One of things I find myself explaining to people most often is the differences between the different types of attraction. Many people I encounter are not aware that there are different ways to be attracted to another person. This fact is disappointing, but is also says a lot about ignorance in our society. Because some believe that attraction is just one, black and white thing, there are many who don’t know how some relationships work within diverse orientations. It leaves room for confusion concerning asexuals, aromantics, and many other underrepresented groups. I’m the sort of person who doesn’t mind explaining things to people, but because there is so little accessible information on human attractions, I decided that it would be a good topic to write about.
1. Sexual Attraction
Sexual attraction: The desire for possible sexual intercourse with another individual
I listed this attraction first because there are people out there who believe that this is the only human attraction. There are other attractions, and other qualities in general, that go into human relationships. Sexual attraction is difficult to pin down because it is not the same thing as sex drive or how one feels about sex in general (both which are common misconceptions). When someone is heterosexual or straight, that just means that they are attracted to the opposite sex. When someone is homosexual or gay or lesbian, that just means that they are attracted to the same sex. When someone is asexual, that means that they are not sexually attracted to any sex. What all sexualities have in common, though, is that their sexuality says nothing about their sex life or sex drive. There are heterosexuals and homosexuals who do not enjoy sex as much as others. And just because someone is asexual, it doesn’t meant that they are sex repulsed. Sexual attraction is not equal to habits and preferences.
2. Romantic Attraction
Romantic attraction: The desire for a possible romantic relationship with another individual
There is not a lot of thought put into the idea of romantic attraction, and yet, it is very important. Because asexuals, gray-sexuals, and demisexuals do not feel sexual attraction at all or right away, the focus on romantic attraction is important. If one understands sexual attraction, then it is easy to understand romantic attraction. It is the same premise, the only difference is is that sexual feelings are then replaced with romantic (non-sexual) feelings. If the same prefixes are used from the last example, then a heteromantic would be attracted to the opposite sex, a homoromantic would be attracted to the same sex, and an aromntic would not be attracted to any sex.
3. Physical/Sensual Attraction
Physical/sensual attraction: The desire to non-sexually touch another person
There is no orientation for this and the last couple attractions, but they are still important in understanding who we are attracted to. When you are physically attracted to someone, you may be willing to hug, kiss, cuddle, or touch them and be touched in other non-sexual ways. This sort of attraction is not exclusive to sexual and romantic relationships. Sensuality can be seen in friendships, among family members, and in other platonic relationships.
4. Emotional Attraction
Emotional attraction: The desire to be emotionally open with another person
Like physical/sensual attraction, emotional attraction can be seen in limitless examples of relationships. This attraction explains why some people are more emotionally open with other people. Your emotional attractions show who you are willing to connect to, open up to, and share personal details with. Some people are more emotionally attracted to other people than others. Like other attractions, the levels of attractions vary from person to person.
5. Aesthetic Attraction
Aesthetic attraction: Appreciating the way another person looks
This is usually confused with physical attraction. The difference between the two, though, is physical attraction involves the want to touch somebody whereas aesthetic attraction does not necessarily involve the want to touch another person. The best way to understand this is by thinking in terms or art. If you are at an art gallery, you can look at a piece of art and appreciate the way it looks. You understand that it is visually appealing but you have no desire to touch it. Through aesthetic attraction, you can have this experience with another person. Though in terms of humans, this attraction can go hand in hand with other attractions. All the other attractions discussed can also be pared with each other. It is important to remember that, although complex, attraction is fluid. The ways we experience relationships are diverse and can change through a lifetime.