Sexually Fluid: Meaning and Deeper Understanding

Last Updated 03.02.2022
12 min read

When it comes to people's sexuality, different people tend to have different opinions. No one can dictate your own orientation and sexuality to you and being sexually fluid, meaning that it is a means through which you can better understand yourself and your personal experiences.

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Sexual fluidity is a term that has been created in order to help people better express themselves and it is not one-sided. In fact, sexual fluidity includes multiple aspects of one's sexuality such as:

  • Their sexual orientation: This refers to who a person is attracted to, including emotional, romantic, and sexual attraction
  • Their sexual identity: This refers to a person's personal understanding of their own gender and identity that also relates to their sexuality.  
  • And their sexual behavior: This refers to the way through which each individual person expresses and/or demonstrates their sexuality. 

These are some key terms that can help a person better understand themselves and the fact that they might be sexually fluid.

Now, it is time to dive deeper into the roots and meaning of sexual fluidity and get a better understanding of how it allows people to express themselves better and also understand their needs and sexuality better. 

What Exactly is Sexual Fluidity?

To put it in one sentence, identifying as sexually fluid means that your sexual orientation is not fixed. What this means is that your experiences and your overall attraction towards people of different genders can change. 

For example, when you were younger, you might have felt an attraction to women. Later on in your life, you had some romantic or sexual experiences with people of two genders or more. In your current years, you still feel sexually attracted to women the most but this is a situation that could change, depending on a few different factors. 

Gender fluidity is something normal and valid that you should not feel guilty or have to explain yourself for. There are people who will describe someone's sexual experiences with other genders as being confused and take it personally as a betrayal to a certain community. 

While it is unfortunate that people within the community would put such pressure on someone who tries to better understand themselves, it is still important that you stay true to your experiences and express yourself with whichever words make you feel closer to your true self.

The concept of sexual fluidity was created exactly for this reason, so that everyone is able to express their own sexuality better. This can have a very positive impact on people's mental health and allow them to find their place on the sexuality spectrum as they begin to understand themselves and their sexual attraction to other people in different stages of their lives.

The History of Sexual Fluidity

Sexual fluidity is actually not as new of a term as you might expect. Just like many other terms in all sorts of communities, sexual fluidity used to have a different name in the past. Once, it used to be labeled as erotic plasticity

Erotic Plasticity essentially meant that a person's sexual attraction and behavior would be influenced by external factors such as social, cultural, and situational ones. These were key terms when it came to understanding the changes in sexual behavior and sexual attractions of different individuals from young adulthood to their older years.

This change in terminology was made to include many more aspects of one's sexuality and sexual orientation. The main difference is the focus it helps provide on the reasons behind sexual fluidity. The main one is that the sexual orientation of an individual is not impacted by another person's gender or sexual identity. 

The term sexual fluidity actually originated from Dr. Lisa Diamond. In her 2009 book, “Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women’s Love and Desire", she decided to touch on the subject and define sexual fluidity and how it impacts women as they go through different stages and related attitudes in their lives. This came to be in direct opposition to many beliefs that sexuality was a fixed and non-changing trait.

Who can Experience Sexual Fluidity?

Even if you identify as bisexual, heterosexual, or gay, there is still room for fluidity to form during your life. This essentially means that every person might experience attraction to another gender at some point in their lives.  Periods of sexual fluidity can happen for a plethora of reasons and you might feel attracted to people of different orientations.

A common one many people experience at different points in their lives is developing an attraction through a friendship. For example, you might identify as gay and attracted to men but have a close friend who is non-binary. Depending on the occasion, you might start to develop feelings for this person. This might lead to a mutual attraction or even sex or you might never act on those feelings. 

This example shows that sexual fluidity is impacted by different situations and the overall attraction you might feel for another person regardless of their gender. This doesn't necessarily mean that you will experience a constant change to who you are attracted to, and many people even go their whole lives only being attracted to one gender.

Fact: Sexual attraction to people outside one's personal sexual orientation can happen to anyone, from people who identify as bisexual to anyone that is attracted to people of a different gender, sex, or orientation.

This is exactly why it is okay to accept the possibility of being sexually fluid and is something that can help you better understand your personal experiences and your attraction to people of a different gender.

The Difference between Bisexuality and Sexual Fluidity

In the past, bisexual people were believed to be an earlier form of sexual fluidity. People attracted to the opposite sex were labeled as heterosexual and people attracted to the same sex were labeled as gay. This meant that the only thing a person's sexual identity was impacted by was their gender. Nowadays, we understand the differences between gender, sex, and sexual orientation a lot more clearly. 

While many people tend to confuse the two terms, there are quite a few differences that set them apart:

  • Bisexual people are attracted to people who identify as male or female while sexually fluid people can possibly be attracted to people of all genders.
  • Fluid sexuality means that it has the possibility to change over time. Bisexual individuals tend to stay consistent about their choice of partners or individuals they are attracted to. 
  • The most distinct difference between the two is that bisexuality is clearly one of the different sexual orientations, while fluid sexuality is not. People of any sexual orientation such as asexual or homosexual individuals could experience sexual fluidity at any point in their lives. This means that their sexual attraction to other people can vary, depending on factors such as and not limited to, young adulthood and different points in their lives.

These differences clearly show that human sexuality is more complex than people believed it to be and forming an attraction to someone can happen for many reasons. While you might be of any particular sexual orientation you can still experience sexual desire towards other genders and these sexual attractions can be the key to better understanding and accepting your sexual fluidity. 

The whole concept of sexual fluidity is understanding one's sexual behavior and feeling good about it, whether they are attracted to one gender, in particular, the opposite sex or people of all orientations. 

Sexual Fluidity and Different Sexualities

Another thing that many people tend to overlook, is that sexually fluid people can be attracted to one gender more than others. When it comes to sexual orientations, for example, homosexual people are only attracted to the same sex while heterosexual men are exclusively attracted to women. 

The whole point of this is that sexually fluid individuals might also find that they are more attracted to certain people only. Regardless of their gender, sex, whether they identify as male or otherwise, certain people can become attractive to a sexually fluid person as they might exhibit certain behaviors they deem appealing. At the same time, they might mainly be attracted to individuals of a certain sexual orientation.

For example, when spending long periods of time with a group of other women, heterosexual women might distinguish some masculine features they like on them and this can lead to an attraction that can leave some space for gender fluidity. This is exactly what Dr. Lisa Diamond wanted to focus on in her book. 

As she mentioned, understanding women's love is just as important of a concept, as heterosexual women are the ones that show romantic attraction to other genders more frequently. Her sex research has shown that, while they might be attracted to men, women might still exhibit a sexual response to the same gender under certain circumstances.

How to Figure out if you are Sexually Fluid?

Not everyone will experience sexual fluidity and not everyone that experiences it will identify as a gender fluid individual. If you feel like you are sexually fluid though, a study by Katz Wise SL conducted in 2015 showed that  64% of women and 52% of men participating in the study identified as sexually fluid. 

The easiest way to figure out if you are sexually fluid is to take a look at your personal sexual behavior through the years. If your sexual preferences have stayed consistent throughout your life then you probably are not sexually fluid. 

If you identify as gay but have felt attraction towards men and women then this is also a possible indicator. In general, sexual fluidity does not depend only on your own perception of your sexual orientation. No matter your identity, sexual fluidity explains that under different circumstances, a particular person can spark a sexual response in you.

Tips for Living your Life as a Sexually Fluid Individual

If you are starting to get a better understanding of your experiences and sexual preferences, you might wonder if there are any ways to label what you feel or experience. If that is something you need and you feel like it could help your mental health then definitely go for it. Discovering your sexual identity and feeling comfortable with who you are is a different experience for every person. 

Young adults usually have a harder time coming to terms with it and understanding where they belong. The main thing you need to remember is that human sexuality is very complex and there is no right way to gender expression. Doing what you feel is right for you and not overthinking every single thing you experience might be the best option. 

Whether you are a woman attracted to other women at the moment or attracted to people of other genders in the future, sexual fluidity gives you the chance to feel safe about your emotions and focus on living every experience to the fullest.

As Lisa Diamond quoted one of the participants in her famous book: “For those of us who question, your whole life becomes a question. Do you then reach some level of understanding, and then it's static? I don't think so".

Sexually fluid people are just as valid as anyone and being sexually fluid does not mean you are confused. It is just a means through which you can learn to identify your attraction to people of a different gender, sexuality, or orientation and help you define yourself in your own way.

Staying True to Yourself, your Feelings and Experiences

Coming out as sexually fluid can be hard, especially if you are scared of the criticism many people may force on you based on outdated or wrong ideas and beliefs. If you feel like this is something you are struggling with, there are plenty of great support groups on various online platforms where you can discuss everything that you feel burdens you. 

Being able to talk to other people with the same gender orientation or sexual attractions, who relate to you will help validate your experiences and sexual identity and allow you to feel safer about your sexual fluidity. This can help take you a step closer to feeling more connected to how you identify and allow you to not let others define how you pave your own path.

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