A new study into sexual behaviours and fluidity has found that there are four types of identifiable fluidness in people.
Lisa Diamond, a world-renowned scientist whose most famous for her decades-long research on women who identify with sexual minorities, published a new paper in Archives of Sexual Behaviour outlining four different types of sexual fluidity.
Sexual fluidity is understood as an individual’s ability to fluctuate in their sexual response as a result of different situations or experiences, as discussed in Diamond’s book, Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women’s Love and Desire.
To date, researchers have often explored fluidity concerning sexual orientation and the gender that individuals find sexually and romantically attractive. While Diamond has previously found that sexual fluidity can be influenced by a myriad of factors such as hormonal changes, physical experiences and sexual desires – her latest article instead dissects the socially conceptual or constructed forms of sexual fluidity.
The study itself involved 76 women between the ages of 19 and 37. The women were required to complete a survey about sexual attraction, experiences and identities over the previous 12 months.
Thirty-two per cent of the women identified as straight, 42 per cent identified as bisexual and 26 per cent identified as lesbians.
The women were also placed in a controlled environment (a lab) for an arousal-inducing experience and wrote a daily diary for two weeks about their sexual behaviour.
With Diamond’s oversight, her team analysed the data from the study and identified four types of sexual fluidity as a result.
4 Types of Sexual Fluidity
Situational Fluidity: Situational fluidity strongly aligns with the original idea of sexual fluidity as arousal that depends on a specific situation. Diamond’s study found that women with greater situational fluidity were more likely to have a higher number of sexual partners, and were also likely to become sexually active at a younger age.
Essentially, Diamond says that: “responsiveness to situation-specific opportunities for sexual contact … [may] amplify [a woman’s] opportunities for sexual contact, thereby increasing their total number of sexual partners and accelerating their initial transition into sexual activity.”
Attraction vs Behaviour: This fluidity, which was self-reported by the women studied, is marked by sexual attractions that were different from actual sexual experiences. A person who was primarily attracted to men but pursued experiences with women, or conversely was attracted mostly to women but only had sex with men would be considered fluid within this category.
Temporal Instability: This type of fluidity is rooted in Diamond’s previous work on dynamical systems theory which means that patterns move. Temporal instability changes and settles, before changing again as time goes on. Diamond applied this theory to sexual attractions which might change at times, meaning that appeal to a person could vary from one week to another.
Responsiveness to Less-Preferred Gender (AKA Bisexuality): Diamond likens this fluidity to a bisexual identity. This type of sexual fluidity is where someone has the capacity for sexual experiences with the gender that they are generally less attracted to – or has the option and ability for sexual attraction to partners of different genders. However, from a scientific standpoint and to the person, there is no clear preference for one or the other.
While Diamond’s study did not link any of the sexual fluidity types to a woman’s sex drive or her interest in open relationships, her study has been ground-breaking in clarifying the differences and similarities between sexual fluidity and bisexuality.
However, it must be noted that this study only included women, and did not include men – let alone account for transgender or non-binary identities, so it is still unknown how sexual fluidity varies across the entire LGBTQI+ community.