Sexuality: Exploring and Understanding Sexual Orientation

Sexuality is such a broad term that many have a hard time understanding exactly what it means and encompasses. There are many new terms that are being used to describe differences in sexuality, many of which can be confusing unless you identify with them. I hope that this blog will take out some of the grey areas in understanding sexuality.

Sexuality is your ability to have an erotic experience or response. This can be tied to your sexual orientation.

shutterstock_68280889Sexual orientation refers to your inclination to feel romantic or sexual attraction (or a combination of the two) towards persons of the opposite sex/gender identity, or persons of the same sex/gender identity, or to both sexes/more than one gender identity. Sexual orientation is a narrow term that is used to identify a vast amount of inclinations. The typical categories under sexual orientation are often heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, and asexual.

Heterosexuality describes the inclination to be attracted to persons of the opposite sex/gender identity. Slang terms often used for this orientation are hetero or straight.

Homosexuality describes the inclination to be attracted to persons of the same sex/gender identity. A slang term often used to identify this orientation is gay.

Bisexuality describes the inclination to be attracted to persons of both sexes/gendershutterstock_117274108 identities. There are many misconceptions that come along with those who identify as bisexual. They are often not accepted by homosexual and heterosexual individuals alike because they are seen as not having “chosen a side”, that is to say to pick being homosexuality or heterosexuality. The misconception that they “choose” to be bisexual is the same as anyone else saying that you choose your sexual orientation. Sexual orientation is not something that we choose, it is something that is born to us, which is something that is often stated in response to those who oppose homosexuality and can be equally applied to bisexuality.

Asexuality describes a lack of sexual attraction to anyone, or a low/absent interest in sexual activity. Asexuality differs from abstinence or celibacy in that asexuality is not driven by personal or religious beliefs/values. Asexuality is not a choice, but an inclination just like other orientations.

shutterstock_66080008There are other orientations which have become more in the public eye due to more research and a rising awareness of prevalence of these orientations.

Polysexuality describes the inclination to be attracted to persons of some sexes/gender identities, but not all. This is not to be confused with pansexuality or polyamory (the desire to have intimately involved with more than one person at the same time).

   describes the inclination to be attracted to persons of all sexes/gender identities. A slang term often used to identify this orientation is gender-blind. Pansexuals are open to relationships with anyone, including those who do not necessarily identify as a specific gender or biological sex.

Sexuality is a topic that many people feel uncomfortable discussing. With open and honest conversations, sexuality can be better understood. Sexuality greatly affects a person’s confidence level and body image, as does their sexual orientation and how they are perceived by others because of their sexual orientation. Those who have yet to “come out” as something other than heterosexual often experience great anxiety and fear at revealing their true self to the world that surrounds them because of the great deal of negativity that may have been experienced by those before them. It is important to remember that sexual orientation does not define who a person is or what they are capable of. Sexual orientation is merely a part of the whole, not the sole defining characteristic of a person, and should not have bearing on how a person is treated.

This of course is in an idealistic world. However, there is much discrimination and hatred to those who are not heterosexual. Much of this stems from misunderstanding and fear. That is why education geared towards fair treatment and understanding is so important. You cannot choose who you are, but you can choose how you react to those who surround you. Be the friend, the family member, the support, to all of those who need it.

The Codependent Relationship: Spouses

shutterstock_84732829 As I discussed in a previous blog, codependency is when both parties are dependent on one another in order for the relationship to function. Codependency can occur in any and all relationships, and it affects all relationships.

The codependency that occurs between spouses is unique because of the dynamic of the relationship. Because of the romantic aspect of this relationship, often times the spouse is controlled through affection and attention. This means that the addicted spouse will try and control the other using affection, sex, and giving them attention.

Codependency is dangerous in any loving relationship, but especially between spouses as physical/mental/emotional abuse is often involved. Abuse is used to control by shutterstock_121262254striking fear into the other person, causing them to behave in a way that will please the other to avoid the abusive behaviour.

Spouses engaging in codependent behaviour often times try to “cover” for the addicted spouse. They will lie to friends and family about their spouse’s behaviours. If the spouse holds a job, they will sometimes go as far as to call in sick for their spouse when they are too hung over or sick from withdrawal to go to work. People in this position will do anything and everything to make sure that their relationship will stay together.

In these relationships, no matter what lengths the addicted goes to (lying, stealing, cheating, abuse, etc.), their codependent will continue to allow them to be a part of the relationship and treat them in a way that is toxic. This can go on for many years, however, it is possible to recover from codependency. Toxic codependent relationships can be combated in several different ways, and listed below are just a few.

  • Remove yourself from the relationship

  • Seek counselling

  • Attend family/couples therapy during the addicted’s treatment

  • Make a safety plan if abuse is involved

  • Know what the signs are of codependent behaviour and recognize when it is affecting your life

Codependency is not something that will never stop. There is hope for recovery, but like recovering from an addiction, it takes a lot of hard work and it is a lifelong commitment. Take control, transform your behaviours, and learn to live a life you love.