Bisexual Men and Sexual Arousal

In an experiment conducted by Northwestern University and the Center for Addiction [1], psychologists asked a group of bisexual men about their sexual desires and rated them on a scale from 0 to 6 on sexual arousal orientation, with 0 to 1 indicating heterosexuality, and 5 to 6 indicating homosexuality. Bisexuality was measured by scores in the middle range. Seated alone in a laboratory room, the bisexual men then watched a series of erotic movies, some involving only women, others involving only men. About three-quarters of the group had arousal patterns identical to those of gay men; the rest were indistinguishable from heterosexuals.

This study shows that bisexual men are three times more likely to be aroused by erotica involving men rather than women; however, on one of the few occasions in research in this area, about 25% of the bisexual men could also be aroused by erotica involving women (bisexual women, on the other hand, do tend to show equal attraction for men and women but this is a topic for a later blog).  Even though this does not show equal attraction to both sexes, it does indicate that bisexual men are not necessarily in denial of their gay orientation.

Techniques used in scientific studies, by nature have to be focused and measurable, and therefore may be too crude to capture the full scope of sexual attraction. In my counselling with bisexual men it appears that arousal may have a different meaning in different situations.  Even though this information is anecdotal and not scientific, I think it still merits attention. When it comes to eroticism the majority were aroused by well-built naked men with focus quickly moving to the penis.  However, when it comes to being attracted to clothed bodies in non-erotic situation most bisexuals were attracted to the beautiful lines and curves of women. When the scene shifts to the bedroom the men were aroused by both men and women but in different ways. With men it was urgent and packed with fireworks but it lacked intimateness.  With an intimate female partner their passion became softer and gentler. For most of these men  gay sex was passionate, wild and wonderful but it died after orgasm; however, making love with their female partner left them me with a warm glow that lasted for hours and sometimes for days.

My personal conclusion?  No, bisexual men are not gay men in denial.  They have different arousal patterns that can be activated by both men and women. Do they have a choice?  Absolutely!  Which brings us to the next obvious questions – what is the best way to use the power of choice?

A.M. RosenthalD. SylvaA. SafronJ.M. Bailey: [1] Sexual arousal patterns of bisexual men revisited. doi:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2011.06.015

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