Heteroflexible: Everything You Need To Know

Like most things, sexuality exists on a spectrum. Gone are the days when you had to define yourself with labels, and we have far more flexibility to be who we truly are.

However, these labels still exist, so having a better understanding of the vocab can help you navigate life a little more easily! We’ve got a primer on everything you need to know about being heteroflexible and how you can explore that in your own sex life. 

What Is Sexual Orientation? Is It Different From Gender?

Sexual orientation seems to be a controversial topic, even though it’s not a conscious choice. It often gets confused with gender, but the concepts have distinct differences. Gender is external; it’s how society expects us to behave based on the body we were assigned at birth (our sex). 

If you’ve heard someone say that gender is a social construct, this is what they mean! These roles and norms vary from culture to culture and define how people can move through life — it can be hard to stray from traditional ideas of gender, and in some cultures, breaking from gender norms can lead to significant dangers.

Gender identity is more internal. Where gender is about how we should behave based on our assigned bodies, gender identity is how we feel on the inside and how we choose to present that on the outside. 

Gender identity can be the same as the body you were born into (cisgender) or different (transgender). Some people don’t identify strictly with either and may call themselves genderqueer or nonbinary.

Sexual identity, on the other hand, speaks to attraction. This doesn’t have to be strictly romantic or sexual attraction, as is the case with asexual or aromantic people. There are many different sexual identities, so we’ll hit just a few of the most common:

  • Heterosexual (“straight”) - People who are attracted to a different gender (sometimes referred to as the “opposite” sex).
  • Homosexual (“gay” or “lesbian”) - People who are attracted to the same gender.
  • Bisexual - (“bi”) People who are attracted to more than one gender. Bisexual is falling out of favor as a more binary term, and more people are referring to themselves as “pansexual” or “queer” to be more inclusive.
  • Asexual (“ace”) - People who don’t feel sexually attracted to anyone. This is also a spectrum, as some asexual people feel attracted to people after forming an emotional connection or may want a romantic partner without having sex.

Keep in mind that, even though we are far more open and accepting than ever, there is still an implicit bias toward heteronormativity. Unfortunately, people who present and behave in the traditional manner of heterosexuality are still seen as “normal” in many areas of the country. 

Those brave enough to venture out of it can still face scrutiny, discrimination, and even violence. Coming out of any closet is not without risk, even today. So, what is heteroflexibility?

What Is Heteroflexibility: What Does the Name Mean?

Essentially, people who claim the heteroflexible label define themselves as primarily heterosexual (“straight”) but are flexible and open to thoughts and experiences outside of that – and to “bending” under the right circumstances.

Understanding the History of Heteroflexibility

In the grand scheme of things, the term heteroflexible is still relatively new. It first appeared in the early 2000s and has even gotten the attention of the official Merriam-Webster dictionary (along with the far less frequently used homoflexible label). 

But the idea behind the label is anything but new and modern. Look at the Kinsey Scale, for example! Sexual pioneer Alfred Kinsey developed his Kinsey Scale back in 1948. 

For reference, the United States didn’t legalize gay marriage until 2015, so he really was way ahead of his time! After reviewing thousands of sexual histories, Kinsey decided that sexuality couldn’t stay in the three distinct categories (heterosexual, bisexual, or homosexual) they were using at the time. 

He came up with a new seven-point scale, ranging from 0 (exclusively heterosexual) to 6 (exclusively homosexual). While newer, more inclusive scales now exist, the idea that sexual orientation exists on a spectrum had existed long before this new heteroflexible label came onto the scene. 

Common Characteristics of Heteroflexibility

There is a significant element of fluidity among heteroflexible people, and their sexual behavior is not the only defining factor. Being heteroflexible is subjective, and each person’s experience and desires are different. 

For example, a person who considers themselves heteroflexible may be open to a steamy makeout sesh with someone of the same gender but not interested in going any further. Others may only be comfortable with theoretical heteroflexibility, like fantasizing about that super hot actress they enjoy. 

Some heteroflexible people may not even say it out loud. If you’ve ever had a “straight” friend or family member talk about how hot they think someone of the same gender is, they may be at least a little heteroflexible. Just smile knowingly and don’t push.

Heteroflexible vs. Bisexual: Is It the Same Thing?

If someone presumably “straight” thinks about or acts on urges to sleep with a same-sex partner, doesn’t that make them bi-curious? While there can be some cross-over, combining these labels is part of why bi-erasure is such a real issue in the LGBTQ community. 

Bisexual people have their own separate identities, and we shouldn’t push people who only feel comfortable with the heteroflexible label into identifying as anything else. For some people, the decision to identify as heteroflexible over bisexual comes down to the word itself! 

If you think about it, heteroflexible leads with that “hetero” label, which can make some people feel like they’re being less “othered.” If you’re concerned about how people will react to your sexual orientation, having a label closer to heterosexual than any other category can make you feel safer — and that’s ok! Only you get to define yourself.

What Does Heteroflexibility Mean Today

So what does heteroflexible mean today? Like any other sexual orientation, that’s up to each individual to decide. If you feel like you may fall under this umbrella, take the time to reflect on that! 

There’s no pressure to make an official stance on your sexual orientation, and you can choose to identify any way you please at any point in your life — and those labels can change! Remember, fluidity is the name of the game.

Self-love and self-knowledge go a long way toward getting comfortable with yourself; breaking through past trauma and societal expectations won’t happen overnight. Give yourself the time, space, and understanding to navigate through yourself. 

If you do decide to experiment with someone outside of your normal sexual attraction category, bring along plenty of lube. First times can be awkward, and anxiety can make you not perform as you usually would, and there’s no shame in helping Mother Nature out a little!

Self-care is crucial, no matter who you are. The journey towards embracing all facets of yourself is lifelong and can be uncomfortable and difficult. Make it a point to do at least one nice thing for yourself a day, whether that’s just taking a bath, practicing some mindfulness meditation, or turning your phone off to read a book. 

Takeaway

Heteroflexible people are everywhere, although they may not be loud or open about it. People should be allowed to define themselves however they feel most comfortable, whether their sexual orientation or gender identity, and leaving anyone out in the cold because you “don’t get it” only does yourself a disservice. 

Sources:

Gender and Gender Identity Information | Planned Parenthood

Sexual Orientation vs Gender | Planned Parenthood

'Homoflexible'/'Heteroflexible': Sexuality Spectrum | Merriam-Webster

Research | The Kinsey Scale

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