Behaviour / feelings / identity : 3 aspects of sexuality

It's often useful to consider these three aspects of sexuality separately. This makes sense of some ways that people describe themselves, which might at first glance seem contradictory.

By "identity", I mean the way you label yourself or think about yourself - for instance gay, bi, lesbian, straight, queer.

Here are some examples.

Some people
have sex with both women and men (behaviour)
but still consider themselves basically straight (identity).
Some possible explanations for this could include: they don't wish to deal with society's homophobia; it's never occurred to them that they could call themselves bisexual; they don't consider their homosexual activities significant.
Some people
consider themselves bi (identity)
and yet are in a monogamous relationship (behaviour).
They are basing their identity on their feelings or beliefs or politics. For instance, they may feel strongly that it's important to acknowledge the feelings they are not acting on.
Some behaviourally heterosexual people feel it's important to identify as bi and acknowledge their homosexual desires as a way of being visible in the struggle against homophobia.
Some people
consider themselves straight (identity)
and only have sex with people of the other sex (behaviour)
but sometimes fancy people of the same sex (feelings).
They are basing their identity on their behaviour, and perhaps on the relative strength & frequency of their feelings - "occasionally fancying someone doesn't really count".
Some people
consider themselves lesbian or gay (identity)
and yet occasionally have sex with someone of the other sex (behaviour).
They are basing their identity on their feelings or beliefs or politics. For instance, some occasionally-behaviourally-bisexual lesbians feel strongly that the label lesbian still defines them because it expresses their primary orientation towards women and commitment to women.
To summarise, different people use different reasoning to arrive at their own label or description for themselves. (See here for some possible reasons.)

For the purposes of health care (including taking care of your own sexual health), it's very important to talk to people about their behaviour, and not to assume that knowing their identity/label tells you their behaviour.

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