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 people regardless of gender, they may be predisposed to romantic intimacy with females. For asexual people, romantic orientation is often considered a more useful measure of attraction than sexual orientation.[2][3]

Romantic identities[edit]

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 (aromanticism).
  • Heteroromantic (or heteromantic): Romantic attraction towards person(s) of the opposite gender (heteroromanticism).
  • Homoromantic: Romantic attraction towards person(s) of the same gender (homoromanticism).
  • Biromantic: Romantic attraction towards person(s) of two or more, but not all genders. Sometimes used the same way as panromantic (biromanticism).
  • Panromantic: Romantic attraction towards person(s) of any, every, and all genders (panromanticism).
  • Demiromantic: Romantic attraction towards any of the above but only after forming a deep emotional bond with the person(s) (demiromanticism).

Relationship with sexuality and asexuality[edit]

The implications of the distinction between romantic and sexual orientations have not been fully recognized, nor have they 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]


Aromantic flag

One of the attributes of aromantics is that despite feeling little or no romantic attraction, they can still enjoy sex.[8] Aromantics are not necessarily incapable of feeling love. For example they may still feel familial love, or the type of platonic love that is expressed between friends.[9] Some aromantics may claim that they are able to appreciate the type of love or romance that exists in popular culture, such as in movies, romantic books or songs, but only vicariously, and that they do not intuitively experience these feelings themselves.[10][11]

Some publications have argued that there is an underrepresentation of asexuals and aromantics in media[12] and in research,[13] and that they are often misunderstood.[14] Aromantics sometimes face stigma and are stereotyped with labels such as being heartless, callous or deluded.[15][16] Amatonormativity, a concept that elevates romantic relationships over non-romantic relationships, has been said to be damaging to aromantics.[17] Representation of aromantics in the media is[when?] increasing.[18]

Many aromantics are asexual,[19] but the term aromantic can be used in relation to various sexual identities, such as aromantic bisexual, aromantic heterosexual, aromantic lesbian, aromantic gay man or aromantic asexual.[20] This is because aromanticism primarily deals with emotion rather than with sexuality or with the libido.[21] Some activists[which?] have argued for adding aromantics to the LGBT community.[22]

The antonym of aromanticism is alloromanticism, the state of experiencing romantic love or romantic attraction to others, while such a person is called an alloromantic.[23] An informal term for an aromantic person is aro.[19] The A in the expanded LGBT acronym LGBTQIA, is interpreted by some to stand for aromantic.[24][25]


  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 Richards, Christina; Barker, Meg (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 Cerankowski, Karli June; Milks, Megan (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.
  8. ^ "What is Aromantic - Asexual vs. Aromantic Definition, Explained". 2017-05-12. Retrieved 2018-04-15.
  9. ^ Parade, Beach Pride, and Beach Pride Parade. "PANTHER."
  10. ^ "YouTuber Connie Glynn aka Noodlerella reveals she's aromantic | Metro News". 2018-02-12. Retrieved 2018-04-15.
  11. ^ Sheehan, Ryan. A-Identity Politics: Asexual Exceptionalism, Precarity, and Activism. Diss. 2015.
  12. ^ "How Pop Culture Denies Aromantic Asexual Existence". The Mary Sue. 2016-02-19. Retrieved 2018-04-15.
  13. ^ Nicola Pardy. "What Is Asexual - People Share Asexuality Experiences". Retrieved 2018-04-15.
  14. ^ Yeow Kai (2017-10-04). "Singer-songwriter Moses Sumney does not mind flying the freak flag, Entertainment News & Top Stories". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2018-04-15.
  15. ^ Josh Salisbury. "Meet the aromantics: 'I'm not cold – I just don't have any romantic feelings' | Life and style". The Guardian. Retrieved 2018-04-15.
  16. ^ Nivea Serrao (2017-07-10). "Tash Hearts Tolstoy author on depicting asexuality in YA fiction". Retrieved 2018-04-15.
  17. ^ "Romance is Not Universal, Nor is it Necessary". Retrieved 2018-04-15.
  18. ^ Ferguson, Sian (2017-06-21). "I fell in love with my friend with benefits". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2018-04-15.
  19. ^ a b Josh Salisbury. "Meet the aromantics: 'I'm not cold – I just don't have any romantic feelings' | Life and style". The Guardian. Retrieved 2018-04-15.
  21. ^ Pinto, Stacy Anne. "ASEXUally: On being an ally to the asexual community." Journal of LGBT Issues in Counseling 8.4 (2014): 331-343.
  22. ^ "This Is What It Means To Be Aromantic, Demiromantic And Queerplatonic | HuffPost". 2016-02-02. Retrieved 2018-04-15.
  23. ^ "I'm Tired Of My Queer Identity Being Ignored & Erased On TV". Retrieved 2018-04-15.
  24. ^ "Equinox Gym’s Pride Video ‘The LGBTQAlphabet’ Leaves Out An Important Letter". Retrieved 2018-04-15.
  25. ^ "LGBTQ definitions every good ally should know". Retrieved 2018-04-15.


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.