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I’m a newly single mother and confused about my sexuality | Mariella Frostrup

You and your ex’s roles as parents should be foremost in your mind, says Mariella Frostrup, not your sexuality

The dilemma I am 21 and I have a four-month-old son with my boyfriend

The dilemma I am 21 and I have a four-month-old son with my boyfriend of four years. We broke up a month ago. Our relationship was full of ups and downs. Since the break up, I’ve noticed my attraction to women is very strong. I’m intimidated by the thought of having sex with a man at the moment and have realised that in every relationship I’ve had, I’ve never been truly satisfied sexually, even with the father of my son. I thought maybe there was something wrong with me. I still love him deeply and care for him, but the way my body excites when I think of a woman is completely different to how it excites to men. I always suppressed how I felt with women, because I thought it had to do with the fact my first sexual encounter was being molested by a woman. I’m confused. I’ve only been in romantic relationships with men and I’ve never (with consent) been sexual with a woman, yet I feel such attraction to them. My mind is flooded with questions and I just can’t seem to understand what is happening.

Mariella replies So let’s focus. I appreciate your sexuality is a concern, but perhaps not your most important one right now. Being molested by this woman may well have created a trigger for you and if that continues to play on your mind then I recommend you seek professional help (Women’s Aid, 0808 2000 247, womensaid.org.uk). A good therapist will be able to guide you through the subliminal trauma and unpick the legacy of an experience that will be contributing to your state of confusion.

You begin your letter by saying you split up with the father of your baby. Forgive me for presuming that your main preoccupation in the aftermath of that is how to best raise your child. Instead, just four weeks after separation you’re focused on which sex you physically gravitate toward. Let’s presume it’s a form of post-traumatic emotional-displacement disorder. I’m sorry that you and his father are no longer together, but if it turns out you prefer women it’s probably for the best. Raising a child alone is hard work, requiring patience, time and an awful lot of loving; raising a child with the wrong person is equally, if not more, challenging.

Luckily at the first glimpse of our baby, most of us are overwhelmed by a tsunami of love that carries us through the challenges ahead and makes the sacrifices seem bearable. But there will be grey days, long nights and what feel like simply impossible periods, and having someone who has your back is incredibly valuable for you and your baby. If it’s at all possible to keep your ex involved in your lives you should be working on it.

Having a decent, committed male role model in a child’s life is of unique value. From the start babies are picking up life skills, even while they sit on your breast. Children can be raised by single parents or single-sex parents or adoptive parents, it’s the love they receive that counts, but it’s really important particularly during your son’s developing years that he has access to elements both Yin and Yang. Keeping him connected with his father would be a great achievement.

For that reason (unless there were unwholesome reasons for the split) I’d urge you to repair your friendship with the child’s father and ensure that he’s an integral part of both your lives. It’s not what you wrote to me about, but making peace and creating a sustainable way forward is the best possible gift you can give to all three of you. Nothing is more important than the needs of your child and although right now you’ve got a tiny, barely communicating baby in your hands, the environment he’s growing up in is already influencing the person he will become. You need to make protecting him from the vagaries of life during your “auditioning” process for a new lover your biggest priority.

There’s relationship happiness out there and I’ve no doubt you’ll find it. Whether it’s with a man or woman is something only you can decide, but it should be fun trying to find out! There’s nothing prescriptive about our sexuality, and in the best cases it’s people, not gender, who attract our attraction. It’s not a choice you need to make immediately, or one you should worry too much about until you meet a person who potentially works for you on all levels. Whatever way your instincts lead you, provided you are safe, is the way to go.

One last thing, you’re very young to have embarked on motherhood and I’m well aware that it’s probably not something you considered doing alone. Parenting responsibly requires a vast amount of sacrifice in terms of time and also in terms of how you conduct yourself. Sexual experimentation that could have taken place at a whim must unfortunately now be tempered, so that the auditioning process happens out of view and only successful candidates are admitted into your circle of two. That’s where your ex might come in handy as babysitter! So make the following New Year resolutions: see a therapist about your historic molestation, work on co-parenting with your ex and find yourself a lover you can have some fun with (either sex will do).

If you have a dilemma, send a brief email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Follow her on Twitter @mariellaf1

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