Society tells us to view sexuality as something rigid and fixed; you’re either gay or you’re straight, man or woman, vanilla or kinky. There’s not much room for straying outside the binary, exploring your sexuality isn’t generally an accepted concept in self-discovery.
However, through both my personal experience and my years working as a sexuality doula, I’ve found that this doesn’t prove to be true. Sexuality is nuanced and colorful. It’s not always static. And not only is that okay, but it’s also pretty exciting.
That said, if you’ve grown up accustomed to binaries, it can be hard to “color outside the sexual lines.” Here are some steps for getting started.
Connect with yourself.
Spend some time reflecting, meditating, and journaling on who you are as a person. Outside of your relationships with others, as a spouse, parents, sibling, friend–who are you? What makes you tick? If you had no self-judgments or restrictions, what would you desire sexually? How far would you explore the depths of your sexuality? Before your sexual identity had a name, what did it look like? What would it look like if it didn’t have to be labeled?
Asking yourself these questions can be an important part of your journey to self-understanding and acceptance. Try to dedicate at least 10 minutes per day to going inward and checking in with yourself. Eventually, you’ll start to understand your desires and interests will come forward and you’ll develop a deeper understanding of your sexual nature.
Release preconceived notions of labels.
Next, make a list of all the sexual labels you identify with. Some examples might be: heteroflexible, non-binary, queer, romantic, polyamorous, straight, kinky, cisgender, submissive, a-sexual, high sex drive, etc. Then, next to each one, write down what it means to you, and then how you think society perceives that label. Reflect on the list, noticing both the difference and similarities between your definitions and the societal definitions.
The idea of this exercise is to claim ownership over your own identifiers. At the same time, you’re releasing control over the way others see you. Remind yourself that regardless of your personal labels, you are a unique and wonderful person; and it’s not the labels that define you. You would be the same without them.
Embrace and celebrate yourself.
Now it’s time for the fun part: to embrace and celebrate yourself as a unique sexual creature. No one is quite the same as you, and that’s wonderful! Allow some room for being a sexually fluid person. Your preferences and desires might change day by day, and that’s totally fine. Exploring your sexuality can be an ever-growing journey.
When we treat our sexuality as something exciting to experiment with instead of something we must label and cage, it becomes a whole lot more fun. Also, way less stressful. If you like labels and they make you feel safe and happy, that’s great!. Just know that you don’t have to identify with them if it doesn’t feel right. Let yourself enjoy your own unique brand of sexuality. Make a list of all the things you love about your sexual self, and then pick three aspects to explore and celebrate this week. Maybe it’s getting a toy, trying something new with a partner, or joining a dating app.
Rememeber that your sexuality is always a worthy investment. Take the time to explore your needs and you’ll see the benefits in all areas of your life.
Isabella Frappier is an Australian writer, holistic life coach, tarot reader and doula who is currently based in LA. You can connect with her at www.isabellafrappier.com or follow her Instagram @bellatookaphoto.