Love & Relationships

Romantic vs Sexual Attraction: Marry, F**k or Both?

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On May 30, 2022

Adventures from the bedrooms of African women, black women, queer women of colour, sex positive

Often in our dating or love lives folx confuse romantic and sexual attraction. There are many different types of attraction but often, when we want someone sexually, or we think they look nice we get caught up in the moment and think we have caught feelings. 

According to Bustle, “Sexual attraction comes from a sexual desire for something or someone, while romantic attraction is the want to have a romantic relationship with someone outside of sex.”

The article goes on to say “If you’ve ever had toe-curling, headboard-banging, amazing sex with someone you were into, only be told that they aren’t actually looking for a relationship, you may already know the difference between sexual and romantic attraction.”

But also we know that feeling sexual and romantic attraction to someone can manifest differently in different folx. You could think about them all the time or want to share your past with them, or want to eat their ass on Sundays. Different strokes and all that. Alternatively maybe you feel sexually attracted to multiple or all genders, but only desire to seriously date certain genders. Or you could be DTF (down to f**k) but don’t want anything more than that, or you’re into someone but don’t want to get physical. 

This is not just an orientation thing because for both queer and straight people alike, sexual and romantic orientations overlap and diverge in a multitude of ways. While queer people may experience different types of attraction to partners of different genders, straight folx can experience these feelings too. For example you could have a sexual attraction to someone but not have romantic feelings for them (e.g. “I would totally hook up with another man but I do not think that I could date them in the long term sense. I’m just down to fool with them.”). 

Wanting to only have a romantic/sexual relationship is not necessarily a good thing or a bad thing. Often people will get offended if someone only wants a sexual relationship with them. They may see this as being used. However this implies that some relationships and interactions are better than others. Having purely sexual chemistry with someone does not mean less than having a romantic connection with them. Alternatively not having sexual chemistry with someone but having a deep romantic bond does not mean you have “no spark”, it just means your type of attraction is different. 

All kinds of attractions are valid.

For example asexual people, often don’t feel a sense of sexual attraction but may enjoy having romantic relationships with others. There are also aromantic folks who may enjoy having sex but may not have a desire to be in a romantic partnership.

We also need to note that sexuality is one orientation. Romantic orientation is another. And the Split Attraction Model is a kind of helpful way to understand this. According to the split attraction model, sexual and romantic attraction can be different for people, some people experience their sexual attraction (who they want to have sex with) and romantic attraction (who they want to date) differently.

So all this can explain why you can’t wait to screw someone’s brains out but may not want to be in a relationship with them. Often folx get it twisted and think that because you have sex with someone you automatically want to be their forever person but that isn’t always the case. 

Sometimes you can love them. Sometimes it’s just sex. Sometimes it is both. 

Figuring out who you love and want to f**k is an ongoing journey so don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s always good to try and figure this sort of stuff out, so do some research and reading (even if you feel you have got things on lock). It will help you navigate your interactions with so much more intention. 

To end off, here are some more attraction terms to know, drawn from a Healthline article:

Intellectual: This type of attraction isn’t necessarily physical in nature and is rooted in a desire for connection due to someone’s intelligence (also check out sapiosexual).

Protective: This describes attraction toward those who require caretaking, such as a child, pet, or loved one.

Social: This describes those who are generally well-liked by the majority. A person who’s socially attractive is typically also someone many people want to be around.

Amatonormativity: A social force that presumes romantic relationships are more ideal or “the norm” for everyone, subsequently viewing this type of relationship as more valid than or superior to others.

Objective sexual: This type of attraction occurs when the majority of people consider someone sexually attractive, even if you personally don’t experience sexual attraction toward them.

Subjective sexual: This describes sexual feelings or the desire for sexual contact based on personal feelings and individual experiences that aren’t necessarily shared by the majority. Subjective sexual attraction is often viewed as sexual chemistry that exists in a given relationship, connection, or interaction.
Aesthetic attraction: Aesthetic attraction refers to the ability to admire someone’s appearance without the need or desire to have physical, sexual, or romantic contact with them.

Here are some articles that can help with further understanding:

Check out the Basically…Life Podcast (on all platforms) and our YouTube series We Are F**kin Here for other vibes that show how queers are living, lovin’ and f*ckin.

For more info about all things gender and sexuality download our Touch Manual which has a bunch of info about dating, sexuality, gender, sex and much more!

Also visit our Instagram page and Twitter account for even more great content!
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