AAW: Asexuality & Attraction

In my first AAW post this week, I mentioned that there are lots of different kinds of attraction, and gave you a very brief overview of two of them: sexual and romantic. Today I’m going to go into more detail, about these two types and many others.

For a lot of people, some or all of these types of attraction are experienced simultaneously, so it can be difficult to distinguish them – for example, a lot of allo people (non-aces) will experience sexual and sensual attraction at the same time, where an ace person might only experience sensual attraction.

This way of looking at attraction evolved from the Split Attraction Model (SAM) which differentiated sexual and romantic orientations, meaning that someone could be, for example, asexual but homoromantic (or heteroromantic, or biromantic, or panromantic, etc).

While the Split Attraction Model originates from the ace community, it can be helpful for people of all orientations to better understand their relationships with and feelings toward other people – including friends and family.

Sexual attraction

This is the first type of attraction that most people think of. Sexual attraction, simply put, is when you are attracted to someone in a way that makes you want to engage in sexual activity with them. Generally speaking, this is what asexual people do not experience (although some people on the ace spectrum may occasionally experience sexual attraction).

Romantic attraction

Romantic attraction is that feeling you get when you can imagine yourself in a romantic relationship with someone (and quite like the idea!). There is nothing inherently sexual or even physical about this attraction; it simply relates to the romantic (think dating, love letters, affectionate gestures, love languages, etc).

Sensual/Physical attraction

While they might often go hand-in-hand, sensual attraction is not the same as sexual attraction. Sensual or physical attraction is what you experience when you want to come into physical contact with someone, but not necessarily in a sexual way. Cuddling, holding hands, kissing, are all forms of sensual activity.

Aesthetic attraction

Aesthetic attraction is largely visual – it means you are attracted to the way a person looks. This doesn’t mean that you want to do anything physical with them or even talk to them, you just appreciate the way they look. It’s the same sort of attraction you might have to a beautiful piece of artwork.

Alterous attraction

This is one that a lot of people haven’t heard of, but which most people have experienced at some point in their lives. Alterous attraction is not entirely romantic or platonic – it is a fairly nebulous term but basically means you want to be close with someone – this could be a leader in your community, or an author/artist you admire, or just about anyone really. It doesn’t necessarily mean you want a romantic relationship or a friendship with them, just some form of closeness. This Tumblr post explains it fairly well:


Emotional attraction

Emotional attraction is something you experience when you want to be emotionally close to someone, where you feel like you can really open up to them. This can be true for a partner, family member, or friend. If you experience something emotional and then immediately message someone about it, chances are you’re emotionally attracted to them!

I’m sure there are even more kinds of attraction than the ones I’ve listed here, but these are the main ones that I’ve seen used in discourse about attraction. No form of attraction is more valuable than another, they are simply different ways that we experience the world and the people around us. Have a think about the different ways that you are attracted to people – you might learn something new about yourself!

One thought on “AAW: Asexuality & Attraction

  1. I’m used to registering (and sometomes trying to explain) the difference between platonic romantic sensual and sexual attractions but I had forgotten about alterous attraction so thanks for explaining it

    Liked by 1 person

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