'It took me 38 years to realise I hate sex with men.' What it's like being a late bloomer lesbian.

Growing up, I always felt different from other girls. While they swooned over male heartthrobs and dreamed of their perfect wedding, I was drawn to other girls in a way I couldn't quite explain. But in a world where conformity was the norm, I didn’t even realise what I was experiencing was actually an attraction to women. It just wasn’t spoken about, so I kept these feelings hidden and dated men I wasn't attracted to in an attempt to fit in.

While my friends were eagerly talking about how amazing their first kisses were, I remember telling my best friend in high school that kissing a boy was like sticking my tongue in a dirty washing machine. Gross! Yet, it was decades before I came to terms with my identity as a late-bloomer lesbian.

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When I look back, my sexuality journey started when I was 15 and developed a crush on a girl named Jayde, although I didn’t realise it was a crush at the time. I remember longing for her to notice me and smile, and I would feel the butterflies and excitement that my friends would often talk about with their feelings around boys. I pushed these feelings down, deep inside of me, because compulsive heterosexuality was the norm and being attracted to women just wasn’t spoken about. I pretended to have crushes on boys like everyone else. I was raised in a small town in the 90s where the only way to fit in was to conform, and I thought I had no other choice.


By the time I got to university, the divide between my physical body and emotions had become so deep that I no longer knew or trusted myself. I found myself in relationships with men but never felt fulfilled or happy. I felt like there was something deeply wrong with me. So, in my early 20s, I moved to London in an attempt to escape the pain of the life I found myself living. It was here that I first kissed a girl and the tingles and excitement in my body were like nothing I had ever experienced before. I realised this was what my friends had experienced when they’d talked about their experiences with men. For a split second, when I kissed her, a feeling of lightness and joy spread throughout my entire body and I realised I felt happy and free to be myself. This was my body telling me to listen and tune into my true identity. But, then I reminded myself that there was absolutely no way I could be gay. It wasn’t part of my life plan. I continued to reject this part of my identity, push my feelings down and continued to assume the role of a straight woman for another decade. A part of me was even convinced I might be bisexual, which meant I would eventually meet a man I was attracted to. This is what I now recognise as internalised homophobia.

Women share with me they often feel this same disconnect in their own lives, feeling like they must please everyone else at the expense of living authentically. This leaves them feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and not knowing who they truly are. 


It took a bad breakup in my late 20s and a break from dating for me to finally start exploring my true self. I came to understand how much social conditioning I was exposed to as a woman and how it led to a divide between my mind and body. Through deep inner work and EMDR therapy, I learned how to trust my body, undid the conditioning of the patriarchy and allowed myself to date women.

This journey opened my eyes to the social conditioning women are exposed every day and it inspired me to switch careers to become a psychologist. I wanted to help other women to let go of people-pleasing and embrace their true selves, not just in terms of sexuality but in all aspects of life. Now, I help other women develop an unshakable sense of self-confidence where they learn to love themselves regardless of what anyone else thinks. I teach them to trust their bodies, trust themselves, and overcome the glass ceilings society imposes on us. Women deserve to enjoy their lives, and it starts with trusting ourselves.

While my journey wasn't easy and my inner people pleaser struggled with the fear of what people would think of me when I came out to my friends and family, taking that first vulnerable step has been worth it. I met a woman who I saw a future with, and for the first time in my life, I feel truly alive. It was as if I had been living half a life before, and now, my whole world had opened up.

Listen to HER with Sophie Cachia where Zara shares her beautiful relationship with her partner Janine, and how her life changed when she met HER. Post continues below.


As someone who has struggled with people-pleasing and not connecting with myself for most of my life, I want to share some tips for other women who may be going through a similar experience. Here are some things that can help you connect with yourself on a deeper level: 

1. Embrace vulnerability: Being vulnerable can be scary, but it's essential for deep connection and meaningful relationships. Embrace vulnerability by sharing your true thoughts and feelings with others and being open to receive feedback. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but it can lead to immense growth and connection.

Eloise at Sydney Mardi Gras 2023. Image: Supplied.


2. Tune into your body: Our bodies hold a lot of information, and tuning into your body sensations can help you connect with yourself on a deeper level. Pay attention to how certain situations or people make you feel in your body and use that information to guide your actions and decisions.

3. Get support: Connecting with yourself and can be a challenging process, and having support from trusted friends, therapist or coach can be incredibly helpful. Having a safe space to express yourself and work through any challenges can make all the difference in your journey.

Eloise at an LGBT meetup. Image: Supplied.


Going through this journey has completely transformed how I feel in the world. I no longer feel like I have to conform, or fit into a cookie cutter ideal of what I 'should' be - instead I know I am free to simply explore who I am and who gets to decide if that is 'acceptable.' Now, it’s my mission to help other women find the same empowerment and liberation as they walk their unique paths. That’s why I now coach clients, supporting them in reclaiming their power, strengthening their emotional boundaries, embracing and celebrating themselves just as they are... without any apologies.

Eloise Tomkins is an Embodiment Coach and expert in psychology helping women develop unshakable self-confidence so they can speak up and quit caring what other people think. When she’s not helping her clients, you can find Eloise learning to paddle board, tending to her indoor plants and finding the best places for brunch. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook or visit her website.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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