Forms of non-sexual and non-romantic attraction

There are forms of attraction besides sexual and romantic. Two of these that are often talked about in asexual/aromantic communities are Aesthetic and Sensual attraction.

Other forms of attraction.

Aesthetic attraction is attraction to aesthetic appearance that is not necessarily connected to sexual or romantic attraction. This is where someone may appreciate someone else’s appearance, but feel no desire to engage with the person sexually or romantically. Aesthetic attraction can also be felt in response to the way someone dresses or their fashion style. Aesthetic attraction can make someone enjoy looking at someone else, without necessarily wanting to have sex with, or having a crush on that person. This may be similar to the attraction that someone feels when looking at a piece of art.

Sensual Attraction is the desire to touch or be physically close to someone, and may include anything from touching someone on the arm to sensual massages. While sensual attraction can be a component of sexual and/or romantic attraction, it can also be felt in a purely platonic way. Asexual people may enjoy physical contact with a partner or friend without any accompanying sexual desire. Some people feel sensual attraction towards most of the people they are friends with, while other people only feel sensual attraction combined with romantic and/or sexual attraction. Some people feel no form of sensual attraction. As with sexual and romantic attraction, people are very diverse!

Diversity of attraction and the sexual and romantic spectrums.

Both of these forms of attraction (aesthetic and sensual) are felt by many allosexual and alloromantic people in a purely platonic way, and people vary widely in whether, how often, or when they feel these forms of attraction. These forms of attraction can be particularly important to aromantic people. Many aromantic people enjoy close emotional bonds with friends and/or family members. Given the social norms in most western societies, most people seek physical contact with other people primarily through romantic and/or sexual relationships.

This can be difficult for people who do not wish to have either a romantic or sexual relationship, but do want to feel close to other people and enjoy physical contact. For example, some aromantic people will experience sensual attraction towards a friend and want to have some form of physical contact with them, without wanting a romantic relationship.

Keen to learn more about asexuality? Click here to find further reading and resources.

Read more about other forms of attraction elsewhere.

  • This post from the Asexuality Archive offers the author’s view on aesthetic attraction, and also includes an interesting FAQ-style section on a range of other asexuality topics. 
  •  The Asexuality Visibility and Education Network has a comprehensive article on the topic of attractions, which explores sensual and aesthetic attraction in addition to sexual and romantic attraction. As that page notes, these topics are the source of disputes, and no one definition of the concepts will encompass all experiences. 

The Asexuality New Zealand Trust has no control over, accepts no responsibility for, and does not necessarily endorse the content of external websites.

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