exploring.
Like in heterosexual cases, if two women are friends and one is attracted to the other her behavior around the one she likes compared to her other friends might give her way. She might act more self-conscious, nervous, and generally show body language cues indicative of attraction.
Start light, then slowly work your way up if the subject of your attraction seems cool with it. Use body language like eye contact, and don’t underestimate the potential of a good sense of humor. Compliment her in a way that feels real and generally try not to come off as predatory or desperate.
Find out what she likes and impress her by doing it. Try as much as you can to look neat and presentable whenever she’s around. Be kind, show initiative, but try not to make yourself overly available, or she might take you for granted or, worse, friendzone you.
Being easy on the eye attracts many women to men, which comes down to how well he takes care of himself, what he wears, etc. A healthy sense of humor has also been known to do the trick, the same as being financially stable or having other means to proactively offer her value.
This list may or may not answer where you actually stand on the sexuality spectrum, but I hope you at least find the reasons above relatable. At the end of the day, gay, straight, almost straight, or even asexual, we’re all people first and foremost, and love is love. Remember this when you feel pressured to fit a label and know peace.
Let me know what you think of the article in the comments and share it if you liked it.