Question of the Week: October 13th 2015

What do you think about the many different types of attraction? Do you only talk about sexual and romantic attraction, or are sensual, platonic, aesthetic, and intellectual attraction also meaningful to you? Why or why not?

In my personal experience the different types of attraction have become more important as I try to verbally express my lack of sexual attraction. Because of this I believe that my interest in the many forms of attraction is strongly linked to my asexuality. Drawing from my experience, I wonder, are multiple forms of attraction discussed less in allo spaces than in ace spaces because allo people regularly experience many forms of attraction simultaneously and cohesively? In other words, does being ace make the distinctions matter more?

On that note, what distinctions matter? Potential BDSM forms of attraction offer some interesting insight. For example, sadist and masochist attraction would look very different from each other and may or may not be linked to sexual attraction. And yet, I don’t really see people talk about sadist attraction. My initial hypothesis is that because the distinctions are largely prevalent in ace communities, where we don’t regularly discuss wanting to have sex and/or engage in BDSM, certain kinds of distinctions matter less or won’t be formulated at all.

About Talia

Talia is an asexual, nonbinary, vegan-feminist that drinks a lot of coffee and stays up very late playing Blizzard video games and writing fiction. They are working on a PhD in Environmental Studies where they think a lot about oppression as intersectional and impacting identities differentially. Talia has a particular fondness for asexuality, fandom, and Critical Animal Studies. Their personal blog is
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8 Responses to Question of the Week: October 13th 2015

  1. Being both aromantic and asexual, I find the concepts of other forms of attraction useful. I’ve determined that I sometimes experience aesthetic and emotional attraction and without these concepts I would have had no idea how to understand these experiences. I sometimes wish that we didn’t give so much focus to sexual and romantic attraction and often ignore the others since that can erase my experiences.

  2. luvtheheaven says:

    I often find the concept of attraction, in any form, confusing. I, personally, dont find it useful to talk about the people I’m intrigued by or care deeply about in terms of my attraction for them. I don’t feel like it is attraction of any kind even if I like an emotionally intimate platonic touch or find an actor/actress to be clearly a very beautuful person, at least objectively, even if maybe on some level I am sometimes compelled to look more at them. Still, it fascinates me that so many people do find the concepts of sensual attraction or aesthetic attraction so useful, emotional attraction too, blogging about it in depth, and I always appreciate reading those posts. I feel like the existence of the terms helps me understand the world around me. People around me really…. and helps me frame my thinking about what I personally don’t and don’t experience in my life.

  3. Siggy says:

    The romantic/sexual distinction never helped me. I always felt like I just knew that I would have both together, or not at all.

    But the concept of aesthetic attraction has been extremely useful to me. Aesthetic attraction, that’s what I’ve been missing the whole time. And now, somehow I experience aesthetic attraction in a complex cycle, non-overlapping with my sexual?? attraction but also somehow related to it. The concept of aesthetic attraction allows me to pick the patterns apart, rather than spending all my time asking, “why?”

  4. Hibari says:

    I get frustrated at the lack of a term for aesthetic attraction because it’s kind of the opposite of my romantic attraction. That is, I’m more romantically attracted to masculine individuals but more aesthetically attracted to feminine individuals; and my aesthetic attraction is as important as my romantic attraction. Thus biromantic and panromantic don’t quite sum up my experience. I feel like I do have to start explaining different forms of attraction because I do use terms like “hot” and “sexy” to describe someone who is very aesthetically or romantically appealing.

    Very rarely do I discuss other types of attraction with allosexuals outside of explaining asexuality. However, the ones I do have conversation with are almost always bi or pan. That makes me wonder if because in all three cases, we’re often erased from the every day conversation about sexuality (i.e. people presume that we’re gay or straight), we are more aware of the complexities of attraction.

  5. kaleighaw17 says:

    Personally I love the different types of attraction and I’m excited to see what new types we identify in the future. I find the exercise of detangling the different attractions from each other fun and insightful. I think mostly because the definition of “romantic” and the related “romantic attraction” is still so vague and left up to individual interpretation that talking about other attractions helps get to more specific experiences that I can understand.

  6. Elana says:

    I haven’t found concepts such as sensual attraction particularly helpful to me so far, but the idea of aesthetic attraction has been really useful. So often when people talk about it outside ace spaces it’s lumped in with sexual/romantic attraction and hearing a separate term both instantly made sense to me and helped me stop invalidating myself quite so much.

  7. TreePeony says:

    Figuring out that I felt friendship and aesthetic attraction much stronger than the average person but not romantic or sexual attraction is actually what helped me to look for explanations for my situation online in the first place, actually. I wondered why I was always such a devoted friend and was so darn hurt when other girls would abandon me, whether for guys (which didn’t happen as often, probably because of the conservative society I live in that frowns on premarital affairs) or more “girly” (ie: interested in fashion, looks, gossip, romance movies/books and guys) girls – which happened very often. I noticed that when I said “that guy is so hot,” or “that girl is so gorgeous,” it was never followed up by the line of thought that most allosexual people seem to have right after, which is basically: “I fantasise about them sexually and/or romantically.” And from there it was a fairly easy step to identifying as aro ace.

    I don’t think allosexuals/alloromantics really need to separate romantic/sexual attraction from other forms to describe their experiences; from what I’ve seen they often seem to correlate all of them under the banner of sexual and/or romantic attraction (whether correctly or not, I don’t know; it’s my theory that sexual attraction especially seems to eclipse all other forms, probably because of evolutional imperative) and be done with it. Strong friendship/emotional attraction in particular seems to play almost no role in their lives once they’ve found a romantic partner, and oftentimes even when they’re not romantically involved they aren’t as invested in friendship — at least in comparison to myself. Which in a way makes sense: I’m pretty sure that if I could feel romantic and/or sexual attraction, I wouldn’t bother with anything else, either; going with the mainstream is just so much easier, and it’s only when you simply can’t agree with most of the things allosexual and alloromantic society comes up with that you find the need to…rebel. So to speak.

  8. JessieJay says:

    Having the different kinds of attraction split up like that was an absolute revelation to me, and there is no doubt that it assuaged a whole lot of confusion and guilt. Sensual attraction is the one that really hit me hard. Realizing that wanting to touch and be touched could be separated from sex and everything relating to it, that a desire to touch people could be totally innocent but still a driving force, has been incredibly liberating. Of all the types of attraction, I feel sensual attraction more strongly than anything else, and being able to admit to myself and to others that I want to hug people and cuddle with them and pet their hair without somehow implying (to myself or to others) that I want to have sex or even be in a relationship with them released me from so much shame and guilt.

    My sexual attraction is nil. My romantic attraction is complicated, misleading, and best ignored in the end. My aesthetic attraction is fairly strong. My platonic attraction is rather fickle, to be honest. But my sensual attraction is off the charts. Now if I could only find OTHER people who understood the distinctions among them all and would be willing to indulge my sensuality without getting the wrong idea or being mislead in any way, that would be wonderful.

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