Romantic orientation

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Romantic orientation, also called affectional orientation, indicates the sex or gender with which a person is most likely to have a romantic relationship or fall in love. It is used both alternatively and side-by-side with the term sexual orientation, and is based on the perspective that sexual attraction is but a single component of a larger dynamic.[1] For example, although a pansexual person may feel sexually attracted to multiple genders, they may be predisposed to romantic intimacy with females. Moreover, emotional or romantic intimacy between partners does not require sexual attraction because attraction is not purely sexual.

For asexual people, romantic orientation is often considered a more useful measure of attraction than sexual orientation.[2][3]

Romantic identities[edit]

Aromantic Flag

People may or may not engage in purely emotional romantic relationships. The main identities relating to this are:[2][3][4]

  • Aromantic: Lack of romantic attraction towards anyone. The noun is aromanticism.
  • Heteroromantic: Romantic attraction towards person(s) of one gender other than their own.
  • Homoromantic: Romantic attraction towards person(s) of the same gender.
  • Biromantic: Romantic attraction towards person(s) of two or more genders.
  • Panromantic: Romantic attraction to person(s) of any gender.

Relationship with sexuality and asexuality[edit]

The implications of the distinction between romantic and sexual orientations has not been fully recognized, nor has it been studied extensively.[5] It is common for sources to describe sexual orientation as including components of both sexual and romantic (or romantic equivalent) attractions.[5] Similarly, romantic love has been noted as "love with strong components of sexuality and infatuation,"[6] although some sources contradict this notion, stating that sexual and romantic attraction are not necessarily linked.[7] With regard to asexuality, while asexuals usually do not experience sexual attraction (see gray asexuality), they may still experience romantic attraction.[2][3]


  1. ^ Crethar, H. C. & Vargas, L. A. (2007). Multicultural intricacies in professional counseling. In J. Gregoire & C. Jungers (Eds.), The counselor’s companion: What every beginning counselor needs to know. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. ISBN 0-8058-5684-6. p.61.
  2. ^ a b c Christina Richards, Meg Barker (2013). Sexuality and Gender for Mental Health Professionals: A Practical Guide. SAGE. pp. 124–127. ISBN 1-4462-9313-0. Retrieved July 3, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c Karli June Cerankowski, Megan Milks (2014). Asexualities: Feminist and Queer Perspectives. Routledge. pp. 89–93. ISBN 1-134-69253-6. Retrieved July 3, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Sex and Society", p. 82.
  5. ^ a b Bogaert 2012, p. 14.
  6. ^ King 2010, p. 450.
  7. ^ "Asexuality, Attraction, and Romantic Orientation". University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved April 9, 2015. 


Further reading[edit]

  • Wells, J. W. (1989). "Teaching about Gay and Lesbian Sexual and Affectional Orientation Using Explicit Films to Reduce Homophobia". Journal of Humanistic Education and Development 28 (1): 18–34.