Sexual Orientation – What Direction Is Your Compass Pointing?

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Sexual orientation can be simply described as what sort of sex a person finds themselves attracted to and in what way. Sexual orientation is described by the American Psychological Association as follows: “Sexual orientation refers to an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions to men, women, or both sexes.” It is an integral part of who we are as humans, though it may not be apparent in a person’s conduct, activities, or appearance. There are many factors that go into one’s orientation, and it usually encompasses a combination of environmental, emotional, hormonal, and biological factors.

While there are numerous orientation groups, there are four that are agreed upon in scientific circles. These terms were coined in the 19th century, and we use them to this day.

Heterosexual
This defines the group that feels attracted to the opposite sex, examples being a man attracted to women or a woman attracted to men. This is also known in slang terms as “hetero” or “straight.”

Homosexual
This term is used to define the group that feels attracted to the same sex, examples being a woman attracted to women or a man attracted to men. Men who are homosexual sometimes use the term “gay,” and homosexual women often use the term “lesbian.”

Bisexual
Those that associate with this group fall neither within heterosexual nor homosexual definitions, but instead feel emotionally romantic toward and/or sexually attracted to both men and women, whether they themselves are a woman or man. People who have distinct (but not exclusive) attraction to a gender may also fall into this category – an example would be a woman who prefers men, but will also consider attraction with another female.

Asexual
Classic ideas about sexual orientation have been steadily changing over recent years to accommodate for the term “asexual.” An asexual person is someone who does not feel any sort of emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction. In essence, it is a lack of either interest in sex, or sexual attraction to others.

The asexual orientation has only recently been adopted as an orientation at all, and is still disagreed upon by many. Some interject that, for an orientation to exist, it must point in a certain direction, and that the lack of sexual desire is a sickness or dysfunction. The image of a compass is used as a metaphor – while a compass can point in many different directions, and even change directions, a compass that does not have a needle is not pointing anywhere and is in fact broken. Again, we’re talking about other people’s opinions here. If a person is happy and healthy and functioning properly, who’s to say that being asexual can somehow be compared to a broken compass? It can’t and nor should it be. If a person is happy with who and what they are, why suggest anything is broken in the first place?

Additional Orientations
There are many more variations of sexual orientation, and some conjecture that we have yet to discover them all. Among these are pansexual, the attraction to all sexes and/or gender identities; polysexual, an attraction to multiples sexes and/or gender identities; and intersexual, being someone who is neither biologically male nor female, and may or may not include a missing sense of sexual orientation.

Though these additional orientations are not widely accepted, taught about, or spoken of, they do indeed exist and are just as valid a form of orientation as any of those previously mentioned.

Lack of Mutability in Sexual Orientations
For many years, it was rumoured (and widely believed) that one’s sexual orientation could be shifted and changed based on how one was raised or what sort of sexual or emotional experiences one had while growing up. However, with the acknowledgment by scientific professionals that sexual orientation is not a choice, there also came the acknowledgment that people have one orientation and it does not change. While there are many who hide their orientation, or are sometimes confused about their true orientation, this does not mean the orientation is shifting.

It has been agreed upon that as much as one may try to “change how they feel,” in the long run there has been no evidence this results in the desired outcome. In fact, psychologists have proven that trying to force someone to feel sexually towards a gender that they are not attracted to can cause long term mental repercussions.

Social Influences on Sexual Orientations
Sexual orientation is said to, arguably, go hand-in-hand with social identity and orientation. This means that one’s social environment, such as the behavior, thoughts, and orientation of the people surrounding an individual, is often what helps to define one’s sexual orientation. The example may be used that, due to an individual’s family being of a certain religion, they will be predisposed to a certain form of sexual orientation. This is arguable due to the fact that many individuals have come out of social environments that look down upon their sexual orientation, and the person is forced to either hide it or reject that social environment.

The Kinsey Scale
Also called “The Heterosexual-Homosexual Rating Scale,” this scale was created by Alfred Kinsey in an attempt to deepen the description and definition of sexual orientation. Based on one’s sexual history, they can find their place on the scale and describe themselves based upon it. The scale goes from 0 to 6, where 0 is purely heterosexual and 6 is purely homosexual. Therefore, the numbers 1 to 5 indicate some scale of bisexuality. Kinsey described the reasoning behind his scale: “The world is not to be divided into sheep and goats. It is a fundamental of taxonomy that nature rarely deals with discrete categories… The living world is a continuum in each and every one of its aspects. While emphasizing the continuity of the gradations between exclusively heterosexual and exclusively homosexual histories, it has seemed desirable to develop some sort of classification which could be based on the relative amounts of heterosexual and homosexual experience or response in each history [... ]. An individual may be assigned a position on this scale, for each period in his life. [... ] A seven-point scale comes nearer to showing the many gradations that actually exist.” These days, the Kinsey Scale is considered a step in a better direction, but by no means a complete reference, as it is far too linear. Rating sexuality in a 0-6, in an up-or-down method, does not even begin to describe the uniqueness of each sexual orientation.

So, as we begin to explore the uniqueness of each individual, I hope that from the brief descriptions given above, we can at least see that people come into this world with their compasses pointing in different directions. Indeed, even acknowledging and accepting those who have no needle in their compass!

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Sexual Orientation – What Direction Is Your Compass Pointing?

Sexual orientation can be simply described as what sort of sex a person finds themselves attracted to and in what way. Sexual orientation is described by the American Psychological Association as follows: “Sexual orientation refers to an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions to men, women, or both sexes.” It is an integral part of who we are as humans, though it may not be apparent in a person’s conduct, activities, or appearance. There are many factors that go into one’s orientation, and it usually encompasses a combination of environmental, emotional, hormonal, and biological factors.

While there are numerous orientation groups, there are four that are agreed upon in scientific circles. These terms were coined in the 19th century, and we use them to this day.

Heterosexual
This defines the group that feels attracted to the opposite sex, examples being a man attracted to women or a woman attracted to men. This is also known in slang terms as “hetero” or “straight.”

Homosexual
This term is used to define the group that feels attracted to the same sex, examples being a woman attracted to women or a man attracted to men. Men who are homosexual sometimes use the term “gay,” and homosexual women often use the term “lesbian.”

Bisexual
Those that associate with this group fall neither within heterosexual nor homosexual definitions, but instead feel emotionally romantic toward and/or sexually attracted to both men and women, whether they themselves are a woman or man. People who have distinct (but not exclusive) attraction to a gender may also fall into this category – an example would be a woman who prefers men, but will also consider attraction with another female.

Asexual
Classic ideas about sexual orientation have been steadily changing over recent years to accommodate for the term “asexual.” An asexual person is someone who does not feel any sort of emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction. In essence, it is a lack of either interest in sex, or sexual attraction to others.

The asexual orientation has only recently been adopted as an orientation at all, and is still disagreed upon by many. Some interject that, for an orientation to exist, it must point in a certain direction, and that the lack of sexual desire is a sickness or dysfunction. The image of a compass is used as a metaphor – while a compass can point in many different directions, and even change directions, a compass that does not have a needle is not pointing anywhere and is in fact broken. Again, we’re talking about other people’s opinions here. If a person is happy and healthy and functioning properly, who’s to say that being asexual can somehow be compared to a broken compass? It can’t and nor should it be. If a person is happy with who and what they are, why suggest anything is broken in the first place?

Additional Orientations
There are many more variations of sexual orientation, and some conjecture that we have yet to discover them all. Among these are pansexual, the attraction to all sexes and/or gender identities; polysexual, an attraction to multiples sexes and/or gender identities; and intersexual, being someone who is neither biologically male nor female, and may or may not include a missing sense of sexual orientation.

Though these additional orientations are not widely accepted, taught about, or spoken of, they do indeed exist and are just as valid a form of orientation as any of those previously mentioned.

Lack of Mutability in Sexual Orientations
For many years, it was rumoured (and widely believed) that one’s sexual orientation could be shifted and changed based on how one was raised or what sort of sexual or emotional experiences one had while growing up. However, with the acknowledgment by scientific professionals that sexual orientation is not a choice, there also came the acknowledgment that people have one orientation and it does not change. While there are many who hide their orientation, or are sometimes confused about their true orientation, this does not mean the orientation is shifting.

It has been agreed upon that as much as one may try to “change how they feel,” in the long run there has been no evidence this results in the desired outcome. In fact, psychologists have proven that trying to force someone to feel sexually towards a gender that they are not attracted to can cause long term mental repercussions.

Social Influences on Sexual Orientations
Sexual orientation is said to, arguably, go hand-in-hand with social identity and orientation. This means that one’s social environment, such as the behavior, thoughts, and orientation of the people surrounding an individual, is often what helps to define one’s sexual orientation. The example may be used that, due to an individual’s family being of a certain religion, they will be predisposed to a certain form of sexual orientation. This is arguable due to the fact that many individuals have come out of social environments that look down upon their sexual orientation, and the person is forced to either hide it or reject that social environment.

The Kinsey Scale
Also called “The Heterosexual-Homosexual Rating Scale,” this scale was created by Alfred Kinsey in an attempt to deepen the description and definition of sexual orientation. Based on one’s sexual history, they can find their place on the scale and describe themselves based upon it. The scale goes from 0 to 6, where 0 is purely heterosexual and 6 is purely homosexual. Therefore, the numbers 1 to 5 indicate some scale of bisexuality. Kinsey described the reasoning behind his scale: “The world is not to be divided into sheep and goats. It is a fundamental of taxonomy that nature rarely deals with discrete categories… The living world is a continuum in each and every one of its aspects. While emphasizing the continuity of the gradations between exclusively heterosexual and exclusively homosexual histories, it has seemed desirable to develop some sort of classification which could be based on the relative amounts of heterosexual and homosexual experience or response in each history [... ]. An individual may be assigned a position on this scale, for each period in his life. [... ] A seven-point scale comes nearer to showing the many gradations that actually exist.” These days, the Kinsey Scale is considered a step in a better direction, but by no means a complete reference, as it is far too linear. Rating sexuality in a 0-6, in an up-or-down method, does not even begin to describe the uniqueness of each sexual orientation.

So, as we begin to explore the uniqueness of each individual, I hope that from the brief descriptions given above, we can at least see that people come into this world with their compasses pointing in different directions. Indeed, even acknowledging and accepting those who have no needle in their compass!

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Test Love Compatibility – Physical and Emotional Sexuality Method

One of the most powerful and useful tools to test love compatibility was developed as part of Physical and Emotional Suggestibility and Sexuality Theory, first introduced by John G. Kappas, Ph.D. in 1975. It was based on 30 years of clinical investigation and extensive research. Dr. Kappas became famous for his results predicting behavior and resolving relationship problems using this theory.

In the conventional view of behavior, popularized by John Gray in Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, men behave one way, women another. This view underlies the approach most therapists use to counsel couples.

In his practice as a marriage and family therapist, Dr. Kappas discovered that two other patterns of behavior existed that offered a better context for couples therapy. He identified the patterns as Physical Sexuality and Emotional Sexuality. Both men and women exhibit both patterns. It seems that some men and women are from Mars, some from Venus.

The behavior traits exhibited in Physical Sexuality and Emotional Sexuality are quite different. For example, take a look at the patterns with respect to just a few traits.

A Physical Sexual person tends to be openly and abundantly affectionate. He is outgoing, comfortable in groups, and enjoys calling attention to his physical body. When rejected, he tries harder. He views sex as an integral expression of loving and being loved. He tends to be available for sex anytime and enjoys prolonging sexual expression to maximize the feelings of love and acceptance.

In sharp contrast, an Emotional Sexual person tends to be uncomfortable with open affection, prefers intimate interactions with one or two people, and is uncomfortable calling attention to his body. When rejected, he withdraws. He views sex as a means of release quite separate from love. He tends to desire sex on a cycle, such as every three days. On a cycle day, he experiences complete release in one sexual event. On off days, he may not find sexual expression or physical touch pleasant.

The behavior traits of Physical and Emotional Sexuality are so distinctly different, it is not hard to understand why people of opposite Sexuality have difficulty interacting, much as a dog and a cat have trouble interacting.

People tend to exhibit behavior traits from both Physical and Emotional Sexuality patterns, though one pattern or the other dominates. To measure both Sexuality and the percent dominance, Dr. Kappas created the Physical and Emotional Sexuality Questionnaires and developed a statistical scoring system. On these tests, a person may score from 55-95% Physical Sexuality, or 55-95% Emotional Sexuality.

A person of 95% dominance in either Sexuality will exhibit that behavior exclusively. A person of 55% dominance in either Sexuality will exhibit almost as many traits of the opposite Sexuality as his own. Knowing a person’s Sexuality score, consequently, is quite useful in predicting his behavior.

In predicting relationship behavior, the Physical and Emotional Sexuality score is even more enlightening. In an ironic twist of nature, for long term intimate relationships, a person chooses a person of opposite Sexuality with the same degree of dominance.

A 95% Physical Sexual will partner with a 95% Emotional Sexual. This couple, like the dog and cat, will experience difficulty interacting as their behavior traits are so different. You might suspect that they are incompatible as a couple. Ironically, their sexual chemistry is explosive. Their strong physical attraction may keep them together but their conflicts and misunderstandings will be many.

Low scorers on the Physical and Emotional Sexuality scale also have difficulty. They will experience few problems interacting outside the bedroom as their behavior traits are similar. Sexual chemistry, however, is weak to nonexistent. Their ability to get along may keep them together but sexual disappointment may also lead to conflict and misunderstandings. Moderate scorers relate best on every level.

As a rule of thumb in Physical and Emotional Sexuality, when people of opposite Sexuality relate, the more extreme the opposite, the more intense the sexual attraction and the greater the problems in all other aspects of the relationship. It seems Mother Nature had her own ideas about relationship compatibility.

Sexuality patterns cannot be changed. Knowledge of Physical and Emotional Sexuality is the best means to improve understanding of yourself, your partner, and the problems you have. It is the most powerful and most useful tool to help couples quickly identify relationship issues and resolve them. It can be used effectively in counseling or as a self help measure.

Despite the broad benefits of Physical and Emotional Sexuality, it is not widely practiced. Since its introduction, numerous new theories and techniques, such a Neurolinguistic Programming and Rational Emotive Therapy, have emerged. These, together with the flood of self help methodologies, compete for a place in professional training and practice. No one methodology is standard in relationship counseling today. For relationship questions, however, no other method gets better results when it is time to test love compatibility.

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Is Sexuality Fluid? Could You Start Straight, Become Gay and Go Back to Straight?

Ponder this for a second, could you get a very gay man who’s been exclusively gay for over a decade, and with no desire to play with girls, kiss one after 11 years and actually like it?

Could you get a very straight man that isn’t even keen to have another man in the room while he’s having sex, turn around and decide that he wants to play with men? Could you go bi sexual and then back to straight? Could you go gay and back to straight? Are you tired of me asking questions? Ok, I’ll stop. So this all started going through my head just recently when said gay man kissed this girl! Yes, me! I have to say I was stunned and kind of flattered all at the same time. He’s a gorgeous man so that wasn’t the issue but it threw my version of reality completely out and made me start to question the whole concept of sexuality.

I had to ask, did this mean he was now becoming more bi-sexual? I did actually ask him and while he’s pretty sure that there are a lot of things he isn’t interested in doing with girls, he did enjoy kissing me. He came back numerous times during the evening for more so that kind of gave it away! When I sat and thought about it though, I found evidence to suggest that sexuality is fluid. I’ll explain further but let me share this… I used to be what I considered “straight”, now I’m more bi-curious and heading towards bi sexual. I’m pretty sure I won’t go any further than that, however, I’m wondering… Is it possible? Will hubby and I both play in the bi zone for a period of time, get our fill (so to speak) and then go back to “straight”? Or will we never go back?

I don’t think I can answer all of those questions. I do think you can swing either way but naturally you’ll have a limit or zone. It’s not a comfort zone as such but just to keep it clear, I’m going to call it the “swing zone”. Now I’m not saying everyone is naturally a swinger (although I think deep down we all want to be!), just that we have zone in the sexuality scale that we swing between. So imagine a scale between 0 and 6; 0 as being completely straight to the point of being homophobic and 6 to the point of almost being straightaphobic! Is there such a thing? Neither may be “phobic” as such but the idea of having intimate contact with someone at the opposite end of the scale induces an “eeewwwwww” factor! Now to fill in the details of the scale (which is basically the “Kinsey scale” that you can Google later), number 3 would be the only number that swings both ways and can easily be in a relationship with either sex. That leaves some numbers and variations in between each, correct?

Are you with me still? Let me draw you a picture… 0______1______2______3______4______5______6 0 = Very Straight 3 = Very Bi 6 = Very Gay So what numbers do we have left? 1 = OK with having another person of the same sex in the room during playtime, might even be a little curious and starting to explore. 2 = Is playing in the bi-sexual world and engaging in same sex play but couldn’t be in a relationship with someone of the same sex. 4 = Is more gay than bi-sexual but can play with either sex, prefers to be in a relationship with the same sex though. 5 = Even more gay than 4, is there such a thing as straight curious? Ok, now that we have that straight (or gay), imagine taking a highlighter and highlighting just a few numbers or what I’m calling a “swing zone”.

Let’s use me as a live example. I was probably never really a full 0, but still fairly straight so your highlighter could start at 0.5. I can’t say that I’ll ever be a full 3 either, but am happy to play with everything up to that point so you could highlight all the way up to 2.5? That’s my swing zone. So I can change from being mostly bi to mostly straight at different times and whenever it suits me. Now, to make it more interesting, 10 years ago I would have never seen myself get past a 1. So this begs the question, can your swing zone change or extend? When I met my husband his swing zone would have been between 0 and 0.5. He wasn’t even sure he’d like the idea of another man in the room while we were having sex, let-a-lone actually touch one. That was then… now however; he has no reservations about kissing a gay man in a straight pub on a Friday evening when the place is packed! Well, that might have something to do with the shock factor of doing it but that’s a whole other article!

These days it seems he’s more bi-sexual than I am but not quite to the point where he’d be in a relationship with a man, so maybe a 2.8 on our scale? His swing zone has extended a fair bit wouldn’t you say? That said I can’t see him going back to a 0 so his swing zone is likely between 1 and 2.8. See what I mean? Its fluid; it changes and it can change back too! I met a guy who was full on into same sex play, probably being at least a 2.5 on the scale when he was in his early 20′s. He’s now married to a lovely woman and has no desire to do it again. She doesn’t mind the idea but he’s “done it” and is happy as he is now. So his swing zone is still between 1 and 2.5 but he’s currently a 1. So what about you? What’s your swing zone? Could you see yourself moving up or down the scale? Either way, whatever it is now doesn’t mean that’s what it will always be and I think the first step is just being open to the idea that it can change…

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