Whether a man defines himself as gay, bisexual or bi-curious society tends to label him as homosexual. This polarised view of sexuality is increasingly being challenged, and now many experts recognize that to define a person’s sexuality in such a binary manner is wrong. Still, the favoured explanations put forward to explain why a man may be sexually attracted to another man is that it is either a choice he has made, or it is genetically pre-determined.
In his Theory of 5 Influences, Sex & Relationship Engineer Colin Richards challenges that perception. Informed by his 15 years experience of working with thousands of men who have expressed broader sexuality plus his subsequent research with two independent surveys Colin presents his arguments and his findings to support his Theory of 5 Influences.
If ever you have questioned your subconscious sexual desires or recognize that you do have some attraction to same-sex intimacy but do not self-identify as being homosexual then The Theory of 5 Influences offers you the chance you to consider your feelings in a broader perspective. The Theory of 5 Influences supports the idea that a persons sexuality is unique but that it is a combination of factors that includes genetics, environment, psychology, and natural life process that is in a perpetual state of change through a persons life.
The five dynamics that combine to create your unique sexuality.
As a sex engineer and sensual masseur I have given appointments to men and women of all ages, sexualities and cultural backgrounds. As well as general sexual performance advice I also give support to many men and women who feel or desire to explore their sexuality. I estimate of the 5000 male clients and 1000 female clients I have seen, many tell me that although they may present themselves publicly as heterosexual, they privately recognise they have a desire to experience sensual or sexual intimacy with another person of the same sex. Many come to appreciate even welcome their polysexuality, but for some, it can prove a challenging time and so to lessen the confusion and ease their minds, so they can live life contented with whom they really are, I take the time to explain why I believe they feel the way they do. The Theory of 5 Influences is my understanding of how a person’s sexual attraction is made up.
Why I focus on male sexuality
In this article, I focus on male same-sex attraction rather female same-sex attraction. The theory applies to both genders but for ease of explanation I have chosen to focus on male sexuality. I have worked with more men than women since even in the more enlightened societies of the West if a man is seen to have intimate or sexual contact with another man he is immediately labeled as being gay, whereas a woman has more freedom to explore her sexuality without being labeled as a lesbian.
I believe that the desire for a man to experience male to male sex is mostly an unconscious desire to bond and emotionally connect with another man and not just for the sexual pleasure. To prove this I set up two surveys asking various questions to establish this broader desire
I began an initial sexuality survey in 2006. When clients registered on my web site rather than just ask how they defined their sexuality I decided to ask this question in two parts. Firstly to state both their publicly acknowledged sexuality (the sexuality they openly admit to) and then asked to identify their privately acknowledged sexuality (the sexuality they feel they really are but can’t be public about). This produced some surprising results which prompted me to set up a more comprehensive survey asking more defined questions about relationships with primary carers, what was important to them in the sexual experience, profession, and personal traits and characteristics. This second survey began in 2012 and is still running. To date, it has been completed by 841 men The graphs shown below are from the data collected up to October 2020.
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1. When asked to state their publicly presented sexuality
(what they tell family & friends)
Total Surveyed 841
Straight – 537 (64%)
Gay – 263 (31%)
Bi Sexual – 31 (4%)
Bi Curious – 10 (1%)
2. When asked to state their privately acknowledged sexuality
(what they actually feel about themselves)
Total surveyed 841
Straight – 120 (14%)
Gay – 350 (42%)
Bi Sexual – 195 (23%)
Bi Curious – 176 (21%)
a) Breakdown of change of the 537 men who publicly presented as Straight compared to their actual privately acknowledged sexuality
Remained Straight – 120 (- 77% drop)
Straight to Gay + 90 (+ 34% increase)
Straight to Bi Sexual + 164 (+529% increase)
Straight to Bi Curious + 166 (+1660%)
b) Withholding true sexuality
This statistic shows that of 537 men surveyed who identify publicly as Straight 417 (78%) were withholding their true sexuality.
c) Men in female relationships
Of 281 men who declared that they had been or currently are married or partnered with women 161 (57%) are privately defining as bisexual, bi-curious or possibly gay with or without their female partner’s knowledge.
3. Survey on attitude to experiencing male to male sensual touch
Of the 120 men who defined themselves as straight both publicly and privately, 96% (115 men) admit that they have either considered it or at some point received sensual touch from another man at least once and have enjoyed it and would receive again.
(colin’s comment – this indicates that a man can regard himself as totally straight but still have an attraction to share intimate arousal with another man without it challenging his identity.
a) Of the 594 men surveyed about their desires for sensual touch with another man
Enjoy it often – 243 (41%)
Enjoy it occasionally – 164 (28%)
Want to try it – 96 (16%)
Do not want to try it at all – 20 (3%)
Tried it but not again – 6 (1%)
4. Aspects of male to male sexual behaviour
The survey also asked questions about what men felt was important to them when having a sensual or sexual interaction with another man.
a) Importance or erotic intimacy with another man
Very Important – 509 (61%)
Important – 188 (22%)
Moderately Important – 76 (9%)
Little Importance – 20 (2%)
Unimportant – 48 95%)
b) Importance of receiving anal sex
Of 841 men surveyed 397 said it was either unimportant or of little importance to receive anal sex from another man. Given that 120 men defined as straight means that of the men that defined as gay, bisexual or bicurious 277 said that receiving anal sex was not their thing.
c) Importance of giving anal sex
Of 841 men surveyed 414 said it was either unimportant or of little importance to receive anal sex from another man. Given that 120 men defined as straight means that of the men that defined as gay, bisexual or bicurious 294 said that giving anal sex was not their thing.
The Theory of 5 Influences
This theory advances the premise that a person’s attraction to another person, whether male or female, is not fixed at birth but is dependent on five primary influences that can sway attraction from opposite sex to same-sex or a combination of both. The theory of 5 influences also advances the hypothesis that attraction is a combination of sexual, psychological, and emotional, so it is quite possible for a person to be both heterosexual and homo-emotional at the same time.
Whilst there is clear scientific evidence that our genetics do play a part in a persons orientation in the same way that a particular personality trait or talent can be passed through the genes, it is what happens to us during birth and the following unfolding years right up to midlife that continually influences our sexual, sensual and emotional attractions to others.
Influence 1- Genetic predisposition and pre-birth environmental
Foetal brain development during pregnancy and the effect of a stressed/non-stressed pregnancy on the long-term characteristics of the male.
This first influence is based on the character attributes determined by being born from a stressed or unstressed pregnancy. It puts forward the theory that those children born from an unstressed pregnancy are more likely, but not necessarily, to become adults who develop either bisexual or homosexual attractions later in life.
Conversely, children born from stressed pregnancies are more likely but not necessarily to be adults who are more heterosexually focussed later in life. The tendency is for a firstborn child, being the mothers first pregnancy display these more heterosexual traits. However, this influence should be seen as a starting point on a moving spectrum that is effected by any or all of the following four other influences.
Men from stressed pregnancies
A recent study at Imperial College London shows that stress experienced by a woman during pregnancy may affect her unborn baby as early as 17 weeks after conception, with potentially permanent effects on brain and development. The 5 influences theory puts forward the idea that the more stressed the pregnancy, the more likely the child would be born with self-survival instincts. Nature’s method of ensuring the survival of the species in times of danger.
These characteristics are:
a competitive nature
less sense of empathy towards others
a tendency to be aggressive/defensive
These are all attributes that would be beneficial for survival particularly in life-threatening times. If food was scarce or her security and safety threatened the pregnant mother would be in a state of anxiety and the developing child she is carrying would be programmed with characteristics that equipped it with a better chance of survival. I call this the SIM effect (Self-Interested Male)
This SIM male will be naturally competitive with a tendency to fight for its own survival. Being self-centred/introvert he will be focussed on his own needs. Having a lack of empathy towards others ensures he puts himself first and is not reliant on others to support him. His tendency towards aggressive or defensive behaviour and to be hyper-aware and vigilant against threats and able to respond quickly and confidently, ensures he can defend or protect himself. Being non-intimate removes the need to develop close relationships and so he can continually seek new sexual partners. The more sex he has the more chance of ensuring his genetic line. He will have a controlling personality since by controlling his environment he maintains his own security and safety. Being assertively heterosexual he is continually seeking out opportunities to procreate with females again to secure his genes and maintain the species in times of threat.
The more stressed the pregnancy the stronger these characteristics appear to be and it seems that in modern times these types of men will have a tendency to follow specific careers as Barristers, Salespeople, Competitive Sportsmen, Politicians, the Military, Surgeons, Bankers, Entrepreneurs, Celebrity types. Not surprisingly these are often the men that we hear about in the press who use sex workers and it is their wives who often complain that their SIM husbands are egotistical, unfaithful and when it come to sex are assertive but lacking in foreplay skills and are more focussed their own pleasure than their female partners.
Men from a less stressed pregnancy
A child born from a pregnancy that is less stressed appears to develop characteristics of a completely different nature. These characteristics appear designed to be inclusive of others rather than exclusive. Typically these characteristics are:-
other people focussed/extrovert,
bisexual or polysexual
have a need of physical intimacy
Attributes that are designed to bond with others and help build relationships and community
I call these types SOM’s (Social Open Males)
In early man when food was plenty and life secure that was the time for building and expanding the community. Less focus on the species survival but more on species growth. This meant the SIM males although still necessary the community also needed SOM males who more could be creative with food collection, supportive of the group they belonged to, be able to work as a team with other males to support the group. To communicate and be good organisers and to have a caring nature to maintain group harmony.
Careers these types of men tend to follow today are as Accountants, Solicitors, Small Business Owners, Hospitality, Therapists, Teachers, Nurses, Theatre Actors, Academics, Consultants, IT Developers, Designers. The Som personality types have skills that are about developing and supporting the broader community.
Of course, male biology is not polarized and all males will have their own unique biology at birth, according to the foetal development in relations to the mother’s disposition and biological chemistry during pregnancy, meaning that these innate characteristics should be seen as being on a spectrum placing every male anywhere from being a total SIM to a SOM or somewhere in between as most of us are.
Of the 380 men surveyed and asked about the state of their mothers well being during her pregnancy with them 57% said that they were either quite or very calm.
216 – very calm (26%)
190 – quite calm (23%)
90 – somewhat stressed (11%)
130 – A little stressed (16%)
36 – very stressed (4%)
170 – don’t know (20%)
Of those 409 that said quite or very calm 361 ( 82%) were men who later in life defined themselves privately as gay, bi sexual or bicurious supporting the fact that a calm pregnancy may psychological program the child to have more empathetic, creative and community focussed characteristics.
Influence 2 – Cultural
Our circumstances at birth to 10 yrs
We don’t get a choice about where on the planet we are born, who our biological parents are or what culture or belief system we are educated by. From the moment we are born, maybe even before, we are bombarded by unconscious messages from parents, siblings, teachers, friends and strangers on how we should behave so that we are accepted by the community we are born into and survive the challenging time of childhood.
No matter if a male child is born with the self-focussed characteristics of the SIM or empathetic nature of the SOM the moment the child is born his reptilian brain will react to the messages being given to him as to how best to behave to be sure to maintain food, shelter, and sustenance.
If the child is born a natural SOM but grows up in an ultra-conservative closed-minded society of strict morality around sex and is given clearly defined gender type roles of how a male should behave then his SOM characteristics will become suppressed. For example, a male child who by the age of 6 is showing a natural talent for dance, theatre or art may be forced to deny theses talents because the culture he is born into dictates that he should play football, climb trees, learn to fight. Equally a SIM might be born into a very liberal society and find that his flamboyant artistic hippy parents live by a code that does not fit with his competitive less empathetic character.
Think of the fictional characters of Batman and Robin. Batman or Bruce Wayne was born an only child in a crime-ridden city of Gotham (probably stressed pregnancy) to Philanthropist parents Dr Thomas and Martha Wayne, who when he was 8 years old were murdered in the back streets of Gotham City to make young Bruce an orphan and the ultimate SIM (think image, attitude, ego etc) whereas Robin is more than likely a strong SOM (colourful, eager to please, sensitive, and always in the supporting role) Maybe if the story was different Brue may have become a city tycoon and Robin a fashion designer!
How this effects a mans sexuality is that by adolescence when a young man becomes aware of his sexuality if he is feeling any draw to same-sex intimacy or exploration this will be suppressed so that he does not risk being rejected by his family and community. This is why in the survey, we see many men who say they have lived a heterosexual live for many years but who say that attraction to other males started before the age of 18.
65% of men surveyed (546/838) said that their attraction to other men started before the age of 18. Of that 469 (85%) are men who at the time of the survey were still publicly defining themselves as straight.
Age when they became first aware of same-sex attraction
Influence 3 – Paternal Relationship 0 -16 yrs
In parallel and quite often in conflict with the second influence the third influence is to do with our relationships with our mothers and fathers or primary carers when we are young. I have noticed that most men who seek same-sex sensual intimacy later in life have experienced similar relationship dynamics with fathers or a primary male carer who were responsible for their welfare and security in childhood.
It appears that if the relationship between the primary male figure in the child’s early life is in some way emotionally fractured or absent then there is a far greater tendency to seek masculine connection and approval from other men later in life. It could be that the father is often absent due to work or maybe has divorce and consequently has little contact. Aggression from father to son, high expectation and pressure to perform, death, lack of interest, addiction are all possible reasons why the relationship between the son and father can become emotionally broken.
Why should this then manifest in an interest in other men later on in life? A smooth developmental journey of a child is extremely important if that child is going to grow into a self confident grounded adult. From birth to 2yrs we learn trust vs. mistrust, from 2 to 3 years, autonomy vs. shame and doubt. 3 to 5 years initiative vs. guilt, 6 to 11 years industry vs. inferiority and then in our teen’s identity vs inferiority and it is mostly from our parents that we learn the difference or become one or other. It follows that if during the period between birth and 14 one of the main influencers on the child’s development, the father, is negative or absent and not replaced, then there will be a strong tendency for that child to feel the negative aspects about themselves. To mitigate this, as they get older, this undeveloped self will seek out from other male figures the approval it missed and still yearns. This need or attraction is emotional rather than sexual but often it will manifest in physical contact with other males. Hugging, holding, stroking are all basic methods with which early humans developed a trusting relationship with one another and the more intimate and sensitive area of the body touched the more trusting the relations will be.
To check this 3rd influence I asked men to select the most accurate description of the relationship between themselves and their fathers or primary male carers before the age of 12. Out of 841 answers, 585 (70%) report that they had a relationship with their fathers that they felt some level of emotional distance, absence or aggression. Only 215 (26%) said they had a close supportive relationship and 41 (4%) said he was OK.
Influence 4 – Maternal Relationship 0-16 yrs
The 4th influence is the state of the relationship between the male child and his mother or his primary female carer from birth to around 16. If the relationship with the father or primary male career has been fractured then often the relationship with the mother will become closer. A child needs an environment of sustenance and safety in which to grow, and without a positive relationship with a male figure, they will often have to rely more on the female carer for their security.
This will be the mother but can also be relationships with a grandmother or even female siblings. It often follows that if the father is absent or aggressive then the mother or female carers maybe the sole provider and have a tough job to maintain the welfare of the family. The effect of this extra demand can result in the mother feeling extra stress and have the tendency to be anxious. Long working hours or being absent for periods of time will cause the male child to be very aware of the need to support his mother and behave in a manner that does not increase her stress. He will learn to micromanage her moods and then adjust his own behaviour accordingly. Helping around the home, being a good boy, avoiding getting in the way are all familiar behaviour adaptations of a male child who is brought up in these circumstances.
Later life when an adult he will through habit unconsciously continue to monitor female partner’s moods. He will be more susceptible to female criticism. During adolescence and into his 20’s a man when if he has begun to have sexual experiences with women it is unlikely he will be much aware of any affect on his performance but as he gets older and his body is less fit he may begin to experience early erectile issues.
Loss of erection, inability to orgasm or spontaneous ejaculation are all classic issues for men who feel anxiety during sex. If this anxiety becomes regular and frequently occurs when he is a female, then he may begin to wonder about his sexuality.
To compound this feeling of ambiguity, if he is also becoming aware of his need to bond physically with another male this can cause him to question his true sexuality. Male clients who are in heterosexual relationships but have come to me for sensual massage, have told me that although they seek sex with women, they often experience issues with sexual performance but when with another man they have felt relaxed and at ease.
They say they have felt more turned on, with erections being maintained and a deeper sense of pleasure being experienced. This will reaffirm their belief that they must be more attracted to men maybe even be gay when in fact it is a combination of influences of the need to feel masculine approval and an over sensitive reaction to perceived female judgment.
The survey asked the question; select the most accurate description of your relationship with your mother or primary female carer before the age of 12. Of 841 answers 534 (63%) said it was close caring and supportive.
Of the 534 men who stated that their relationship with their mother was close, caring and supportive 461 (86 %) privately define themselves as either gay (228) bisexual (117) or bi-curious (116) leaving only 13% (70) defining as straight.
Influence 5 – Life Cycle Bonding
Competitive Procreators to Co-Operative Provider
The time frame for the evolution of the genus Homo out of the chimpanzee–human last common ancestor is roughly 10 to 2 million years ago. Our species of Homo Sapien has been in existence for about 1.8 million years. It is estimated that we have been communicating with a verbal language for about 200,000 years so it is not unreasonable to assume that prior to a verbal language being our primary form of communication that a visual and physical language must have been the method for at least couple of million years.
We only have to watch our domestic pets or farm animals to witness how nonverbal languages work. Two dogs meet and tails wag and bottoms get sniffed, two horses meet and they snuffle ones another’s necks, a small dog meets a large dog and the former rolls over exposing its stomach and genitals. As animals communicate visually and physically so do we humans. Maybe we are not so aware but each time we communicate we also use physical signs to support our message. Gestures, eye contact and of course touch. A hand rests on a shoulder to show support, a palm touches a cheek to show affection, we hug, we kiss, we hold hands.
The survey shows that of the men asked the question when did they first become aware of their attraction to the same-sex of the 837 asked 28% said they first became aware of an attraction between the ages of 18-25,40% between 26 – 50 years and 22% between 51-60 and 23% over 60 years. 68 (8%) of men said they had no attraction to other men even though 120 men personally defined as straight indicating that although straight 52 men still found some other men attractive but probably did not act on the feeling.
From an evolutionary perspective, this makes sense. If it is accepted that the primary strategy of the male is to secure his genetic future by having sexual intercourse with as many females as possible, so quantity above quality.
On the other hand, the sexual strategy of the female is to seek quantity and quality, so she will be more selective about which males she has sex with since she needs to ensure that her biology has a choice of genetic matches to chose from. This strategy ensures both a good biological match but also since the various mals she has had sexual intercourse with actually have no idea which of them is the biological father she has in fact created multiple fathers. When the baby is born not all the males will take an interest in both her and the offspring’s welfare since there is a chance that they are the biological father.
This strategy highlights the two fundamental strategies of the male and female that underpins both genders behavior. Males seek approval ( they need to be chosen by the female to have sex) and female seek desire (the more desirable she makes herself, the more males she attracts to have sex with)
For the female, the motivation to be desirable continues until menopause, and she can be sexually productive for anything up to her mid 50s. The male, on the other hand, starts his menopause at around twenty-one. It begins very slowly, and most men have little awareness of any changes in their libido. But once they pass their mid-twenties most men will experience a gradual decline in virility. Spontaneous erections experienced when a teenager no longer happen quite so regularly. By the age of 30 usually getting aroused requires either visual or physical stimulation and by 40 maintaining an erection can become unpredictable. A question I am often asked (particularly by older women) is why do women hit their second sexual peek in their 40’s, and yet men seem to be on the sexual decline by this age. This is because nature wants females to mostly procreate with younger males/ Younger males have less change of carrying a virus they are fit and can protect. At a younger age when they are fit and sexually receptive they attract similar aged males but when female become more mature it is even more necessary for them to mate with a young healthy male. The Cougar woman is not a fantasy.
So if nature’s processes imply that older men are no longer required to be the primary procreators having to leave this role to the younger males, why are they not dispensed with. Why does nature keep older males alive, why not kill them off. Because their roles change. Older males are experienced, stronger and therefore can serve the community by being protectors and providers rather than front line procreators
Human child rearing is not particularly efficient when it comes to securing genetic lineage. Most human females only have one child at a time. Pregnancy is nine months, and during this time the mother is vulnerable and needs support and security to ensure a safe birth. This vulnerability continues after birth for a least another three years while she is rearing the child in which time she may have had two more offspring. So the older males would be tasked with caring and protecting the groups’ offspring. To achieve this, they need to work together to hunt, fight off predators and be creative in making the home secure and safe. To work together like this these older males need to alter their relationship with other older males from being competitive procreators to becoming cooperative providers.
Today men build relationships mostly by talking, meeting in the pub, sharing stories about exploits or sports teams. But before humans developed speech 200,000 years males would have been achieved this relationship change with a visual or physical language. A language of touch. To touch one another was a sign of acceptance, to touch one another in vulnerable areas of the body, the genitals and more poignantly the testicles, Mutual touching of these spots showed a sign of complete trust. Sharing one’s testicles not only meant the male was metaphorically trusting the other male with his genetic future but it also felt good. As the testicles are stroked signals are sent to the limbic system of the brain that immediately causes large amounts of the ‘ love hormone’ Oxytocin to be released. This relaxes the male and encourages them to bond with one another.
This evolutionary process to shift the male to male relationships from competitive procreator to co operative provider is still happening today. We see it in everyday life when as they get older men tend to join male-orientated communities such as the sports club, the gym, and now with dating apps like Grindr men seek out other men for sexual pleasure, they seek out close intimate male relationships, and reciprocal genital touch and arousal is very much a part of this evolutionary male to male bonding process.
Imagine two males who once were vying for females meet on the planes of African 250,0000 years ago. Instinct tells them they need to go hunt together and to protect one another. Initially, they touch and poke one another, but gradually the touching becomes more sensual causing oxytocin to be released from the pituitary gland. The oxytocin immediately relaxes and turns them on, and soon the touching becomes sexually pleasurable with the testicles being the most sensitive and vulnerable part of the body that can be allowed to be touched by another. This is classic behaviour of the Bonobo chimpanzee that uses this same strategy to maintain a social calm in their troop. Bonobos and Humans are genetically 97% similar.
Is it too far fetched to consider that once migration out of Africa happened and humans lived in colder climates where garments were needed that the male to the male ceremony of touching one another’s testicle evolved into a symbolism of touching hands….. the handshake!
The word Testify comes from the Latin word for Testicle – Read More
If you have found this article of interest or helpful and you are willing to share your own personal story about your own sexuality and you would like to help me change the way men understand their own sexuality and how society sees male sexuality in general, then please take the survey.