Social Question

lapilofu's avatar

How do you know what your sexual orientation is?

Asked by lapilofu (4310 points ) October 18th, 2010

Most of us probably know our sexual orientation, or at least have a pretty good sense of it. How do we know? That is to say, what evidence do we base our conclusions about our sexual orientation on? Is it:

* Based on who we’re attracted to?
* Based on who we have had sex with?
* Some combination of the two?
* Some other factor?

Does it make a difference if our romantic attractions diverge from our sexual attractions—i.e., if I’m more romantic with one gender and more sexual with another?

If we someday find ourselves attracted to or having sex with someone unexpected, should we determine that we were wrong about our sexual orientation or should we say that our sexual orientation has changed? Or is our sexual orientation the same as it always was with just one fluke?

At what age did you know your sexual orientation? Or do you still not know it?

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21 Answers

marmoset's avatar

For many people, sexual orientation is fluid. It’s common to have some flux during one’s life. Then of course there are people who are permanently fluid (who are permanently attracted to both genders [or some would say to all genders]).

Have you heard of the Kinsey scale? This is the most commonly accepted clinical way of saying sexuality is a scale, not black an white. People can be 0 (entirely oriented towards the other sex) through 6 (entirely oriented towards their own sex). Kinsey found a large percentage of people were neither 0 nor 6 but somewhere in between (1 through 5). For example, a guy who considers himself primarily straight but has occasional attractions to men might be a 1, whereas if he were equally attracted to both/any gender he would be a 3.

Blueroses's avatar

I’m pansexual. Why limit yourself to one or another definition?
I get your question and know lots of people who beat themselves up over “what am I?”
I won’t call myself bisexual or questioning. Sometimes I love a man and sometimes I love a woman. I love individuals.

FutureMemory's avatar

I can see the attraction of wanting to do away with sexual orientation labels after reading this question.

DominicX's avatar

I base my sexual orientation off of what I am attracted to and what I have been attracted to in the past. For me, it’s only been people of the same sex. I can find women beautiful and I like being close friends with them, but that’s as far as it goes for me. Ergo, I’m homosexual. I’ve known it since around age 11, but I didn’t put an official label on it until age 14.

If something were to come along that went against previous patterns, I would probably claim my sexuality has changed. That doesn’t mean that I was wrong in the past. Whatever label I would use would be the one most accurate to what it is at the moment of using the label (or what I want people to know). If I’m attracted to men 99% of the time, I don’t think it really matters that people know I may be sexually attracted to a woman 1/100 times.

TexasDude's avatar

I’m attracted to females, females arouse me, I’d have sex with females and be peachy keen with it.

There are guys that I find attractive, but they don’t arouse me sexually and I wouldn’t do anything remotely sexual with a guy.

I am, however, more turned on by heterosexual porn than lesbian stuff, and I prefer that the dude is at least somewhat good looking and doesn’t look like a greasy troll or a chinchilla.

Therefore, I have come to the conclusion that I am pretty much heterosexual.

a priori reasoning for the win!

ucme's avatar

My dick gets hard when I see a nice firm pert pair of breasts….......& i’m not talking about WWE “superstars” here!! ;¬}

meiosis's avatar

Sexually and romantically, I’ve never been attracted to men in any way, so I’m pretty solidly heterosexual, but also I have some aspects of my wider personality that are traditionally regarded as feminine, and there’s a lot of traditional ‘masculine’ behaviour that I don’t exhibit or have any interest in.

Given that I’ve never had any sexual or romantic feelings for men, I guess I’ve known since adolescence that I was heterosexual. Can I imagine it changing? Doubtless I would have a richer set of experiences if I did find men attractive as well as women, but in all honesty I can’t see it changing.

partyparty's avatar

I get butterflies in my stomach and my heart starts to beat faster when I see my SO :))

Blackberry's avatar

What I’m initially attracted to. Women gave me those fluttering feelings, and I get erections thinking about women.

muppetish's avatar

I have spent the majority of my life finding ways to subvert labels (in order: race, spirituality, political affiliation, sexual orientation, and gender.) I hate boxing my self. I feel as though labels have always been more about other people feeling comfortable in how they identity me (or identity with me) and not about how I perceive my self. This annoys me. I could not care less about clinging to words in this manner.

I suppose, realistically, I am attracted to those presented one gender more than the other. I do not think this means I could never be attracted to the other gender with the same amount of magnetism. Maybe it is silly and ridiculous to hold this notion, but I do believe it is possible. Outside of face-to-face relationships, I am attracted to both men and women. I fantasize about both. I think it would be robbing me of possibility to shut off access to only one. I want to love whoever I happen to love.

I am not sexually active and have had few relationships. There’s much left to explore.

I don’t mind other people labeling their orientation in the slightest. It’s just not for me.

Jude's avatar

Women’s bodies are beautiful. The way that they smell, their soft skin, their gorgeous curves; I love it all. Emotionally, I am attracted to women (and women only). Sexually, I am more attracted to women. I could easily have sex with a dude, but, that’s mainly for penetration (it feels good, dammit), but, the lust isn’t there and certainly not the emotional. I have, in the past, had intercourse with a dude whilst my g/f was kissing me at the same time. Very hot.

I have had crushes on women/girls since grade 4. I have fallen in love with women and had my heart broken by women since high school. The butterflies/heart skipping a bit and all of the feelings that go along with being in love – I have only had that with women.

I adore women.

iamthemob's avatar

I define it solely through who I’m attracted to, and who I’ve been attracted to in the past. This is very, very generally men, and sometimes women. Therefore, I identify publicly as gay, in the gay community as bisexual, and to myself as queer or just a guy who likes to have sex with people who are hot.

TexasDude's avatar

@mama_cakes, yeah, that about sums it up for me too, except for the whole penetration part.

Jude's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard Mmmm, they’re lovely, aren’t they?

ratboy's avatar

I use my erect penis as a compass to determine my sexual orientation.

TexasDude's avatar

@ratboy, lolololol

@mama_cakes, that’s one way to put it.

nebule's avatar

Only recently did I come out as being bisexual because it has taken me all my life to allow myself to accept the feelings I have. My sexuality was suppressed through a very religious upbringing but I was always attracted to both boys and girls as a child and even a very young child I was more so attracted to girls.

I don’t think it’s a cut and dried answer really; so many factors to take into consideration here.

Vincent_Lloyd's avatar

well…good question to ask….I’m still again only 13 and still learning about the certain aspects of life. But I’m still wondering on my own sexuality. At the moment I consider myself bi-curious for various reasons. I’m not SEXUALLY attracted to guys but I can’t say I don’t have certain affection I guess is a way to say it. But I haven’t tried anything since no one else at my school or even around me is bi-curious and doesn’t really wanna try anything….Honestly I’ve been looking for a guy around my age to just see how it would feel, either right or wrong. Right now there is still a big fat question mark on my head. But I always do wonder, am I more sexually attracted to females and romantically towards guys or vise versa. But on what I have experienced to far is that I’m still considering straight as an option since I can’t say I don’t love the unique and beautiful ladies out there. With that being said, I’m still finding out and won’t find out for awhile.

Carly's avatar

I was attracted to an even balance of boys and girls by the time I was 16.

I didn’t put my attraction to the test until I was out of high school, mainly because I didn’t want the drama. Turned out I was right, I’m bisexual. :)

loser's avatar

I define mine by what I’m into right now. It has changed a few times over the years.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Mine has been determined on who I feel I can spend the rest of my life with as a partner, never straying or feeling deprived without the other sex.

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