Sexuality and Romanticism Are Different – Here’s Why That Matters

It’s time to stop conflating the two.


Language around identities is evolving all of the time. New words are coined, there is greater understanding and there are better ways to express ourselves and explore our own identities. This is how it should be. We must progress so that we can understand what different identities experience and whether they are treated differently. However, we seem absolutely resistant to acknowledging the differences between romanticism and sexuality.

Many people don’t even realise that these two are different things. Sexuality deals with sexual attraction whereas romanticism is about people’s romantic attraction.

Sexuality and romanticism don’t always align. For some people, they can feel totally contradictory. A person may be exclusively sexually attracted to someone of the same gender but only feel romantic attraction towards people of a different gender. Identities can be so complex and so if we don’t start acknowledging the different ways queer identities can manifest, we’re silencing people with different experiences of oppression.

“Sexuality and romanticism don’t always align”

There’s this idea too that if people only experience sexual attraction then they’re using people. This is especially pernicious when there are claims heteromantic or aromantic gay/bisexuals are using people of the same gender simply for sex. Relationships take on a wide and varied spectrum. As long as consent is at the heart of a relationship then whatever its form, it is valid. People who experience sexual attraction, and people who don’t experience romantic attraction aren’t amoral and they aren’t using people. This is queerphobia at its most ridiculous, particularly when queer people have regularly been shamed for their potential sexual desires throughout history.

There are vital differences to romantic and sexual identities. Too often asexuals are assumed to be aromantic and aromantics almost never get any recognition for their identities. The two end up pitted against each other squabbling for any recognition and respect they can get, instead of both identities being empowered.

Some people’s identities do align and that doesn’t mean their specific romantic or sexual experiences are any less important. By ignoring different conversations, we ignore different people.

Sexuality and romanticism are different and we have to get used to using different terms that encompass both groups of identities. After all, society is often obsessed with both so it’s about time we finally had accurate conversations about them.

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