I was originally going to do this post as a comparison between sexual and aesthetic attraction however more i thought about it the more i felt that it was worth looking at all forms of attraction and how i expierence them, which should also help to set up future topics that I may want to cover. So I’ve armed myself with a dictionary and decided to start from scratch on the definitions. Whilst a lot has already been done on other places to define various forms of attraction, I’m doing this to attempt to improve my understanding and let me create my own perspective on these terms. To do this I’m going to focus on each one individually and define the term using the dioctionary meaning as a base and then look at my own expierences with each.
1. Act or power of attracting, 2. Person or thing that attracts by arousing interest (attract: 1. Draw or bring to oneself or itself, 2. Be attractive to; fascinate, 3 exert a pull on)
So using this we can define attraction as something that grabs our attention in a way that pulls it towards the specific object of our attraction. Of course why, how and what causes us to be “pulled” in this way will vary from case to case thus the reason we need to define types of attraction. However this provides the link between all if them.
Sexual: 1.of sex, the sexes, or relations betweem them
In this definition I’m going to assume that “relations between them” is refering to intercourse and other activities using the genitals and other sex specific parts. Thus sexual attraction could be defined as pull to have sexual intercourse or relations with another person.
Writing this definition is actually the first time I’ve felt that I actually fit the definition for asexual as defined on aven; somebody who does not experience sexual attraction. I don’t believe I’ve ever expierenced sexual attraction, though I have experienced psuedo-sexual attraction created from the belief that I should be sexually attracted to people. This can be reflected in the fact that there have been times that I’ve asked myself “Would she sleep with me?” but it was more curious and I didn’t care for the answer. This area could also get more confusing if we included arousal in the consideration however that has nothing to do with this, rather I consider the following type of attraction, aesthetic, and sensual attraction (of which sexual attraction could be consider a sub-type) to cause more confusion in determining whether you experience sexual attraction or not.
Aesthetic: 1. Of or sensitive to beauty, 2. Artistic, tasteful.
This one would appear to be rather straight foward assuming we take beauty as solely refering to external beauty. Thus we can define aesthtic attraction as being drawn to or fasinated by the appearance of someone or something. This also matches with how many aces have said they describe aesthetic attraction; looking at someone is to them the same as looking at art.
This formof attraction is the one I most notice and is also able to create the greatest amount of confusion as all it requires is looking at someone, and it is easy to misinterpret your own reactions especially when you are already overanalysing, looking for or expecting yourself to be reacting a certain way. I find myself aesthetically attracted to people more through fascination with their appearance (usually females as the clothes and figure tend to vary more than with males) and/or wondering why the person is there or what they are doing. Often once I’ve taken it in or got an answer to my curiosity I no longer even consider it again. Though it can be confusing as I sometimes get a physical reaction that could be considered a “butterfly” or spin chilling response however this is not much different or stronger than from the response I get watching a movie trailer with a suitably epic soundtrack.
Sensual: 1.a. Of a physical, esp. sexual, pleasure. b. Enjoying or giving this, voluptuous. 2. showing sensuality (sensuality: gratification of the senses)
Sensual attraction could be taken as an attraction generated by any of the senses (sight, sound, touch, taste, smell) which also includes aesthetic attaction (sight) and sexual attraction (touch). Therefore really this is a catch all, however as we already have sight covered and the sexual attraction, this really leaves this term to cover the non-sexual physical (touch), sound, taste and smell. In most cases this will mean refering to physical attraction with touching someone and is often used interchangably, though really it is one component of sensual attraction which encompasses a variety of types and is usually used to cover a range that don’t have commonly used terms.
My example above with the movie trailers is a sensual attraction relating to sound and sight, though it is mostly the sound I find that creates the reaction. Non-aesthetic sensual attraction is something I notice less than aesthetic attration however I do still experience it and sometimes quite strongly towards people I like or want comfort from. I find that with some people it is a way to feel closer to them, in some cases for reassurance and other times to just have a more personal initmate connection. However in these cases I’m mostly refering to touch; I usually find smell, including noticable perfume, a turnoff whilst sound tends to be less relevant in my interactions with people and taste I have no idea where I would factor that in (unless I associate food with them…)
Emotional: 1. Of or relating to the emotions. 2. Especially liable to emotion. 3. Expressing or based on emotion. 4. Arousing emotion (emotion: 1. Strong instinctive feeling such as love or fear. 2. Emotional intensity or sensibility)
This I would define as being attracted or fascinated to someone or something because of the emotional response it creates/arouses in you.
I’ve found that often the other forms of attraction have little power over me unless there is some form of emotional response, this is particularly strong with how I experience sensual attraction. Until I’ve got some form of emotional connection with a person I’m unlikely to want any form of sensual contact however if I have formed an emotional bond with them I’m more likely to have the emotional attraction express itself through sensual attraction in wanting to hug or cuddle up to the person. However often the emotional attraction is just expressed through wanting to spend time with or in communication with the person due to how that makes me feel.
Romantic: 1. Of characterised by, or suggestive of an idealised, sentimental, or fantastic view of reality; remote from experience, 2. Incline towards or suggestive of romance in love, 3. (of a person) Imaginative, visionary, idealistic, 4. (of style in art, music, etc.) concerned more with feeling and emotion than with form and aesthetic qualities.
(romance: 1. Idealised, poetic, or unworldly atmosphere or tendency. 2.a. Love affair, b. Mutual attraction in this, c. Sentimental or idealised love (5.a. Exaggeration; picturesque falsehood, b. Instance of this))
Well this is a challenging one that could have many definitions from attraction to a love affair to attraction to a lie or fantasy. However those aren’t helpful in defining romantic attraction for us. I would define romantic attraction as the pull to be in a sentimental or idealised relationship with another person. Of course this isn’t very helpful as what is considered sentimental or idealised relationship. Sentimental refers to the reationship being coloured by emotion whilst idealised refers to the concept or idea of a perfect relationship. Ultimately this could result in circles and depending on the route I take I could try to prove that any relationship is romantic however I don’t think that would be useful, rather I would define it as the attraction to be in an idealised relationship with another person, as idealised by general society (so still incrediably vague).
For me this is an area I’m still trying to wrap my head around and the vagueness of the ability to define romantic attraction makes it difficult. I’ve approached relationships from a romantic mindset but only been dissappointed as I don’t think it was what I wanted. It’s only in the last few months that I’ve really started asking myself what I want in a relationship and found that alot of what I thought I wanted wasn’t what I thought and doesn’t necessarily follow the romantic model though it may have components. However I have found that in most cases the sentimental definition side, if you use, quickly falls away for me in a relationship as I tend to take an objective view and don’t let emotion colour my viewing. It is also worth noting that I’m now using Aromantic rather than grey-romantic to describe myself.
So these are just a basic overview of a few types of attraction and the ones that are most likely to be mentioned. I some cases the definitions are reasonably solid but interpreting them on a personal level can be tricky but this provides a starting point to continue from.