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snapesonalane

Confusing aesthetic attraction for romantic attraction

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Funny thing is it probably took me so long to realize I was aromantic is because I liked looking at people, which I thought must mean I had a crush on them. I find women and men very aesthetically attractive. I have a "type" of guy and girl. This isn't based entirely on the physical but when it's based on personality then it's probably more squish territory. 

 

So I would look at Anna Kendrick and Dylan O'Brien and just assume, "oh this is romantic attraction." A friend used to laugh because I described boys (and girls but it's less odd to do so) as pretty instead of hot or sexy. Probably because I was simply experiencing aesthetic attraction and nothing else. 

 

So did anyone else confuse aesthetic attraction for romantic? This is more directed at ace/grayace/demisexual aros since I suspect they might have experienced this more, but any allosexual aro who has experienced this as well please validate me! 😂😅

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I find a lot of people aesthetically attractive, and sometimes I feel it's purely aesthetic appreciation (that person is beautiful) and sometimes it's old-fashioned lust (I would like to fuck that person). Much more of the former, but I am allosexual, so I do occasionally have the latter!
I am only now, at age 50, discovering that I may be aromantic. And by now, I mean... tonight. Just starting to learn about it. And this is my first post here. :)
I've generally just assumed that I was very picky in the romantic department. I'm a loving person but I never seem to fall in love. And I don't have an interest in falling in love. Nor do I have any interest in getting married or having kids. I'm a bit of a loner, but I wouldn't call myself anti-social. I have good friends and a great family. I just have no interest in the traditional path of marriage and kids.
Back to your question, I've always assumed I'd require physical attraction AND "personality attraction"/intellectual connection in order for "romance" to happen, and whenever that magic combination has happened for me in the past, somehow the romance still hasn't really happened!
If I haven't gotten to know the person well enough to assess the personal chemistry, then no, I don't mistake it for romance, because I feel that I can be sexually attracted to someone but not have the personal connection required to really have feelings for them. I guess I'm too rational to have romantic feelings for someone I've only seen, say a famous actor. And I probably assume that the really attractive people are probably narcissistic assholes anyways! lol

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Oh it's awesome that you discovered this forum and are discovering you might be aromantic. I know I felt a relief once I realized I never had to marry/be in a relationship and that I had a reason why I felt that relief. I've always felt pressured into seeking a long term relationship because I'm in my early 20s and people are starting to think it's weird I've never been in a relationship. I always used to say something to the effect of, "I'm not into dating" which in my mind at the time meant, "I'm asexual and nobody will want to date me." But that I now realize was just: "I'm not into dating." 

 

I've been looking at people describing what romantic attraction feels like and I'm just reading through those posts with a big CAN'T RELATE sign on my forehead. They talk about wanting to kiss and hold hands, about being blissful in the presence of their crush, about it being a warmth and pull in their chest. About wanting to be entirely known and know that person entirely. I have never ever felt that. I could never understand why people in bad relationships didn't just leave, apparently it's because of this so called romantic love I'm never gonna get 😅. There's actually a really beautiful description on Reddit where this person describes what he felt when he had a crush on someone and honestly it sounded nice but not something I would ever personally want to feel. 

1 hour ago, muffler said:

I'm a loving person but I never seem to fall in love. And I don't have an interest in falling in love

 

I know what you mean. I love my family and friends fiercely but I've never fallen in love (and probably never will). In a romantic plane I feel like a single dot in a world of interconnected lines. 1 dimensional where most are 2 (or even more, since polyamorous people are also on the other side of the spectrum). Whenever I thought of marriage (if I ever did) I pictured a fairytale instead of a soulmate. In fact I don't know what a soulmate outside of a platonic sense would feel like. 

 

I just can't picture myself in love. Anyways I'm happy you're here and honored you decided to post your first post here. I hope I helped you as you helped me 😊 although I barely even addressed the whole aesthetic attraction issue even though that was the point of my post hehe. But I do recognize that being allosexual presents a different set of challenges in recognizing your aromanticism. But at least for me, realizing I'm aromantic has taken a weight off my chest I didn't realize I had. 

 

 

 

 

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I get what you're saying. I find lots of people pretty/aesthetically attractive, and would love to just look at them.

I never confused this with romantic attraction, but I absolutely did confuse it with sexual attraction. This is a big part of why I didn't initially think I was ace when I heard it was a thing, and only realized later when I found out about different types of attraction and stuff.

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On 6/3/2018 at 6:39 AM, snapesonalane said:

Funny thing is it probably took me so long to realize I was aromantic is because I liked looking at people, which I thought must mean I had a crush on them. I find women and men very aesthetically attractive. I have a "type" of guy and girl. This isn't based entirely on the physical but when it's based on personality then it's probably more squish territory. 😅

I suspect that non romantic attractions are often confused with 'crushes' even by allos.
There's the normative meme that any strong attraction is a 'crush'. Though the idea of any strong attraction being a 'squish' isn't any better :)
The term 'lush' is sometimes used for a strong purely sexual attraction. I suspect, in practice, most strong attractions are of a 'hybrid' nature.

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I've struggled a lot with "do I like men and have internalized biphobia or do I not and have internalized heteronormativity?" and I think the answer is aesthetic and platonic attraction to men got confused with romantic attraction and actual desire for a sexual relationship and. Yeah I'm still struggling on that but I'm pretty sure I get them mixed up a lot. 

If I think someone is hot, but can't imagine myself actually *doing* anything about that hotness in front of me, I say it's aesthetic?

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43 minutes ago, nixian_hound said:

I've struggled a lot with "do I like men and have internalized biphobia or do I not and have internalized heteronormativity?" and I think the answer is aesthetic and platonic attraction to men got confused with romantic attraction and actual desire for a sexual relationship and. Yeah I'm still struggling on that but I'm pretty sure I get them mixed up a lot. 

If I think someone is hot, but can't imagine myself actually *doing* anything about that hotness in front of me, I say it's aesthetic?


That sounds reasonable!
Although I think many people are more fluid than they admit/realize.
I'm quite sure I'm het, but I've had a few sexual experiences with men. They weren't unpleasant, but those experiences are part of what led me to understand my heterosexuality.
All that said, I guess I am/was bi enough to experiment!  Now I am occasionally physically attracted to men but rarely feel aroused.
So I guess I'm still some percentage bi, maybe most of us are?

I guess for me there's different categories:
- lust/lush --I see someone I consider sexy and know that I would want to be sexual with them
  I call that lust, because let's face it, we can't tell someone's character just by looking at them. So of course it's just superficial.
- sheer aesthetic appreciation of beauty and/or cuteness... could be a girl or a guy. Non-sexual, no sexual intention. Just aesthetic appreciation
- a "crush" to me doesn't necessarily infer romance... but I think usually it's a sexual attraction combined with some kind of personal curiosity.
  Like, in addition to physical stuff, I'd like to get to know this person, spend time with them, be friends with them. But to me, insofar as I am aro, that has its limits...!
 

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1 hour ago, nixian_hound said:

I've struggled a lot with "do I like men and have internalized biphobia or do I not and have internalized heteronormativity?" and I think the answer is aesthetic and platonic attraction to men got confused with romantic attraction and actual desire for a sexual relationship and. Yeah I'm still struggling on that but I'm pretty sure I get them mixed up a lot. 

If I think someone is hot, but can't imagine myself actually *doing* anything about that hotness in front of me, I say it's aesthetic?

 

I had a similar experience with women I found pretty. With men it was just the whole heteronomativity thing at play so I never questioned finding men aesthetically attractive. But when I realized I found women aesthetically attractive and since at the time I had to frame of reference to realize what I was feeling wasn't sexual or romantic attraction (because I also confused aesthetic for sexual before I knew I was ace) I assumed it must mean I'm bi. I played around with a lot of labels before I realized I just wasn't feeling any "I want to fuck" OR "I want to date" feelings for anyone. 

 

Now I just know that aesthetic attraction is the only kind I feel towards people, since I don't have any kind of sensual attraction (kiss, hug, cuddle) either. I used to think I was shallow because if I had to think of dating I only wanted to date good looking people. I could never get past that appearance barrier so I would pursue aesthetically pleasing people because I didn't realize at the time that the reason I couldn't bring myself to date people who weren't up to my "standards" was because of my being aro as fuck. 

42 minutes ago, muffler said:

Although I think many people are more fluid than they admit/realize.

 

I agree with you here, although I also think sometimes it's comforting to have a label you can use to describe your experience through the world. Like, sure I've had maybe one "crush" before so I might be lithromantic but since that was the only instance I'm comfortable saying I'm aro. 

46 minutes ago, muffler said:

a "crush" to me doesn't necessarily infer romance... but I think usually it's a sexual attraction combined with some kind of personal curiosity.

 

While I think I understand what you mean by this I might define it as: innate interest in another person, i.e. a kind of interest you can't control which for most romantic people is based on that romantic attraction. If it were a sexual attraction then asexuals would never have crushes. Possibly what you are describing could be closer to a squish (yes I hate that term but it's the one used) since I'm positive sexual aros can experience those while accompanied by sexual attraction.  

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On 6/3/2018 at 3:09 PM, snapesonalane said:

A friend used to laugh because I described boys (and girls but it's less odd to do so) as pretty instead of hot or sexy.

I do the same thing. I don't find most people sexually attractive so I feel uncomfortable using words that give that impression. Because of this I discovered that the english vocabulary is really gendered and sexual. I think a guy is pretty. He doesn't want to be called pretty but I don't want to use the word handsome because he is pretty and then all the other words seem to have a sexual undertone. 

 

As for comments about fluidity of attraction and mixed feelings, I think the main point is we can recognise the potential to interact with another person. I feel aesthetic attraction to paintings, clothes, baby animals....I could just watch them all all day but when it focuses on a human (or as is more normal for me the clothes a person is wearing) there is an extra potential in the dynamic, I could go talk to them and interact with them, so the feeling is more complex but I still just call it aesthetic.

Though whenever someone asked who I had a crush on I would pick some movie star I liked the look of as it would be much easier to remember who I supposedly had a crush on......I think for a period of time I convinced myself I did have a crush on one celebrity but deep down that feeling was still more of a 'I want to be their mini-me' rather than 'I want to date them'.

 

Yeah, before I knew about the split attraction model I guess I did think 'I want to be a mini-me' or 'I want to spend time with you but don't change your clothes as I know you are 100% better looking in this outfit' could be the basis of a romantic relationship because those were the only feelings I had. 

oh yeah and the 2 times I actually told a friend about two of the actual attractions I had I got comments like 'but he is so old' and 'that is creepy'. Those replies made me realise that that attraction wasn't the socially acceptable and mutually understandable aesthetic judgement that telling someone about a crush actually is in a circle of friends. 

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On 6/7/2018 at 7:46 PM, Apathetic Echidna said:

I do the same thing. I don't find most people sexually attractive so I feel uncomfortable using words that give that impression. 

Me too. I try not to use sexually weighted words because I don't like it when people sexualize my experience. Suddenly it'll feel tainted. For example I've always thought vocalist Brendan Urie to be very sexy. But what I mean by sexy isn't based on sex, just on the way he moves and acts which I like watching because it's aesthetically attractive. But I don't say much of this out loud because what other people hear is, "you're thirsty for Brendan Urie" (I heard those exact words once when I did describe him as sexy). I often joke that if I were sexual Brendan Urie would have been my sexual awakening but I digress. 

 

On 6/7/2018 at 7:46 PM, Apathetic Echidna said:

'I want to be their mini-me' rather than 'I want to date them'.

 

By mini me do you mean you want to be/look like them? Because before I knew I was aro I would experience this with girls which made me think I was bi/pan/gay because I liked a certain type (small, androgynous, mainly celebrities) but I now realize probably is just me liking the look and wishing I could emulate it. This never happened with men but maybe the aesthetic attraction towards men was more: if I were a guy that's how I'd wanna look. But more than any of that I probably just liked looking a pretty people. 

 

At the end of the day I now know I've never experienced romantic attraction towards any gender which is sort of a weight off my shoulders. But the whole confusing aesthetic for romantic attraction sure delayed my epiphany lol 

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On 6/9/2018 at 5:22 PM, snapesonalane said:

"you're thirsty for Brendan Urie" (I heard those exact words once when I did describe him as sexy).

Pretty much the same thing happened to me too (though it was Måns Zelmerlöw). Did your friends also try forcing you into games of celebrity snog/marry/avoid or who would you turn gay for?. I normally wanted to avoid all. Kids can be so mean to each other. It got even worse towards the end of high school when it became Political snog/marry/avoid *shudder* 

 

As for the mini-me comment there certainly was a component of 'if I were a guy that's how I'd wanna look and be' but it was also me wanting to emulate them in a feminine way to compliment their masculine style. I would want a matching facial piercing or wear a dress with the same pattern as a shirt they wore or dye my hair to closer match their shade of hair colour. I have always felt it is more achievable to develop a look complimentary to a guy I like (any differences aren't flaws in my look, they are just part of the translation error between male and female) than for me to try and look like the type of girl I most visually appreciate (which is pretty much impossible for me, so all differences would be failures and flaws. They are really a case of if I could choose what I looked like I would pick the Shiri Appleby/Nina Dobrev look and then never ever have self confidence issues ever again...I'd also probably turn into a massive narcissist). (...okay, rereading this, does this paragraph make me sound crazy?)

 

I'm glad you have worked things out for yourself! sorting out what attractions you have experienced is definitely the hardest part as they can be confusing and overlap. 

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16 hours ago, Apathetic Echidna said:

I have always felt it is more achievable to develop a look complimentary to a guy I like (any differences aren't flaws in my look, they are just part of the translation error between male and female) than for me to try and look like the type of girl I most visually appreciate (which is pretty much impossible for me, so all differences would be failures and flaws. They are really a case of if I could choose what I looked like I would pick the Shiri Appleby/Nina Dobrev look and then never ever have self confidence issues ever again...

I'm the opposite. I'll look at a girl who I like the look of and wish I could look like that. If she looks effortlessly cool I want to exude that kind of effortlessness as well. With guys it's a lot more of how they move, their gestures, their forearms are kind of a thing for me. Long fingers, the way tshirts settle on their shoulder blades. Its simple aesthetic attraction and since I'm a writer I find I often shape characters according to those characteristics I like. But yeah, when I want to emulate a girl I think looks aesthetically pleasing it's generally not good for my self esteem 😅 since I don't have the body type I usually like in others. Where I like the small chested, petite silhouette I'm neither of those. So when I buy clothes similar to those I like on someone I find aesthetically attractive they never make me look like them simply due to body limitations. So of course, you're smarter than me here since you avoid just that. 

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@snapesonalane you say it is simple aesthetic attraction when noticing long fingers and forearms and movements, well that is where confusion can start up for me! Noticing an aspect of a person rather than an even awareness of their whole form makes me confused between sensual and aesthetic attraction. I guess the confusion is mostly because I refuse to let it play out to see what attractions are there as I am not going to pat a strangers hair because I thought it looked silky. I think the most important guideline for all these orientations, and generally the hardest thing to get a handle on, is that attraction and action are very different things. 

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6 minutes ago, Apathetic Echidna said:

an aspect of a person rather than an even awareness of their whole form makes me confused between sensual and aesthetic attraction. 

I should have mentioned I experience next to zero sensual attraction towards any gender, although my touch aversion and aspergers might be a big factor in that. I'll get an urge to trace the lines of their bodies with my eyes, almost as if for reference, but never any urge to touch. 

I do agree though that action (or rather the urge to take action) and attraction are very different. Perhaps that is why we have such a hard time defining our attractions, because we base them so much on whether we experience attraction and not on whether we experience an urge to act on that attraction. For example, I'm ace and have no innate desire to have sex but I get aroused with porn. Does that mean I'm sexual or that I want to do the acts in porn? Not really, because I still don't have an urge to have sex. 

However I also think there's room for overlap in different kinds of attraction. For example for romantic people sensual and romantic attraction are often hand in hand. 

I get how confusing it can be though and sometimes I think I would just like to give it a rest and stop thinking about it too much. Especially since I personally don't see the benefits now that I'm sure I'm aro/ace and never wish for sex or a nonplatonic relationship. But of course, this isn't the case for everyone. 

I am interested in knowing how other aros used to confuse different attraction types for romantic attraction, hence this thread. 

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