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What Does It Mean to Have "Sexual Fluidity" Really?

Discussion in 'Sexual Orientation' started by BiGemini87, Apr 6, 2021.

  1. BiGemini87

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    I've seen this come up in conversation multiple times, but never in great detail: People simply making the claim that "sexuality is fluid" without delving further into what they actually mean by that statement.

    Surely people don't actually think your sexuality "changes", do they? Or at least, they don't believe the handful of people who do possess fluid sexualities speak for the whole? In the latter cases, your perception of your sexual orientation can change, of course; that happens frequently when someone who thought themselves previously straight comes out as any non-straight orientation, or when someone thinks they're gay/lesbian but turn out to be somewhere on the bisexual spectrum. And of course, the cases of asexuality themselves, where people haven't been sure who or what their drawn to, due to a lack of sexual attraction.

    So I guess I'm posing this question: when you or someone else says that "sexuality is fluid", what do you really mean by that, and more importantly, what sources support that belief?

    Not meant as a dig or anything. Just curious is all. :slight_smile:
     
    #1 BiGemini87, Apr 6, 2021
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  2. QuietPeace

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    Some people do actually believe that sexuality changes. Otherwise they would never have created conversion "therapy". I think that what is going on is that peoples understanding of themselves is what changes not that anything real in them changes.

    Compulsory heteronormativity keeps many people in the closet. Refusing to explore but eventually many find it impossible to stay there. When they leave the closet they may say they change and become bi or gay but really they have always been and are just now accepting it.

    I myself spent years stating that I was a lesbian specifically because I wanted to avoid men who would pressure me to have casual sex with them. Now that I have met a decent respectful man (I had to change continents to find one) I realize that I have always been demisexual and panromantic.
     
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  3. BiGemini87

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    I probably should have specified that I meant people within the LGBTQ+ itself thinking this, not straight people. :sweat_smile: I agree, though; their perception of themselves is what changes, not their orientation itself.

    That's always been my take-away, too.

    I'm glad you've found someone worthwhile, and that you were able to arrive at such a clear understanding of yourself. :slight_smile:
     
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  4. ShyBirdy

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    I think my sexuality is a bit fluid, but I've only been accepting that I'm attracted to women for a short time, so it will be interesting to see if things change now that I'm not trying to repress that. In the past, I would go through periods where I would be very attracted to women, and then it seemed like it shifted, and I'd be more attracted to men. It was, and still is, very confusing, and tough for me to deal with.

    I was definitely trying to repress my attraction to women tho, and trying to force myself to like guys, so maybe the swings were more related to that? Now I'm just waiting to see what happens. I just went through about 3 months where I was very attracted to women, and not to men at all, and I felt completely like a lesbian. And now I'm just kinda "meh" about both genders, although that could be anxiety about dating women too I suppose.

    Not sure that my response is very helpful or answers the question.
     
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  5. Chip

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    This is basically more of the evidence-free nonsense perpetrated by the same folks that have brought you 10,000 genders, "asexual" losing all of its actual meaning and basically meaning anything anyone wants it to mean, the nonexistent discordant separation between sexual and romantic orientations, and the like. All 100% evidence free for your convenience. :slight_smile:

    And, as with everything else, there's a tiny bit of truth to it, but not in the way people think.

    Sexual orientation, based on some 70 years of study, and 50 years of constant study, isn't a binary or a trinary. It's a spectrum. Most people tend to fall toward one end or the other (straight or gay), but very few are 100% on one end or the other. And then there's the bi/pan folks, who are somewhere closer to the middle of the spectrum.

    Now, with that said, where someone is on the spectrum appears, from everything we currently know, to be pretty solidly fixed. In the Kinsey scale, which goes from 0 to 6, if you're a 5 (predominantly same-sex attracted), then you're a 5. You don't wake up one day and be a 2 or a 6 or a 1, regardless of what the evidence-free folks might say. Now... if you're a 5, you are not 100% totally gay. So you might find an opposite sex person you like, connect with them, find attraction to them, and even be in a long-term relationship with them. But you're still a 5. Your orientation hasn't changed.

    It's in this lack of understanding of the spectrum that people get the idea that their orientation is fluid.

    Another source of confusion is the person who is attracted to the opposite sex, dates, has sex with the opposite sex, etc. from the time they're an adolescent into maybe their 30s... and suddenly something happens, and this flood of feeling comes up for people of the same sex. And maybe that completely eclipses their opposite-sex feelings and it fades away. This still doesn't mean that person was fluid, or that their orientation changed. What happened is that the latent underlying orientation was suppressed, most likely by a combination of religious guilt/shame, societal pressures, family pressures, and the like. But what usually happens in these cases is, once the person sits with it for a while, s/he realizes that, actually, the same-sex feelings really *didn't* come out of nowhere... there were signs early in life, but they were ignored or suppressed.

    It isn't that difficult to understand, and all of the above is pretty well supported by decades of research... and things like sexual orientation and attraction, which are largely rooted in genetics and very early childhood experiences, don't change over the course of 20 or 40 years, so the arguments the evidence-free folks make that "well, we've only been researching for 20 or 30 years" or -- my favorite -- "Well, homosexuality was a disorder until 1973" are pretty much ridiculous. The disorder argument is particularly pathetic, because serious research into sexual orientation didn't start until the mid-1960s, so by that measure, to make so drastic a change in the diagnostic criteria in less than 10 years is lightning fast for the APA... and it's been almost 50 years of constant research since then, and none of the nonsense currently being promoted has been validated in any of that research. So we're probably pretty solid on this by now.
     
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  6. BiGemini87

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    @Chip This has more or less been my impression, too; that it's merely a person's perception of themselves shifting--whether they're no longer repressing their attractions, experiencing an increase or decrease in the types of people they're typically attracted to, or some other external factor--not their sexuality itself that has changed. Like for bisexuals, the bi-cycle is a major topic of discussion--but I don't take it to mean my orientation is shifting; just hormonal or environmental changes that make me more or less aware of one group or the other. Kind of how I love both mint chocolate chip ice cream and black cherry, but it doesn't mean I want them all the time (I attribute this to particular characteristics too, not just the sex/gender of a person).

    Speaking from personal experience, it's definitely true that if you repress your sexuality, you deal with a backlog that inevitably skews how you view your attractions. I almost completely lost interest in men upon coming out, but it's levelled out since, which is great. I agree with you that for other people who are gay/lesbian, that shift is much the same; the attractions were always there, whether the person noticed them or not and it took a specific event for them to realize it.

    I mean, if anyone provided me with definitive proof on the alternative, I'd be open to thinking otherwise. But a blogger's opinion piece does not a sound argument make.
     
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  7. Contented

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    Once again I think Chip is spot on. In my case in my early 50s my same sex attraction seemed to surface. I too thought that some how contrary to established wisdom I was sexually fluid. As I worked with my therapist and really look hard into my past I came realize quite clearly there were very clear indications I was gay from an early age. I had done such a good job of burying those indications that I even fooled myself. That is until the floodgates opened and I was forced to confront the truth. In looking back I was not sexually fluid I was a gay man playing a heterosexual role until the truth won out.
     
    #7 Contented, Apr 11, 2021
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  8. Digdogger

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    A different perspective on this question could be looking at it from a biological point of view...

    Peoples hormone balance tend to change throughout their lives, Maybe this could be a factor that influences the way people experience their sexuality?
    Offcourse this is just an idea, just me musing on this subject...

    From my own experience: I'm bi, and physically I've always been more attracted to females.
    In spite of this there have been times in my life where I felt hypersexual and during those times I was sexually more attracted to men...
    Sexually, not physically, I've never found a mens body arousing, but men tend to have a sexual energy that feels... well, just different from that of woman, I can't really find the right Words to describe what I mean, so I hope that this makes sense and that I don't just come across as crazy here.

    I've noticed that the last few years my hormonal balance has changed (I'm 39 and I guess this has to do with age), I've become more irritable, certain physical cycles have changed, the appearence of my body has changed; less firm, a bigger tendency to build up fat reserves etc.
    I've also had a few periodes where my sexual Appetite had diminished...
    Now that these changes seem to stabilize a bit more I find myself more attracted to woman then ever.
    Don't get me wrong, I still consider myself bi and I don't loathe the idea of having sex with men, but I just feel a stronger sexual attraction to woman then I did before...
    I've found myself wondering if this could be the reason that there are so many late in life lesbians, but offcourse there are a lot of other aspects to consider which I won't get into now... (also I don't want to pretend to know what drives other people).

    The other day I was watching a documentary on youtube about a few Butch lesbians and one transman who was still in the process of transitioning.
    In this documentary it was brought to my attention that Some transman suddenly become attracted to men after they start taking testosterone, when they have been attracted to just woman for their entire life.
    I find this to be a strange but interesting phenomenon.

    I guess one really can't discard the effect our body's chemistry has on our sexuality...
    Please tell me if you think I'm wrong because these are really just Some random thoughts.
     
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  9. Chip

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    Hormone balance has not been shown in any reliable studies to impact sexual attraction. If it did, then all of the muscly guys doing tons of testosterone would, in addition to "roid rage," develop same-sex attraction. And the hormone therapy used by some of the religious crazies in their quest to turn people straight would actually work. But neither of those are the case.
     
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  10. Digdogger

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    Ok, I didn't know that, sorry.
    Still personally I think hormones do influence peoples sexuality, the thing is that everyone has a different body and so the effect of a certain hormone won't be exactly the same for everyone, for instance when a woman is pregnant the hormones her body produces Will not have the exact same effect as they Will have on another woman.
    It has been proven that testosterone has an effect on the sex drive and so also on sexual behaviour... for me having a high sex drive during certain times of my life (can't say if testosterone was responsable for this offcourse!) made me sexually more attracted to men, Maybe for somebody else this would not have been the case.
    We are more than just our hormones, there's other factors that come into play as well.
    There probably is an interplay between hormonal balance, genetics, environmental factors, Maybe even spiritual factors etc. that could play a Role in the way people experience their sexual oriëntation and when any of these factors change this could contribute to people experiencing their sexuality as fluid... but as I stated before, these are just thoughts.

    I'm not a scientist, I'm just speaking from personal experience, I certainly didn't mean to say that someone's sexuality can be controlled by putting them on hormones, I think it's way more complex then that.
     
  11. Chip

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    Yes. Hormones impact sexual arousal and attraction, but not who you're attracted to [sexuality or sexual orientation]. The science is pretty settled on that.

    If your brain is wired such that you have attraction toward men, then high testosterone levels might increase your attraction toward other men. Likewise, if you are attracted toward women, high testosterone levels will increase your attraction toward women. That's how sex hormones work.
     
    #11 Chip, Apr 13, 2021
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  12. Digdogger

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    But when you're bisexual and you're attracted to both sexes, I don't see why hormones couldn't play a role in at Some times being more attracted to men and at other times being more attracted to woman, this doesn't change an individuals sexual orientation; they remain bisexual.
     
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  13. QuietPeace

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    Hormones have been demonstrated to play a part in arousal and how much you may be interested in having sex. The variances that someone may have in WHO they might have sex with are most likely driven by other things, such as mood or even availability.

    Review this
     
  14. Chip

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    They don't. End of story.
     
  15. Digdogger

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    I get that and I'm not suddenly an advocate for the 'hormone theory', my Posts on this subject mainly came from my thoughts about this due to my personal experience with a changing hormone balance combined with an increasing sexual desire for woman, but offcourse this could be explained otherwise.

    Still I do not want to rule out that hormones could be involved in this, what I've tried to convey in my previous post is that I'm not trying to speak in absolutes; I think that hormones could play a role in the way people experience their sexuality, just not the main part... and again, these are just thoughts.

    That modern science hasn't succesfully linked hormones to sexual orientation doesn't mean that such a link does not exist, even if it's indirectly.
    I love science but it's a work in progress, a very handy tool for assessing the world, not a truth, when science starts preaching truth it becomes a religion, a dogma.
    Modern science has a very fragmented way of approaching a subject, research usually focuses on something very specific.
    This makes sense because this way it leads to exact results and also because scientist are specialized in a certain field, which makes them experts.
    On the flip side this often means that the bigger picture gets lost ( personally I think science could use a more holistic approach at times...).
    Furthermore research is often unconsciously or even consciously influenced by the expectations of the researcher.

    I'm not saying this to prove a point because I am not trying to make one.
    All I am trying to say I guess is that I don't know what causes sexual fluidity, I only have my own experience as a reference point and I just don't want to rule out that hormones could play a part in sexual fluidity, even if it's a minor part of something greater.

    I hope I didn't offend anyone (if I did I apologize), I understand the problem with the religious fanatics who think homo- and bisexuality can and should be cured... very sad that some people think that way and I don't want to give them anything that they could use to prove their point either (a point they will never be able to prove btw, because it is obviously flawed).
    To be honest the thought of this didn't even cross my mind when I wrote my first reaction in this thread.
    I am from the Netherlands and have always lived there, in Europe this isn't such a big issue as in the US, it just isn't very common.

    In my first response, aside from my personal experience, I also wrote that I had heard that some transmen experience fluctuations in their sexual orientation, I started reading in to this, just because it intrigues me.
    I thought I'd share some links, just in case
     
  16. Digdogger

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    This was posted when I was still writing my last reply, so I didn't see it until now.

    I won't bring it up again.
     
  17. Digdogger

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  18. Chip

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    For the 300th time... they don't. End of story. What you believe, or what your opinion is, is nice, but it is factually incorrect. My concern here is the accuracy of information being conveyed to vulnerable people.

    One of the huge problems in the world today is people denying science and factual information because they "believe" otherwise. 50 years ago, nobody would have believed that there are literally hundreds of thousands of people who believe the world is flat. Or that Hillary Clinton is running a child porn ring in the nonexistent basement of a pizza parlor in suburban Maryland. Or that Covid vaccines give Bill Gates access to your thoughts via 5G. Or that coronavirus is caused by 5G radio waves.

    My point is... we have to rely on science. And endocrinologists, psychiatrists, and others who work with hormonal chemistry have given us a pretty clear (though imperfect) view of how these things operate in the body. There are voluminous studies on this sort of thing dating back 40 years. It isn't likely to change, and there is zero evidence to indicate otherwise.

    So... while you're entitled to hold on to misguided beliefs that are not grounded in anything replicable or any sort of credible science, it is not OK to spread those beliefs in a community focused on the dissemination of accurate information for people who are trying to make sense of their feelings and sexual orientation.

    As to your posts, there's a lot of junk science coming out of the fringe (the same people who support 27,000 genders and the unsupported idea of discordant sexual and romantic orientations, and undefinable definitions for asexuality that go against 60 years of research.) Here's a quote from the second article:

     
    #18 Chip, Apr 15, 2021
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  19. QuietPeace

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    I think it also might be worth pointing out that correlation is not the same as causation.
     
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  20. Chip

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    Absolutely!

    One of my most favorite ways of communicating this to people is the website "Spurious Correlations." My personal favorite of those listed on the site is the high correlation between per-capita cheese consumption and the number of people who died by becoming tangled in their bedsheets.