Tame to taboo, high risk to low risk, subdued to superb, sexual behaviors exist on a vast continuum. Along this continuum is another aspect of sexuality: sexual orientation.
Many individuals believe that a person is either exclusively heterosexual or exclusively homosexual. However, back in 1940s Alfred Kinsey discovered in his hundreds of interviews that individuals actually fall along a spectrum of sexuality: Kinsey's Heterosexual-Homosexual Rating Scale. Current sex research still backs Kinsey's findings, with just a few modifications. (Klein).
I thought this subject was fascinating, as when we think of sexual orientation, we often categorize people strictly by who they are having sex with, a.k.a. their sexual behaviors. There are many other sexuality-related factors, including emotional, physical and social preferences, sexual fantasies and sexual attraction.
Dr. Fritz Klein has said that sexual orientation is not a stagnant label; it is a “dynamic process”. A person can choose to have have sex with only one gender, but can fantasize about the opposite gender, with no intention to act on those fantasies. The dynamic process means that these feelings, thoughts and behaviors can change over time.
In fact, in 2005, the American Psychological Association (APA) defined sexual orientation as, “an enduring emotional, romantic, sexual or affectional attraction to another person. It exists along a continuum that ranges from exclusively homosexuality to exclusive heterosexuality and includes various forms of bisexuality.”
“Sexual orientation is different from sexual behavior because it refers to feelings and self-concept. Persons may or may not express their sexual orientation in their behaviors.”
What does this mean to you, and your relationships?
Labeling and categorizing individuals by their sexuality: is it limiting and simplistic, or does it help to broaden our awareness of the terms "sexuality”, “sexual behavior”, “sexual attraction” and “sexual orientation”?