Romantic Orientation    vs.    Sexual Orientation      

Romantic orientation is whether a person experiences romantic attraction to another person or not, and who a person feels romantic attraction to.

Romantic attraction differs from person to person, but is typically defined as the desire to be close/intimate with another person, not necessarily in a sensual/sexual way. (9)

Spectrum of Romantic Orientation

  • Heteroromantic- romantic attraction to the opposite sex and/or gender.

  • Homoromantic- romantic attraction to the same sex and/or gender.

  • Biromantic- romantic attraction to more than one sex and/or gender.

  • Panromantic- romantic attraction to a person regardless of sex and/or gender.

  • Aromantic- does not experience romantic attraction.

    • Polyromantic- romantic attraction towards more than one person, but not to all genders and/or sexes.
  • Demiromantic- only experiences romantic attraction after a strong emotional bond has been established.

  • Greyromantic- only occasionally experiences romantic attraction.

Sexual orientation is whether a person feels sexually attracted to another person or not and who a person feels sexually attracted to.

Sexual attraction is the desire to engage in sexual activity with another person. This is not to be confused with aesthetic attraction, which focuses on the visual components of a person's body, face, the way they dress, or even the way they move as attractive. 

According to The Thinking Asexual, "it’s the same experience as being a sexual person feeling sexually attracted to someone hot, except there’s no sexual component to finding the other person hot." (8) 

Spectrum of Sexual Orientation

  • Heterosexual- sexual attraction to the opposite gender and/or sex.

  • Homosexual- sexual attraction to the same gender and/or sex.

  • Bisexual- sexual attraction to more than one gender and/or sex.

  • Pansexual- sexual attraction to a person regardless of sex and/or gender.

  • Asexual- does not experience sexual attraction.   

    • Polysexual- sexual attraction towards more than one person, but not to all genders and/or sexes.
  • Demisexual- only experiences sexual attraction after a strong emotional bond has been established.

  • Greysexual- only occasionally experiences sexual attraction.

Note: "One's sexual and romantic attractions may not align. An asexual individual may not necessarily be aromantic. A sexual may not necessarily be romantic. A heterosexual may be homoromantic and so on." (8)

Along with romantic and aesthetic attraction, there are a number of different, completely platonic types of attraction. There is sensual attraction, which "is the desire to interact with others in a tactile, non-sexual way, such as through hugging or cuddling," emotional attraction, which is the attraction to a person based on their personality, (commonly found in platonic friendships, as well as other relationships) and intellectual attraction, which is the desire to engage  with a personal in an intellectual way. (9) Society is built on the premise that sexual attraction is the strongest of all attractions, and without it there is some link missing in the romantic love a person feels for another. This thinking leads asexual people to feel broken or as if something is wrong with them. There are attractions of all types, and no attraction is stronger, or more important, than another. 

Asexual Spectrum

As mentioned before, there is no split dichotomy between asexual and sexual (also known as allosexual), asexuality exists on a spectrum. This spectrum is between sexual and asexual. (5) Heterosexuals, homosexuals, bisexuals and pansexuals exist in the Sexual Spectrum. Asexuals, demisexuals and greysexual/greyasexuals exist in the Asexual Spectrum. Both demisexual and greysexual/greyasexual fall under the asexual umbrella in the asexual community, but exist between asexual and sexual. Asexuality is simply a branch off of the sexual orientation spectrum, just as sexuality is. (1)

Understanding Kinsey

According to Anthony Bogaert, a professor and sexologist, one of the first mentions of asexuality in scientific literature was in Sexologist Alfred Kinsey's research in the 1940's. Many people know Kinsey for his research on human sex and sexual behavior, or even more for the Kinsey scale that represents variations of sexuality from 0 to 6. However, few people are aware that during his research Kinsey had a separate category "X", for those who did not fit within the scale. Academics now believe that this category included what we consider today to be asexual. (4) Though it is not pictured on the Kinsey Scale, it was still noted in his research. (2)