What are your thoughts on aesthetic versus sexual attraction?

Q: What are your thoughts on aesthetic versus sexual attraction?

As in, what are they?  Do I believe that they exist as separate concepts?  Or do I have experience with them?  Or did you want some other thoughts on the subject?

In grossly oversimplified terms, sexual attraction is the innate thought that you’d like to have sex with a particular person, while aesthetic attraction is the innate thought that someone is nice to look at.  The actual definitions are more subtle and nuanced and outside the scope of this post, so look them up, if you’re curious.

Do I believe that they exist as separate concepts?  Yes, absolutely.  When people describe aesthetic attraction, they tend to use phrases like “Pretty like a sunset” or “It feels like looking at a beautiful painting.“  When people describe sexual attraction, they rarely use words like “sunset” or “painting”…

Have I experienced them?

Sexual attraction, no.  When I first saw a naked woman in front of me, it was like looking at a road map.   Now, I like road maps, but people do not use the word “road map” when describing sexual attraction.  When I had sex with her, it was a logical decision that was not driven by any kind of urge or pull or whatever else it is that people describe when they talk about what sexual attraction is like.

Aesthetic attraction, yes.  There are some people who are simply more interesting to look at than other people.  It triggers something in my brain that I can’t really explain.  It’s very similar to the feeling when I’m standing someplace amazing (Like, say, across from Delicate Arch or at South Falls or at North Head Lighthouse at sunset), where I like looking at it, and I want to keep looking at it, even though it’s still the same the whole time.

Aesthetic attraction never has a sexual component to it.  I never become aroused, I never imagine them naked, and, in the past, when I tried to combine it with sexual thoughts, it just felt forced and awkward and out of place.

And now I want to go back to these places:

DSCF1534 IMG_2541 IMG_6140


8 thoughts on “What are your thoughts on aesthetic versus sexual attraction?

  1. I can look at handsome men, and see that they are sexy, but if I thought in terms of, “hey, I’d tap that”, then no, I don’t do that. Even the most gorgeous men are not in my mind, potential partners. So, I can appreciate physical beauty, but for myself, it is not attracting to me sexually.

  2. I personally have always been wondering the difference because I don’t know how it feels to be aroused by the beauty. I mean, you can be in awe and have your breathe taken away- which seems to be something in common. But I definitely need someone else explain to me the difference further on.

  3. I am only a teenager, but most of the people in my classes are already talking about how “Wow I’d bang him//her.” and last year two girls in my grade got pregnant.
    Honestly I rarely, if ever, feel that way, and I’ve started identifying as a grey asexual. I’m the same way on the picturing people naked thing, and I’ve noticed that I never do, unless someone mentions something to do with it, and when it does happen, I can never get below the waist on a guy, or the shoulders of a girl without feeling like I’m violating myself, and their privacy. I’m just not interested. But I was wondering if having a crush//liking someone makes me less of an ace, because some days I feel like even though I am not remotely interested in having sex with anyone, I still want to hug them and stare at them forever. So I see where the aesthetic attraction comes in. I’ve also heard about sensual attraction, where you want to hold hands, cuddle, kiss, etc. with people whom you like, but not sex. I feel that about 100% more often than sexual attraction, and I know that they’re all separate kinds of attraction, but I feel like I’m less of an asexual when I feel sensual and aesthetic attraction. Is that weird? Sorry for putting this giant comment up, but I really needed to rant about it today, so thanks. :)

    • feeling aesthetic and sensual attraction is totally something asexuals do. Romantic attraction, like having a crush, is also separate to sexual attraction, so no, none of that makes you less ace (or grace; grey ace).

    • Huh, I’ve never heard of sensual attraction before. I like it, it describes me to a T. I’m a Gray-Ace but I experience really strong sensual attraction, which almost always follows on directly from aesthetic attraction, but very seldom do I feel sexual attraction – I force myself to go there because I think it’s what’s supposed to follow. Thank you for spreading awareness :)

    • Yeah, I also really like the term sensual attraction because although I’m old enough to drink I’ve never really been sexually attracted to anyone though i kinda feel what you described as sensual attraction with people I am super close to, especially the desire to cuddle or hold hands, which is why i consider myself more on the demisexual end of the ace spectrum. Thanks for giving me a word for it! Makes sense for an ace who has touch as one of her love languages lol!

  4. There are possibly three things I would like to bring up during this comment. We’ll see how many there really are by the time I finish – as I’m writing from the top of my head and leaving it unedited, in terms of content, as to be as realistic and true as possible. beware of run-on sentences.

    First and foremost, thank you for creating this site and sharing your experiences, and especially your “An Asexual’s Guide to…” articles. While I really don’t get ANY validation from the affirmations of asexuality, a lot of what you write does resonate with me and illuminates some of my internal thought processes that I have never thought about before until you mentioned them. Plus, the way you write and how you say certain things really can bring a smile to my face and is really quite engaging.

    Second, if it is possible, can you please think of including alt attributes in your img tags? Every image that is posted uses HTML code to identify them as images for your browser. Within these bits of code (tags), there may be attributes, such as the location of the image, how big to display said images, and an alt attribute to have alternative text so that those devices that cannot view images for whatever reason can have a textual description to rely on. Not that you post many pictures in the first place, I don’t think, but it will be appreciated by those who cannot view images for whatever reason to have some sort of alternative text in place – mine being blindness and using a screen reader as my assistive technology.

    In your recent post titled “Asexuality in the DSM-5”, I did see what I believe to be two pages from the current DSM – and I think the APA citation could be the alt tag, or an excerpt, but you already had said excerpt in proceeding paragraphs. You might consider changing the headings to level 2 headings for your subheadings for that post as well, but at that point I think I may be taking things too far. :D

    This post I am commenting on has a few images of places you wish to revisit that are lacking any useful information, but you may have mentioned those places in the above paragraphs. I am unsure, but wish to bring it to your attention anyway.

    This short guide may be of use to you as well, but only if you wish to take the time and effort in doing so, as your site is pretty much usable already:

    Third, identifying as an aromantic asexual cisgender male (and wow, those are a lot of identifying labels, aren’t they?) who happens to be blind with very limited light perception, this post in regards to sexual and esthetic attraction is quite alien *to me*. Note I did say “to me”, as not all blind and visually impaired people have the same views or experiences, obviously.

    What’s my point? Well, I’m vaguely curious about whether or not I would have sexual/esthetic attraction if my eyes were to receive useful ocular input? And if so, would that change my asexuality? I honestly don’t think I’d care if it did, but this post did bring it to my attention. Esthetically, I can’t stand the feeling of velvet and the texture of certain foods, but I really don’t have any real preferences. As long as whatever the object does what I want it to do, I couldn’t care less about how good it looks.

    As far as people, I certainly don’t mind being alone, but can get along with people easily, though I know nothing of cars or most general pop culture. Some of certain topics (e.g. girls) is negated by my blindness, so I have never been in a conversation of the hotness of girls, though some of my female classmates a few months ago did tell me that the females I’ve talk to are all attractive in some way. Not sure how I should have reacted to that, but it was nice of them to bring that to my attention I suppose.

    As far as the “okay, you cannot see, but you must be attracted to someone’s voice” argument goes, I suppose some voices are nice to listen to, while others I would not want reading things to me because of their rate of reading, clarity, accent, or some other characteristic. I don’t think it goes anywhere beyond reading, as conversing with people generally I am okay with their voice – it is more the content of what they say that matters. Would be interesting to explore I suppose, but in the case of people, I guess the esthetic evaluation of voices is as far as I go.

    Thanks for providing this resource to all the asexuals out there and giving asexuality, in all its forms, more awareness.

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