What is the difference between romance and sexuality?
While talking with people about love there begins to be a separation between the physical side of attraction and the mental side of attraction. Even though we can use the same language to discuss them, they are (for the most part) separate drives.
The Sexual Romantic Matrix
The Matrix of Romance and Sexuality includes a variety of orientations that people exhibit in romantic and sexual attraction. The matrix includes aromantic and asexual for clarity, but those two have an implication about intensity that shouldn’t be applied to the other positions. I have listed the orientations on a scale of hetero/homo (different/same) instead of a femininity/masculinity scale so it can apply to more than just biological sex and social gender. For example: you may be sexually oriented toward people of a different race, or romantically attracted to people of the same religion. My hope is to make this chart versatile for you.
One of the very interesting zones of the matrix are the ones that are colored in peach. Those are variegated orientations where your sexual orientation and your romantic orientation have very little overlap. This happens with surprising frequency, people that form emotional romantic bonds with people that are different from their sexual interests.
Types of Attraction & Other Factors
There are some factors to consider other than just orientation. Orientation answers a question about who you are attracted to, but not really the how. So, lets set the groundwork for applying attraction types.
- Primary Attraction – You experience attraction immediately, based mostly on exterior qualities. This is love at first sight or immediate sexual attraction. Primary sexual attraction comes into play when you are attracted to a celebrity or entirely unknown individual.
- Secondary Attraction – You experience attraction after a dependency is met. For example some people only feel sexual attraction after they form a romantic bond.
- Tertiary Attraction – You experience attraction reactively. As a result of someone else’s attraction to you attraction begins in you.
For most people all of these types of attraction can occur, but there are some people that do not experience primary attraction. In the arena of sexuality people who do not experience sexual attraction without first experiencing romantic connection often label themselves Demisexuals, and people that only experience sexual attraction to intelligence call themselves Sapiosexual. Both are examples of people that only experience secondary attraction. People that only experience tertiary attraction use the prefix litho- (lithoromantic, lithosexual, etc.). People that very rarely experience attraction often describe themselves as Gray-A.
Hopefully the matrix will help you understand yourself, or someone you love, a little better.