Updated: JANUARY 17, 2024
Reviewed by Dr. Laura McGuire
on January 8, 2024

Heteroflexible is a descriptive term for someone who considers themselves mostly heterosexual, or straight. This term may refer to a person’s identity, how they act, who they feel attracted to, or a combination of these. Heteroflexible people usually feel attracted to or engage in sexual experiences with people of the opposite gender, but occasionally feel drawn to people of the same gender. They may sometimes experience sexual or romantic same-gender attraction, or both. According to a 2019 study from Illinois Tech, as many as 15% of Americans may identify as heteroflexible.

Heteroflexible is the opposite of homoflexible. This term describes people who typically experience same-gender attraction or engage in same-gender activity but are occasionally drawn to people of the opposite gender. As with heteroflexible, homoflexible is sometimes regarded as another synonym for bisexual.

Elasexual can be used interchangeably with the word heteroflexible. Bi-curious is sometimes used as a synonym for heteroflexible, especially to describe someone open to a relationship or sexual encounter with someone of the same gender, although they haven’t had these experiences yet. Mostly straight is another common synonym for heteroflexible.

Origins of the Term Heteroflexible

Heteroflexible is a portmanteau of the prefix "hetero," meaning different, and flexible. While the experience of feeling mostly straight isn’t new, heteroflexible is a relatively new term for it. While its origins are unclear, the LGBTQ slang dictionary "When Drag is Not a Car Race" may be the first publication to use this term. Published in 1997, this resource defined heteroflexibility as “bisexual, or at least open to sexual experimentation.”

Yale University professor Laurie Essig also used the term in a 2000 essay for Salon. By 2002, The Buffalo News dubbed heteroflexible the “hot term being bandied about on campus.” At this time, it usually described people who identified as women and who occasionally felt attracted to or had sexual interactions with other women.

Heteroflexible vs Bisexual vs Homoflexible

The earliest definition of heteroflexible equated this term with bisexual. While there are some people today who still believe heteroflexibility is simply bisexuality under another name, others say these terms are quite different. People who identify as heteroflexible may feel drawn to people of the same gender less frequently than people who identify as bisexual. They may also feel their identity aligns more closely with heterosexuality. Others believe both terms suit them and are happy to use both bisexual and heteroflexible to describe their sexual identity or behaviors.

It is also important to note here that the labels homo- and heteroflexible are perceived as biphobic by some. While choosing the label that feels like the best fit is an individual journey, those who find themselves in the middle of the Kinsey scale may consider unpacking any learned biphobia and whether it is impacting they way they choose to identify.

More About Heteroflexible

How to Tell If You’re Heteroflexible

The freedom to choose the labels that suit individuals best is important in queer communities. It's important to hold space for sexual fluidity and all forms of non-binary sexuality. The decision to use a label like heteroflexible over another is a personal one. Simply feeling like the term heteroflexible is an accurate descriptor is enough for anyone to claim it as part of their identity.

Some people may feel heteroflexible if they occasionally feel attracted to people of the same gender or are open to these attractions in the future. This term may also suit people who sometimes have sexual experiences with partners of the same gender but only form relationships with people of the opposite gender. People may prefer this term to bisexual if they feel their sexual identity aligns more closely with heterosexuality. They may also prefer this term if they feel like other terms for same-gender attraction, such as bisexual or queer, don’t accurately represent their sexuality.

“Discovering if you're heteroflexible means that you recognize an openness to exploring romantic or sexual connections with a gender you haven't typically considered,” added Rhiannon John, a queer/bi sexologist with BedBible.com. “If you've identified as straight but now feel intrigued by relationships with a different gender, you might be heteroflexible. Remember that sexual identity is a deeply personal journey, and only you get to decide whether or not to use this label based on your own feelings and experiences.”

Heteroflexibility and the Kinsey Scale

In 1948, sex researcher Alfred Kinsey introduced the Kinsey scale to categorize the individuals he interviewed about their sexuality and sexual experiences. The scale started at 0, where he positioned people who said they exclusively felt an attraction to and had relationships with people of the opposite gender. At the other end of the scale was 6, where he positioned people who only experienced same-gender attraction and relationships.

In their research published in 2019, Nicole Legate and Ronald D. Rogge suggested people who identify as heteroflexible may be a 1 or 2 on the Kinsey scale. People in both these categories are mostly heterosexual. However, those in Category 1 are “slightly inclined” to have same-gender attractions or engage in same-gender sexual behavior while those in Category 2 are “more than slightly inclined” to feel same-gender attraction or engage in sexual acts with the same gender.

The Heteroflexible Flag

The most common heteroflexible flag has six gray stripes, moving from black at the top to white at the bottom, which represent the six categories of the Kinsey scale. A rainbow scale sits in the middle of the flag in a nod to the rainbow flag used to represent LGBTQ pride.

The Heteroflexible Flag
Image: LGBTQIA Wiki



Latest Sex Positions

View More Positions More Icon