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The link between sexual and romantic attraction


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Hello everyone, long time, no see. Bear with me here as I get a little overly personal, lol.

I've been aware of ace/aro stuff for over a decade at this point and previously identified as aroace at one point before abandoning that label at age 17. I had a very complicated relationship with my sexuality and gender due to various reasons, and I unfortunately fell into the reactionary "exclu" camp for years, something I do regret a lot now that I am almost 25. I came back to ace/aro spaces last year when some problems emerged between my boyfriend and I. My boyfriend is very strongly romantically-inclined, and he desires this emotional intimacy with me that I, at the time, felt incapable of providing, and I turned to here for help. I talked to him about my activities online, so he knew about it and was willing to work with me. At the end of the summer the emotional impasse finally ended, and we are still together and in a much better place than we ever have been. I stopped frequenting these forums because I decided I wasn't ace/aro after all and that our difficulties were the result of other emotional factors, but I still really appreciated the warmth and perspectives I encountered as I struggled through that.

However, I am back, this time in a much better mental space. I saw a silly prompt on Twitter about the longest crush you've ever had on somebody, and once again just found myself very outside of the norm. I was finally able to articulate my issues, which is that I do sometimes feel attracted to people, but the attraction is basically exclusively sexual in nature. The idea of a romantic relationship does not particularly thrill me or disgust me. I'd say I feel neutral about it for sure. However, I'd also feel that after having the relationship I've had with my boyfriend, I would definitely crave that level of intimacy again if I didn't have him. But is that interest linked to romantic attraction, or lack thereof?

I've always felt confused about romantic attraction as a separate category of attraction, especially when you start digging into the concept of romance and realize that it is a pretty new concept in the grand scheme of things. Not that people have never felt romantically drawn to people before a certain point in time, but that the societal obsession with it is newer. When I initially called myself aro, I felt that it was silly to even dictate romantic attraction as a thing separate from sexual or platonic attraction. I recognize now there is an emotional element to romantic attraction that is absent in other kinds of attraction, but what I've realized is that I am incapable of feeling it independently of sex.

I don't even mean that in a way where I'm an allosexual alloromantic, but in the sense where I just genuinely do not feel this infatuation with people where I want to engage with them "romantically." All romantic feelings I've ever had with my boyfriend happen almost exclusively within the context of having sex with him, although more recently they do occur outside of that. But even with that, I only feel it after literal years of being with him.

Does anyone feel anything similar to this? Or is their a word for such a thing, if such a word is even necessary? Is this "aromantic" (or "grayromantic")? Is it just the consequence of my own personality + life experiences? It doesn't really matter much to me if I'm aro or not so I'm not asking for validation or reassurance. It's more that the aro crowd has a certain kind of intellectual nuance about romantic attraction and relationships that provides interesting insights not found elsewhere. I don't know if this is just the way alloromantic allosexuals feel and I'm overthinking it or if my sensation that I differ from most people is based in a real observation and worth discussing.

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Not sure if I will help or not but here's my thoughts.

The aro and ace communities talk about romantic and sexual attractions because they can indeed be separate and ny consequence, are different things. However, for people who can experience both, it is tricky cause they often go hand in hand. So it is very possible that for them, sex triggers romance and vice versa. And there are stories of friends with benefits who "catch" romantic feelings.

However, I don't think that "sex and after romance" is necessarily the common experience, if I simplify what you describe. Maybe it is some kind of demiromanticism? Demiro is when you only develop romantic attraction after forming an emotional connection. Maybe for you this connection was form through sex and then you started feeling romantic attraction? I don't know, just a thought.

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Positive sexual experiences often trigger romantic feelings, that's extremely common. But then they usually sustain and don't just go away afterward.

The labels closest to your experiences are aroflux and demiromantic. I haven't found any more specific labels.

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Guest Just A Person

Hi there!
When I was reading this,I remembered that AroAce is an umbrella term.Some people who identify as AroAce can feel romantic and sexual attraction but rarely or only after there is already a strong platonic bond.
Now,back to the question,I don’t see much connection between sexual and romantic attraction but I don’t know-I’m confused by any attraction that isn’t platonic to be honest.

Anyway hope this helped.

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This is not the first time I've heard this. After the first person I talked with who felt similarly, I did come across the term "romantisexual", a microlabel meaning: an orientation for people whose sexuality is strongly or solely linked to their romantic orientation/preferences; also people who require an emotional bond in order to engage in sexual activity regardless of whether or not they’re attracted to a person for other reasons.

I've also seen arosexual and aceromantic, for "when one finds that the easiest, best, or most convenient way to describe one's sexual/romantic orientation is by tying it to one's aromantic/asexual identity. Similar to being a non-SAM aromantic/asexual person."

In my experience, while most allos don't find use in the SAM, that doesn't mean they don't sometimes separately experience romantic/sexual attraction (usually sexual attraction without the romantic component, but the reverse can also happen). And for them, they may start off feeling mainly one attraction and as they begin to know the other person, the other can develop. See: friends with benefits that end up in a romantic relationship or friends that go from platonic to romantic to romantic+sexual (or stay at romantic and they might decide not to date because they do want the sexual component).

I can tell you that when I was ace but not aro, nothing like this existed for me. I was asexual, regardless of the amount of romantic entanglement. I can't speak to being aro but not ace, though.

So from my experience (and with chatting with allos), your experience is not the typical allo experience, but it's also something I've heard other aspecs talking about. I swear I was talking about this on tumblr, but I can't find the post. I KNOW someone else was talking about this on the forum. I'm trying to find it, but I can't remember the post well enough to refine my search. If I find it, I'll come back and link it for you!

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On 3/21/2023 at 6:47 PM, hemogoblin said:

I KNOW someone else was talking about this on the forum. I'm trying to find it, but I can't remember the post well enough to refine my search. If I find it, I'll come back and link it for you!

Aha! I'm pretty sure this is the thread I was thinking of.


But then, what is romantic love ? Personnally, I view it as a strong connection between two (or more, but for me it's two) person's which leads to or has been led by sex. I can't imagine falling in love for someone I don't want to have sex with. This would potentially mean living with this person, marrying them, being their second half and supporting them wathever it costs. But where's sex in that ? I can dissociate sex from love, but not love from sex.


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