In an interview with Psychology Today, sex expert Dr. David Ley discussed the bisexuality spectrum and how identities and orientations can be accounted for in healthy sexual relationships. The interview is the second in a series from the second annual AltSex Conference held in New York, April 28.
(Q) Alongside bisexual, you describe orientations like pansexual, omnisexual, heteroflexible, and mostly straight. What do these terms mean and how are they different from bisexuality?
A: I treated a man once who was bisexual, and very interested in sex with men, but not at all interested in falling in love with a man. He would be what some folks today call "heteroromantic bisexual."
Researchers Ritch Savin-Williams and Zhana Vrangalova find that "mostly straight" may be the largest group of sexual minority, representing people who identify as straight but have occasional same-sex arousal or behaviors. This is a flavor of bisexuality, in people who express bisexual behavior but choose not to embrace the identity. Much of that is about the stigma associated with these identities.
But, this is one of the places where we make it very difficult for people, often telling them that they aren't "really bisexual" or that they must identify as bisexual to avoid bi erasure. Unfortunately, that pressure leads to people rejecting it all and keeping their bisexuality private.
But ultimately, I realized that in this complexity, in this highly nuanced area, we must instead turn towards developing healthy, positive sexual values. Rather than trying to define, concretize and nail down what bisexuality is, we should instead be more focused on helping people to do it well.