Romance and the asexual spectrum

The existence of separate spectrums of romantic and sexual attraction means there is a wide range of possible romantic identities that asexual individuals may identify with.

An introduction to romantic asexuals.

Just as sex can exist without love, love can exist without sex!

Some asexual people do not feel romantic attraction (or feel it very rarely) and may choose to refer to themselves as aromantic. Other asexual people do experience romantic attraction. These people may desire to be in relationships and do things often associated with relationships, which might include kissing, cuddling, sharing a bed, getting married, having kids etc.

Although romantic and sexual attraction seem inextricably linked for many people, there is actually plenty of evidence that the two are controlled by separate parts of the brain. Romantic attraction is the part of attraction that many people refer to as ‘having a crush on someone’. If this feeling of attraction is later accompanied by a strong emotional connection, it may lead someone to fall in love. Sexual attraction is often considered to be the more ‘physical’ component of attraction. While for some people these two forms of attraction always occur together, this is not necessarily the case even for people who experience both in a typical way. Many asexual people have crushes and fall in love, while never experiencing sexual attraction. These people are often referred to as romantic asexuals.

Intersections of romantic orientation and asexuality.

For asexual people who experience romantic attraction, it is common to prefix orientation terms to the word -romantic:

  • Heteroromantic means romantic attraction to someone of a different gender.
  • Homoromantic means romantic attraction to the same gender.
  • Biromantic and Panromantic refer to romantic attraction to multiple genders.

These orientation terms describe who someone might feel romantic attraction to, and who they might be interested in forming romantic relationships with. There are also various other orientation terms that have been developed. Asexual people often use multiple terms to describe their sexuality. For example:

  • An Aromantic Asexual person is someone who does not feel either romantic or sexual attraction.
  • A Panromantic Asexual person is someone who can experience romantic attraction to people of all genders, but does not experience sexual attraction.
  • A Heteroromantic Greysexual person is someone who is romantically attracted to people of a different gender, but only rarely experiences sexual attraction to those people, or maybe isn’t sure if what they are experiencing is sexual attraction or not.
  • A Homoromantic Demisexual person is someone who is romantically attracted to the same gender, but only develops sexual attraction to people of that gender after a strong emotional bond has been developed.

People who identify as homoromantic may also identify themselves as Gay or Lesbian. Biromantic and Panromantic people also experience attraction to people of the same gender, and therefore may also identify as part of the gay or queer community.

Heteroromantic people may identify as ‘straight’. Although heteroromantic people may identify as straight, many heteroromantic asexual people do not feel like their sexuality and/or relationships fit a heteronormative model of sexuality. Dating someone and having no interest in sleeping with them is usually not deemed ‘normal’ in our society, which can create problems for heteroromantic asexuals. Many asexual people of all orientations identify as part of the queer or LGBTQIA+ community.

Want to know more? Read about aromanticism here.

Read more about romantic asexuals elsewhere.

  • The Asexual Visibility & Education Network is the world’s oldest and most visible asexuality education website. Its FAQ page on asexuality contains a series of questions that may be useful in working out where you feel you fall on the romantic spectrum.  The AVEN forums have hosted a number of discussions on the topic of romantic relationships in an asexual context.
  • David Jay, the founder of the Asexual Visibility & Network, has become a high profile media commentator and interview subject on aseuxality. In this interview, Jay, a romantic asexual, discusses his views on romance.  

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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