Sexuality

What is sexuality?

In its broadest sense "sexuality" describes the whole way a person goes about expressing himself or herself as a sexual being. It describes how important sexual expression is in a person's life, how one chooses to express that sexuality, and any preference one may have towards the type of sexual partner they choose. The way we choose to behave sexually is as individual and complicated as the ways we choose to dress or earn a living. Human sexuality rarely falls into neat categories or lends itself to simple labelling, but rather is a rich and complex area of human experience.

Why isn't everyone's sexuality the same?

Why do people's sexualities differ? Many theories have been put forward citing genetic pre-determination, childhood influences, and peer-pressure amongst other reasons. However, attempts to find a single cause for an individual's sexuality and sexual orientation or to influence or change an individual's sexuality have not been successful. Like many of our other characteristics, sexuality seems to be largely a chance product of one's unique nature, which is then further developed by our early interactions. Our sexuality seems to be formed by the time we reach our teens—although it may be many years later before we come to understand and accept our sexuality, which seems resistant to attempts to radically alter it.

So what is our sexuality then?

Sexuality involves many aspects of being human. The four major components of sexuality are:

  1. sensuality
  2. intimacy and relationships
  3. gender/sexual identity
  4. sexual health

Each of these components can have healthy or unhealthy aspects that are influenced by an individual's values, culture, experience, and spirituality.

Sex and sexuality

Sexuality is not just about SEX, although people often define sexuality in terms of genitals, what we do with them, and who we do it with.

Sexuality begins before birth and is a lifelong learning process until we die.

Sexuality involves and is shaped by many things, including:

  • values and beliefs
  • attitudes
  • experiences
  • physical attributes
  • sexual characteristics
  • societal expectations

Sexuality is...

  • the total of who you are, what you believe, what you feel, and how you respond.
  • the way in which you have been acculturated, socialized, and sexualized.
  • the sum of all your relationships and intimate encounters
  • expressed in the way you speak, smile, stand, sit, dress, dance, laugh, cry, and...

Sexuality is all this, including the way religion, morals, friends, age, body concepts, life goals and self-esteem shape your sexual self.

Understanding sexuality, and not just sex, fosters and encourages the development of good relationships throughout our lives.

More Information

For more information about sexuality and other sexual health topics, please refer to our list of external resources.