Despite society's need to label people as "gay" or "straight," sexual orientation is a spectrum. But coming to terms with a sexuality that falls somewhere between those two labels can be confusing (just ask Katy Perry or Stranger Things' Shannon Purser). If you're a woman who has predominantly dated men, but you're experiencing feelings of attraction or romantic love for other women, how do you know when it's time to take the plunge?
Biphobia, a prejudice against bisexual people, is real. So it's important to realize that everyone who is bicurious has the right to explore, discover, and claim their sexuality — no matter what part of the gray area it falls into. "If you've mostly dated cisgender men but can't stop thinking about what it would be like to have sex with someone femme of center, you can never know whether it will be a good fit for you until you explore it," says Liz Powell, PsyD, an LGBTQ-friendly sex educator, coach, and licensed psychologist.
I identify as queer and bisexual. Until my early 20's, I had only dated men, though I had made out with other women. Shortly before my 22nd birthday, I finally went on some real dates with another woman and had sex (and liked it). Remember, in the queer community, sex isn't as strictly defined. That means that exploring your bisexuality can involve a range of activities, depending on your comfort level.
"A lot of folks coming from mainstream culture think of 'sex' as penetrative intercourse — a penis going into a hole. So when two people with vulvas are having sex, I think a lot of folks don't understand how that works since there's no penis. They may think that women can't have sex or that the sex isn't satisfying," Dr. Powell recently told me. If you ask me, if two (or more) people are getting together with the goal of sexual pleasure and getting off, it's sex.
Of course, knowing when you're ready to try sex with another woman is a personal decision. But here are some signs that tipped me off that I was ready.