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The term sexuality is one of those elusive terms. People can often think they know what it means, but when they try to explain it, they kind of don’t… And even the definition itself is soooo detailed, it almost leaves you feeling overwhelmed with the depth of what is involved with a person’s sexuality.

It can be quite confusing when you don’t know for sure what sexuality is.

For instance, I’ve had people say to me that when they hear ‘sexuality’ they think it means whether a person is straight or gay. It might include that, but there’s a whole heap more to consider for each and every person on the planet.

By definition, sexuality is a central aspect of being human throughout life and encompasses sex, gender identities and roles, sexual orientation, eroticism (arousal and desire), pleasure, intimacy and reproduction.

And if you want more detail, according to the World Association of Sexual Health (WAS), sexuality is experienced and expressed in thoughts, fantasies, desires, beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviours, practices, roles and relationships. While sexuality can include all of these dimensions, not all of them are always experienced or expressed. Sexuality is influenced by the interaction of biological, psychological, social, economic, political, cultural, ethical, legal, historical and religious and spiritual factors.

Wow! By definition, there’s a lot of aspects and expressions that involve different dimensions! Breaking it down, there’s the personal, internal stuff, influenced by a whole heap of cultural, external stuff. And to be honest, people rarely stop to reflect  on their sexuality, even though a healthy and positive attitude is essential to wellbeing. One thing is certain – every body is different!!

Sexuality is an integral part of the personality of every human being. Its full development and enjoyment depends upon the satisfaction of basic human needs such as the desire for contact, intimacy, emotional expression, pleasure, tenderness and love. Yet everything we absorb through media tells us that sexuality is just this one-dimensional ‘thing’ you do. And you would think that education would fill in the gaps, but sadly sex education is often only about the physical – very limited in construct.

Every time I speak and educate both teens and adults, I talk about the ‘whole-person centred sexuality’ approach. It just makes sense. We are not one-dimensional – never have been and never will be. When people try to disconnect sexual attitudes, behaviours and expressions from their emotional and spiritual selves, they often end up complaining of isolation, loneliness and lack of meaning within their relationships.

We are wired for connection and intimacy, enhanced through authentic love and human connection. Anything less can leave us feeling disconnected…

Liz Walker

International authority on porn harms, education and advocacy.

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