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Navigating the Types of Attraction

Diet Queer Feminism
Navigating the Types of Attraction
By Sotonye Ame • Issue #4 • View online

A couple of weeks ago, I saw a tweet about lesbians finding men visually attractive and asked if y’all wanted a letter about how attraction works.
I’m a baby lesbian, I’ve only been out as one for about 6 months even though I’ve known I liked women for years. One of the things that made it hard for me to unlock that part of myself is that I still find men attractive and I thought I couldn’t possibly be a lesbian if I did.
I had this struggle even after coming out then one day I stumbled upon the different types of attraction. There are five known types and I’ll try to explain them briefly:
Platonic Attraction: If you’ve ever looked at someone and thought “I really want to be friends with this person”, you’re platonically attracted to them. It is possible to feel squishes (friend crushes) intensely, so they can be mistaken for romantic attractions. Conversely, romantic attractions can be mistaken for platonic attractions.
Sexual Attraction: This is wanting to engage in sexual acts with a specific someone. It can exist on its own or bring romantic attraction along for the ride.
Romantic Attraction: This is desiring a romantic relationship with someone. Falling in love, wanting to spend your whole day looking at them, and if you’re like me, wanting to lick their face.
Sensual Attraction: When you have a sensual attraction to someone, you want to have physical, but not sexual, contact with them. So, you want to hold hands, cuddle, or even take a shower together. Which are things my ace self feels all the time.
Aesthetic Attraction: Aesthetic attraction is simply finding someone nice to look at. It can easily be mistaken for sexual attraction and is why it took me a while to figure out that I don’t actually like men.
The different kinds of attraction are intertwined and can be confusing for someone who doesn’t have a lot of experience with attraction. Platonic, and Aesthetic attractions exist outside the boxes we’ve put Sensual, Sexual and Romantic attractions in, that’s why a homosexual person, may feel platonically or aesthetically attracted to someone of the opposite sex.
It gets more confusing for ace and aro people. I’m Asexual and Aroflux and I only just figured that out late last year because I felt the other types of attraction and would conflate my desire to be held by someone with sexual attraction, and my squish on someone as a crush.
Amatonormativity and heteronormativity can blur the lines between the types of attraction and make it hard to tell which is which. Take some time to consider how you really feel about a person outside of what you think you should feel. For instance, when I was figuring out aesthetic attraction, I asked myself if I just liked looking at these people or if I wanted something more with them.
With love and everything nice
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Sotonye Ame

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Lagos, Nigeria.