What does sexual orientation orient? A biobehavioral model distinguishing romantic love and sexual desire

Psychol Rev. 2003 Jan;110(1):173-92. doi: 10.1037/0033-295x.110.1.173.


Although it is typically presumed that heterosexual individuals only fall in love with other-gender partners and gay-lesbian individuals only fall in love with same-gender partners, this is not always so. The author develops a biobehavioral model of love and desire to explain why. The model specifies that (a) the evolved processes underlying sexual desire and affectional bonding are functionally independent; (b) the processes underlying affectional bonding are not intrinsically oriented toward other-gender or same-gender partners: (c) the biobehavioral links between love and desire are bidirectional, particularly among women. These claims are supported by social-psychological, historical, and cross-cultural research on human love and sexuality as well as by evidence regarding the evolved biobehavioral mechanisms underlying mammalian mating and social bonding.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Affect*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Libido*
  • Love*
  • Male
  • Sexual Behavior / physiology*
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*