Sexual Identity, Behaviour and Orientation.

May 7, 2020

Our sexuality is a crucial part of who we are and how we see ourselves in relation to others.

Sexual Orientation refers to a persons sexual orientation to others. It can be to others of the same gender, (homosexual) the other gender, (heterosexual) both genders, (bisexual) or gender may be irrelevant (pansexual). Some of the following  factors can indicate your sexual orientation. Orientation is on a continuum. Men tend mainly to populate the ends of the continuum but women are more fluid.

  • Which people do you notice, who gets your attention  in your day, in your world. Notice who you notice.
  • Where do your erotic thoughts take you ?
  • What else happens when you have those erotic thoughts ?
  • What erotic, sexual images do you find grab your attention and who, in those images, grabs your attention ?
  • Who are you close to when you feel your heart miss a beat or feel some "warm fuzzy feelings" ?

If you can answer the above questions for yourself you will have a good idea of your sexual orientation. This information, you can keep entirely private for all of your life ... or you have the option of sharing it, with others, as part of your identity.

Your sexual orientation refers more to your internal world. It is what it is, even if you never have a sexual experience with another person. At least 6 - 8%  of the world population is not heterosexually orientated.

The word you might choose to name your Sexual Identity could be one of the following: Bisexual, Straight, Gay, Hetero, MSM*, Lesbian, Pan-sexual**, Asexual***. Your Sexual Identity may align completely with your Sexual Orientation, if you live in a Western country.  To state a sexual identity that is anything other than straight or heterosexual in many countries is not an option due to violence oppression and executions. But New Zealand is not one of those countries.

Sexual Behaviour is what you do sexually and this can align with your sexual orientation and your sexual identity, but not necessarily. But, gender of first choice is not always available.

Millions of people live in countries where genders are tightly segregated before marriage due to cultural practices and religious laws. (think of the Middle East, Africa, parts of Pacifica)

In these countries and in prisons, in mining camps and war zones, if a person wants a sexual experience, it will often be with a the same gender, because the opposite gender is not available until marriage.

For many men in countries that practice polygamy there are simply not enough women as some men have multiple wives and in China, for example there are 107 boys born for every 100 girls.

On a world wide scale is is quite uncommon for a person to be able to express a Sexual Identity, that aligns with their Sexual Orientation and Sexual Behaviour. In New Zealand, to express your sexual identity, for the vast majority of people is commonplace and is something that is never regretted, but it often takes time, courage and trust to express that part of your identity.

Your sexual orientation, on reflection, you are probably aware of already.

You may already know what sexual behaviour might appeal to you.

The part that many people get stuck on is their sexual identity and whether to"come out". What might be the costs of coming out or not coming out ? What will be the benefits ?   This is the kind of issue that you might bring to counselling.

*MSM Men who identify as straight but have sex with men. Often have female partners. (article)

**Pan sexual people Identify as being not limited in choice of sexual partner based on biological sex, gender or gender identity.

***Asexual people Identify as not being interested in sex. "Asexual" can also be a sexual orientation. Asexual people have very few sexual thoughts of any kind. (Not to be confused with Sexual Anorexia where a person can have a constant preoccupation about not having sex).

Also,  see my posts on


Martin Fraser, B.A. (Hons) Psyc. Dip Counselling.

Particular interest in enhancing resilience in my community against Depression, Anxiety, Isolation and Addictions. Member of NZ Assoc Counsellors.

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