Heterosexual: Definition & Meaning

Instructor: Chevette Alston

Dr. Alston has taught intro psychology, child psychology, and developmental psychology at 2-year and 4-year schools.

This lesson defines what a heterosexual is and examines the reasons that they are defined that way. It also defines and gives information about sexual orientation and other types that are commonly known.

What is a Heterosexual?

A heterosexual is usually considered a person who is romantically attracted to or sexually oriented toward people of the opposite sex. This means a male would be attracted to a female or, likewise, a female attracted to a male. This terminology is usually associated with both humans and mammals. Heterosexuality is one of three classifications of sexual orientation. Sexual orientation has been defined as a personal quality that influences a person to feel a combination of sexual or romantic attraction to a person of the opposite sex/gender. The other sexual orientations are bisexuality and homosexuality. Asexuality (or being non-sexual) indicates having very little interest in or attraction to anyone at all.



The difference between bisexuality and heterosexuality is sexual orientation. While heterosexuals have a sexual orientation toward those of the opposite sex, bisexuals are attracted to both males and females. The term pansexuality or omnisexuality may be associated with bisexuality. In either of these instances, the person will not demonstrate any strong preference toward romantic relationships with any gender.


Unlike heterosexuality or bisexuality, homosexuals have a sexual orientation toward only one gender. In this case males are only attracted to males and females are only attracted to females. The term lesbian usually refers to female homosexuality, while the term gay usually refers to male homosexuals.

Heterosexual Heart

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