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. There are infinite dimensions to attraction, but I think it hits some of the major ones.
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.
A Quick Word on Spectrum of Sexual Attraction (A, Demi, Allo)
Before digging into this framework for questioning sexuality, I want to extrapolate a concept from the asexuality community. With different types of attraction, you can either be A____, Allo____, or somewhere in between. For example, allosexual means you feel sexual attraction regularly. Asexual means you don’t feel sexual attraction. And demisexual is in between, where you can feel sexual attraction once you have an emotional bond formed. You can also be akinky, alloromantic, etc.
If you are asexual, for example, you can either be sex-repulsed, sex-neutral, or sex-favorable.
Sex-repulsed means that the idea of sex creates a negative emotional response. It could be disgust, fear, or discomfort. Sex-neutral asexuality means that you do not typically experience sexual attraction, but you are open to sexual acts – perhaps as a way to give to your partner, or to feel closeness, or sometimes it just sounds fun. And sex-favorable asexuality means you do not typically experience sexual attraction but that you enjoy sexual acts – perhaps for the intimacy, or the body sensation, or any other reason.
And again, you can also be a___, allo___, or demi____ for all kinds of attractions (as described below).
Here’s a podcast on the topic if you’d like more info 🙂
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 want to act on that attraction?
If you do feel attraction and want to act on it – through manual, anal, oral, intercourse, or other means – you may be allosexual. And if you don’t feel attraction or desire, you may be asexual. If you are asexual, do you feel repulsed, neutral, or open to sexual acts involving genitals? If you feel like you need an emotional bond before experiencing sexual attraction, you may be demisexual to the object of attraction.
- Romance. Do you have the capacity and desire to form a romantic bond with the object of attraction? If yes, you may be alloromantic towards this demographic. If no, you may be aromantic.
- 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? If so, you could be alloenergetic. If you don’t feel desire or comfort sharing energy with this biological sex / gender demographic, you could be aenergetic. And if you do like these kinds of intimate acts, but require emotional trust first, you may be demienergetic.
- 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? Maybe you are allokinky. If it doesn’t appeal to you, you may be akinky (with the possibility of feeling neutral, favorable, or repulsed by it). Or if you need an emotional bond first, you may be demikinky.
- 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.
You can now repeat the steps above for different demographics of Step 1. Again, 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!
I hope you found this post useful.
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 🙂