Sex Advice

Dear Dr. Locker: I met a guy who told me he is a 3 on the Kinsey Scale. I assumed it means he is gay, but I am not sure. What does this mean?

Answer from Dr. Locker

It would mean that the thinks he is bisexual (or exactly half gay and half straight) – completely equally in terms of which gender he is sexually interested in, or attracted to.

What is the Kinsey Scale? In the 1940s famed sexologist Alfred Kinsey developed The Kinsey Scale for Sexual Orientation, which is still the most used source for distinguishing different sexual orientations by describing the range of possibilities. The scale goes from 0 “exclusively heterosexual” to 6 “exclusively homosexual”. Most people would not fit as either a 0 or 6, because most people have at least some occasional fantasies about both genders. Kinsey advised that we not characterize people as either gay or straight, but rather as individuals who have certain amounts of heterosexual and homosexual experiences, thoughts, fantasies, attractions and desires. He also thought that sexual orientation should take into account past, present, and future ideas about one’s sexuality (not just behaviors), and that it is fluid and may evolve or change throughout one’s life.

When someone chooses where he or she falls on the scale, that is not a clinical assessment. It is just how that person feels at that time in his or her life, and may or may not be indicative of his or her behavior. In other words, this guy who says he is a 3 on the Kinsey Scale, may have had sex equally with men or women... or maybe he is a virgin who just fantasizes about both... or maybe he has only had sex with men, but is fairly sure that that someday he will have sex with women...or vice versa. Since the scale is fluid and one's place on the scale can change over time, he could be attracted to both men and women now, but he still could choose to make a commitment to one man or one woman if he felt the desire to do so.

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