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 females. For asexual people, romantic orientation is often considered a more useful measure of attraction than sexual orientation.
People may or may not engage in purely emotional romantic relationships. The main identities relating to this are:
- Aromantic: Lack of romantic attraction towards anyone. (aromanticism)
- Heteroromantic: Romantic attraction towards person(s) of one gender other than their own. (heteroromanticism)
- Homoromantic: Romantic attraction towards person(s) of the same gender. (homoromanticism)
- Biromantic: Romantic attraction towards person(s) of two genders. (biromanticism)
- Panromantic: Romantic attraction towards person(s) of any 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 has not been fully recognized, nor has it 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.
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