Sexuality IS NOT A Lifestyle—These 16 Are Definitely So


Prior to and since the Supreme Court’s decision upholding marriage equality, many people (including those who are pro and against same-sex relationships) have referred to such relationships as a "lifestyle." One’s sexual orientation is an identity and also refers to whom they're physically and/or emotionally attracted to. Science indicates that sexual orientation is not a choice. This position is also supported by the American Psychological Association. A lifestyle, on the other hand, is a pattern around which a person organizes for daily living. Thus, referring to one’s sexual orientation as a lifestyle makes it sound as if the person wakes up every morning, opens their well-organized closet and asks themselves, "So, what will I choose to wear today? My gay identity with my suede shoes and matching accessories, my bisexual identity with my trench coat and fedora, or my straight identity with my alligator pumps and pearls?"

Despite one’s sexual orientation, there are lifestyles that we all choose. These 16 are just a few:

1.   Traditional Monogamy: Choosing an intimate relationship with only one person. Can include marriage or not.

2.   Marriage: Choosing to engage in a contractual relationship recognized by law.

3.   Child-Free Relationship: Choosing to not bring children into one’s intimate relationship.

4.   Singlehood: Choosing to be single and unmarried.

5.   Cohabitation: Choosing to live, unmarried with someone whom you are in a sexual relationship.

6.   Serial Monogamy: Choosing to have a number of long-term or short-term sexual partners back-to-back, but one at a time.

7.   Commune: Choosing to live with a group of people, sharing possessions and responsibilities.

8.   Swinging: While in a committed relationship, choosing to engage in sexual activity with others as recreational or social.

9.   Group Marriage: Choosing a marriage-like arrangement with more than two people.

10. Secret Affair: Choosing to participate in an extramarital relationship without your partner’s knowledge. 

11. Synergamous Marriage: Spouses choosing to develop a relationship with another person (think bigamy or trigamy).

12. Open-Ended: Choosing more than one intimate partner with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved. Does not have to include marriage.

13. Chaste: Choosing to not engage in sexual activity, whether in a committed relationship or not.

14. Second Life: Choosing to engage in a virtual relationship. Can include cybersex.

15. Interracial: Choosing to engage in a relationship with someone of a different race.

16. Interfaith: Choosing to engage in a relationship with someone of a different faith.

One’s lifestyle is what one chooses and has little relationship with their sexual orientation, whether lesbian, gay, bisexual, or heterosexual for that matter. I mean, when was the last time a heterosexual person chose to be heterosexual? Either you are or you aren’t. Your sexual orientation is not only your identity. It's your life. How you choose to live it, will give you the relationship and lifestyle you desire and deserve.

Dr. Dionne Bates is a licensed psychotherapist. Find her at