Heteroflexible: Here's What It Means

This identity straddles the line between queer and straight.

Sexuality is increasingly defined as being part of a spectrum, with more people rejecting the idea that they are strictly heterosexual or homosexual. Because of that, the language surrounding sexuality has changed as well.

Enter heteroflexible, a term used to describe those who are mostly heterosexual, but not exclusively.

Here's what experts say about being heteroflexible, how it differs from bisexuality, and how to be an ally to those who fit this sexual identity.

Getty Images / Design by Jo Imperio

What Is Heteroflexible?

Heteroflexibility is a valid sexual orientation; it typically applies to a person who is primarily heterosexual yet has some level of attraction to a person of their own sex, Debra Laino, DHSc, a clinical sexologist and relationship therapist based in Delaware, told Health.

People who are mainly attracted to the opposite gender of their gender identity but have some attraction to people of the same gender identity also meet the definition of heteroflexible.

"Heteroflexible, like most labels, means different things to different people," Casey Tanner, a clinical sex therapist in Chicago, told Health. "It comes up most of the time when a person identifies as mainly straight with a slight propensity towards queerness in certain circumstances."

According to Tanner, heteroflexible can include people who are questioning or exploring their sexuality outside of heterosexuality but are not quite ready to identify with a sexuality label—whether that's queer or another sexual identity that is not straight.

Does Heteroflexible Fit Into the LGBTQ+ Spectrum?

Yes, since it's a way to describe sexual fluidity. "It's not quite bisexuality, as the orientation remains 'mainly straight,'" said Laino.

However, whether someone who is heteroflexible chooses to identify with the LGBTQ+ community is entirely their choice. "The base root of the orientation is still hetero," said Tanner. (Hetero is a Greek prefix that means "other" or "different." In terms of sexuality, it refers to someone of the opposite sex.)

Heteroflexible vs. Bisexual

These two sexual identity terms might seem similar, but they aren't. People who identify as heteroflexible primarily embrace heterosexuality.

"The identification with heteroflexibility is primarily straight with hues of same-sex experience," said Laino, "whereas bisexuality is more open to both same-sex and opposite-sex attraction."

The American Psychological Association defines bisexual individuals as being sexually, romantically, and emotionally attracted to more than one sex or gender.

"Heteroflexibility can include bisexuality or pansexuality," said Tanner. (Pansexual people are attracted to others regardless of the other person's gender or sexual identity.)

"There could also be no intention to pursue non-heterosexual behavior at all," added Tanner, noting that many heteroflexible people may be in relationships that are or appear heterosexual to others.

And then there is the term homoflexible. As you may guess, this is when someone is mainly attracted to the same sex but also has some attraction to the opposite sex.

How Can I Be an Ally to Someone Who Identifies As Heteroflexible?

As always, don't judge or make assumptions; let the other person describe themself and accept the terms they use.

A sex therapist, Tanner has found that some people who identify as heteroflexible may fear coming out as a queer individual and worry about the stigma that can arrive with that. And this can happen with any sexuality label, be it queer, bisexual, pansexual, etc. As an ally, be respectful of other people's identity and how they choose to label their sexuality.

"I would be affirming and open and make space for that person to be and share what feels safe to them," said Tanner.

A Quick Review

Heteroflexible is a term used to define someone who identifies as mostly heterosexual with some homosexual tendencies. It is one of the many terms used to describe a spectrum of sexual identities.

When it comes to sexual identities in general, it's best to hold off on judgments or assumptions. Show respect and let the other person explain how they define themselves and what terms they like to use.

Was this page helpful?
Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Psychological Association. Understanding bisexuality.

Related Articles