Monday, October 24, 2011

Some Common Terms

Asexuality is a complex sexual orientation and there is no one kind of asexuality.  Many asexuals identify by a romantic orientation.  A romantic orientation in the asexual community refers to who one is attracted to.  For an asexual, romance refers to intimacy without sex.  Some asexuals enjoy tactile nearness such as cuddling, hugging, or the like, while other asexuals prefer just to engage in purely intellectual relationships, such as deep conversations or working towards a common goal.  There are a few different kinds of romantic orientation, which I will briefly cover.  Note- these terms can apply to other sexual orientations as well.  I am only describing how they apply to the asexual orientation.  Individuals in these categories desire an intimacy with their partners that just is not sexual.

Aromantic: An aromantic asexual is a person that experiences no romantic attraction to others.  Romantic asexuals tend to experience an emotional need to be with another person in a romantic relationship whereas an aromantic individual is often satisfied with friendships and other non-romantic relationships.

Aromantic individuals are not cold or antisocial.  They simply do not experience the need for any kind of romantic attachment.  They have just as much need for support as others, but they can be satisfied with purely platonic relationships.  Interestingly, people anywhere on the sexual spectrum can be aromantic.

Biromantic: An asexual individual that is romantically attracted to members of both sexes or genders.  Like the other romantic orientations, biromantic individuals desire romantic relationships for a variety of reasons but they are not sexually attracted to their partners.

Demiromantic: Demiromantics are similar to gray-romantics.  They only experience romantic attraction after an emotional bond has already been established.  They do not experience primary romantic attraction (for example, "love at first sight"), but they do experience secondary romantic attraction.

Gray-Romantics: Gray-romantics are people that are somewhere between aromantics and romantic in regards to romantic orientations.  They may experience romantic attraction, but not regularly.  They could experience romantic attraction, but not desire romantic relationships.  They may desire a relationship that is somewhere in between platonic and romantic, not quite one or the other.  Demiromantics are often considered a kind of Gray-Romantic.

Heteroromantic: A heteroromantic is an individual that is romantically attracted to individuals of the opposite gender or sex.

Homoromantic: A homoromantic is an individual that is romantically attracted to individuals of the same gender or sex.

Panromantic: A panromantic is an individual that is romantically attracted to others but is not limited by sex or gender.  They are attracted to individuals of both genders and also transgender individuals and third gendered individuals.  Unlike biromantics, panromantics tend to view gender as not really defining their relationship.  Biromantics will often also be panromantic, but panromantic is much less known than the other romantic orientations.

Different Kinds of Attraction

Asexuals experience different kinds of attraction and in different degrees. Many asexuals define themselves based on their romantic orientation.  Romantic attraction and relationships are quite hard to define.  They usually fall into two categories: partner-based or community-based.  Partner-based is a monogamous pairing.  People that depend on community-based intimacy do not need to pair off as a couple, but this doesn't mean they are incapable of forming strong emotional bonds with others.

Sensual: Sensual attraction refers to the need some asexuals have for tactile sensuality.  They do not experience sexual desire, but often desire other forms of physical intimacy such as cuddling.

Aesthetic: Some asexuals experience what is described as an aesthetic attraction.  An aesthetic attraction is not connected to a desire to do anything with the person, either sexually or romantically.  They just appreciate their appearance.  Some label aesthetic attraction as a subset of a sensual attraction due to the attraction having to do with the senses (i.e. sight and sometimes hearing).

Like sexuals, asexuals experience crushes.  A crush typically describes a temporary romantic attraction, usually never to be acted upon.  In the asexual-aromantic community, individuals experience what has been affectionately labeled a squish, which describes the desire for a platonic relationship with someone.


Tomorrow, I will likely review one of the few articles that has been written on asexuality.  While there aren't very many, a few have been written that offer some interesting perspectives.

No comments:

Post a Comment