Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

When sexual and romantic attractions are directed toward disparate genders
by White, Corissa L., Psy.D., Alliant International University, 2015, 74; 3701217
Abstract (Summary)

Many pair-bond relationships begin as a result of romantic attraction and sexual desire. Romantic attraction comprises feelings of love, affection, intimacy, and a desire to spend time with another person; sexual desire involves sexual attraction, arousal, and behavior (Diamond, 2003). This dissertation explored how individuals reconcile their experience of predominant sexual desire toward members of one gender (e.g. women) and predominant romantic attraction toward members of another gender (e.g. men).

To study this experience, a small, qualitative study was performed. Participants were recruited via flyers to answer interview questions regarding their romantic and sexual attractions and the impact of those feelings on their relationships with others and their own mental health. The experiences of four participants were then analyzed via phenomenological analysis. Two of the participants identified as male, and two as female. All participants were graduate students. Three of the participants described complicated attractions, reporting that they were romantically and sexually attracted to members of one gender, while also being romantically or sexually attracted to members of another gender.

Participants discussed several aspects of this experience, including: being unsure how to identify their sexual orientations (two participants noted that they do not identify as bisexual because they feel the term implies a sense of equality between romantic and sexual attraction); the extent to which they have discussed attractions with other people (three participants reported that they do not discuss their attractions with their families); the impact their attractions have had on relationships (two participants reported they feel their attractions have impacted their dating lives); and the struggles and benefits participants report related to their variant attractions.

While each of the participants' sexual and romantic preferences was different from the others', all report that acceptance by friends and family improved psychological well-being. Counter to this sense of well-being, however, are limitations in modern language regarding personal identities. All of the participants noted that they chose a label that is closest to what they perceive their collective attractions to be, and that they experience personal confusion about how to label themselves, which translates to confusion when discussing their identities with others.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Mitchell, Valory
Commitee: Cerezo, Alison, Wyatt, Randall
School: Alliant International University
Department: San Francisco, CSPP
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 76/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: LGBTQ studies, Personality psychology
Keywords: Differing attraction, LGBT, Love, Romantic relationships, Sex, Sexual orientation
Publication Number: 3701217
ISBN: 978-1-321-71721-1
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