Questioning Sexuality Is Natural, Healthy, and Complex. We Need More Than Just 2 Labels!
The ‘Normal’ We Inherited
We live in a world where being straight is the default. We are supposed to be exclusively attracted to cisgendered people who possess different genitalia than we do. We’re supposed to want romance and our chief sexual desire should be intercourse. By these restricting guidelines, questioning sexuality is a no-no.
But for anyone who doesn’t fit this mold and wants to explore and question their sexuality, mainstream culture presents quite an emotional obstacle course on the path to self-discovery.
With Only Two Boxes, Questioning Your Sexual Identity Can Be Scary
Mainstream culture provides us with neat sexual boxes – straight or gay. Supposedly, if you’re not one, you must be the other.
I know straight folks who are afraid to closely examine their sexual attractions because if they discover anything out of the ordinary, then they fear they’ll have to behind their straight identity for team gay. Similarly I have also met gay folks with the same fear – exploring their heterosexual attractions might crack their gay identity.
Sexuality Doesn’t Fit Into Neat Boxes
But the reality is, sexual orientation is not as simple as straight or gay.
What if you are a cisgendered woman and you are mostly attracted to cisgendered men, but you sometimes like porn with trans men, and you have an ass fetish, and are afraid of emotional intimacy with females. What the hell kind of name is there for that sexual orientation?
We all have complex, multifaceted, and ever changing sexualities. Labels can be helpful to find community and to orient oneself sexually. But we can never be confined to a label.
That’s why I create this step-by-step model to help you categorize your own sexual preferences and understand your desires. There’s no perfect word to describe your holistic sexuality, but this model will at least give you distinctions for different types of attractions.
This framework is not all-inclusive. While it hits on some of the major dimensions of attraction, it does not include factors like age, socioeconomic class, cultural identity, etc. Here’s another framework that touches some of those aspects.
And whatever you discover here isn’t a final answer. Your attractions and desires are always evolving based on what you experience and how you grow and heal.
Stay in the loop on other articles, podcasts, and workshops on sexuality and gender.
Alright! Let’s Start Exploring and Questioning Your Sexuality
The Sexual Identity Framework
Walk through the steps below to piece together your unique attraction blueprint.
- What is the biological sex and gender of the object of attraction? First, pick a demographic to explore your attractions towards. You can go through multiple, but start with one 🙂 Do you want to start with males, females, or intersex folks? And are they a woman, a man, nonbinary, etc?
You may find that your attraction to male men is quite different than to female men, for example. Some options may be: male men, female men, male women, female women, male non-binary, female non-binary. There are infinite gender expressions, but those are some of the more common ones.
- Sexuality. Given the biological sex and gender of the object of attraction, do you typically feel sexual attraction to this demographic? Do you have desires around manual, anal, oral, or intercourse? Do you want to act on any of these desires or attractions? Rank your attraction from -5 (strong disgust) to +5 (strong attraction).
Note that it’s not a given to have a strong desire for sex or genitals. Many folks feel between neutral and strong repulsion towards genitals and/or any sexual act. And many other folks require an emotional bond before experiencing sexual attraction.
- Romance. Do you have the capacity and desire to form a romantic bond with the object of attraction? -5 (strong repulsion) to +5 (strong attraction).
- Energetics. Energy exchange is when you are sharing embodied intimacy with another person that isn’t necessarily sexual. This could be cuddling, eye-contact, synced up breathing, dance, kissing, etc. Many practices from tantra fall in this camp. Energetics could also be a sexual act channeling a particular emotion – EG using sex to cathart grief.
Given the biological sex and gender of the object of attraction, do you typically desire / feel comfortable participating in energy exchange? -5 (strong repulsion) to +5 (strong attraction). And again, it is possible to that you do like these kinds of intimate acts, but require emotional trust first.
- Kink. Kink is a pretty big umbrella. It contains playing with power dynamics, exploring sensation (pain and pleasure), bondage, humiliation, and much more. For now, I’ll leave your meaning of kink up to you. Here’s one test that can help you explore some of your kinks.
And the questrion remains – given the biological sex and gender of the object of attraction, how do you feel about kink? Do you want to engage? -5 (strong repulsion) to +5 (strong attraction). And again, you may need an emotional connection before you can feel kink attraction.
- Fetish. Fetish describes an attraction you have to a body part, object, scent, or relational dynamic that causes you notably more arousal than it would cause another person.
Given the biological sex and gender of your object of attraction, do any of their body parts immediately turn you on? Their ass, feet, genitalia, breasts?
You may be turned on by vulvas on female men, but not on female women. Do any clothing items turn you on when worn by this person – boots, stockings, corset, lipstick, etc? What about any relational dynamics – for example, it could be an immediate turn-on for someone to be in a student role to a cismale teacher.
Rinse and repeat
You can now repeat the steps above for different demographics of Step 1. Your templates of attraction for cisgendered males and queer females may be very different, for example.
Bonus! Your Gender Expression Can Impact Your Attractions
I’ll note that the above 6 factors may change depending on your gender expression. For example – I myself am gender fluid. And my attractions to kink are very different if I am expressing as a man vs. as androgynous.
As a man I want to be dominated by women. As androgynous I want to dominate others of all sexes and genders. If your gender is fluid, just note how your gender expression affects your template of attraction.
Bonus #2! What About Your Sexual Relationship With Yourself?
This is the last category of your sexuality. Are you turned on by yourself in the mirror? What is your masturbation (or self pleasure) practice like? How do you experience sexuality in relationship with yourself?
See You Next Time!
Feel free to play around with this post and explore all the facets of your attractions. There is no final answer.
I write, record podcasts, and run workshops about sexuality, intimacy, gender, connection, and personal growth. If you want to stay in the loop, feel free to place your email below 🙂