By Lady Marmalade, January 31 2019 —
You’ve probably heard people talk about “experimenting” in college and exploring your sexuality now because this is the best time to do it. This is true for many people. But if you’re feeling curious about your sexual orientation and are questioning your attraction to the same gender or one different from yours, there are things you need to consider before embarking on a personal exploration.
The first and most important rule is that boundaries are key in any situation. If you are experimenting with someone but are unsure of what you are looking for or whether you plan to continue your experimentation for any length of time, all parties involved must know where you are at. Emotions can creep into any relationship that is emotionally or physically intimate. To avoid hurt hearts, communication and transparency is a must. Being even slightly vague about your expectations or what you are looking for could lead to serious problems down the road.
It may be awkward or embarrassing to tell someone that you are exploring your sexuality, but this gives that person the opportunity to accept the terms of your relationship or to move on if that’s not what they’re looking for. Boundaries should also be set for yourself, as you should be very careful who you lend your trust to in this vulnerable period. By being honest with yourself about what you are and aren’t willing to try, you’ll be better suited to handle any situation that may arise.
Living in an era of social media and dating apps, it’s easy to branch out and meet new people who may be in similar positions to you. Take the time to get to know people before getting serious so that you can feel comfortable moving forward. Don’t be afraid to swipe and chat casually with people to ease yourself in. Flirting with someone new is an exciting and typically low-risk experience that still allowing you some wiggle room to feel out the chemistry.
Though you may feel fear or shame associated with exploring your sexuality, be true to yourself and confide in those you trust about your own journey. There are many groups and communities — even on campus, like the Students’ Union Q Centre — that can provide support if you need it.
Still, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Always check in with how you are feeling and never be afraid to take a step back if you aren’t sure. And if you end your exploration with the sexuality you previously held — if it does reach an end — that’s okay.
Maybe the reason that college is a popular time to experience sexual exploration is because it’s a time when many of your peers are in similar positions, meaning you can feel supported, secure and safe in most encounters. At the end of the day, you will feel the way you feel about other people. Knowing who you are attracted to sometimes means taking a risk and feeling things out. Always be careful with your body and your heart and take care to be careful with the bodies and hearts you encounter along the way.