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Sexual attraction as felt by aros

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Of course the question about how sexual attraction feels like has been asked on AVEN many times, e.g. here, but the sexuals who were answering it were mostly (maybe even always) romantic, and in the answers that I remember, 'spontaneous attraction' (if it was felt at all!) sounded like a mix of romantic and aesthetic attraction, and they had a hard time 'isolating' raw sexual attraction from other attraction modes.

 

Furthermore, one of the most influential thinkers on AVEN - Skullery Maid - has drawn attention to Dr Emily Nagoski's research telling that, for 80-90% of sexual women, responsive sexual desire is the primary mode of desire, as opposed to the spontaneous one, and ~30% of sexual women feel spontaneous sexual desire never or very seldom. That generates even more doubt about what sexual attraction actually is.

 

It would be useful to read about what happens specifically in aro (gray)sexuals' minds when they're attracted sexually because, in their case, there's no romantic 'noise' and it's easier to discern raw sexual attraction.

 

In particular, is it common among those aro (gray)sexuals who do experience the spontaneous form of sexual desire to actually visualize a potential sexual contact with the other person, as opposed to just admiring their appearance and behavior?

 

For comparison, as a highly libidoist male-bodied ace (tentatively), I get 'turned on' (experience a 'dirty' kind of aesthetic attraction) in a way that some of you may find weird. Basically, when I encounter a person (or a group of people), my sensory organs scan their appearance and behavior for fetishes. Then the sensory processing center of my brain makes a nonverbal report like, 'Instances of fetishes #2, 4 and 7 detected. Mental snapshots taken for future use. The absorbed dose of human beauty radiation has exceeded the critical level. Get into your pants asap to dump the dose.' That triggers a delayed (in the form of anxiety) or, in the case of a severe beauty poisoning, instant physiological response.

 

What brain processes make you, aro (gray)sexuals, desire partnered sex? (Some of you don't post on AVEN regularly, so I thought it wouldn't hurt to collect some extra testimonials anyway.) TIA!

 

 

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9 hours ago, aroMa(n)tisse said:

It would be useful to read about what happens specifically in aro (gray)sexuals' minds when they're attracted sexually because, in their case, there's no romantic 'noise' and it's easier to discern raw sexual attraction.

Before I talk about myself, I just wanted to point out that the idea of splitting up attractions is something we're used to the the ace and aro communities, but I feel we often forget that it may not apply well to others. Not everyone's attractions divide up nicely, and they may not divide up at all and be very interconnected with each other, hence it seeming like many people who experience romantic and sexual attraction can't seperate out the romantic 'noise'.

 

On to talking about myself, I don't think I spontaneously form sexual attraction towards people, but it's a little difficult to know. This is because I usually don't realise that I'm attracted to someone until they appear in my imaginings, either in a sexual way or a particular kind of intimate-friendship way (since I like the idea of having sex with people I know well). So I don't usually know when the attraction started. Another thing is, I also somethings 'borrow' other people's attractions so sometimes it can take me a while to figure out if I'm actually attracted to them, or if I've been in an environment surrounded by other people expressing that attraction and picked it up from there.

 

I know there is a difference for me between being attracted to a person and actually wanting to engage in sexual activities with them. The only one I know for sure, though, is the intimacy one. I can experience sexual attraction to someone I don't know and can happily imagine having sex with them, but I wouldn't want to actually have sex wth them unless I was close with them. Unfortunately, if I get to know someone my brain has an unhelpful habit of sort of 'friendzoning' them, so the attraction rarely survives the process.

 

I definitely had some other stuff to add, but I completely forgotten xD I'll add them later if I remember.

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Speaking of responsive desire, what exactly triggers it in you, (gray)sexuals? Just the sight of someone who's already your intimate friend? Cuddling? Fetishes that are present on the partner? Suggestive speech? Some set of social indicators of that 'sex is about to happen', e.g. the sight of your partner lying in the bed?

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This isn't something I have really thought about. I guess when you experience something, you don't really talk about it or try to vivisect it to see how it works, just go with the flow.

 

For me there is the "hmm nice" type of attraction, that happens quite often. Its not really attraction in a sense of it being an intense pull or an urge to engage in anything, more like recognition. Its kind of like aesthetic attraction, I just acknowledge the fact that the person is hot. Certain body parts do attract my gaze, but usually its not hard to keep it civil at all. It is attraction, I do want to look at hot people, but it can be super awkward if its unwanted or in the wrong situation. Suggestive eye contact? Okay. Randomly staring at someone's parts? Nope, try not to, cos its embarrassing, creepy, distasteful and rather pathetic thing to do.

 

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In particular, is it common among those aro (gray)sexuals who do experience the spontaneous form of sexual desire to actually visualize a potential sexual contact with the other person, as opposed to just admiring their appearance and behavior?

 

Nah, not really? Not like that anyway in my case.

I don't really fantasize about irl people at all? More like general scenarios, stuff I wanna try, but with made up fantasy people? But not like "hmm, there is this hot person in my friend group, I like to imagine that we do X things". That is kind of weird? Objectifying? Anyway, it would feel gross.

 

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Speaking of responsive desire, what exactly triggers it in you (gray)sexuals?

There is the "could do" type of attraction, as the "hmm nice" escalates. This usually includes some sort of indication of mutual interest, sexual chemistry, enthusiastic consent...its like a multi-person dance performance.

Its hard to describe, as this is mostly body language, mood, and intuition. From this on usually its seduction, and I get new ideas:euphemism: as we go along. 

 

I can't really separate this type of attraction from sensual attraction. For me there is sensual desire on its own, but if we talk about sexual desire, I always want the sensual stuff as well. I can't really have sex without cuddling and hugging anyway.

But it does not start with just looking at someone and instantly having an intrusive thought about them in a sexual context.

This still isn't an uncontrollable urge, more like something nice and slightly tempting I can resist if I want to do so.

 

For me fetishes will not make somebody suddenly attractive, the whole phenomenon is more like those multiple charisma points by 2 items in RPGs? So an unattractive person having some of these things on is still meh, whatever. But others do go from hot to hot damn...its just the cherry on top. But its still great without the extra thing.

 

Does this answer the question?

 

 

 

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As a grey, my attraction levels are high enough to be noticeable, but in such a way that it's minimalistic enough where it might as well be non existent.

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Thanks for the answers! :icecream:

 

They're quite a conundrum to me. It looks like I experience the kinds of spontaneous urges similar to what the sexual respondents have described, except that, because of my neurodiversity, I've never come close enough to being intimate with anyone to test whether I'd have new ideas :euphemism: and start actually imagining sex with that close person.

 

I'm tempted to attribute the fact that I id as ace and two of you id as sexuals solely to the difference in our backgrounds - I applied the 'aro' label to myself long after I joined AVEN (was trying to find to a common denominator with romantic aces in the meantime). I'm probably not even aro, but I found the aro ace labels a more comfortable explanation (than celibacy, neurodiversity or, ice cream forbid, incompetency) of my romantic and sexual inactivity.

 

 

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Hmm Skullery Maid I never seen her support aro allos? 

----

okay I think attraction is complicate to explain but I will give it a try.

 

I think I have a pretty wierd sexuality. I do have a rather high libedo and I do enjoy being with myself maybe even more than with others, However I do feel I get alittle more of a "kick or excitement" with others compared to when i'm alone. 

When I am on my own I think of doing it with someone. often it arnt really anyone I know and its all just fiction where I or someone else f* a stranger in a bar or something, but I also do fantasys of people I know even people I hate or have no connection to at all. 

 

I think I have a really on/off sexuality that either im in the mood or im not. I also abit mixed cause I really do want to be more slutty but im also socially akward, somethimes in pain, not to mention im very nervous about pregnacy, so there is alot of things getting in my way. Im not agenst hook ups but I do find it hard to trust people and feel confortable enough around for sex, and also while I can have sex with someone I may not be 100% attracted to I still need "something" that keeps my interest, and sadly I have to admit that alot of people are just not my type the second they open their mouth.

 

FWB is cool and practical if you live closeby but on the other hand if you been friend with someone too long in a platonic way it can also be wierd to out of sudden suggest it to be sexual, or maybe you will worry it would ruin the friendship.

 

the strange thing is, when I see sex scenes in move I often cant relate to it. all these "making love" type of sex is pretty far from me. I never understood why putting your **** in someones **** means you love them or why it would make sex better, I only found it to be a pretty big turn off? 

it does not mean I cant hug or kiss, but its a sensual thing and I dont see it as nessesarry as some seams to. 

 

 

 

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Since all of the rare people I find sexually attractive are also aesthetically attractive to me, I'll probably try and draw them, which means I can appreciate them in peace, without seeming creepy (I try to draw people a lot when I commute as practice). Just like Cas though, I don't feel any impulse to act upon my attraction at all. I've never pictured myself having sex with a person I know personally either. For me, too, it's fantasy people. 

 

As a gray, I won't try to act upon any sexual attraction until I know and actually like the person. And there are a lot of personality things, that'll have the sexual attraction fade away in an instant. If they might fall for me, for example or if they already are in a relationship that's not openly poly. If the person drops no hints of desiring me or sex in general and if we are already platonic friends (even more so if we share the same circle of friends). That does narrow it down a lot! Which is why I said in the other thread, that I am celibate. As a grey, this is no big deal for me though. I have a sex drive, but it's not strong at all and rather easy to ignore.  

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I guess that sexually I'm somewhere between gray-asexual and demisexual. I don't really get sexual desires just by looks of someone. On the other hand, even in established relationships I don't think I'd desire as much sex as other people.

 

For me sexuality is always connected to sensuality and mental connection. Also I don't feel that sex needs to always lead to penetration (or oral sex), I'm often very content with just some of the more "innocent" forms of sexuality.

 

On 21.6.2016 at 6:22 PM, aroMa(n)tisse said:

Speaking of responsive desire, what exactly triggers it in you, (gray)sexuals? Just the sight of someone who's already your intimate friend? Cuddling? Fetishes that are present on the partner? Suggestive speech? Some set of social indicators of that 'sex is about to happen', e.g. the sight of your partner lying in the bed?

Sometimes just seeing someone (in person) I'm close with is enough to trigger sexual desires. Also cuddling or kissing can do that for me. Or seeing someone naked or in underwear (eg. when changing clothes). Blatant sexual suggestions or leads or those "social indicators" rarely do anything for me; maybe because those focus too much on the physical aspects of sex, where I see sex more as a mental thing. Or because they tend to be signs of an inbalance in my and their sexual desires.

 

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In particular, is it common among those aro (gray)sexuals who do experience the spontaneous form of sexual desire to actually visualize a potential sexual contact with the other person, as opposed to just admiring their appearance and behavior?

Rarely, but happens. And sometimes I've revisualized sexual things that have happened. I usually just like looking at them and admiring them and not imagine anything in my head.

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I'm aromantic asexual, never had anything remotely close to sexual desire for someone. I find people aesthetically pleasing with no desire to date them. I think that people look so much better with clothes than without clothes. Even better in winter gear, coats and gloves are my jam. Seriously my attraction to a person significantly decreases if I see them shirtless or naked.

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I feel like most aces don't realize that 90% of the time, sexual attraction isn't thinking "I would bang you" about a total stranger, and it doesn't happen constantly either. I don't feel sexual attraction 24/7, and when I do I'm not going to, like, masturbate in public over it. It's usually just "wow, that person is really hot" and then going about my day. If I have prolonged exposure to someone who I'm sexually attracted to, then sure I might fantasize or more actively want sex with them. But otherwise? No. And it's like that for a lot of people who aren't ace.

 

Also a lot of people have complicated relationships with sex, and sexual attraction doesn't need to involve genitals either. I'm sex repulsed because of dysphoria, trauma, and sensory issues, but I still feel attraction. I just don't like sex. But I think a good chunk of what we call sensual attraction could be considered sexual.

 

And it's not really different except that when I feel sexual attraction, I'm just thinking about the person's body. I don't  want to date them. And if I did, it's because the companionship and financial benefits of a relationship appeal to me, not because I like romance.

 

I hope that cleared some things up for people.

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I can sometimes notice if a person seems hot... this has only happened with males so far. But I don't feel any desire to do anything about it. It's just kind of like... "well, that's nice to look at... now try not to look at it!" ... or something. It's a bit distracting and annoying, to me. Luckily it doesn't happen often. :)

 

That's for random strangers though... with people I'm close to, it's different. Then I can kind of feel a bit of a desire to 'do something', but only if I'm sure they'd welcome it, or honestly they'd have to make the first move anyway... I'm usually quite happy to just do nothing at all... it's simpler, and I don't want to screw up any friendships. :P

 

I don't know, I don't really have enough data to draw any conclusions. I haven't technically ever 'had sex'. I'm not sure how I'd react if that looked like a real possibility of a thing that might actually happen. I don't think I could do it unless I 100% completely trust the other person and we've been really close for a long, long time.

 

Sexual attraction has always felt like a 'dirty' thing to me. Like something I'd rather avoid. There was a time when I thought it'd be fun to do naughty, dirty things, but the novelty of that train of thought wore off when I discovered that I am, in fact, actually capable of feeling love for a person (for a long time I thought I couldn't really do that because my feelings never really matched the descriptions of what other people were talking about).

 

I'm rambling and I don't know what I'm talking about anymore. :P

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for me, generally speaking, girls are attractive in a different sorta way. they feel kinda magical to look at lol. I'm not talking about aesthetic attraction, though. I can find men and women, either, of great aesthetic appeal to me personally, but when it comes to people being hot for me, personally, it's never guys.  

 

when I'm attracted to a person in particular, that's kinda rare, I'm not usually attracted to people specifically. when it's a special person, a crush, (no not lust, ew) it's... it has more parallels to romance tbh, the way it feels, but no it's not romantic at all. (I'm demi romantic) I feel a certain aura of happiness when I'm near a sexual crush, and if I'm not careful, interacting with them, and on occasion even just thinking about them, can lead to arousal and even get into the horny territory :( it's embarrassing lol.

  

don't really wanna get into more detail than that... seems kind of TMI and personal TBH. I'm pretty sure the way attraction feels for one person is a very individual thing. if someone wants to know if they personally feel attraction of some sort... IDK what to say really. be patient and try to listen inwardly? I think if you have to ask yourself "do I feel sexual attraction at all" the answer is probably that you're grey or ace, and once you get to those low levels or absence of attraction, the question "do I feel it" get soo so much more harder to answer. 

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I just want to add, that I think sexual aromantics feel different about sex than allosexual aromantics.

 

I notice sometimes when my ace friends complains about allosexuals that I can relate or I dont get the allosexuals. 

like the idea that "sex makes you human" or "sex is the most intimate thing you can every do with another person"

 

I think it may be because alloromantic and allosexuals tend to loop all attractions together where aro and ace tend to seperate it alittle more (+ we know that lacking an attraction doesnt make us less human)

 this is just a theory. 

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there are a lot of similarities between all forms of attraction. we're kinda crazy for wanting to seperate it out lol, but by crazy I mean, stressed. it's important to us that the difference matters, so we play it up a lot in order to feel comfortable that we really are the way we say we are. in the end, we don't feel it any different than anyone else, the differences I mean, some of us don't feel sexual attraction, some of us don't feel romantic attraction, but in the end the difference compounds until it reaches our consiousness and awareness and is a dramatic difference. but the emotional story of "see a person" some how leading to "want to see them more"... it's not that different really. it's only different when the difference is a big deal, and then how do you talk about it, if you don't have words that seperate the difference out?

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On 23.6.2016 at 1:38 AM, Kojote said:

Since all of the rare people I find sexually attractive are also aesthetically attractive to me, I'll probably try and draw them, which means I can appreciate them in peace, without seeming creepy (I try to draw people a lot when I commute as practice). Just like Cas though, I don't feel any impulse to act upon my attraction at all. I've never pictured myself having sex with a person I know personally either. For me, too, it's fantasy people. 

 

As a gray, I won't try to act upon any sexual attraction until I know and actually like the person. And there are a lot of personality things, that'll have the sexual attraction fade away in an instant. If they might fall for me, for example or if they already are in a relationship that's not openly poly. If the person drops no hints of desiring me or sex in general and if we are already platonic friends (even more so if we share the same circle of friends). That does narrow it down a lot! Which is why I said in the other thread, that I am celibate. As a grey, this is no big deal for me though. I have a sex drive, but it's not strong at all and rather easy to ignore.  

 

I feel very similar. I just started feeling sexual attraction and so far it only happened twice. I do found the persons aesthetically attractive as well. I can not tell what exactly makes me find them sexy; I just notice that there are people who I find only aesthetically attractive and some I found also sexually attractive. I also would not act upon it until I know the person well. But I do have fantasies. (Oddly with someone I only find aesthetically attractive?) For me it's still difficult to seperate between sexual attraction and libido. Because when I do experience sexual attraction, I do feel a little arousal. I feel a tingle feeling in my stomach and hot between my legs *blushes*.

 

I've been celibate for 10 years. Before transition my libido was very low but now since I'm on T it has increased. But still won't act on it until I have a platonic bond with the person I picture :)

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I do sometimes fantasize about banging strangers. xD My libido is on crack. 

 

I don't do most of what goes through my head, but my past sexual adventures honestly make so much more sense in the light of being arospec. 

 

Every interaction with every person is unique, so I'm not really sure I can pin down sexual attraction. It's a constellation of things. Sometimes it's cerebral, other times it's pure lust. I once wanted to make out with a biologist on tv because he started geeking out over tardigardes, and it was cute as fuck. 

 

I guess part of me seeing myself as arospec was learning about demisexuals and thinking that i must be whatever the opposite is. xD

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On 15/11/2016 at 6:56 AM, LunarSeas said:

Every interaction with every person is unique, so I'm not really sure I can pin down sexual attraction. It's a constellation of things. Sometimes it's cerebral, other times it's pure lust. I once wanted to make out with a biologist on tv because he started geeking out over tardigardes, and it was cute as fuck. 

I've come up with a, somewhat strange, analogy that attraction is a bit like light.
With alloromantics being very (by several orders of magnitude) sensitive to "romantic coloured" light. Thus tending to see only bright monochromatic light.
With aromantics not being especially sensitive, even insensitive, to this colour of light. Thus seeing a huge variation in colour and intensity.

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1 hour ago, Mark said:

I've come up with a, somewhat strange, analogy that attraction is a bit like light.
With alloromantics being very (by several orders of magnitude) sensitive to "romantic coloured" light. Thus tending to see only bright monochromatic light.
With aromantics not being especially sensitive, even insensitive, to this colour or light. Thus seeing a huge variation in colour and intensity.

That works unless I'm blinded by the overwhelming presence of it in media. But good analogy nonetheless.

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I guess for me, I experience the "pure lust" forms of sexual attraction as being like a kind of hunger. It's a raw, animalistic, frenetic energy, whereby seeing a body shape that those more primitive parts of my brain categorize as desirable triggers a kind of magnetic pull of intention towards that body and a sub-verbal feeling that, were you able to articulate it verbally, would just sound something like "want" (as in, picture if you hadn't eaten for several days and then some sort of warm and delicious food was placed in front of you; you'd experience an immediate, involuntary and bodily sense of want-ing that food. The experience of raw sexual desire a.k.a. "pure lust" feels somewhat like that to me. So, nothing intellectual going on there whatsoever, lol. My neocortex is probably not coming along for the ride xD

 

But then, like @LunarSeas wrote further up, you can get to know a person and the more "cerebral" forms of attraction she mentioned become entangled with the "pure lust" forms and it all get extremely convoluted and confusing! I've also experienced cases where I wasn't really sexually attracted to a person initially (or else it was borderline) but then the person said or did something(s) I found interesting and after that I noticed an attraction developing.

 

Another interesting question would be how these experiences differ for male vs. female sexual aros, or with male vs. female hormones cascading around in your body systems. I remember now I was watching some documentary years ago where one of the female researchers was saying that she (it might have been accidentally) took some testosterone and that the effects were very noticeable! And her comment was that it made her more sympathetic to the way the teenage boys she remembered from her schooldays had behaved xD. Because she experienced it as a very powerful urge to, ahem, engage in certain behaviors! In Iain Banks' sci fi novels, it's common for the characters to spend years at a time in bodies of the opposite gender to the body they were born with and I was thinking that that must give you an interesting insight into the opposite gender's experiences. It would probably make you a better lover, for instance!

 

I was reminded of all that by @LJ_84's comment:

On 11/13/2016 at 9:34 PM, LJ_84 said:

I've been celibate for 10 years. Before transition my libido was very low but now since I'm on T it has increased. But still won't act on it until I have a platonic bond with the person I picture :)

So (and only answer if you don't mind me asking, as it's pretty personal!) did you experience that as a purely quantitative difference; or was there a qualitative difference there as well? 

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I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who opened up on this thread, I could relate to a lot of your experiences.

 

It's weird for me because I've been asexual my whole life and now I'm sexually attracted to my best friend who I've known for 7 years. I couldn't completely admit this to myself until now, because the shared experiences on this thread are undeniable.

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Ironically, my experience is similar to this:

 

On 7/5/2016 at 8:50 PM, timidcat said:

I'm aromantic asexual, never had anything remotely close to sexual desire for someone. I find people aesthetically pleasing with no desire to date them. I think that people look so much better with clothes than without clothes. Even better in winter gear, coats and gloves are my jam. Seriously my attraction to a person significantly decreases if I see them shirtless or naked.

 

I've started suspecting that I can be regarded as a 'libidoist aro ace' in the AVEN context and an 'aro straight' in the context of this thread, i.e. that the classification depends on the community.

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On 19.11.2016 at 4:52 PM, NullVector said:

I was reminded of all that by @LJ_84's comment:

So (and only answer if you don't mind me asking, as it's pretty personal!) did you experience that as a purely quantitative difference; or was there a qualitative difference there as well? 

 

Can you ask in a different way because I don't get what you want from me? :/

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