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Sexual Attraction, Behavior, and Identity

Human sexuality is understood as composed of three distinct domains: attraction, behavior, and sexual identity. Sexual attraction refers to the intrapersonal, psychological dimension of sexuality and pertains to a person’s patterns of romantic or sexual feelings toward others. A closely related term is sexual orientation, which is understood as the enduring quality of sexual attractions to others based on their gender—that is, to men, women, transgender persons, or some combination thereof. Sexual attraction and orientation provide a backdrop for sexual behavior and identity. Sexual behavior refers to a person’s sexual activity (both alone and with others). More complex is sexual identity, which encompasses both a personal identity (one’s self-concept based on sexual and romantic attractions and behaviors) and a societal identity (one’s felt affiliation with ...

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