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Attraction in the context of AVEN refers to a mental or emotional force that draws people together. Asexuals do not experience sexual attraction, but some feel other types of attraction. There is some amount of debate as to what types of attraction actually exist.
Disclaimer: not everyone agrees with this definition of sexual attraction
Main article: Sexual attraction
Sexual attraction is an emotional response that sexual people often feel that results in a desire for sexual contact with the person that the attraction is felt towards. Sexual attraction can be experienced towards any person and any gender. Sexual attraction can be based upon many qualities of a person. Physical qualities can include, but are not limited to; appearance, movement, smell and clothing. The effect to which a person is successful at drawing sexual attraction based upon physical traits is known as sex appeal. Physical qualities that result in a sexual or erotic response affect a person’s Primary sexual attraction. Qualities that are not instantly available such as psychology, individual genetic and cultural influence can also lead to sexual attraction. Secondary sexual attraction is an attraction that develops over time based on the relationship and emotional connection with another person. There is currently no single accepted definition of sexual attraction. A common definition of sexual attraction is that it is defined as a directed libido.
Different combinations of sexual attraction result in different classifications such as heterosexual attraction: A sexual attraction to a person of a different gender, homosexual attraction: A sexual attraction to a person of the same gender and bisexual/pansexual attraction: A sexual attraction to two or more genders. Those that lack sexual attraction are asexual. Sometimes asexuals will desire sexual contact for other reasons other than attraction. Such reasons include; making a sexual partner happy, to satisfy a curiosity, to have a child or to prove to themselves or others that they are ‘’normal’’. It therefore becomes difficult to define sexual attraction exactly, as it is not considered by many asexuals to be the same as desire. It is commonly held that sexual attraction involves a desire for the sexual act itself, rather than its social consequences. Some models of asexuality make distinctions between different kinds of sexual desire and allow for asexuals to feel some varieties, however some do not.
Sexual attraction is often experienced alongside other forms of attraction such as romantic or emotional. However sexual attraction can be independent of other attractions which results in only desiring sex. There are different models and methods to approaching sexual attraction. It should be noted that sexual attraction is not the same as a sex drive, although in sexuals the two often go together. When asexuals experience a physical desire for sex, a libido, it is not connected to attraction or desire, and can thus be taken care of by oneself. Recently many asexuals have begun to identify with autochorissexualism which is a disconnection between oneself and the object/ target of ones arousal. With autochorissexuality there is a lack of emotional desire to participate in sexual activities. It is not a sexual identity but a label/ trait.
Main article: Romantic attraction
Romantic attraction is an emotional response that most people often feel that results in a desire for a romantic relationship with the person that the attraction is felt towards. Many asexual people experience romantic attraction even though they do not feel sexual attraction. Romantic attraction can be experienced towards any person and any gender. This has provided the need for a distinction between sexual orientations and romantic orientations. Usually both orientations are aligned and match, however in the asexual community it is common to find mixed combinations of romantic and sexual orientations. This does not mean that there are not sexual people who's romantic orientation doesn't line up with their sexual orientation. For example there can be an aromantic heterosexual with no romantic attraction but sexually attracted to the opposite gender. Romantic attraction can be based upon many qualities of a person. Physical qualities, while more commonly associated with Primary sexual attraction, are the most immediate traits that can result in a romantic desire. Aesthetic attraction very often associated with this kind of romantic attraction. Qualities that are not instantly available such as psychology, individual genetic and cultural influence more often lead to a romantic interest as opposed to sexual. This form of interest is an attraction that develops over time based on the relationship and emotional connection with another person.
Different combinations of romantic orientations exist as counterparts to sexual orientations. These also result in different classifications such as heteroromantic attraction: A romantic attraction to a person of a different gender, homoromantic attraction: A romantic attraction to a person of the same gender and biromantic/panromantic attraction: A romantic attraction to two or more genders. Those that lack romantic attraction are known as aromantic who frequently identify in addition to asexual. As mentioned in the Aromantic FAQ, not all aromantic people are asexual; there is as much variance in their sexual orientations as there is among people who experience romantic attraction. Sometimes aromantics will desire relationships for other reasons other than attraction. Such reasons include companionship and a desire for a deeper relationship with a person.
What exactly constitutes a romantic relationship or romantic attraction is difficult to define, as some asexuals reject the romantic/aromantic dichotomy altogether. A romantic relationship is often considered activities that hold little to no sexual aspect. Romantic actions can range from dinners, movies, long walks on the beach, sharing hobbies and can include kissing and cuddling. There is no clear-cut location where a romantic action ends and a sexual action begins. Some define a person's approach to relationships as partner or community-based. Partner-based intimacy takes place between an exclusive pair of people, whether or not this pair of people are sexual or traditionally “romantic”. Community-based intimacy takes place between a group of more than two people. People who depend on community-based intimacy do not see a need to pair off into couples, but this does not necessarily mean that they are less capable of forming strong emotional connections with others.
Crushes and Squishes
A crush, also known as limerence and infatuated love, is an emotional desire for a romantic relationship caused by being romantically attracted to someone. It is a desire that is possibly temporary in nature and possibly never acted upon. With a crush there is often an overwhelming desire to have the feelings reciprocated. There are many components to crushes that make them difficult to act upon. The fear of rejection is the largest component that often prevent people with crushes from acting upon them. As the emotions and desires felt when a person has a crush are so powerful, there is a large, and arguably rational, fear that whatever relationship currently exists may be damaged. Therefore this fear often prevents the person from acting. On the other hand, there is also the potential for hope. The secret desire that no action would be required and the "crush" would make the 'first move'. The smallest of gestures can result in massive fantasies and hope. Gestures such as "They held the door open for me" or "They send me a text message!" are often taken as overreactions, amplified by the extreme emotions, that do not fit the situation.
A squish is the aromantic counterpart for a crush. A squish is an emotional desire for a strong platonic relationship with someone. These relationships often take the form of deep friendships, queerplatonic pairings and occasionally partnering. The envisioned relationship is usually more emotionally intimate than a typical friendship. A squish can be towards anyone of any gender and a person may also have many squishes, all of which may be active.
There is a fine line between a crush and a squish. Both crushes and squishes could involve persistent thoughts about the person of interest, self-consciousness around that person, desires to be with them, fantasies about physical (not necessarily sexual) contact with them, or any combination of these. However crushes sometimes entail jealous of partners of the person of interest, and a desire for romantic contact (such as kissing), a dating relationship, or marriage, while squishes often do not. In both cases emotional attachment can be formed between partners, regardless if it is reciprocated. The type of the relationship is defined upon the desired actions and the actions shared between the pairing. Romantic relationships, or desired romantic relationships, frequently hold more romantic or 'loving' behaviors versus a platonic relationship, or desired platonic relationship, where the purpose is to know them well and be close. The lines between the two frequently become blurred with one transforming into another.
Sensual attraction can be an emotional or physical desire to engage in sensual acts with the person that the attraction is felt towards. Sensuality is a pleasure that involves the senses. This is especially true regarding tactile sensuality such as cuddling. Some asexuals are uncomfortable with this classification, since they can also get sensual pleasure from nonhuman objects such as pillows, blankets or pets, to which they do not consider themselves 'attracted'. Many sexual people interpret sensuality as only relating to sexual pleasure that involves the senses, but there are other ways of being sensual. Some (though not all) asexuals enjoy nonsexual sensuality with other people. Sensuality often involves tactile stimulation, such as cuddling, kissing, or giving or receiving a massage, but interpretations of visual, aural, taste, or olfactory stimuli as sensual are also appropriate - for example, since the desire to appreciate the sight of a beautiful person involves visual stimulation, it could be seen as sensual.
It is also sometimes difficult to fully distinguish sensual things from sexual ones in a relationship, especially between sexual people. Sensual acts are distinguished from sexual acts only by the people engaged with them. Kissing, cuddling, hugging and holding hands have both a sensual aspect and a sexual aspect. The purpose of the acts vary as they can be an action of affection or for the purpose of sexual arousal.
Main article: Aesthetic attraction
Some asexuals report feeling an attraction to other people that is not connected to a desire to do anything with them, either sexually or romantically. They simply appreciate their appearance. This is called aesthetic attraction because it is thought to be similar to other aesthetic desires, such as the desire to keep listening to a good song or to keep looking at a beautiful sunset.
It is possible to define aesthetic attraction as a subset of sensual attraction, since the act of observing a person's appearance or behavior can be thought of as pleasure involving the sense of vision or sometimes hearing. Some asexuals reject the concept of aesthetic attraction for the same reason that they reject the concept of sensual attraction - i.e. it feels the same to them with people as it does to inanimate objects and other things that they do not generally think of themselves as being attracted to.