20 Types of Sexuality To Know for Greater Understanding About Yourself and Others

Photo: The Gender Spectrum Collection
There’s a reason why those marble-slab ice cream shops have maintained such a dedicated fanbase: They give you the power to concoct the Franken-scoop of your dreams, picking and choosing sweet add-ins to your heart’s content. While yummy in a totally different way, the possibilities that exist within the scope of human sexuality are similarly endless. And with so many different romantic orientations, kinks, and types of sexuality on the table, there’s no shortage of flavors out there.

The implications of variety when it comes to types of sexuality are, of course, further-reaching than in the realm of ice cream, however. “We have so many more terms and descriptions for how we individually want to describe our own sexuality nowadays,” says author, public speaker, and sex and relationship expert Tara Suwinyattichaiporn, PhD, who goes by Dr. Tara. “The sex-positive movement has been on the rise, and with it comes the ability for people to identify themselves however they like.”

“Sexuality is full of diversity, and awareness of different types helps build acceptance and understanding of these differences.” —Shannon Chavez, PsyD, licensed psychologist and sex therapist

Learning about all the established types of sexuality—even if you feel you already have a strong understanding of your own sexual identity—can help destigmatize the topic for others. “Sexuality is full of diversity, and awareness of different types helps build acceptance and understanding of these differences,” says licensed psychologist and sex therapist Shannon Chavez, PsyD. “[Discussing the topic] can break down stereotypes, judgments, and myths about different sexual populations.”

Below, you'll find the full scoop on the different types of sexuality, how to identify your own type, and where to seek support if you're dealing with mental health issues or discrimination tied to your sexuality.

Experts In This Article

What is sexuality?

Sexuality is a term that describes our sexual, emotional, and romantic attraction toward other people. Sexual orientation, by contrast, describes the types of people to whom we are sexually attracted, and romantic orientation describes the types of people to whom we are romantically attracted. (Psst: The two don’t always align!)

To be sure, sexuality is complex and varies greatly from person to person. In order to best capture the ever-changing nature of sexuality and the full range of sexual orientations, many sexual health professionals refer to sexuality as a spectrum.

There are also spectrums found within the sexuality spectrum. Take, for example, the asexuality spectrum: Those who identify as asexual do not experience sexual attraction toward anyone, regardless of gender. However, there can be different degrees of asexuality at play in different people; for example, plenty of asexual people recognize that sex is important in a relationship, and as such, some still choose to engage in sex with their partners despite not experiencing sexual attraction or interest in sex.

Separate from a person's type of sexuality is their gender identity. Our gender identity describes the way we view ourselves in regard to the sociological gender binary of male and female. Some people identify with the gender they were assigned at birth (cisgender), some people identify with the opposite gender (transgender), some people identify with neither male nor female (nonbinary), and some people don’t identify with a specific gender at all (agender).

What are all the types of sexuality?

By learning about all the different types of sexuality, you can cultivate a better understanding of yourself and others. And since language is always evolving, staying on top of the terminology regarding diverse sexual identities is important for both creating an authentic relationship with yourself and being an inclusive ally for all people.

Note that existing lists of the different types of sexuality are likely to change as our understanding of sexuality evolves. For now, you can find a breakdown of 20 of the most common romantic orientations and sexual orientations below, according to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and the University of Connecticut’s Rainbow Center.

1. Allosexual

This is simply a term for a person who experiences sexual attraction (as opposed to someone who is asexual).

2. Aromantic

Aromantic is one of many different romantic orientations that describes someone who experiences little or no romantic attraction to other people.

3. Androsexual

An androsexual is sexually attracted to men or masculinity.

4. Asexual

People who are asexual are not sexually attracted to other people.

5. Bicurious

A person who is bicurious is interested in or curious about having sex with someone whose sexual or gender identity is different from that of their typical sexual partner.

6. Bisexual

A bisexual is someone who is emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted to people of more than one sex, gender, or gender identity. (FYI: This is a term that is sometimes used interchangeably with “pansexual,” which more specifically describes someone who is sexually attracted to people without regard for their gender identity.)

7. Demiromantic

This is a person who has little or no ability to feel romantically attracted to someone until they form a strong sexual or emotional connection with the person.

8. Demisexual

Demisexuality refers to those who do not experience sexual attraction until they have a strong romantic connection with someone.

9. Fraysexual

Fraysexuality, also known as ignotasexuality, refers to people who experience a strong sexual attraction to strangers. (Fraysexual people tend to feel less attraction toward people they know well.)

10. Gay

A person who is gay is emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted to people who share their gender identity. This term is often used by men, women, and non-binary people.

11. Heteroflexible

People who are heteroflexible often identify as heterosexual but may experience situational sexual and romantic attraction that falls outside of that realm.

12. Heterosexual

This term describes people who are sexually and/or romantically attracted to people of the opposite gender identity. This term is typically used to describe men who are attracted to women, and vice versa.

13. Lesbian

A lesbian is someone who identifies as a woman (or in some cases, non-binary or genderqueer) and is emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted to other people who identify as women.


This is an acronym for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer.” The LGBTQ+ spectrum of sexuality is vast, encompassing many of the sexualities that appear on this list.

15. Pansexual

A pansexual person has the potential for emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attraction to people of any gender identity or sexual orientation.

16. Queer

This term describes a spectrum of sexual identities that fall outside the heterosexual umbrella.

17. Questioning

People who consider themselves questioning are currently exploring their sexual orientation.

18. Same-gender loving

This is a term that’s used by some people instead of “lesbian,” “gay,” or “bisexual” to explain their attraction to someone of the same gender identity.

19. Skoliosexual

A person who is skoliosexual is attracted to people who are non-binary, or people who do not identify with either the male or female gender. (Remember, though, that the sexuality of a non-binary person is distinct from their gender identity—a skoliosexual person isn’t necessarily non-binary, and a non-binary person isn’t necessarily skoliosexual.)

20. Sapiosexual

A sapiosexual person is attracted to another person on the basis of their intellect—however they define that. (Note that different sapiosexual people can and will define intellect-based attraction in different terms because there are different kinds of intelligence and ways to measure it.)

Why does sexuality matter?

Just like your nationality, race, ethnicity, and social status, your sexuality is a vital aspect of your identity. Educating yourself about the wide, wonderful world of sexuality can provide a framework for you to better understand yourself and your own sexual interests. By proxy, it can also “help you connect to other folks who are having a similar life experience, which we know is especially important for supporting the health and well-being of queer people,” says sexual-health disparities researcher Corey Flanders, PhD, associate professor of psychology and education at Mount Holyoke College.

According to Dr. Flanders, knowing and understanding the growing lexicon surrounding sexuality can also help you identify the nuances of your sexual identity, paving the way for future self-exploration. To explain how that works, Dr. Flanders uses an ice cream analogy: "What if your favorite ice cream flavor was kale," he posits, "but you never knew that about yourself because it was never an option? And then one day, you come across kale ice cream and love it—and now understand yourself as a person whose favorite ice cream is kale-flavored."

The same goes for sexuality: Learning the various types of sexuality that exist may help you discover or learn more about an aspect of your sexuality that you didn't previously know or understand.

How do I know my sexuality?

Understanding your own sexuality starts with being curious about and honest with yourself. If you’re unsure of your sexuality, consider acknowledging the sexual pulls (or lack thereof) you’ve already experienced but perhaps previously dismissed or ignored.

To take your exploration a step further, Dr. Tara suggests trying sexual meditation. It’s as simple as it sounds: Find a quiet, comfortable spot to sit or lie down, and envision yourself having sex with different kinds of people. “See how your body reacts when you visualize yourself having a passionate encounter with different people,” says Dr. Tara. “What brings you the most fire? What brings you the most joy?”

At the end of the day, exploring your own sexuality should be fun. Practice radical self-acceptance, and be patient with yourself. Let your imagination out to play, and don’t be afraid to experiment with other flavors of ice cream, so to speak.

Can sexuality change with age?

The question of whether sexuality is fluid—despite the growing body of scientific research that says as much—is controversial, even today. “If you talk to some queer influencers or therapists, they will say it cannot change,” says Dr. Tara.

However, modern sex research begs to differ: One 2019 study published in the Journal of Sex Research found that our sexuality can indeed change1 throughout our adolescence and well into adulthood, with women being more fluid than men.

Dr. Tara agrees with this based on her own experience as a sex researcher and sex therapist. “I have personally and professionally witnessed many people that have gone through all kinds of different sexualities throughout their lifetime,” she says, “but it all depends on the individual.”

Where can a person receive support for issues related to sexuality?

If you’re suffering from mental health issues related in part to your sexuality or gender identity, you’re not alone. According to the American Psychiatric Association, LGBTQ+ individuals are more than twice as likely as heterosexual people to have a mental health disorder in their lifetime, and are 2.5 times more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.

Thankfully, there are multiple support systems available that can help you safely navigate your journey of sexual self-discovery. If you’re looking for help in regard to your sexuality and mental health or simply want to explore your identity with the guidance of an expert, consider tapping a certified sex therapist. (Sex therapists are licensed professionals who have dedicated their careers to studying the relationship between sexuality and mental health, and can help you explore your sexuality in a safe, judgment-free space.)

If you struggle with thoughts of suicide tied to your sexuality, it's important to seek immediate help. Both the Human Rights Campaign and the Trevor Project have a mental health resource list that you can use for immediate, 24/7 help. These include the LGBT National Hotline (1-888-843-4564) and the Crisis Text Line (text HOME to 741741).

According to Dr. Tara, allowing yourself to explore your own sexual identity can help you foster a better relationship with yourself. Throughout her years of research, Dr. Tara shares that she has seen a positive correlation between self-esteem and sexual exploration. And as a bisexual woman, Dr. Tara also says she’s experienced this first hand.

“I feel significantly more confident as a person, as a woman, as a coach, now that I have explored and continue to explore my sexuality,” says Dr. Tara. “I feel self-assured because I know who I am.”

Well+Good articles reference scientific, reliable, recent, robust studies to back up the information we share. You can trust us along your wellness journey.
  1. Kaestle, Christine E. “Sexual Orientation Trajectories Based on Sexual Attractions, Partners, and Identity: A Longitudinal Investigation From Adolescence Through Young Adulthood Using a U.S. Representative Sample.” Journal of sex research vol. 56,7 (2019): 811-826. doi:10.1080/00224499.2019.1577351

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