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The month of love is finally here! For a lot of people, February means getting the perfect gift for their significant other, dressing pretty on the 14th for a special night with their significant other, or just spending time with their significant other eating chocolates. But how does a person become your significant other? What’s the train of thought in our brains that makes us go, “You! You’re the one I want to spend my time with”?

Our human bodies go through different stages in life and one of them is feeling attraction towards things or people that we like. Attraction means to draw by appeal to natural or excited interest, emotion or aesthetic sense. In other words, if you’re interested, you’re attracted to it. This definition, however, mentions keywords that are important to this article: interest, emotion and aesthetic. Most people associate attraction with romance and sex, which is not entirely wrong. People have sex and/or are in romantic relationships with people they feel attracted to. However, there are more attractions than just sexual and romantic.

When it comes to attractions, there are topics that we must keep in mind. People’s sexualities are spectrums that are never black or white; on the contrary, there are lots of rainbows. For example, asexuality is an umbrella term for a whole spectrum. Asexuals experience low or absent sexual attraction to others; demisexuals feel sexually attracted to others when there are emotional feelings towards that person; grey-asexuals identify themselves between sexual and asexual. Aromantic people have little to no romantic attraction to others. There are also other orientations, such as gay, bi, pan, straight, etc., that can be associated with sexuality and romantic feelings, but not necessarily. Learning about these concepts will make it easier to understand the different types of attractions and how you can feel one or more types of each towards someone. 

Romantic Attraction

Romantic attraction can be quite tricky for a lot of people, but it’s important to emphasize that sexual attraction and romantic attraction are not the same. They’re separate, even though you can feel both for someone. Say it with me: Love does not equal sex. Now read that again. Exactly. You can have sex with someone and not love them. You can love someone and not have sex with them. And you can also not feel any type of romantic feelings for anyone, and that’s perfectly okay.

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When you feel romantic attraction towards someone, you want to create a bond with them, you want to love them, make them your companion for life.You feel a connection with that person and you want to be with them intimately. It’s not the same as what you may feel for a friend, because these feelings run deeper, stronger. As you’ll read in this article, romantic attraction can collide with other attractionsーremember that there are no black or white areas. This is the reason why it’s so hard to define what a romantic attraction or a romantic relationship constitutes; because what you may find romantic, other people may not. Romantic activities include being affectionate with someone, being emotionally and physically close with them, making life changing decisions together and living with each other. Although you can do this with a platonic relationship, what differentiates the two is the intent. If your intent is romantic, then you are feeling romantically attracted to that, or those, individual/s.

Sexual Attraction

Sexual attraction, the one we tend to recognize the most, is the desire towards engaging in sexual activities with someone. Sexual activities do not necessarily mean penetrative sex or sexual intercourse; there are different ways to be sexually active with someone. This is why everyone experiences sexual attraction in different ways and levels of intensities. Some people have a strong sexual drive and others have little to no desire to ever participate in a sexual activity. For this reason, this could be the easiest to pinpoint among the other attractions. This attraction can be enhanced by other attractions, such as aesthetic, physical and romantic attractions, although not all the time. Usually, this attraction can be useful to determine a person’s sexual orientation.

Physical Attraction

Physical attraction, also known as sensual attraction, involves senses, more specifically, the sense of touch. It’s the desire to be around the people you love, being affectionate with them, and being cared for physically; when you touch your family members in a non-sexual and non-romantic way.

Say “aye” if you became touch deprived in quarantine. Aye! COVID-19 affected our lives in many ways (spoiler alert: we already know that), but for a lot of people, the act of having to refrain from hugging a family member, kissing a friend, or even holding hands with someone, made our sensual attraction suffer a bit. You can find sensual pleasure with blankets, pillows, and plushies because it’s all about comfort. This is one of my favorite type of attractions (alonside romantic) because being intimate with someone doesn’t always have to be a sexual act; it can revolve around words of love and a cuddle.

Emotional Attraction

Have you ever met someone and felt that you could talk with them about everything without feeling judged or uncomfortable? Have you ever looked at your best friend and felt a deeper connection with them to the point that you considered them your other half, your soulmate? That probably means that you’re emotionally attracted to them. Being emotionally attracted means that you want to form a deep emotional bond with an individual. It’s important for humans to feel comfortable with at least one person, with whom they can be open and share their feelings and thoughts. Some people struggle to form these types of bonds with people, while there are individuals who feel more comfortable sharing their emotions with a lot of people.

Platonic Attraction

However, emotional attraction can be an umbrella term for platonic, romantic and queerplatonic relationships. Although it varies from person to person, you can feel emotionally attached to a family member, friend and even your partner. Platonic relationship is a relationship you pursue with a person you connect with on a deeper emotional level and it has nothing to do with romantic or sexual attraction. Queerplatonic relationship is a term for an intimate, non-romantic committed relationship. This relationship can vary depending on the individuals. For some people, it could look like a close friendship and to others, it can look like a romantic relationship. These types of relationships are getting popular in social media, where you can see friends deciding to share their bank accounts, buy houses together, co-parent and even get married to share the benefits.

Aesthetic Attraction

Have you heard the phrase, “I don’t know if I want to be them or be with them?” Because at least, I’ve not only heard it, but I’ve also said more times than I can count. Have you ever seen someone on the street and thought that they were beautiful? Or do you have multiple Pinterest boards of how you want to dress or how to decorate your future house?

Aesthetic attraction means being attracted to a person’s look, or finding someone or something aesthetically pleasing. You may think a celebrity is pretty, but it doesn’t mean that you want to date them or have sex with them (or maybe you do… I see you). This attraction doesn’t necessarily involve romantic or sexual feelings, but it can lead you to feel them. They’re not the same, but they’re related. Feeling aesthetically attracted to things or people can be helpful because it makes us understand what we define as beautiful. It can also help us to feel comfortable, because aesthetic visuals can stimulate positive emotions. 

Attractions are part of our lives, and they also change as we grow up. If you feel like you’re struggling with these attractions, and you don’t understand yourself in these aspects, therapy can be a good way to safely explore your sexuality and what or who you might be attracted to. As long as everything is consensual and everyone feels comfortable, I think exploring these attractions can be a beautiful experience. And what better time to do it than in the month of love? Know that Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be dedicated only to romantic partners, you can also celebrate it with a family member, a friend, a significant other. Make crafty letters, give candies, say affectionate speeches! Enjoy love and attraction in every form, no matter the gender, color or race of the person you’re attracted to (including yourself). 

Nahiria I. Rivera Dieppa is a student from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus. She's studying Creative Writing with a second concentration in Public Relations and Publicity. She loves her books more than anything, and is passionate about music.
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