How Do You Know Your Sexual Orientation?

Medically Reviewed on 11/24/2021
Some people figure out their sexual orientation in their teen or adult years, however, some people may take a lifetime to fully discover themselves.

Knowing your sexual orientation may be tricky. Many people find it confusing and difficult, and there is nothing wrong with that.

You can know your sexual orientation by understanding how you feel about people of the other sex or your sex. You may discover you have a particular sexual orientation when you are in your teen or adult years without any sexual experience. This may even take a lifetime.

You may have fantasies about people of the same sex without being homosexual or bisexual, and you may not indulge in sexual activities with them.

What causes a particular sexual orientation?

Most scientists believe that sexual orientation is influenced by a combination of environmental, emotional, hormonal, and biological factors. Therefore, it may not be necessarily caused by any one factor, and these factors may differ from person to person.

Being homosexual or bisexual is not because of how you were raised by your parents or because of certain events that happened in your childhood. Moreover, it does not mean that you are mentally sick.

There is nothing abnormal by having a sexual orientation such as homosexuality or bisexuality that does not fit into societal norms.

How can you reveal your sexual orientation to your parents and friends?

Revealing your sexual orientation to parents and family is known as “coming out.” If you want to come out to them, do it in whatever way you feel is comfortable and safe for you.

Here are some tips that you can use:

  • Identify the people in your life with whom you will be comfortable and who would not overreact about your sexual orientation. You can get a sense of it by knowing how they feel about topics concerning the LGBTQ community.
  • Be ready to clear any doubts or misconceptions your loved ones may have about sexual orientations. This may need a bit of research.
  • It is not necessary to confront your family and friends face-to-face while coming out. It is completely okay if you want to let them know through email or over the phone.
  • After you decide to come out, be ready to give some time to your family and friends to understand the facts.

Can a sexual orientation be changed?

You do not choose your sexual orientation. It is something that cannot be exchanged. There is nothing that you should feel ashamed about being bisexual or homosexual.

Attempts to change someone to heterosexual through “conversion therapy” may be futile and may damage the mental status of the person. The American Medical Association deems it to be “clinically and ethically inappropriate.”

Where can you look for support about revealing your sexual orientation?

You may want to find out how others come out and how to handle the whole situation. For this, you may look around and on the internet and find support in the form of:

  • Online communities of LGBTQ people.
  • LGBTQ people you know, such as family or friends.
  • Straight people who support LGBTQ people.
  • A gay/straight alliance at your school.
  • A local LGBTQ community center.
  • LGBTQ organizations such as the
    • Human Rights Campaign.
    • Trevor Project.
    • Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.


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Medically Reviewed on 11/24/2021
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Sexual orientation.

LGBTQ Glossary.