Behind Closed Doors: Navigating Sexual Identities


Just a few weeks ago, we were talking about the hard and soft limits in a relationship. It’s important for an individual to be able to recognize what sorts of things have the potential to end a relationship, whether on their own or when coupled with other limits. They are lines in the sand, if you will. These can range from problems like eating noises to dominance dynamics. However, I think that there is an important question that arises from this conversation.

Moving forward through the 21st century, the public has come to realize that the accepted definitions of things like gender and sexuality have transformed and will continue to transform in a more inclusive and varied direction. It’s safe to say that the time for a proper re-evaluation of what we take these definitions to mean on an individual basis, and what it will mean for what we take to be hard and soft limits, has been a long time coming.

It should be common knowledge that gender and sexuality are best thought of in terms of scales, as opposed to approaching them with a dichotomous mindset. So, as a result, one should consider how they would react to having a partner at various locations on these scales. For instance, if you are a heterosexual woman, you could consider which aspects of masculinity attract you in general and, when considering someone as a potential partner or reconsidering a partnership, which aspects of masculinity attract you to this person in particular. Furthermore, are these aspects of masculinity something that could be satisfied by a masculine female? Again, I am only using the images of a heterosexual female as an example for a certain kind of self-reflection that could lead to discovering different aspects of yourself, either romantically or sexually, which brings me to my next point.

This topic can and for the purposes of having an effective affirmation of personal self-exploration — should extend from matters of romanticism to those of sexuality. For instance, if in our example of the heterosexual female, she arrives at the conclusion that there isn’t anything that is inherently or necessarily “masculine” that she’s attracted to, she may come to the realization that she may not be purely heterosexual in a romantic or social sense. However, she may feel that the piece that she would miss when dating a woman would be the physical presence of a penis. Well, that conclusion might result in the realization that she has an interest in being in a romantic relationship with another female in which both participants utilize penetrative sex toys. If the concern is more based on preferring the absence of a vulva, then that would act as something of a limit. Additionally, she may find that being in a romantic relationship with a pre-op transgender female is in no way a personal limit, recognizing of course that the multitude of dynamics that go into pre-, post- or not having the intent of operation are far more sensitive and nuanced than this overly normative sentence can communicate.

I certainly wish that this last aspect of determining your hard and soft limits in a relationship was not something that has to be considered in society today, but it is something that one should take note of when analyzing specific thoughts on the topics of gender and sexuality. However, one should also think about external ramifications involved in rediscovering the particulars of your sexuality. While it is easy to wave one’s hand at the idea of society reacting to any new discoveries that one may make, it is absolutely reasonable for somebody to not feel comfortable acting on these new discoveries. Should one discover bi, trans, homo or other sexual/romantic/social nuances about themselves, they may not feel comfortable with coming out and expressing themselves in this way just yet; that’s OK. It’s important for everyone to feel comfortable with themselves and their projections. We all have our own paces and decisions that are best to make for ourselves once we’ve successfully addressed the concept.

Hopefully this has been able to be an applicable, thought-provoking question that results in attention being paid to the idea that you may be looking at your own sexuality with an oversimplified lens.

William W. is a Behind Closed Doors columnist who wants you to seriously evaluate what sexual characteristics you find attractive.


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