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Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Women and Sexual Fluidity

Sex researchers have found that sexual responsiveness can change over time, and they identify this concept as sexual fluidity.  While sexual fluidity can apply to both men and women, it's more common in women.  

Women and Sexual Fluidity

For instance, the Binghamton Human Sexualities Lab in New York has been studying sexual behavior for almost 10 years, and their research reveals that between 2011 and 2019 college age women have been moving away from defining themselves as exclusively heterosexual.  

Whereas 77% of women identified themselves as being only attracted to men in 2011, that number declined in 2019 to 65%.  

At the same time, men's sexual attraction to women remained about the same during that same time period (between 85-90%).

What is Sexual Fluidity?
Dr. Lisa M. Diamond, sex educator and author of the book, Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women's Love and Desire, defines sexual fluidity as the capacity for situation-dependent flexibility in sexual responsiveness.  This flexibility allows individuals to experience changes in same-sex or other-sex desire across long term and short term time periods.

According to WebMD, sexual fluidity involves multiple aspects of sexuality:
  • Sexual Orientation: The pattern of your sexual attraction and preference
  • Sexual Identity: How you define yourself with regard to your orientation
  • Sexual Behavior: The sexual activity that you engage in 
When any of the abovementioned aspects change over time, you can consider yourself as being sexually fluid.

At one time, the main categories for sexuality were either gay or heterosexual.  However, sex experts in the field now recognize many other categories, including (but not limited to):
  • Heterosexual: Attractions to people of the opposite sex
  • Bisexual: Attractions to both men and women
  • Gay or Lesbian: Attractions to the same sex
  • Pansexual: Attractions to people of all gender identities
  • Demisexual: Attractions are based on already having established a strong emotional bond
  • Asexual: An umbrella category that encompasses a broad spectrum of sexual orientations (some people experience no sexual or romantic attractions and others might experience varying degrees of attraction to people).

Sexual Preferences on a Spectrum:
Most sex experts agree that sexuality exists on a spectrum.

The Kinsey Scale, originally published in 1948, suggested that many people don't fit neatly into either heterosexual or homosexual categories.
The scale has six ratings with an additional category:
  • 0: Exclusively heterosexual
  • 1: Predominantly heterosexual, only incidentally homosexual
  • 2: Predominantly heterosexual but more than incidentally homosexual
  • 3: Equally heterosexual and homosexual/bisexual
  • 4: Predominantly homosexual but more than incidentally heterosexual
  • 5: Predominantly homosexual, only incidentally heterosexual
  • 6: Exclusively homosexual
  • x: No socio-sexual contacts or reactions
The concept that sexual orientation does not fall neatly into heterosexual or homosexual was groundbreaking at the time.  However, many current experts in the field also recognize that the Kinsey scale doesn't address all the possible sexual orientations and identities. 
This article is meant to be an introduction to this topic.
I'll continue to explore this important topic in my next article: Women and Sexual Fluidity: A Clinical Vignette.
Getting Help in TherapySeeking help in therapy doesn't mean that you're weak.  It just means that you're human and everyone needs help at some point.  
If you have been unable to resolve problems on your own, you could benefit from seeking help from a licensed mental health professional.  
About Me:  I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT and Somatic Experiencing therapist.
I work with individual adults and couples.
To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.
To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 or email me.

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