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. For example, although a pansexual person may feel sexually attracted to people regardless of gender, they may be predisposed to romantic intimacy with women.
The relationship between sexual attraction and romantic attraction is still under debate, and is therefore not fully understood.
- 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 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
The implications of the distinction between romantic and sexual orientations have not been fully recognized, nor have they been studied extensively. It is common for sources to describe sexual orientation as including components of both sexual and romantic (or romantic equivalent) attractions. Similarly, romantic love has been noted as "love with strong components of sexuality and infatuation", although some sources contradict this notion, stating that sexual and romantic attraction are not necessarily linked. With regard to asexuality, while asexuals usually do not experience sexual attraction (see gray asexuality), they may still experience romantic attraction. Lisa M. Diamond states that a person's romantic orientation can differ from whom they are sexually attracted to.
One of the attributes of aromantics is that, despite feeling little or no romantic attraction, they can still enjoy sex. 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. 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.
Some publications have argued that there is an underrepresentation of asexuals and aromantics in media and in research, and that they are often misunderstood. Aromantics sometimes face stigma and are stereotyped with labels such as being heartless, callous or deluded. Amatonormativity, a concept that elevates romantic relationships over non-romantic relationships, has been said to be damaging to aromantics. Representation of aromantics in the media is[when?] increasing.
Many aromantics are asexual, 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. This is because aromanticism primarily deals with emotion rather than with sexuality or with the libido. Some activists[which?] have argued for including aromantics in the LGBT community.
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. An informal term for an aromantic person is aro. The A in the expanded LGBT acronym LGBTQIA is interpreted by some to stand for asexual, aromantic and agender.
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