Stability of Sexual Attractions Across Different Timescales: The Roles of Bisexuality and Gender

Abstract

We examined the stability of same-sex and other-sex attractions among 294 heterosexual, lesbian, gay, and bisexual men and women between the ages of 18 and 40 years. Participants used online daily diaries to report the intensity of each day’s strongest same-sex and other-sex attraction, and they also reported on changes they recalled experiencing in their attractions since adolescence. We used multilevel dynamical systems models to examine individual differences in the stability of daily attractions (stability, in these models, denotes the tendency for attractions to “self-correct” toward a person-specific setpoint over time). Women’s attractions showed less day-to-day stability than men’s, consistent with the notion of female sexual fluidity (i.e., heightened erotic sensitivity to situational and contextual influences). Yet, women did not recollect larger post-adolescent changes in sexual attractions than did men, and larger recollected post-adolescent changes did not predict lower day-to-day stability in the sample as a whole. Bisexually attracted individuals recollected larger post-adolescent changes in their attractions, and they showed lower day-to-day stability in attractions to their “less-preferred” gender, compared to individuals with exclusive same-sex or exclusive other-sex attractions. Our results suggest that both gender and bisexuality have independent influences on sexual fluidity, but these influences vary across short versus long timescales, and they also differ for attractions to one’s “more-preferred” versus “less-preferred” gender.

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported by a grant from the American Institute of Bisexuality, awarded to the first author.

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Correspondence to Lisa M. Diamond.

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The first author, second author, and third author declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

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Diamond, L.M., Dickenson, J.A. & Blair, K.L. Stability of Sexual Attractions Across Different Timescales: The Roles of Bisexuality and Gender. Arch Sex Behav 46, 193–204 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-016-0860-x

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Keywords

  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender differences
  • Bisexuality