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 whose 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 (see above). 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 a strong desire for some kind of platonic (nonsexual, nonromantic) connection to another person. The concept of a squish is similar in nature to the idea of a "friend crush". A squish can be towards anyone of any gender and a person may also have many squishes, all of which may be active.
There can be 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 jealousy of partners of the person of interest, and a desire for romantic contact (such as kissing), a dating relationship, or marriage, while squishes may not. In both cases emotional attachment can be formed toward the target of the crush/squish, 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.