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The question

I'm in my first real same sex relationship. After hiding my sexuality for years, I am finally ready to admit I am a lesbian. The woman I'm with doesn't want to define me as her 'girlfriend' as she's not admitting that she's a lesbian.

But we hang out every day, and I'm in love with her. My friends are worried about the lack of labels and defined commitment - I'm not, but should I be?

The answer

The road to acknowledging and openly coming out about your sexuality can be a challenging and emotional one – so congratulations on taking what were likely some very difficult steps. It can be a wonderful and liberating feeling to no longer have to hide a core part of who you are from others.

It may feel both exciting and scary to start to now embark on dating and relationships. Many individuals will say that starting to date after they first come out feels like adolescence all over again – which can be fun but also nerve-wracking at the same time! It is natural to be experiencing a range of emotions, including some nervousness, anxiety or insecurity. You may be having a number of questions about what you want out of a relationship and a partner.

Defining and putting labels on the relationship is only important as it isto you – this is true for anyone, whether in a same or opposite sex relationship.

You need to first ask yourself what it is that you want in a relationship at this stage of your life. As you well know from personal experience, the journey one takes to get to the point of coming out is a very personal one and can be made complicated by a number of factors. It sounds like you are at a stage where you are ready to openly and fully be in a relationship. You need to ask yourself whether you will truly be happy with someone who is at a different stage of acceptance about their sexuality.

Selfishly, will you get what you need and want from this woman?

You say this is your first "real" same-sex relationship. What is that you mean by "real"? You say that you hang out every day and that you are in love with her. Is there physical intimacy in your relationship? How does she feel about you? How does she define your relationship and how would she describe you and your relationship to others?

You also say friends of yours are worried. Assuming that these are friends that love and care for you, and that have your best interests at heart, I wonder about where their concerns are coming from. I would ask them. Perhaps they have a perspective on your wants and desires that is hard for you to see right now.

Although I don't by any means want to convey that you should just blindly listen to your friends, often those we care about can see things that we are unwilling or unable to see when decisions get clouded by what our love for another. Ensure that you are getting what you need and what would make you truly happy in a relationship

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