At what age is a person's sexuality defined?

At what age is a person’s sexuality defined?

Sometimes you have heard theories like the one that all people are born bisexual. But you wonder: how can a baby know if she is bisexual? And a little girl? At what age is a person’s sexuality defined? And how is it defined? Can children experience sexual desire? Can you tell me what your sexual orientation is? And how many directions are there? You will find the answer to all these questions in this article from Psychologyorg.

What is sexual orientation?

Sexuality is a very broad concept that encompasses various aspects of the human being such as sex, sex identity, gender identity, sexual orientation, eroticism, reproduction, etc.

To understand what sexual orientation is, we must first understand the concept of sexual desire. Sexual lust is a psychobiological significance that precedes, escorts and tends to construct sexual conduct. Desire has three components of a different natures:

  • The impulse is physiological in nature. It is genital arousal and sexual excitability.
  • The longing is cognitive in nature. They are the desire, the disposition regardless of impulse.
  • Motivation, of an affective nature. It is the resolution to sexual attitudes (decision and consent), and such resolution is influenced by the context, the attraction…

Sexual orientation refers to the orientation of a person’s sexual desire, and has four basic dimensions:

  • Sexual attraction: towards whom (or what…).
  • Sexual fantasies: sexual images or stimuli that cause arousal.
  • Emotional bonding: feelings of tenderness, affection, intimacy… towards another person.
  • Sexual conduct: sexual practice.

At what point is sexuality defined?

Human sexuality develops from the moment we are born. During childhood there are usually different forms of expression and sexual behavior that are usually spontaneous, the result of curiosity and exploration, and autoerotic, that is, they seek their own pleasure and do not want other people erotically. Childhood sexual behaviors cannot be interpreted from an adult perspective.

During pre-adolescence (9-13 years) sexual desire may appear, and it is at this stage that a person’s sexuality (understood as orientation) begins to be defined. During adolescence and puberty, a phase that begins with the appearance of secondary sexual characteristics, one usually has the first erotic fantasies and the first shared sexual experiences, while the orientation of sexual desire is being defined.

Is it normal to have doubts about sexuality in adolescence?

Having doubts about one’s own sexuality in adolescence and even in other stages of life is normal. During adolescence, it is especially common since they are in a phase in which sexuality is still in the process of being defined. Here you can see Psychological changes in adolescence.

The person is still in the phase of experiencing what and who excites him, what and who causes him desire, who appears in his erotic fantasies, etc. In addition, there is a strong sociocultural component in the development of sexuality, since not all sexual orientations have the same social acceptance, it can be more difficult to experience or accept one’s own sexual orientation when it deviates from the hegemonic one.

At what age is a person's sexuality defined?

Sexual orientation definition process

There are many theories that try to explain the causes of sexual orientation, from purely neurohormonal or genetic hypotheses to more integrative theories such as EBE. Bem’s EBE (Exotic Becomes Erotic) theory attempts to explain the development of sexual orientation by combining biological and sociocultural factors, based on the assumption that sex/gender differences are cultural. According to this theory, in the process of defining sexual orientation, these factors must be taken into account in the following order:

  1. Biological variables, such as genetic and hormonal factors.
  2. Childish temperament, such as aggressiveness, confrontation, activity level…
  3. The typical or atypical sexual activity and preferences of playmates, if he does the same as those of the same sex or not.
  4. Feeling different from or similar to the same or opposite sex. If you feel different from people of the same sex, you can see them as “the exotic.”
  5. Non-specific autonomic arousal to partners of the same/opposite sex. Physiological activation is triggered, by physical attraction. In the homosexual case, it would occur before people of the same sex, experienced “exotic” in childhood.
  6. Erotic/romantic attraction to people of the same/opposite sex. The sexual impulse during adolescence becomes sexual orientation.

Types of sexual orientations

If until now you thought that there were only the typical ones (homosexual and heterosexual), and at most bisexual, keep reading because the list of great types of sexual orientations has gotten a little longer. The main types of sexual orientations are the following:

  • Heterosexuality: desire towards people of the opposite sex.
  • Homosexuality: desire towards people of the same sex.
  • Bisexuality: desire towards people of the same sex and of the opposite sex.
  • Asexuality: absence of sexual attraction towards another person. The opposite of asexuality is allosexual.
  • Pansexuality: desire oriented towards people regardless of their gender and condition (straight, homo, trans, intersex, agender…). Pansexuality transcends binary categories.
  • Graysexuality: flexible orientation that includes those people who may or may not be attracted under different circumstances. This term acts a bit like an umbrella for non-mainstream sexual orientations.
  • Others: demisexuality, sapiosexuality …

Read Also: What if a woman hasn’t had sex for a long time? Psychologyorg


Q: At what age is a person’s sexuality defined?

A: Sexual orientation is a complex aspect of human identity that can evolve and develop over time. It’s important to note that there isn’t a specific age at which a person’s sexuality is definitively defined. However, many individuals start to become aware of their sexual orientation during adolescence or early adulthood.

Q: Can a person’s sexuality change over time?

A: Yes, a person’s sexuality can change or evolve over time. Sexual orientation is a personal and individual experience, and some individuals may find that their attractions or interests shift or expand throughout their lives. It’s important to respect and acknowledge an individual’s self-identified sexual orientation, regardless of any changes they may experience.

Q: Is it possible to determine a person’s sexuality at birth?

A: No, it is not possible to determine a person’s sexual orientation at birth. Sexual orientation is a complex aspect of human identity that involves a combination of biological, genetic, hormonal, and environmental factors. It typically emerges as individuals grow and develop, and it may not be apparent until they begin to explore their own feelings and attractions.

Q: When do individuals usually become aware of their sexual orientation?

A: Many individuals start to become aware of their sexual orientation during adolescence or early adulthood. This period of self-discovery often involves exploring one’s feelings, attractions, and relationships. However, the timing can vary for each person, and some individuals may come to understand their sexual orientation at different stages of life.

Q: Can someone know their sexual orientation at a young age?

A: It is possible for individuals to have a sense of their sexual orientation at a young age, even during childhood. Some individuals may experience same-sex attractions or feelings that indicate a non-heterosexual orientation early on. However, it’s essential to provide support, understanding, and a non-judgmental environment for young individuals to explore and understand their feelings without pressure or assumptions.

Q: Is there a “normal” or “right” age to come out as LGBTQ+?

A: No, there is no “normal” or “right” age to come out as LGBTQ+. Coming out is a deeply personal decision, and it varies for each individual. Some people may choose to come out during their teenage years, while others may wait until adulthood or later in life. It’s crucial to respect an individual’s readiness and autonomy in deciding when and how to disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Q: Can external factors influence a person’s sexual orientation?

A: External factors, such as societal norms, culture, and personal experiences, can influence a person’s understanding and acceptance of their sexual orientation. However, it’s important to note that external factors do not determine a person’s sexual orientation. Sexual orientation is believed to have a complex interplay between genetic, hormonal, and environmental factors, and it is ultimately an inherent aspect of an individual’s identity.

Q: Is it common for people to question their sexual orientation?

A: Yes, it is relatively common for individuals to question their sexual orientation at some point in their lives. Questioning and exploring one’s feelings and attractions can be a natural part of self-discovery. It’s important to provide a supportive and non-judgmental environment for individuals who may be questioning their sexual orientation, as they navigate their own journey of understanding and acceptance.

Q: Can therapy or counseling change a person’s sexual orientation?

A: No, therapy or counseling should not aim to change a person’s sexual orientation. Sexual orientation is not considered a mental disorder or something that needs to be “fixed.” Professional mental health support should focus on providing individuals with guidance, acceptance, and assistance in understanding and accepting their own sexual orientation, whatever it may be.

Q: How can I support someone who is questioning their sexual orientation?

A: Supporting someone who is questioning their sexual orientation is crucial. Here are some methods:

  1. Be a good listener and provide a safe and non-judgmental space for them to share their feelings and experiences.
  2. Educate yourself about different sexual orientations and identities to better understand their experiences.
  3. Respect their journey and avoid pressuring them to come to any conclusions before they are ready.
  4. Offer resources and information about LGBTQ+ organizations, support groups, or helplines they can reach out to for further assistance.
  5. Encourage self-acceptance and reassure them that their feelings are valid and normal.
  6. Be patient and understanding as they navigate their own process of self-discovery.

If you want to read more articles similar to At what age is a Person’s sexuality defined, we recommend that you enter our Sexology category.

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