by Sheldon Lewin LCSW, MBA
Not Gay or Straight, but somewhere in between? Sexual orientation is not strictly about polarities, but rather exists on a continuum. Many people feel confused, lost, and out of place in a society that upholds "black and white" labels. Bisexuality is the potential to feel sexually attracted to and/or to engage in sensual or sexual relationships with either sex. Many people are drawn sexually and emotionally only to partners of the same sex. Others are completely heterosexual, bonding in sexual and intimate relationships only with people of another sex.
The Kinsey scale of zero to six was developed by sex researchers to describe sexual orientation as a continuum. Heterosexual people are at zero on the scale, gay and Lesbian people are at six at the other end of the scale, and everyone in between, from one to five, is bisexual. People who fall at one or two on the scale have primarily heterosexual sexual and affectional relationships and desires, but have some attraction and experiences with same -sex partners as well. People at three on the scale are approximately equally attracted to both men and women. People at four and five on the Kinsey scale choose primarily same-sex partners, but are not completely gay or lesbian and have some heterosexual tendencies and relationships as well.
What Does It Mean To Be Bisexual Or Bi-curious?
Not everyone has had the opportunity to act on their sexual/ romantic impulses and attractions, some people prefer the following definition - a bisexual is a person who feels POTENTIALLY able to have such attraction. This could be anyone who has erotic, affectionate, or romantic feelings for, fantasies about, and/or experiences with both men and women. A bisexual may be more attracted to one sex than the other, attracted equally to both, or find a person's sex unimportant. The strength of their attractions to men or women may even vary over time. Many people fantasize about many things that they do not act on. If you are a man and you primarily have relationships with women, but think about what it would be like with a man, you may be bicurious.
Self-perception is the key to a bisexual identity. Many people engage in sexual activity with people of both sexes, yet do not identify as bisexual. Likewise, other people engage in sexual relations only with people of one sex, or do not engage in sexual activity at all, yet consider themselves bisexual. There is no quantitative behavioral or psychological .test.. to determine whether or not one is bisexual. There are many people out there who have sexual relationships, experiences, and fantasies with people of both sexes, and yet they don't consider themselves to be bisexual.
Is Bisexuality A Phase ?
Many people feel that there are really only two sexual orientations and bisexuality isn't one of them. They say that everyone is either heterosexual or homosexual, and that bisexuality is just a phase going into one orientation or the other. Because heterosexuality is the general "norm", for the most part we are socialized as heterosexuals. Bisexuality is sometimes a stage that people experience during the process of acknowledging their homosexuality. And other times bisexuality is a "curiosity" stage when people want to experience what sex or a relationship may be like with a member of the same sex. But still there are many people who come to identify themselves as bisexuals after a considerable time as identifying as heterosexuals or homosexuals. For these people, heterosexuality or homosexuality was the phase... leading to a permanent bisexual identity.