Romantic Orientation and the “Split Attraction Model” are not the same thing

A few days ago, when I mentioned on Pillowfort that I wanted to write something about the development of the “romantic orientation” model, I was helpfully pointed toward this post on the “split attraction model” at Historically Ace. I appreciate that, and I think it’s a handy collection of information. However, I have a problem with that post: it’s not actually a history of “the split attraction model” as a term itself. The phrase “split attraction model” appears in the post only three times, two of those times being as introduction and the other solely to specify that something else would not be considered an example of it. The timeline of that post ends at 2007, which is actually before the phrase “split attraction model” even entered into circulation in the ace community.

For comparison, I think this is like if I had written “a history of relationship anarchy” and then only, solely charted examples of the use of queerplatonic — which is to say, maybe it’s not wildly-off base, but it still falls short of what it actually promises. As related as they are, and as much sense as it makes to discuss the two alongside each other, the history of one is not the history of the other. A history of the “split attraction model” still remains yet to be told.

Note that I don’t intended this as a corrective directed only at Historically Ace in particular. It’s my understanding that this is a more general pattern in the ways that these things are talked about. For example, I’ve also recently had a similar discussion with Ask an Aro, who attributed the split attraction model as “created by and for the aspec community.” From what I can tell, it seems like the exact origins of this term haven’t really been tracked and people don’t have a precise impression of where it comes from. I’ll even be the first to say that’s completely understandable, given that it seems to have emerged first on Tumblr — and individual Tumblr posts are like that mythical island which can never be found except by those who already know where it is.

So in response to this situation, I want to argue two distinct things: 1) the “split attraction model” came into use later than “romantic orientation” did, and 2) it and romantic orientation are not the same thing.

To argue the first thing, I’m sharing what I know so far about exact dates and examples of the development of each, starting with romantic orientation as a concept and then getting into the split attraction model as a concept. To argue the second thing, I’ll give you an example of the two being conflated and how come that has inaccurate implications that I’m invested in arguing back against.

Here’s a quick rehash on the history of the romantic orientation model.

Generally speaking, I think it’s right to look at antecedents to the idea of “romantic orientation” and claim that as precedent. For instance, taking on most of what was explained in more detail by Noel Idris (plus a detail from Kat):

And that’s not even getting into 1990s bisexual activism, as well.

In the ace community, it’s unclear when “romantic orientation” or individual romantic orientation labels were first used per se, but Noel Idris has tracked it down on the AVEN forums to at least as far back as 2005. “Romantic attraction” also appears on a 2003 version of the AVEN FAQ, and “romantic drive” (and use of “hetero-romantic”) was used in 2002 on the Haven for the Human Amoeba. Shoutout to Sennkestra for supplying me with those latter two links. You can find even more mid-2000s AVEN threads on this concept and “aromantic” in particular here.

That, above, is more or less the history of “romantic orientation” as a term, plus some of its antecedents that we might view in retrospect as getting at the same or similar ideas. Notice: None of that involves people stringing together the words “split attraction model.”

Just where did that name come from, anyway?

Pillowfort user Belowdesire went looking for it and found a usage of “split attraction model” only as far back as this Tumblr post from approximately 2015, a post which includes the line “the split attraction model plays into homophobia and particularly lesbophobia,” delivered in the context of also criticizing “allosexual.” There are plenty of posts from 2015 onward that talk about it — mostly debating about whether or not it’s detrimental to non-ace LGBT people — but if you find one dated from before the year 2015, then let me know. As best I can tell, these posts are, in fact, reacting to the idea of romantic orientation, but they do not use the term “romantic orientation” (or rather, some of their anon ask messages do, while the responses do not). For whatever reason, these posts launching criticisms of our language did not deign to actually use our language, not even in scare quotes.

Oh, and on the AVEN forums, which are actually more easily searchable for this kind of thing? The earliest instance is also from late 2015, and it’s in a post arguing that heteroromantic aces “benefit from straight privilege.”

As much as I would be interested to see these developments tracked in more detail, I cannot begin to put together a link compilation on this like I have with queerplatonic and others. Logistically, that is beyond me. You’re welcome to try it yourself if you like.

I think what I have collected here already, however, is enough to support the following claims:

  • The idea of differentiating types of attraction (whether that be under names like tender, passionate, sensual, physical, sexual, affectional, or romantic) is actually fairly old, dating back to at least the 19th century, and has precedent over several decades.
  • The name “romantic orientation” to describe a pattern of “romantic attraction” appears in asexual community contexts (AVEN, HHA) sometime around 2005, depending on how you want to pinpoint it.
  • The name “split attraction” and “split attraction model” began emerging on Tumblr in 2015, among non-aces, in the context of criticizing the asexual community and its language. This appears to be approximately the beginning of what would become merely the latest (and longest?) of the anti-ace flamewars. History repeats itself, and its voice is getting louder.

Since then, the term has proliferated and I’ve been seeing it everywhere, even in contexts that have nothing to do with addressing anti-ace hostility. I hope you can understand, though, why that is exactly what I associate it with. Because I was watching Tumblr when it emerged, because I was here before it happened, and because I remember a “before” when this wasn’t how any of us talked at all.

Now that I’ve laid out a brief account of the concept’s origins as I understand it, let me say a few words on why I don’t like to see the two treated as interchangeable. Ostensibly, “split attraction model” is meant to describe the same thing as “romantic orientation” does. But it doesn’t. It describes “attraction,” and the “splitting” thereof, and it does not specify “romantic” by name. Technically, the concept of “splitting attraction” could apply to splitting sensual attraction from sexual, for instance, or any type of attraction from any other. See for example how it’s explained in this 2015 Tumblr post by one of its critics (note the universalizing language):

split attraction model is the idea that every single person experiences romantic/platonic/sexual/aesthetic/sensual attraction entirely separately and identifies every single LGBT+ person using that as a guide

So according to the people who more or less popularized it, the “split attraction model” refers to “splitting” any attractions, or rather, splitting all attraction into all types conceivable (& the idea that it applies to “every single LGBT+ person”). This is not specifically the idea of separating out romantic attraction from the rest and conceptualizing its patterns as a romantic orientation. They are not, technically, the same exact thing.

Yet I see a lot of people using it like they are, which both invokes me and totally eclipses me out of the picture at the same time. In that reblog-addition chain, Tumblr user Luna (lunerian-therian) brought up quoiromantic people, and Laura at shades-of-grayro further down replied:

This is all very related to lunarian-therian’s point about people not fitting into the allo/aro dichotomy. Not everyone finds the SAM works for them, and the SAM is absolutely necessary for a non-sexual Romantic relationship to be a thing. For some people it’s not romantic if its not sexual, and that’s okay, as long as its not generalized to everyone. Those people should be free to use queerplatonic.

I can’t begin to touch on everything going on here.

For the purposes of this post, this is the important part: Luna brought up quoiromantics — who are neither aro or alloromantic, against the dichotomous premise of the original post — and Laura replied by talking about how “not everyone finds the SAM works for them.” I’m not even going to get into how the “model” was originally defined in universalizing terms and is now being talked about as something idiosyncratic that “works for some people” and not others, ostensibly as an effort to salvage and sanitize what seems to have originally been a concept derived in bad faith. I’m not going to try and work back or hunt down what exactly definition is actually being used here or why romantic & sexual attraction are being talked about as the only conceivable attractions that could be split. I’m just going to focus on how Luna said “quoiromantics” and Laura said “people who don’t find the SAM works for them,” because this substitution conflates romantic orientation with differentiating (or “splitting”) types of attraction. Note this is happening in the context of talking about quoiromantic people, which it means it’s in the context of talking about me.

Hi, I’m quoiro, and I differentiate between types of attraction. I don’t have a romantic orientation. I do “use” the “splitting” of attraction. I find it useful for myself to give different kinds of attraction different subcategorical names, and for me, “romantic attraction,” as parsed into an orientation, isn’t one of the ones that is useful. The “split attraction model” is not the same thing as the romantic orientation model.

To be honest, this touches on a nerve for me because differentiating types of attraction was extremely key for my personal process of realizing that I’m gray-a. Differentiating between sensual attraction, aesthetic attraction, romantic attraction, and sexual attraction were what freed me to make sense of my experiences in a new and more comfortable way and facilitated my path toward identifying under the asexual umbrella. Realizing that I didn’t actually find the concept of “romantic attraction” useful for myself would take longer, but I certainly don’t experience “attraction” in one singular, undifferentiated bloc.

When you talk about the quoi umbrella and “not fitting into the allo/aro dichotomy,” you’re talking about me, and when you talk about “people who don’t use the split attraction model,” you are not talking about me. One does not mean the other. If you mean to refer to quoiromantics, say that. If you mean to refer to the quoi umbrella, say that. But don’t swap that out for “doesn’t use the SAM” when that’s not what was originally being said. In fact, feel free to not use the phrase “SAM” or “split attraction model” at all! I would happily see that phrase die. The horses may already be out of the barn now, but please don’t feel obligated on my account. There are people under the quoi umbrella who differentiate among some types of attraction, and what’s more, not “splitting attraction” (or not using every single subcategorical attraction label ever thought of) doesn’t mean any one singular thing for everyone, contrary to what Laura’s “for some people it’s not romantic if its not sexual” comment would imply.

If we’re going to adopt the phrase and make it ours, it’s high time we reflect on how best to go about that. In order to even have that conversation, though, we first need to address the conflation happening between it and romantic orientation, so just in case you missed it, I’ll say it again: Romantic orientation and the “split attraction model” are not the same.


34 responses to “Romantic Orientation and the “Split Attraction Model” are not the same thing

  • Siggy

    Ooh, I have so many comments about this one.

    If we think of SAM as being specifically about romantic vs sexual attraction, it’s still not the same thing as romantic orientation. “I don’t use SAM” is a common reason to not identify by romantic orientation, but there are also other reasons not to identify by romantic orientation, and some people might identify by romantic orientation while not using SAM.

    For example, I have said repeatedly that I don’t use SAM (in the sense of sexual vs romantic). And I usually just ID as gray-A, but when prompted I will also say that I’m grayro. So, I’m not using SAM, but I’m still identifying with sexual and romantic orientations. Ask-an-aro also mentioned the possibility that someone will only identify with a romantic orientation, and not with a sexual orientation–I’ve seen several examples of this since I started keeping an eye on aro tumblr.

    • Coyote

      I was wondering about that possibility (the vice versa) but wasn’t sure how to say more about it. So thanks! Hashtag #confirmed that that’s another set of experiences not being taken into account.

  • Siggy

    Second comment, a point of disagreement:

    If people are using SAM to refer specifically from the split between romantic and sexual attraction, why is that wrong? Meaning is determined by use. People are using SAM to refer to romantic vs sexual, and it’s a consistent pattern, not just a bunch of one-off errors. This is just a clear example of polysemy.

    The split attraction model is:
    1. A model in which romantic and sexual attraction are distinct.
    2. A model in which romantic/sexual/platonic/sensual/aesthetic/etc. are distinct.

    • Coyote

      If people are using SAM to refer specifically from the split between romantic and sexual attraction, why is that wrong?

      Okay, fair question. My thinking is it’s maybe a couple of reasons, but we’ll start here: in the example given, someone referred to a group that I identify with, and then someone else referred back to (ostensibly?) the same group using different words — but those different words are not a phrase I identify with and not how I want to be referred to, for a couple of reasons including the aforementioned association of that language with anti-ace vitriol. I identify as quoiro, not “a person who doesn’t use the SAM.” Ergo, taking this “SAM”-based language (the SAM model? TSAMM?) as neutral and Platonic, people are disregarding how I actually identify and implicitly re-labeling me with a label they chose, I didn’t. I don’t want anything to do with this and it’s been imposed on me without my say in it. So that’s problem one, a matter of autonomy in labeling.

  • Siggy

    Third comment:

    I knew that SAM (that is, the phrase, not the thing being described) was first used by ace exclusionists. I never saw the origins exactly, but it was easy tell. But it seems to have been reclaimed, and I think with good reason. SAM fills a few lexical gaps. One gap is simply, what do we call this whole way of thinking about attraction and orientations? But perhaps the bigger gap is: what do we call people who don’t distinguish the different kinds of attractions, especially romantic and sexual attraction?

    These lexical gaps were keenly felt by me–I basically didn’t identify with a romantic orientation for a long time, not even “quoi” because if I ever did identify as a romantic orientation, even one that matched my sexual orientation, there would be too strong a connotation of being different from my sexual orientation. And now, if I wanted I could just say I was non-SAM.

    And that’s SAM as in romantic vs sexual–I do in fact distinguish aesthetic attraction from the others. So that’s another reason to defend the polysemous meaning of SAM. It’s about filling lexical gaps.

    • Coyote

      One gap is simply, what do we call this whole way of thinking about attraction and orientations?

      If we’re looking at it that way — which I anticipated and thought about, but I figured this post was already long enough as it was — then I think, if anything, the model here needs to be… split.

      Because the “this whole way of thinking about attraction and orientations” is technically two things, not one — about attraction and about orientations. So, on the one hand, we have the “split” or multiple orientations idea: some people may just have one “type” of orientation, and some people may use multiple. That’s generally presumed to rely on “split” or multiple different types of attraction. But while the former may(?) require the latter, the reverse is not true. One can “use” or “experience” or “split” (? terminology here?) more types of attraction than one uses orientation labels for. For instance, I don’t really feel a need to use “sensual orientation” language, myself. Yet I have never see anyone use the phrase “Split Orientation Model” to refer to specifically the splitting of orientations, just “the Split Attraction Model” and it seems like one is getting lumped in with the other.

      That’s kinda stressing me out as someone for whom attractions-without-orientations are personally and theoretically important. As I also pointed out in the conversation with Ask An Aro, there’s been a recurring pattern of people focusing exclusively on romantic & sexual as the primary/most important/most useful ones getting split, and it feels like other types may be getting lost in the shuffle, or else deliberately overlooked because their associated orientations are more “silly,” less respectable-sounding, and less defensible as such. In other words, I think it becomes a concession to the models that are already more familiar.

      So hypothetically, say we still want to retain or reclaim “SAM.” If so, I think it needs to be chopped in half.

      • Siggy

        So hypothetically, say we still want to retain or reclaim “SAM.” If so, I think it needs to be chopped in half.

        It sounds like maybe it needs to be chopped in half more than once. Split attraction vs split orientation. Romantic/sexual vs romantic/sexual/sensual/aesthetic/platonic/etc. And SAM vs identifying with romantic (or other) orientation. So how about it, would you like to coin seven more terms?

        This is reminding me of a conflict we’ve mentioned before, regarding “grayromantic”. On the one hand, it’s intended to be a broad term encompassing all sorts of experiences. On the other hand, many people with those experiences prefer not to be described as grayromantic. So despite being an umbrella term, it ends up having narrower connotations, which further legitimizes people who don’t want to be described that way. And eventually somebody tries to coin a new umbrella term in contrast to the “narrow” grayromantic.

        The point is, there’s a tradeoff between personal autonomy in labeling, and actually having useful umbrella terms . You’re on one side of “grayromantic” in that you want it to be a broad umbrella. And now you’re on the opposite side of “non-SAM”, in that you disidentify with the umbrella, and want to chop it up into parts.

        • Coyote

          So how about it, would you like to coin seven more terms?

          Only if nobody else is gonna do it for me.

          The point is, there’s a tradeoff between personal autonomy in labeling, and actually having useful umbrella terms . You’re on one side of “grayromantic” in that you want it to be a broad umbrella. And now you’re on the opposite side of “non-SAM”, in that you disidentify with the umbrella, and want to chop it up into parts.

          Looks like it.

          If you’re referring to the Arocalypse thread I linked earlier — I admit I was initially coming at with certain assumptions that don’t seem to have matched what the situation was. I was thinking it was a situation where people might’ve wanted the term but were feeling pushed out of it by narrower definitions, making them feel like it wasn’t for them. But the situation the replies painted is a little different, in that the people in question seem to already dislike greyromantic/the greyscale metaphor/something else about the term(? I’m only getting this info second-hand so I’m still kinda in the dark on this). So I was originally more adamant and now I’m just confused and waiting for further info on what the whole deal there is.

          Anyway. You’ve suggested the split attraction model is polysemous: one meaning as “1. A model in which romantic and sexual attraction are distinct, and one meaning for “2. A model in which romantic/sexual/platonic/sensual/aesthetic/etc. are distinct.” I’m not sure if that’s still how you’d describe its meanings at this point in the conversation, but going off that for a second — under those definitions, it applies to me. Yet in Laura’s use above, she speaks as if it doesn’t apply to me (or to other quoiromantics, or to anyone who doesn’t fit the aro/allo divide). It both does and it doesn’t describe me. This makes me Schrödinger’s SAM user, apparently.

          If it is an umbrella term, I think there are bad applications of it, and this is one of them.

        • Siggy

          If it is an umbrella term, I think there are bad applications of it, and this is one of them.

          Agreed. There needs to be some etiquette observed around umbrella terms. I was thinking about writing something about that, but I’m not as timely a blogger as you.

        • Coyote

          I’m just on spring break this week and am avoiding all the things I should actually be doing, is all.

          I would like to see more conversation around the concept of umbrella terms, if you’re up for it.

        • epochryphal

          Right, exactly this, the conflation/misinterpretation of quoi/wtf/rejection of a thing with “experiences no meaningful difference between romantic and sexual attraction/orientation.” Which, I mean, is the general chronic misreading that happens regardless of wording, because amatonormativity, and Idek how to begin to address it in any effective way.

    • Elizabeth

      “And now, if I wanted I could just say I was non-SAM.”

      I… don’t know about this. I mean yeah, you could say that, if you wanted and feel that it fits, but… I have to say, if you just said that you’re “non-SAM” without any of the context of this conversation where you’ve just explained what that means to you, I would honestly have no idea what you meant by it. Because as you said, it does have multiple meanings. So would it really be that useful as an identifying phrase? Would it actually be able to stand alone?

      I have to admit, before Coyote made this post, I was rather confused about “SAM” and where it came from. I don’t bother with Tumblr so I missed all the flamewars where this apparently originated, so from my perspective it was just sort of… suddenly all over the place? And it’s difficult to figure out exactly what people mean by it.

      What I don’t understand about the phrase “non-SAM” is this: why are we identifying people who do not split attraction/orientation/whatever, why are we identifying people by what they do not do (or experience) rather than what they do experience? Wouldn’t it be better to name the experiences that people are having, rather than the model(s) they’re rejecting?

      I mean, obviously the asexual and aromantic communities have formed around doing exactly that, but do we need to do that always? Is it just a habit that we’ve become accustomed to? In this case, could it be causing problems with clarity?

      In my case, I don’t find the phrase “non-SAM” to be useful to me, because in one sense (the one sense that the phrase is apparently used to mean most often), I definitely do use SAM. Making distinctions between sexual and other kinds of attractions has been critical, for me. But when it comes to other kinds of attraction… eh. It’s not as important for me to make distinctions, even though I probably could if I really tried, just to explain what components are involved. I experience these attractions as integrated, rather than split.

      To me, it makes more sense to say that I have integrated attractions, rather than to say I am “non-SAM” or “don’t split them” (I have issues with that phrasing because it’s not that I am/would be consciously splitting anything, they’re just separate/distinct and that’s that). My orientations are not integrated, only some of my attractions, so if I said I’m “non-SAM” then people would really misunderstand me.

      So I guess you can put me in the “we need more words” camp, but I really don’t think we need THAT many new words. All we really need is just one good complement to “split” which we can use for whatever subject we’re talking about. We don’t need to combine the phrase into a single word for each separate kind of attraction. We don’t even do that for “split attraction” anyway, since I don’t think acronyms count.

      • Coyote

        (I have issues with that phrasing because it’s not that I am/would be consciously splitting anything, they’re just separate/distinct and that’s that).

        !!!

        Yeah, on that note, I think that calling attraction “split” has the implication of “these are Normally one whole thing, but this person pries it apart into pieces” as opposed to… for some people they’re just different. And I think that idea (of Centering integrated/singular attraction) was exactly what the people who popularized the phrase were after in the first place.

      • Siggy

        I agree, “non-SAM” is bad. The main thing it has going for it, is that it’s there, and even then, barely so. I’ve checked those glossaries with 40+ microlabels, and the split attraction model isn’t even there, despite it clearly being part of the lexicon. And you can forget about finding “non-SAM”, I basically made that one up.

        It’s just so clear to me that most of the (reclaimed) discussion about the SAM revolves around the experiences of people who don’t use it, who don’t otherwise have a way of talking about it. It may not be the best way of thinking about those experiences, but alternatives are in short supply.

        • Coyote

          “the split attraction model isn’t even there, despite it clearly being part of the lexicon.”

          !!!

          Further evidence of my impression that a lot of people just… presume everybody’s familiar/on the same page about what it means.

          On the other hand, kudos to that glossary maker for actually including some links. Now I finally have a post on soft romo explaining what people are using it to mean. …Now my new dilemma is whether I should just hold onto it until I have more for its own section on the bonus round post, or just integrate it into the main timeline on my genealogy of queerplatonic.

  • epochryphal

    Comments without first reading the other comments and as the ~summoned original quoi~:

    Yeah, no, for me personally, being quoi is about “what the HELL is attraction, what the HECK is a romance” and throwing away the idea of a romantic Orientation. Maybe shoving both romance and the concept of romantic attraction behind a basement bookshelf. The concept of sexual attraction gets to sit on that bookshelf but like, I don’t really use the basement except for storage.

    But the concept of aesthetic attraction gets to be in the house somewhere. The concept of kink-energy attraction gets a spot on the mantle where I don’t always notice it or remember it’s there but it’s pretty prominent and a conversation starter and findable.

    The split attraction model also gets to be in the house on a bookshelf alongside some other queer theory stuff I like to keep to lend friends and as a reference and because it has some alright bits that are relevant to me. It did some heavy lifting around destabilizing romantisexuality as a solid entity. It got a lotta blowback for that. Pat, pat, there, there, good work, SAM. You also hardcore helped my homoromantic bisexual friend out, good job. It’s not your fault people still think in binaries so you’re seen as a homewrecker of the perfect marriage of romantic + sexual.

    I used to resent the SAM because it was wielded to force naming of a romantic orientation, to be deemed varioriented or perioriented. Fuck offfff, romantic orienting. But now that feels like a, well, miswielding of a tool, just as SAM’s been grabbed up by anti-a folks as a weapon. (And maybe that did happen first, I dunno… maybe I’ll go link hunting.)

    Anyway yeah, the idea of there being different kinds of attraction/orientation? Yay! The idea you have to HAVE each of those (as some Truth and also as Useful)? Boo! But I don’t think SAM is necessarily the latter.

    • Coyote

      (And maybe that did happen first, I dunno… maybe I’ll go link hunting.)

      If you can find any uses of it pre-2015, I’d be very curious to see!

      Also, replying to your other comment here too because too long a chain on this blog theme breaks its nesting:

      Right, exactly this, the conflation/misinterpretation of quoi/wtf/rejection of a thing with “experiences no meaningful difference between romantic and sexual attraction/orientation.” Which, I mean, is the general chronic misreading that happens regardless of wording, because amatonormativity, and Idek how to begin to address it in any effective way.

      Yeah…

      1) On the one hand, at least it’s a break away from “can’t tell the difference between platonic and romantic attraction”? Which is the one I usually see. So at least that’s… something different, for a change. But still. Completely. Not how I mean it when I apply that to myself. In fact, in another life, if I had stumbled across a post like this *without* having previously learned more of the story on quoi, I would have just assumed “Guess that means I can’t be quoiro then… Looks like I’ll need to find some other word for just not wanting to apply the idea of romantic orientation to myself.”

      2) Still, if that’s how somebody personally wants to use it for themselves, that’s cool by me. I think it’s fine for it to encompass that. It’s just… not its One singular meaning, nor is it the only aspect of it that was relevant in context. >>

  • killerbee13

    Bizarre; reading this, I was certain that I’d heard “split orientation model” *way* more than “split attraction model”, but a quick internet search procured exactly… 13 results, two of which were posts on this very blog, and one was just a tumblr search for the same. So, maybe I imagined it? Or maybe I just saw it only in places which are even less searchable while conversely never hanging around places where “split attraction model” comes up a lot.

    • Coyote

      Yeahh. If anything, I propose people start saying “split orientation model” when they mean exactly that. There’d still be problems, but it’d at least address one of them.

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  • Blue Ice-Tea

    Interesting. I’ve definitely used “Split Attraction Model” to mean “differentiating between romantic and sexual attraction”, and I find it a very useful term, since the issue is a) one that commonly comes up, and b) one that’s otherwise difficult to identify without using a lot of words. But, now that you point it out, I can definitely see how it ignores all the other forms of attraction.

    Maybe we can argue that we need a term for “differentiating between romantic and sexual attraction” because that’s something that people have very different attitudes towards, whereas, “differentiating romantic and sexual attraction from other forms of attraction like aesthetic, sensual, emotional, and intellectual” is uncontroversial and therefore doesn’t need a term to describe it. I mean, even people with no knowledge of asexuality have experienced attraction to someone’s mind or appreciation of someone’s beauty without associating it with sex/romance. There may not be a lot of formal awareness of aesthetic/intellectual attraction, but they’re not hard concepts to grasp. But the idea of “romantic” attraction as something separate from either sexual attraction or friendship, that’s something I have a hard time wrapping my head around. And so I like having a phrase to describe it.

    Still, I do take your point. We certainly need to acknowledge the many kinds of attraction and encourage more awareness and recognition of them.

    Maybe I’ll start using “Split Orientation Model” instead of “Split Attraction Model”.

    • Coyote

      whereas, “differentiating romantic and sexual attraction from other forms of attraction like aesthetic, sensual, emotional, and intellectual” is uncontroversial

      I disagree completely. Given that I just recently got into an argument with someone over whether or not hugs from behind “can’t be platonic,” I don’t think “I can be physically attracted to people without it being sexual or romantic” is that neutral and unquestioned a sentiment.

      Maybe I’ll start using “Split Orientation Model” instead of “Split Attraction Model”

      This… is somewhat of a step in a direction I like, yeah, even though I don’t appreciate the connotations of “split.” I did think about jokingly referring to this as the “Split Orientation Model” (in the hopes that it might be easier to get people to start using it) — but at the same time, as I mentioned on Arocalypse, referring to these concepts as “splitting” something feels, to me, like referring to apples and oranges as “split fruit.”

  • Using “Non-SAM” to mean Non-Rosol is Amatonormative | The Ace Theist

    […] Romantic Orientation and the “Split Attraction Model” are not the same thing […]

  • Three Narratives of Non-Rosol Identity in the Aro Community | The Ace Theist

    […] distinguish between the two. Some examples of where I have encountered this narrative include here, here, here, and […]

  • A Mini History of Different Types of Attraction in the Ace Community | The Ace Theist

    […] who were reacting (negatively) to this kind of language & the (separate, but conflated) idea of romantic orientation, usually by calling it homophobic. The originating posts have been lost to time, but one of the […]

  • (What) does the aro community want (with) quoiros? | The Ace Theist

    […] up aces into “allo-aces, aro-aces and non-SAM aces” — which I hate, because I am not a “non-SAM” ace. The rise of the “split attraction” designation has been frustrating for a whole thicket […]

  • Tiny linkspam on Tri-Label Aro Aces | The Ace Theist

    […] Opting Out Of Romantic Orientations by Vesper (note: see also some of my posts on romantic orientation) […]

  • Relationship =/= Partnership | The Ace Theist

    […] I’m talking about choices up to and including reblogging that Historicallyace post that I devoted a whole post to disputing back in March — and this is happening with not just anyone, mind you, but also with people […]

  • Differentiating Attraction/Orientations (Or, the “Split Attraction Model” by any other name is so much sweeter.) – NEXT STEP: CAKE

    […] have also been the subject of some criticism – especially regarding the fact that it’s not actually a good proxy for describing the ways many aces use romantic, sexual, and other attraction/orientation concepts, and that it was in part coined and […]

  • An Actual History Of The Term “Split Attraction Model” | The Ace Theist

    […] why I’m revisiting the subject now. Last year, I already wrote three different posts on why romantic orientation and the “SAM” aren’t the same thing, some problems with “SAM”/”non-SAM” terminology (summarized by Siggy here), […]

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