Sexuality, or sexual identity, is a term referring to the way an individual experiences their identity in relation to sexual activity, sexual thoughts, and sexual relationships. This is a multifaceted concept that include factors such as sexual orientation, sex stance, sex drive/libido, and relational alignment. Sexuality is often influenced by factors relating to gender identity, such as gender alignment.
Sexuality is sometimes used synonymously with sexual orientation, but sexual orientation is only one aspect of sexuality.
Typically, sexual orientation labels are derived using a prefix combined with the suffix "-sexual." Bisexual, heterosexual, and demisexual are all examples of sexual orientations. Other labels that do not use the "-sexual" suffix, such as gay, lesbian, and trixic, can also be used to describe one's sexual orientation.
An individual who experiences no sexual attraction, or only experiences it rarely or weakly, may consider themselves asexual.
Sex Stances are interaction stance terms describing an individual’s feelings towards sexual interaction. This can include feelings towards sex, towards other sexual activities, or towards sexual interaction as a concept. These terms are commonly used by asexual spectrum individuals, but are not exclusive to this community or sexual orientation.
Sex drive, or libido, is a term referring to the experience of sexual urges or desires, often in anticipation of sexual gratification or sexual reproduction. An experience of sex drive may include the experience of physical arousal.
Sex drive is a separate concept from sexual attraction. While sexual attraction is directed at a target individual, sex drive is a general, untargeted experience.
Relational alignment is a category of terms that describe the number of individuals one wants to be in a relationship with at the same time. The most commonly known relational alignments are polyamorous and monogamous.
Often sexual preferences deal with aspects of an individual which do not relate to or are less central to identity than one's gender identity is. Sexual preference may also be differentiated from sexual orientation in that a sexual preference may have more of a degree of choice to it.
Common examples of sexual preferences may include the following:
- A preference for individuals with a certain appearance or aesthetic.
- A preference for individuals with a certain personality.
- A preference for individuals who take a certain role in relationships.
- A preference for individuals with a certain background.
- A preference for individuals with certain physical or sexual characteristics (eg. genital preferences).
- A preference for individuals of a certain gender modality (eg. cisgender, transgender, etc.)
Kinks and Fetishes
Kinks are concepts or objects that increase one's arousal during sexual activity, while fetishes are concepts or objects that must be present in order to achieve arousal. The difference between kinks and fetishes is that kinks improve arousal, while fetishes cause arousal.
The Influence of Gender on Sexuality
Sexuality may be influenced by an individual’s gender identity or gender alignment. Gender can affect how an individual perceives themselves and others, as well as how an individual interacts with others. This can impact how an individual perceives their sexual identity. For example a genderfluid individual may feel different about their sexuality depending on what gender they are experiencing at the time. The term novosexual may be used to describe this.