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What Is Sexuality? How to Figure Out Your Sexuality

Do you know your sexuality? Being unclear about your sexuality can make intimate connections with others daunting. Sometimes your sexual preferences are obvious, but what if they're not? Or if they can start out clear and change over time. Understanding your sexuality is important so you can know what you need in your relationships with others. So what is sexuality? 

What is sexuality

What is sexuality?

“What is my sexuality” is a perfectly normal thing to ask yourself. Sexuality is more than who you choose to have sex with. It’s about how you feel, what turns you on, and how you behave with others. There are various ways you can be attracted to a person, and all of them are healthy and normal

Types of attractiveness are:

  • Emotional: You can be attracted to the way a person acts, thinks, and talks. They have a way of existing that you find attractive and want to be more intimate with.
  • Physical: If you can’t stop looking at someone’s body, you may be physically attracted to them. You love the way they look, the way they smell, and the way their skin feels under your hands (or at least the way you imagine it feels).
  • Sexual: When you are sexually attracted to someone, you want to be physically intimate with them. Thoughts about being sexual with them turn you on.

You may feel one or two or all types of attraction towards another person. You may not feel attracted to anybody at all, in any way. All of these scenarios are normal. Sexuality is diverse, complicated, and unique for each individual. 

Types of sexuality

There are many different types of sexual orientation. The range of sexual identity is a spectrum, and everyone is somewhere on it. Different types of sexuality fall into these basic groups.  

  • Heterosexuality: Someone is heterosexual when they are attracted to members of the opposite gender. The most common type of sexuality is heterosexuality. A heterosexual (or straight) person can be emotionally, physically, or sexually attracted to people of the opposite gender.
  • Homosexuality: The root of homosexuality, homo, means “the same.” People who are homosexuals are attracted to members of the same gender. Some women who are homosexual prefer to be referred to as lesbians, and some men who are homosexual prefer to be referred to as gay. Others have different preferences. It’s better to ask than to assume.  
  • Bisexuality: Someone who is attracted to both men and women is known as a bisexual. The attraction to both genders may not always be equal. For example, a woman may be emotionally and sexually attracted to other women and physically attracted to men as well. Some bisexuals are also attracted to people who don’t identify as men or women. These people sometimes identify as pansexual rather than bisexual.
  • Asexuality: The rarest form of sexuality is a lack of sexuality. Asexual people don’t feel sexual attraction for anybody. They may have emotional connections with people, but sex and sexual intimacy are not important to them. 

Everyone falls into one of these categories, but nothing is set in stone. As we grow into the various stages of maturity, our sexual feelings can change. For example, some women are heterosexual most of their lives but feel differently after menopause. Being honest with yourself and understanding that your sexuality can change as you change is important for your mental and sexual health

When does sexuality start to form?

The development and expression of sexuality varies from person to person. Some people aren’t aware of their sexuality until late into their teen years and early adulthood. Others are aware of what they are attracted to very early on.

A young girl may fall into one sexuality category as a teen but grow into another category in her mid-thirties and yet another after menopause. All of these changes are normal and healthy.

Most often people discover their sexuality during puberty, when sexual hormones flood their systems and they start to become sexually attracted to other people. A young girl may fall into one sexuality category as a teen but grow into another category in her mid-thirties and yet another after menopause. All of these changes are normal and healthy.

How to figure out your sexuality

Figuring out your sexuality is a personal journey. It can be as simple as, “I know exactly what I want in a relationship.” But some people start dating habits and patterns when they are young and don’t feel secure enough to explore other options, even if they want to. 

Many people who are homosexuals have shared that they always felt different from their friends, even as young as childhood playmates. They even had same-sex crushes before and during puberty. They just knew they were different from the norm. 

Talk to your friends if you are questioning your sexuality to ask for advice. They may be able to share some insights into your behaviors that can help you identify your sexuality.

Some people need to have intimate and sexual experiences with both genders before they can be sure of their sexual attraction. Your inner feelings and thoughts can tell you if you are heterosexual, bisexual, or even asexual. Ensure you have safe and healthy sex while you are exploring. Having multiple sexual partners is normal, and protecting yourself from STIs, HIV, and unwanted pregnancies with contraception and safe sex is always a good idea.

Talk to your friends if you are questioning your sexuality to ask for advice. They may be able to share some insights into your behaviors that can help you identify your sexuality.

Sexuality and mental health

Sexuality can be hard for some people to explore and understand. Being different can mean being singled out of a group or made to feel bad about yourself.

Bullying, abuse, and strict religious backgrounds can make people of various sexualities feel afraid and compelled to hide their true selves. When children recognize that they feel differently than others around them, the environment they live in shapes the way they handle it. Teens and adults who are homosexual have a higher risk of harming themselves or committing suicide than heterosexuals due to social pressure, bullying, harassment, and assault by their peers. 

Sexuality can be hard for some people to explore and understand. Being different can mean being singled out of a group or made to feel bad about yourself.

When people are not accepted by their peers, it affects them. When they are not accepted because of their sexuality, it affects their mental health. Having confident and safe sex with partners you want to have sex with is vital for your sexual and mental health. Understanding your sexuality and what type of attractions you have can help you make healthy choices with intimate partners. 

The takeaway

Finding out your sexuality is a unique and personal journey. It won’t be the same for you as it is for your siblings, friends, or peers. 

Taking some time for yourself to think about who you think about, what you like during intimate sex, and what kind of attractions you feel can help you discover your sexuality. You might open up your dating options, and you might come to a deeper understanding of yourself. You may already know your sexuality but hide it due to pressure or fear. Allow yourself to love yourself and surround yourself with a support system of people who accept you for who you are.

Being open and honest with yourself is the best way to secure, intimate relationships and healthy, satisfying sex.

Sexuality is complicated. Nobody else can force a label on you, and nobody else has the right to. Your sexuality is just that: your own. It determines how you like to be intimate with your partners and who your partners are. Being open and honest with yourself is the best way to secure, intimate relationships and healthy, satisfying sex.

https://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/sexual-id-orientation.htm

http://www.ashasexualhealth.org/parents/how-to-start-the-conversation/

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