Three dimensions

I don’t pretend this is new and original, but I’ve found it helpful to be as precise and definite as possible in terms of thinking about how people interact (guy-guy and guy-girl). (Occupational hazard.)

There’s three ways to relate to another human being. (Ok, at least three, but three for now.)

There’s the social level. This is friendship – who do we like to spend time with? If it’s mostly/exclusively other guys, then we might consider that we prefer to socialize with the same sex. That is, homosociality. Preferring to socialize with women might be described as heterosocial. “Socialize” here I think is a little more than just “who do you like to hang out with”, but it’d include that too. I’d argue that most guys are homosocial by nature; it’s easier for us to understand each other than it is to understand women. Not a big deal either way.

(The stereotypical “feminine” gay man is the exception to this. Socializing is based partly on shared interests and mindset/attitude. Friends don’t all have to like exactly the same list of “approved manly” things, but when there’s nothing in common to talk about… it’s a little awkward. Possibly this explains what has been described as “Gay Fatigue”? Tomboys or (I guess) “butch” lesbians would also be exceptions.)

There’s the romantic level. Again, one can have romantic feelings mostly for people of the opposite sex, mostly for people of the same sex, or some of both.

There’s the sexual level. No big surprise that there’s that same spectrum here – sexual desire exclusively for the opposite sex, mostly for the opposite sex, half-and-half, mostly for the same sex, exclusively for the same sex.

So, three dimensions. They’re not automatically related – being strongly homosocial is perfectly compatible with being strongly heteroromantic and heterosexual, or also with being homoromantic and homosexual. “Romance” and “sex” aren’t always linked (“correlated”) either. “Homosexual but heteroromantic” (or hetero for sex but homo for romance) would be awkward, though!

I think the tension about being bi comes, in part, from combining “homosocial” and (partly) homo-sexual with hetero-romantic. I’ve slowly realized that I’m not entirely hetero-romantic, either, or at least there’s one shining exception. Although it really doesn’t feel like the same kind of “romance”, either. Or maybe it’s just that I know that he’s not ever going to want flowers and sparkly shiny jewelry?

Advertisements

7 Responses to Three dimensions

  1. BiSomething says:

    This post — and, indeed, your entire blog — is both helpful and insightful. I hadn’t though before to separate out a romantic-attraction dimension from a sexual-attraction dimension, but it makes a lot of sense.

    I had previously sort of combined the two in my head, thinking that my equal sexual attraction for both sexes, but romantic attraction for only the opposite sex, just put me somewhere between bisexual and straight. Conceiving of myself, however, as bi-sexual but hetero-romantic just somehow feels more true in a purely subjective sense.

    It’s also, in a way, more comforting to know that it isn’t necessarily the case that I’m subconciously resisting feeling romantic attraction for the same sex out of some last-ditch effort to hold onto some sense of straightness. (Of course, maybe I am . . . but how does one know if one’s deluding oneself?) Nevertheless, if I’m physically turned on by nude images of the same sex but made queesy by the idea of picnics and sunset walks on the beach with the same sex, than I suppose that’s evidence enough.

    I’m not as convinced, though, of the hetero / homo social divide . . . for males, I wonder how much of it is driven by feeling excluded by a male society that’s generally gay-unfriendly.

  2. bi-Gentleman says:

    We are conducting a survey of Bi/gay married men (married to a woman) to better understand the thoughts and actions of Bi/gay married men as opposed to other gay men in different situations.

    If you are visiting lifeout and are married (or partnered) to a female, your assistance would be greatly appreciated.

    The survey is 30 questions (multiple choice) and will take about 5 mins. All information is confidential and your privacy is assured.

    To take the survey please go to: http://bimarriedandhonest.blogspot.com/p/survey.html

    THANK YOU

  3. I can relate to that. I guess, outside of our cultural conditioning, probably any human contact can be sexualized. But our conditioning concerning our own self-identity is perhaps more stable (i.e., your sexual arousal to nude images but feeling queasy over stereotypically over-feminine romantic interaction).

    But what is more ‘gay’? Is it ‘romantic’ attraction or sexual attraction? And if sexual attraction can easily be paired with the stronger feeling–romantic attraction–perhaps it is a byproduct. Or perhaps the opposite is true.

    I don’t know. But I for one think that it is possible to be emotionally attracted (and quite strongly) to someone without needing the relationship to become sexual. After all, sometimes sex complicates things. Maybe there is room for people to become platonic soulmates. And maybe sexual orientation is defined more by activity than draw. Again, I don’t know.

    When I was younger, I fell in love with my best friend. And he with me. There wasn’t anything sexual (and least not consciously) about the relationship. But we were separated because of the homophobia of the adults around us. And we weren’t even gay! But, this is the world we live in. I certainly wish we could have just been soulmates, but platonic soulmates seems unheard of these days. And apparently unacceptable.

    • maybebi says:

      I agree that’s it’s totally possible to be (emotionally) attracted/attached to someone without needing sex to come into it. There’s all sorts of platonic guy/girl friendships, guy/guy friendships, girl/girl friendships.

      I think that “romantic” attraction is more specific than sexual attraction. Guy sees a sexy girl (or guy), there’s sexual attraction without knowing the person at all – but it’s not automatically romantic attraction. Maybe sexual attraction is between bodies, romantic attraction is between hearts or souls?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: