Is Gender a Factor in Who You Are Attracted To?

Why are straight people attracted to bisexual people? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Camila S. Espinoza, Chilean midwife, on Quora:

Why are straight people attracted to bisexual people? Let me ask you something in return. Do you ask yourself this when you see a heterosexual woman dating a heterosexual man? Do you look at them together and ask; Why is she dating him and not this other random man? Does she think that guy is less of a man than her partner?

Probably not.

Choosing a partner is way more complicated than that. You don't date someone exclusively because they are the embodiment of femininity, or masculinity, or both, or other stereotypes of gender identity. There are a series of virtues, and flaws, and characteristics, and personality traits, and physical traits, and convictions, and beliefs, and passions, and talents, and visions, and ambitions, all combined in a unique, unrepeatable, beautiful, multidimensional mess of imperfect human perfection. One that caught your eye, in the beginning, your attention in that first date, your mind during every conversation, and maybe even your heart after enough moments were shared, enough history was written, enough encounters were lived and thoroughly enjoyed.

I've always been mesmerized by the concept of relationships, regardless of their longevity. Whether it's a long-term relationship or just a casual encounter between consenting adults, I still find it borderline miraculous. How, two complete strangers can collide in the same spot, at the right time, holding enough to ignite a mutual attraction that may transform into passion that will develop in the minutes, or hours, or days, or months, or years to come, and that may last as little as an instant, or as long as a mortal eternity.

I've spent my life trying to understand it, maybe even rationalize it, and I've accumulated more questions than answers over the years. But there's one thing that's clear. Sexual orientation is nothing more than the first generic filter we use to focus our attention. You're constantly trying to understand your surroundings. When you look at a room full of people, and you have no more information than what meets the eye, you'll try to find coherence and similarities beyond diversity. You'll group them into virtual categories, the easiest one being gender. After that, other filters will be applied almost immediately. If you have a preference for people of a certain age, then you'll notice them first, if you have an affinity for people with red hair, you'll probably see them too. If you feel interested in a certain topic, and you hear someone talking about that, then you'll probably feel a stronger desire to speak with them, instead of someone who's talking about something else that seems uninteresting to you.

We all have different ways to express and define our sexuality, but the process that unravels while we choose a partner is pretty similar, whether you're bisexual, homosexual, heterosexual, pansexual or other. Why? Because no one dates one sexual orientation. You date a person. One that's far more complicated than having a penis, or a pair of testicles, or a pair of breasts, or a vulva.

If the only preference you currently have when choosing a partner is the fact that they are women that look womanly enough to you, and that works, then great. Maybe that's why this is a hard concept to understand for you, and maybe you don't even need to know it yet. I'm sure life will give you a wider perspective eventually, once you mature enough to notice how quickly gender becomes irrelevant, at least compared to the whole undiscovered universe every single one of us holds under the skin, and that may or may not be compatible with ours.

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