A Mini History of Different Types of Attraction in the Ace Community

A short list of when/where some different pre-2015 terms can be traced back to. Many of these terms, as you can see, are both older than and separate from the creation of the term “split attraction model,” which has its own separate history derived outside of the ace community.

The following timeline lists the earliest uses that I or others have found:

  • 2003 – emotional & romantic attraction were mentioned on an early version of the AVEN FAQ, and they most likely had been discussed even earlier than that. [See also romantic drive in 2002 on HHA]
  • 2005 – aesthetic attraction came up in this NSFW AVEN thread, and ditto above.
  • 2006 – sensual attraction was added to the AVENwiki, and ditto above.
    [Read more about different definitions of sensual attraction here]
  • 2007 – squish (or friendship crush) was coined on another AVEN thread.
    [Read more about platonic attraction and related concepts here]
  • 2010 – queerplatonic attraction was first described on Dreamwidth.
    [Read more about the trajectory of queerplatonic as a concept here]

Most of these terms had more or less entered standard ace parlance by 2012, and I even wrote a post about Differentiating Types of Attraction in 2013 (that I now cringe to reread, but whatever). Different names for subtypes of attraction — or attraction subtyping — never went by any particular name, itself.

The term “split attraction model,” meanwhile, does not appear to predate 2015. It comes from Tumblr users outside the ace community 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 approximately oldest ones is here, and you can get a better sense of how the term was being used and developed that year by looking at more Tumblr posts from around that time: here, here, here, here, here, and here.


8 responses to “A Mini History of Different Types of Attraction in the Ace Community

  • luvtheheaven

    Can you tell what year I wrote this somewhat embarrassing response to an ask in? I can’t figure out dates and Tumblr:
    https://luvtheheaven.tumblr.com/post/156429600697/im-absolutely-for-ace-people-being-out-and I’m pretty sure it was after 2015 since all the splitting attraction language is in there. I just got a new like on that post today, weirdly enough, to remind me I’d written it at all…

    • Coyote

      Right click + view page source + ctrl+f for “published” = That’s from 2017.

      Lots of enchanting things about that ask, such as the implication that people are going to be forced to label themselves with sensual and aesthetic orientations (despite the fact that most ace people don’t even do that). …Also the very confusing idea that having those other two orientations would make a homosexual person not gay.

      I think I’d forgotten how much of all that had started out with a focus on “you are forcing labels on people and forcing other people to use this lens, which is bad” which has by now mostly just morphed into “actually aces themselves are just bad, for completely different reasons.”

      • luvtheheaven

        Thanks so… probably no matter what tricks I do on my smartphone I still can’t quite do that level of viewing the page source or maybe I can, I don’t know. I was trying a few things on my phone earlier haha but that’s good to know about how you find the year (and not just the month and day, which I can find a little easier).

        And yeah well people were panicking after the screenshot of a heteroromantic asexual also clarifying being heteroaesthetic and heterosensual, I guess: https://luvtheheaven.tumblr.com/post/156375129552/breninarthur-rootaf-we-get-it-isabella-you

        So yeah they imagined people were being “forced” into even more labels? I guess. I don’t know.

        I do find them pretty useful myself, I’m attracted more towards femininity aesthetically even if I’m pretty pan practically and I find being able to make that commentary about my attractions useful, and especially the demi-sensual or demisensual terminology can really help me understand myself and how I want to do touching behaviors in relationships… so personally I’m glad I can use these different attraction terms differently and not just say “they must all be pan or a- or the same”.

        • Coyote

          Oh whoops this got held up in the spam filter for some reason. Sorry about that.

          ( I really wish Tumblr would just display date stamps anyway / not allow people to edit them out with blog themes. This is also a contributor in how outdated information and long-settled drama ends up getting recirculated and mistaken for new. >> )

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