Circadian sexuality circus
February 20, 2012 10:30 AM   Subscribe

What might cause a 'scheduled' sexuality change/shift, regularly, in a man?

I've known I am attracted to both men and women since I was fairly young, though it took a few years to come to terms with this. For the most part, I prefer women, and feel more comfortable making romantic connections with them. However, about one week in 5 or so, I'll drop nearly all of this attraction and fantasize much more about men. There'll usually be a 50/50 transition period afterwards and then I'll be all about women for a few more weeks. I've also noted the intensity of my sex drive varying greatly along some sort of schedule, but have never figured out a way to judge both of these continuum(s?) from an objective point of view, to establish some sort of actual pattern.

This really confuses me, because I've never even heard of a similar situation; I can't put myself anywhere on the Kinsey scale, because my position changes so often, and with a fair degree of polarity (i.e. when I'm into women I think nothing of men, and vice versa, except for short windows of overlap). I know there's a 24-hour male hormone cycle, but nothing over the course of a month+, right?

Details: male, early 20's, decent health; ratio of partners, about 70% female, 30% male. I'm fairly happy with my life, but a few issues have been plaguing me: not into polygamy, so it hurts when I'm in a relationship and my attraction to the SO drops for a time; and although I'm up front about it, it feels unfair to any(usually gay) male partners that I really don't want to see them more than once in a few weeks.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are you the sort of person to get easily bored with new things or new hobbies after a while? I'm not saying that to diminish the shifts you're talking about, but it has to be either physiological or psychological. If I had to guess, I'd say "boredom and a self-fulfilling prophecy". My second guess would be hormone shifts (which could be symptomatic of something else medical). Couldn't hurt to get hormone workups done at various points in your "cycle".
posted by supercres at 10:38 AM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

My opinion on this has to do less with sexuality and more to do with the cycle, so YMMV.

I get these types of urges towards people other than my partner around once a month...typically, when work is stressful (which does happen in cycles of around a month) or I am feeling vulnerable (and thus, seeking validation), I start fantasizing about women at the gym, a particular account manager I find really attractive, etc.

That is to say that there could be external forces at work that are driving you towards a release, a distraction, or a movement away from what you've been readily focused on for the last while. I.e., if you're with a woman and a stressor/feeling of dread/boredom/self-doubt kicks in, do you start fantasizing about the other sex?

If so, it's possible it's related to another root feeling.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 11:04 AM on February 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Do you live with, or are you especially close to, any women of childbearing age? Anecdotallly, as a male bodied bi person with a similar ratio of attraction, I have experienced an effect with a similar time frame but with the gender I my attraction drops for reversed. While I was in college, my attraction to male gendered people absolutely dropped every so often, without significant effect on my attraction to female gendered people, and I realized that it was for about a five to six days every 3.5 to 4 weeks.

It occurred to me that I might be being affected by some form of the McClintock effect when I realized that it corresponded to the menstrual cycles of my close female friends, who were loosely synced. I seemed to get less gay and more easily irritated while they, even in the complete absence of any attraction, were menstruating as well as more gay again when they were not. This caused some amount of disappointingly anti-climatic gay adventures and hurt feelings until I realized what might have been going on a bit too late.

I would suggest asking about the cycles of any women who might fit the bill, especially female partners or roommates, to see if there are any correlations. It is important to keep in mind that neither my own experiences nor data collection were anything like double blind, and your's won't be either. Thus even in the event that your situation might fit my model it is worthwhile not to put to much stock in it.
posted by Blasdelb at 11:05 AM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

My thought is that it's something in your environment or routine changing that you don't notice. Not to trivialize your question, but I'm skeptical that there is any sort of natural cycle going on. You could, of course, get your testosterone levels checked. I'm thinking it could have to do with stress or some sort of psychological trigger that happens to coincide with some other 5-week pattern in your life. I'd pay attention to your routines and habits.

Of course, you could always just accept it for what it is and not look for a reason. Peoples' sexualities are weird. Weird is the new (the old, really) normal.
posted by stockpuppet at 11:08 AM on February 20, 2012

A number of studies seem to show that women prefer mates with more masculine faces (and other features) when they are at their most fertile and mates with less masculine faces when they are less fertile:
There is evidence that women's mate preferences exhibit an adaptive shift that co-varies with the risk of conception [9], [10]. Several studies have shown an increase in women's visual preferences for relatively more masculine faces [e. g. 9], [10], [11], [12], bodies [13], [14], and voices [15], [16] during the fertile phase of the menstrual cycle. Furthermore, in a study of olfactory preferences, Havlicek, Roberts and Flegr [17] found a positive correlation between questionnaire-assessed male dominance, and women's perceptions of male odour ‘sexiness’ at their fertile point of the menstrual cycle, but not in other cycle phases. This cyclic effect on masculinity preferences may be influenced by relationship context. When both short- and long-term partner preferences were examined, a cyclic shift in visual preferences for masculinity were evident only when testing short-term partner preferences [10]. The same was true for olfactory preferences for psychological dominance [17]. [The linked study looked for symmetry preferences and found none, but it had a good summary and the best references I was able to find.]
I suspect you are experiencing a homologue of this female cycle which can be compared to the more tangible homologue represented by your nipples.
posted by jamjam at 12:44 PM on February 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm fairly happy with my life, but a few issues have been plaguing me: not into polygamy, so it hurts when I'm in a relationship and my attraction to the SO drops for a time....

There's a cultural expectation that men are always horny, always up for any sort of sex, and never say "no."

That's bullshit. The fact is, every guy in the world has ups and downs in his libido, and shifts from day to day or week to week in terms of what he's in the mood for. The only thing odd about what you're describing is that it follows a semi-regular schedule. (And even that isn't all that odd, since we've got other commenters upthread who are reporting the same thing.)

It sounds like you're holding yourself to too high a standard. You're allows to have weeks when you're not super-attracted to your partner. That doesn't mean your relationship is broken or you're failing in your role as a man or whatever. It just means you're human.
posted by nebulawindphone at 2:26 PM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Manic depressive cycle. Regular as clockwork, your inhibitions lessen, and you prefer the "exotic" fantasy, skewing your bi tendency towards men. Do you have an easier time getting projects started, or a more difficult time keeping track of everyday things during these periods?
posted by Slap*Happy at 2:47 PM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Kind of like what nebulawhinphone says, but I also think that some (unfortunate) people are more attracted to one gender for sexy sexy sex purposes and the other for relationshipy (also sexy relationshipy) purposes. If that's what is going on, it makes sense that your sexy sex attraction stuff happens when your libido is higher, and your relationshipy sex attraction stuff happens the rest of the time.

Do your fantasies about the two genders involve different elements? E.g. maybe your fantasies involving one gender involve more cuddling and the other more anonymous sex? (Maybe that's too easy and neat, though!)
posted by lollusc at 5:27 PM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

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