That stars-in-your-eyes sensation of romance can compete with your confusion when you find yourself enraptured with someone of the same gender. As you explore your own emotions as well as your options, you’ll be better equipped to proceed in a way that makes you feel simultaneously safe and true to yourself.

Your Orientation

While it is natural to want to solve and then shelve large questions, such as those about your orientation, know that a same-sex attraction does not necessarily mean you are gay, according to the Teens Health post “Sexual Attraction and Orientation.” You could be bisexual, or you could be experiencing a crush that, while powerful, will ultimately prove uncharacteristic of your primary orientation. Don’t worry if you don’t know how to classify your overall preferences. Not knowing in your younger years is perfectly normal. Once you accept this, you’ll be better able to relax and focus on the feelings you have for the specific individual of interest.

Determining the Other's Interest

Before you make a move, observe your crush for any behavior patterns that make a certain preference obvious. If you think this individual is also interested in same-gender dates, or if you’re unable to draw a conclusion, you may find it helpful to examine the person’s apparent interest in you. One of the simplest ways to judge whether another person likes you is to note how easily that individual laughs when you use humor, says the "Psychology Today" piece “Want to Know If Someone Likes You?” Even if the person likes you in a more platonic way, signs of friendliness can indicate that a discussion about dating and preferences will go as smoothly as possible.

Community of Friends

Many students who identify as bisexual, gay or lesbian experience difficulties such as prejudice, discrimination and openly negative attitudes from peers, according to “Just the Facts About Sexual Orientation and Youth,” a pamphlet endorsed by the American Psychological Association. If you fear such an impact will result from dating someone of your own gender, try to build up and rely on a strong support community. If you think your friends and family members will understand, entrust your feelings to them so you have a safe place to talk things out. A good friend who knows about your feelings may even be able to help you determine the orientation or interest level of the person who’s caught your eye.

Your Next Move

Whether you decide to pursue the object of your affection or not, you can reap a significant life experience from the situation. If you choose to express your feelings to the person, know that you face emotional risk as well as potential reward, the same way a strictly heterosexual student would in asking out another. If the timing is not right, you determine that the person you like does not have same-gender interest or even if your feelings fade while your same-sex interest remains, you’ll have decisions to make about whether you’re ready to be openly bisexual or gay. There is no rush to decide this, and you might find that speaking with a peer counselor or therapist helps.