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Guest member25959

What is 'Sexual attraction'?

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Guest member25959

So, what is sexual attraction, you ask?

As the AVENwiki states, 'Sexual attraction is a feeling that sexual people get that causes them to desire sexual contact with a specific other person.'

But we can expand on this:

This is something that is often grouped together with sexual desire, and vice versa. But don't be fooled! The two do not equate, as is explained here:


Sexual attraction - Seeing someone and not only finding them attractive, but thinking you'd like to have sex with them, like fantasies and such. It's attraction to another person that at it's end wants to be physically intimate, as opposed to being attracted to someone in a way where you think, "I'd like to get to know them" or "I want to be their best friend" or "I want to be close to that person".

Sexual desire - The desire to actually follow through with sexual attraction. I don't consider physiological reactions to be part of sexual desire, really, because in my case I know my body responds to sexual stimulus, the difference is that my mind isn't interested. So sexual desire is another mental thing, wanting actively to perform sexual acts with another person and believing that if you do you will feel gratified.


You've probably seen term 'sexual attraction' thrown around a lot on AVEN, and you may have wondered how it feels. Well, here are some insightful analogies:




Then...wait, what makes sexual attraction sexual? Or anything at all? And what separates it from other types of attractions?


That to me is like asking "well if you smell coffee but don't want to go get one right now, how can you still think it smells good?". Thinking coffee smells good = attraction. Wanting to go get a coffee = desire. Sometimes the two go together, and thinking coffee smells/tastes good and periodically wanting coffee are certainly related. But you can think coffee smells good without wanting to drink the coffee you smell, and you can want a coffee without smelling some first.

Sure, sometimes you smell fresh coffee and you decide you'll have one right now, thanks, but there's no rule that says that's the way it always has to go down.

As far as differentiating sexual and aesthetic attraction, put crudely, it's the difference between "Oooooh, pretty!" and "I'd hit that." It's unmistakeably sexual in nature to me, and it was unmistakeably sexual to me for years before I had any sexual experience. I hate to put forward "you just know" as an explanation, so I've mulled it over, and really the best I can do is that it's a form of attraction that's tied in with sexual arousal and sexual fantasy, so even when you feel it on its own, you know it's sexual. The closest I can get is that it feels like sexual fantasy feels, even if there's no specific fantasising/mental-scenario-building going on.



Just like seeing in color verses not seeing in color, what you are used to feels normal. as a homosexual, I feel sexual attraction on and off throughout the day. But it's not distracting, it's easy to put on the back burner so to speak. I really have to choose to want sex for it to effect me. It's very noticeable, but at the same time it's nothing out of control. if it is, the person is probably hypersexual.

When having sex with someone you feel sexually attracted to is a feeling that makes you feel loved and more alive, but if it's with someone that you don't like romantically, it can be a rotten experience even for a non asexual person.


I like to compare it to your sense of smell. Something that's always there, but usually unnoticed or backgrounded. But occasionally something that motivates you to action, or makes you frustrated if there's something delicious that you can't have. Like smell, though, even if you can't have the delectable thing, that's still a pleasant sensation, despite the frustration (up to a point, anyway wink.gif)

And PiF's humorous analogies:

sexual attraction..it is what it is..most do know what it is..but for some reason want to personalise and there starts the confusion

so to give the over thinkers a helping hand here is my opinion on sexual attraction

BE WARNED..A RUDI PICTURE FOLLOWS

Caution: Spoiler contains dated bed linen

linen.jpg



so in a room a sexual, a demi/semy/grey, a repressed sexual and an asexual all see the above picture and say

sexual...I would fuck that all day long and ride her like a race horse

demi/semi/grey...I would fuck that all day long and ride her like a race horse..as long as i knew her well enough first and i liked her

repressed sexual...I aint looking

asexual..ooo nice bed linen



As noted earlier, sexual attraction and sexual desire are two distinct experiences. Meaning, you can experience one and not the other, which also means that you can not experience sexual attraction, whilst experiencing sexual desires, and vice versa.

Seems confusing? Fact is, sexuality isn't always so straight forward, as is thoroughly explained in 'Sexuals aren't all the same either...I think'. Everyone's sexuality has unique qualities.

CBC shares their experiences here.

Hopefully this thread has been helpful, hopefully now you are more in the know. biggrin.gif

Quick summary:


If you wish to read further into this subject, and others, have a read though the 'Asexual-Sexual Q&A thread'

A big thanks to 'gnik', 'That One', 'Jillanimal', 'Olivier' and 'SkulleryMaid' for their contributions that contributed led to this thread's creation.

Thanks for reading

In response to some confusion:

Edit by Faeriefate

It has come to the attention of the Q&A moderator that the definitions of Sexual Attraction and Sexual Desire as stated here are confusing, and not everyone agrees with them. For further understanding of these definitions, please visit the Helpful info for those questioning their (a)sexuality thread and read the related post.

Edited by faeriefate
In Response to some confusion:

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Lintu

Thanks for the detailed answer :)

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Skullery Maid

This is awesome. Thank you Arca!!! <3

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Guest member25959

Continuing from here

No problem guys. :D But thanks again to SM for the suggestion, and to everyone for the quotes I use.

Just working on this part now:

As noted earlier, sexual attraction and sexual desire are two distinct experiences. Meaning, you can experience one and not the other, which also means that you can not experience sexual attraction, whilst experiencing sexual desires, and vice versa.

Seems confusing? Fact is, sexuality isn't always so straight forward. Everyone's sexuality has unique qualities.

CBC shares their experiences here.

I'm not sure which part of CBC's post to use here. I like the whole thing.

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Skullery Maid

I like the whole thing too. And thanks for linking to it so I could ask CBC more questions.

This thread is also interesting and on the topic of "everyone's sexuality has unique qualities": http://www.asexuality.org/en/index.php?/topic/65608-sexuals-arent-all-the-same-either-i-think/

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Jillianimal

Is it possible for nonlibidoist sexuals to exist? I know sexual attraction is not sexual arousal but is some amount of sex drive required to find someone sexually attractive? I've read conflicting things on here which is pretty problematic, considering how many members are asexual & all.

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Skullery Maid

Is it possible for nonlibidoist sexuals to exist? I know sexual attraction is not sexual arousal but is some amount of sex drive required to find someone sexually attractive? I've read conflicting things on here which is pretty problematic, considering how many members are asexual & all.

That's an excellent question and I'm very curious about people's answers. I'd say that yes,I don't see why there couldn't be an attraction even if acting on it may be difficult.

I don't want to open a new can of worms, but this fits perfectly (weeeeee!) with my theory of General Inclination Toward SexTM.

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Beachwalker

Can we get pifs explanation added, his ability to put things in laymans terms was second to none!

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Aspiecat

I rather like PiF's analogy using the, er, lovely picture of an attentive young woman wishing to serve her community as best she can.

My first thought was, "I love that headboard!", followed by, "I wonder if she feels chilly?"

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Skullery Maid

My response to that picture is "gross, why am I looking at late '80's hetero porn?"

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Aspiecat

My response to that picture is "gross, why am I looking at late '80's hetero porn?"

:lol: :lol:

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Neighbor
So, what is sexual attraction, you ask?

Quick summary:

•Sexual attraction is a feeling that is experienced that causes a desire for sexual contact with another person.

•Sexual attraction and sexual desire are not equal.

Nope, sorry, I disagree.

Those definitions simply don't work.

The above pictured faux-blond is easy on the eyes. I find her to be sexually attractive.

But I have no desire to have sex with her. None.

I do know sexuals who would have the "Hot damn, I'd love to do her!" attitude.

And I know those that would, as I do, think she is hot, she is sexually attractive, but for whom she does not "cause a desire for sexual contact with another person".

I know that a lot of electronic ink has been spilled on this topic recently, but I simply do not believe that you can define this as easily as you can define "triangle" or "book". A definition that works for this group of people is just not going to work for that other group of people. I don't think any one definition of "sexual attraction" is going to work for everyone, any more than a single definition of "love" is going to work for everyone.

I understand that defining terms is helpful for the types of discussions that crop up on these forums, but I'm drawn to a quote from earlier in this thread -

Seems confusing? Fact is, sexuality isn't always so straight forward. Everyone's sexuality has unique qualities.

Too true. Yet the attempt is being made to take these unique qualities and make them fit our definitions. Definitions that work fine for the person doing the defining, but that can't possibly work for everyone else.

There have been threads about this where someone is saying (or coming close to saying) "No no, what you felt wasn't sexual attraction, it was sexual arousal" (or sexual desire, or vice versa, or whatever). I'm left thinking "who are you to say that this person wasn't feeling sexual attraction/desire/arousal, and was instead feeling arousal/desire/attraction?" If their feelings don't match your definition, I don't think it is their feelings that are in error. I think it is your definition.

This is a website dedicated to the topic of asexuality. We have asexuals on here for whom the very idea of seeing someone naked makes them physically ill. We have other asexuals here who are fine with having sex. That's a really broad range to fit under the "asexual" label. So why do we have such a determined effort to be so strict when we label what attraction or desire is? I just don't think it can work for everyone.

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DexM

So, what is sexual attraction, you ask?

As the AVENwiki states, 'Sexual attraction is a feeling that sexual people get that causes them to desire sexual contact with a specific other person.'

But we can expand on this:

This is something that is often grouped together with sexual desire, and vice versa. But don't be fooled! The two do not equate, as is explained here:

Sexual attraction - Seeing someone and not only finding them attractive, but thinking you'd like to have sex with them, like fantasies and such. It's attraction to another person that at it's end wants to be physically intimate, as opposed to being attracted to someone in a way where you think, "I'd like to get to know them" or "I want to be their best friend" or "I want to be close to that person".

Sexual desire - The desire to actually follow through with sexual attraction. I don't consider physiological reactions to be part of sexual desire, really, because in my case I know my body responds to sexual stimulus, the difference is that my mind isn't interested. So sexual desire is another mental thing, wanting actively to perform sexual acts with another person and believing that if you do you will feel gratified.

You've probably seen term 'sexual attraction' thrown around a lot on AVEN, and you may have wondered how it feels. Well, here are some insightful analogies:

Then...wait, what makes sexual attraction sexual? Or anything at all? And what separates it from other types of attractions?

That to me is like asking "well if you smell coffee but don't want to go get one right now, how can you still think it smells good?". Thinking coffee smells good = attraction. Wanting to go get a coffee = desire. Sometimes the two go together, and thinking coffee smells/tastes good and periodically wanting coffee are certainly related. But you can think coffee smells good without wanting to drink the coffee you smell, and you can want a coffee without smelling some first.

Sure, sometimes you smell fresh coffee and you decide you'll have one right now, thanks, but there's no rule that says that's the way it always has to go down.

As far as differentiating sexual and aesthetic attraction, put crudely, it's the difference between "Oooooh, pretty!" and "I'd hit that." It's unmistakeably sexual in nature to me, and it was unmistakeably sexual to me for years before I had any sexual experience. I hate to put forward "you just know" as an explanation, so I've mulled it over, and really the best I can do is that it's a form of attraction that's tied in with sexual arousal and sexual fantasy, so even when you feel it on its own, you know it's sexual. The closest I can get is that it feels like sexual fantasy feels, even if there's no specific fantasising/mental-scenario-building going on.

Just like seeing in color verses not seeing in color, what you are used to feels normal. as a homosexual, I feel sexual attraction on and off throughout the day. But it's not distracting, it's easy to put on the back burner so to speak. I really have to choose to want sex for it to effect me. It's very noticeable, but at the same time it's nothing out of control. if it is, the person is probably hypersexual.

When having sex with someone you feel sexually attracted to is a feeling that makes you feel loved and more alive, but if it's with someone that you don't like romantically, it can be a rotten experience even for a non asexual person.

I like to compare it to your sense of smell. Something that's always there, but usually unnoticed or backgrounded. But occasionally something that motivates you to action, or makes you frustrated if there's something delicious that you can't have. Like smell, though, even if you can't have the delectable thing, that's still a pleasant sensation, despite the frustration (up to a point, anyway ;))

And PiF's humorous analogies:

sexual attraction..it is what it is..most do know what it is..but for some reason want to personalise and there starts the confusion

so to give the over thinkers a helping hand here is my opinion on sexual attraction

BE WARNED..A RUDI PICTURE FOLLOWS

Caution: Spoiler contains dated bed linen

linen.jpg

so in a room a sexual, a demi/semy/grey, a repressed sexual and an asexual all see the above picture and say

sexual...I would fuck that all day long and ride her like a race horse

demi/semi/grey...I would fuck that all day long and ride her like a race horse..as long as i knew her well enough first and i liked her

repressed sexual...I aint looking

asexual..ooo nice bed linen

As noted earlier, sexual attraction and sexual desire are two distinct experiences. Meaning, you can experience one and not the other, which also means that you can not experience sexual attraction, whilst experiencing sexual desires, and vice versa.

Seems confusing? Fact is, sexuality isn't always so straight forward, as is thoroughly explained in 'Sexuals aren't all the same either...I think'. Everyone's sexuality has unique qualities.

CBC shares their experiences here.

Hopefully this thread has been helpful, hopefully now you are more in the know. :D

Quick summary:


If you wish to read further into this subject, and others, have a read though the 'Asexual-Sexual Q&A thread'

A big thanks to 'gnik', 'That One', 'Jillanimal', 'Olivier' and 'SkulleryMaid' for their contributions that contributed led to this thread's creation.

Thanks for reading

Quick somebody help that poor girl find her contact lense.She's obviously trying to get ready for work,but can't put her Jeans on,as she can't see.

*bad bed linen*That's great.God bless you for that.

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Janus DarkFox

Hm... I'm trying to distinguish between atheistic attraction and the physical, does anyone else get a certain gut feeling, that sudden jolt of excitement when seeing someone attractive? It's just that, I does not come with any desire for contact or anything else.

The desire I am not sure of, there is a tiny desire but no drive to fulfill said desires, it feels a little more than curiosity. As I see that image and the same sex counterpart, there is little arousal from them, yet full nude and sexual images does nothing for me.

Also the fantasies are a bit concerning, some are uncontrollable and it is like being blinded for a second by that fantasy image, this happens in real life attractions and rarely from porn which I can't get any direct arousal from.

Something is changing, and I don't like the way it is going. 

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T2Logan

I get confused about the Demi stuff...would a demi-sexual really say the same things as a sexual person but only add that they know the person well? To me that can apply to any sexual who is respectable and attentive to the person. A guy wanting to "bang" the first girl he sees is sexual, yet the one that wants to grow and learn about the girl, date her, let time pass is demi? If I'm understanding that correctly, I do not think I agree.

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Olivier

I get confused about the Demi stuff...would a demi-sexual really say the same things as a sexual person but only add that they know the person well? To me that can apply to any sexual who is respectable and attentive to the person. A guy wanting to "bang" the first girl he sees is sexual, yet the one that wants to grow and learn about the girl, date her, let time pass is demi? If I'm understanding that correctly, I do not think I agree.

I'm someone who always treated sex as something that would come into a relationship only once it was "serious", and yet demisexual doesn't fit me at all, in my opinion. Why not? Because I feel sexual attraction to more than just my partner - to anyone who's sexually attractive to me. The fact that I only want to act on that attraction once a relationship is serious doesn't make me demi.

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Leelian

This was pretty helpful. I think the different quotes help to provide a perspective.

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Jillianimal

Is it a mental thing, physioloigical response or both? And if it is both, what happens if just one of those happen?

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Olivier

Attraction? For me, 100% mental. Often followed, sometimes in very short order, sometimes not at all, by a physiological response, ranging from mild butterflies to intense arousal.

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Jillianimal

Oh ok. Thanks guys. Just have to say, I love how detailed your posts are Birdie, though I can see how they can be a littl TMI for some people. Odd to think you were a repulsed antisexual at one point :P

I think a brief description of sexual attraction should be on the front page so people have an idea of what they're feeling or not. I'm sure it would help a little with misconceptions & the constant "am I asexual?" posts.

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Beachwalker

Oh ok. Thanks guys. Just have to say, I love how detailed your posts are Birdie, though I can see how they can be a littl TMI for some people. Odd to think you were a repulsed antisexual at one point :P

I think a brief description of sexual attraction should be on the front page so people have an idea of what they're feeling or not. I'm sure it would help a little with misconceptions & the constant "am I asexual?" posts.

Yes agreed, I have just been looking for this thread and this isn't where I expected it to be.

I didn't think sexual attraction was real before I found Aven. Then after a lot of reading I think I had a very misconstrued almost magical idea of what it is. Now I think I think sexual attraction is just something about someone that makes you think sexual thoughts about them. They either make you interested in a sexual way or they don't. Is this possible? Is it just the same feeling but with sexual thoughts, as any other kind of attraction such as attraction to music, certain foods, activities?

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Naosuu

Hm... I'm trying to distinguish between atheistic attraction and the physical, does anyone else get a certain gut feeling, that sudden jolt of excitement when seeing someone attractive? It's just that, I does not come with any desire for contact or anything else.

The way I like to distinguish aesthetic attraction is how it's very much like admiring a piece of art; I am immediately drawn to acrobatics during their performances, particularly when the lighting accentuates their muscles (typically a spotlight from the ceiling). I love seeing how, when in motion, one can see the way the muscles, sinews and tendons move to hold their body and make their performance look so effortless. It is absolutely fascinating.

For otherwise everyday life, it's usually when I notice that (for example) a girl looks cute because of her rosy cheeks, or I like the lines/gesture of someone's body (I guess the way they hold themself?). There was one particular fellow I was strongly (aesthetically) attracted to: he had great lines (he had slight bow-legs, which for some reason I really like), a good-looking face, I loved to watch him move (he worked out, so it was easy to see how his muscles moved) and he also had somewhat curly hair. I didn't have a crush on him, nor did I wish for things to become sexual between us (although I did have urges to play with his hair, which I did indulge occasionally). He was just really nice to look at and to admire from afar.

As for the jolt of excitement, I would have to be somewhat skeptical about whether that falls under aesthetic attraction. Again, for me aesthetic attraction usually doesn't induce any physical reaction, more like an intense mental focus on someone; much like a painting. I would think physical attraction entails some form of sexual attraction, since it implies a sexual nature behind the attraction. YMMV though. I do think you should try to be calm and go along for the ride though... it's usually those transitional periods that really suck. Hang in there!

Thanks for the posts :cake: maybe TMI for some, but I think crossing that line is necessary when you need to get nitty-gritty. I, for one, am not afraid of the nitty-gritty stuff. :)

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Moggie
So, what is sexual attraction, you ask?

Quick summary:

•Sexual attraction is a feeling that is experienced that causes a desire for sexual contact with another person.

•Sexual attraction and sexual desire are not equal.

Nope, sorry, I disagree.

Those definitions simply don't work.

I agree, but for a slightly different (small tiny miniscule) reason that might hugely help clarification.

This:

•Sexual attraction is a feeling that is experienced that causes a desire for sexual contact with another person.

implies that sexual attraction always causes sexual desire...in this form:

Sexual attraction - Seeing someone and not only finding them attractive, but thinking you'd like to have sex with them, like fantasies and such. It's attraction to another person that at it's end wants to be physically intimate, as opposed to being attracted to someone in a way where you think, "I'd like to get to know them" or "I want to be their best friend" or "I want to be close to that person".

Sexual desire - The desire to actually follow through with sexual attraction. I don't consider physiological reactions to be part of sexual desire, really, because in my case I know my body responds to sexual stimulus, the difference is that my mind isn't interested. So sexual desire is another mental thing, wanting actively to perform sexual acts with another person and believing that if you do you will feel gratified.

Sexual attraction doesn't always cause sexual desire in this form (the "wanting to go through with it"). Someone can be attracted to someone else sexually but have no desire to follow through with it.

For that reason, perhaps "desire" should be removed from that definition to distinguish the two things, or a clarification added.

These two definitions would need modification/clarification:

Sexual attraction is a feeling that sexual people get that causes them to desire sexual contact with a specific other person.'
Sexual attraction is a feeling that is experienced that causes a desire for sexual contact with another person.

At present, these two appear on the surface (because of the use of the word "desire") to directly contradict the analogies presented by Olivier et al.

Warning: Possible TMI--

I have never felt the things I've underlined in this definition of sexual attraction: Sexual attraction - Seeing someone and not only finding them attractive, but thinking you'd like to have sex with them, like fantasies and such. It's attraction to another person that at it's end wants to be physically intimate, as opposed to being attracted to someone in a way where you think, "I'd like to get to know them" or "I want to be their best friend" or "I want to be close to that person".

So what does that mean? Does that mean I do not experience sexual attraction? What if i felt everything else in the definition, except for the underlined bits? Is that still sexual attraction cause of fantasies or is it some other form of attraction?

Is Grey-A someone who experiences sexual attraction but not sexual desire? And does following through on sexual attraction include masturbation or must it include sexual contact with another person, not just yourself?

The only thing that i've ever felt in response to becoming aroused is to touch myself (and not everytime) and this could be cause i know it will feel good and also to get rid of the feeling of arousal (i know now though that i don't have to do this in order for the arousal to go away, so lately i just ignore the feelings of arousal and it goes away), i've never responded with wanting to have sexual contact with another individual.

Is this Grey-A or asexual or sexual? I know you can't tell me what i am, but what is this i'm describing? are you allowed to tell me that?

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Jillianimal

Hm... I'm trying to distinguish between atheistic attraction and the physical, does anyone else get a certain gut feeling, that sudden jolt of excitement when seeing someone attractive? It's just that, I does not come with any desire for contact or anything else. 

Something like that tends to happen to me when I crush on someone.

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Lady Girl

Warning: Possible TMI--

I have never felt the things I've underlined in this definition of sexual attraction: Sexual attraction - Seeing someone and not only finding them attractive, but thinking you'd like to have sex with them, like fantasies and such. It's attraction to another person that at it's end wants to be physically intimate, as opposed to being attracted to someone in a way where you think, "I'd like to get to know them" or "I want to be their best friend" or "I want to be close to that person".

So what does that mean? Does that mean I do not experience sexual attraction? What if i felt everything else in the definition, except for the underlined bits? Is that still sexual attraction cause of fantasies or is it some other form of attraction?

Is Grey-A someone who experiences sexual attraction but not sexual desire? And does following through on sexual attraction include masturbation or must it include sexual contact with another person, not just yourself?

The only thing that i've ever felt in response to becoming aroused is to touch myself (and not everytime) and this could be cause i know it will feel good and also to get rid of the feeling of arousal (i know now though that i don't have to do this in order for the arousal to go away, so lately i just ignore the feelings of arousal and it goes away), i've never responded with wanting to have sexual contact with another individual.

Is this Grey-A or asexual or sexual? I know you can't tell me what i am, but what is this i'm describing? are you allowed to tell me that?

This is somewhat of an issue some people on AVEN are talking about right now. I am sexual, feel I experience very little sexual attraction to anybody, yet I know I want to be physically intimate with my husband. I really don't know how to answer the question...sorry.

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Taliesin27

I like the topic, one that I think about quite often.

The picture, I'd like to address first (hello, bed, hello person.) I didn't really feel anything looking at her, since I'm not particularly attracted to model-type bodies. However, if I found her physically attractive, I think my first thought would be "Would she be open to snuggling?" Not sure if that makes me Grey A, or if I'm just a confused sexual.

Another thing I go through in my mind (in general) is when I meet someone, I think of whether I'd like to be in bed with her. Maybe it's a mild OCD or ADHD thing, but that always pops into my head. My mind just calls up the image, and I wait to see if I "want" her like that. I have to say, even if I initially want to have physical contact, I start breaking down the questions of "I wonder what her favorite movie is? What does she like to read? Are we intellectually compatible?"

So I'm not sure what category I fall into. I'd more likely want to snuggle and hold someone than have sex. But the desire to be physical with someone, is that necessarily sexual?

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Jillianimal

So I'm not sure what category I fall into. I'd more likely want to snuggle and hold someone than have sex. But the desire to be physical with someone, is that necessarily sexual?

Unless you're using "physical" as a euphenism, nope.

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Taliesin27

So I'm not sure what category I fall into. I'd more likely want to snuggle and hold someone than have sex. But the desire to be physical with someone, is that necessarily sexual?

Unless you're using "physical" as a euphenism, nope.

Nope, no euphemism used here :)

Thanks, JA, this helps out a bit!

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