When categorizing yourself or others' sexuality, which method is used?
Retroactive Sexuality: Most people refer to a person's history to define one's sexuality. This method is action oriented. Tallying each encounter, we draw a conclusion to the person's sexual orientation and caliber. For example, if I have slept with only men, then I am hereby deemed "gay". If I had a period where I had a high volume of sexual partners, or if the sum total partners reach a high degree, I am hereby deemed "promiscuous".
As much as I hate to say it, a person's history is a good indicator of many things. Generally speaking, if my friends loaned someone money and he failed to pay them back, I may think twice before letting him borrow from me. In the realm of the sexual, if I loved men in the past, its safe to say that particular preference will be carried into the future.
In spite of the practicality of this perspective, it is very important to note that we should not let a person's past determine his future. If I was once promiscuous, its would be unfair for someone to stigmatize me as promiscuous for life. Some phases are just that: phases, temporary stages. Whores can become housewives effectively.
Prospective Sexuality: This method would refer to the expected direction someone's sexuality is likely to take. Have you ever witnessed a young boy playing with Barbies or double-dutching? Actions are irrelevant; curiosities, fantasies and fixations determines orientation. For example, there was a period when I only have had heterosexual relationships, but I knew that there was a chance I could form same-sex relationships as well. Even if I made it to the grave without having a single same-sex relation, I would be buried a bisexual man because my porn collection says otherwise.
The beautiful thing about this method is that it speaks more on the surveyor than the subject. A straight man that constantly estimates other men to be bisexual or gay would be indicating that he himself could be a part of what he sees to be so prevalent. Psychologically speaking, repressed aspects of identity resurfaces in the perception of others. The mind has a way of subconsciously highlighting things we identify with.
As a fun exercise: Pay attention to things that stand out most in a person.
In my opinion, sexuality is a fluid rollercoaster filled with heights and valleys. There are phases that will never return. There are preferences that make up our identities, just as real as the skin coating our bones. Generally speaking, a person's life isn't fully captured by the places traveled or activities performed, but also one's thoughts and ambitions.
Sexuality differs for each person. Believe it or not, there are men that have had a "gay phase". Is he gay forever? Is he bisexual due to his accumulative list of partners? Who are we to judge? Oh yes, that's right! We are to judge, for we are ultimately judging ourselves!
A saying comes to mind,
"Whenever you're pointing the finger at someone, there's three more pointing right back at you."