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What Does Sexually Fluid Mean?

Sexual fluidity has to do with multiple aspects of sexuality:‌

  • Sexual orientation. The pattern of your sexual attraction and preference
  • Sexual identity. The way you define yourself with respect to your orientation.
  • Sexual behavior. The sexual activity that you take part in.

‌When any of these aspects change over time, you might consider yourself sexually fluid. For some people, this change goes in one direction as they age. For example, someone who originally identifies as gay may eventually identify as straight, or vice versa.

Other people may shift back and forth along the sexuality spectrum throughout their lives.

Understanding Sexual Fluidity

‌If you’re mainly attracted to people of the opposite sex, you may label yourself as straight or heterosexual. If you’re mainly attracted to people of the same sex, you may label yourself as gay, lesbian, or homosexual. ‌

But psychologists now recognize that there are many aspects and categories of sexual identity in addition to gay and straight. These categories include but aren’t limited to the following:‌

  • Bisexual. The person experiences attraction to both men and women.
  • Pansexual. The person experiences attraction to people of all gender identities.
  • Questioning. The person is unsure how to categorize their sexuality.

All these categories are based on the possibility that a person can desire other people of different gender identities. The concept of sexual fluidity means that sexuality can change over time and in different situations. 

Sexual fluidity is widespread, and you may experience changes in your sexuality over both the short and long term.‌

For example, you may identify as straight but develop an attraction to someone who is genderqueer. You may or may not act on that attraction. And you may find that the experience changes how you think about your sexuality. The attraction may even go away, and the experience may remain an isolated event in your sexual life.

Either way, you’ve experienced a degree of sexual fluidity. 

Forms of Sexual Fluidity

‌People may move between sexual categories in several ways. Types of sexual fluidity include the following:‌

  • A change in your overall attraction to people of your less-preferred gender
  • Changes in your attraction to people of your less-preferred gender depending on the situation and persons involved
  • Differences between the genders included in your sexual orientation and those included in your sexual behavior
  • Ongoing changes in your sexual attraction

‌All these types of fluidity are perfectly normal. None of them mean that you have to change your self-identity.

What People Are Sexually Fluid?

Many people are sexually fluid. But because the term is so recent and doesn’t define clear boundaries, it’s hard to track. ‌

No one knows exactly what determines sexual orientation in a person. Sexuality results from a complex mix of:‌

  • Biology
  • Psychology
  • Environmental causes

Sexual Fluidity and Adolescence

‌Sexual fluidity appears to be particularly common among adolescents. In one small study of high school students, more than one fourth of the girls and about 10% of the boys reported a fluid sexual identity. Almost a third of the girls and 10% of the boys reported fluid sexual attractions.

Sexual Fluidity and Gender Fluidity

Sexual fluidity is separate from gender fluidity. A person may change their gender expression or identify as genderqueer without being fluid in their sexuality. 

But according to at least one study, sexual fluidity is more common among gender-minority people. More than half of the self-identified transgender and gender-nonconforming participants reported some degree of sexual fluidity across their lifetimes.

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

‌SOURCES:

‌American Psychology Association: “Key Terms and Concepts for Understanding Gender Diversity and Sexual Orientation Among Students.”

Archives of sexual behavior: “Who Counts as Sexually Fluid? Comparing Four Different Types of Sexual Fluidity in Women.”

Current Sexual Health Reports: “Sexual Fluidity in Male and Females.”

Journal of Adolescence: “Developmental patterns of sexual identity, romantic attraction, and sexual behavior among adolescents over three years.”

‌TeensHealth: “Sexual Attraction and Orientation.”

‌The Journal of Sex Research: “Differences in Sexual Orientation Diversity and Sexual Fluidity in Attractions Among Gender Minority Adults in Massachusetts,” “‌Sexual Orientation Trajectories Based on Sexual Attractions, Partners, and Identity: A Longitudinal Investigation From Adolescence Through Young Adulthood Using a U.S. Representative Sample.”

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