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HopeStorm

So, what does sexual attraction even feel like?

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HopeStorm

I've always wondered this since I've never felt the desire to have sex with someone, what does it feel like to actually want that? 

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StormySky

I've wondered that too. I did read a book that described a character's sexual desires/feelings for another person, though I still can't imagine it.

 

I guess it's like a food craving but not with food?

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Wish Bear 🌠

A while back an asexual-turned-sexual on here described it as wanting to jump on someone and rip their clothes off..

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Shadowstepper
1 minute ago, Wish Bear 🌠 said:

A while back an asexual-turned-sexual on here described it as wanting to jump on someone and rip their clothes off..

I feel like that is either an extreme exaggeration, or most extreme possible scenario.

 

I've never witnessed that type of response from anyone, sexual, asexual, bisexual, homosexual, or pansexual.

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Pramana

Unfortunately, I think it's a "know it when you feel it, if you have to ask then you probably haven't felt it" scenario, and therefore trying to explain a feeling to someone who hasn't felt it before is kind of like explaining colours to a blind person. In addition, there isn't much research on people's sexual feelings, and a wide variety of ways in which people report said feelings. I did find this one article on the topic which I summarized here: http://www.asexuality.org/en/topic/159599-academic-research-on-the-subjective-feeling-of-sexual-attraction/?tab=comments#comment-1062393940

 

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Kumoku

tumblr_inline_ozt2wi5WYq1uqy8kn_540.png

This is the definition I use because it makes the most logical sense to me and makes it a concept that is easily grasp-able. I am a very logic oriented type person (NOT a feeler by any means) so this definition was the one I found personally easiest to wrap my hands around. On a side note, not even experts can agree on a "concrete" definition for sexual attraction, which is why if you ask 20 different people, you're going to get 20 different responses. 

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Alejandrogynous
1 hour ago, Kumoku said:

tumblr_inline_ozt2wi5WYq1uqy8kn_540.png

 

I've seen this definition before and I'm still confused by the "regular basis" line. Like does that mean if I've only ever been sexually attracted to men my whole life until I find the one single women I want to have sex with (and no other women after her), that it wasn't actual sexual attraction I felt? Maybe I'm reading it wrong but I'm not seeing another way to interpret it.

 

Otherwise, I agree with this.

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Pramana
1 hour ago, Alejandrogynous said:

I've seen this definition before and I'm still confused by the "regular basis" line. Like does that mean if I've only ever been sexually attracted to men my whole life until I find the one single women I want to have sex with (and no other women after her), that it wasn't actual sexual attraction I felt? Maybe I'm reading it wrong but I'm not seeing another way to interpret it.

 

Otherwise, I agree with this.

It's probably because the definition pertains to sexual attraction with respect to orientation. Usually, when people talk about orientation, there's a stability criterion, a stable pattern of developing sexual desires for people based on a concept of sex/gender. So if you usually form sexual desires for men, and you only form sexual desires for one particular woman on one occasion, it would be sexual attraction but might not be sufficient to constitute an orientation (and thus wouldn't necessarily be considered bisexuality).

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Alejandrogynous
3 minutes ago, Pramana said:

It's probably because the definition pertains to sexual attraction with respect to orientation. Usually, when people talk about orientation, there's a stability criterion, a stable pattern of developing sexual desires for people based on a concept of sex/gender. So if you usually form sexual desires for men, and you only form sexual desires for one particular woman on one occasion, it would be sexual attraction but might not be sufficient to constitute an orientation (and thus wouldn't necessarily be considered bisexuality).

Yeah, I thought that's what they were probably getting at too, but in that case it's worded very wrongly. Sexual attraction itself is only an experience, while one's sexual orientation is formed based on the 'regular basis' pattern of those experiences. It would be more apt to say:

 

Sexual orientation is arousal caused by OR directed at an individual on a regular basis towards a certain sex or gender identity (or multiple sex(es) or gender identities).

 

The whole sentence is still rather wonky and confusing to read, I feel like the definition above would be better off without it entirely, but at least switching that one word out is more accurate.

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Pramana
37 minutes ago, Alejandrogynous said:

Sexual orientation is arousal caused by OR directed at an individual on a regular basis towards a certain sex or gender identity (or multiple sex(es) or gender identities).

I think that is an improvement. I found a similar and really technical definition from a recent philosophy paper on the topic by Esa Díaz-León:
 
"Hybrid view: A sexual desire (for men and/or women) involves the combination of a propositional attitude (of the form “S bears the relation of desiring towards proposition p”) plus a disposition to be sexually aroused by, or sexually attracted to, men or women."
https://politicalphilosopher.net/2017/01/27/featured-philosopher-esa-diaz-leon/

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Kumoku
5 hours ago, Alejandrogynous said:

I've seen this definition before and I'm still confused by the "regular basis" line. Like does that mean if I've only ever been sexually attracted to men my whole life until I find the one single women I want to have sex with (and no other women after her), that it wasn't actual sexual attraction I felt? Maybe I'm reading it wrong but I'm not seeing another way to interpret it.

 

Otherwise, I agree with this.

Regular basis means it happens pretty regularly throughout your life, it's not like "THIS HAPPENED ONCE! does that mean I'm suddenly (label here)".

 

Here's another way to look at the definition: 

Sexual attraction is a STRONG desire to have sex (or sex-like activities) with other people, in order to feel sexual stimuli (erect penis, hardening of nipples, blood going to the clitoris, etc.) and/or have an orgasm. The person experiencing sexual attraction might feel drawn to the person OR want to start a relationship based on sexual “perks” of a relationship (kissing to feel turned on, touching certain body parts to feel turned on, etc.) or to achieve some kind of satisfaction (attempt to procreate, do it just because sex is fun, etc.). Sexual attraction is being turned on by a person OR you are turned on through your senses (sight, smell, taste, etc.) by a person on a regular basis towards a certain sex and/or gender identity (when looking at the individual or population level, in regards to the different sexes and/or gender identities)

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FictoVore.

Sexual attraction feels like different things to different people, which is why no one can describe it in a way that everyone will unanimously agree upon. I used to think that I felt it minus a desire to actually have sex (I felt very drawn to, and even aroused by, someone I loved but didn't want sex with them) but now after more experience I know that feeling I thought was sexual attraction was just something get would I get as a direct result of those emotions.. it's quite common for romantic love to make you feel drawn to the person you love (obviously) and the hormones it creates can actually cause you a lot of heightened arousal - so it's not the person themselves 'turning you on', it's the emotions that you feel for them. 

 

49 minutes ago, Kumoku said:

Sexual attraction is being turned on by a person OR you are turned on through your senses (sight, smell, taste, etc.) by a person on a regular basis towards a certain sex and/or gender identity

This here is one of the regular ways I see it defined and I really disagree with this. Sure it's like this for some people, but for others it's more that when they develop an emotional bond with someone they feel comfortable enough to enjoy sexual intimacy with them as a pleasurable, bonding act. It's not like some aspect of that person is making you gag to have sex with them, it's that you don't want to be having sex with random strangers and could not enjoy or want sex in any way unless you've developed some kind of bond with them, which helps you feel more comfortable and safe with them. Also for many people, once in love, the emotions themselves cause you to want to be much closer intimately with that specific person. That's just how romantic love works. I this type of definition (the most common) is almost like a caricature of how sexual people really think, feel, and behave: ''Me turned on by you, me want sex with you''.. It's so much more complicated and multi faceted than that. Yes it really is that basic for some people, but for others, that whole 'getting turned on by that person' doesn't even come into it at all. Sexual people can just desire sex because they enjoy it under specific circumstances without having to be 'turned on' by any specific people.

 

The only way to define sexual attraction in a way that applies to every sexual person is ''the reason people choose certain other people as sexual partners, and this reason can vary massively from person to person''. But it's just easier to say 'sexual people desire partnered sexual intimacy for pleasure under some circumstances, asexuals do not'. That pretty much sums up everything that needs to be said without going into the 'sexual attraction' debacle.


 

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FictoVore.

Anyway to answer your question @HopeStorm, as someone who used to think I was asexual but now I actually do desire sexual intimacy with someone else (because I notice everyone else who has answered IDs as asexual) :P

 

12 hours ago, HopeStorm said:

I've always wondered this since I've never felt the desire to have sex with someone, what does it feel like to actually want that? 

The actual desire to have sex with someone else feels (for me anyway) like sometimes when I'm hormonally aroused, I'd enjoy to have my partner present during 'libido release' for fun and pleasure. He can do things I can't do to myself and (more importantly) I can do things to him that I can't do on my own. It's like, a preference to have the other person present, as opposed to masturbation alone. And the reason I want him and no one else is because he is my best friend and the person I have an emotional bond with, so I'm close enough to him and trust him enough to actually want that with him. I have absolutely no interest in having sexual intimacy with anyone else and find just the idea of intimacy with anyone else very repulsive. If you have further questions feel free to ask them here if you like, I'm happy to answer as someone who has been on both the asexual and the sexual side of this! :)

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Law of Circles
11 hours ago, Shadowstepper said:

I feel like that is either an extreme exaggeration, or most extreme possible scenario.

 

I've never witnessed that type of response from anyone, sexual, asexual, bisexual, homosexual, or pansexual.

Yeah, for me the feeling of desiring sex with someone is a lot more subtle than "I want to rip their clothes off and have sex with them." Personally, I don't experience one-off thoughts about wanting sex with random attractive strangers. In my case, it's more of a feeling that slowly builds up as I'm getting to know someone, something I might not even notice until I start having thoughts like, "I really like this person, and sex with them actually sounds like it could be nice." The emotional connection has to be there first, or else the idea of sex seems awkward at best.

 

I should probably mention that sexual desire of this nature is pretty rare to begin with for me, and I also don't desire sex with everyone I'm attracted to - it's really a select few. Sometimes, I prefer nonsexual relationships.

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Alejandrogynous
3 hours ago, Kumoku said:

Regular basis means it happens pretty regularly throughout your life, it's not like "THIS HAPPENED ONCE! does that mean I'm suddenly (label here)".

Right, but that is in regards to sexual orientation, not sexual attraction itself. Every time a person is (or is not) sexually attracted to someone else is its own individual experience, while their orientation is based on the culmination of those experiences.


For example, say we're talking about spicy food. A person eats something spicy and hates it. That's an experience. They eat another spicy thing and another, and hate every one. More experiences. They then come to the conclusion, based on those experiences, that they "don't like spicy foods". Then they try some new spicy thing and actually like it. Does that mean they love spicy food after all? Not really, and they can probably go their whole lives still saying they don't like spicy food because that was one random exception to their experiences, but it doesn't mean they still didn't like that one thing. So,


Liking a spicy food = sexual attraction. This does not require a pattern to occur.


"I love/hate spicy food" = sexual orientation. This does require a pattern to determine.

 

Or, to drop the (overly contrived) metaphor:

 

Feeling the desire to have sex with someone of the same gender = sexual attraction. This does not require a pattern to occur.

 

"I am gay" = sexual orientation. This does require a pattern to determine.

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Alejandrogynous
2 hours ago, FictoVore. said:

This here is one of the regular ways I see it defined and I really disagree with this. Sure it's like this for some people, but for others it's more that when they develop an emotional bond with someone they feel comfortable enough to enjoy sexual intimacy with them as a pleasurable, bonding act. It's not like some aspect of that person is making you gag to have sex with them, it's that you don't want to be having sex with random strangers and could not enjoy or want sex in any way unless you've developed some kind of bond with them, which helps you feel more comfortable and safe with them. Also for many people, once in love, the emotions themselves cause you to want to be much closer intimately with that specific person. That's just how romantic love works. I this type of definition (the most common) is almost like a caricature of how sexual people really think, feel, and behave: ''Me turned on by you, me want sex with you''.. It's so much more complicated and multi faceted than that. Yes it really is that basic for some people, but for others, that whole 'getting turned on by that person' doesn't even come into it at all. Sexual people can just desire sex because they enjoy it under specific circumstances without having to be 'turned on' by any specific people.

 

The only way to define sexual attraction in a way that applies to every sexual person is ''the reason people choose certain other people as sexual partners, and this reason can vary massively from person to person''. But it's just easier to say 'sexual people desire partnered sexual intimacy for pleasure under some circumstances, asexuals do not'. That pretty much sums up everything that needs to be said without going into the 'sexual attraction' debacle.
 

This is why I do actually like that "Sexual Attraction Logically Explained" definition, with the exception of that last confusing sentence. Because it doesn't say anything about it being based solely on physical attributes, or about the reasons at all. Just that it is the desire to engage in sexual acts with another person.

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FictoVore.
1 hour ago, Alejandrogynous said:

This is why I do actually like that "Sexual Attraction Logically Explained" definition, with the exception of that last confusing sentence. Because it doesn't say anything about it being based solely on physical attributes, or about the reasons at all. Just that it is the desire to engage in sexual acts with another person.

The part I don't like about the 'logically explained' definition is the 'deep seated' part, and also 'they feel drawn to another individual or are motivated to initiate a relationship based upon the desire for sexual intimacy or satisfaction'.. That seems to completely overlook the idea that some people are drawn romantically to some people over others, or slowly develop a romantic bond with someone, then desire and enjoy sexual intimacy as an aspect of that romantic bond. That's extremely common, but is completely overlooked by that definition. I've also seen many self-identifying asexuals use that exact kind of definition as proof of their 'asexuality'. Eg: ''I just love sex, and I love my partner, so I love having sex with my partner as a fun, intimate, pleasurable act we can enjoy together. I certainly didn't try to seek out a relationship with him just for sex though, and don't get turned on when I looked at him, I just love having sex with him for the pleasure of the sex itself now that we're in a committed relationship. I wouldn't have sex with strangers or anyone though, I need to know and trust a person, and have a 'relationship' level of intimacy with them, before I would consider sex with them... that's why I'm asexual'' Whereas what that person has described is a perfectly normal sexual person who just doesn't slot into that 'Logically Explained' definition. This is why people like myself feel the whole 'sexual attraction' part of the definition should just be discarded altogether. It does nothing but cause confusion and, in all honesty, almost always misrepresents many sexual people by painting them all in this one limited light. Whereas if you just simplify the whole definition to 'those who desire partnered sexual intimacy for pleasure under some circumstances' (sexuals) and those who don't (asexuals) you avoid all those problems that come with trying to define sexual attraction!!

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Alejandrogynous
2 hours ago, FictoVore. said:

The part I don't like about the 'logically explained' definition is the 'deep seated' part, and also 'they feel drawn to another individual or are motivated to initiate a relationship based upon the desire for sexual intimacy or satisfaction'.. That seems to completely overlook the idea that some people are drawn romantically to some people over others, or slowly develop a romantic bond with someone, then desire and enjoy sexual intimacy as an aspect of that romantic bond. That's extremely common, but is completely overlooked by that definition. I've also seen many self-identifying asexuals use that exact kind of definition as proof of their 'asexuality'. Eg: ''I just love sex, and I love my partner, so I love having sex with my partner as a fun, intimate, pleasurable act we can enjoy together. I certainly didn't try to seek out a relationship with him just for sex though, and don't get turned on when I looked at him, I just love having sex with him for the pleasure of the sex itself now that we're in a committed relationship. I wouldn't have sex with strangers or anyone though, I need to know and trust a person, and have a 'relationship' level of intimacy with them, before I would consider sex with them... that's why I'm asexual'' Whereas what that person has described is a perfectly normal sexual person who just doesn't slot into that 'Logically Explained' definition. This is why people like myself feel the whole 'sexual attraction' part of the definition should just be discarded altogether. It does nothing but cause confusion and, in all honesty, almost always misrepresents many sexual people by painting them all in this one limited light. Whereas if you just simplify the whole definition to 'those who desire partnered sexual intimacy for pleasure under some circumstances' (sexuals) and those who don't (asexuals) you avoid all those problems that come with trying to define sexual attraction!!

Well first off, I'm in total and complete agreement that sexual attraction needs to be stricken from the asexuality definition. It's far too subjective, ambiguous, and completely unreliable to be used as any sort of defining standard, and I've been arguing against it for some time as well so if that was all directed at me, you're preaching to the choir. :P Good info to have in this thread regardless, though!


(To clarify, I still believe in the, "asexuals do not experience sexual attraction," definition in the way it was originally intended, meaning an asexual person is sexually attracted to no one and hence desires sex with no one. Because that has become so warped out of control, though - like the people who somehow still claim to be asexual even though they 'love sex, just aren't attracted to their partners' - I now stand by the, "asexuals lack the innate desire for partnered sex," definition instead.)


All that aside, I guess I interpreted the Logically Explained definition a little differently. I didn't read it as leaving out love/bonding/emotional factors as motivators for sexual attraction - which, yes, is extremely common. To me, it reads more as, 'sexual attraction is whatever internal motivation you have for desiring sex with another specific person.' This includes literally any reason a person could feel that way - physical attraction, love, desire for intimacy, finding someone funny or smart - maybe they parallel parked like a boss and it got you hot, haha. It could be anything, so I like that the definition (in my interpretation of it) doesn't limit or specify what counts or not. Also, I interpreted 'drawn to' as simply wanting to be close/intimate with someone, which could apply to a married couple of twenty years coming together in their own bed as much as two strangers feeling sparks across a room, lol.


"Deep-seated" is an odd choice to use though, I agree. I feel like this definition is trying to define 'sexual attraction' and 'sexual orientation' as being one and the same and that's where it goes a little awry. I still think it's loads better than the, 'sexual attraction is when you look at someone and get horny,' definition that runs rampant on AVEN.

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Baggage_warrior

For me, I always defined sexual attraction to the by the feelings you get just from seeing someone.

 

I always remember a few select individuals who - upon first sight - just felt an immediate need to talk to them. Also a feeling of butterflies in my stomach, and nervousness and shakiness when I wanted to talk to them, or when they got close to me... every time I would send a message, I'd end up typing it, retyping, retyping, and retyping. I just felt so nervous and I wanted to be with them and to keep them for myself.

 

Sadly, a bad experience (which I won't go into, since it's pretty traumatic for some) put me off someone that I guess I was "madly in love with" but to me, that was my definition of sexual attraction that backfired badly.

 

Ever since this happened, I've not had that same feeling towards someone. I missed it, so during the recent years I've told myself that I have a thing for people... Just to see if I could force those feelings back. For a while I identified as ace as a result... But now I say I'm Demi since I experience mildly similar feelings towards some important individuals in my life ^_^

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