Things about my sexuality 4

Sex is sometimes pretty overwhelming for me. In a good way, but it’s still overwhelming.

(This post isn’t really about sex, but about sensory stuff and feeling overwhelmed. So: not TMI.)

Continue reading “Things about my sexuality 4”


The split attraction model

aka the concept that romantic attraction and sexual attraction are completely separable and a person can e.g. be romantically attracted to people of one gender but only sexually attracted to a different gender.

[People seem to be finding this post through searches for information about the split attraction model, so I feel like I need to add a better introduction than the little one-sentence explanation I put here originally. I didn’t expect this post to be widely read, so I hurried straight through to my opinions without really explaining the situation I was responding to. Here’s a more detailed explanation.

The basic idea of the split attraction model is that sexual attraction and romantic attraction are separate things. On the level of attraction to indivudal people, this isn’t an unusual or controversial idea– being sexually attracted to someone but not in love with them is a pretty common experience.

But the split attraction model involves applying this idea to sexual orientations. It says that everyone can be described as having both a sexual orientation and a romantic orientation. For most people, these two orientations “line up” and they have sexual and romantic feelings about the same group of people, but some people’s sexual orientation and romantic orientation are different.]


So like, some people are going around acting like “lesbian” and “gay” only refer to sexual attraction and not romantic feelings, and that’s bullshit and very clearly disrespectful. It is 100% obvious that that’s not how people use those words, and it’s extra disrespectful because acting like same-sex relationships are only about hedonistic sex and not about love or commitment is a common homophobic trope.

But then I also see people saying that the split attraction model shouldn’t exist at all, and I’m just like ????

It describes an actual thing people experience. If you aren’t offering a better alternative way to describe that thing, then what you’re saying is that some people aren’t allowed to describe their experiences. Because of how their experiences fit into stereotypes or could otherwise be used against other people.

I don’t think that’s justifiable. There has to be an alternative beyond “you can’t describe romantic and sexual attraction as separate, period”.

And if a personal story is what’s needed, to counter the set of personal stories I saw about women who felt pressured to identify as anything other than lesbian, anything that included attraction to men (which you know perfectly well happens in lots of ways and would keep happening without the split attraction model, because sexism and homophobia!)

Well, here’s my story: not knowing about the split attraction model was what fucked me up when I was trying to figure out my sexuality.

I thought that the only difference between friendship-love and romantic love was sexual attraction, that romance and sex were necessarily connected. I thought that if I couldn’t look at the person I was in love with and feel sexual attraction, then that meant I wasn’t really in love. That what I felt wasn’t anything more than friendship. That my feelings weren’t worthy of notice, didn’t mean anything.

Thinking of romantic and sexual attraction as unsplittable pushed me away from realizing I was attracted to women. (And I am both romantically and sexually attracted to women, as it turns out.)

I don’t think my experience trumps the negative experiences other people have had with the split attraction model. But I also don’t think their experiences trump mine?

I think the split attraction model is not any more wrong or more misuseable than most ideas. And we can explain it with caveats (and we can definitely talk about sexist/homophobic/heterosexist pressure on women to be available to men, in general) without getting rid of it completely.


So, the way I feel about this person (Awesome Hair Guy is the nickname I’ve used for him before, I think)  is a way I’d describe as finding him attractive in a sexual way.
But there aren’t actually any sexual acts that I can imagine wanting to do with him.
So like…
Is this fantasy-interests vs real-life interests?
Is this sex vs non-sexual kinky things?
Something else?
Or not actually sexual attraction?


There are things I only like in fantasy because in real life they’d be scary.

There are things I only like in fantasy because in real life they’d be unsanitary.

And then there are things I only like in fantasy because in real life there would be sensory-squicky things involved, along with the things that I like.

(Is there a better word for things like that than “sensory sensitivities”? Because that’s kind of a tongue-twister.)

And now I am going to stop imagining things that feel gross and grossing myself out for no reason.


(I clicked through to find other works by the author of a fic I liked, and sadly only one of them was at all similar and it also included sensory-squicky things. But I read it, because “Ehh, close enough”, and it was ok.)

I have a lot of thoughts about this and I’m still not sure how to organize them

so this is going to be short. But man I have a whole lot of thoughts about the whole “Asexuals aren’t part of the LGBTQ community” thing. I actually posted about it here quite a while ago.

But I think the bottom of it for me, the fundamental thing people don’t get, is, they assume that people who are whatever variety of asexual are still fundamentally straight, that they fit into cultural expectations of heterosexuality as long as they aren’t in a same-gender relationship.

And I’m like… have you ever talked to anyone who’s asexual?

There are so many aces out there talking about how incredibly alienated they feel from everything heteronormative.

Our heteronormative culture doesn’t just punish people who have same-gender desires and relationships, it also punishes people who fail to display “opposite”-gender desire. Failing to show interest in the people you’re supposed to be interested in also gets negative attention, just not quite as much because it isn’t as consistently obvious.

People in the LGBT+ community, people who’ve spent some amount of time thinking about “queer theory”, see gender and sexuality and gender presentation as distinct, separate things. But in the mind of the average person who isn’t a part of that community and subculture, those things are all mixed together, in stereotypes and social pressure.

Being straight, and being a Real Normal Woman/Man, (and various other things) are all tied together, and failing to do one of them casts doubt on all the others. Someone who doesn’t display straight attraction will often have people suspect that they’re gay, even if they never do anything to actively indicate that. And that’s not just a matter of asexuals being mistaken for gay/lesbian. It’s that “gay” is shorthand for “abnormal,” for “not a normal feminine woman/masculine man,” for “morally suspect,” for “mentally ill,” etc. And all the rest of that stuff gets applied whether the specific accusation of “gay” does or not. Saying “but I’m not gay, I’m asexual” or even “but I’m celibate by choice” doesn’t get you out of all that suspicion.

I’ve seen people mocking the very idea that asexuals are in any way marginalized, comparing asexuality to celibacy (and assuming the general public thinks voluntary celibacy is 100% fine and normal, which I don’t think is true anyway) and I just… did you ever at any point pay attention to an asexual person, or even attempt to imagine what being asexual is like? I would have assumed that it wouldn’t be that hard to imagine if you’re gay or lesbian or otherwise not attracted to the “opposite” gender; was I really that far off base?