Tag Archives: aesthetic attraction

On an Ace Experience of Physical Attraction

This is a personal reflection post about physical attraction. In this post, I talk some about what I use “physical attraction” to mean, what I find the concept useful for, what I don’t find it useful for, and my personal experiences of what makes it difficult to talk about.

[Crossposted to Pillowfort. Preview image by Tebo Steele, CC BY-SA 2.0]

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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, and it comes from Tumblr users outside the ace community.

AA: Questioning and Attraction

Anon wrote in:

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What (attractions) do you believe in?

According to my stats page, someone has found one of my blog posts by googling the phrase “do you believe in aesthetic attraction”, which I can’t help but find hilarious because, first of all, it makes me think of that blasted song “Do You Believe in Magic”, and second of all, how can you not believe in aesthetic attraction?  …Seriously?  I mean, what I’m imagining here is–

Person 1: Wow, that guy over there sure is handsome.
Person 2: You don’t really think he’s handsome!  Aesthetic attraction isn’t real!  You’re lying to get attention!


I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that what the search phrase was getting at, and what people who dislike the term believe, is that nonsexual aesthetic attraction to fellow humans does not/might not exist, and that any aesthetic attraction to other people is automatically sexual attraction because they’re members of the same species.

Admittedly, I can understand how aesthetic attraction might sound like an asexual’s “get out of allosexuality free” card, but this concept is something I’d already seen acknowledged well before I started researching asexuality.  In my (American) culture, it’s a pretty accepted thing for straight women to compliment each other’s appearances and say things like “You look pretty today!”  It’s also a pretty widely acknowledged thing that gay men hold powerful positions in the fashion industry and are given some degree of credibility and authority in evaluating women’s appearances and deciding what looks good on them, despite the fact that they’re not sexually attracted to them.

There’s probably an analysis you could do on how these social norms fall along gendered lines, but this post won’t get into all that.  The point is this: either you think everyone is bisexual, or you understand that people can find someone good-looking without finding them sexy — which is exactly why we need the phrase “aesthetically attractive”.  And if you’re going to object to the concept of aesthetic attraction, you can’t do so on the basis that it’s just a prop to support asexuality, seeing as it’s a concept used implicitly by monosexual people as well — conveying their nonsexual attraction to people of a gender that they don’t find sexy, the same way that aces use it.

Any questions?