Everything from taking an interest in someone to admiring someone’s appearance to experiencing sexual or romantic feelings can be considered a type of attraction.
Attraction can take many forms and it’s possible to experience more than one type simultaneously.
Learning about the nuanced and multifaceted nature of attraction helps us gain insight into our own feelings, as well as the boundaries we need to set to ensure those feelings are respected and understood.
Check out the following list for terms that describe different types of 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.
This describes the desire for a type of emotional relationship and emotional closeness that doesn’t feel accurately characterized by the terms “platonic” or “romantic.”
It can also convey discomfort or de-identification with the word “romantic” as a primary descriptor or focal point for different types of attraction.
This describes people who experience romantic attraction.
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.
Also known as “aro,” this identifier describes the spectrum of people who experience little to no romantic attraction or desire for a romantic relationship.
Unlike attraction, attachment refers to a type of bond or connection that’s often necessary or present in committed or long-term relationships of any kind.
Attachment can be a factor in relationships with:
- family members
- loved ones
Attraction describes interest, desire, or affinity that’s emotional, physical, romantic, aesthetic, or sexual in nature.
This describes those who experience romantic attraction to oneself.
It doesn’t indicate the specific genders someone is romantically attracted to, but the fact that the individual is romantically attracted to people of more than one gender.
The object of someone’s romantic attraction or the desire for a romantic relationship with someone.
On the aromantic spectrum, demiromantic describes those who only experience romantic attraction after developing an emotional connection.
This type of attraction isn’t necessarily physical in nature and is rooted in a desire for connection because of someone’s heart, mind, or personality.
On the aromantic spectrum, grayromantic describes someone who rarely experiences romantic attraction, or only experiences romantic attraction under particular circumstances.
This describes those who are romantically attracted to members of the “opposite” sex or gender.
This describes those who are romantically attracted to members of the same sex or gender.
This type of attraction isn’t necessarily physical in nature and is rooted in a desire for connection because of someone’s intelligence.
This term describes physical, sexual, romantic, or emotional closeness between people in personal relationships of any kind.
A deep or passionate feeling of connection or affection that often involves an element of emotional attachment.
The meaning of love and things associated with love can vary from person to person, relationship to relationship, and across cultures.
This describes intense feelings of passion, desire, affection, or attraction toward someone.
This type of attraction occurs when the majority of people consider someone physically attractive, even if you personally aren’t attracted to their physical appearance.
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.
Generally speaking, gender and sex don’t play a major role in governing romantic attraction for those who are panromantic.
This describes feelings of deep desire, intense emotion, or strong enthusiasm.
This describes the desire for touch or to be touched — not necessarily in a romantic or sexual way. For example, this can include hugging or kissing a family member.
The nonsexual or nonromantic desire to be in a relationship with someone. Friendships, for example, are often platonic.
This describes someone who experiences romantic attraction towards people of many, but not necessarily all, gender identities.
This describes attraction toward those who require caretaking, such as a child, pet, or loved one.
Challenging traditional norms and stereotypes in relationships, queerplatonic describes a deep emotional connection that can’t be fully captured using existing relationship categories, such as “romantic” or “friendship.”
For some, queerplatonic relationships fall somewhere between friendship and a romantic relationship. However, this varies from person to person, relationship to relationship.
This can describe a deep emotional interest or connection that isn’t purely physical or sexual in nature.
Very similar to physical attraction, sensual attraction describes a desire to touch or be touched that isn’t necessarily sexual in nature.
This attraction takes the form of the desire for intimately physical or sexual contact with someone.
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.
This type of physical desire or admiration is based on personal feelings and individual experiences that aren’t necessarily shared by the majority.
Subjective physical attraction is often viewed as physical chemistry that exists in a given relationship, connection, or interaction.
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.
The desire for a strong, nonromantic relationship that often includes elements of emotional depth or intimacy.
It’s considered the nonromantic version of a crush.
This describes attraction to one person for a prolonged period of time or one’s whole life.
Also known as a queerplatonic partner, zucchinis are people engaged in queerplatonic relationships.
Most of us have had the experience of feeling something toward someone but having a hard time identifying what exactly the feeling is.
Am I attracted to them physically? Do I admire their personality or intelligence? Do I have the desire to be romantic or sexual with them?
Attraction can be confusing and takes time to understand. Just remember — there’s no right way to experience attraction and one form isn’t better or more valid than another.
Expanding your understanding of attraction beyond romantic and sexual can help you navigate the various feelings that inform your interests, desires, boundaries, and relationships.
Mere Abrams is a researcher, writer, educator, consultant, and licensed clinical social worker who reaches a worldwide audience through public speaking, publications, social media (@meretheir), and gender therapy and support services practice onlinegendercare.com. Mere uses their personal experience and diverse professional background to support individuals exploring gender and help institutions, organizations, and businesses to increase gender literacy and identify opportunities to demonstrate gender inclusion in products, services, programs, projects, and content.